Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ink in England

Article from the Guardian, on Obama's reelection chances.  Reporter was kind enough to give me a call.

Always fun to go up against Larry Sabato, "The Mouth that Bored."

Stupid Choices, Real Consequences

KPC pal Logan H sends this photo, and this commentary:

I thought you might get a laugh (or grimace?) out of the attached photograph.  I took it yesterday from the interstate between Fremont and San Jose, CA (where I'm working for Cisco Systems this summer).  The building, by the way, is one of the largest I've seen in an area where companies' campuses are about the size of Rhode Island.

Do click on the photo for an even more absurdly overstated image.

Oh, and btw:  The Solyndra screw-up was even more disastrous than had been previously reported.  There was never any chance of success, it was just a pyramid scheme, targeting the subsidies.

Friday, June 15, 2012


1.  DNA checking to make sure you pick up dog waste?   Really?

2.  Minimizing your final footprint.

3.  "Unflinching Triumph:"  The National Association of Staredown Professionals.  Is it a mockumentary?  Why, yes, it is.  Featuring my friend Robert Anthony Peters.  It's disturbingly serious.  (It's a full feature film, so it's long).

Bank Runs: To Save MMM Funds, Scrap Them

KPC Pal Amar Bhide has an interesting piece in Bloomberg.

In an email, Amar asks:   The just published piece implicitly offers another route to universal -- and explicit -- deposit guarantees.  My European friends: Might a similar "ECB Direct" accounts be the answer to bank runs in Spain etc?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nice Obit for Lin Ostrom

Best obit I have seen for Elinor Ostrom.

Thanks to Jonny Anomaly for the link.

The 7% solution

This morning, yields on 10 year Spanish government bonds hit 7%. That is a Euro-era record for Spain and a clear sign that the bank "bailout", which basically created billions of Euros more of senior debt to be repaid, didn't work and Spain is again on the ropes. The Spain - Germany spread is almost 550 basis points!

Either Germany and its Northern Neighbors are going to have to cough up a ton of cash (not loans) or the ECB is going to have to seriously print Euros, or the whole enterprise is doomed.

hang up the phone, Calderon

People, I never realized all the dimensions in which Felipe Calderon has been a bad president for Mexico.

This recent article in the Washington Post reveals another; He sold his soul to Elba Esther Gordillo, condemning Mexican public schools to another sexenio of misery.

The article details the misery,

 "The country is a member of the Group of 20 and boasts of the world’s 14th-largest economy, but only a quarter of its children graduate from high school. Sixth-graders in Mexico get 562 hours of “instructional learning” a year. In South Korea, it’s 1,195 hours...

 Yet Mexico’s lame performance is not about money. A generous 20 percent of the country’s budget goes to education, about $30 billion a year. More than 90 percent goes to salaries — negotiated by the teachers union, which dictates policy.

 “It was — and sadly still is — a very corrupt system,” said Carlos Ornelos, a specialist in education at the Autonomous Metropolitan University who was one of the first, in the 1990s, to expose the practice of teachers buying and selling their jobs. An elementary school teaching post, a tenured position for life, still sells for as much as $20,000 in the resort city of Cancun, and a post in a rural village can be had for $2,000, Ornelas said."


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ur Union of Unemployed

Ur Union of Unemployed:  Ucubed.

Gotta be a hoax, right?  RIGHT?

You lost your job. You're not alone. 31 million Americans face the same challenges. You want your job back. You want your life back. But you can't do it alone. Neither can anyone else. You all need each other. That's what UCubed is here to do: Help you and 31 million other unemployed Americans organize, work together and get back to work. Let UCubed help you connect. Form a cube, and multiply your political and economic power by 6. Then by 36. Eventually, by 31 million. Take Control.

The "Ur" instead of "Your" thing is disturbing.  Unless they mean "Ur," which would actually be pretty cool:  a combining form meaning “earliest, original,” used in words denoting the primal stage of a historical or cultural entity or phenomenon: ur-civilization; urtext.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

That's a lot of Bi Bim Bop!

Kudos to Thomas Sargent for landing a two year position at Seoul National University for an estimated $1,250,000 per year.

Economists can pull down 7 figures in total compensation when you figure in consulting and speech-giving on top of the academic salary, but this is the biggest salary+"research funds" number that I'm aware of in economics.

Trickle down, baby. Trickle down.

Hat tip to Daniel Lin

Reality Transcends Irony: Solar Failure is Sign of Maturity

Grand Game, Grand Game, whatcha gonna do?

Here is an article from the Seattle Times, on solar power.  It contains several nuggets of comedy gold.

But the best, IMHO, is the following claim:

" The report's authors said the demise of companies such as Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Solar Millenium and Solon was a sign that the solar industry is maturing."

Look, we have been spending hundreds of billions of $ for 30+ years.  And there is no viable solar power industry.  Even the buggy whip industry had a some good years, before getting all "mature" and going bankrupt.

Nod to the Ward Boss, who knows things.

Lime Thong? Really?

KG goes off on Craig Sager.  He has cause, mind you.

But how does KG know about the lime thong? 

Gotta admit, KG rocks his own suit pretty well.  Guy looks good.

Don't Worky--Be Happy

The UN calls for a "happiness economy."

Reminds me of the old joke:  Guy making a speech about how, come the revolution, everyone will have mass transit and "planned urban communities" to live in, so they can walk to everything.

Guy in the back, timidly, says, "But what if I don't think those things will make me happy?"

Speaker roars, into the microphone:  "Oh, citizen, come the revolution, those things WILL make you happy!"

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Week at Hermosa Beach

So, here is the panorama.  My hotel, the Beach House, is the one with the white railings, the one I stop on briefly going from the left to right.  A pleasant little spot...

Mr. Rajoy gets something right

And that something was,"España no es Uganda".

No mountain gorillas, no chimps, no tree-climbing lions, no future for their young people, a worse credit rating, Spain is indeed quite distinct.

 Hey Mariano! Want to know something else Spain isn't anymore? Spain.

 Hat tip to Matt Y, who perhaps not surprisingly has a different take.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jeff Sachs never gives up

Sachs has taken it on the chin recently with his Lancet piece being widely attacked and partially retracted. But he's not been humbled. Check out segments of this recent interview:

Q: Well, do you have evidence the approach is working? 

 JS: It depends what you mean by evidence. Some of my critics say we need to do these ‘randomized controlled trials’ (aka RCTs) as if what we’re doing is testing a red pill against a blue pill. What we’re doing has nothing to do with anything like that. It cannot be reduced down to such a simple and narrow test. We have been working with these communities for years to figure out how best to improve food production, get more kids in school, deliver clean drinking water, build infrastructure and encourage business development. This is not a randomized controlled trial; it’s a learning process.

Nice Bill Clinton (it depends on what you mean by "is") there Jeffrey!

Also an impressive summary of how RCTs work. They are science fiction, right out of the Matrix.

People, you know there's more: