Monday, January 07, 2008

Bosses Don't Wear Bunny Slippers

New essay on EconLib.

You like, you not like. Let me know!

Sure, the Food is bad, but at least the Portions are large

So say the Romers regarding the economic expertise of FOMC members:

"Twice a year, the FOMC makes forecasts of major macroeconomic variables.
FOMC members have access to the staff forecasts when they prepare their forecasts, and they have roughly a two-week data advantage over the staff. We find, however, that the optimal combination of the FOMC and staff forecasts in predicting inflation and unemployment puts a weight of essentially zero on the FOMC forecast and essentially one on the staff forecast: the FOMC appears to have no value added in forecasting. The results for predicting real growth are less clear-cut. We also find statistical and narrative evidence that differences between the FOMC and staff forecasts help predict monetary policy shocks, suggesting that policymakers act in part on the basis of their apparently useless information."

Wow. and they presented this at the AEAs at a session chaired by Fed vice-chair Kohn. Kudos to them!

Update: Kevin Hassett provides some thoughts about FOMC expertise here.


I feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. There, I said it. I feel better. Whatever you may think of her, man she is catching it real real hard these days.

She has waited so long and put up with so much. She stuck with her serial philanderer husband. She endured 8 years of getting the stinkeye from Tim Groseclose. She played the quintessential junior senator, keeping her mouth largely shut and her nose to the wheel. She watched Gore and Kerry blunderingly lose to the Shrub. Now was her time. She had all the elites on her side, all the money, Bill seemed on board and under control. She was the "presumptive nominee" with the proverbial "air of inevitability".

Now as we approach the first actual primary, she is on her last legs. She came in 3rd in the Caucii of the Hawkeye and trails by 10 points in New Hampshire with 1 day to go.

Where did it go? And how did it go? Barak Obama, to me is, so far, more of a metaphor than a real person. His message is totally what he is not and the claim that what he is not will allow him to change / improve the world. Amazing. But it's working.

Maybe we can talk more about Senator Obama soon, but for now, I feel Hill's pain. It's gotta be frustrating as hell for her, and there is little she can do. Attacks now sound shrill and desperate. Sour grapes and all. But she seems to be standing in front of a speeding freight train.

Am I wrong? does she have a chance? Will Edward's people go over to her and not Obama? If that were to happen will it be too late? Is it really curtains for the Clinton Dynasty?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Can you help me....please?

The Nanny is here to help.

No, really, he is.

And this book tells you all about it!

(Nod to Tommy the Wannabe Brit)

Man-Crush Alert!!

From the no longer to be taken seriously Ezra Klein:

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

To be fair, Ezra has a poor basis for making judgements about orators, shown here by his list of greatest hits:

Howard Dean challenging the Democratic Party to rediscover courage and return to principle.

Bill Clinton speak(ing) of a place called Hope

John Edwards bravely channel(ing) the populism that American politics so often suppresses.

I especially like the part about how brave Edwards is, and how Dean and Edwards are/were "great leaders".

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mungowitz = Nostradamus ???

In his 2008 predictions post Mungowitz said:

1. John Edwards does better than expected in Iowa, winning the largest percentage of Democratic vote at 40%. Clinton and Obama split most of the remainder.

2. Mitt Romney "upsets" Huckabee in Iowa, though by a nonsensically small margin.


As we probably all know, twas Obama 38%, Edwards 30% for the Dems and Huckabee 34% Romney 25% for the Torture Party.

Based on his record so far, I'd suggest shorting Hillary and the Diamondbacks bigtime!

Sooner Jokes

Q: Why does Bob Stoops eat his Cheerios on a plate??

A: Because if they were in a Bowl, he'd lose it!!

Hat tip to the inimitable Tommy Blue!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Best Sentences I've Read Today

From longtime KPC fan Marcel Proust:

Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it–our life–hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

‘But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! If only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.

