Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Jersey Fan So Gross He Even Disgusts Phillys Fans

How gross and disgusting do you have to be to disgust Phillys fans?

I'm not sure where the line is, but this crosses it.

“It was the most vile, disgusting thing I’ve ever seen,” Vangelo said Friday. “He has two fingers down his throat, he lunges forward and vomits on myself and my 11-year-old daughter.”

Vangelo said he tried to push his children safely behind him, and Clemmens punched him in the face. Four or five fans in the next section rushed to help, Vangelo said. They held him until police arrived — someone punching Clemmens in the face as he tried to break free — and an officer was also hit with vomit, Vanore said.

Eeeeeew. New Jersey: So gross it makes Philadelphia look cultured and sophisticated.

(Nod RL)

MM on WAMC, With Allan Chartock

A (let's call it) "wide-ranging" interview with the very nice and interesting Allan Chartock, on WAMC's Northeast Public Radio. A huge audience, by my standards, on dozens of stations in MA, NY, and etc in New England.

My Cuomo bashing had started here....

And then used this way....

I was glad to get to clear this up in the interview. Andrew Cuomo did NOT cause the financial crisis. George Bush, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd caused the financial crisis. Andrew Cuomo only helped. (Listen to see why I think so!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

There were no bogus rules like this in 1880!

Good Question!

Q: how many education professors does it take to run an acceptable school?

A: more than Stanford has, apparently!

hat tip to Malcolm.

Thoroughly Modern Macro

One popular innovation in macro and financial is the use of Epstein-Zin-Weil preferences. Roughly speaking these recursive preferences separate the risk aversion parameter from the elasticity of intertemporal substitution parameter, and they also allow people to care about the timing of when uncertainty is resolved.

However, working with these preferences in a general model is pretty tough.

In a new NBER working paper (ungated version here), Binsbergen, Fernandez-Villaverde, Koijen, & Rubio-Ramirez, show how to use second or third order perterbation methods to solve a fairly general DSGE model with EZW preferences and how to use the particle filter to build a likelihood function for directly estimating (instead of calibrating) the structural parameters of interest (or at least a subset of them).

This is not a simple paper, but it is an excellent one.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Medical Exec Discovers Rent-Seeking

Public Choice scholars have talked about rent-seeking, and the problem of "Tullock auctions," since the 1970s.

But it is nice to have our wisdom reconfirmed! An interesting example....

All pay auctions (Also called Tullock auctions, of course)

My podcast with Russ Roberts on this bidding problem

The Grand Game: Tax Day Edition

Oh, man, was I spitting tea all over the op-ed page this morning. Check this article out. Now, the author is Chris Fitzsimon, a man I both like personally, and respect as an analyst. And he's a Carolina fan, so it's all good.

But this article....well, time for the Grand Game! Readers, please point out the most jaw-dropping logical or evidentiary indignity!

I was so excited I went all Boudreaux on Chris, and sent the following letter to the Raleigh News and Observer:

To the Editor: On Thursday, April 15 you published a most curious op-ed by Chris Fitzsimon (“Civil Services Supported By Taxes”). He lists government services, and implies we should be grateful. It was curious for three reasons.

First, some of the items are not services at all, but are mandated by silly laws.

Second, many of these services are financed by additional direct fees, not taxes.

Finally, his recitation of how ungrateful we are reminded me of letters I have come across in my academic research on slavery. Slave owners in the old South were genuinely surprised, and hurt, when their ungrateful slaves ran off after the Civil War. After all, the slave-owners had fed, clothed, housed, and in some cases educated the slave in blacksmithing or other trades. The point is that the slave-owners came up with elaborate lists that said “Look at all the things Master does for you. Why aren’t you grateful?” And those lists looked… well, pretty much exactly like the Fitzsimon article. I say you keep your services, I’ll keep my taxes, and we’ll just call it even.

Sophie's Choice

Oh Norman, so sweet, but so cruel.

