Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
As a consumer proposition, the thing that is so difficult about the Date is that it's a transaction that goes two ways. You and she are both buyers and sellers, simultaneously. It's like buying a house that is also considering buying you. So the whole time, at every stage, from the first tense hello to the final good-bye kiss on the cheek, lips, or air, you're not just thinking, Do I like her, do I like her? you're also worrying, Does she like me, does she like me? So you keep switching from offense to defense: charming, then evaluating, then charming again. All the while pickling yourself in alcohol. It's easier to twirl dinner plates while riding a unicycle across a high wire strung above Broadway.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is one of his recent interviews on the economic crisis and the Fed:
Friday, December 5, 2008
The trick worked fine! I connected it back, and it came back to life for around 30 minutes. The extra time allowed me to recover all files that I had recently stored and had not yet transferred to the secondary backup drive.
The "freezing trick" is known among geeks, see for example this post.
WSJ: another market sell-off.
WSJ: more layoff announcements.
Posner and Becker on the future of conservatism and free-market libertarianism.
Cowen on Krugman's "vertical AD curve" interpretation of the Great Depression.
Rogoff defends inflation to combat the crisis (HT Mankiw).
Tabarrok on diet contracts.
Mankiw on the effects of business cycles on marriage contracts in India.
Wolfers on the effects of the crisis on the market for Ph.D. economists.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
WSJ: nobody cares about Minnesota.
WSJ on the once conceived $100 gold coin.
WSJ on the Harvard Endowment losses.
WSJ on ECB rate cuts.
The Economist on American automakers.
The Economist on the price of oil.
The Economist: Chilean economy affected by drop in commodity prices.
Mankiw on aggregate supply and aggregate demand.
McArdle on the automakers.
Boudreaux on the automakers.
Roberts on the automakers.
Perry on the lack of news on the increase in housing affordability.
Perry on the surge in mortgage applications.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The Keynesian model has some clear, practical insights about how to think about fiscal policy during economic downturns. But are those insights true?
One approach to answering this question is to examine the data using the techniques of time-series econometrics without imposing much a priori theory. For monetary policy, there is a large literature that does this; for fiscal policy, the literature is smaller but growing. The results from this exercise, however, do not always confirm the predictions from textbook Keynesian models. ...
I am not sure how convinced I am by these findings. And even if they are correct, I am not sure what model I should use to explain them and to what extent that model would apply to the extraordinary economic circumstances we now face. At the very least, these puzzles should give us reason to pause when using the Keynesian framework for policy analysis. There is still a lot about macroeconomics that remains deeply puzzling.
WSJ on the NBER and business cycle dating.
WSJ on Obama's national security team.
WSJ: NBER says recession started in December 2007.
WSJ on the death of economics blogger Tanta from Calculated Risk.
The Economist on Obama's national security team.
Mankiw on government debt and future generations.
Roberts on subsidizing failure.
Kurdas on the "Predator State" by Galbraith (HT Shikida).
Kling on real and Keynesian business cycles.
Carden on Cartmanomics (very funny)...
Perry: natural gas prices keep falling.
So while I don’t doubt ... that the economists heading to Washington have probably just concluded the best week of their new jobs ... I do hold considerable hope that the best instincts of academic economics can be harnessed to make a positive difference for the U.S. economy and even its political and social structure.
That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of bad instincts too — a certain arrogance that accompanies many economists’ arguments, a willingness to argue the minor points forever while forgetting the major goals in play, etc. — but if the U.S. electorate could choose its first minority president, is it really too much to ask that a little bit of the best economic research could trickle down into the White House?
Monday, December 1, 2008
WSJ: Shlaes on Krugman's recipe for economic depression.
WSJ: Black Friday was better than expected.
The Economist on the appointment of Geithner for the Treasury Department.
The Economist on Sarkozy's state-friendly market economy.
The Economist on Obama's economic team.
The Economist on Russia and Latin America.
The Economist on the Fed and Treasury policies.
Mankiw on Obama's team of economists.
