Thoughts and practical advice on a gymnast’s core compentency.
In December 2019, I interviewed Scott Sumner, an economist currently the director of The Mercatus Center’s Program on Monetary Policy. Professor Sumner writes at The Money Illusion, chiefly about monetary policy and economics in his “slightly off-center” style. A 2015 article—Which issues are important (to me)?—served as the basis for our conversation. The list was surprising; I imagined how useful-and how much fun-it would be to ask the professor for elaboration and clarification.
Issues Important to Scott
Max: In the piece you have tiers of issues. In the most important tier, you have four issues: US military intervention (mostly against), immigration (more, more, more), ending the War on Drugs, and a right to die, with a link to Scott Alexander’s essay. Besides possibly the immigration issue, which has seen more interest recently what with pieces like Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith’s graphic nonfiction Open Borders, none of the four are strictly speaking economic issues. I believe that while Caplan says that standard estimates of open border policies would result in something like a doubling of global GDP, did you include that item for its economic effects?
Scott: It probably reflects the fact that I live in a fairly affluent country—the United States—and if I think of my own personal life, the things that matter most to me tend not to be economic factors but other things going on in my life. And I see the country that way as well. Some of these issues have to do with life and death or being incarcerated or being in pain, and it seems that in an affluent country, those things would be more important at the margins than some of the economic issues like taxes and so on. Looking back on that list I would add regulations on organ transplants to the top of the list. Four years later, I don’t know why I didn’t include that at the time. But that’s another issue that’s often thought of as non-economic. So yea, it’s not that economic are unimportant, just not as important for human welfare.
Again, this reflects my living in an affluent society. If I lived somewhere like India, I could imagine economic issues taking on more importance to me.
Max: I seem to recall you mentioning in the past an illness or ailment of some kind. Is that correct, or am I conflating your mention of that with another blogger?
Scott: No, I don’t have any serious illness. I mean I have aches and pains from getting older. You’re probably thinking of the fact that somewhere I mentioned, in the context of inequality, just the difference in quality of life of being young versus old is much bigger than the difference between, say, having relatively low and relatively high income. In other words, my quality of life when I was younger and had much less money was higher than today when I have much more money but more aches and pains. And that’s for someone like me who’s relatively healthy. Taking someone less healthy, the disparity is even higher.
But I may have created the impression that I was less healthy that I actually am.
Max: Do you think that’s a commonly held position? That most people value health more than wealth after a certain amount? Or is that idea still not widely known about, or is but still disregarded?
Scott: You know, that’s hard for me to say because I’m not really sure I am typical. I think I am atypical in one respect in that I don’t really care much about my income relative to others. My perception from when I still worked in a regular office job is that a lot of other people cared a lot about how big their raise was relative to the average. And I didn’t much care about that at all. I was interested in how much money I was going to earn and I preferred more money to less, but I didn’t really think about it in terms of what others were making.
But humans are very social animals. And most people probably care a great deal about how they are doing in the pecking order, so may care more about economic issues than I do. On the other hand, for most people in their day to day lives, it seems to me as an outsider that most of what causes unhappiness has to do with things like physical pain, mental illness, not getting along with friends and family members, personal disputes, a lot of stuff like that. Not whether they’re driving a Mercedes versus a Honda Civic. It’s nice when you get the Mercedes, but then you start driving and the experience is not really much different than driving an ordinary car.
Max: There’s this someone on the internet who goes by gwern, he’s a computer science/engineer type, with a popular website and blog. He tweeted something to the effect of: given that college comprises a socially wasteful set of activities—we make them learn history, French, political science, etc. which doesn’t seem to turn them into “critical thinkers” and they don’t often use that information—we should replace it all with intense exercise and physical training. That everyone should go to school to get into as good a physical shape as they can (not to mention that such physical activity might actually boost IQ some). It’s completely outside the Overton window, but if we’re rewriting the college curriculum in light of what makes people happy, we could also add, to the degree it’s teachable, interpersonal relationship skills. If relationships and physical health are key determinants of happiness, this sort of college could provide a more enduring source of wellbeing.
Scott: Well that makes sense to me. And the question is can we teach that stuff. But I certainly agree that a lot of that is more important than let on. Someone (–actually, gwern again–) commented that elite universities don’t really monitor who sits in their classes but they monitor strictly who goes to the gym. Obviously, I tend to buy into Bryan Caplan’s view that education is largely about signaling. It’s also about socializing, there’s that aspect.
