Friday, April 29, 2011

Grand Game: Solar Power Edition

So many choice passages here. I'll just let you folks have at it. What's your favorite fatuous statement, or silly fact?

The article

(Nod to Anonyman, who liked the "fact" one solar panel could produce enough electricity, in a year, to light four 60 watt bulbs for six weeks. WTF?)

On Angus' Pond

My wonderful Aunt Joyce is pre-disbursing her estate and gave us some frogskins this winter. We decided to use them to put a small stream and pond in the back yard.

Here are some wee foties of the semi-finished product (clic the pics for a more glorious image):

Not So Fast, II

So, a schmuck in the audience tries to make the Krugman point, and cites Krugman as an authority. Hilarity ensues.

P-Kroog is a punch line, a clown. And it is not because he is dumb; far from it. He is completely unconstrained by facts or logic. I think P-Kroog actually believes he has evolved into pure energy, and need no longer worry about petty things.

(Nod to Leonard S)

Not so fast

John Taylor called Obama a big spender and unleashed the progressive chorus. Krugman (among others) went after him twice (see here and here).

Here's Taylor's graph (clic the pic for a more glorious image):

It's clearly true that spending automatically rises in (after?) a recession and that has something to do with the bulge around 2009.

But Taylor's beef with Obama is that spending never falls back down in the out years, even though growth is projected to be pretty robust.

Krugman sez that's just due to mandated spending increases and would have happened no matter what. But people, look at the CBO budget projections from 2007 shown in the graph below (clic the pic for a more glorious image):

They show spending out to 2017 at around 19% of GDP, and the trend, if anything is down.

All the automatic spending increase stuff Krugman talks about was known about when these projections were made, so I am not sure how it can be that Obama (and Pelosi and Reid) have / are not proposing a significant expansion of Federal spending!

We are talking about permanently raising Federal spending by 2-3 percentage points of GDP in ways that were not foreseen in 2007.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who is more clutch?

Kevin Durant, or Mungowitz?

Sure KD scored 41 points, 16 in the 4th quarter, and all of the Thunder's final 9 points to beat Denver 100-97 and move OKC to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

He was incredibly clutch.

But Mungo did this.

Only thing he coulda done better is to have gone Rooster Cogburn for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Angus Showed this in my class

Just admit it Bernanke: You are a guy with a beard who is allowed to print money.


I have my new Easter bonnet, too. Pretty? The LMM is that tiny little thing amidst all that manliness.

Flapdoodle: Birth Certificate of Obama

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

KPC as always is way out front.

We (well, Angus) declared in July 2009 that the birther "flapdoodle" was nonsense. As Angus put it, "Who would have thought that so many idiots (birthers) banded together could be wrong?"

Of course, Angus went on to ask why it matters in the first place.

Toilet Seat-o-metrics

Article on toilet seat economics.

Abstract: This paper develops an economic analysis of the toilet seat etiquette. I investigate whether there is any efficiency justification for the presumption that men should leave the toilet seat down after use. I find that the down rule is inefficient unless there is a large asymmetry in the inconvenience costs of shifting the position of the toilet seat across genders. I show that the selfish or the status quo rule that leaves the toilet seat in the position used dominates the down rule in a wide range of parameter spaces including the case where the inconvenience costs are the same.

Now, I wrote about this four years ago, so here is that info again. A different conclusion.

(Nod to RL and MA)

Bob Lee Says

Terrific column by my bud Bob Lee.

UNC Boss Holden Thorp is a friend of Bob's, so he's not taking cheap shots. He's just calling the corners.

Here is the hate crime report, on TV.

But it was a hoax. Just totally faked. HuffPo huffed and puffed about the "hate crime," but then when it turned out to be fake HuffPo actually had the gall to say "allegedly faked." You gotta like that: There WAS a hate crime, for sure, but then it was "allegedly faked." Why not "alleged hate crime" in the first place?

So, to review: this was TOTALLY made up, fabricated. And all the haters line up and say, "This fits the pattern. This proves my biases are correct. Only the government can solve this problem."

The truth is that the idea of a hate crime is idiotic. There are crimes. Prosecute them. But don't make stuff up. Or you give reasons to people who want to make stuff up just to get attention.

Assaults do happen. But stuff like this just makes it harder for the actual victims to get justice. And UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp should be ashamed.

20 Most Worthless Majors

Not sure this list is accurate. Since it does not include Political Science, I mean.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Can the Fed do more?

Bernanke unprecedentedly goes public today with a post FOMC meeting news conference!

The progressive pack wants to hold him accountable for not "doing more" to fight unemployment (here's David Leonhardt for example).

But, can Chairman Ben do more?

Well in one sense, yes, he could always announce another policy initiative. QE III anyone?

But the important question is can the Fed do anything right now to reduce unemployment faster?

I don't think so.

All the policies Leonhardt mentions require the Fed to make a credible current commitment to an unusual set of future actions (set interest rates at near zero for several more years, create higher than "normal" future inflation).

In other words, for these types of polices to work, the Fed has to change expectations about future Fed behavior.

People, there is a huge literature exactly about the fact that the Fed cannot credibly commit to some future optimal policy (the so called "time-inconsistency" literature).

Fed promises to do strange things in the future simply are not believable and are thus extremely unlikely to produce the desired private sector reaction.

To my knowledge, none of the proposals being floated for the Fed to do more avoids this basic issue, and thus, I do not believe the Fed can do anything at this point to make unemployment fall appreciably faster.

Why Are Liberals So Condescending? Part Deux

Nice article; thanks to a commenter.


The denunciation of Palin took place 45 years after William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote: "I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University." From Richard Nixon's invoking the "silent majority" to Palin's campaigning as a devout, plain-spoken hockey mom, conservatives have claimed that they share the common sense of the common man. Liberals—from Adlai Stevenson to Barack Obama to innumerable writers, artists, and academics—have often been willing foils in this drama, unable to stop themselves from disparaging the very people whose votes are indispensable to the liberal cause. The elephant-in-the-room irony is that the liberal cause is supposed to be about improving the prospects and economic security of ordinary Americans, whose beliefs and intelligence liberals so often enjoy deriding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LeBron on Compassion by the Pound

Interesting article on humane treatment of animals.