Kling on failing to foresee the financial crisis.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
WSJ: Paulson says new bailouts are unlikely.
WSJ: SEC charges Mark Cuban with insider trading.
WSJ: Citi job cuts.
NYT: no BlackBerry for Obama (HT McArdle).
Kling's metaphors for financial reform.
Cowen on the solution to a liquidity trap.
Sorman on the two Latin Americas (in French).
Monday, November 17, 2008
(1) Create a voluntary fund. Everyone that thinks that Detroit should be helped would be able to commit by providing cash or signing in as a loan guarantor. No handout through coercive government power. It's a truth-revealing mechanism: whoever thinks that this is the correct way to do it please be the first in line.
(2) If coercion is to be used, then give the money to anyone willing to buy new cars instead of giving it directly to Detroit, let's say, someone like me. After all, I'd not mind having one of these in my garage...
PS: Becker explains why bailing out Detroit is a bad idea (HT Mankiw). See also this comment by Perry (HT Mankiw).
This time I watched the "Final Cut" version of 2007, which is however not very different from the "Director's Cut" version of 1992.
Here's one of the most magnificent scenes in the history of cinema: "tears in rain."
The movie explores the economic challenges of cattle herders living in South Texas and the importance of the Chisholm Trail, which connected most of South Texas to the north of the US, and therefore was essential for the economic development of the region.
The movie appeals to me on a personal level. I once lived in the region where the story takes place, and hauled my belongings from the very beginning of I-35 to its very end in Northern Minnesota, having covered therefore a good part of the Chisholm Trail on my way north.
Here are some of the best moments in the movie. Yeehaw!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Economist on the Republican Party.
The Economist: more trouble for Obama.
The Economist on the Senate seats still up for grabs.
The Economist on the bailout plan changes.
The Economist on the European recession.
The Economist on the Obama's government transition.
FOX: Putin's "kind" comments on the President of Georgia.
Forbes on China's trade surplus (HT Oliver).
Hamermesh on the economic obscurantism of incentive haters.
Roberts on the credit crunch.
Banaian on falling wine prices.
Le Monde: France does better than its neighbors during this crisis (in French).
Sorman: anxiety is rising in the Chinese Communist Party (in French).
When no one knows how the rules of the game are going to change — and they seem to change from week to week — who wants to take a risk? Who wants to borrow money? Who wants to invest? Business and consumers are hunkering down, waiting for the storm of change to pass.
The problem isn't liquidity.
[Treasury Secretary] Paulson doesn't realize that his erratic attempts at creating liquidity are creating the uncertainty that makes liquidity meaningless. ...
As the TARP spreads, the cost will keep rising. Remember the talk about how the government might even profit from its $700 billion "investment?" (Insert hollow laugh here.) ...
And who's going to pay for all of this? Those who lived within their means, who went with the smaller house, who waited a few more years to get that new car, who took a part-time job rather than borrowing even more money to pay for college. Suckers. You missed out on the thrills and now you're going to be paying the bills. The prudent will be paying for the imprudent for a long time.
Perhaps no potential nominee is taking more heat than Harvard University economist Lawrence Summers, a potential pick as Treasury secretary. Mr. Summers served in that post for President Clinton and has moved to a position of prominence in Mr. Obama's economic team. Women's groups are particularly distressed about his possible appointment, recalling comments he made as Harvard president that innate characteristics may prevent women from achieving more prominence in science.
"The American electorate has changed the course of history by demonstrating that an African-American can do anything. We hope that the messages of the Obama presidency will be broader than that -- that any American can do anything. That includes women," said an anti-Summers broadside from the Rosalind Franklin Society, an honors group for women in biosciences.
Labor groups and liberal economists are suspicious of Mr. Summers's free-market principles, which helped guide a deregulation of the financial-services industry at the end of the Clinton era.
"It would be a really bad start to his administration if President Obama picked a Treasury secretary who shares a substantial part of the blame for the bubble economy and the financial crisis," liberal economist Dean Baker recently wrote.
But Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, took a swipe at Mr. Summers's chief rival for the post, New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner, who, he made clear, is an unknown quantity to labor.
"I always worry about somebody who has spent his whole life at the Federal Reserve," Mr. Stern said, plugging a new name for consideration, New Jersey governor and former Goldman Sachs chairman Jon Corzine.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Well... the movie is watchable, and had the potential to be great, but it's pretentious, unbelievable and even boring, especially when the dialogues try to be political and end up sounding like ivory tower paranoid drivel.
Matt Damon has done a great job in the "Bourne" movies, but here he appears to be over-coached. His depiction of raw genius is not convincing: I couldn't see passion in his handling of knowledge. Great minds, no matter how eccentric and marginal, cannot exist without the fire that props up the search for understanding.
The bar scene below is supposed to be one of the greatest in the movie. For me however it's a perfect example of the problems that I described above.
A day after a News Tribune story reported that E-85 gas prices at a Duluth station was 69 cents higher than other stations — and U.S. Postal Service workers were locked into filling their cars there — nothing has changed. ...
“It’s not an option to send them to another route,” he said. “It eats up substantial time, which: A) cuts into the savings of getting cheaper gas, or B) they’re not spending time delivering mail.”
Why not allow carriers to fuel up on regular gas? Nowacky said the Energy Act prevents them from buying regular fuel unless the post office files for a waiver. But Nowacky said by the time it would take to compile the information and data needed to file the waiver, the station probably would have gotten another shipment of E-85 and lowered its prices.
E-85 is a mix of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The price of E-85 is normally lower than for unleaded gasoline. The manager of the Interstate Spur said his station’s high price reflects the amount they paid for the fuel.
WSJ on more bailout foolhardy.
WSJ: finally, some resist to bailout foolhardy.
WSJ: a confusing bailout plan.
WSJ: not so much change after all.
WSJ: Rove thinks history favors the GOP in 2010.
Mankiw gives advices to Obama.
Mankiw: time to buy stocks.
Becker and Posner on depressions.
Guardian on the strange language of the Pirahãs in the Brazilian Amazon.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The movie title refers to British cartoon character Colonel Blimp. Colonel Blimp is not Major General Candy, despite some similarities. Major General Candy does not actually die in the movie. The title is a reference to the rise and fall of early 20th century chauvinistic values represented by Colonel Blimp.
The movie was made during World War II, and the directors got in trouble with Churchill, who thought it was not tough enough on the Germans.
Here's one of the many thought-provoking dialogues in the movie:
Monday, November 10, 2008
Voting Machines Elect One Of Their Own As President
Saturday, November 8, 2008
WSJ: Pelosi is for more "fiscal stimulus."
WSJ: Fed's Lockhart on the Fed's arsenal.
The Economist on who voted for Obama.
The Economist on Obama's economic troubles.
The Economist on the Senate and House elections.
The Economist: European rates are cut again.
The Economist on the credit crunch in Brazil.
The Economist on Obama and the unemployment surge.
The Economist: American carmakers, in trouble again...
Mankiw on the new draft (very, very bad idea).
Caplan on Krugman's judgmental view of the median American voter.
Sachsida interviews León-Ledesma on the effects of the financial crisis in Europe (in Portuguese).
Constantino explains how government awkward regulation of the credit rating agencies made them irrelevant (in Portuguese).
Friday, November 7, 2008
PS: Hamilton wrote this post on the subject on September 2007.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The Economist on Obama's victory.
Forbes: Cooley on change he can believe in (HT Mankiw).
Samuelson on the gap between poor and rich (HT Mankiw).
Mankiw on the importance of allowing the GOP to become the party of the libertarian youth.
Lindgren: Summers for the Treasury Department? (HT Shikida).
Seavey on libertarians and Obama (HT Shikida).
Caplan on how economists are smart and smart people think like economists.
Dubner on how video games can be used for the greater good.
Perry: the year in review.
Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
WSJ agrees with magazine The Economist in one point: voting for Obama is a gamble.
