Sunday, November 9, 2008


I find few things in life worthy of a two-syllable damn, but this may be one of them. Thanks to those at Reason Magazine's Hit and Run, for providing this grim tally.

For those too sozzled or bozwozzled to track what we're spending on on bailouts these days, here's a quick tally:

  • $29 billion for Bear Stearns
  • $143.8 billion for AIG (thus far, it keeps growing)
  • $100 billion for Fannie Mae
  • $100 billion for Freddie Mac
  • $700 billion for Wall Street, including Bank of America (Merrill Lynch), Citigroup, JP Morgan (WaMu), Wells Fargo (Wachovia), Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a lot more
  • $25 billion for The Big Three in Detroit
  • $8 billion for IndyMac
  • $150 billion stimulus package (from January)
  • $50 billion for money market funds
  • $138 billion for Lehman Bros. (post bankruptcy) through JP Morgan
  • $620 billion for general currency swaps from the Fed
  • Rough total: $2,063,800,000,000

  • That's a little over $6,800 for every man, woman, and child, or just under $15,000 for each of America's 140 million taxpayers.

    Sure, somewhere buried in the darkest corners of my brain with all the other unpleasant thoughts I've pushed below the surface of consciousness, I knew how bad it really was... but daa-aaammn!

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Buzz Words

    If I had the chance I would punch Wendy in her cheeseburger-loving cartoon face. Not just because of her asinine categorization of meat-lovers as "meatetarians", which is reason enough, but more so for reckless attempt to hop on the bandwagon and throw around some buzz words.

    Today's Buzz Word.... Economics. Go!

    You sure aren't an economist Wendy, and neither are the writers for Wendy's commercials. Your 99cent double bacon grease burger is not appreciating in value. A rational individual would trade the burger for a dollar and simply buy another burger and be 1cent richer. However, it's obvious that the characters are on a lunch break, which makes it likely that the time spent and transportation cost to acquire the second sandwich would be greater than the marginal revenue of 1cent from selling your 99cent sandwich for 1 dollar. Making the sale unprofitable. Not to mention, a persons individual utility for an item, say a cheeseburger from a fast food chain, is subjective.

    How can your dollar be worth less today? Well maybe it's because of the current account balance. I'm talking capital account surplus + current account deficit, and the US is so entrenched in foreign finances that to begin to balance the US current account US citizens would have to tilt their consumption toward domestic products and this dynamic would have to simultaneously play out in reverse the rest of the world over.
    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Macroeconomic theory clearly states that running a twin deficit for any extended period will cause a dollar decline. Ignorance isn't cute, Wendy. Maybe instead of spewing your ill-informed opinions about economic stimulus packages you should pick up an econ 101 textbook.

    Thursday, July 24, 2008


    I've been missing in action for the last few months. What can I say... it's summer. I will have more posts coming soon.

    Apologies to the two readers I have.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    While I'm At It...

    Natasja - Op med ho'det

    She has an album in english too, kind of... if you understand a little lyaric.

    I'm Breakin' My Back, But It's All Good

    Lykke Li, Swedish indie singer:

    I'm Good, I'm Gone

    She dances too.

    Little Bit

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    I Feel Summer Creeping In...

    And by that I mean it snowed this morning... just like it did last year. Snow until the first day of May, Bless Ohio.

    There is a lot of interesting news out there. Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to touch on it. The Fed cut rates today and rates will probably stay put for awhile. Consumer confidence is still pretty lousy but there is some reason to believe the worst is over.

    In the mean time, play the hand you're dealt. My suggestion, play in commodity futures, as long as you do it well.

    Peace! I will hopefully return to more regular blogging after I graduate.

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    The World Beyond My Text Books is Bright and Scary

    I have 3 weeks until I walk across the stage and finish my undergrad work. It's a little overwhelming to think about, especially because once I graduate I can no longer keep my cushy office job with KSU with an OPERS retirement plan. What is worse is my dream job is nowhere to be found thus far.

