September 25, 2023

Kennett Love, Times Correspondent in 1950s, Dies at 88

The cause was respiratory failure, his partner, Blair Seagram, said.

Mr. Love was in Tehran in August 1953 when the C.I.A. executed a successful plot to overthrow Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, and replace him with Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a loyalist to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who had close ties to the United States.

Mr. Love’s reporting may have played a small part in the coup. He and a reporter for The Associated Press wrote about decrees signed by the Shah that called for General Zahedi to replace Mr. Mossadegh. The release of the decrees, which helped legitimize the coup, was engineered by the C.I.A., though Mr. Love insisted later that he had been unaware of the agency’s involvement.

While he was based in Cairo in 1954, he wrote front-page articles about the discovery, near the Great Pyramid at Giza, of a 50-foot boat that had been intended to convey the spirit of the pharaoh Cheops to the underworld.

He also covered the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 and wrote a book about it, “Suez: The Twice-Fought War,” published in 1969.

Kennett Farrar Potter Love was born in St. Louis on Aug. 17, 1924. He attended Princeton University and was a pilot in the Navy Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he married Felicite Pratt, in 1946 (she died in 2002), and continued his studies at Columbia University. His newspaper career began at The Hudson-Dispatch in Union City, N.J. He joined The Times in 1948, working in the morgue before becoming a reporter in 1950.

Mr. Love is survived by two daughters, Mary Christy Love Sadron and Suzanna Potter Love; two sons, John and Nicholas; two sisters, Mary Lehmann and Nathalie Love; and five grandchildren.

Mr. Love left The Times in 1962 to cover culture and foreign affairs for the magazine USA1, which went out of business after five issues. He later taught journalism at the American University in Cairo and worked for the Peace Corps.

Mr. Love regarded his book on the Suez crisis in part as a return to unfinished business, and as an example that other journalists might follow.

“If they are unable to penetrate the secrecy with which officialdom seeks to cloak its enterprises,” he wrote in the preface, “they should go back as historians to make the record whole and clear.”

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Economix Blog: What Comes Next if Fed Action Isn’t Enough

The Fed is on the verge of expanding its stimulus policies. We learned that much during the meetings in Jackson Hole, Wyo. But what may be more interesting is the undercurrent of discussion about what happens when those measures prove insufficient.

There was broad agreement at the conference that the actions the Fed is considering, and may announce in two weeks, will not revive the economy. Indeed, given the magnitude of the looming “fiscal cliff,” they may not even be enough to prevent a recession.

Some economists and policymakers – notably the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke – say they believe that the new Fed policies would still have significant benefits. Some are dubious. But no one seems to think it will suffice.

What more can be done? Well, pretty much everyone here is upset about the breakdown of fiscal policy, which is becoming a principal drag on growth.

Indeed, quite a few attendees regard that as the entire issue. They do not agree on what fiscal policies are needed. (The grab bag includes tax cuts and spending increases, household debt reduction and government debt reduction.) But they do agree that monetary policy has basically done (almost) all that it can.

Others, however, see opportunities to do more. The most concrete proposal, which I wrote about Friday, came from Michael Woodford, an economics professor at Columbia University, who told the conference that the Fed could lift growth now by announcing that it will tolerate higher inflation later, as the economy begins to recover. Professor Woodford sought to rebut two critiques of this idea, by presenting evidence that the Fed has the power to move inflation upward, and that it could do so temporarily without losing the credibility of its long-term commitment to maintain inflation at the 2 percent level it considers most healthy.

Adam S. Posen, an American economist who served until Friday on the Bank of England’s policy-making committee, urged central banks to consider providing cheap financing for areas of the economy that are starved for credit. The Bank of England has introduced such a program. And the Fed’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities – which would likely be expanded as part of any new program of asset purchases – are similar in spirit. Opponents view efforts like these as a form of fiscal policy, a position Mr. Posen derided as “a prehistoric way of thinking.”