WSJ: Markowitz criticizes finance professionals for their role in the crisis (HT Selva).
WSJ: credit card losses to rise.
WSJ: Fed's Lacker on government mixed signals.
The Economist: McCain's last salvo.
Becker and Posner on the effects of free markets on moral character.
Mankiw: will radical economists be at the core of an Obama government?
Perry on GRE scores per field.
Cowen on the demand for economic classes after the crisis.
Boudreaux on Mencken and political irrationality (here too).
Lawson makes an interesting point against voting.
Fair Model estimates that Obama will win with 51.91% of the two-party votes (HT Selva).
Sachsida asks: where was the bank run? (in Portuguese).
Sorman: markets are imperfect, the state is even more imperfect (in French).
Monday, November 3, 2008
WSJ's Noonan analyzes the election.
WSJ: state's voting patterns depend on states' economic indicators.
WSJ: ECB recommends more public spending.
WSJ: consumption is down, but saving is up.
WSJ on campaign contributions.
The Economist supports Obama, but thinks "voting for him is a risk."
The Economist on falling consumption in the US.
Sowell criticizes Obama (HT Mankiw).
Mankiw on tax hike bets on Intrade.
Perry on the fall of the ethanol industry, squeezed between higher costs and lower revenues.
Sorman on the challenges ahead for the US (in French).
Sunday, November 2, 2008
NORTHFIELD, Minn. — A professor has confessed on a national blog to stealing Republican presidential campaign signs in southern Minnesota.
Philip Busse wrote about the thefts on Huffington Post, a liberal news Web site and blog in a post dated Thursday. He is a visiting professor in the theater department at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
In the article titled “Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer,” Busse admits to stealing seven McCain/Palin lawn signs along Hwy. 19 near St. Olaf.
In an e-mail to the Northfield News, Busse expressed remorse, saying it was “immature and impetuous.”
But he said he’s surprised at the reactions he’s received for the act instead of his article on the Web site.
“Writing the essay was an opportunity to explore and talk about political speech and the desire that most of us have to express our politics — both in mature and immature ways, and sometimes a mix of the two,” Busse said in the e-mail. “I’m disappointed that most readers seem to have focused on the thefts, and not on the larger thoughts.”
In the article, Busse likened his thefts to an act of civil disobedience and said that stealing the signs was “one of the single most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.” The Northfield Police Department says stealing political yard signs is treated as a misdemeanor, but complainants rarely decide to pursue charges.
Friday, October 31, 2008
WSJ on the new swap agreements between the Fed and the Central Banks of Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore.
WSJ: recovery only in the second half of 2009.
WSJ: the economy is slow, but it's hard to say if it's officially a recession.
WSJ: McCain uses Biden against Obama.
The Economist on Mexico's government war on the drug cartels.
The Economist on the Fed's rate cut and fiscal policy.
Mankiw on how some people in India see the US presidential election.
Hamilton on the risk of deflation.
Hamilton on the weak performance of the GDP and his work with Chauvet. Notice that despite the negative growth in the third quarter, the scenario is for now far from being catastrophic.
Boudreaux: is Obama a socialist?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The first video shows the original French version with subtitles in Portuguese, and the second video shows the English version, both sung by Gabin.
Zimbabwe's inflation rate has recently hit more than 231 million % per year! This is what a real monetary crisis looks like:
(1) A restaurant check of more than 1 billion dollars!
(2) Here's how restaurant checks are settled:
(3) Only a few months later, three eggs cost 100 billion dollars...
Other pictures are available here.
WSJ: McCain accuses the LA Times of holding back Obama's video.
WSJ: Calabresi on Obama's "redistribution" Constitution.
The Economist on its presidential endorsements in previous elections.
The Economist on McCain's (small) chances of winning.
The Economist on house prices that keep dropping.
The Economist: Iceland goes to the IMF.
Forbes on the road to Euro-taxes (HT Oliver).
Mankiw on the shared application mortgage (SAM) solution to foreclosures.
Eberstadt on the demographic problems in Russia.