    I guess this is growing up. I think I'm going to miss school in the year I take off before I start my grad work. I'll have plenty of time to read something other than text books at least.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    This is Who I Am. This is What I Do.

    I was just looking through some old notes and I stumbled upon a quote that I have always liked. I don't necessarily agree with all of Keynesian theory, but this summarizes economics pretty nicely.

    "The theory of economics does not furnish a body of settled conclusions immediately applicable to policy. It is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessors to draw correct conclusions." - John Maynard Keynes

    Thursday, March 20, 2008


    Okay, I will admit... this made me want to vote for Ron Paul.

    Maybe not really, but it's still pretty awesome.

    Monday, March 3, 2008


    Check out the way independent males surveyed... especially when Hillary makes a Saturday Night Live reference about Obama.

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Ohh You Got Me There!

    I had seen this before, but forgotten all about it. Megan McArdle links to this in her blog.

    I find principles 2 and 4 and their translations particularly accurate, but as a Macro-oriented person I would have liked to see a little more focus on the last 3.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Check Out This Weeks Free Will

    On this week's Free Will on Bloggingheads, Will Wilkinson discusses behavioral economics with Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational. It is an interesting discussion, and it addresses some topics that I think are somewhat confusing for those who aren't economic-minded.

    One topic (among many others) they mentioned are the limitations to the economic axioms. One being full information.

    Dan Says:

    "When we design things like healthcare policies and insurance policies and so on, we almost seem to assume that people can do all these computations instantly and basically be infalable."

    He goes on to illustrate by asking Will to compute the optimal mortgage payment he should take on. Will responds with the quick and dirty computation of a mortgage should be no more than 1/3 of your annual income. Which Dan says is exactly the problem. People simply can't make the actual computation that would include the time value of money, opportunity costs and so on, and they are forced to use a rule of thumb.

    Okay, Lets Get Serious

    I've been neglecting my blogging duties a bit lately, but I think this is worth mention. NPR briefly discusses the Bankruptcy Bill and how Lenders say it will hurt homeowners. [listen here]

    This is tricky. The bill would give Judges the ability to rewrite the mortgages of those who are about to go into bankruptcy. My outlook may be a little pessimistic, but the only outcome I can see coming from this is disaster. It's one of those sitcom-like situations where something goes awry and every goofy elaborate plan to make things better snowballs into a bigger mess, and when the credits roll we've all learned a valuable lesson about dealing with the consequences of our actions from the get go.

    Maybe it is time to say enough is enough, but I don't think Judges are the right people to make these decisions. Our court systems have more pertinent problems. The thing is, foreclosure (especially now) will hurt everyone. Lenders are going to lose money on foreclosed upon property, and it's obviously a negative outcome for the homeowners. I think flexibility is going to be a major factor in how the housing market will bounce back. HUD has given incentives for lenders to mitigate losses on foreclosures. Most lenders are willing to be flexible, but home owners need to approach them for help. One of the problems is most home owners don't do this. I'm sure all the stat-spewing and scaremongering doesn't give someone in financial trouble a lot of hope, but even aside from the HUD's role, Lenders have reasons to not want to foreclose.

    One reason would be that most often, when a mortgage is signed, it is immediately sold and repackaged as an equity. The mortgage payments goes toward a pool that is payed out in dividends and a piece of the cash flows go to the holding firm as compensation. When a home is foreclosed on, this stream of cash flows is gone. Another reason is the fact that, even if a Lender doesn't resell the mortgage note, they will face a loss on the value of the home. It is not a sellers market right now, so when a bank forecloses they often end up reselling the property at a loss, not to mention the fact that they have to endure expenses such as maintaining insuring the property until it is sold.

