Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

I love the way you ball!

Wow!  NC State football recruitment gets called out for sending out cheesy, creepy form letters that are just handwritten and then color-coded with highlighter.

Nod to the Dutch Boy.

Fake talk from your new Pope

Second Update:

I'm now pretty sure that this "quote" is actually a hoax. Sorry for any distress seeing it may have engendered.

"Women are naturally helpless to exercise political positions. The natural order and the facts show us that man is the being for politics by excellence; the Scriptures show us that the woman is always the support of the thoughtful man and doer, but nothing more than that.”

~Jorge Mario Bergoglio

source is here.

Like I say, got to keep a strong Pope hand.

Update: the above source link, which I cut and pasted the quote from has been changed and the quote is removed. Not sure what that means.

Here is another source, (obviously not a neutral one) giving the quote in English and Spanish. Please let me know if you see anything about this being bogus and I'll take it down. I'd like to believe it's not accurate.

Hat tip to the LMM for informing me about the original link.

The TBTF Subsidy

How Much Did Banks Pay to Become Too-Big-To-Fail and to Become Systemically Important?

 Elijah Brewer III,DePaul University, and Julapa Jagtiani,Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
September 2, 2011

Forthcoming in Journal of Financial Services Research
This paper estimates the value of the too-big-to-fail (TBTF) subsidy. Using data from the merger boom of 1991–2004, we find that banking organizations were willing to pay an added premium for mergers that would put them over the asset sizes that are commonly viewed as the thresholds for being TBTF. We estimate at least 15 billion in added premiums for the eight merger deals that brought the organizations to over 100 billion in assets. In addition, we find that both the stock and bond markets reacted positively to these TBTF merger deals. Our estimated TBTF subsidy is large enough to create serious concern, particularly since the recently assisted mergers have effectively allowed for TBTF banking organizations to become even bigger and for nonbanks to become part of TBTF banking organizations, thus extending the TBTF subsidy beyond banking.

China as Solar Icon

Lots of  Yewessers have been saying we should pattern our solar industry after that of China.  Of course, we pretty much bought the farm on Solyndra, etc.  What is China doing differently?

The answer, it turns out, is NOTHING.  Their heavily subsidized companies are failing also, on an even larger scale.  The reason is not a difference in policy, but rather a similarity in physics:  Solar power is simply not a viable energy source at this point.  It takes $120 to generate $100 worth of electricity, and at some point the subsidies run out.  The story from the NYT.

The collapse of Suntech is a milestone in the precipitous decline of China’s green energy industry in the last four years. 

More than any other country, China had bet heavily on renewable energy as the answer to its related problems of severe air pollution and heavy dependence on energy imports from politically unstable countries in the Middle East and Africa. 

China is also exposed to global warming on its low-lying, densely populated coastline, which the Energy Department in Washington has estimated to have more people vulnerable to displacement from rising sea levels than anywhere else on earth. 

But China’s approach to renewable energy has proved ruinous, financially and in terms of trade relations with the United States and the European Union. State-owned banks have provided $18 billion in loans on easy terms to Chinese solar panel manufacturers, financing an increase of more than tenfold in production capacity from 2008 to 2012. This set off a 75 percent drop in panel prices during that period, which resulted in losses to Chinese companies of as much as $1 for every $3 in sales last year. 

Now, Max will likely comment and say something about how Germany's decision to end subsidies was somehow different.  It must be fun to live in your own world, Max, free from the restraints of logic and evidence!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Minimum Wage

Interesting piece in the FREEMAN on minimum wage.

Still, I have to admit I have been converted to Angus's position.  Minimum wage is probably a bad policy, and it should be indexed.  But if you want to make a list of the really awful things the state does to regulate prices or kill people, minimum wage is not really worth your time.

In 2006 I wrote this.

But now I think this is right.

Blame it on Hugo?

Venezuela's Acting President is crediting Hugo Chavez for the selection of Latin America's first Pope.


No, really.

"We know that our commander ascended to the heights and is face-to-face with Christ," Maduro said at a Caracas book fair. "Something influenced the choice of a South American pope, someone new arrived at Christ's side and said to him: 'Well, it seems to us South America's time has come.'"

I'm surprised that instead of Lenin-izing Chavez's corpse, they didn't claim that his tomb was empty and he must have been resurrected.

People, do you think this BS will continue after the election next month?

What would you like Chavez to get Jesus to do? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When Engineers Have Dogs

This is ridiculous.  And I want one, right away.

Nod to WH

Grand Game: Harvard Privacy Edition

Harvard searched the private email accounts of nearly its entire administration.  And lots of faculty.

Really, it did.

This quote is remarkable:  Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, said that  “I feel very comfortable that great care was taken to safeguard the privacy of all concerned.”

If you search private emails, that is a prima facie invasion of privacy.  If your defense is that you did not publish them verbatim on the internet, that's pretty lame.  Just looking at the emails is pretty bad. 