Alan S. Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Fed’s board of governors, reiterated his suggestion that the Fed should start charging banks for the reserves they keep with it, reversing its current policy of paying them a modest rate of interest on those balances. As he wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, “If the Fed reduces the reward for holding excess reserves, banks will hold less of them — which means they will have to find something else to do with the money, such as lending it out or putting it in the capital markets.”

But the Fed has shown little appetite for new measures. Mr. Bernanke appears focused instead on building a consensus for the expansion of existing policies, for reasons that Greg Ip ably described for The Economist.

The two main options under consideration are an expansion of the Fed’s asset purchases, and an extension of its prediction that it will maintain short-term interest rates near zero until late 2014, at least. Economists generally concur the benefits of such policies would be no more than modest.

Conservatives at the conference expressed opposition to even those efforts. Any benefits, they warned, are outweighed by the risk of inflation, and by the potential consequences to the Fed’s independence — for its ability to operate normally in normal times.

The Republican Party included a plank in its election platform calling for increased Congressional oversight of monetary policy, and there are perpetual rumblings that Republicans will push legislation instructing the Fed to focus solely on inflation, instead of its current dual responsibility for inflation and unemployment.

Lawrence B. Lindsey, a former Fed governor and adviser to President George W. Bush, said Friday that the experience of the last two decades should teach economists and central bankers, “Modesty in what we express and can do.”

That could serve as a motto for central bankers, who are cautious by nature and profession. Donald L. Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman, asked Saturday why the Fed’s unprecedented efforts so far had produced “so little growth.”

“The fact that we keep trying to bring spending from the future to the present with lower and lower interest rates, are there diminishing returns?” he asked. “There’s a lot we don’t understand and it’s hard to make policy if you don’t.”

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Davos 2012: Europe Sticks to Austerity, but Finds It’s Not Enough

On a concrete wall in Oporto, Portugal, where a tough austerity effort has hit hard, a somber graffiti mural depicts a submarine in a nose dive.

“Austerity doesn’t save,” the caption warns. “It sinks.”

As Western countries grapple with lingering economic malaise, even some traditionalists within the policy-making fraternity are starting to worry that such slogans might be right. But as a phalanx of politicians, academics and other experts gathers this week at the World Economic Forum
in Davos, Switzerland, perhaps the biggest question they will face is whether it is possible to develop policies to revive growth even as Western countries seek to reduce debt.

Europe and the United States are both locked into fiscal strategies based on curbing government debt and paring borrowing. Europe has been following a German prescription intended to save the euro zone. Meanwhile, Washington, which is in the throes of a heated presidential campaign, is divided over whether to extenda payroll tax cut
for the rest of the year and has committed, at least on paper, to cutting spending by $1.2 trillion starting this year.

Whether austerity will help revive economies over the long term is the subject of an intensifying debate, especially as much of Europe heads into what looks like its second recession in three years. The United States — where belt-tightening, though painful, has not been nearly so severe — shows glimmers of a recovery.

“It is clear that austerity alone is a recipe for stagnation and decline,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and professor at Columbia University in New York. “The likelihood that things would work out well is extraordinarily small.”

Recently, there have been signs the tide is shifting. In the past several weeks, European politicians have begun to insist quite publicly that austerity can no longer be the sole answer to putting even the most heavily indebted economies on the path to a brighter future.

After months of talk of almost nothing but cuts, Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France delivered such a message to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, during recent visits to Berlin, with a surprising result: “Growth” has become the new watchword on everybody’s lips — even Mrs. Merkel’s.

“Budget consolidation is one of the legs Europe’s future must be built on,” Mrs. Merkel said this month after meeting with the Italian and French leaders. “But of course we need a second leg,” she added, which is “economic growth, jobs and employment.”

Germany is still insistent that the most foolproof path to sustainable recovery is through structural change, including the overhaul of rigid labor markets and changes to pension laws, much like those Germany painfully pushed through in the 1990s.

But the fruits of such labors often take years to emerge. In the meantime, the concern is that economies that are already in a slowdown will be weakened further by large cuts in national spending and by tax increases that governments are embracing to satisfy lenders and to placate the financial markets.

“You could say that if there’s no austerity, growth might be higher,” said Stefan Schneider, the chief international economist at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. “But then again, no austerity would probably escalate the bond crisis in Europe, and then you would wind up with total chaos.”

In the United States, where the budget deficit remains high and President Barack Obama has pressed for more stimulus, there are tentative signs of an economic comeback. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in December, its lowest level in nearly three years, after about 200,000 jobs were added.

The outlook remains fragile. The phaseout of an earlier stimulus program cost the United States an estimated half a percentage point in growth last year, and could further reduce potential gains in 2012. Washington is also likely to provide less government support this year amid continued wrangling between Republicans and Democrats over economic policy.

But the U.S. Federal Reserve has been more accepting than the European Central Bank of keeping interest rates low and of pumping extra money into the banking system in a bid to restart the engines of the economy.

“The U.S. government has been willing to provide more stimulus than the Europeans, and the Federal Reserve has been more accommodative on monetary policy,” said Paul De Grawe, a professor of economics at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. “So America’s environment is easier right now because its macroeconomic policies are less contractionary than in Europe.”

In Europe, Mr. De Grawe added, “excessive austerity, no fiscal stimulus and a European Central Bank not willing to do the same as the Fed is the wrong policy mix.”

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Martha Stewart’s Halloween Magazine Brings Fan a Surprise

She had seen the haunted house-styled confection before, she thought, in a previous issue of a Martha Stewart publication. So Ms. Findley, an avid follower of all things Martha who regularly buys the special Halloween magazines, checked the October 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living and found the same image.

“That shocked me,” said Ms. Findley, an associate professor of humanities at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. “I’ve been an editor, I’ve been a reporter. You just don’t do that.”

The similarities didn’t end at the cake stand. Ms. Findley said she spent the next two and half hours scouring the issues looking for examples of duplicated content and found “another one, and another one and another one.”

“By the time I got to five, I was floored,” she said.

What Ms. Findley stumbled upon was the common publishing practice of repurposing content, something that legions of magazines and newspapers — including The New York Times — do for special issues or sections. But those issues usually state clearly that they contain previously published material.

Finding no such label on this year’s Halloween issue — in which Ms. Stewart says that her food editors are “at it again, dreaming up truly original drinks, snacks and desserts that only look gruesome” — Ms. Findley took to cataloging the similarities.

Victor S. Navasky, a journalism professor, the director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University and the chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review, said it was not unusual for magazines to reprint images or even articles. The problem, Mr. Navasky said, is if the publication does not tell the reader that is has done so.

“At some point, it becomes unfair to the reader because the consumer is buying for a second time what he thought was original material,” Mr. Navasky said. “The problem isn’t the repurposing, the problem is the lack of notice for the reader.”

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said the company stood by its work and how it was delivered to readers. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia publishes two to four special issues a year, which each carry about 60 percent original material and 40 percent repurposed material, a company spokesman said. In the 2011 Halloween issue, about 70 percent of the content was original.

Ms. Findley said she had sent multiple e-mails and made a handful of phone calls to the company asking for a response to her complaint about the use of repurposed content. After a reporter inquired, the company issued an apology to Ms. Findley stating: “We appreciate Ms. Findley’s passion for our content and apologize for falling short in the way we communicated with her on this matter.”

The day after the company released that statement, Ms. Findley received an e-mail from Ms. Stewart and the two women then spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes that Saturday afternoon. Ms. Findley described Ms. Stewart as “incredibly apologetic,” and “a very nice lady,” but was still disappointed to find out that the special issues contain republished material.

