Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dodd-Frank Causes Much More Harm than Help

KPC friend Amar Bhide has an interesting piece in Barrons.

In an email, Amar writes:

This is a general problem. Well-intentioned securities laws work only too well, turning judgment and relationship based finance into anonymous, arm’s length transactions. This also discriminates against financings that can’t be easily securitized; thus we get lots of mortgaged backed securities, fewer small business loans.

Tell that to the next person who tries to say that "lack of regulation" caused the financial crisis.  It's not true.  STUPID regulation caused the financial crisis, and Dodd-Frank is even more stupid than what we had in 2007.

Excerpt from the article, since it's gated:

When little else was regulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, lawmakers kept banks on a tight leash. Even so, we didn't get all the pieces of bank regulation right until the 1930s. In contrast, the securities markets functioned adequately under the private rules of the stock exchanges.


If true, this is pretty strange...  Since Porkulus didn't work, can we really count on Forkulus to do any better?


Just a few days after announcing that his administration would no longer deport about 800,000 young illegal immigrants, you would think that President Obama would be received as something of a hero by NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, before whom Obama is giving a speech this afternoon in Orlando. But the Secret Service wasn't taking any chances. As hundreds of Latino elected officials were enjoying their lunch at Disney's Contemporary Resort earlier today, it was announced that forks would be collected before Obama took the stage. It was also mentioned that knives, too, were entirely absent from the lunch for "a reason."

Nod to the Blonde
Sometimes people ask me what sets KPC apart from other blogs. I think it is the fact that we put up stuff like this:

You won't find THAT on, folks. With a nod to Angry Alex...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Student Loan -- College Bubble

Intelligent Design: Music Edition

Can people design music through an evolutionary process? Maybe they can.

Ben Bernanke: rainbow warrior

People, oil is at $80/barrel. I know about the scissors and all, but I believe this is mainly due to low demand. So while we criticize Bernanke's failures to get unemployment below 8%, let's also celebrate his environmental accomplishments.

No one has done more to fight global warming that Ben Bernanke. I suggest we switch him from "Helicopter" Ben to "Rainbow Warrior" Ben.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Unflinching Triumph

Have you heard of the hot new sport, "Staredown"?

Have you joined NASP, the National Association of Staredown Professionals?

No, you haven't, because "Unflinching Triumph," the introduction to the sport, is a mockumentary.  And the best part is my main man Robert Anthony Peters screaming "Tomato JUICE!  Hey, it's the good stuff, TJ!  Wanna take a bath!"  Excellent entertainment.  This is the Spinal Tap for people who don't have lives.

Here it is on YouTube.  It's an hour long, but worth watching.

Just in case you still like Roger Federer

People, what's worse? The moon-boots? The schizophrenic zebra hoodie? The pockets on the hoodie?

I promised Mrs. A that if she rooted with me for Rafa at Roland Garros, I'd root with her for Federer at Wimby, but this fotie changes everything!

They Done Made Him MAD, Now

one picture is worth a thousand notes?

The Media Preservation Initiative at Indiana University is taking old pictures of since lost analog records and creating digital sound files from them.

Very smart and very cool.

Hat tip to BinaryBits.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

de gustibus non est disputatum

Tyler points us to Robin Hanson's suggestion for your charitable contributions. To wit:

"The biggest single charity donation I’ve made so far is ~$100. But now I’m donating $5000 to an exceptionally worthy cause. And I suggest you donate too. Here’s my cause:"

Any guesses, people? Sanitation in the Sudan? AIDS in Africa? Education in Ecuador? Womens' Rights in Waziristan?

 Hell no!

It's this.

Yes, a different way to try and preserve your brain so that you can "live" forever.

I want to be judgemental, I really do.

But Mrs. A and I give roughly 50% of our charitable donations towards animal welfare (the other half goes to aid/development projects in Africa, Latin America & Asia), and I'm sure many people would criticize us for that choice.

I will say though that I would much rather have access to my 30 year old brain right now than access to my, shall we say, 80 year old brain in 2666.

P-Kroog on Colbert

"The US would be like Ireland if Romney wins" Really? Much cooler weather, and way more gingers?
with thanks to John-O.

Wal-Mart: Neither Here nor There, Except When It's There

When Walmart Comes to Town: Always Low Housing Prices? Always?

Devin Pope & Jaren Pope, NBER Working Paper, May 2012

Abstract: Walmart often faces strong local opposition when trying to build a new store. Opponents often claim that Walmart lowers nearby housing prices. In this study we use over one million housing transactions located near 159 Walmarts that opened between 2000 and 2006 to test if the opening of a Walmart does indeed lower housing prices. Using a difference-in-differences specification, our estimates suggest that a new Walmart store actually increases housing prices by between 2 and 3 percent for houses located within 0.5 miles of the store and by 1 to 2 percent for houses located between 0.5 and 1 mile.

Not sure why you would have any expectation of change in housing prices near a Wal-Mart.  Slightly more noise, more lights at night, but much easier to go pick up a few boxes of .45 ACP and a gallon of milk.  Anyway, there's yer answer.

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Better adjust my priors about Toronto

The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is as we say in Oklahoma, a big un.

When he hit 330, he announced a weight loss contest with his brother Doug, who is junior to him both in political office (a councillor) and size (265 pounds).

