Friday, July 11, 2008

Belarus to McCain: What did we do to deserve this??

Yes, Dr. No has become Dr. Phil and Johnny Mac has elegantly tossed him under the bus. All in one day. Golly, I love American politics!

To recap:

1. Phil Gramm is video taped saying that "we have sort of become a nation of whiners" and that the country is in a "mental recession" (Ironically, Gramm himself was whining when he made these remarks and quite obviously not running on all cylinders in the mental department either)!

2. BO gleefully points out that America already has a national psychiatrist named Dr. Phil and notes that we don't need another.

3. McCain, who has been going around the country taking great pains to feel everyone's pain, says Gramm does not speak for him and when asked about Gramm's likely position in a McCain Administration more or less says he'd like to send him to Belarus but he doesn't think the locals would stand for it!!!

Could we please have presidential elections every two years? That would be great.

Of course Gramm was totally right in that the gloom and doom rhetoric far outpasses any actual bad current economic outcomes, but totally wrong in the sense that when you want a bunch of whiners to vote for your candidate so that you can get a cushy government job the last thing you should do is call them a bunch of whiners!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Left Handedness and Beisbol: A Wash U Study

"Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers, and hitters, are left-handed," said Peters, a devoted St. Louis Cardinal fan who attended "Stan the Man's" last ball game at Sportsman's Park in 1963. "There is a premium on lefthanders for a number of reasons. For starters, take seeing the ball.

"A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind his (the batter's) left shoulder. The left-handed batter facing the right-handed pitcher has the ball coming to him, so he has a much clearer view of pitches."

Then, Peters says, consider the batter's box. After a right-hander connects with a ball, his momentum spins him toward the third-base side and he must regroup to take even his first step toward first base. In contrast, the left-hander's momentum carries him directly toward first.


A question: Angus and I are BOTH left-handed. But I suck at baseball, and he is only slightly better. Is this another of those "neither necessary nor sufficient" things? I HATE those.

(Nod to Bayou Jack, who doesn't really suck at anything)

Press Release

RALEIGH (July 9) – Dr. Mike Munger, Libertarian candidate for governor released his position on off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas today.

"The proposals I see coming from both the Democrats and Republicans are half-measures and stop-gaps," Dr. Munger said. "And the sudden support for off-shore drilling by Mayor Pat McCrory and others, is a cheap gimmick. It will have no effect on the price of oil, and will do nothing to affect the prices that NC consumers pay for gas at the pump."

Dr. Munger has a PhD in economics and experience working in regulatory policy at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. He holds a current joint appointment in Duke's Economics Department. He believes that only comprehensive energy reform will work to solve the nation's energy security problems, and help consumers in our state.

"It's an election year, which means that it is silly season for politicians. The supporters of new drilling are promising miracles, and the opponents are predicting disaster. They are both exaggerating for their own political purposes," Dr. Munger said.

Dr. Munger's proposed comprehensive solution would require broad cooperation at the federal and state level. The key points are:

1. End tariffs on ethanol imports.

2. Allow drilling and new exploration for high-yield sources of oil and natural gas on Federal lands and offshore in all U.S. waters.

3. End domestic ethanol subsidies, which waste both energy and money.

4. Allow the increasing price of gasoline and oil to do its job, by encouraging consumers to conserve, and rewarding oil companies for finding new reserves.

5. Allow the immediate development of new domestic refining capacity and cracking facilities, which has been held up for more than a decade by short-run political gamesmanship.

"The key is to recognize that the increased price of oil and gas will solve this problem for us, if we let it," according to Dr. Munger. "Oil companies will develop new reserves, and new refining capacity. Consumers will choose more fuel-efficient cars, and heating options. Alternative fuels and energy sources will become competitive, and will be developed rapidly in the marketplace."

As for the current proposals by both Bev Perdue and Pat McCrory, "They will have no effect, and in fact they are not even making any real effort" to solve the problem," said Dr. Munger.


