36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

March 31, 2009

More Pessimism

Filed under: Catallactics, Curmudgeonliness, Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 8:11 pm

I’ve let my links build up over the past few days, so I have plenty of kvetching to do.

- South Park on the economy.  Special guest star:  Tim Geithner, landing on Bailout.

- Geithner “is open to” an international basket of currencies.  Aside from causing the dollar to tumble (until he “clarified” his remarks), this wouldn’t work in any practical sense, as it would allow for currency arbitrage and would be well beyond the optimal currency area.  Following from Robert Mundell’s research, you could argue that the US itself is too large an area for a single currency, and though Mundell supported a common currency among European countries, the different situations of various countries indicates that one monetary policy is inefficient, but that’s all you get with one currency.  Here is Tim Geithner’s next press conference.

- Geithner’s new plan remains a bad idea.  Private profits and public losses lead to excessive risk-taking because the risk-takers aren’t the losers.  Doesn’t this sound familiar?

- Obama throws one of the two or three Treasury officials out there under the bus.

- George Selgin has good sense.  Naturally, those in power will ignore him.  A couple years ago, I was flirting with the idea of free banking but didn’t know how it would work.  Selgin’s work has me practically convinced.  At the very worst, it couldn’t be worse than government-run banking and currency.

- There is an idea out there that the Federal Reserve could float its own debt to avoid inflation.  Robert Murphy is absolutely right in pointing out that this just delays the inevitable, and in the process increases what the rate of inflation will be.  Because this is a bad idea, I expect it to be put into practice.

- In good news, Obama asked Paul Volcker to head a tax reform panel.  There are three stated goals:  collecting uncollected taxes, closing loopholes, and simplifying the tax code.  Even if Obama were serious about legitimate tax reform (something I doubt), this sounds suspiciously like the 1985 tax reform.  I remember reading something James Buchanan wrote a decade or so later:  he was glad that he was able to get down on paper before the reform kicked in his prediction of what would happen, namely that within a few years, all of those old loopholes would be put right back in.  A complex tax code is an equilibrium situation, and the only way to get out of that equilibrium is to prevent Congress from allowing loopholes to begin with, and that means a fixed tax rate and unalterable definitions of income.  Although this is pie-in-the-sky, it is an ideal we should try to approximate, but the only way to do this is on the constitutional level, not the level of legislature.

- Good thing the adults are in charge, right?

- On the bright side, Congress is shelving its AIG tax.  The dark side is that people in Congress even proposed it.

- Jonah Goldberg points out that big business and the left actually fit better than big business and the fusionist right.  Far from scorning big business with its legislation, “progressives” often allowed large firms to write the rules and regulations on industries (especially during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration), to the detriment of small firms and potential competitors.  Companies on top want to keep their advantage by increasing the cost of entry, and the left has the same goals (though for different reasons).  It’s those free-market radicals who oppose these “rational” policies.  Unfortunately, we’re a minority in either party, and politicians have to deal with these firms as an interest.  Like a midwesterner going up against ethanol, trying to break the big government-big business combination is practically a fool’s errand.

March 30, 2009

Quick hits

Filed under: Russian/Ukrainian — Tony Demchak @ 10:41 pm

– The Simpsons chalkboard gag this Sunday? “My piggy bank is not eligible for TARP.” This has been my one economics comment for Spring 2009.

– Immediately after RFE/RL posted the story on Medvedev, we get this gem. Anybody else think this show would do well in Russia?

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Filed under: Politics, Russian/Ukrainian — Tony Demchak @ 10:18 am

A free hint to President Medvedev: when you have to go on television to say you’re in power and that Putin isn’t calling the shot, you aren’t in power. To my recollection, you haven’t said one even mildly negative thing about Putin or his policies. It isn’t like you don’t have plenty of ammo…

March 28, 2009

Link Dumpoff Saturday

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Economics, Terrorism — Kevin Feasel @ 11:25 pm

It’s Saturday night, post-shabbat, and I’m going to drop a bunch of links that I have and want to get rid of.

- Tracking of tied US foreign aid will begin once more.  “Tied aid” means that aid must be spent on US companies.  This creates inefficiencies, as Easterly and Freschi note.  Getting a reckoning of exactly how much US foreign aid is tied is a good start to ending that practice as much as is possible.

- It turns out that “new job” counts don’t actually mean anything.  I am, you can imagine, shocked and amazed that pseudo-precise numbers based on fuzzy generalizations and Keynesian models have no basis in reality.

- Robert McCain has a good post on a rather pernicious form of fallacious argumentation:  take a couple words here, a sentence there, and voila! your opponent is now evil.

