Saturday, December 19, 2009

Incontrovertible proof that Economics is a Science!




Hat tip to Gabriel M.!!

Twitter Experiment: Avatar today, Rap Video Tomorrow!

So, I'll try out this whole TWEET thing.

@mungowitz

Today, going to see 3D Avatar.

Tomorrow, flying to New York to play the role of "The Bouncer" in Russ Roberts' rap video production. I can't post details, but the Wall Street atmospherics should be worth something.

So, follow if you will....

Just too obvious

Tiger Woods was named the PGA tour's "Playa of the Year"! 

Natch, who else could match his "record"?


ps. if you are looking for a Christmas present for Tiger, here is a good suggestion.



Friday, December 18, 2009

Self-respect

Anonyman sends this link, noting that the LMM and Anonyspouse have similar views on Tiger-Edwards-Spitzer-Sanford. (My wife has made it clear that if I dillied or dallied, she would leave. But she would not leave empty-handed. She would be carrying with her the official "Lorena Bobbitt" souvenir edition portion of me, as a keepsake. Since I would not be needing it any more.)

Why is it, then, that Hillary Clinton gets so much respect? Remember that extraordinarily condescending interview, where she said she would NEVER bake cookies and stand by her man? And then she did EXACTLY that, like a whipped dog? Sure, she made Bill miserable, for more than a year. But she stayed with him, as a calculation of her own interests, in effect selling and demeaning herself. She did "make" him sleep on a couch. That is a little funny, because they already had separate bedrooms!

Why would any woman with independent financial means stay around to be humiliated?

You go, girl. Go out the door. Leave. You are better than that.

UPDATE: I have to add this. Here is the treatment the Hill had to endure after the scandal, and Bill fessed up. WHY did she stay?

Leno:

The big story continues to be President Clinton's best selling book. On the
news tonight they interviewed Clinton's editor. Editor? The book is 957
pages long! What the hell did he edit?

The book is huge. And actually, it folds out into a bed.

The "New York Post" is reporting today that Clinton now feels he has two more autobiographies left to write. That's what I love about Clinton. He's the only guy in the world who has three different versions of his life story. One for him, one for Hillary, one for the grand jury.

In the book, Clinton says that "in politics, if you don't toot your own horn, it usually stays untooted." And if you get someone else to toot your horn, you get impeached.

In his book, Bill Clinton talks about the point where Hillary started to laugh again. It was when he told her "Look, I'll never cheat on you again. I promise." Apparently she got hysterical.

Letterman:

It's only been out a day, Bill Clinton's book is already number one on the
"New York Times" bestseller list. The book is called, "My Life...As A Dog."

It's a fascinating read, this Clinton book, in the book he claims he led a double life. There were 2 Bill Clintons. Bill Clinton claims he led a double life. He was kind of like Dr. Jeckyl and Mister Hyde the salami!

In the book, Clinton reveals one night when he was five or six years old back in Arkansas. His step dad fired a gun in the house but it didn't hit him or his mother. So it looks like this bad aim thing runs in the family.

The most quoted thing in the book is where Clinton talks about after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, he slept on the couch for two months. That's how you know Hillary was mad, they had separate bedrooms and she still made him sleep on the couch!

Today Monica Lewinsky was not sympathetic. She said if Bill thought the couch was uncomfortable, he should try getting under that little desk.

Bill Clinton is really busy right now. He's so busy signing books that he had to cancel his 3 o'clock intern.

I went to the book signing and I was surprised the book was already 30 percent off. Just like his pants.

Angus's favorite music of 2009

To me, there was one release that stands above all others this year. "Bitte Orca" by Dirty Projectors totally knocked my socks off. It's just so f-ing triumphant! Here is a song from the album called "Cannibal Resource"




I also really liked "XX", by The XX. I think this is their debut album. Kind of Edwyn Collins meets Young Marble Giants (i.e. freaking tremendous).