And in terms of the content, I think we are teaching the wrong things. There should be a lot more practical teaching; in high school we should be teaching things like personal finance. Students go to college to learn mathematical models that really have almost no use at all but don’t come out of college knowing that they should put their money into an index fund and not hire someone to manage their money. Basic ideas like that. We’re teaching a lot of stuff that people aren’t particularly interested in. We have in mind a model student that’s an intellectual and we design our system for them; someone like Tyler Cowen. And yet we want to send tens of millions of people to college and most people just don’t fit the mold of that student.
Max: Maybe you should bump education up from the third tier?
Scott: I guess that education is such a big thing it should be higher. I decided a lot of these things along a utilitarian perspective, and some of these things, although are very wasteful, I’m not sure at the end of the day are that enormous a problem. Keep in mind I don’t think these things are unimportant. One of those on the third tier is monetary policy, which I’ve focused on for the last decade. I think it’s in absolute terms a relatively important issue, I just think there are others that are more important.
But that list definitely reflects my bias towards quality of life issues over monetary and financial issues.
Max: I actually don’t think the order is really the most important. I’m probably more interested in the content of the list itself. One issue as you wrote it that I wanted clarification from was “financial system: stop encouraging lending”. Do you remember who you were admonishing to stop this encouraging this lending?
Scott: It was the government. We encourage lending through various government policies, including deposit insurance which creates a lot of moral hazard. And then there are more specific policies, some of which were trimmed back after the crisis. Before the crisis in 2008, the government was definitely trying to get as many people as possible into houses. They were trying to create a society of homeowners and using regulatory means to encourage more lending. But even afterwards we still have a tax code that encourages lending. I’d like to have certain free market reforms where people make decisions based on private costs and benefits without any government distortions.
Max: Ok, I thought so. I was curious if maybe there was some sort of idea that there’s actually too much private lending.
Scott: Well there is too much private lending, but it’s being encouraged by the government.
Max: Would you then say one of the—unintentional, no doubt—countervailing forces of the government incentives for lending is the fact that our monetary policy regime pursues inflation… isn’t that a cost to creditors? Doesn’t that discourage lending at the margin?
Scott: It does a little bit. But of course, the inflation rate recently has been low, so the negative effect is fairly small. If you think of inflation as a sort of tax, then you have to embed that inside our general tax on capital income. We tax capital income from all sources, lending and equity (stocks and bonds if you will). When you have inflation, that raises the effective tax rate on all forms of capital income. But in addition, our tax system is biased towards debt and away from equity. We tax equity investments at a higher rate than debt-financed investments. The interest on debt can be written off, whereas taxes on dividends are not deductible. Because our tax system is biased towards debt and against equity, we have relatively too much debt compared to equity when we finance an investment project. I think you have to think beyond inflation and think about the specifics of debt versus equity. I’m not saying we have too much financial activity. I’m saying I’d like to have a neutral system, neutral between debt and equity. And that would push us more in the direction of equity.
Max: Moving onto the second level issues, they seem to be of a piece with laissez faire, smaller-government reform.
Scott: In a lot of areas like health and education, you have government distortions which create problems which we then try to solve with other government distortions. I would like to peel it back to more of a market system, although not necessarily entirely free market. The government may have some role to play in providing health and education, especially for low-income people. But yes, essentially, I would like to see a much more deregulated health and education sectors with basically people like myself paying out of pocket for these things. But that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily opposed to all government intervention. I think I tend to favor ones that make sense, like carbon taxes to deal with global warming and so on. I do think in certain sectors that government intervention that exists now is so intrusive and counterproductive that we would be better off scaling it back quite a bit. Vouchers would be one way of reducing the government’s footprint.
Max: Moving to the issue of tax reform. I don’t know much about the merits of a consumption tax, and a progressive one at that. If the goal is non-distortionary taxation, why a progressive consumption tax?