‘The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”

hat-tip to the empirical skeptic

Fatty Snax

My State, Oklahoma, has an official meal. Yep. In 1988 the legislature adopted the official state meal. Here it is:

"cornbread, sausage and gravy, chicken fried steak and pecan pie....the menu also includes fried okra, squash, barbecue pork, biscuits, grits, corn, strawberries and black-eyed peas."

Now that's a hell of a meal people. I'm pretty sure that if you ate sausage and gravy, fried okra, grits, biscuits, and black-eyed peas all at once you'd immediately mutate into Boss Hogg or something.

Hmmmm, maybe I can get Mungowitz and his boys to test this theory?

Now in an interesting intergovernmental clash, the Mayor of Oklahoma city is rebelling and asking his constituents to lose 1,000,000 pounds. Hizzoner opines, "you're not really going to take on obesity unless you acknowledge that we eat too much and don't eat the right foods."

Two questions: (1) Will the state legislature now meet in emergency session and remove this bozo? And, (2) given that his 1,000,000 pounds goal is somewhat like Dr. Evil's pathetic ransom demand (its well under 2 lbs per person), shouldn't they?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Naomi Klein: Wow

Sometimes I wonder if I am unfair to people on the left. After all, many are bright, and seriously believe that all the things they want to force on citizens are actually for those citizens' own good. (I don't mean Democrats; I mean real leftists. There aren't that many.)

Then, I think of Naomi Klein, and think, "No, they really are evil trolls."

Today's evidence: Some video, and some background.

The one with Milton is...well, you'll see.

Was Alan Greenspan a Libertarian?

Increasingly I see statements that a big problem Greenspan had while running the Fed was his Libertarianism. Specifically, Robert Reich says so here and Henry Kaufman says so in today's (still gated)WSJ.

I think this is bunk. Greenspan, by taking the Fed job and then repeatedly and continually practicing discretionary policies and attempting fine-tuning of the economy and pandering to his political bosses, went against pretty much every tenet of Libertarianism I can think of.

Now I've been confused on exactly what comprises Libertarianism in the past and maybe I'm still confused, but to me Greenspan's major malfunctions were egomania and a severe overestimation of his own intelligence, and not any residual damage from his days of Rand and Roses.

Wouldn't a Libertarian, if she would take the job at all, run some sort of predictable transparent rule based policy?

OMG, the Sooners got......

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Best Video of 2007.....

Okie Angst

Tonight is the biggest night of the year in the State of Oklahoma. The Sooners are playing in the 2008 Tostitios Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix(my god, David Foster Wallace was right, wasn't he? Isn't 2008 officially the "Year of the Tuck's Medicated Pad"?). Sooner football is the biggest thing in the state by an order of magnitude (Toby Keith and prison rodeo are far behind), but big bowl games are problematic. That 55-19 blowout suffered at the hands of Southern Cal and last year's debacle loss to Boise State weigh heavy on the Sooner Psyche. We are something like 8 point favorites but there will be big time nailbiting tonight. We will definitely be watching at Chez Angus, but since Michigan won their bowl game AND got rid of Lloyd Carr, I am already a happy happy sportsnut.

The Best Sentence I've Read Today

"If they held the first caucuses in Idaho," someone once said "we'd be subsidizing gasoline made out of potatoes."

This from Jeff Greenfeld's piece on the evil that is the Iowa Caucuses, part of Slate's 1-2 punch. The other punch, deliverd by Chris Hitchens is also worth a read.


The good Dr. Nokes gives sound advice on New Year's Resolutions.

So money DOES buy happiness after all!!