- Daring to be different:  James Buchanan.  Buchanan is one of my favorite economists and one of my favorite writers.  He got how to tell an entertaining yet elucidating story, and his innovations with regard to public choice and constitutional economics pushed forward the level of discourse in economics.  It was unfortunate that it took his colleagues so long to recognize this, but at least they’ve done so in his case, if not Gordon Tullock’s.

- Here is an article describing a paper on how Shi’a terrorists fight differently than Sunni terrorists.  My thought on the conclusions is that the differences in style are reactions to American tactics.  We focused on going after Sunni terrorist-sponsoring regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving the Shi’a Iran and Syria* alone.  Because of this, taking out the infrastructure of Sunni terrorist organizations leaves them fighting in a more desperate manner, whereas the Shi’a organizations such as Hezbollah have a more-established base.  Had we gone after Iran instead of Iraq, I would guess that this trend would be closer to the converse.

* – Okay, Syria is run by Sunnis, but they support Shi’a terrorism, notably Hezbollah.  Don’t tell that to the State department, though—they know that Sunni and Shi’a would never work together on anything!

March 27, 2009

Mix 09 In Columbus

Filed under: Programming & Work — Kevin Feasel @ 4:49 pm

Ignore the horrible, horrible pun:  here’s Stir Trek.  I will probably have that day off, so I’m rather likely to go.

March 26, 2009

Any Good News Today?

Filed under: Catallactics, Curmudgeonliness, Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 5:42 pm

We’ll see…

- Tim Geithner’s five big misconceptions.  Geithner’s plan is a massive public-private partnership, and I’m quite wary of them for the same reason Jim Lindgren is:  private profits, public (i.e., taxpayer) losses.  This greatly increases risks because the risk-takers don’t lose anything near what the real value of the loss is.  Tyler Cowen shows how you can game the Geithner plan, and I expect it to happen.  Regulation is slower than regulatory entrepreneurship, and that’s assuming that the regulators are actually interested in stopping this.  Considering that most of the players will be those who put money into Dodd, Frank, and Obama’s election funds, why do I get the feeling that they’ll just look the other way?  Oh, that’s right:  because they already did once.

- On the plus side, the market’s gone up.  This could be a bottoming out effect or could be due to the fact that existing businesses are going to get quite the handout from the government.  This is a good reason why stock markets are an imperfect measure of economic policy ramifications—they measure one particular set of interests.  Geithner’s plan is very good for existing businesses and very bad for taxpayers.

- Barney Frank knows what executives should make.  How about we regulate Barney Frank’s salary?  Better yet, vote him out of office, Massachusetteans.  And Democrats are sounding more and more like mobsters.

- Big business likes regulation.  Why?  Because big business profits from regulation.  Regulations are often written by large, existing firms and are written with an eye toward locking out new competitors.  Big Steel wants carbon cap-and-trade because they know they’ll get another barrier to entry for new firms, thereby allowing existing firms to charge higher prices.  On a related note.

- The newspaper bailout won’t create any capture problems for newspaper reporters, but that’s only because they’re already in the bag for Democrats.

- Bob Murphy points out that this idea to kill 10% of cash holding value is a bad one.  Instead of people “being glad to lend at negative 2%,” they would get out of US dollars.  If I’m expecting that 10% of my cash holdings (which, fortunately, are nearly $0) go poof, I’m switching to Canadian dollars.  Wait…did I just say that out loud?

- Also from Murphy:  Bernanke will face more problems soon.  As soon as monetary demand drops (which will occur when people start to think that we’re near the bottom of our recession), all of that extra money that Bernanke pumped into the system will turn into inflation unless he raises interest rates and performs open market operations to remove the dollars.  He won’t do that because then we’ll have a knock-off recession, and because his political masters won’t let him.  Once again, I must continue to say that the Federal Reserve is not independent and is under Congressional and Presidential control.  A truly independent Federal Reserve might produce a chairman willing to take those lumps—Paul Volcker did—but in this climate?  Absolutely not.

- On the plus side, we don’t hear much about global warming anymore.  Incidentally, wild, anthropogenic global warming is still a myth, and over the past few years, global warming itself has been a myth.

March 25, 2009

Browns play… feet ball?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tony Demchak @ 1:48 pm

I was reading a story on ESPN about the open quarterback competition, and the side bar said the average IQ of a Browns fan is 102, but the average IQ of a Browns player is 83. This explains so much. The best part is, this means someone on the Browns is borderline retarded. My money’s on Ken Dorsey, but virtually anyone is possible.

March 24, 2009

Only in Russia.

Filed under: Russian/Ukrainian — Tony Demchak @ 3:29 pm

Just read. It’ll brighten up your day after reading Kevin’s depressing articles on economics. Unless you have actual feelings.