    If I could give the Dems that are pushing this bill a word of advice it would be patients. There is no quick fix and it needs to be understood that this problem will be burdening the economy for some time. There isn't much sense in further complicating the issue and trying to manipulate markets with no idea of the unintended impact it may have. Some measures may help in lessing the severity of the problem, but it isn't going to just disappear. If anything, it would be helpful to keep home owners from walking away from their mortgages and realizing that Lending Institutions are most likely willing to work with you. And for those watching from the outside while biting your nails, just remember this too will pass.

    Update: Megan McArdle mentions Fannie Mae's 3.6 trillion fourth-quarter losses and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's announcement to lift the caps on its portfolio. Check it out.

    Humor Day

    I think the gloomy weather and insanely busy schedule calls for a fun post. Enjoy!


    and this goes along with the last one.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008


    I apologize for my lack of recent blogging, but I've got some things to catch up on. I'll get back at it soon. In the meantime, this was sort of nifty.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    One Day I'll Be a Cosmolifestyleorangebeltwaytarian Too!

    I think Douchebagatarian has a nice ring to it.

    To Be Clear....

    From the reactions I got it seems I may have been misunderstood. To be clear, the point of yesterday's post is not "people should diet" or "health conscious people are somehow morally better". The point was it's ridiculous to get self defensive and hostile in response to someone's eating habits. Especially when they are not trying to influence your own.

    To be sure, if I really wanted to eat an entire pizza I would bet that I could. It doesn't necessarily mean I should or will. If you want to eat an entire pizza that's your prerogative, and I'd say bon appetit. Just like if you want to eat vegetables, that would also be your prerogative. You have a 'God given right' to eat however you want, and that goes for both sides.

    What I don't understand is how it came to be that the subject of healthy lifestyles is now taboo, and people are faced with disincentives from those they associate with, and what I mean by this is the economic concept of reward and punishment. Anyway, I'm done on this topic. I hope that cleared some stuff up.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    The "Ya know what I hate?" Rant

    My office has a very informal and functional exercise of venting our hostility. In the less hectic days, it was a daily occurrence. Now that we're headed full steam into our busiest time of the year, we don't have as much time for it. This practice was the "Ya know what I hate?" rant. Every rant would start with "Ya know what I hate?" and you just vent. About pretty much anything... bad drivers, office politics, figures of speech that just don't resonant well with you... anything. Because everyone seems pretty absorbed in their work right now, I'm not going to break their flow. Instead, I'll rant now. Here goes.

    Ya know what I hate? When people upbraid others for leading (or wanting to lead) a healthy lifestyle. I think this is an element of America's "obesity crisis" that doesn't get a lot of attention. It may not effect people to the magnitude as the availability and cost factors of unhealthy foods do, but I can see how it manipulates a person's behavior. People don't need to be alienated for being healthy and responsible. Being on a diet, avoiding unhealthy behavior, exercising and the like are not pretentious unless you go about it in an evangelistic way. Recognizing that gorging yourself with pizza isn't a healthy practice and should be a limited occurrence, or eating fruit and salads should not warrant implications of eating disorders. The assimilation of someone who is health conscious to someone with a serious and unhealthy problem is especially repugnant to me. How does anyone rationalize such a blatant contradiction in their mind? Even people who aren't especially thin are assaulted with roundly accusations when trying to improve their eating habits, regardless whether their reason may be high blood pressure running in the family or wanting to shed a few pounds.

    It's an odd phenomenon in my mind. I've witnessed this with others and experienced it myself. I try to be at least somewhat health conscious for a number of reasons. In terms of weight I'm rather average. I'm certainly not heavy, I may even be on the thin side, but I by no means look emaciated. My behavior doesn't betoken me having some kind of problem, and yet I still find myself having to defend my lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to what I eat and how often I exercise. It doesn't leave a lot of incentive for people to try to lead a healthier life when faced with constant alienation and ridicule from their peers. It's a contrary thing to demoralize someone for being conscientious of their own well-being. It's senseless to mock a thin person for choosing vegetables over cookies, last I knew, thin people can have heart attacks too.