Caplan on DeLong going ballistic.
Perry on the culture of government dependency.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It can be easily confirmed here that the new list of main speakers doesn't show his name anymore:
...This post by Costa however has the old list, which showed his name:
James Powell (University of California, Berkeley)
Matthew Rabin (University of California Berkeley)
Rohini Pande (Harvard U)
Edward Prescott (Arizona State U and FED Minneapolis)
Matthew Rabin (UC Berkeley)
Well, it's clear that, whatever may be the reason, he'll not attend the conference anymore.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
WSJ on the Fed's coming interest rate cut.
WSJ: Laffer on the end of the age of prosperity.
Becker and Posner on the Milton Friedman Institute.
Mankiw on promoting Bernanke's classic book on the Great Depression.
Mankiw: Summers on the now gone wealth gains by the superrich.
Perry: dollar hits a 30-month high.
Constantino on the Latin-American patrimonialist political heritage and how it hinders regional development (in Portuguese).
Monday, October 27, 2008
Mr Greenspan foresaw the problems in Senate testimony as early as April 2005, says Mr Orphanides, highlighting the then-Fed chairman’s warning that: “We at the Federal Reserve remain concerned about the growth and magnitude of the mortgage portfolios of the GSEs, which concentrate interest rate risk and prepayment risk at these two institutions and makes our financial system dependent on their ability to manage these risks. … To fend off possible future systemic difficulties, which we assess as likely if GSE expansion continues unabated, preventive actions are required sooner rather than later.”
But, Mr. Orphanides says, “warnings of the problem were not heeded, and the systemic failure that had been a source of concern at the Federal Reserve materialized.”
In his analysis, Orphanides cites this paper by Calomiris.
WSJ on health care wishful thinking.
WSJ on the effect of the crisis on inequality of wealth.
WSJ on the candidates and your money.
WSJ on how Obama's advisers were once supporters of McCain's health care principles.
WSJ: economists find evidence that DST (daylight savings time) not only is an annoyance but also increases residential electricity demand and pollution.
The Economist on the stock market slump.
Mankiw on economists' sins.
Mankiw explains why Obama's tax policies will make him wish to work less.
Mankiw on the Great Depression.
Kling explains the strength of the dollar (tallest among pygmies).
Caplan on The Onion, Bush and Harding.
Perry: foreclosures drop without AZ, CA, FL and NV.
Somin on Ayers' sudden love for property rights (HT Shikida).
Sorman on Argentina's collective suicide (in French).
Sorman on Sarkozy's "reform capitalism" rhetoric.
Beautiful Audrey Hepburn convincingly plays a blind woman that's involuntarily caught into an elaborate game played by thugs looking for a heroin filled doll. The movie is full of twists and turns that will please fans of Hitchcockian thrillers.
In the trailer below, notice the droll warning about smoking during the movie!
Friday, October 24, 2008
The nitrogen contained in our genes, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood and the carbon in our apple pie were made in the cosmic kitchen that is the star. Our bodies are made up of the particles that constitute the stars. Indeed, in a very profound sense we are children of the stars.
WSJ: Rove on politics and Obama's tax plan.
WSJ on lawmakers and loans.
WSJ on Greenspan grilling.
WSJ on Greenspan's mea culpa.
The Economist on the troubles with emerging markets.
The Economist on China and the crisis.
Miron defends libertarianism from opportunistic attackers (HT Selva Brasilis).
Mankiw: Helicopter Ben to the rescue!
Caplan on Hoover's bizarre statements.
Freakonomics on the decriminalization of prostitution.
Roberts on Waxman and the ghost of Milton Friedman (a Halloween tale).
Roberts on Greenspan the penitent.
Everett was the creator of the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics, a multiverse (parallel universes) theory.
The show does a great job explaining the quantum physics paradoxes that lead to the theory, although it could have been clearer about its drawbacks, especially its bizarre implications to probability theory.
The demonstrations of the duality of matter experiment and of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment were well done. Multiverses stories are very popular in sci-fi shows, such as in the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror."
