Saturday, September 25, 2010

Be careful what you ask for

The Colombian military took out FARC #2 Mono Jojoy by giving him a pair of boots with a GPS chip hidden inside them!

This is real, people, not an episode of "Chuck".

El Mono was diabetic and had sore feet. The government intercepted a radio message from the jungle ordering special footwear and filled that order for him, and the rest is history.

Pretty tricky.

The CIA sure has come a long way from when they tried to off Castro with exploding cigars!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Ready for Hunting Season.....

This is a nice setup

(Deer season starts November 14)

Dems punt on tax vote

Maybe it's just me, but these guys (and gals) are really bad at their jobs. "Middle-class tax relief" (which in bizarre Dem-speak means continuation of the status quo for all but the top earners) was supposed to be a campaign plus for them, right? The president is still a Dem, right? Both houses are Dem right? Inaction raises taxes on everyone and they get to write the bill, so they have the Repubs by the proverbial S&Cs, right?

The only explanation I can think of is that the Dem leadership absolutely refuses to not raise taxes on the rich and they don't think they can get their rank and file to go for that before the election.

I guess they think that a bunch of lame ducks will be more likely to do the leaders that cost them their jobs one more favor in December before heading back home for good?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mono Jojoy, (D)RIP

The Colombian army killed FARC #2 Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (aka Mono Jojoy)today.

I guess new president Santos wanted to send a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" message to the FARC.

Latin American blogger extraordinaire Boz points out that the raid was a combined operation of several branches of the Colombian military and credits years of US training for their enhanced efficiency.

In the title, the "D" is for "don't" and I thank Mrs. Angus for suggesting it.

Buffet to NBER: STFU!

President Obama's favorite rich man, Warren Buffet has a message for the National Bureau of Economic Research's business cycle dating committee and that message is "FAIL":

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the U.S. economy remains in recession, disputing this week's assessment by a leading arbiter of economic activity that the downturn ended more than a year ago.

"We're still in a recession," Buffett told CNBC television in an interview broadcast on Thursday. "We're not gonna be out of it for a while, but we will get out."

A full reading of the article reveals that Sir Warren does not understand the difference between the end of a recession (the business cycle trough) and the end of the recovery.

By the way, does anyone besides me think Buffett would have been the perfect choice for the role of the dad in "Sh*t My Dad Says?"

Pelsmin: Guest Correspondent

My man Pelsmin writes:

I saw your reference to that economist I call "The Grey Lady." It sent me looking for my favorite bitch-slap of a Krugman column, which appeared five years ago. I was nearly crying at some of the lines.

Here's the original column, imploring America to become more like France. It is vintage Krugman, glossing over internal contradictions, etc.

Here's the response that ran in the NRO, written by Donald Luskin. This is one of the most devastating critiques of a Krugman piece that I've seen.

Interesting, and I am no fan of P-Kroog. But....U.S. unemployment is pretty darned high right now.

I am always surprised by what a test case France is for Americans. Most of us either like very much, or dislike very much, those crazy froggies.

Leaning and Falling

Why Leaning to the Left Makes You Lean to the Left: Effect of Spatial Orientation on Political Attitudes

Daniel Oppenheimer & Thomas Trail
Social Cognition, October 2010, Pages 651-661

Abstract: A prominent metaphor in American politics associates left with liberals and right with conservatives. Three studies investigate the extent to which this metaphor not only shapes how people talk about politics, but how people think about politics. Participants who are oriented to their right report more conservative political attitudes, while those who are oriented toward their left report more liberal attitudes. This supports the notion that spatial metaphor is a key ingredient underlying abstract thinking even for important belief systems.

Oriented? (Nod to Kevin Lewis, btw)

Then, this:

Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV) “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.”


Libertarian Goverment: You'd Be Happier, Thinner, and Taller

An amusing little interview, on NPR.

Happy Birthday Dr. Mungo

Yes, my nacho obsessed partner in crime is turning 52 today!

Here's Mungo on Google Scholar.

Here's some birthday advice for the old boy:

Old age, for instance, begins with the self-imposed restriction on forming new body patterns. First, one selects attitudes and postures to fit an assumed dignity and so rejects certain actions, such as sitting on the floor or jumping, which then soon become impossible to perform. The resumption and reintegration of even these simple actions has a marked rejuvenating effect not only on the mechanics of the body but also on the personality as a whole.

I don't know who said this, but my yoga guy e-mailed it to me this morning.

Serendipity now!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Expensive But Mandatory Health Care = Unemployment

Is one cause of stubbornly high unemployment... the new health care law?

I say yes, in this interview.

Clogging the basepaths.

People, Fire Joe Morgan is re-reuniting today (one day only) at deadspin. Ah, how I've missed them. The article about naked Joe Morgan made me laugh hard enough to produce tears.

"Counties have needs...."

I call bullish.

