Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
In addition, each family that tapes an episode of Wife Swap receives a $20,000 honorarium for their time. Anyone who refers a family that appears on our program receives $1000 as a ‘thank you” from us.
Asymmetry of this sort, in which there is risk in only one direction, causes bad decision. I have no idea of how to right this, but it should be mentioned when the topic of government failure is discussed.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
If you stop paying your surrogate, she needs to quit and find another job, just like any other worker. But surrogacy isn't like any other job. The only way to quit a pregnancy is to abort it.If you buy into the pro-choice arguments, why isn't it just like any other work?
However, it turned out that November 20, 2008 was not the bottom. On March 9, 2009 both the Dow and the S&P closed below the November 20 levels. The S&P got down to 676.53, 888.62 points below its peak level of 1565 on October 9, 2007, a decline of 56.78%. The Dow dropped to 6547.05, 7617.48 below its peak value of 14164.53, a decline of 53.78%. The great bear market of 2007-2009 has been exceeded only by the bear market of 1929-1933.
Let us hope there is no need to update this dismal statistic again.
The people who suffered from BDS thought it would have no adverse consequences for Barack Obama. How else could you make sense of the widespread expectation that Obama would usher in a new post-partisan epoch? However, the Right has picked up the thought processes of BDS. For everything that Obama says or does, they now automatically think, "What would have been the reaction if Bush had said or done that?" And then they pounce.
Slate.com has a feature, Bushism of the day, which highlights gaffes by George Bush. Now that Bush has gone, you might expect a new feature, one featuring gaffes by President Obama. But instead, in what one can only call a moronic decision, Slate decided to keep adding to the Bushisms, a true sign of BDS. The result? The blog Hotair decided to initiate a new feature, Obamateurism of the Day. Hotair may have even more to choose from than the Bushism column because Obama says so much more in public. Even when he uses the teleprompter, as he does except when he is responding to questions, he sometimes screws up. (Or maybe not--the last link may itself be evidence of ODS.)
So BDS remains alive but has now been joined by ODS, the Obama Derangement Syndrome. Check out Michelle Malkin. If she does not yet have it, she is very close to catching it and it is appearing in a lot of other right-wing blogs as well. Just as BDS resulted in an atrophied and sophomoric political dialog in this country, so will ODS. And whatever Republican next is elected will be subject to a new derangement syndrome. (Of course, within days of Sarah Palin's selection as the GOP vice presidential candidate, full blown PDS arrived, so if she ever becomes president, the derangement will not be new. Also, those on the Left have been eagerly searching for ODS for some time, though their case up to now has been weak. There has been nothing comparable to this.)
For those on the right to avoid ODS, they need to be able to praise Obama when he does something that they would praise if a Republican did it. They will find plenty to criticize, but not everything that Obama does should meet with disapproval. In addition, if those suffering from BDS would be able to recognize that there were things that Bush did that they should applaud and that he is not evil incarnate, it might help restore a bit of civility to the political discourse in this country.
Update: I am not the only one who has noticed this.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.
The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Treasury Secretary claims taxpayers won’t lose a full trillion, because the assets aren’t as worthless as their current market prices suggest. But if that’s true, why does he continue to insist on federal accounting rules that force banks to value their assets at the current depressed market prices? Either the accounting rules are right — in which case taxpayers will end up losing a trillion dollars — or they are wrong, amplifying financial panics — in which case the rules should be repealed, so that banks, not taxpayers, will be able to take the risk of holding the assets. (If these accounting rules, known as “mark-to-market” accounting, had been in place in the late 1980s, “every major commercial bank would have collapsed,” wiping out the economy).
Economists have stressed the negative aspects of informal trade for decades. Informal businesses often don't pay taxes, and they routinely lack the capital and expertise to be as productive as big enterprises, leading to less innovation and lower standards of living.
I guess the reporter never read Hernando De Soto.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
THE NEW estimates by the Congressional Budget Office showing a federal deficit of 13.1 percent of gross domestic product for the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, are neither surprising nor particularly alarming, though it's larger than the 12.3 percent foreseen by the White House.The Washington Post may not think a deficit equal to 13.1% of GDP is alarming, but I do.
McNamara' blog contains musings on church history by a historian. It is very well done.
The Chicago Boyz has a big bunch of contributors and sometimes they discuss interesting topics.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
And on the general topic of the disintegration of society, this post by Rachel Lucas--who I rarely read so I do not know much about her--seemed worth a link.
Update: Also this.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
(I can understand the traditional moral arguments against bestiality. One of the first persons executed in Plymouth Colony was convicted of taking liberties with the livestock, which strikes me as extreme, but I understand the position. However, in the new morality in which it is illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual preference, aren't bestiality laws a form of discrimination against some with a particular sexual preference? Why should the right of a goat to its virginity outweigh the rights of
The article also has a funny bit about a state legislator who did not know what animal husbandry was.
Here is the statement from the FOMC:
But to the surprise of investors and analysts, the committee said it had decided to purchase an additional $750 billion worth of government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities on top of the $500 billion that the Fed is already in the process of buying.In addition, the Fed said it would buy up to $300 billion worth of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months. That would tend to push down longer-term interest rates on all types of loans.
In light of increasing economic slack here and abroad, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued. Moreover, the Committee sees some risk that inflation could persist for a time below rates that best foster economic growth and price stability in the longer term.Here is a take by Scott Sumner, an economist who is actively following monetary policy (as opposed to someone like me, who currently finds a number of other topics more interesting, though not necessarily more important.)
In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability. The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and anticipates that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period. To provide greater support to mortgage lending and housing markets, the Committee decided today to increase the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet further by purchasing up to an additional $750 billion of agency mortgage-backed securities, bringing its total purchases of these securities to up to $1.25 trillion this year, and to increase its purchases of agency debt this year by up to $100 billion to a total of up to $200 billion. Moreover, to help improve conditions in private credit markets, the Committee decided to purchase up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months. The Federal Reserve has launched the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to facilitate the extension of credit to households and small businesses and anticipates that the range of eligible collateral for this facility is likely to be expanded to include other financial assets. The Committee will continue to carefully monitor the size and composition of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet in light of evolving financial and economic developments.
This graph shows the M1-data until March 2
Update: China is worried about the future value of the dollar. It apparently is moving out of longer-term U.S. securities in favor of short-term.
In a case that seems as strange as the story of the unions outsourcing the picket lines, the Washington Post reports that a union is filing unfair labor practices against another union, the SEIU, which hires its members.
The SEIU's national office has been contracting out more and more work to a staffing agency, Harris said, including advocacy for card check. He said it looks as though SEIU is trying to phase his union out of existence.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
People did abdicate responsibility — and now, rather than face that fact, many of them are blaming the government for not, in effect, saving them from themselves. Indeed, what you discover when you talk to victims is that they harbor an anger toward the S.E.C. that is as deep or deeper than the anger they feel toward Mr. Madoff.
Here’s a paradox for Obama supporters: The first American president with personal roots in the developing world (Kenyan father, Indonesian stepfather, childhood residence in Indonesia) is doing more harm to the developing world than any American in history.
Friday, March 13, 2009
People sense something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
A review of John Taylor's explanation of the recent panic and financial meltdown
The equation that killed Wall Street, the quants going wild.
The politics of cap and trade--why businesses sometimes advocate regulation
God vs Darwin among the philosophers
An interview with Robert Barro
An article from 2002 asking whether the housing bubble would crash soon.
An argument we are genetically wired to believe or be religious, which can be spun several ways.
Another article on mark to market, which I may already have linked somewhere.
Jennifer Roback Morse on the octuplets
There are too many interesting things on the Internet to read them all.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
CNBC, sadly, has been playing a loop of Mr. Buffett's remarks that does a consummate job of leaving out his most important point. Nobody cares about the merits of mark-to-market in the abstract, but how it impacts our current banking crisis. And his exact words were that it is "gasoline on the fire in terms of financial institutions."The American Spectator has had a series of articles on the topic.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Today "the all-you-can-eat buffet" is stigmatized and the "sexual smorgasbord" is not. Eberstadt's surmise about a society "puritanical about food, and licentious about sex" is this: "The rules being drawn around food receive some force from the fact that people are uncomfortable with how far the sexual revolution has gone -- and not knowing what to do about it, they turn for increasing consolation to mining morality out of what they eat."
The council gave a unanimous thumbs up to a private company's proposal to build and operate a 300-acre solar array on land near Webberville, east of Austin, and sell the power to Austin. The array is scheduled to be operating by the end of 2010.The catch is that the power generated will be considerably more expensive than conventional electricity. Their solution is to sell it to those who are willing to pay extra for "clean" power:
The green charge for a solar package, if the cost estimates are accurate, would be about $160 a month for the average-value Austin home. The same homeowner would pay about $36 a month under the city's standard program.I think they will have a hard time finding enough people to volunteer for that.
The solar price isn't set, though. Duncan said new federal tax credits could reduce the cost by as much as a third.
Monday, March 9, 2009
By the middle of this century, according to UN projections, 57 percent of the entire Ukrainian population will be dependent elderly. That of course is impossible. No country can survive where only 30 percent work and most of the remainder are elderly (and a few children).Fertility rates are an under-appreciated statistic.
Update: Here is an article about population implosion by Jennifer Roback Morse, an economist who has become an advocate for parenthood and the family.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
If I could, I would buy stock in Coulter and sell short Olbermann. Coulter should do very well in the next few years because an audience will develop for her, those who are frustrated and alienated by President Obama and the Democratic Congress. On the other hand, people like Olbermann and Rachel Maddow will probably struggle because they, like Coulter, are best at attacking, and their audience, those frustrated and alienated by former President Bush and the Republicans who controlled Senate and House, will diminish. If there were only five Republican senators and ten Republican congressmen, they would still rail against the evil Republicans, but when the Democrats are so firmly in control of the centers of power in the country, only the delusional can keep blaming Republicans for the world's problems. On the hand, that control by the Democrats will present virtually unlimited targets for a polemicist as skilled as Coulter.
People on the right will be demanding catharsis in the next few years, not people on the left.