If it matters, Chez Mungowitz has gone over to cage-free eggs. Not expensive. Not sure they taste better, but for such a small price why not have more humane treatment. Angus is much closer to totally free range, because Chez Angus buys only free range chicken and beef. (Angus doesn't like seafood or pork) (Never mind; inside joke).

Of course, we also eat deer. Humanely killed deer, which means hunted by responsible expert marksmen. Happy, totally free range deer to dead deer in less than 10 seconds.

Four Terrific Podcasts

For my class this spring, the TW Smith Foundation was kind enough to provide generous support for some outside speakers.

With the permission of those speakers, I have created podcasts of their lectures to the class. Here they are. A note of warning: I did the recording and production. So the sound quality is something less than perfect, even though the speeches themselves were first rate.

John David Lewis: Podcast (Professor at Duke's PPE Program)
"The Role of Commerce in the Ancient World"

Timur Kuran: Podcast (Professor at Duke in Economics and Political Science)
"The Long Divergence: Economic Institutions in the Islamic World"

William Dougan: Podcast (Professor in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University)
"The Economist and the State: The Chicago View"

Kevin Grier: Podcast (Professor in the Department of Economics at University of Oklahoma)
"U.S. Monetary Policy: Past, Present, and Future"

(UPDATE: A reader was kind enough to point out that one might look here for 19 other useful podcasts on economics. And I have to (blush) agree.)

Aren't They Cute When They're Asleep?

So, took Angus to airport this morning, getting there at 6:30 am for his 7:30 am flight.

But, bad weather in Memphis, his connection.
Came back to the Mungowitz ranch, for some nappies. Maybe second breakfast, some nice tea, and some WSJ reading on the front porch. Next flight out is at 12:30, through Detroit.

In the meantime: shhhh!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Best Headline

Best Headline Ever:

Patient emits potentially harmful gas; hazmat called to Ann Arbor hospital

You pretty much don't need to read the article now. The headline contains all the needful info. I've had days like that, buddy. Hang in there!

(Nod to S. Horwitz)

KPC Summit

Angus, Mungowitz, Neanderbill, and the Lovely Ms. Neanderbill had the KPC summit dinner at a favorite local restaurant, Azitra.

We had lamb vindaloo, a variety of curry dishes, two orders of a great eggplant dish (bhartha), several great tandooris (tandoori salmon! Yumtown!), some really fine paneer in a creamy tomato sauce, a very fresh kachumber plate, and a giant rack of assorted nans. And...ate all of it. I did my best, but Neanderbill was the champ. He's 6'8", 185 lbs., and can eat more than ...well, more. We ordered an appetizer, a rack of bread, and seven entrees, and four of us left nothing behind but a vanished hunger.

We also had a bebida buena. They call it a "snake charmer," and it's tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and quite a lot of fresh ginger. Kind of a margarita with ginger. Best margarita I have ever had.

And the restaurant was absolutely empty except for us. Strange. Really good food, clean pretty restaurant. A mystery.

But, in any case, the KPC summit was a success. Now I have to waddle back to the couch. Angus and I have us some NBA playoffs to be watching.

Vote Compass? Maybe Biased?

Vote Compass: Like the World's Smallest Political Quiz, a way of telling which ideology is "closest" to your views.

Or, perhaps not? Perhaps statistically biased? Pretty serious charge, if true...

How to succeed in economics

This is from the NY Magazine Krugman profile recommended by LeBron:

In December, Krugman and five other liberal economic thinkers (Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, Jeffrey Sachs, Alan Blinder, and Larry Mishel) were invited to the Oval Office for a 90-minute off-the-record audience with the president. It was a month after the midterms, and many progressives were worried that even the modified liberalism of the administration’s first two years would dissolve in a new spirit of conciliation with the ascendant right. The economists present understood the meeting, one of them says, as the moment when Obama “talked to the left."

The economists sat ringing Obama: two Nobelists, a former Labor secretary, and a former vice-chairman of the Fed. Not a Gentile among them, Krugman noticed, but an amazingly high proportion of beards.

You have the blueprint, people, what you do with it is up to you!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

you can't hit what you can't see

I am heading to Mungotown to talk about monetary policy. I was researching the question of whether the Fed should target asset bubbles (and by target I mean, prevent / deflate!!). Chairman Ben's point of view is that the Fed should do so only to the extent that the bubble bleeds into overall inflation.

At this point something burbled up in my reptile brain; "housing is about 1/3 of the CPI, how could it have soared so far without bringing inflation along?"

People you probably know this already, but in 1983, the BLS redefined how to measure housing costs to "owner equivalent rent", and this variable didn't much move with housing prices in the last decade.

Here's a graph, courtesy of Dr. Housing Bubble (clic the pic for a more glorious image):

The red line shows the growth rate in the Case-Shiller housing price index, the blue line shows the growth rate of housing component of the CPI.


From 1998 to 2006, there was a complete disconnect between housing prices (rising like crazy) and the BLS measure of owner equivalent rent (which never went up more that 4% in any of those years).

Hard for a bubble to bleed into inflation when it's been defined out of the index!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In the land of the blind, the one eyed pundit is still a dope

The tax wars are at least entertaining. On the right, pundits often point out that many Americans pay no federal income taxes and even more pay very little.

On the left, pundits counter by saying there are more taxes than federal income taxes. For example, everyone with a job pays federal payroll taxes.

For example, here is Jon Chait, citing and debunking the rights point's about who pays taxes.

Are right leaning pundits deliberately trying to pull a fast one, hoping that people will gloss over the modifiers "federal" and "income" and think the stats apply to total taxes?

Maybe. Couldn't put it past them, though Chait (and his source, Emmy winner Leonhardt) do a poor job making their case.

But who pays federal income taxes is an important issue because we are debating raising them! If everyone votes and the median voter doesn't pay federal income taxes, then there is little direct cost to the majority in voting higher tax rates.

That, I think, is the important public choice issue here, and it makes question of who pays federal income taxes is important in it's own right, irrespective what other taxes exist, given that it's the federal income tax we are proposing changing.

Not the Onion...

So, which of the stories below is the Onion?

1. Nude golfers want course of their own in U.S., to match French course. The French course "includes four par 3 holes and two par 4 holes and a water hazard. There's also a large putting green and a golf pro ready to show guests how to swing that club."

