"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

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Wes Anderson movie where the female lead reminds one of Hermione Granger/Emma Watson with her youthful earnestness. Via Slate:

New Van Halen song. Do the lyrics include "tattoo" and "dragon"?
How Is It Possible The Fed's Image Can Be Tarnished Further? by Baker
Addendum: This is what people who were not Greenspan sycophants were saying at the time.
Robert Shiller also called the bubble but now is speaking of a "bond bubble" which makes me wonder.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elite Expert Fail

Fed’s image tarnished by newly released documents by Zachary Goldfarb

Wasn't it already?
In the six years since, Greenspan’s record — seemingly so sterling when he left the central bank after 18 years — has come under substantial criticism from outside economists and analysts. Many say a range of Fed policies under his watch contributed to the financial crisis, including keeping interest rates low for too long, failing to take action to stem the housing bubble and allowing inadequate oversight of financial firms.
Isn't it a conservative complaint that Greenspan kept rates too low for too long? Does it hold up poorly like every other one of their talking points?

In Fed Officials’ 2006 Meetings, No Deep Worry on Housing by Binyamin Appelbaum
One fundamental reason for this blindness was that Fed officials did not understand how deeply intertwined the housing sector and financial markets had become. They also were convinced that financial innovations, by distributing the risk of losses more broadly, had increased the strength and resilience of the system as a whole.
“I would say that the capital markets are probably more profitable and more robust at this moment, or at least going into the six-week opportunity, than they have perhaps ever been,” Kevin Warsh, the Fed governor who watched Wall Street most closely [and young Bush appointee who quit], said at the meeting in September 2006. Three months later Mr. Warsh said almost exactly the same thing. He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.
For the Fed 2006 began with the departure of Mr. Greenspan, who presided in January over his final meeting as Fed chairman and was then widely regarded as the epitome of a central banker, a master who had guided the American economy through almost 20 years of remarkably consistent growth.
“I’d like the record to show that I think you’re pretty terrific, too,” Mr. Geithner said in adding his voice to the chorus of tributes at that final meeting. “And thinking in terms of probabilities, I think the risk that we decide in the future that you’re even better than we think is higher than the alternative.”
Ms. Yellen said: “It’s fitting for Chairman Greenspan to leave office with the economy in such solid shape. The situation you’re handing off to your successor is a lot like a tennis racquet with a gigantic sweet spot.”
Why We Listen to Paul Krugman: The Balance of Macroeconomic Risks in the Summer of 2006 Department by DeLong

There Is No Bubble and Even if There Is It's Not a Problem... by Thoma

Monetary Witchcraft by Yglesias
Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska: How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China. by Will Oremus
Jane and John Carter

Paula Patton was really, really good as Jane Carter in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Now I want to see Jumping the Broom! She was in Just Wright, Precious, Deja Vu, Swing Vote and Hitch. John Carter looks good. The title character is a Victorian Brit who can jump real high and excels at killing alien creatures and giving Braveheart/St. Crispin's Day motivational speeches. The preview has music which sounds like a rip-off of Zeppelin's Kashmir.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sassy Angel by Lorrie Moore

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mark Weisbrot on the American Economics Association annual meeting in Chicago
But a rapid descent into hell was imminent. Former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin was next, talking about the need to "repair" social security and Medicare. The United States has all the characteristics of countries that run into trouble, he said. Then he warned that the US is going to end up like Greece. This is one of the dumbest things that anyone with an economics degree can say. 
During the discussion, Blinder – who identified himself as a Democrat – expressed his frustration in not being able to convince fellow Democrats to cut social security. Double yuck. The average social security check is about $1,177 a month, and a majority of senior citizens are getting most of their meager income from social security. Why these people insist on creating more poverty among the elderly, especially when the program is solvent for decades to come, is beyond me.
What the budget hawks are basically telling us is that we must assume that insurance and pharmaceutical companies will have a veto over the provisions of healthcare reform for decades to come. And that, therefore, we must find other ways to make up for these excessive costs, including cutting social security and other government spending, and pushing us into higher rates of poverty and inequality than we already have.
And even worse in the short run, all this crap about the deficit and the debt will be used to block the necessary stimulus measures – "stimulus" has already become a dirty word that Democratic politicians are afraid to utter. This means high unemployment and a lot of unnecessary misery in the world's richest country for the foreseeable future.
A dismal performance for the dismal science, on some of the most important issues of the day. Of course, there are other economists, including Nobel Prize winners such as Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz and Robert Solow (full disclosure: the latter two are members of CEPR's advisory board), who would offer more sensible views. But this panel was, sadly, representative of economists with the most influence on public policy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Van Halen tour with David Lee Roth

I saw a good documentary on hardcore punk with interviews with Ian MacKay and Henry Rollins among others. Bands mentioned in no order: D.O.A., Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys (? more traditional punk), Circle Jerks, Germs, Fear, Jerry's Kids, Gang Green, SS Decontrol, Negative FX, Agnostic Front, Minutemen, the Misfits, Negative Approach, MDC and many others. Many hated Ronnie Raygun and put photos of him on their concert flyers.

Hitchens on Reagan