HT to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

March 23, 2009

A Financial Faceplant

Filed under: Catallactics, Curmudgeonliness, Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 9:26 pm

The plan to tax bonuses on individuals who work for firms which received bailout dollars already sounds spectacularly stupid.  What can we expect from this and from Obama’s even-more-stupid plan of having government control wages (yeah, price controls always work out well…)?  Well, the incentive effects will probably make the most productive Americans less likely to work and more like Europeans (ick).  Bob Murphy points out that, even if nothing else were done, this will have negative ramifications for the US financial sector.  And if such a bill passes (not to mention the Obama’s 1970s 2:  Electric Boogaloo dive into wage controls), it’s possible that the Supreme Court won’t even overturn it.  David Brooks, after supporting the economic illiterate Obama, wants to cover his tail by claiming that the US is a commercial society so we won’t let the government ruin it.  Well, Peter Robinson’s right:  “inevitable” isn’t.  By eroding further the institutions which make our economy strong and (unlike Europe) not stagnant, you can also alter the culture and, as in England, the financial lion might be reduced to a wheezing old cat.  Take Jonah Goldberg’s penultimate paragraph to heart.

In short, yeah, we’re one step closer to a banana republic.  On the plus side, that means we get cheap fruit, right?  And we get to be outraged the whole time!  Time to pick up my Banfield [bottom paragraph of this article] and re-read the chapter on rioting for fun and profit; I may need to learn a few tips…

March 22, 2009

Wrestlemania XXV: Not the 25th Anniversary but still a milestone

Filed under: Wrestling — Tony Demchak @ 11:38 am

Here’s this article from last year and here’s how I did.

The matches, my pick in bold, Lady Penguatroll in italics.

WWE Championship Match: HHH (c) vs. Randy Orton

The build for this has been amazing. At times, a bit too overdone, but an incredible feud. Orton has been on fire ever since the Legacy was formed, and I know the Legacy will play a part. I still think this match will have some sort of gimmick, as this is one of the rare one-match feuds in my opinion. Orton and HHH had a huge night at No Mercy last year, and this is sort of a continuation of that feud. Orton should win cleanly, cementing him as the best heel in the business right now. I’m not sure who Orton’s next opponent would be.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena vs. Edge (c) vs. Big Show

I really, REALLY wish Cena wouldn’t win, but there’s no way in hell that two heels win the title at WM, and I think Orton is a near lock to beat HHH. Big Show is a p0ssibility, as he’s been kind of tweener-ish. The whole stupid “Vickie can’t choose!!!” storyline irritates the fuck out of me. One other intriguing possibility is an Edge face turn, where he breaks ties with Vickie over the cheating. Or he could spear Vickie and turn Vickie face. I’m pretty sure one of those will happen. Cena gets his Wrestlemania moment. Again.

Unification of tag team titles: John Morrison and the Miz (c) vs. Carlito and Primo Colon (c)

One of my favorite matches on the card. The tag team division has slipped a bit since the days of the Hardyz, Edge and Christian, and the Dudleys, but these two are clearly on top. MNM 2.0 has been dominating for a long time now, and I’m confident they’ll simply formalize an already objective fact. The Colons have looked pretty good together, and I’m sure this won’t end the feud no matter who wins, but Miz and Morrison will hold the titles until they break up.

Intercontinental Title Match: JBL (c) vs. Rey Mysterio

Finally, an intercontinental title defense! Rumor has it that JBL is retiring after Wrestlemania, and I can definitely see JBL retaining and retiring with it. Mysterio is the one who retired JBL initially a long time ago, and it’s an interesting bit of continuity to have JBL get his win back. I think this will eventually become face vs. face to make JBL’s retirement more poignant. Rey will eventually get an IC title, but not yet.

Extreme Rules Match: Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

A rare double pick! This feud is going to go on for a while, and Matt needs the win to establish himself as a legitimate threat to Jeff. It should be spectacular and a show stealer.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Okay, maybe not so rare. This is the one match I feel has a foregone conclusion. There is no way HBK ends The Streak, he doesn’t need it. Should be the best match on the card, but HBK would be a stupid pick.

Money in the Bank: Kane vs. Mark Henry vs MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kofi Kingston vs. CM Punk vs. Finlay vs. Christian

See my earlier article. Kofi was no. 5 on my list.

25 Diva Battle Royal: Who the fuck knows?!

We’re not entirely sure who will be in the match yet. My pick is Trish Stratus. Jacki’s is Mickie James.

Chris Jericho vs. Roddy Piper, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat w/ Ric Flair at ring side.

Jericho should win, but I doubt he will. This isn’t officially on the card yet as the legends have not responded, meaning we may have a replacement (please be Stone Cold!!!)

Update: “Officially” Jericho accepted the challenge and proceeded to beat the holy hell out of Flair. I’m hoping he destroys all of his opponents one by one until there is only one man left… *glass shatters*

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