2. Man depressed by changes at Arby's: thinner paper and more (but smaller) onion bits on buns.

3. Man "dressed as manequin" nabbed in women's bathroom. 20-year -old from Edgbaston was seen sneaking into the women's toilets "dressed like a mannequin with a mask and a wig" earlier this month. When security guards nabbed him, Hardman admitted to performing a sexual act and said: "I've been a bit weird."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Are Liberals So Condescending?

KPC friend, and my own good friend, Gerard Alexander had a piece in the WaPo that was good a year ago, and even better now. Worth reading. Excerpt:

It's an odd time for liberals to feel smug. But even with Democratic fortunes on the wane, leading liberals insist that they have almost nothing to learn from conservatives. Many Democrats describe their troubles simply as a PR challenge, a combination of conservative misinformation -- as when Obama charges that critics of health-care reform are peddling fake fears of a "Bolshevik plot" -- and the country's failure to grasp great liberal accomplishments. "We were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," the president told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in a recent interview. The benighted public is either uncomprehending or deliberately misinformed (by conservatives).

This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.



Well, we never really meant you HAD to switch to CFLs. All we did was make standard bulbs illegal. "Table for Mr. Freude! Table for Mr. Schad N. Freude!"


Nod to Angry Alex.

(Lagniappe: A commenter from the article... Me, I eschew all CFLs and use my trusty 40,000 year old, never failing fire torch dipped in endangered species fat. Keeps burning forever or until I bag the last one and have to move on to another! Provides heat, light, natural aroma and is a great dinner time conversation piece next to the stuffed head on the wall. Ta heck with those oil / gas derived spaghetti twirls. Give mah a good heated light source any day 'n' save mu dang fuel oil bill. So if we have nukes, wind turbines, etc. whats the point in saving electricity anyway??? Anyone who has used CFLs knows how poor they are at doing the job. And darn if they don't pollute way way more than normal bulbs do. The moronic non-logic of spinach for brains environmentalists and pink of centre liberals! Some one otta shoot the lot of them and save the planet for the rest of us. Yehaww! )

Hot Links

1. The grading season is upon us, get fired up here! "he urines to be accepted".

2. Deflection: S&P is now running Greece (according to its Prime Minister)!

3. Grand concession: AG Eric Holder admits that not all price rises are not prima facie illegal!

4. Nice graphs from John Taylor in the WSJ.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Countdown to Excellence

The will be out next week. John P is doing that voodoo that he do. And you will see the Ben Bernank as you have never seen him before....

In case you missed the Battle at Buttonwood, by the way. Worth watching.


I had never seen this article, in the Atlantic, about one of my two favorite twitter feeds, @mayoremanuel. (The other is @shitmydadsays, which has also pretty much gone silent; woe!)

A HuffPo story back at the height of the magic.

Anyway, I actually miss @mayoremanuel. A lot. Prof. Sinker talks about it.

Toe Truck

"Raising boys who want to dress like little girls..."

This is hilarious. But it's also sad.

Fox News (though to be fair most other networks also went nuts).

Jon Stewart is right: "Do you have any idea how long a weekend is...with children?"

Watch through to the very end. A most excellent twist.

Interestingly, the whole pink / blue thing is quite recent. Or, rather, recently reversed:

"[A] Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, 'The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.'...In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland and Marshall Field in Chicago. Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers." [Smithsonian magazine]

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

You don't have to live like a refugee

Or, the UN, the missing environmental refugees, the missing map and the moving goalposts.

There is good overall coverage here.

The UN environmental program (UNEP) had a webpage claiming that there would be 50 million environmental refugees by 2010, along with a nice map of where they might likely come from.

When they started to take fire from this clearly incorrect prediction (It was made in 2005), they just said, "no we didn't say that and took the page down!"

And now? Apparently the 50 million refugees will show up in 2020. They just missed the first bus, I guess:

He just wants to be an American boy!

Yes that is allegedly Russian President Medvedev shaking his booty in the video. Paradoxically, it is believed that his favorite musical group is Deep Purple!

Vladdy O'Hooligan

“We see that everything is not so good for our friends in the States,” Putin told lawmakers Wednesday “Look at their trade balance, their debt, and budget. They turn on the printing press and flood the entire dollar zone — in other words, the whole world — with government bonds. There is no way we will act this way anytime soon. We don’t have the luxury of such hooliganism,” he said.

As much as I like the image of the US government as a bunch of drunken skinheads, rampaging through towns breaking windows and breaking heads while singing obscene songs, Vladdy is, as usual, full of it.

The BRICS (and how primitive Russia ever got included with real vibrant economies like Brazil, China, & India, I'll never understand) CLEARLY WANT US to run a big trade deficit. They are willing to put up with rising domestic inflation in their efforts to stop their currencies from appreciating and (perhaps) our trade deficit from falling.

And regarding the US debt, it's "flooding of the world" has raised the interest it must pay to an eye-popping 3.5%??????

Vladdy is right that Russia doesn't have the luxury of large scale Ruble denominated borrowing, in part because THEY DEFAULTED IN 1998!

I think Vladdy should stick with wrestling bears and snowmobiling with his boy-toy Medvedev.

UPDATE: In an unthinkable coincidence, it was pointed out to me that Paul Krugman has similar thoughts on Vladdy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Important? How About "Mr. Pot, Meet Dr. Kettle?"

I got a hee-hee out of this:

1. US government so confused, corrupt and incompetent cannot wipe own butt. Debt is downgraded.

2. More on S&P downgrade.

3. Chuckie Schumer has been pressing to investigate rating agencies for negligence and fraud, ignoring risks. "Clearly, this job is too important to be left to the Private sector." Senator Schumer said in a NY Times interview.

This "job" is clearly too important to be left to Chuckie Schumer. Dude, get your own house in order.

(Nod to L.S.)

Follow ups

1. I ripped Melo for his weak play in game 1 of the Knicks-Celts series so I have to give him credit for a great stat line in game 2: 42 points on "only" 30 shots, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists with only 1 turnover. Nice. Of course, the Knicks still lost.

2. As of 11:00 am CDT, the Dow is up 1.6% and the NASDAQ 2.0%. Somehow I must have missed where S&P took back its debt-downgrade threat??

With friends like these.....

Chilling headline this morning "Italy sending military instructors to Libya".

I can only hope they are going to help Gadhafi!!

Isn't it bad enough that France is helping the rebels?

