"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Report: China To Overtake U.S. As World's Biggest Asshole By 2020

From the G20 meeting:

Although India and Brazil this week joined calls by the United States for China to allow the value of its currency, the renminbi, to appreciate, the Group of 20 officials said the topic did not come up in their meetings.
Yoon Jeung-Hyun, the South Korean finance minister who coordinated the meetings, said "there were no specific discussions" of either the renminbi, also known as the yuan, or the euro, which has recently fallen in value.
Even as problems in Europe preoccupied the leaders, officials reported positive developments in some poorer parts of the world.
Adam Scott who played Will Ferrell's brother in Step Brothers will have a role in Parks and Recreation beginning this season and extending into the next.
AS: I play a state auditor who comes into Pawnee to cut the budget of the Parks And Recreation department and possibly fire people. I just kind of scare the shit out of everyone.
My Big Fat Greek Default
(or Damn the Gods /
Release the Kraken)

Greece waves the white flag and appeals for international aid. 

Greece was forced to make the request after investors shunned the country’s bond offerings because of concern about its runaway debt. Those worries intensified Thursday when the European statistics agency raised its estimate for Greece’s debt above the government’s most recent figures, pushing the yield on Greek bonds to nearly 9 percent.
At that point, the need for international funds seemed a certainty, and Mr. Papandreou made the request while on a visit to Kastellorizo, an island in the Aegean Sea.
The financing will come from an emergency aid package arranged two weeks ago in Brussels in which Greece’s euro zone partners pledged up to 30 billion euros ($40 billion) in loans to Greece. The International Monetary Fund is expected to provide an additional 15 billion euros.

Teasury Secretary Geithner and the IMF push for global tax on banks but G20 is split on the idea.
Mr. Lipsky’s boss, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the top I.M.F. official, caused rumblings on Friday when he suggested that some countries were moving too quickly on reform. He said the Obama administration’s plan "comes too soon" given the need to coordinate responses across countries.  
"I read that and I thought, really?" Mr. Geithner said in response. "My sense is that it’s been 15 months -- or more than a year -- since we started this process in the United States. We’re not moving with excessive haste." 
Mr. Geithner acknowledged that one of the biggest reform elements -- forcing banks to hold more capital as a buffer against economic disruptions -- was partly beyond the scope of the legislation being debated by Congress. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a global regulatory body, is coordinating discussions around capital requirements in the hope of announcing new standards by the end of this year.
A Federal District Court rules National Day of Prayer violates First Amendment.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims a membership of more than 14,000, the largest group in the country advocating for atheists and agnostics. It has doubled its staff to eight in the last year, publishes a newspaper 10 times a year, Freethought Today, and has a weekly radio show. The group counts among its members and vocal supporters Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Hitchens and Ron Reagan. 
The group’s biggest victory to date came last week when Judge Barbara B. Crabb of Federal District Court ruled that the federal government could not enact a law in support of prayer any more than it could "encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic." The law, signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1952, calls on the president to sign a proclamation annually in observance of a National Day of Prayer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Now's not the time to begin talking about considering interest rate hikes in the medium term.

Christine Romer, the chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, addressed a conference at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She says the nation’s high unemployment rate is a result of a severe drop in demand for goods and services and is not a reflection of longer-term structural changes in the economy. We shouldn't settle, in other words. From a New York Times piece:
"It reflects the fact that we are still feeling the effects of the collapse of demand caused by the crisis," she said. "Indeed, at one point I had tentatively titled my talk, 'It’s Aggregate Demand, Stupid,’ but my chief of staff suggested that I find something a tad more dignified."
Ms. Romer said that demand remained constrained by tight credit, state and local government budget shortfalls, subdued demand by consumers and foreign markets, and the inability to lower interest rates any further.
It is highly unusual for the White House to take a stance on short-term interest rates, which are the purview of the Fed, but Ms. Romer’s remarks carry weight because she is an authority on monetary policy and the Depression.
Ms. Romer said that conventional estimates of G.D.P. might have underestimated the "true decline" in economic activity, helping to explain an otherwise "anomalous rise" in unemployment. She also argued that other factors -- the decline in manufacturing, rising joblessness among less-educated middle-aged men, and the shrinking of sectors like construction and finance -- were not enough to suggest that high unemployment would last.
By vigorously arguing that the current 9.7 percent unemployment rate was a matter of cyclical forces rather than structural ones, Ms. Romer was defending the Obama administration’s program of active intervention to stimulate demand. "I find it distressing that some observers talk about unemployment remaining high for an extended period with resignation, rather than with a sense of urgency to find ways to address the problem," she said, saying unemployment was not "the new normal."
She called for increasing aid to states, extending unemployment insurance benefits, stimulating small business lending and subsidizing energy-efficiency measures by homeowners.