Counties do NOT have needs, in spite of what is said here, and in which I try to rebut the claim in an interview.

The fact is that CITIZENS have needs, and counties exist to serve those needs. That is the only reason counties exist.... to serve citizens. If counties have needs let 'em take up a voluntary collection, not take the money at gunpoint.

The worst thing is the idea that it is okay to use taxpayer resources to run an ad campaign in favor of taxes. (Same column, on CJO)

Interstellar Trade

I like this a lot.

"The Theory of Interstellar Trade"
Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 4, pp. 1119-1123, October 2010

PAUL R. KRUGMAN, Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

This article extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer traveling with the goods than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.

And I'd like to think that most of p-kroog's columns for the NYTimes were likewise satirical. That would explain a great deal.

(Nod to David Z)

Libertarian jokes

1. Two libertarians are talking in a bar. The first one takes a long pull on his beer, and then yells, "Question Authority!" The other spits beer out of his nose, and angrily splutters, "Why the hell should I?"

2. Senator Richard Burr was driving out in the country, and saw a sign that said, “Republican Puppies for sale!” On a whim, he stopped. A little boy showed the Senator the puppies, and they were so cute with their squenched up eyes and floppy ears that the Senator promised to come back after they had been weaned to buy one.

Three weeks later, he checks back. But the sign has been changed. It says, “Libertarian Puppies for sale!” Senator Burr goes up to the house, and says, “Last time I was here, sign said “Repub Puppies,” now “Libertarian Puppies.” What’s up?

Boy said, “well, it’s true. They were Republican puppies, but now they’re Libertarian puppies. As puppies get older, they open their eyes!"

The BEST Jon Stewart Ever

Seriously. I watched this three times. It just gets better.

Pure. Genius.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Not a fan?

words of wisdom from Tyler:

If the GSEs had such a small role in the crash, why do they need the biggest bailout?

The Grand Game--Michael Clifford edition

I should be fair: Just helped host David Schmidtz for a two day visit, and he's a friend. So I have some preconceived notions here.

But I really, really enjoyed Will W's beat down of one Michael Clifford.

The fact is that Clifford's article, even after the beat down, still has lots of fecund ground for grand game playing.

I'll go first: Dr. Clifford is clearly a Foucault enthusiast. I think that means he reads Foucault while locked in his office*, and does alone that thing that Christine O'Donnell thinks that men should only do with women.

(*Clifford's office, not Foucault's)

Tax Links

Here's a couple of long but interesting posts on tax incidence and tax "equity". One by Steve Landsberg and one by Scott Sumner. They are self-recommending.

Products entirely relevant for 21st century investing

Judging from the look on the guy's face, it is somewhat painful to have this product installed!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

hot links

1. Pot, meet kettle. Mexico is building a fence to keep Guatemalans out! Greg Weeks knocks this one out of the park.

2. Where was she when she needed her? Megan McArdle counsels the NY times lady who lost her job.

3. I think I forgot to mention this earlier, but Kevin Durant had a pretty good summer.

Most Schools are About Average

Stephen K makes some good points, as always.

(Nod to Lord Sutch, who knows)

Better than Ezra?

This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel and for that I apologize. I try not to look at Ezra's blog, but when Mark Thoma links to something, sometimes I can't help myself.

You know, his blog wasn't always this bad. Maybe since his listserve got shutdown, he's been on his own a bit more?

People, Ezra thinks you don't know how tax brackets work and that you don't know the difference between a tax cut and a tax increase.

Let me beak it down for him:

If your tax rates go down from where they are, that is a tax cut. If your tax rates go up from where they were, that is a tax increase. If they stay the same, then there is no cut or increase.

So it makes no sense (except I guess in Ezra-world) to even use the phrase "Obama tax cuts" which appears in some variation more than 5 times in his post.

In fact, his post ends with the following bit of awesomeness:

"Under Obama's tax plan, everyone gets a tax cut"

How could the Post fire Dave Weigel and leave this guy on the payroll?

All too true: "I am the LAW"

"Less strictly constitutional, more totally awesome."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Juevos Grandes

I accept that the Consumer Financial Protection Agency will make it harder and more expensive to make loans, thus slowing growth and reducing employment. I further accept that the new nanny agency will make it impossible for poor people to get loans, after which we will all blame banks for being greedy, instead of bureaucrats for being stupid.

But it is hard to accept that our con law prof prez is going to subvert the entire "advise and consent" part of the constitution. He has a Democratic senate, for heaven's sake.

If the Cambridge Caterwauler can't be confirmed by a Democratic senate, maybe she is too extreme for the job. Proof I'm right: WaPo likes it.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Mooning Incident Mars GMU Conference

At a recent conference at George Mason, two innocent economics professors, Chris Coyne and Pete Leeson, were well and truly mooned by this correspondent.