This reminded me of Churchill's retort to Von Ribbentrop when Ribby told him Italy would be on Germany's side in the coming war:

"It's only fair that you have the Italians this time, after all we had them last time".


Diffusion through Democracy

Katerina Linos
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Many argue that international norms influence government behavior, and that
policies diffuse from country to country, because of idea exchanges within elite networks. However, politicians are not free to follow their foreign counterparts, because domestic constituencies constrain them. This article examines how electoral concerns shape diffusion patterns and argues that foreign templates and international organization recommendations can shift voters' policy positions and produce electoral incentives for politicians to mimic certain foreign models. Experimental individual-level data from the field of family policy illustrates that even U.S. voters shift positions substantially when informed about UN recommendations and foreign countries' choices. However, voters receive limited information about international developments, biased towards the policy choices of large and proximate countries. Aggregate data on the family policy choices of OECD countries show how voters' limited information about international models shapes
government decisions: governments are disproportionately likely to mimic countries whose news citizens follow, and international organizations are most influential in countries with internationally oriented citizens.

Unexpected Bedfellows: The GATT, the WTO and Some Democratic Rights

Susan Ariel Aaronson & Rodwan Abouharb
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract: The WTO system and democratic rights are unexpected bedfellows. The GATT/WTO requires governments to adopt policies that provide foreign products (read
producers) with due process, political participation, and information rights related to trade policymaking. Because these nations also provide these rights to their citizens, a growing number of people are learning how to influence trade-related policies. As trade today encompasses many areas of governance, these same citizens may gradually transfer the skills learned from influencing trade policies to other public issues. Thus, the WTO not only empowers foreign market actors, but also citizens in repressive states. We use both qualitative and quantitative analysis to examine whether membership in the WTO over time leads to improvements in these democratic rights. Our qualitative analysis shows that these issues are discussed
during accessions and trade policy reviews. Quantitative analysis examines how members of the GATT/WTO perform on these democratic rights over time. We use a cross-national time series design of all countries, accounting for selection issues of why countries become members of the GATT/WTO regime. We find that longer GATT/WTO membership leads to stronger performance on our metrics for political participation, free and fair elections, and access to information.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Make Up Day

From the set of "Fight of the Century": Make up chair. Note "Keynes" in the background, planning his next heist.



Some analysis on demand, and then on supply.

A more positive view.

Unexpected, Bizarre. And Totally Predictable.

Is there no limit to what the government will do to harass citizens who are merely trying to petition government?

Original story. Engineering without a license.

My first post.

Now, law without a license?

So, the guy says, "I am NOT REPRESENTING the association in this matter." Couldn't be clearer. But they referred him to the state bar anyway.

Wow. As I said before, it should be impossible to surprise me. But that "public servant" Andrew Ritter who says his job is to "protect the public," when what he means is he is protecting himself and his buds from the inconvenience of citizens asking questions....Jeez. I'm surprised. Again.

Here's the cool thing: the resolution of the first case ("Engineering without a license") is something that only Orwell could appreciate. Here is the description from our local NBC 17:

Eventually, the state engineering board decided that the report WAS IN FACT a violation. The group was practicing engineering without a license. But the board decided not to pursue the matter because it is not entirely clear who wrote what. The report is "too good," though, and that means it is illegal, and not something that can be used in the proceedings.

So, if you write a detailed memo, using evidence and logic, you are VIOLATING THE LAW. But since it is too hard to tell who wrote the illegal petition for redress of grievance, they are going to let Mr. Cox off. This time. Next time, boy, you may not be so lucky. You had better be damned glad that our government is a benevolent and loving government, Mr. Cox. They'll be watching...

Interesting View on Economics of Drugs "Wars"

Angry Alex sends this interesting podcast, on Planet Money's interview with a former seller of drugs.

A disturbing implication: "Freeway Rick" was not selling drugs as some kind of social protest. He was selling them because they were illegal, and that's the way to make money.

So, if some drugs were legalized, then poor but entrepreneurial folks would just sell something else. Right?

Debt and Interest

Okay, so the guy is a little creepy. And the linear projections are sometimes silly. But Worth thinking about.

(Nod to Tony B)

Lies, damn lies, & business journalism

So S&P's attempt to avoid indictment by threatening Uncle Sam's credit rating caused the stock market to fall yesterday. At least that's the near universal narrative of the business press.

There's just one problem; it's horses*%t!

First, stock markets were down in Asia and Europe before the US market opened and before S&P announced.

Second, prices of US government debt, the very thing S&P was attacking, ROSE yesterday as did the Dollar vs. the Euro.

I think it's far more likely that the increased prospects of imminent default in Europe was driving events, than was S&Ps posturing, but the plain fact of the matter is that WE DON'T KNOW what drives short run movements in markets, and the last time I checked, post hoc ergo propter hoc was still an egregious logical fallacy, no matter how often the business press uses it.


This video is unexpectedly disturbing. Did NOT see the end coming.

(Nod to the LMM)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Microfinance Fail

Interesting to learn about microfinance.

Which is the reason I love doing podcasts with Russ Roberts. I learn a lot. Because Russ has this $%&#$ing habit of asking questions I can't answer.

So, I give you the most recent podcast on EconTalk, Roberts & Munger on microfinance.

If China Invents Better Solar Panels, We All Benefit

More evidence Angus has it right:

Why the Industrial Revolution Was British: Commerce, Induced Invention, and the Scientific Revolution

R.C. Allen
Economic History Review, May 2011, Pages 357–384

Abstract: Britain had a unique wage and price structure in the eighteenth century, and that structure is a key to explaining the inventions of the industrial revolution. British wages were very high by international standards, and energy was very cheap. This configuration led British firms to invent technologies that substituted capital and energy for labour. High wages also increased the supply of technology by enabling British people to acquire education and training. Britain's wage and price structure was the result of the country's success in international trade, and that owed much to mercantilism and imperialism. When technology was first invented, it was only profitable to use it in Britain, but eventually it was improved enough that it became cost-effective abroad. When the ‘tipping point’ occurred, foreign countries adopted the technology in its most advanced form.

Spontaneous Order

A street person "directs" traffic in Raleigh, after the tornado destroyed a lot of infrastructure, and knocked out power.

(Nod to the good Mr. Greene).