“I told her, ‘You’re Martha Stewart, you don’t follow that standard, you set it,’ ” Ms. Findley said.

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Economix: The Rise of the Five-Year Four-Year Degree

Today's Economist

Judith Scott-Clayton is an assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

During this graduation season, roughly 1.7 million students will collect a bachelor’s degree. And here’s what should be an easy question: how long does it take to earn a four-year degree?

For a majority of today’s college graduates, the answer is at least five years.

This is not explained primarily by students attending part-time or leaving school for some time and then returning (as was the case with Burlyce Sherrell Logan, who completed a bachelor’s degree 55 years after she first enrolled, and whose inspiring story was described in a recent New York Times article). Even among graduates who continuously attend full time, 45 percent need an extra year or more to finish (see chart below).

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Postsecondary Students: 2009 Database. Computed by N.C.E.S. QuickStats, May 17, 2011.

It wasn’t always this way: research by Sarah Turner documents a substantial decline in on-time degree completion over the last 30 years. So what’s going on?

From an economic perspective, it’s not clear that there is an optimal time-to-degree, and for many students, it’s certainly better to complete college in five or six years than never complete at all. But stretching out a four-year degree means extra years of tuition costs, and additional years of labor market earnings and experience forgone. For students on financial aid, the five-year four-year degree also costs taxpayers.

Some potential explanations are not as straightforward as they first appear. For example, students spend more time working for pay than they used to. But it’s not clear whether this is a cause or consequence of lengthening time-to-degree. And if students are academically capable of completing college in four years, the extra money from a part-time job does not necessarily pay for the extra cost of a fifth year of college.

Overcrowding at public institutions, which may prevent students from taking the courses they need, is one explanation that has some support in the research. Unfortunately, having students hang around for five years ultimately does nothing to solve overcrowding; rather, it ensures that it will continue into the future. The freshmen who are shut out of a class in Year 1 come back to take the same class in Year 2, shutting out the next crop of freshmen.

If poorly managed, even a one-year enrollment shock could lead to persistent inefficiencies. Imagine what would happen if an airline double-booked a single flight, then gave the excess passengers first priority on the next flight – thus bumping everyone on that flight to the next one, and so on. If the airline has no excess capacity, one overbooked flight can create a perpetual delay.

Federal financial aid regulations, which generate perverse incentives for both students and institutions to extend time-to-degree, are another possible culprit. The regulations define a student as full-time if she enrolls for 12 or more credits a semester, even though a bachelor’s degree typically requires at least 120 credits to complete. So a student rolling along at the minimum full-time level would need at least five years to finish.

While the policy does not prevent students from taking more credits, it doesn’t provide any incentive to do so, either. Pell Grants, for example, provide the same funding whether a student enrolls for 12 or 15 credits per term, so a student who takes five years to complete can get 25 percent more in cumulative aid than a student who finishes in four. (I and several other economists have suggested changing the federal definition of full-time enrollment to 15 credits a semester.)

Similarly, it’s not clear that colleges have much incentive to get students out any faster. Although most institutional expenditures are related to providing instruction, many institutions charge a flat tuition rate for students taking 12 or more credits, and the revenues that these institutions receive from state and local governments are sometimes pegged to their number of “full-time” enrollees. A college that gets the same revenue, but incurs greater costs when a student takes 15 credits instead of 12, may not particularly mind if students want to follow a five-year plan.

At least anecdotally, taking five years for a four-year degree has become an accepted norm on many campuses among both students and administrators.

One of my graduate students described her freshman orientation at a large state university, at which the university president explicitly told students not to rush through their experience, that “the standard time to completion was five years,” the student recalled, adding: “He encouraged us to explore electives. At that time, my father turned to me and said, ‘You will finish in four. There is no reason to drag this out.’”

The student graduated on time. So while some factors push in the opposite direction, perhaps there’s no incentive as powerful as that simple parental directive.

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