The NOVA episode can be watched online (divided in parts) on YouTube. Here's the preview:
Thursday, October 23, 2008
WSJ: Holtz-Eakin and Goolsbee clash on candidates tax plans.
WSJ on the problems with polls.
WSJ: Fed's balance sheet accumulates junk.
The Economist on the Democratic majority in Congress.
The Economist: US, champion of corporate income tax rates.
The Economist on reactions to the crisis in Asia.
Samuelson: are young voters being played for chumps? (HT Mankiw)
Mankiw on Rawls, Nozick and Joe the plumber.
Kling on economists that think they know it all.
Dubner on academic research on the crisis.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
We postulated that, as a result of elastic labor supply and increasing labor productivity, China's exports lead to higher oil prices and at the same time are less affected by higher oil prices than the exports of China's competitors, meaning that China increases its competitive edge when the price of oil increases.
If the predictions of the model are correct, China's exports could fall more strongly than its competitors' exports during a world recession that is accompanied by falling oil prices, causing further reductions in oil prices. In other words, China's competitive advantage could be reduced when the price of oil falls.
This post by Smith indicates that our article's predictions may be validated soon:
One factor that the oil bulls have repeatedly invoked is demand from China. The figure I have seen oft cited is that Chinese demand will continue to rise at 7.8% per annum. ...
Chinese GDP growth and energy demand has fallen off even though exports are still robust. Thus a fall in exports will lead to a further reduction in growth and energy use. And the growth lever that Ting cites, 5%, is already below the 7%+ that was assumed until recently for China.
WSJ on the messy state of the real estate market in California.
WSJ: now the problem with credit cards.
WSJ: economist Rubin argues that Obama is dangerous to economic freedom (Caplan hopes he isn't).
WSJ: China's economic pain is worse than most expected (not to my surprise).
WSJ on high school dropout city champions.
WSJ on why performance reviews stink (and I concur).
WSJ: "Bernanke endorses Obama" by supporting his fiscal stimulus plan.
The Chronicle of Higher Education on college dropouts (HT Selva Brasilis).
Mankiw: fewer and fewer people are paying income tax.
Tabarrok and Levitt on Heckman's bizarre behavior.
Caplan on messianism.
Selgin on "Planet of the Apes" and the bailout (HT Boudreaux).
Perry: dollar keeps climbing.
Sorman on IMF's Strauss Kahn scandal (in French).
José Piñera, a former Chilean cabinet minister who pioneered the privatized pension system and has served as a consultant to many other countries that have implemented it, called the nationalization proposal "just another step in Argentina's 100-year 'road to underdevelopment.'"
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
WSJ: Fed's Kroszner says better risk management is needed.
The Economist and the economic slowdown in China.
The Economist on TIPS - Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.
Mankiw on Clinton's 1993 bactracking on tax cuts for the middle class (when reality weighs in).
Hamilton: recession is knocking at the door.
Hamilton: will we bailout commodity speculators too?
Monday, October 20, 2008
I think he's wrong. I believe all efforts should have been directed to banks that are in good financial shape so they stay in good financial shape. There are many banks that behaved in a conservative manner and would qualify for that kind of decontamination.
That would have avoided a domino effect while reducing asymmetric information and moral hazard problems. Easier said than done, but surely the principle that should have been at the core of any government plan.
I don't believe it's good health policy to hide the effects of a highly contagious disease and let the carriers wander around the healthy. We don't save the flotilla by tying all smaller boats to the Titanic while it's sinking.
PS: Kling makes a similar point in this post.
WSJ: Hollywood faces economic difficulties.
WSJ on governmental interference in bank's operations.
The Economist on presidential polls.
The Economist on the presidential debate.
Becker and Posner: is the goose that laid the golden eggs wounded?
Mankiw on Obama's health plan.
Tabarrok on broker's with hands on their faces.
Kling on Cowen and Black.
Wolfers on economic gangsters.
Boudreaux: another example of economic illiteracy.