Whitest Man on Earth

I have claimed several times that Art Carden is the whitest man on earth.

Being truly white is not just having pasty skin, though of course that helps.

Being truly white requires a sense of tight-ass, mayonnaise-on-Wonder fashion, also, no matter how out of place.

Consider the picture below, taken at APEE, in the Bahamas. The prosecution rests.
(BTW, in case you couldn't tell, Art C is the giant corn-fed galoot in the middle, with the suit)

Question: Why Do Liberals Favor Tax Increases?

Why do lefites favor tax increases?

Because they assume that the law doesn't actually APPLY to them.

Eric Holder the latest Obamatron to say, "Who, me? You actually wanted ME to pay?"

I suppose there's no reason the Atty General should have to obey the law.

High Heels Hurt

High heels more dangerous than sports! They mean more dangerous for women, of course. Shoes are a trap.

Walking in heels: A lesson. Think of your "power center." Tiny woman talks to giant blonde Amazon woman. This may be the most fatuous thing I have ever seen.

But heels are bad for men, too. Some men get hurt chasing after a another man carrying or kicking a ball. But even more men get hurt chasing after women who are wearing high heels.

'Cause they might actually catch up to the woman. And that's how the men get hurt.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Made in the World

Made in the World, brought to you by the WTO.

Watch the video. Yoda incarnate, with lots of odd lip smacking.

They call me Melo Yellow (quite rightly)

In the Knicks' give-away to the Cs yesterday, Carmelo Anthony missed 10 of his last 11 shots. For the entire game he was 5-18 from the field with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 turnovers.

Here's what Melo had to say for hisself:

“I’m not too concerned about my individual performance or anything like that,”

the quote comes from here, but the article is mostly weird Celtic worship (i.e. self non-recommending).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let the Sun Shine

Or, not. It looked like a dark day for the pigs in the solar-industrial complex, but then the bright (though artificial) electric spotlight of the feds shone on them.

Solar advocates mounted a last-minute push Monday to prevent sweeping cuts to a federal loan guarantee program for clean energy development in a Republican budget plan. The cuts would have essentially closed the program, which is popular with solar power developers, and rescinded billion of dollars in loan commitments for dozens of projects.

"Popular"? I bet. The oil depletion allowance is popular with the oil pigs, too. That doesn't make it right.

Look, for a big enough subsidy we could take used toilet paper and make dental floss. And that subsidy would be popular with industry. That doesn't mean taxpayers should be forced to pay for it. The very fact that such a large subsidy is required implies there is no sound economic justification for doing it, in terms of saving resources. (Yes, I have talked about solar subsidies before...)


(Nod to Anonyman)

Getting Ready to Shoot Congressional Hearing!

On the set of "Fight of the Century!"

Getting ready for transport to the shoot.

In the forest: Bach That Thang Up

(Nod to the Blonde)

Face Time

What does it mean to find the Face of the Franchise? Physical Attractiveness and the Evaluation of Athletic Performance

David Berri, Rob Simmons, Jennifer Van Gilder & Lisle O'Neill
Economics Letters, June 2011, Pages 200-202

Abstract: We show that attractiveness, as measured by facial symmetry, leads to
greater rewards in professional sports. National Football League quarterbacks who are more attractive are paid greater salaries and this premium persists after controlling for player performance.


About Face: The Association between Facial Appearance and Status Attainment
among Military Personnel

Thomas Hochschild & Casey Borch
Sociological Spectrum, May/June 2011, Pages 369-395

Abstract: This research assesses the extent to which facial appearance is related to
occupational status attainment. Through the use of Internet technology, a diverse random sample of research participants viewed Navy boot camp photographs and rated sailors across nine dimensions. Sailors who were rated highly attractive were also thought to be intelligent and to possess leadership qualities. And, consistent with social expectancy theory and status generalization theory, sailors who were rated high across these three traits advanced to higher ranks, and did so more rapidly, than those rated low on these traits. The findings of this study underscore the sociological significance of facial appearance as a means by which people are stratified within social structural contexts.


Identifying personality from the static, nonexpressive face in humans and
chimpanzees: Evidence of a shared system for signaling personality

Robin Kramer, James King & Robert Ward
Evolution and Human Behavior, May 2011, Pages 179-185

Abstract: Many aspects of personality are honestly signaled on the human face, as
shown by accurate identification of personality traits from static images of unknown faces with neutral expressions. Here, we examined the evolutionary history of this signal system. In four studies, we found that untrained human observers reliably discriminated characteristics related to extraversion solely from nonexpressive facial images of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). In chimpanzees, as in humans, there is therefore information in the static, nonexpressive face that signals aspects of an individual's personality. We suggest that this performance is best explained by shared personality structure and signaling in the two species.

Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is beautiful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Selfish reasons to NOT have (more?) kids

Ah yes, kids are cuddly, fun, look like you, and are impervious to your attempts to influence them via expensive or time consuming parenting techniques, so just, chillax, be fruitful and multiply, and enjoy the floor show, what could go wrong?

More than half of baby boomer mothers in the United States support adult children financially and 60 percent are the person their offspring go to when they encounter problems, according to a new survey.

Of women with children over age 18, nine percent said they had adult children living back home for indefinite periods. Twelve percent were primarily responsible for their adult child or children's financial well-being and 31 percent said they had children who returned home, relied on them but expected to become independent.

People, can I get a Yikes!!??

And of course you can't argue that you would raise your child not to be such a shameless leech, because, as we all know, parenting doesn't affect how kids turn out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

WTF squared

Sometimes you see things that stop you dead in your tracks and make you say WTF more than once.

People, here is one of those things:

Yes that is Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Timmy Geithner.

So many questions. Is that a look of pleasure or pain on Timmy's face? Are eskimo kisses the official greeting of G-20 Finance ministers? If this photo had been taken 1.5 seconds later, what would it have shown?

Dr. Doom does China

Uber-bear Nouriel Roubini has turned his sights to China, and he doesn't like what he sees. This is required reading, people.

Here's an excerpt:

When net exports collapsed in 2008-2009 from 11% of GDP to 5%, China’s leader reacted by further increasing the fixed-investment share of GDP from 42% to 47%.

Thus, China did not suffer a severe recession – as occurred in Japan, Germany, and elsewhere in emerging Asia in 2009 – only because fixed investment exploded. And the fixed-investment share of GDP has increased further in 2010-2011, to almost 50%.