Scott: Well taxes are somewhat distortionary. You could argue that maybe the land tax depending on how it is set up is not, but most taxes will have some distortionary effects. With a consumption tax, you are at least trying to reduce the distortion by being neutral between current and future consumption. Other taxes like an income tax or taxes on capital in general effectively tax future consumption at higher rates than current consumption. So that discourages people from saving and investing. If we switch from an income tax to a consumption tax, it should be more efficient because of the neutrality between current and future consumption. Now if you make it progressive, the wealthier paying a higher rate will to some extent discourage work effort. But in my view, the benefits of a progressive consumption tax are probably greater than the negatives, as long as the tax is not too excessive.
Max: But why progressive? Why not a flat rate?
Scott: The utilitarian argument is that a dollar is worth more to a poor person than a rich person. With a progressive rate, you’re essentially redistributing utility. Let’s say a billionaire reacts to such a tax by buying a 300-foot yacht instead of a 400-foot yacht. Now the resources that are saved by buying a smaller yacht can be used to build maybe 20 automobiles. Now here’s the question: is the enjoyment that 20 people get from having cars greater than the disutility the billionaire experiences from having a slightly smaller yacht. And I think the answer is probably yes.
Now that doesn’t mean it’s something we ought to be doing because there is still the distortionary effect. But as long as the taxes are not too extreme, in my view those ill effects are smaller than the benefit of redistribution.
To be honest, if there weren’t any distortionary effects, you could make a good argument that you should have a sort of extreme communist country where everyone has equal income, precisely because of diminishing marginal utility from each extra dollar as you get richer. The reason we don’t go towards that extreme is because the distortionary effects get worse and worse as you get closer and closer. In the most extreme example, like in Mao’s China or North Korea, the results are disastrous and the effect is a huge loss in human welfare. The question is how much redistribution can you do before the benefit of moving dollars from the rich to the poor no longer exceeds the cost in terms of the pie becoming smaller through tax distortions. And I don’t have a good answer to that. In the short run, you could probably do a lot more redistribution beneficially than in the long run. The costs probably increase over time.
One way of thinking about that issue that I sometimes like talking about is comparing the United States and Europe. If America were to adopt a European economic model tomorrow, we would still be the next day a relatively wealthy country. We’d be much richer than Europe—we’re currently 30% richer in per capita income or something. On the other hand, there’s no particular reason to expect the United States to continue to be 30% richer in the future if we adopt the European economic model. That’s common sense. There’s no difference between Americans and Europeans that explain why we’re so much richer, that I can think off, besides our economic model. In the long run, the European economic model would erode the higher incomes maintained in the United States and reduce the size of the pie.
Maybe a better example I could give would be if tomorrow we adopted the European gasoline tax and gas prices jumped to $7 a gallon. We would still be consuming a lot of gasoline the next day, but over the years and decades, Americans would adapt to that with a change in lifestyle: smaller cars, more mass transit, we would start to look more like Europe. The long run effects are much, much greater than the short run.
I think this is something that progressives sometimes underestimate. They tend to think only of the short run natural experiments of a tax change. “See, there was not much disincentive effects, let’s adopt more taxes.” But looking across countries, you do see vast differences in things like work effort and GDP per capita and so on, when you have different incentive structures. And of course, Europe has much higher taxes and benefits, so much higher penalties for working extra hours than in the United States. That really does show up in different economic performance over time.
Max: I would like to ask a few questions about monetary policy. I want to start kind of basic. I was speaking to a friend yesterday. This friend is not an economist by any means, maybe nothing more than an economics principles course in college. And they sort of stumped me with some basic questions. For instance, why should a central bank pursue an inflationary agenda whatsoever? Why is it desirable to have, say, 2% inflation? Why not 0%?
Scott: Well there are two questions there. Should the government pursue inflation at all? And second, if they do, what should that number be? I happen to favor a nominal GDP target over inflation target, but let’s say I lose that battle and we’re targeting inflation. Then the question is, “Well, why not 0% or 5% or some other number?” As with a lot of things in economics, there are costs and benefits as you move in any direction. If you start with 2% inflation, and ask why not increase that to 4% or 6% or 8%, the inflation starts to damage the economy by acting as a tax on capital. You get less investment and economic growth in the long run with higher inflation rates. But there are also benefits. One thing that probably is true is that it makes the labor market a little bit more efficient to at least have higher-than-0% inflation, because workers are very reluctant to accept nominal wage cuts. The name of my blog is named after this concept, the money illusion. The idea is that the average worker would rather get a 3% pay increase in a world of 4% inflation than a 1% pay cut in a world of 0% inflation. The 1% pay cut seems like a personal insult. And I saw that in my own career. I used to teach at Bethany College and I know the attitudes of the faculty there and it’s exactly as I describe it. People tend to think in nominal terms. As a result of that, the labor market is probably a little more efficient with a little bit of inflation.
