Saturday, March 31, 2012

El Chalan

Eugenio insisted we try another comida peruana place last night, and who am I to argue. Went to El Chalan. Interestingly, somewhat mixed reviews, though the problem seems mainly to be the prices (which were a little high, I agree).

My food experience was NOT mixed. Started with some cebiche pulpo (octopus). Really, really, really good.

Then, to the disgust of Juan Pablo and Eugenio, I ordered the "Anticuchos de Corazon," or grilled skewered beef heart. Came with a nice vinegary onion salad on the side, and I ordered yuccas fritas for guarniciones. Major victory, on los corazones. Truly, truly excellent. I even convinced both JP and Eugenio to try it, and they admitted it was just fine. Spicy, not too tough: muy rico. I'm not sure I can explain how much of a win it was to get JP to taste a cow's heart. He's not all that adventurous.

A recipe for Anticuchos de Corazon, if you feel like trying it. I think I will.

Heading over to Eugenio's house today, for an asado. Going to try grilling pulpo. A long shot, frankly. More likely to get octopus chewing gum than something edible.

Econ Blogger Conference MVTs

MVTs = Most Valuable Talkers:

Lots of smart people with a lot to say. Was great to see some old friends and meet some people face to face for the first time.

The panelists I got the most from though were Alex Tabarrok and Michael Mandel speaking about intellectual property and innovation.

Based on his remarks, I highly recommend Alex's new book on the same subject.

Thanks to the Kauffman Foundation for (A) putting on such a cool event, and (B) inviting me to attend.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kansas City Que-Off

I'm relaxing in the concierge lounge of the KC Intercontinental hotel getting ready for the econ blogger conference sessions tomorrow (Friday) at the Kauffman Foundation. Some of the sessions will be live streamed at, and I'm really looking forward to it.

But on to more important things. I've eaten barbeque extensively in Lexington NC (with LeBron) and once in Lockhart TX (with Mrs. Angus) and now in the third 'que capital of America, Kansas City.

The Kauffman dinner was co-catered by Oklahoma Joe's and Jack Stack.

People you know I'm going to pick a winner here.

I'd have to say the single best item was the Oklahoma Joe's pork ribs. They were amazing! I'm not sure if they weren't better than the beef in Lockhart (I'll need to do more research). The second best item of the dinner was the beef burnt ends from Jack Stack. So I'd say Joe's for pork and Jack's for beef.

I ate two huge plates of nothin' but meat and can't thank the folks at Kauffman enough for such an enjoyable dinner.

Stand-up Economist: NSFW

This is NSFW, and it's also pretty insidery. But I laughed.

Nod to Angry Alex.

That's Not the Problem Here

Performance Support Bias and the Gender Pay Gap Among Stockbrokers

Janice Fanning Madden, Gender & Society, forthcoming

Abstract: This article analyzes organizational mechanisms, and their contexts, leading to gender inequality among stockbrokers in two large brokerages. Inequality is the result of gender differences in sales, as both firms use performance-based pay, paying entirely by commissions. This article develops and tests whether performance-support bias, whereby women receive inferior sales support and sales assignments, causes the commissions gap. Newly available data on the brokerages’ internal transfers of accounts among brokers allows measurement of performance-support bias. Gender differences in the quality and quantity of transferred accounts provide a way to measure gender differences in the assignment of sales opportunities and support. Sales generated from internally transferred accounts, controlling for the accounts’ sales histories, provide a “natural experiment” testing for gender differences in sales capacities. The evidence for performance-support bias is (1) women are assigned inferior accounts and (2) women produce sales equivalent to men when given accounts with equivalent prior sales histories.

Um.... fail. The fact that there is bias in stockbroker pay is not very interesting, because there is no objective standard to apply. The fact that stockbrokers get paid at ALL is astonishing. There is no basis for stockbrokers getting paid, except fraud.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bad to the bone

Wow. Some enterprising fellow in Austria, (allegedly named Hans Url, so this may be a hoax) faced with the heinous prospect of having to get off the dole and go to work, cut his foot off with a power saw, tossed it into a fire so that it could not be re-attached, and then called emergency services.

Unfortunately for him, missing a foot does not automatically keep you on the dole, even in Austria!

Let's break it down:

(1) People, they can't pay the guy benefits after that, right? Jeebus, the whole country would go cut their feet off then!

(2) The linked article refers to the miscreant as "footless". Is this just a slip of the pen, or has the guy actually DONE THIS BEFORE?

(3) The gentleman is from a town in the Austrian state of Styria, which if you are a fan of Thomas Bernhard, should be making you nod your head knowingly and murmuring "it figures".

"The Kicker..."

So, a guy cuts off his own foot so he doesn't have to work.

You would REALLY have to hate working to do that.

The guy planned ahead: not only cut off his foot, but then barbecued his foot to make sure it could not be reattached.

What I like is that the article mentions "the kicker" (!): being footless won't mean the guy will be disabled.

Nod to the Blonde, who always adds some foot notes to my day.

La Mar

Okay, so I said no more sunrises. But this is a sunset:

Dined last night at La Mar, with Juan Pablo and new shining star Congressman Ernesto Silva. Very interesting talking with Ernesto. I learned a lot.

La Mar, as before, was remarkable. The cebiche...astonishing. By far the best I have ever had. Erizos....mmmmmmm....erizos.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I have a question

Is it really true that the Fed is buying upwards of half of all new net Treasury issues? That is to say, are they "funding" over half of the deficit?

I ask rather than assert because the evidence that I've found is not exactly authoritative. You can check my sources here here,  and here.

If this is so, how can serious people be saying that we should expand borrowing to finance more stimulus because markets are telling us there is a huge demand for more safe assets like Treasuries?

