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!