Here's a sample:




Another fantastic release for 09 is "All My Friends are Funeral Singers" by Califone. I have this as double vinyl album and it sounds so incredibly good. Califone has been good for a long time, but they really stood out to me this year in particular. Here's the video for the song "Funeral singers".






Next is a definite guilty pleasure release. I mean, come on, these guys are soundtracking Cadillac commercials. I got it for Mrs. Angus and swore I wasn't going to like it, but Holy Crap!   ">"Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" by Phoenix is such a fun and practically perfect rock record, it totally won me over. Here's the video for "Liztomania":






The next picks are weird in that while they stand out from the rest of 09's releases, they are not quite as good as music by the same people from last year.

"Tarot Sport" by The F***k Buttons would be in my top picks except it's not as good as last year's "Street Horrrsing", which was my record of the year for 08.

Same for "Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle" by Bill Callahan. Stellar, but not as good as " Woke Up a Whaleheart" from 2008.

The last example of this phenomenon is "Blood Bank", the 2009 EP by Bon Iver which is awesome, but not as good as last year's "For Emma, Forever Ago".

People, could "Skinny Love" be the best song of the decade?





I also really enjoyed new releases by stalwart groups like Built to Spill's "There Is No Enemy" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Farm".

The best live shows I saw this year were Built to Spill at the Diamond Ballroom in OKC, and Bill Callahan at the Granada Theater in Dallas

Thursday, December 17, 2009

App State is HOT HOT HOT

Would this make you MORE likely to apply? I don't think so....

Episode II: The Women Strike Back

Wow. One can't condone the violence.

But sports trophy wifes are saying, "Enough!"

Elin beat Tiger like a punk.

And now Chris Henry has actually died being thrown out of a truck. Mr. Henry's fiancee was upset at him, and basically killed him. The description was that "he came out of the truck." Sure he did. Because she was swerving around and screaming at him.

Hell hath no fury.....

On Dancer! On Prancer!

What kind of sick person would do this?
What kind of sick person would put it on their blog?

Banks Not Lending?

A letter:

I have been struggling with figuring out where the banks are getting money to pay back the TARP loans with all the bad loans they have on books and the fact that they are not lending money. I do not see where they are making money suddenly to pay off TARP and pay bonuses!

Thank goodness you got to KPC in time, where ALL can be explained!

The banks are getting money from two sources:

1. The Federal Reserve System, through the its Open Market Desk in NY, and through other outlets, is POURING money into the system, in the form of reserves. Banks, as a result, have an extraordinary amount of cash.

How does the Fed do that? They buy long-term Treasury bonds. Banks can hold reserves in cash or bonds. Many were holding bonds, because there is an inverse relation between interest rates and the value of bonds. If interest rates fall, bond owners take a capital gain. Rates have fallen a lot over the past 14 months. But now rates are near zero. So banks are happy to sell bonds.

When the Fed buys t-bonds, it takes money out of its account at the Treasury (and that account is NOT part of the money supply) and transfers it to the accounts of banks and other entities. Say Fed buys a $1 million dollar bond from Bank of America. BoA has no more wealth than before, but it suddenly has an extra $1 million in cash it needs to invest. The Fed has been increasing the money supply in just this way for the past year or more, at a rate of 10% per month. (I didn't stutter, 10% per month, biggest sustained increase ever, in absolute terms).

2. The assets (collateralized debt obligations and other mortgage-backed securities) have become a little less illiquid. A year ago, nobody would buy CDOs at any price. Now, that part of the credit market has unfrozen a little bit. Banks may still be bankrupt, on their balance sheets, but they can get their hands on some cash, lots of it, by selling off CDOs and other assets.

So, why aren't we seeing the RETAIL credit market unfreeze, since the WHOLESALE credit market, described above, has plenty of cash?

Again, two reasons. First, banks are still trying to avoid risk. And it is not clear that recession is over, in the real world. So banks are borrowing money from the government, at 0%, and then buying NEW federal debt, which pays 3%. That's a guaranteed 3% real return, with no risk. So the Fed buys up debt to increase the money supply, to get the banks to lend. But the banks just buy more government debt, lending to the government instead of lending to small businesses or even large businesses.