Also, central banks tend to use interest rate targeting, and if you have very low inflation rates, interest rates are more likely to be at zero. Then monetary policy is less effective. Now I don’t think central banks should be doing interest rate targeting, so that would not be as much of a problem if I had my way. By the same token, I don’t think we should tax capital income, so the cost in higher in inflation—which is mostly the extra tax on capital income—would not be a problem if I had my way and we had a consumption tax. You could tweak the model and change the economic system and the optimal inflation rate would be different depending on the underlying model. There is no single, optimal inflation rate that’s always true in all situations. It really depends on the particularities of the case.
Max: But whence inflation targeting? Why not fix the money supply? Why is it a bad thing that, when companies become more productive, products become cheaper and prices go down?
Scott: Companies should cut prices when they are more efficient. But that’s a relative price change. We’re talking here about the overall price level, which is essentially the value of money. Then you have to think about what the optimal value of money should be. What makes money kind of special is that the prices of other goods are expressed in terms of money. The only way for the value of money to change is not for its nominal price to change—a dollar is always worth a dollar—but for the price of everything else in the economy to change. If there’s a big harvest of apples, we can deal with that very simply by cutting the nominal price of apples. Nothing else has to change. If there’s a big harvest of money—if a lot of money is printed—the only way we can accommodate that change is to raise the nominal price of everything else. That creates a presumption that we would like to, in some sense, stabilize the value of money. Maybe not exactly at zero inflation, but some sort of stability in the value of money.
Well, why not fix the supply of money? If it’s desirable to have a stable value of money so that other prices don’t have to move around—say, we have a shock in the money market—then it would be better to have the supply of money move in step with changes in the demand for money. If there’s a crisis and everyone wants to hold money, they’re afraid of banks failing, then you want to accommodate that extra demand for money by increasing the supply of money, so that the price level maintains some stability in that situation.
I would argue that we would like to have a relatively stable value of money, which makes the rest of the economic system work more efficiently, and we do that by adjusting the supply of money in step with changes in demand for it.
Max: And instead of the instance of a single company becoming more productive, but something like total factor productivity rising, where all prices go down, wouldn’t we want that?
Scott: Well yea, at some point I think they should. As you may know, I favor nominal GDP targeting. Now if you had a 0% target for nominal GDP growth, what would happen is that every time output went up 5%, prices should be falling 5%, keeping the nominal spending unchanged. That’s the logic of nominal GDP targeting. Now I’ve advocated that nominal GDP actually grow at 4% a year or something like that. In that kind of economy, when growth is faster, inflation is lower, and if growth exceeded 4% then you would actually have deflation and it would be desirable. It would reflect improvements in productivity. What you’re basically trying to do there is keeping income growth at a steady rate and letting the price level and real output move sort of inversely to each other.
Max: And that’s to privilege workers’ preference for seeing their nominal incomes rise? Is that the main thing we’re satisfying there by having nominal growth rate set at something other than 0%?
Scott: In the long run, money is neutral for any sort of reasonable monetary regime. None of these are going to affect the long-run path of real wages. You can have 0%, 2%, or 4% NGDP target–whatever you target, the growth rate of real wages will always be based upon scientific progress, efficiency of your economy, supply-side policies and so on. But over the business cycle, the way it plays out will very much be affected by the type of monetary policy you have. For instance, under NGDP targeting, when there’s a burst of productivity growth, the way that benefits workers is not that they receive higher nominal wages—nominal wages should be tracking nominal GDP growth—but rather the burst in productivity growth will help workers by depressing prices. They’ll still get their typical raise of each year but they will see their cost of living fall.
Now, if you have some other system in place, like inflation targeting, workers would still benefit from productivity growth. The way they’d benefit is they would get higher nominal wages. If you kept inflation at 2% and you had faster productivity growth, then companies would start paying workers higher nominal wages and they would still benefit. Then you’d think, what difference does a monetary policy make? The advantage of NGDP targeting is not that it’ll help workers get higher real wages in the long run, but rather that it will smooth out the business cycle. You won’t have these ups and downs in the unemployment rate because of shocks to the economy—at least not to the extent you’d experience under inflation targeting.