It was about 3 pm, good lighting, and the moon was performed from a sixth floor, floor-to-ceiling window, while the Moonees were at ground level So the angle was... unsavory.

The Moonees had different responses. Chris Coyne: "ooh. ungh. no." Pete Leeson: "Wow, that was great! A moon from Munger is like a card from Hallmark....when you care enough to send the very best!"

Coyne has sought refuge in mountain solitude, to recover. He is a serious young man. But Leeson, characteristically, is ready for the next enormous challenge: "Hey... BOETTKE! Bring it on!"

(UPDATE: I got a couple of emails. Some of y'all need decaf, friends. This incident, and quite a few things described on this blog, including the Supreme Court deciding that being "totally awesome" was their new goal, DID NOT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. This is satire. You may find it offensive, and that's fine. But if it seems like it is too outrageous to have happened, then it is too outrageous to have happened. It. did. not. happen. Jeez).

What can save the EU?

Henry Farrell has a long and interesting article about the future of the EU in the current issue of Democracy.

There are some very good bits like this one:

"EMU’s current rules are the worst of both worlds. They are sufficiently constraining to make it difficult to respond properly to crisis situations, while not constraining enough to prevent crises from happening in the first place."

To that point, I can only say Amen!

But, there are also some weird bits, like this one:

If European economies are compelled to impose austerity, they cannot grow through increased domestic spending. Instead, they will have to look to increased exports, copying Germany’s path to prosperity. Unfortunately, the world economy cannot accommodate 26 little Germanys. The current imbalance between the United States–as a net importer and borrower–and exporters such as China already poses a grave risk to international economic stability. If Europe dampens domestic demand and simultaneously looks to increase exports substantially, it will make this imbalance much worse.

People, has it come to the point where it is believed that ONLY government spending stimulates the economy? If governments retrench, is increased overall domestic spending really rendered impossible? Have Alesina & Ardagna labored completely, 100% in vain?

There is also a dubious bait and switch quality to the argument where we go from more "little Germanys" increasing their exports to another China. Does Germany require double digit growth rates for domestic stability? Is Germany a serial currency manipulator? Is Germany's trade surplus anywhere near as large as China's? Wouldn't a large amount of any increased exports by EU countries go to other EU countries?

I also have grave misgivings about the way exports are viewed here and by many others. They are analyzed as if exports can rise and nothing else will change. To my reading, Henry is implying that the consequence of increased EU exports will be an equivalent set of increases in trade deficits for the rest of the world. But the world economy is a dynamic, general equilibrium process, not a static, partial equilibrium one. Won't increased exports in Germany raise earnings and demand there? After all, German savings rates are well below 100%. Won't increased German demand increase Germany's imports from the rest of the world?

To put it in a nutshell, exporting is NOT A ZERO SUM GAME!

The (political) culture that is Haiti

"Haiti held its second presidential debate ever Saturday, a sparsely attended event that was short on detailed responses from the candidates and disrupted by multiple power blackouts.

During the two-hour televised debate held at a restaurant, only four of 19 candidates seeking to become president in the Nov. 28 election faced off in front of about 40 audience members."

The full story is here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nick G: He's Not Just a Pretty Face

He is cute.
But Nick G also says a lot of needful things. If you read this, and the links he includes to fetid knee-jerk taxers like Jonny Chait, you learn some cool stuff.

Of course, if Mr. Chait were actually interested in collecting more revenue, he could just advocate having the Obama admin staff pay what they already owe. Of course, like most lefties, the good Chait thinks taxes are things OTHER people should pay.

(Nod to Angry Alex. And yes, you're cute, too)

My 5 favorite places in Latin America

Today's NY Times travel section is all about Latin America. Mrs. Angus and I have spent a fair amount of time there, so I thought I'd offer up my favorite spots.

1. The Pantanal. A huge swamp. Jaguars, giant river otters, caiman, capybaras, and an amazing variety of birds and lizards. Probably the least well known great place for wildlife viewing anywhere.

2.Rural Guatemala. Really! OK, being more specific, Lago Atitlan, Tikal, Antigua, or pretty much anywhere in the countryside. Amazing sites, incredible cheap food, big fun.

3. Patagonia. We have only been to Chilean Patagonia, and it is an incredible pain the the butt to get there but wow, it is so worth it. In Torres del Paine park, you can hike to see glacial lakes and incredible peaks, and still stay indoors in refugios with indoor plumbing, hot water, and hot food.

4. Mexico City. Really it's impossible for me to pick one only place in Mexico and uninformative to simply list the whole country so let me apologize to Oaxaca, the Yucatan, and the states of Guerrero, Chiapas, and Baja Sur. Mexico City has the best food, museums, suburbs, and outlying attractions of anywhere in Latin America, if not the world. A great place to spend at least a couple of weeks.

5. Urubamba valley, Peru. This is where I want to retire! I think it may be the most beautiful spot on earth. It's also close to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Here's a pic: