A clean debt-limit bill from the House….

Very good news from the House side this morning. Wiser heads are finally prevailing it seems. My sincere hope is that the political dysfunction which as afflicted Washington over the past three years will taper (perhaps in parallel with the Fed’s taper of QE).

What does this mean for US science funding? It means that we avoid more of the brinksmanship and disruption that have distracted us from the primary goals of advancing knowledge and investing in America’s future.

Yglesias and the debt ceiling debate

He thinks it was a serious blow to the recovery, here. And doing it all over would be a bad thing. Hat tip to Tyler Cowen.

My own sense is that any signal US political structural dysfunction scares the global economy. And the debt ceiling debate was as clear a signal as one might imagine. The key is that when the world’s only remaining superpower shows sign of instability, risk takers run to the sidelines.

Some thoughts on the debt crisis

First, I think the consequences for US science, were the US to default and possibly even if Congress and the President reach a deal, will be negative. In macro terms, I see Federal R&D on a downward glide slope that may well turn into a dive.

Second, I think the combination of the US debt crisis and the European sovereign debt melt down are potentially devastating to the entire global science enterprise. Asia is not yet at the point where the massive western science infrastructure is not needed to push ahead.

Third, with regards to the US, the solutions being put forward by both sides are so constrained by the size of the entitlement problem, there is no scenario that I can see where we don’t eat our seed corn.

To give loyal readers a sense of what the future might look like, we might look to the example of Soviet science after the collapse of the USSR in 1989. Not good.

The FT calls it "American Roulette"….

That’s the headline in the paper edition. The on-line article is here. Behind the firewall, the Chronicle of Higher Education weighs in with what a default would mean for colleges here.

For public universities like Mason, the problem is likely to be in what happens with on-going sponsored research, Pell grants and to a lesser extent the George Mason University Foundation portfolio.

On August 2 (D-Day as default), I’ll be on my way to the MBL in Woods Hole for my annual stint. Sometimes the best way to get perspective on what goes on here in Washington is to get away from it.