Dr. Munger is available for interviews. Call him at his direct cell number (919) 369-6453 or email

Brand pulls a Boozer

Wow, say it ain't so Coach K!

Elton is now a 76er and Baron is S.O.L.

At least Boozer only burned his owner while Brand burned his boy (and one of my favorite players) Baron Davis.

I guess when it comes to dealing with Dookies you better get it in writing and get it notarized!

Like Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand signs with another team after saying he was willing to take a pay cut to make Clippers competitive. 82,000,000 clams and a sure spot in the playoffs was enough for him to leave his good friend Baron and a young, talented Clippers team. Money and Championships talk in this business son.

Sorry, Baron Davis: Elton Brand apparently is heading east. Sources told Marc Stein on Tuesday the longtime Clipper informed the 76ers he will accept a five-year deal worth an estimated $82 million.

Said one source close to the process: "Elton wants to go East."

Will the Sixers be the next Utah and the Clippers the next Caveliers? Sure feels like it as the Sixers become a solid contender in the East with a bright future. A squad of Brand, Dalembert, Miller, AI, and Young will definately make make the playoffs, and even get out of the first round and do some damage. And the Clippers are stuck with a superstar in Baron Davis and no real supporting cast in the competitive West, much the way Lebron is in Cleveland. Livingston, Gordon, and Thorton are young, Mobley at the end of his career, and in the West, they will need to win at least 50 games to make the playoffs.

For those who do not remember the Boozer controversy, here is a summary:

Boozer could have been Cleveland's in the '04-'05 season for $695,000, but the Cavaliers did not pick up their option after, the club said, Boozer had committed to re-signing for the team's full midlevel exception -- somewhere around six years and $40 million. That allowed Utah to pick him up for 6 year at $68 million

YouTube Ad

The first YouTube ad of the campaign.

Major, major props to Rusty Sheridan. His company.

Name that Team part deaux

Over at Ball Don't Lie, they have a list of names and a virtual voting booth set up. The blog suggestions stink (in my opinion), but the commenters have some good ideas like

The Panhandlers

The Twisters

The Drillers

I really like the Panhandlers. It has great mascot costume potential for sure.

Context is King

And here's a little for the announcement Mungowitz posted last night, Tom was a year or so ahead of us in grad school. He was the total teacher's pet both in the Econ and Finance departments. He was popular among his classmates because his lovely wife would invite us over to eat real food (which otherwise we could only get from Naugles). When our benefactor Murray Weidenbaum became Reagan's first CEA chair, he took Tom along with him to Washington (yes we are all way way way old).

My personal favorite memory of the Tom Gilligan era at Wash U? Has to be his subtle charm. Some examples:

"Grier, you work out every day and still look like crap. Why is that? How is it possible?"


"Grier, you know why you never keep a girlfriend for more than 3 months? Because that's how long it takes for someone to really get to know you!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gilligan: A Visionary Leader

Press Release From UT-Austin

Date: July 9

Thomas C. Gilligan Appointed Dean
Of McCombs School of Business

AUSTIN, Texas – Dr. Thomas C. Gilligan, the E. Morgan Stanley Chair in Business Administration and professor of finance and business economics at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, has been appointed dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

The appointment of Gilligan, who from February 2006 to April 2007 was interim dean of the Marshall School of Business, is effective Sept. 1, said Dr. Steven Leslie, provost at The University of Texas at Austin. He said the selection of Gilligan followed a nationwide search by an 18-member committee headed by Dr. Michael Ganof, a professor in the McCombs School of Business.

Gilligan will replace Dr. George W. Gau, whose six-year appointment as dean of the business school ends in August.

Granof said there was remarkable unanimity among members of the committee, as well as other people who met Gilligan in the selection process, that he has the scholarly credentials, administrative experience and charisma they would like to see in the dean of their business school.

“There is no question that the McCombs School of Business has the potential to be one of the truly top business schools in the world and Thomas Gilligan has the ability and skills to take us in that direction,” Granof said.

“Tom Gilligan is a visionary leader,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “In cooperation with our outstanding faculty, he will take the McCombs School to a new level of distinction.”