The problem, of course, is that no country can be productive enough to reinvest 50% of GDP in new capital stock without eventually facing immense overcapacity and a staggering non-performing loan problem.


Guv by waiver

I don't know what to say about this.

So I'll let Richard Epstein say it.

(Nod to Chateau)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

NYT Op Editoriation

Three NYT op eds on the budget:

"A trick question: If Congress takes no action in coming years, what will happen to the budget deficit? It will shrink - and shrink a lot. This simple fact may offer the best hope for deficit reduction. As federal law currently stands, some significant tax increases are set to take effect in coming years. The most important is the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012...If Mr. Obama wins re-election, he could simply refuse to sign any budget-busting tax cut for the rich...Republicans, for their part, could again refuse to pass any partial extension. And just like that, on Jan. 1, 2013, the Clinton-era tax rates would return. This change, by itself, would solve about 75 percent of the deficit problem over the next five years." [David Leonhardt, NYT op-ed]


"[W]e can't let the oldsters get off scot-free. As my colleague David Leonhardt reported in The Times, two 56-years-olds with average earnings will pay about $140,000 in dedicated Medicare taxes over their lifetimes. They will receive about $430,000 in benefits. This is an immoral imposition on future generations. The Ryan budget wouldn't touch this generation, but a bipartisan budget deal should ask middle-class and affluent boomers to make a sacrifice for their country. Slow the growth in health care benefits now and dedicate that money to paying down the debt and investing in the young." [David Brooks, NYT op-ed]


"Public policy is going to be made from inside a fiscal straitjacket for the foreseeable future. But within that straitjacket, Washington can favor policies that enhance working-class opportunity, while ruthlessly paring back those that subsidize the affluent. The goal shouldn't just be small government, but what the economist Edward Glaeser calls 'small-government egalitarianism.' There are elements of this vision woven into the Ryan budget - cuts to farm subsidies, means-testing for Medicare, and promises to go after tax expenditures that primarily benefit the rich. But at least in its initial draft, too much of the budget's austerity is borne by downscale Americans." [Ross Douthat, NYT op-ed]

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Some thoughts: Douthat's "subsidize the affluent" is a little strange, as is the whole "tax cuts for the rich" meme. 47% of American pay ZERO fed income tax. How would you cut their taxes? You can only cut taxes on people who PAY taxes (I'm an economist; I know these things).

Still, and as Angus has said, we certainly could means test SocSec/Medicare, and by all means should cap mortgage interest deduction, perhaps at $15,000 per year.

But the real "subsidies to the affluent" are cutting subsidies to sugar, corporate farms, oil companies, and big fat defense firms. The problem is not a misallocation by ability to pay, but rather straight up subsidies to war pigs, farm pigs, and the prison-industrial complex fattening the purses of anti-drug warriors. Those payments dwarf the tax cuts.

Taxes take money from people who have earned it. Subsidies are gifts of money from those taxpayers to people who have NOT earned it. Get rid of the subsidies, first.

Veiled Fury

France bans veils. Walking around nekkid is still allowed, however. (Nod to the Blonde, though she doesn't really advocate the walking around nekkid part; I added that.)

Here is the US First Amendment, including the five freedoms from majority tyranny:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
(Written September 25, 1789)

Here is the French version of the same freedoms of religion (from the Declaration of the Rights of Man):

10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
(These two written August 26, 1789).

The American version was Sept 25, 1789; the French was August 26, 1789. Yet banning the wearing of headscarves in the U.S. is literally inconceivable.

The difference is that the U.S. version says "Congress shall make no law..." That's a protection against the government.

The French version basically says you aren't supposed to break the law, but there is no restriction on the law itself. The law can say whatever some bunch of meddlers want it to say. That's an establishment of state power over religion. Quite a difference.

Vive le difference!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unions Oppose Choices for Workers, and Win!

Sen. Wyden's "free choice" vouchers would have provided some alternatives for workers. Perhaps not surprisingly, unions would have none of that. And they killed it. Not clear free choice vouchers were a good deal, economically, for the nation. But that's not the point. Unions actually opposed vouchers, because it reduced their control over workers and gave the workers INDEPENDENCE from union bosses.

Sen. Reid held the knife. Why would anyone believe that private union bosses want to help workers?

For that matter, why would anyone believe that democracy helps citizens? Mencken had it right:

I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself - that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?


I Have to Pee! I Vote "No!"

Extraneous factors in judicial decisions

Shai Danziger, Jonathan Levav & Liora Avnaim-Pesso
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract: Are judicial rulings based solely on laws and facts? Legal formalism holds that judges apply legal reasons to the facts of a case in a rational, mechanical, and deliberative manner. In contrast, legal realists argue that the rational application of legal reasons does not sufficiently explain the decisions of judges and that psychological, political, and social factors influence judicial rulings. We test the common caricature of realism that justice is “what the judge ate for breakfast” in sequential parole decisions made by experienced judges. We record the judges’ two daily food breaks, which result in segmenting the deliberations of the day into three distinct “decision sessions.” We find that the percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from ≈65% to nearly zero within each decision session and returns abruptly to ≈65% after a break. Our findings suggest that judicial rulings can be swayed by extraneous variables that should have no bearing on legal decisions.

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Grand Game: UN Earth Mother Edition

Pelsmin sends this gem (better than the Onion!): Evo goes devo! Bugs have rights...

As finder, Pelsmin exercises right of first point-out-the-idiocy:

I know the US won't go along with it; refers to natural resources as "blessings." We would never support such right-wing evangelical language.

All this put Pelsmin in mind of George Carlin's riff on endangered species, and "save the f*****g planet." I had not seen this. Fantastic.

Chavez's Venezuela is more honest that Kirchner's Argentina

At least in some things. Venezuela's inflation rate last year was the world's highest at 28.2%, Argentina was second at 26.6.

But the big difference was that Venezuela actually reported its inflation rate, while Argentina's government reported an official rate of 10.9%, less than half of the actual rate.

Not only that, but the Kirchner government is attempting to silence critics by fining organizations who dispute the official number!

(earlier we discussed the financial incentives the government has to fudge the number)

Competing views on education

"Education is not the filling of a bucket but the starting of a fire."

W.B. Yeats

"There is no idea so stupid that you can’t find a professor who will believe it."