People, we have a thing in April called the Norman Music Festival. And wonder of wonders, both Dirty Projectors, who made my 2009 album of the year, and Leon Russell who is the absolute nuts are playing. And it's free. And it's an easy walk from my office.


So what is my beef?


How can this be? What kind of cruel joke is this? Do the Dons of Norman think no one could possibly like both the DPs and Leon?

How wrong they are, people, how wrong they are.

I am not making this up. It is a two day festival and there are no other acts nearly this good playing (sorry Evangelicals, you're good but not that good). Yet there it sits in black and white on the event's webpage: Sunday night, Main Stage 9:30 pm Dirty Projectors. Sunday night Jagermeister Stage 9:00 pm Leon Russell.

This is epic FUBAR, people.

Crap like this never would have happened to me if I had lived in the 1880s!

Any advice?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A match made in heaven

Cornershop and MIA!

You can read about it and hear it right here.

By the way, Cornershop has a new album out this month. Here is a video.

People, you just couldn't get stuff like this in 1880. No way, no how!

Theory of the second best: health care edition

I am a "small l" libertarian. Live and let live and all that jazz. But now, unless Mrs. Angus divorces me, I am gonna be helping to foot the bill for the extension of heavily subsidized health insurance that does little to actually reform the problems of our crappy health care system.

So I find myself wondering if I should favor some paternalistic policy proposals I've scorned in the past.

Like a sugar tax. Like zoning fast food joints out of walking distance from schools. Like regulating food ads for kids. Like increasing cigarette taxes even more.

Nudge, smudge!

I kind of hate myself for thinking like this, but if I gotta pay for strangers like they was family, I think they should operate under the rules they'd have if they were in my family!

But maybe that's just the snickers bars talking.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just another band from Jackson Heights

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, I give you The Beets!

The culture that is Oklahoma

People, you just can't make stuff like this up! enjoy.

bulls make money, bears make money,

but SOE's apparently do NOT make money.

People, have you seen the news that the ex-post cost of the TARP is now projected to be only around $90 billion? Even AIG might go back to being private (for the time being at least) this year. It's a pretty sunny story all the way around except for.....

Fan and Fred, of course. The $125 billion plus injected into them (so far) somehow doesn't count as part of the TARP bailouts, and no one is expecting that back any time soon. In fact the CBO projects another $370 billion plus of our money will find its way into those two black holes over the next few years.

So what does this mean?

1. I guess either the TARP rescues were a smashing success or else they were not really even needed to begin with. Seems like a win either way except for the precedent setting and the probable increase in moral hazard from here on.

2. Congress people who refused to seriously oversee / curtail / discipline Fan and Fred activities (yes I am talking to you Barney, you scalawag!) should be axed to 'splain themselves. Maybe like 20 random folks could be appointed to a commission and then could subpoena some congress people and drop the hammer on them. The head of GM got the ax in all this business, why not the champions of Fan and Fred?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Boob Tube

40-LL. Double L? As in what the HE-Double L? "One of my boyfriends?" She suffocated the poor man.

I think Dave Brown would just suggest that you make that "wubbawubbawubba" motorboat sound, to make some airspace.

And the ladies on the "The View" talk about upgrades. But not Double L. My lord.

(Nod to Tommy tWBB)

Remarkable Editorial

Quite an editorial, from Chi-Trib, about the state of the Illinois economy. Check it here.

Excerpt: Few of us, or our ancestors, gravitated to this state for its prairie scenery or bipolar climate. Illinois instead promised near-unrivaled opportunity: its rich soil, its wealth of industries, its human hustle frenetic to make a buck.

Today, though, we are losing employers. Nearly half a million of our jobs are gone. We export many of our educated young people to futures out of state.

We can wait, paralyzed, and hope that economic recovery eventually means full employment recovery. Or we can make structural changes now that would welcome the makers of jobs.