Gilligan said his family is excited to join The University of Texas at Austin community.

“I am honored and invigorated by the prospect of leading the McCombs School of Business to even more accomplishments and greater prominence,” Gilligan said.

Leslie said, "Tom Gilligan has the personal and professional capabilities, the energy and commitment to excellence, and the leadership skills to be a superb dean. I look forward to working with him to build upon the excellence of the McCombs School of Business."

Gilligan, who received his bachelor of arts degree with honors from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and doctor’s degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis, has held positions at the University of Southern California as vice-dean for undergraduate and doctoral education and chair of the Department of Finance and Business Economics. He also has been a visiting professor at the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in Stanford, Ca. Gilligan’s areas of interest are microeconomics, applied price theory, industrial organization, antitrust economics and public choice.

Prior to his first academic position as an assistant professor of economics at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in 1982-1983, Gilligan served four years as a Russian linguist in the United States Air Force.

Gilligan has been a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization (2001-2006), Business and Politics (1999-present), Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (1998-2005) and Asia-Pacific Journal of Accounting and Economics (1996-present), and has been a referee over two dozen other journals. He has authored and co-authored articles in numerous journals and other publications.

(Nod to Chateau, who knows just how "visionary" Dr. Gilligan really is....)

Hancock: a metaphor for America?

not so super superhero Hancock causes massive collateral damage when he saves the day, is crude and unlikeable, and picks on French kids. So of course he's meant to represent the USA, or so says Kyle Smith in a very fun review of the movie (full disclosure: I have not seen it and don't plan to at this point). Here's an excerpt:

Not for nothing does Hancock share his name with one of the fiercest patriots in American history; the movie also takes pain to establish the eagle (a frequently seen image) as Hancock’s symbol, even at the beginning when it’s merely a patch on his ratty ski cap. “I’m the only one of my kind,” Hancock complains, by virtue of explaining his difficulties as the world’s only superpower. He has trouble getting along with others.

So I wonder does that make Jason Bateman a metaphor for Karl Rove?

If you think the Shrub is unpopular

(and of course, he is) you should check out the latest public ratings of our legislative branch:

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

While I endorse the sentiment, I fear that the people are rating Congress so low because they are not "doing anything" to help them, whereas I rate Congress low because they are doing things!

And despite these heinous ratings, I predict that incumbents running for re-election will win at least 88% of their election races (Way way way back when I was a lad being mis-educated at Wash U., I read a cool article by Dick Fenno called "If Congress is the broken branch, how come we love our congressmen so much?" that addressed this phenomenon of low approval ratings and high re-election rates. Can't find it on the web though).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Go Bulls!!

Now that Wimbledon is over, the current international sporting spectacle is the running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain. It may not surprise KPC readers to learn that I root for the Bulls to create as much carnage and mayhem as bovinely possible. So far, they are off to a good start.

Yesterday was the first running and:

Thirteen people were taken to hospital, one of them seriously injured, on the first day of the annual bull running festival in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona on Monday, organizers said. A 37-year-old man suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen and broken ribs, while two people were concussed and 10 others were treated mainly for cuts and bruises.

but what about today you ask? Well we had our first goring:

Since 1924 the bulls have managed to kill 14 humans during these events. Go Bulls!

Rogoff and the ECB vs. Everyone else?

Last week the ECB raised their policy interest rate 25 basis points to 4.25%. This of course is a stark contrast to the Fed's recent "move" of keeping its rate at 2.00%. The policy histories of these two institutions are interesting:

Is the ECB too bureaucratic and inertial as some have argued? Or is the Fed too much of a fine tuner / over-reacter? Or maybe both? Certainly it's a big advantage for the ECB that it's a multinational organization because it doesn't have to worry about national elections like the Fed does.

One prominent economist has recently sided with the ECB's policy choices:

The spectacular and historic global economic boom of the past six years is
about to hit a wall. Unfortunately, no one, certainly not in Asia or the US, seems willing to bite the bullet and help engineer the necessary co-ordinated retreat to sustained sub-trend growth, which is necessary so that new commodity supplies and alternatives can catch up.

