"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, March 23, 2012

Tested By A Picturesque Dystopia by Manohla Dargis
Confessed 4 Life

Bridget Regan replies to Seeker costar Craig Horner: "Sad I can't be there with you!"

Horner: "Seeker Fans, I will be visiting WonderCon in Anaheim California March 17th and 18th from 12pm till 3:30pm..."
Bernanke Denies Fed Rate Policy Caused Housing Bubble
Most evidence suggests the Federal Reserve‘s policy of low interest rates in the early 2000s didn’t cause the recent housing bubble, Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday in slides prepared for a college lecture.
While some have argued the Fed’s low interest rates in the early 2000s contributed to the U.S. housing collapse, international examples and the timing of the bubble show otherwise, Bernanke said Thursday in slides for the second of his four lectures at George Washington University this month.
For example, house prices rose sharply in the United Kingdom in the same time period, even though the U.K. had tighter monetary policy than the U.S., Bernanke wrote. He also noted housing prices began to pick up in the late 1990s before the Fed began cutting interest rates and rose sharply after the central bank began tightening.
Finally, Own-to-Rent by Jared Bernstein

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

review of Noam Scheiber's "The Escape Artists" by John Cassidy

(via Thoma)
How can debt effect GDP? by Noah Smith

(via Thoma)
Why Democrats Have a Problem With Young Voters by Rich Perlstein
My politics of optimism and hope still casts its lot with the Democrats — in the optimistic hope that the dying embers of its status as the party of our better angels, one that took risks for social justice, can still be fanned into a flame. But I'm an old man, born in 1969. I can't really blame someone born in 1991 for not buying the idea that the Democrats were once a party that often took political risks for social justice and can be again. Why should they believe me? They've never seen it in their lifetimes.

What's This "We" Jazz, White Man? Robert Samuelson Edition by Dean Baker
"Four years after the onset of the financial crisis — in March 2008 Bear Stearns was rescued from failure — we still lack a clear understanding of the underlying causes."
Wow, it sure doesn't seem very hard to me. The Reagan-Volcker policies of the early 80s broke the link between productivity growth and wage growth for ordinary workers. This meant that demand growth did not necessarily keep pace with output potential as had been true earlier in the post-war period, since higher wages would quickly translate into higher consumption. 
That created an environment which opened a door to speculative bubbles. In the 90s it was the stock bubble which drove growth, primarily by pushing saving rates to then record lows. In the last decade it was the housing bubble which drove growth, both by creating a building boom and also by pushing saving rates even lower as bubble generated home equity led to a consumption boom.
None of this story is new. I was writing about how the stock bubble was driving the economy in the 90s and how the housing bubble was driving the economy as early as 2002. And, I gave the historical picture in Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy.
But, folks like Robert Samuelson would rather pretend that the whole story is a great mystery rather than contemplate the possibility that the economic instability of the last decade had its roots in a pattern of growth that was built on redistributing income from ordinary workers to the most highly paid workers and corporate profits.
Kenyan Socialism endorses this narrative with some additions.

Robert Samuelson endorses the fatalistic, old-timey Mellon view of busts that the rottenness of economy needs to be purged.

Samuelson links to this review of 21 books on the crisis and this review of 16 scholarly papers (by Gary Gorton).

Bernanke endorsed Gorton's work on the rise of the shadow banking system.
The Baffler is back again.

Too Smart To Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly by Thomas Frank