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pennies and steamrollers?

I have always thought of the carry-trade as a classic example of "picking up pennies in front of the steamroller". Eric Burroughs thinks differently:

"From 2001 through 2010, this JPY-USD short versus a AUD-IDR long was up 162 percent, uncovered interest rate parity be damned."

That's a mighty slow steamroller, eh?


I'm not sure the last sentence of the abstract makes sense to me....Really?

Gender and the Influence of Peer Alcohol Consumption on Adolescent Sexual Activity

Glen Waddell
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract: I consider the alcohol consumption of opposite-gender peers as explanatory to adolescent sexual intercourse and demonstrate that female sexual activity is higher where there is higher alcohol consumption among male peers. This relationship is robust to school fixed effects, cannot be explained by broader cohort effects or general antisocial behaviors in male peer groups, and is distinctly different from any influence of the alcohol consumption of female peers which is shown to have no influence on female sexual activity. There is no evidence that male sexual activity responds to female peer alcohol consumption.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Monday, April 11, 2011

And so it begins

A Chicago public elementary school has banned children from bringing lunches from home.

This is not from the Onion, this is real.

Let's hear from the principal:

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," Carmona said. "It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception."

Now let's take a look at an actual lunch from this school:

That, gentle reader, is "an enchilada dish", according to the school.



"You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations"

Published in Organization Studies. paper available here.

Science marches on!

Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread. Journal of Analytical Psychology

In the paper Fordham's views of development and Anzieu's concept of psychic envelopes constitute the theoretical underpinning. Bion's concepts of beta- and alpha-elements are discussed in relation to Jung's views on symbolic development and psychological containment.

The Effect of Country Music on Suicide. Social Forces

In this article, we explore the link between a particular form of popular music (country music) and metropolitan suicide rates. We contend that the themes found in country music foster a suicidal mood among people already at risk of suicide and that it is thereby associated with a high suicide rate. The effect is buttressed by the country subculture and a link between this subculture and a racial status related to an increased suicide risk.

No nod to KL, I did this all by myself!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sad, Really

It's a little sad that Will Farrell has to stoop to imitating...well, me.

Blame Republicans? REALLY?

I am happy to blame the Republicans for a lot of bad things, ranging from elective wars to astonishing hypocrisy about taxes and deficits.

But the government shutdown? The idiot Dems didn't have the juevos to pass a budget when they controlled every branch of government. The idea that "We'll get back to you" is a budget shows you just how inept and corrupt the Dems have become.

Nick G has some more

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Pusillanimous progressive punditry

One official progressive talking point in response to John Boehner playing their politicians like a violin is that Republicans are "bullies" and "hostage takers" (see here and here for examples).

Pundits, please!

Nobody gave Obama an atomic wedgie in the boy's bathroom. Nobody has any Democratic politician's family members locked up somewhere. It's simply that a majority of this country's elected representatives disagree with you on policy.

That's it; that's all.

Now, you may be right and they may be wrong about the policy, but it didn't take physical violence or blackmail to get the policy to turn out the way it did. A lot of people just plain disagree with you on policy.

Last time I checked, that was still allowed 'round here.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The great compromiser explained

"Goofy possible Republican Presidential candidates makes it unnecessary for Obama to satisfy his liberal supporters."

--Rafael Yglesias

Rafael writes one of my absolute favorite Twitter feeds.

Whattya know.

It's easy (and fun) to mock John Boehner (he smokes, he cries, he tans), but I am beginning to believe that he is a very skilled politician.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Come On!!!!

Nice work if you can get it

Over the last four years, since Daniel Ortega got back in the saddle in Nicaragua, Hugo Chavez has dropped $1.6 billion on his mini-me. If you think that sounds like chump change, remember that the entire budget of the Nicaraguan government is only around $1.5 billion per year, so it's like 25% comes from Hugo.

But it's even better than that for Daniel, because it amounts to his own private slush fund.

(check out the look on the guard's face in the background. What is going on?)

Immigration Studies

What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call

Giovanni Facchini & Max Friedrich Steinhardt
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract: Immigration is one of the most hotly debated policy issues in the United States today. Despite marked divergence of opinions within political parties, several important immigration reforms were introduced in the post 1965 era. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the drivers of congressional voting behavior on immigration policy during the period 1970-2006, and in particular, to assess the role of economic factors at the district level. Our findings provide robust evidence that representatives of more skilled labor abundant constituencies are more likely to support an open immigration policy concerning unskilled labor. Thus, a simple factor-proportions-analysis model provides useful insights regarding the policy making process on one of the most controversial facets of globalization.


Migration from Mexico to the United States: Wage Benefits of Crossing the
Border and Going to the U.S. Interior

Ernesto Aguayo-Tellez & Christian Rivera-Mendoza
Politics & Policy, February 2011, Pages 119-140

Abstract: Emigrating from Mexico to the United States requires three steps: going to the border, crossing it, and going to the final U.S. destination. This article attempts to measure the earnings benefits of each migration step, focusing particularly on the second step: crossing the border. Using U.S and Mexican microdata of workers living in Mexico and in the United States, this article compares wages of identical individuals on both sides of the border after controlling for unobserved differences between migrants and nonmigrants. On average, Mexican workers increase their wages 1.22 times by moving to the Mexican side of the border, 4.15 times by crossing it, and 1.12 times by moving to an interior location in the United States. Gains are larger for unskilled workers. Also, gains for crossing the border are larger for illegal workers, while gains for going to the U.S. interior are larger for legal workers.


The typification of Hispanics as criminals and support for punitive crime
control policies

Kelly Welch et al.
Social Science Research, May 2011, Pages 822-840

Abstract: The Hispanic population is now the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States, so it is not surprising that ethnic threat linked to Hispanics has been associated with harsher crime control. While minority threat research has found that individuals who associate blacks with crime are more likely to support harsh criminal policies, the possibility that this relationship exists for those who typify Hispanics as criminal has yet to be examined. Using a national random sample, this study is the first to use HLM to find that perceptions of Hispanics as criminals do increase support for punitive crime control measures, controlling for various individual and state influences. Moderated and contextual analyses indicate this relationship is most applicable for individuals who are less apt to typify criminals as black, less prejudiced, less fearful of victimization, politically liberal or moderate, not parents, and living in states with relatively fewer Latin American immigrants.