Instead, governments are clawing to stretch out unsustainable booms, further pushing up commodity prices, and raising the risk of a once-in-a-lifetime economic and financial mess. All this need not end horribly, but policy makers in most regions have to start pressing hard on the brakes, not the accelerator.

Ben Bernanke!! it's Ken Rogoff on line 1!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

New Podcast

Hey, you podcastrians!

It's a new installment of the Russ and Mike show.

For which, I should add, I was paid my full market wage.

We talked about the Transantiago cluster fig. And talking to Russ is always fun.

A boy and his racket

Wow, for those few of us who still love tennis, what a great weekend! Venus and Serena finally played a good match against each other and Rafa and Roger's showdown fully deserves the overused adjective "epic".

Still, for me, the highlight of Wimbledon was the return of Marat Safin, both for beating that punk Djokovic and for his entertaining press conferences. Here is Safin on racket abuse:

"You can destroy one racket. You can destroy a chair. But you can't destroy a racket and a chair in the same match. There has to be a limit. Otherwise this is the tennis of a sick person."

This is apparently kind of a special Russian thing. Here's another interesting quote:

"You know, some rackets just like it rough," said Dmitry Tursunov, a Californian-based Russian. "Afterwards, you feel a bit sorry that you've done it, and you're like, 'Yeah, I'll make it up to you darling, my little racket'. But the racket is broken and you know that it's never going to be the same again."

(Here is the article where I found these quotes)

Of course, sometimes the racket wins (and look, it's another Russian in the tussle!)

Thanks, and thanks, and THANKS!

Lots of folks helped with the Money Grenade, and with getting word out about the difficulties I have been having even getting access to the normal assets of campaigning.

I can't cite them all. So, for those I have missed: a blanket thank you, and a heartfelt one. In addition to the net postings I have missed, I want to thank Joy Elliott, Paul Elledge, Linda Ellis, Susan Hogarth, Barbara Howe, Tom Howe, Phillip Rhodes, Rob Rose, Rusty Sheridan, John Szamosi, and Richard Schilhavy. (Again, I'm sorry if I left you out, but it's 6:30 am, and I am at the beach celebrating my anniversary with my wife, and I have to get back to the room; there's marital work to do...)

As I noted, there were lots of internet mentions, and I appreciate them. But there are some I have to mention specifically.

Bill Anderson, on LR's site.

Art Carden, with a nice thought piece. Very nice.

Ed Cone helped out. Thanks, Ed!

Greg Dirasian has his little boxer shorts all twisted up in knots.

Last Free Voice posted the announement; thanks!

Scottille News came up big, too.

Third Party Watch posted the info on the Money Grenade. A BIG help; we 'pree-shayt it, man!

BUT: The main prize, the above and beyond, the hardest working man in the Blogosphere for the Munger campaign, has got to be.... Steve Newton! This post clearly brought in quite a few contributions, and I appreciate it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

We gotta call our NBA team the "Noodlers"!!

From the Sunday Oklahoman:

I think a noodler should have been on our state quarter.

Thanks to the now legendary "Okie Noodling” film and the tournament it spawned, noodling for flathead catfish is part of the Oklahoma lore as much as cowboys and Indians, the Dust Bowl and football.

A reader of The Oklahoman recently suggested that the newspaper stop using the word "kin” in stories and instead use "relatives.” The word "kin,” he said, created a perception of backward country folk and made people think of banjos and "Deliverance.”

I can't imagine what this guy must think of noodling.

And here's the quote of the week:

Mark Murray, 36, a game warden in Oklahoma County, has been a noodler for almost 20 years.

"When a big fish grabs you, it doesn't matter how many times it's happened to you in your life, it's a huge adrenalin rush when a fish bites your hand,” he said. "It never gets old.

I can't help thinking that in actuality, for me at least, it would get real old real fast.