Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Son's Dorm, and ....Blue Heaven!

When we took elder younger Munger to UNC, it looked like this....

Truck is packed....

Room is a mess (note huge stain on mattress; nice! We put rug down.

Room is a little better, coming together

Sad, sad momma.

Bizarre emo son communing with space aliens for afternoon plans

Best of all: Here is the view straight out of Kevin's window....Le Dome du Dean, Heaven on Earth for All Us Tarheelians

Pumpkin Carving, at the Munger Property

My son Brian and I like to go down to our Chatham County property, go a half mile out into the woods, and exercise our Constitutional rights. The ones that come right after the end of the 1st Amendment.

This year, we went for pumpkin carving. It being all fall and all.

You start out with the major work, on the outline of the Jack-o. For this, it is hard to beat the tool created by Mr. Kalashnikov.
Here is Brian "roughing in" the outline, with the 7.62x.39 mm round.....
Then, for the finer work, you'll need the up close and personal touch of the Taurus Judge. This beauty is chambered for either the long Colt .45 shell, or (in this case) the .410 2.5" shotgun shell. Note the huge gout of flame and smoke that comes out of the barrel of this wheel gun on the fourth shot (he loaded one long Colt round, just for kick.) Very satisfyin'.

The finished result? A pumpkin to make any kid proud. The rear of the pumpkin is not in very good shape, of course (we also fired some long Colt .45 hollow points to see if they would expand; they did), but from the front....a masterpiece of Jack-O art.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A braver man than I am

There are probably millions of them, but I am referring specifically to Casey Mulligan who is singing an aria as he strolls by the graveyard. Here is a bit of the second verse:

"It’s important to keep in mind, too, that the financial sector has had a long history of fluctuating without any correlated fluctuations in the rest of the economy. The stock market crashed in 1987 — in 1929 proportions — but there was no decade-long Depression that followed. Economic research has repeatedly demonstrated that financial-sector gyrations like these are hardly connected to non-financial sector performance. Studies have shown that economic growth cannot be forecast by the expected rates of return on government bonds, stocks or savings deposits.

It turns out that John McCain, who was widely mocked for saying that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” was actually right. We’re in a financial crisis, not an economic crisis. We’re not entering a second Great Depression.

How do we know? Well, the economy outside the financial sector is healthier than it seems.

Since World War II, the marginal product of capital, after taxes, has averaged 7 percent to 8 percent per year. (In other words, each dollar of capital invested in the economy earns, on average, 7 cents to 8 cents annually.) And what happened during 2007 and the first half of 2008, when the financial markets were already spooked by oil price spikes and housing price crashes? The marginal product was more than 10 percent per year, far above the historical average. The third-quarter earnings reports from some companies already suggest that America’s non-financial companies are still making plenty of money."

Que Dios te escuche!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Revenge of the Kettle

A story in the Miami Herald about Latin American reaction to the US bailouts:

"No one in Latin America has been making more hay of Bush's turnabout than Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, a self-proclaimed socialist who is the U.S. government's biggest headache in the region."

'If the Venezuelan government, for example, approves a law to protect consumers, they say, `Take notice, Chávez is a tyrant!' '' Chávez said in one of his recent weekly television shows.

'Or they say, `Chávez is regulating prices. He is violating the laws of the marketplace.' How many times have they criticized me for nationalizing the phone company? They say, 'The state shouldn't get involved in that.' But now they don't criticize Bush for having nationalize . . . the biggest banks in the world. Comrade Bush, how are you?''

The audience laughed and Chávez continued.

``Comrade Bush is heading toward socialism.''

Amen, Hugo, but somehow I can't seem to get myself to laugh about it.

hat tip to Greg Weeks.

500 billion tickets to paradise

Well, some Asian markets are up, European markets are generally up, and the government is now signaling that they intend to inject new capital into banks directly (beyond or instead of buying troubled assets), which what I and many of my betters have been arguing is a more efficient way to help the system. However, we are far from out of the woods and, in finance terms, could use a white knight to save us.

How about China?

From the FT:

"The Chinese government could offer to lend up to $500bn (from its current stock of $1,800bn) to the US government for the rescue of its financial sector. Its previous assistance – buying US bonds – was indirect and unconditional. Not so in this case.

China’s loan offer would be direct to the US government to be spent in the current financial crisis. More important, it would come with strings attached. Tied aid, the preferred mode of operation of western donors since the postwar period, would now be embraced by China.

China would impose two conditions. First, it would declare that the offer of money was conditional on the US government’s adopting a particular approach to rescuing the banks, namely to favour in the next round the use of government money to recapitalise the banks.

(Second) China would stipulate that monies be devoted to cushioning the impact on vulnerable homeowners, so that they would not be forced into forgoing the American dream of home ownership. Chinese conditionality on this front would achieve an outcome that several economists on the left and right have argued for on grounds of fairness, and also to address the fundamental problem in the housing market.