And the government is having to borrow more and more to finance the deficit being used to bail out the banks. But the banks are just using the bail-out money to buy more of the debt being used to finance the bail-out! From the taxpayer's perspective, you'd be better off playing the "3-card monte" games in Times Square.

Second, the rush of cash is causing an "asset inflation" which I had always thought was just a wild hypothesis, something that could never happen in the real world. But it IS happening. We aren't getting broad inflation (though the Producer Price Index has been up at a nearly 6% annual rate the last two months!). But the stock market is looking pretty good. But it may simply be because the Austrian Econ prediction of an asset inflation is correct.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A bad day to be in Copenhagen

Consummate statesmen Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez addressed the climate change conference.

YIKES!!

Mugabe was as incisive as ever:

"Why is the guilty north not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing threat of climate change?"

And Chavez too got right to the heart of the matter:

"If the climate was a bank, they would have already saved it."

Now that things have devolved to a circus, why not go all the way and have Ahmadinejad say a few words?

What's that? He's on the schedule for tomorrow?

Holy Crap!


So Sweet I can't stand it....


(Nod to Angry Alex)

Two quite useful posts

on inflation

and on the "carry trade" argument we have argued about before. Angus has noted a weak dollar is not a problem, and of course that's right. But a strong dollar is also not a problem. That's why, as Angus put it, using technical economics language, "Who gives a crap about the dollar?"

This Math is Hard to Understand

The problem, I think is obvious. If you add up the percentages, you get 193%. This is obviously wrong, since even Rachel Maddow knows that a circle has 360%. And a pie chart is a circle. Therefore, a duck is made out of wood, just like a witch.

Thus, we all want to know about the missing 167% has gone to. That is too big to be reporting error.

Perhaps the explanation is that the source is "Opinions Dynamic." Dynamic, indeed.

(Nod to RL, who is only partly made out of wood, and even then only after a glass of wine)

Best. Samuelson. Quote. Ever.


“Like herpes, math is here to stay,”




Source is here and the hat tip goes to LeBron!


  

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A bad week for Icons

First Paul Samuelson, then Arthur Goldberger and now Oral Roberts have died this week. Oral was 94 and apparently an Okie.

UNC Library, Midnight Flash Rave

The culture that is Germany: Polar bear edition

Remember Knut? The polar bear cub rejected by his mom and hand raised by keepers in the Berlin zoo? Well he just turned 3 and is doing well, having avoided being banished to a lesser zoo, and even gaining a temporary "girlfriend" that his fans hope to make permanent.

A way out for Eldrick

People, Tiger's cone of silence plan is not working. Accenture has dropped him, Gillette has de facto dropped him, Tag Heuer is thinking about dropping him, Gatorade has de facto dropped him, and Elin is rumoured to be dropping him, even though he's promised muchos Benjamins for her to stick around.

He needs a game changing play.

My advice? Medicalize it!

That's right, "my name is Eldrick Woods and I am a sex addict". People, it's perfect. Release a statement, go into rehab and come out at the end of 3 months or so magically transformed into the sympathetic figure in the play.

How can a sponsor drop him for having an illness? Jeez, even Elin would seem unsympathetic if she followed through and divorced him or even ratcheted up the pre-nup.

Think about it Tiger, I want to see you play all four slams this year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Puppy Christmas!

A Tiger Documentary

I had not seen this. You probably have, I understand. But I had not.

Whole Foods Republicans

A terrific article, by Michael Petrilli, in today's WSJ.

Answering the question: Could 2010 be 1994 all over again.

Probably not, and for some useful reasons.

Words Fail Me

And dancing failed them....

(Nod to Angry Alex)

The Liberal Surge was actually a High Water Mark

Just one year ago, the chattering-battering class was thumping its thin little chest and whooping it up for the new liberal takeover of the world.

