"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, June 19, 2010

Countervailing Winds

Jonathan Chait writes:
Ezra Klein has a good column this weekend pointing out that the discussion of federal deficits and the stimulus misses the fact that the federal stimulus has, at best, merely counteracted the anti-stimulus from the states. State governments must balance their budgets, which means that during recessions they cut spending and raise taxes, which in turn deepens the recession.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mark Kirk fails to tell the whole truth again.
Representative Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, has often reminisced about his time as a teacher. 
On the floor of the House, in campaign commercials and during interviews, Mr. Kirk has invoked his experience in the classroom. At a speech this spring to the Illinois Education Association, Mr. Kirk declared, "as a former nursery school and middle school teacher, I know some of what it takes to bring order to class."

A review of public comments that Mr. Kirk has made over the last decade shows that while he may refer to himself as a former teacher, he does not talk about the brevity of his experience: a year in London at a private school and part-time in a nursery school as part of a work-study program while he was a student at Cornell University.

John F. Burns on Afghanistan:
In the summer of 2010, Kandahar, again, is at the heart of the matter. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the American commander, has been signaling for months that the crucial engagement of the war, aimed at loosing the tentacles the Taliban have wound around the city and its outlying districts, would begin sometime this spring or summer. True to the form he set since taking command in Kabul last year, when he warned that the war was on its way to being lost unless radical new strategies were adopted, the general has left no room for illusion. In effect, he has said, the struggle for Kandahar may determine the outcome of the war.
U.S. troop reductions are to begin in July 2011.

A report prepared by the London School of Economics says Pakistani intelligence still exerts a great sway on Afghan Taliban almost nine years after 9/11.

Drawing on interviews with Afghan Taliban commanders and former Taliban ministers and officials, the report suggests that Pakistan’s premier intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, supports the Taliban insurgency as a matter of official policy to contain the influence in Afghanistan of its rival India. Both serving and retired officials from the Pakistani intelligence agency are carrying out that policy, the report says.
Although many of the specifics of the report could not be independently verified, the bulk of its conclusions are very much in line with what Afghan officials, and some Western officials, have often alleged: that Pakistan has maintained its longstanding relationship with the Afghan Taliban to retain its influence in Afghanistan.
In other words, the Pakistanis are waiting for us to leave to continue their contest against their neighbor India in Afghanistan. So, nuclear Pakistan and nuclear India are fighting it out in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. India has a widespread Maoist insurgency. India is unable and/or unwilling to improve its infrastructure and leads the world in road fatalities.
India overtook China to top the world in road fatalities in 2006 and has continued to pull steadily ahead, despite a heavily agrarian population, fewer people than China and far fewer cars than many Western countries.
While road deaths in many other big emerging markets have declined or stabilized in recent years, even as vehicle sales jumped, in India, fatalities are skyrocketing -- up 40 percent in five years to more than 118,000 in 2008, the last figure available.
Video of India's Highway of Death. "Every day in India, 320 people are killed in traffic accidents, the highest rate in the world. What will happen as new roads are built and thousands of drivers are taking the wheel?"

Why should an international investor invest in India? Why should an international businessperson do business with India? Their cheap labor costs? I have a feeling those doing business with India will come to be sorry.