"Aspirational treadmill" advocate (and economics Nobel winner) Daniel Kahneman does a stunning about face on the issue:

" To compound the irony, recent findings from the Gallup World Poll raise doubts about the puzzle itself. The most dramatic result is that when the entire range of human living standards is considered, the effects of income on a measure of life satisfaction (the "ladder of life") are not small at all. We had thought income effects are small because we were looking within countries. The GDP differences between countries are enormous, and highly predictive of differences in life satisfaction. In a sample of over 130,000 people from 126 countries, the correlation between the life satisfaction of individuals and the GDP of the country in which they live was over .40 – an exceptionally high value in social science. Humans everywhere, from Norway to Sierra Leone, apparently evaluate their life by a common standard of material prosperity, which changes as GDP increases. The implied conclusion, that citizens of different countries do not adapt to their level of prosperity, flies against everything we thought we knew ten years ago. We have been wrong and now we know it. "

Hat tip to Tyler, who is far too polite to point out the obvious implication, viz. those who have been using the old view to bash development and capitalism and globalization need to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Soccer Bloopers

Soccer bloopers, courtesy of Matt

Note ref who gives a player the neck bash, then gets a red card from a player.

Even Bolder Predictions

1. John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

2. The Detroit Tigers will win the world series.

3. Charlie Rangel will pass up Bill Gates as the richest man on earth (if we count his PAC money).

4. Hillary Clinton will not be our next president.

5. Team USA will reverse recent history and win the gold medal in Basketball in the Olympics.

Cat and Crow

Cat and crow: So sweet, I can't even think of anything cynical to say. Sniffle.

Then, don't watch this if you are diabetic. Insulin sweetness shock, for sure.

Same pit bull and chicks, 4 months later....

Bold Predictions

Five bold predictions for this, the new year. In order of occurrence (or, predicted occurrence).

1. John Edwards does better than expected in Iowa, winning the largest percentage of Democratic vote at 40%. Clinton and Obama split most of the remainder. A UFO lands and takes Kucinich back to his home planet, ending his lengthy time on the lam after escaping from a "treatment center."

2. Mitt Romney "upsets" Huckabee in Iowa, though by a nonsensically small margin. McCain comes in at third, better than predicted, just like everyone predicted. In response to a question from a reporter, Giuliani is unable to find Iowa on a U.S. map. Fred Thompson is unable to find his own bum with both hands, and drops out of race. Ron Paul supporters, learning that their candidate will not be allowed to participate in the NH debates, begin to mass at the border, mobilizing all the heavy weapons and armored vehicles at their disposal.

3. Paris Hilton does some stupid damned thing that is all over the news, so does Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson is picked up by the same UFO taxi service that took Kucinich. And for the same reason.

4. The Yankees suck, and wish they had not fired Joe Torre. Boston's Manny Ramirez, ever trendy, also threatens to take the UFO shuttle back to his home planet, "Always Happy World." But he misses the UFO flight, apparently looking for the toilet inside the "Green Monster" in Fenway's left field. Asked later by a reporter how he had missed the flight, Manny said: "Forget about the flight, man. This is the place I want to be, man. It's great, man. They love me here, man. This is the place to be. 'Manny being Manny,' he's great, man... we've been through a lot, this is the place for me, I'm just happy to be here... I'm back!" The Arizona Diamondbacks win the World Series in seven games, beating the Cleveland Indians. Fausto Carmona (AL) and Brandon Webb (NL) are the Cy Young winners. RBI machine Matt Holiday wins the NL MVP, though the Rockies barely miss the playoffs. Victor Martinez wins the AL MVP, leading the Tribe to the Series with his bat and defensive dominance behind the plate.

5. Hillary Clinton beats Rudy Giuliani for the Presidency. Her vote margin is greater than expected, leading to a huge margin in the Electoral College. Asked why the polls were so wrong, leading to big Clinton wins in the Carolinas and Florida as well as a sweep of the west and northeast, a Clinton spokesman pointed out that while they both look pretty bad in a dress, Clinton has a much better arsenal of tasteful pantsuits. "And Guiliani's people never could settle on a shoe message: Flats, pumps, or heels. In the Clinton household, Hillary wears the flats, and Bill is the heel."