 Hizzoner ran smack into the time inconsistency problem and after an initial early loss, actually weighed MORE at his penultimate weigh-in in May.

 He did however, end up losing 17 pounds but was trounced by his baby bro both in relative and absolute terms (brother lost 33 pounds from a smaller base).

 The mayor actually had to be herded onto the scale for the final weigh-in and fell off it awkwardly in his eagerness to get away from the cold hard facts.


Let's go for a politically incorrect breakdown:

Are all the members of Toronto's government from the same family?

Does Toronto choose it's mayor via a pie-eating contest?

The  "cut the waist" contest raised $14,000 for charity, which probably wouldn't cover the cost of thanksgiving dinner at the Ford house!

Do read the timeline at the end of the linked article. It's excellent.

Hat tip to Drew M.

I'll Just Pick Up

So, if you are playing golf, and one of the other members of the foursome said, "I'll just pick up, I've lost this hole," you might not expect to see what is described here

But then you likely don't belong to such a high class, "exclusive" golf club, you loser.

With thanks to S.W. who writes:

My favorite quote: "several members urinated on one of the greens, in the presence of the caddie, a female, and one or more of the members deliberately exposed themselves to her while urinating. I suspect that this is also a crime in Georgia."

I seem to recall golf being a Scottish invention. How peculiar that its adherents have become uptight about allowing a good breeze to waft 'cross the withers.

Heh, heh.  He said "waft."

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Biology of Bubble and Crash

Fascinating.  Actual physiological effects.  Hard to know about the differences in causes and effects, but provocative.

Go below the fold for an excerpt.  And with a nod to Erik C.

Stop and Frisk

Stop and Frisk is pretty bad.  Openly violates both the 4th and 14th Amendments.

But now, you can shoot the cops.  With your camera.

With a nod to Angry Alex

Why Are 10 year T bonds Attractive?

So, I have been wondering.  A lot.  With the rate on 10 yr T's down to 1.6%, how can that be anything other than a sucker's bet?

I mean, do you seriously believe that there will be inflation rates of <=1% for the next ten years? 

And that the US is going to find a way to solve the rate of increase of the deficit?  I don't mean the debt, I just mean the deficit.  No plan out there to solve the debt.  We see Spain facing rates of 7%+.  If US rates go back up to just 3% or 3.5%, anyone holding 1.6% T's is going to get hammered.

However, here is an answer.  At least it gives a rational explanation.

Markets in Everything: Relative Prices of Worship Edition

In Cambodia, people are converting to Christianity.  Because the relative price of worship is much less.  In fact, if you are Catholic, they actually GIVE you a sip of bad wine and a stale cracker to munch on.  You don't have to sacrifice your buffalo.

Phone call for Bob Tollison...

Not so fast, Noah!

Noah Smith lets his freak/scientist flag fly. Says he can't conform to tribal thought because he has to follow scientific principals.

Sounds good, and I agree with a lot of what he's saying.

But then he lets fly with this:

"RBC models say that small government is good."


Where to start?

Real Business Cycle models do not "speak" with one voice.

Most people who advocate for small government wouldn't know an RBC model if it bit them it the butt.

Very few people actually use RBC models in this day and age. Virtually all models now have monetary sectors and some form of monetary non-neutrality and are thus referred to more generally as DSGE (dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium) models. RBC theory is a useful teaching tool, but I don't know anyone using it as a guide to policy.

I have never seen in any RBC or DSGE paper I've read (which easily would be 100+ papers) a statement like "thus we see small government raises welfare". Perhaps Noah is inferring his statement from the fact that some early RBC models didn't have government in them? Or that some early RBC models argued that business cycle fluctuations were optimal? I'd be very curious to see the money quotes to support Noah's statement.

If I do think to think about some type of generic RBC model, the government could easily have a large and important role as a funder of basic research leading to improved technological progress.

Driving While Blonde

This poor woman was targeted simply because she is white, and blonde.

At least, that's her story. The fact that she was doing 70 in a 30 mph zone is incidental.

Speeding blonde claims cop targeted her ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia, June 13 (UPI) --
A Canadian woman stopped for driving more than double the speed limit in British Columbia alleges the officer targeted her because she's a blonde, police said. The unidentified woman was clocked driving 70 mph in a 30 mph zone in Abbotsford, southeast of Vancouver Sunday, The (Vancouver) Province reported Wednesday. Police Constable Ian MacDonald told the newspaper the woman's first defense was to go on the offensive by alleging the officer profiled and stopped her because she's blonde. "You couldn't make this up -- people would never believe it," MacDonald said. "If the officer was targeting blondes and had the ability to determine blonde, brunette and redhead at (70 mph), he deserves a commendation -- a hairdressing commendation." Despite her protests, British Columbia provincial law means an instant 7-day impounding of the woman's Lexus because she was doing more than double the posted limit, along with fines to be determined in court, the report said.

Nod to the Blonde

Weiner Circle

Jack McBrayer visits the Weiner Circle. He finds the staff rude. He returns with a "little friend."

With a nod to Angry Alex

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Romney is not a shoo-in for the flip-flopping gold medal

Barack Obama, March 2011:

"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed,"

Alligator Seen Eating Croc

Click for an even more savage image.

Nod to the Blonde