Max: For the two or so years I’ve followed this issue, I’ve come to be very persuaded by NGDPLT. I sincerely wish you and David Beckworth—I’m not sure who else to include in that policy campaign—the best of luck, because it seems that, in a world of trade-offs, NGDPLT is the rare unambiguously better policy, better than “mere” inflation targeting. Which is a rare, low-hanging fruit to be had.
Another question, sort of related to monetary policy, has to do with the interest payments on excess reserves the Fed pays. Now, I’m not sure to what extent the proportion of reserves held at the Fed are held by depository institutions like commercial banks, but granting it’s “only” some hundreds of billions of dollars of the $1.5 or so trillion in reserve, is the main or only thing stopping that huge sum of money from entering the economy—and probably exploding inflation—that 1.55% rate of interest the Fed pays its depositors?
Scott: As a first approximation, that may be true. This is a fairly complicated area. I can tell you that if we went back to the system we had before the Great Recession, when there were very small amounts of excess reserves, then in that kind of world the only way you could have a large amount of excess reserves is to pay interest. The payment of interest is a primary reason we have such large reserve holdings.
However, I have to qualify that. Since the Great Recession there have also been some regulatory changes that have encouraged banks to hold more reserves. It’s possible that even if we took away the interest payments on reserves, banks might still hold more reserves than pre-2008. I’m not enough of an expert on that to have a strong opinion. But unquestionably the interest rate is a key factor in a large reserve holding.
If you think about it, prior to the Great Recession, banks tended to earn positive interest rates on very safe assets like Treasury bills and earned zero interest on excess reserves. Obviously, they didn’t want to hold much in excess reserve. The market for treasuries was highly liquid so they could accumulate interest-bearing assets. As a result, banks tended to hold close to nothing in excess. If we went back to that system, it would seem to follow that reserve holdings would fall sharply. In that case, the Fed would have to withdraw the reserves that enter circulation, causing inflation as we played a game of hot potato with all that new money, passing it along and generating spending.
In practice, the Fed would remove some of this reserve from circulation and we would go back to smaller federal reserve balance sheets.
Max: This is very much George Selgin’s wheelhouse, but it seems like a very imprecise tool to go from a corridor system of affecting the money supply, whereby the Fed manipulates the supply and ensuing demand for reserves in the Federal funds market to achieve a target interest rate, to now where we have interest paid on any reserves held in excess of the Fed statutory requirements. It seems like a lot is more is left up to banks to determine the money supply. Then again, we haven’t seen much inflation, have we? Maybe it is an adequate instrument of monetary policy.
Scott: I would just say that the biggest mistake was when they first instituted it in 2008. You’re right, you can make it sort of workable in normal times. But it did have a contractionary effect on the economy because interest payments on reserves is generally a contractionary policy. And the Fed instituted it in October 2008, right as we were plunging into an NGDP downturn. That was a big mistake. Now that we’re in a recovery phase, they’ve tweaked the system so that it seems to work OK. But I wonder how it will work in the next recession.
Max: Yea, it seems we’ll find out.
I wanted to touch on one more theme before closing, the theme of progress that you’ve taken up recently , . You tell me if this description is off-base, but humans have a strong tendency to habituate themselves to new gadgets, products—progress, basically. Humans adjust in the stingier and more entitled direction. That sort of phenomenon applies to some extent in all the domains we’ve seen progress, like healthcare or consumer technology. On net, we’re not actually increasing the amount of utility because of this inflation effect happening on material progress “buying” us more happiness.
Scott: I’m somewhat agnostic on this question of progress. I don’t feel like I really know whether progress is helping us or not. I was being a little bit of a contrarian presenting the perspective. And in some areas I feel more strongly than in others. I definitely feel that getting more gadgets probably doesn’t have a significant effect on our well-being. When you talk about other types of improvements, like better healthcare, that’s more debatable and you can make a better argument for progress in healthcare or human rights or areas like that. You can make a better argument for economic growth when income growth is in a lull and income would spill over immediately into things like pain reduction.