Well, how do you like us, now? Germany has selected a surprisingly conservative government. Chile appears to be well on its way to electing a VERY conservative fellow (though with some social liberal stands, bless his heart!)

Fact is, Obamamania was not the return of the left to American, or world, politics. It was the reaction against an unresponsive and tin-eared militarist and corporatist regime called Bush.

Obama even won a Nobel Prize for not being Bush 43. Although Bush 41 could easily have given the same speech that Obama gave when Obama got the Nobel for not being Bush 43. Obama may be trying to centerize himself, in spite of his instincts for lunacy, and his surprising inability to understand even basic economics.

But the deficit, the mishandling of TARP, and unbelievable mishandling of health care by the left (again) have all combined to make the alternatives look pretty strong.

I still wonder if the Republicans aren't going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, by "New York 23rding" themselves into irrelevance.

Many voters seem to prefer to vote for a loser they really like, rather than reduce the majority Nancy P and Harry R need to do their dirty work. And so the dirty work will go on.

My own view is that if you are going to do a protest vote, then do the principled thing. Don't go halfway, and vote for a RINO. Vote Libertarian!

Poison Can Quench Your Thirst

That Ben B. He really is putting us in a bad spot.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is prescribing “poison” to the U.S. economy by keeping interest rates near zero and fueling a wave of speculative capital that may cause the next global crisis, former Morgan Stanley chief Asian economist Andy Xie said.

Bernanke is making decisions based on “marginal considerations” that will help short-term growth and employment, instead of focusing on the “soundness of the system,” Xie wrote in an e-mailed note today. The next worldwide crisis will probably strike in 2012, driven by inflation as the low cost of borrowing spurs increases in asset prices, he said.

“There is a Chinese saying that one could quench the thirst by drinking poison,” said Xie, who predicted in September 2006 that the U.S. economy would fall into a recession in 2008. “Bernanke seems to be prescribing exactly this to the U.S. economy. The slower Bernanke raises interest rates, the bigger the next crisis.”


ATSRTWT

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Deny Me Three Times, Before the Cock Crows

It turns out that NC has a law that outlaws public officials who deny the existence of God. (It's in Article VI, Section 8, by the way. I had assumed that officials just ignored that article, the same way that they ignore most of the U.S. Constitution).

So, this guy is going to get hassled.

(Nod to Anonyman)

A boy and his flagpole

So, a kid actually did it. He put his tongue on a cold flagpole.

And it (his tongue) froze there. And the kid is dancing around, tongue-tied to the flagpole, yelling "Geh ah hung ah uf hag hole! OWWW!"

And so they called the fire department!

Because the firemen, understanding fire and its uses, would know to use WARM water. (It helps to be trained....)

Apparently, the kid was "triple dog dared" to do the tonguey thing. (For the REAL "Tonguey thing," you will need to rent "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist!")

(If you simply must see "Toungey," then it is in this trailer, the sign of being the "Chosen One"...)

Paul Samuelson: RIP

Paul Samuelson died today at the age of 94. He won the Nobel prize in Economics in 1970. He had a huge influence on the profession both as a researcher and as a textbook author. 

However, given current circumstances, I wonder if he would like to retract this quote:

“I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks”



Boudreaux's Versatility

You all know about Don Boudreaux's many unpublished letters to the editor.

But did you know about Boudreaux's Butt Paste, and Butt Bath?

I didn't. But it is a NASCAR sponsor.

Markets in everything: Santeria edition

Looking for a great investment vehicle? Consider the human skull.




In 2007, UPI reported that, in Venezuela, practitioners of "black magic" were robbing graves for human bones and that skulls were selling for $300!

Two years later, the NY Times reports that the pace of Venezuelan grave robbing has accelerated and a skull now goes for $2000!

People, that is an average annual return of over 250%!

The Times has also upgraded the robbers from practitioners of "black magic" to adherents of a religion (transplanted from Cuba) called "Palo" (though this source perpetuates the "black magic" label)