The last link above claims the Fed's share of new issues is rising and consequently private markets' share is falling.

If that is true, is it accurate to say that the low interest rate on Treasuries reflects high demand and justifies further expansion of debt?

Inchworms: Gore and Frass

I didn't even know what "frass" was. Until now.

Baseball Cards--Mr. Mint is Sad

Tommy the Tenured Brit writes, "I weep for the loss of my 1980s childhood. Still, it was quite commonsense to me at 12 that any baseball card produced after 1985 or so would not be very valuable long term..."

The story: Baseball's House of Cards

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Pithiest sentence I read this week:

"They import nothing into their overseas dominions except damaged officials and they export nothing from them except the same officials, worse damaged"

~ Albert Guerard, describing France's adventures in colonialism as quoted by John Gimlette in his amazing book, "Wild Coast".

To me, the best books both inform and entertain. Wild Coast knocks it out of the park in both dimensions.

Scariest sentence I read this week:

"The world needs more effective global economic governance more than ever."

~ Owen Barder on why the WB presidency matters.

Obviously I disagree. I don't think we need ANY "global economic governance".

Italian Spelling Bee

This video is just in time. What a life-saver. Thanks to the LMM.

The Italian-American spelling bee.

The reason this is helpful is that for dinner here in Chile on Sunday, I ate with the family of Juan Pablo. I tried to explain to them how the American Italians I knew all called eggplant, "Moolen-john," which is nothing like the Italian word, "Me-lahn-zahn-ay," which is the ACTUAL Italian word for eggplant (melanzane). Here is an Italian pronouncing the word. It has four syllables, and sounds NOTHING like "Moolen-john."

JP's family would not believe me. All the Italians they knew were from Italy, and said "Me-lahn-zahn-ay."

But, now, I have video proof. Frankie Orlando, this is for you.

Another Santiago Sunrise

I'll stop, now. But it's REALLY pretty in the morning.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Come on, Vogue!

Greta Garbo, and Monroe
Deitrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine

Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean
Picture of a beauty queen
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
Ginger Rodgers, dance on air

They had style, they had grace
Rita Hayworth gave good face
Lauren, Katherine, Lana too
Tyler Cowen, we love you


(In honor of LeBron making Italian Vogue)

Jim Kim's complicated relationship with economic growth

Bill Easterly's shop at NYU gives some amazing quotes from Jim Yong Kim.

 Here's lo mas contundente:

 Conclusion: Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will, By Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and Jim Yong Kim

 “Through a series of specific cases, we have demonstrated how growth – the market-led economic growth sought by governments, the growth in profits celebrated by businesses, and the growth in power and influence of transnational financial and corporate interests – often comes at the expense of the disenfranchised and vulnerable… As the imperatives of growth at any cost increasingly determine economic and social policy and the behavior of global corporations, more people join the ranks of the poor and greater numbers suffer and die.” (p. 363)

So the presumptive new head of the WB believes that market led economic growth is causing MORE people to become poor and MORE people to die!


 So North Korea  >> South Korea?

 Mao  >>  Deng?

Houston, we have a problem.

Twisted steel & Sachs appeal

When someone I follow re-tweeted Jeff Sachs' message to Jim Kim last week, I was impressed and surprised at its gracious tone:

Jim Kim is a superb nominee for WB. I support him 100%. I thank all who supported me and know they'll be very pleased with today's news

So surprised that I went to Sachs' twitter feed to see what was up. And found these gems, all on March 21:

I've been given no consideration, and won't be. The US Government doesn't seem to care about global poverty. 

Did you know that Larry Summers actually knew BEFOREHAND what Shleifer was doing while HIID did not? 

In 1999 Polish President gave me one of nation's highest medals for my historic contribution. 

You should know that in an emergency room there are "short-term disruptions." Don't blame the doc.

Sadly, the feed has gone quiet since he congratulated Kim.

Do faculty work hard enough?

David Levy (no, not that one) thinks the answer is "not nearly."

Robert Farley offers an alternative viewpoint.

Greg Weeks took notice.


Intellingence Opennign

Here is a post, verbatim, from the federal gov's job listing service:

Intellingence Operations Specialist
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Duty Locations: Many vacancy(s) - Multiple Locations
Salary: $89,033.00 to $115,742.00 / Per Year
Series and Grade: GS-0132-13
Open Period: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 to Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Position Information: Permanent - Full-Time
Who May Be Considered: Status Candidates (Merit Promotion and VEOA Eligibles)

The misspelling appears twice, and has not been corrected in five days (as of morning of March 26). They can't spell the name of their own job, but they are qualified to listen in on your phone conversations.

Thanks to S.W. I'd tell you his name, but then I'd have to misspell him.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday morning at the woodshed

Wow. Lant Pritchett absolutely eviscerates the Obama administration over their pick for World Bank President.

Here are some of the salty bits:

“It’s an embarrassment to the U.S. You cannot with a straight face say this person is the most qualified to lead the World Bank.”


Adds Pritchett, nominating Kim “is like picking the short stop for the New York Yankees out of the scrub leagues.”


“there’s no question that Kim has done terrific things, but I wouldn’t nominate Mother Teresa to head the World Bank if she were still alive.”

I personally think that the World Bank's composite scorecard is way over par (during its existence, on balance, it's done more harm than good) and favor abolition.

But I don't think the main problem has been choice of leadership.

As Mallaby's superb book "The World's Banker" makes clear, WB Presidents cannot make the behemoth bank bureaucracy march to their own tune.

The problem is institutional, the problem is conceptual, the problem is philosophical. The WB is one of the last bastions of central planning, and it functions about as well as other such bastions have functioned.

Amanecer sobre Santiago