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Kids Prefer Cheese: The Name

Look, kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach.

In other words: Kingdom...Phylum...Class...Order... Family...Genus...Species

It's a nonsense mnemonic. Lebron suggested we try an obscure mnemonic, because it makes someone who sees it think, "That familiar. Where have I heard that?"

Our second choice was "Yams! King of Crops." An homage to the Mt. Goats, and also to Lou/Armand, RIP. We leave it to you to decide if we chose wisely.

So, instead of asking, "What does it mean?" now you can ask "Why are you both so mean?"

Pelsmin: Bad That It's True, But Worse That Obama Likes It

From KPC uber-friend Pelsmin:

In Obama's statements about the dangers of a shutdown, he ranted about how the economy would be crushed if the Federal Government stopped its work. He then gave a list:
- People couldn't sell their homes to other people.
- Small businesses couldn't secure loans to expand
- Companies couldn't proceed with new plants or expansion plans.

He is basically arguing that individuals can't engage in private transactions with each other unless the Federal Government is there to let it happen.

The scary thing is, he may be right.
- FHA handles 40% of all home purchase mortgages
- SBA and other programs make up a large proportion of small business loans
- EPA has a choke hold on any plant expansion and "environmental impact" hurdle that must be cleared before a factory can be built.

I guess the scary thing isn't that he believes this to be the case, but that he's comfortable with the fact that it IS the case.

It is interesting: for our President, the government actually IS the economy.

Persuasion and Spatial Theory

How Large and Long-lasting Are the Persuasive Effects of Televised Campaign
Ads? Results from a Randomized Field Experiment

Alan Gerber et al.
American Political Science Review, February 2011, Pages 135-150

Abstract: We report the results of the first large-scale experiment involving paid
political advertising. During the opening months of a 2006 gubernatorial campaign, approximately $2 million of television and radio advertising on behalf of the incumbent candidate was deployed experimentally. In each experimental media market, the launch date and volume of television advertising were randomly assigned. In order to gauge movement in public opinion, a tracking poll conducted brief telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 registered voters each day and a brief follow-up one month after the conclusion of the television campaign. Results indicate that televised ads have strong but short-lived effects on voting preferences. The ephemeral nature of these effects is more consistent with psychological models of priming than with models of on-line processing.

A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice

J. Duggan & C. Martinelli
Review of Economic Studies, April 2011, Pages 640-666

Abstract: We develop a theory of media slant as a systematic filtering of political
news that reduces multidimensional politics to the one-dimensional space perceived by voters. Economic and political choices are interdependent in our theory: expected electoral results influence economic choices, and economic choices in turn influence voting behaviour. In a two-candidate election, we show that media favouring the front-runner will focus on issues unlikely to deliver a surprise, while media favoring the underdog will gamble for resurrection. We characterize the socially optimal slant and show that it coincides with the one favoured by the underdog under a variety of circumstances. Balanced media, giving each issue equal coverage, may be worse for voters than partisan media.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time

Police were called to a Colorado school where a student "had just thrown a TV and chairs and was now trying to use a cart to bust through a door to an office where teachers had taken some young students for safety...

The officers found him with a foot-long piece of wood trim with a knife-like point in one hand and a cardboard box in the other.

"Come get me, f-----," he said.

When they couldn't calm him down, one squirted Aidan with pepper spray. He blocked it with the cardboard box.

A second squirt hit the youngster in the side of the head, and down he went.

The kicker is that the miscreant was 8 YEARS OLD!


He turns out to be kind of a stand up kid though:

When asked about the pepper spray and what he did, Aidan said: "I kind of deserved it."

And then some, little man, and then some.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Rosiland Clancy: Idiotic Scam Artist

Interesting. Apparently some heifer named "Rosiland Clancy" makes random phone calls to people, demanding that they pay the "US Treasury Department," which her "collection agency" represents. It's not real. It's just not. These criminals do this a LOT, it appears. Check this...

Why always use the same name? She asked for a "Mr. Munger," so it did sound like a person, calling me specifically, instead of a robo-call.

Anyway, here's the point: if you get a call from "Rosiland Clancy," and she gives you the number

1-888-310-2006, ext 3626

to call back...just don't do it. It's a scam.

The Dumbest Woman on Earth

I give you... Maruja. (In Spanish. You can figure out what's going on. "Seis" means "six." You can see why that might be a problem. "No hay un seis! Maruja!"

I find it amazing that versions of the "Eurojuego" work, all over Europe. After midnight, the female "hosts" are topless, and well built, in Germany at least. They have dumb number problems (for example, 7 + 4 - 9 = ?), but charge .40 Euro or more per minute. So you hang on the line, and they choose randomly. Lotteries are illegal, but since this is a game of skill (the answer is TWO!) this is legal. Some channels, like NuenLive, show little else.

La Eurjuego appears to be an actual game of "skill," however. But Maruja has not the skill to win. Not even the skill really to play, apparently. Maruja!

Militar Suertudo

(Very lucky soldier)

I think it's cool that he didn't turn around and bayonet the idiot behind him. Impressive discipline.

(Nod to the LMM)

(Lagniappe: This woman was not as lucky...)

How Germans make lemonade

When Regina Mayer's parents dashed her hopes of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old didn't sit in her room and sulk. Instead, she turned to a cow called Luna to make her riding dreams come true.

Hours of training, and tons of treats, cajoling and caresses later, the results are impressive: not only do the two regularly go on long rides through the southern German countryside, they do jumps over a makeshift hurdle of beer crates and painted logs.

"She thinks she's a horse," the golden-haired Mayer joked on a recent sunny afternoon as she sat atop the impassive brown-and-white, grass-munching cow.

The whole story is here and is self-recommending. Regina still wants a horse though!

Hat tip to Mrs. Angus.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Funky Cold Makena

Update on KV Pharm and Makena.

Earlier post.

Now, I don't mind the drug company charging whatever they want. What I mind is that the March of Dimes, and the FDA, actually maneuvered to help KV OBTAIN the monopoly. And then cut them off. Pick a side here, guys!

(Nod to R. Pointer, who notes: "Looks like those rent-seeking monkeys spent 200 million only to have the FDA refuse to enforce rights infringement on compounding pharmacies. I guess the demos do win sometimes.")