    I will leave you with my utterly untested, unscientific rational for this phenomenon. If you are one who is so obtusely offended by healthy choices and the people who make them, maybe it's a personal problem... try insecurity or perhaps a flagrant lack of understanding of health and nutrition.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    More From Slate's Undercover Economist

    A new take on New Year Resolutions. Keep it, or lose your money. I think it'd work for me.

    Check it out.

    The Economics of Marriage

    Slate has two excerpts up from Tim Harford's book 'The Logic of life '

    Read them here... and here


    More wisdom from Will Wilkinson regarding Libertarianism.

    "One of the embarrassments of the American libertarian movement is its failure to sufficiently acknowledge how collective bias against blacks, women, gays, immigrants etc. deprives blacks, women, gays, immigrants, etc. of their freedom. To my mind, serious forms of structural discrimination are much worse for liberty than certain kinds of coercion. Libertarians make themselves look ridiculous when they claim that everyone is fully and equally free as long as no one is coercing anyone."

    He goes on to say:

    "In my opinion, it is the responsibility of decent people concerned with liberty to at least denounce, if not actively work to tear down, the racist beliefs and norms that enable liberty-killing structural discrimination. If you don’t think ending discrimination is the government’s job–that this is the sort of thing that should be done by persuasion, not force—then you should take this responsibility extra seriously. It’s your job to persuade. If you think the government should do nothing but stay out of the way, but you are indifferent to racism and people who publish racist newsletters for financial and political gain, then it is not unreasonable to conclude either that you don’t really care about other people’s liberty, or think racism has nothing to do with it. In either case, you would be wrong."

    Read the whole article here.

    "Hah hah hah, oh well!"

    This one is for Paul. Click!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008


    Bear With Me For a Moment...

    The site may be under construction for a bit, blogging will be light.

    In the meantime, enjoy this.


    "Best Healthcare In the World, Baby" so Kevin Drum claims.

    Maybe not.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Thank Goodness!

    I think this is an excellent article to address some of the fundamental misconceptions about what libertarians actually believe. Will Wilkinson hopes to make a series of posts on his blogs about some of the key elements of Ron Paul's appeal, which should be interesting. He states:

    "I want to say something about why flag-waving “libertarianism in one country” types are ultimately no friends of liberty."

    In particular, the following passage nearly made me squeal with glee. The vast majority of people I meet seem to mistakenly see all libertarians as anarcho-capital rightists.

    "I had hoped Paul would do more good than harm for libertarianism, inspiring lots of college kids to get interested in the ideas of liberty. But now I’m pretty certain that he’s done a lot of harm, causing many people to associate libertarianism with racist cranks. I think it’s pretty important then to publicize the fact that there are genuinely liberal versions of libertarianism out there. The young people who got interested in libertarian ideas through Paul need to be able to find Cato, Reason, the IHS, and other places where one can learn about classical liberalism, which isn’t about keeping the Mexicans out, deploring the abolition of slavery, or hoarding gold."

    Very well said. I can only hope that it being said by someone with greater prestige than myself will have a further reaching impact on the way people view what it means to be a libertarian. I'd strongly urge anyone who reads this to take the time to check Will Wilkinson's blog over the next couple of weeks and see what he has to say on the issue. Here's the link.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    "You're Likable Enough, Hillary"

    Did these words actually impact the results in New Hampshire, as it's been suggested? I don't think Obama meant any spite.

    He snickers a little, but the tone of the conversation isn't a serious one. To criticize him for that seems a little silly. I can think of a hundred worse ways to respond. See for yourself.

    Walking a Fine Line

    I found this interesting. The journalist makes a lot of good points on the issue of manipulating stock prices. The kids involved are very bright and have some good input as well.

    Hah, Aww

    I know I tend to sympathize with libertarian causes, but there is no denying this is humorous.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    They Watch TV So You Don't Have To

    Correspondents from the Economist commentate on New Hampshire coverage. It's more entertaining this way, I think.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2008

    I Love BloggingHeads TV

    This is a good one. Kerry Howley and Will Wilkinson discuss guest work. They're so cute.