I understand that work emails are not your property.  I understand that if there is some specific legal proceeding or probable cause that your emails might be examined.  Having had this experience myself, I switched to GMAIL in 2006*; it's not THAT different, but they would have to have an actual legal reason to look, instead of just searching randomly.  But in this case it appears they just did  a blanket search of all email accounts.  Ick.

*Think back.  Something happened at Duke back then.  Something that involved lawsuits, and email accounts being subpeonaed. 

Nod to Anonyman

The wisdom of Jeff Ely


All we can hope now is that the current Congress looks at this sequester “debacle” and concludes that in order to make it work as intended the next time the threatened cuts have to be even bigger.

the full & self-recommending post is here.

The Art of Democracy

Democracy and economic outcomes: Evidence from the superstars of modern art 

Christiane Hellmanzik,  European Journal of Political Economy,
June 2013, Pages 58–69

Abstract: This paper analyses the impact of the political environment on the value of artistic outcomes as measured by the price of paintings produced over the period from 1820 to 2007. The analysis is based on a unique dataset encompassing a global sample of 273 superstars of modern art born between 1800 and 1945, auction results of their paintings, and data on the political environment in the respective production countries. Controlling for a variety of economic and hedonic variables, there is a statistically significant, positive link between the level of democracy and the value of artistic output. Moreover, we find that democracy has a significant positive impact both on the density of superstar painters and the collective artistic human capital in a country.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Butler April 10: Throwdown!

Richard Epstein, Jamie Galbraith, Russ Roberts, Robert Sidelski in a giant cage match.  Oh, and me, too.  Butler U, Indianapolis, April 10.  Bios of the panelistas here....

Actual invite, with working links, here....

It was terms of trade, in the 1890s, with volatility

Nice review of J. Williamson's book "Trade and Poverty" in the new issue of the EJ.

While not exactly a ringing endorsement, the review made me want to read the book (which I probably should have already done.

Here's an excerpt:

Williamson's conclusions can be summarised as follows. First, the link between falling behind and globalisation is causal (p. 231). Second, changes in the external terms of trade matter much more for growth outcomes than most people recognise (p. 199) while the role of changing domestic fundamentals and, in particular, institutions has been exaggerated (p. 213). Third, if the goal was industrialisation and growth, the periphery needed smart tariff policies to foster skill-intensive sectors; in some countries, especially in Latin America, the politically driven policy response was, unfortunately, the wrong sort of protection (p. 229).

The rest of the review spells out why Williamson may be shortchanging the importance of institutions.

Hat tip to Justin S.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1. How far could a drug cannon shoot? Or, how much drugs could a punkin chunker chunk, if a punkin chunker could chunk drugs?

2. We're all welfare queens now.

3.   Townhall article on "Politics of Need" by Simmons and Yonk

4.  Economic freedom tastes like pineapples, and black pepper, though not necessarily combined.

5.  Washington, PA tests its emergency gaydar system.  Or not.

6.  Selling "Al Gore's Here!  Ah!" to "Al Jazeera" (see what I did there?) was kind of creepy.  But apparently the idea was also stolen.  I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised.  Al-Go is all about sitzzackin' that pizzaper.

7.  Nutella thievery is RAMPANT at Columbia U.  And there are dark rumors that ketchup, and even slices of bread, have also been stolen.

8.  Harrisburg, PA:  What governments try to help.

9.  Spain joins Germany in recognizing renewable energy is fake, and subsidies are wasteful.  Rent-seekers sue.  Hilarity ensues.

10.  9th Circuit Court briefly pulls it head out of its robes, and serves up two decisions that seem consistent with basic constitutional principles.  Cool.

Lagniappe:  This has to be fake.


Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul Filibuster

Sunday, March 10, 2013

magical surrealism

Yesterday, Paul Krugman put up a strong challenger for the Dali-o-nomics surrealistic graph of the year.

For you aspiring magical realists of graphics, the best way to do this is to combine variables where there's no consensus on how to measure the concept being discussed.

Paul does this in spades by graphing the "adjusted deficit" as a percentage of "potential GDP" He get serious bonus point for mangling the axis labels and just generally producing an ugly graph.

Feast your eyes people:

A bit of googling will reveal that both the cyclically adjusted deficit AND potential GDP are
hotly contested concepts with no straightforward way to measure them.

Now, PK didn't need this magically surreal graph to prove his point, which is that we don't have a serious deficit problem through 2015.


However, as Jeff Sachs noted, we are in this happy state of affairs only because NO ONE LISTENED TO KRUGMAN and we produced almost $4 trillion in "deficit reduction" over the next decade.

That's $1.5 trillion from the first debt ceiling crisis, $1 trillion from the sequester, $600 billion from the part of the Bush tax cuts that were not continued on high earners and $600 billion from "interest savings".

So no, we don't need more short term deficit reduction, because we've already, in a piecemeal, disjointed, ugly and almost counterproductive way, dealt with the problem.

I say "almost counterproductive" because we have not done much of anything to address the main long term drivers of our budget problems: Medicare, Medicaid, (to a lesser extent) Social Security, and just health care costs in general.