Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Surfing on Lake Superior

Here's a post on folks who travel to Duluth, Minnesota to enjoy surfing under freezing conditions. The video below tells it all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Unusual Economics of Dating

This article by Sedgwick on online dating that appeared in the magazine Best Life brings forward an interesting economic proposition: that people on a date are simultaneously and symmetrically buyers and sellers:

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.

7th Art: A Tribute to Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, passed away yesterday.

Here's a fan's tribute to the First Lady of the Final Frontier.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bob McTeer's Blog

Here's a blog that's essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about macroeconomic policies and the Federal Reserve: Bob McTeer's Blog. Bob is a Distinguished Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, former Chancellor of theTexas A&M University System, and former President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. I met him during an Econometric Society Meeting in Chile through a common friend, Bill Gruben, and had the pleasure of reading and listening to his speeches while working at Texas A&M International University.

This is one of his recent interviews on the economic crisis and the Fed:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hard Drive Crashed on You? Scare It Back to Life with Minnesota Winter!

One of my external backup hard drives crashed today. I guessed that internal heat was not helping it, so I let the unit stand outside on the porch for about 20 minutes, under a temperature of 10F (-12C).

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.

Stuff I've Read Today

WSJ: a new New Deal?
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

Stuff I've Read Today

WSJ on how Google is coping with the crisis.
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

Mankiw on the Problems with Fiscal Policy

Here's a post by Mankiw on some recent studies that question the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a tool for aggregate demand management. His main point:

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.

Stuff I've Read Today

WSJ on the new actions by the Fed.
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.

Dubner on the Influence of Economists in the White House

Here's an interesting article on Freakonomics by Dubner on the role of economists in the White House. Here's his concluding statement:

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

MarketWatch on Consumer Spending

Hubbard interviews Conference Board senior economist Goldstein:

Stuff I've Read Today

Back to posting...
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.