    My favorite part is when they talk about America's Next Top Model and Will laughs about still-born fetuses.


    Didn't see this coming. Haha, just kidding... everyone totally saw this coming. Recall a previous post linking to an article in which Cato calls the energy bill, which provides subsidies for American biofuels, "a moment of idiocy".

    Turns out, researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute are attributing recent increases in the deforestation in the Amazon to the
    billions of dollars in subsidies for the production of corn. To briefly summarize, U.S. is the world leader in soy bean production. However soy farmers are switching to corn in order to qualify for subsidies. Soy production in the U.S. fell 15 percent. This of course, means downward pressure on supply creates upward pressure on price. An upward movement price will entice new producers to enter the market to take advantage of the favorable return until the supply is driven back up to is original equilibrium and price is driven back down as well. Brazil is the worlds second largest soy producer.

    "High soy prices affect the Amazon in several ways. Some forests are cleared for soy farms. Farmers also buy and convert many cattle ranches into soy farms, effectively pushing the ranchers further into the Amazonian frontier. Finally, wealthy soy farmers are lobbying for major new Amazon highways to transport their soybeans to market, and this is increasing access to forests for loggers and land speculators."

    So maybe nobody's first guess was deforestation of the Amazon, but there are certainly people out there that voiced that this would have untold impact on markets and economic conditions as well as environmental consequences.

    I'm Not Sure I'm Convinced....

    Although I am admittedly not a fan of Clinton, I'm not sure I'd exactly call this crying. I think people are just confused because for once she answered a question without all the barking and chest pounding we're used to seeing from her. Was it sincere emotion? I find it highly unlikely.

    Now, I'm not a big crier... but I could whip up a better patch of fake tears easier than Pillsbury biscuits. Would I do it while trying to win the respect and votes of the nation? Not a chance. I don't even cry to get out of speeding tickets, that would be demeaning for me. I see this as an act of desperation, which has seemed to work to some extent. I say save it, you'll have something to cry about come November.

    Monday, January 7, 2008


    Buy me this.


    I realize my posts today may come off a bit whiney, so here is a fun link to teach you how to open about bottle of champagne with a sword. I would be impressed.

    I Get It Now!

    The graphics on the SWAT team page that I link to in the previous post make so much more sense now. Here it is again.

    Now, keep that image in mind when you read this article about how the Lima SWAT team shot and killed a mother of 6 and wounded her 1 year old child during a drug raid. Also, keep in mind the police knew the children were in the house.

    Most Terrifying Police Department.... EVER

    I'm glad to not be a resident of Charlottesville, Florida. Their police are terrifying! In September, after barreling down pedestrians in a crosswalk an officer pushed a women to the ground and arrested her and her boyfriend. Full article here. Recently, the 911 call from a witness has been released. Then in October, the police entered a journalists home at 4am, guns drawn and ready because they were investigating a call that there was a burglar in the neighborhood. Read more here.

    On a similar note, Reason has a humorous link to the Lima, OH S.W.A.T team page.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    This made me smile...

    Just another piece of gold from the mind of Ted Leo.


    Turns out, it's genetic.

    Pareto Improvement?

    According to this article, Starbucks isn't slaughtering mom and pop coffee shops. It may actually be helping them. Slate takes an interesting look at how Starbucks differs from corporate killers like Walmart or HomeDepot.

    It seems that Starbucks settling next door may be a blessing in disguise. While they expand the area's customer base through advertising, people still respond to incentives. If there is another option 5 feet away with shorter lines, or cheaper coffee the local outfit is likely to benefit from the new larger customer base while maintaining their original base. Also, it is likely that the demand for coffee is fairly elastic. Someone who did not previously view the area as a coffee nexus will choose the coffee shop that will maximize their utility, not necessarily the one that has advertised.