For China, this offer of help would have three virtues. First, it would be riding to the rescue of a situation partly created by its own policies of undervalued exchange rates, which led to lax global liquidity conditions. Second, its economic interest would be served because successful US efforts at rescuing its financial sector could help avert an economic downturn, protecting China’s exports, its growth engine. Perhaps most important, it would seal China’s status as a responsible superpower willing to deploy its economic resources for the sake of protecting the world economy."

I have edited the FT post to remove the dripping sarcasm of the author, one Arvind Subramanian. Hey, we've already started on the first condition and I'm sure our political class would have no problem running with the second condition!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Li'l Help?

Please go here, and vote for Mike Munger.

He needs you.

(BTW: Second televised debate tonight, v. Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. Tune in on WUNC-TV at 8 pm, on line)

The crisis came out smokin', but Bernanke ain't jokin'

It just might shock ya and amaze ya???

Well (with apologies to M. Ali) I don't know about the last bit, but Ben certainly has been doing everything he can (and more?) to take on the financial crisis. The Fed has pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the market, started directly lending to firms, and now, in coordination with the Bank of England and the ECB, has cut the Fed Funds rate from 2% to 1.5%. There's not much more he can do beyond selling apples outside the Fed building, is there?

Meanwhile Paulson has named an ex-Goldman Sachs guy to run the mighty official bailout.

With the bailout plan seemingly DOA (it's passage seemed, if anything, to trigger the market selloff), Ben is pretty much the guy for fixing things around here.

One other thing, when did Bush resign as President? Did I miss that somehow?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

This is NOT the best of all possible worlds

When I was a lad, I was taken to church a fair amount. Didn't have much choice in the matter. But holy crap people, this here just isn't right.

Every 10 years or so a bunch of Nepalese sadists pick a baby (from 2-4 years old) girl to be a "living goddess". Among the trials the successful candidate must endure is spending:

"a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear".

Congratulations little toddler, you survived. Now here's your prize:

"Having passed all the tests, the child will stay in almost complete isolation at the temple, and will be allowed to return to her family only at the onset of menstruation when a new goddess will be named to replace her."

Plus it turns out that this is a "gift" that just keeps on giving:

"Nepalese folklore holds that men who marry a former kumari will die young, and so many girls remain unmarried and face a life of hardship."

In all seriousness, what the hell is wrong with these people??

Where have you gone Connie Mack?

I don't really follow baseball that much. Way back in grad school we used to go to Cardinal games in St. Louis during the summer where bleacher seats were a couple bucks and the Cards were dominant and that was fun. This year, just for the soap opera-ness of it all, I'd like to see a Dodgers - Red Sox series with Manny hitting around 10 dingers to win it.

One thing I do know about baseball though is that managers are dumb. Take Terry Francona last night. His starter pitches 7 stellar shutout innings but he takes him out to start the 8th to bring in a guy that is just not as good (but is left-handed). This guy (Okajima?) gives up a 2 out walk and then in comes a skinny guy with weird socks who gives up another walk, a wild pitch, and then a 2 out game tying single. This kid had pitched 3 1/3 innings in this series and given up 4 hits and 2 walks up to this point.

Lucky for the Sox that the Angels manager helped bail them out with a "suicide squeeze" play later in the game. Hey Mike Scioscia, why do you think they call it what they call it?

People, what exactly is the externality / market failure that lets baseball managers be so very very bad?

As promised, from beyond the grave, special guest blogger Dear Abby!

Dear Abby:

I don't know what to do. Mungowitz says he loves me, but he never writes, he never calls, he never sends me flowers. I am typing my fingers to the bone, but he doesn't seem to appreciate me.

Signed Bewildered.

"Bewildered, Bewildered you have no complaint. You are what you are and you ain't what you ain't. So listen up mister and listen up good. Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood."

Signed, Dear Abby

Monday, October 06, 2008

Guest Blogger: Larry King

You know who would make a good president? Ben Roethlisberger. Is it just me or is Barack Obama putting on weight? I think Hank Paulson is doing a bang up job at Treasury, just look how the stock market is responding to the passage of his plan! The Oklahoma City Thunder is a franchise name for the ages. Isn't it impressive how everyone in the Congress is working together to solve our problems?

Mungowitz, you better get busy or tomorrow's guest blogger will be Dear Abby!!!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On the bright side, at least he's not plagiarizing

In the midst of financial crisis frenzy, I missed this awesome story. Joe Biden said on TV that

"When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"

Of course, the market crashed in 1929, and FDR took office in January of 1933 and there wasn't any such thing as television then.

Maybe Joe can start claiming that he invented television.