We need to lower costs. Our governance infrastructure has become overgrown and overpriced. We have 7,000 often redundant governments, far more than any other state. We populate those governments with armies of employees, and give them duties — some essential, some make-work. Many politicians of both parties enlist these workers as their allies in a cozy paradigm: If you help us win re-election, we will reward you with adequate salaries today — and fabulous retirement benefits tomorrow.

Those pols treat the public sector with fawning reverence while ignoring, or even scorning, a private sector that supplies their lifeblood revenues. Why so? Because the pols and their allies have a good thing going, and no incentive to disrupt it. So, unlike in scrappier states, there is precious little talk in Illinois of curtailing teacher tenure, or reducing benefits for current public employees, or capping government expenditures, or exterminating townships and other costly relics, or demolishing obsolete institutions, or ...

Recession, though, has forced a reckoning: Our shrinking and salary-squeezed private sector work force cannot adequately support many of our state's households — let alone sustain our antiquated overlays of taxing bodies.

This should be a time of tremendous opportunity for leaders who, rather than hiding from recession, exploit it to reinvent Illinois. To radically reshape the state's present and its future. To capitalize on employers' problems in other high-cost states by making Illinois their low-cost place to do business. To grow jobs.

Instead, our Statehouse brims with defensive, small-think pols hoping to survive another election.

(Nod to the NCM)

Double Down, KFC Style!

Double Down! Even *I* think this is disgusting. It's a "sandwich" where the buns are replaced by two fried chicken breasts. The filling is two big dollops of cheese product (one with yellow dye, and one left white), and some bacon.

An amusing review, when the thing was being test-marketed. (And source of photo above)

To be fair, though, this review made me think. After all: far as caloric intake goes, the Double Down isn't even half as bad as most fast-food burgers.The original-recipe fried Double Down with two strips of fried chicken breast clocks in at 540 calories and 32g of fat. The grilled Double Down has 460 calories and 23g of fat. Both have an outrageous amount of sodium, however, 1,380mg and 1,430 mg, respectively.

1.4 GRAMS of sodium? That's impressive. The recommended daily limit for sodium (for a person, for an entire DAY) is 2.3 grams. Hypertensive people should have half that. Less than one Double Death.

Let's compare a burger, though, just for fun. Let's go all the way, to Hardee's Monster 2/3 pound Thickburger.

Calories: 1320
Fat: 95 grams, for 860 calories
Sodium: 3020 mg
Carbs: 46 grams

By comparison, the Double Down is girl food!

Best Headline

Best Headline:

Governors Call For New Bureaucracy to Improve Efficiency

Here is the actual press release.

Let me know how that works out, okay?

(nod to JS)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Is A Libertarian? Stossel, Munger Give Thoughts

Allan Handleman talks to John Stossel and me about "What is a Libertarian?"

Link to show.

Link to WZTK web site.

Robert Shiller: "I burst the housing bubble"

Yes, people, as we sit and wait for the next bubble to arrive and save us, we finally can figure out who to blame for the untimely bursting of the last one: Robert Shiller!

It must be true, he says so his own self:

"In May 2005, I included in the second edition of my book, “Irrational Exuberance,” a new data series of real United States home prices that I constructed, going back to 1890. I was amazed to discover that no one had published such a long-term series before.

This data revealed that the home price boom was anomalous, by historical standards. It looked very much like a bubble, and a big one. The chart was reproduced many times in newspapers and magazines, starting with an article by David Leonhardt in The New York Times in August 2005.

In short, a public case began to be built that we really were experiencing a housing bubble. By 2006 a variety of narratives, taken together, appear to have produced a different mind-set for many people — creating a tipping point that stopped the growth in demand for homes in its tracks."

I wish I could say I was making this stuff up, but it's all right there in black and white.

LPNC meets in Burlington

Local paper, Burlington Times-News, covers the sensational story!

Here is the schedule.... And Neanderbill showed up! It was fun.