I feel that people underestimate the extent we become softer as our society removes discomfort. And therefore, smaller things we would not have much noticed in the past become more painful today. When I look at the long sequence of history I think I can see that; and to some extent in my own personal life. If I’m in a situation where I’m suffering physical pain I can sort of get used to it. If I’m in a “soft job” I notice minor ailments more.
I certainly wouldn’t deny that there are differences, and unfortunately some people suffer much more pain than others. There are also psychological, genetic differences between people and how much discomfort they experience. But I don’t think that that’s well understood. I’m 64 years old and it’s not immediately obvious to me that people are happier than they were when I was young. But it is clear to me that there has been tremendous economic growth. If you look at the standard metrics of well-being, almost all areas of our society we’re considerably better off than in 1960. We have better products, better healthcare, better restaurants… all sorts of ways we’re better off in those days. But whether we’re actually enjoying them more, it’s hard for me to say. If I picture myself going back to 60s lifestyle, it seems kind of depressing. Like I think about the kind of restaurants I used to eat in back then. But of course, in those days, we didn’t have anything else, that was the baseline.
I did that post partly because I believe this to be true and partly because I thought it was a provocative idea. I figured most people would disagree with me. But I don’t think people put enough weight on the possibility that progress doesn’t make us better off.
Max: I had taken for granted that the truth of the matter, when it comes to progress and human wellbeing, is pretty clearly in the direction that more of one means more of the other. I often think of that when I see in popular media a tone of “the world is on fire” and I want to point people to the work of Steven Pinker and others. On a longer timeline than the news cycle, it seems indisputable that things are better, there humans are much better off. The hundreds of millions, billions even, people who have been raised out of absolute poverty in the last generation or two is a miracle. That should be cause for celebration.
It’s not that you’re denying that, but maybe reaffirming the point that, after some amount of income, not a lot of this stuff matters.
Scott: Let me make that point more forcefully. I think actually I’m much more aware of progress we’ve made globally than other people. When I talk to other people, they don’t seem to have any conception of how much progress has occurred in places like China—how much better off the Chinese are than they were in the 1960s. I mean, if they had any conception of that they would view China as an unbelievable success story, one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened. But most people have a fairly negative view of China and how things played out there. I believe that most people lack much understanding of what sort of material progress has occurred there. And I would even include the Chinese. That is, if you go to China and talk to people, often they’ll be nostalgic for those earlier decades, when China’s position was roughly what North Korea’s has been recently.
When you actually read the history it seems horrific, so it’s odd that the Chinese would have lots of nostalgia. And I really don’t know what to make of that. And it’s not just China, you can ask older Russians about life under Stalin. It’s a real puzzle, but it doesn’t come from the fact that I don’t realize how much progress has been made. I think if anything I’m more aware than the average person of the huge improvement in material wellbeing.
Being agnostic on the question makes me very much pro-progress as a matter of public policy. Because if we don’t really know the answer, we have two options. Progress doesn’t make us better off or worse off, or it makes us a lot better off. Under that uncertainty, you’d have to go for progress. There doesn’t seem much downside but lots of potential upside. That’s how I would put it.
Max: I would venture some part of the explanation for the Russian adoration of the Stalin era or the Chinese adoration of Mao might be the same process that’s at work when Navy SEALs, looking back at their hell weeks of training, view it as a strong, positive experience even if objectively the conditions were awful. We rationalize brutal conditions as being good for us, maybe as a sort of psychological protection.
Scott: My father was in World War II and he had lots of war stories. When we listened to those, it sounded like those were the best years of his life. Now I should say he wasn’t in the worst combat. There are all these theories that human life is not about seeking pleasure but struggling for success and overcoming obstacles and so on. Philosophers have been wrestling with these questions for thousands of years. All I’m saying is that we don’t, even today, have much better understanding of the issues than we did then. There’s a lot of research on human happiness, but a lot of is pretty unpersuasive for various reasons. I do know that there is a lot of counter arguments to what I’m saying, and in the end, I might be wrong and progress makes us better off. But there’s also arguments that we can be better off and not be happier, that there’s some other measure of utility that’s more appropriate than happiness. But that’s hard to pin down and then you have to answer the question of “How do we know we weren’t better off in that other universe? What specifically makes us specifically off?” I just think that this whole area is shrouded in more uncertainty than most people let on.
Max: I could go on but we can end it there. Thank you so much Scott.
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