"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, June 15, 2012

Econ round-up: truncated version by Jared Bernstein
–But there are two notable tailwinds: gas prices and housing. The average price at the pump is down about 20 cents over the past few months. That’s big, and if it sticks, it will continue to help to offset the euro-drag.
I've read stories that say Iraq has been pumping a lot of oil, making up for Iran.
As Europe’s Currency Union Frays, Conspiracy Theories Fly by Floyd Norris
Conceivably, Germany learned three things from the 1992 experience, and mapped out a course with those lessons in mind. First, absent fixed exchange rates, its export-oriented companies faced the risk of periodic competitive devaluations from the rest of Europe.  
German exports had peaked in 1990, and did not fully recover until 1994. They would not fall again for an entire year until 2010, after the credit crisis devastated world trade. 
Second, a currency union could help German exports if the euro’s value were held down by less competitive economies. 
Italy had been forced repeatedly to devalue the lira as rising costs made its exports too expensive. A common currency would not stop the rising costs, but it would prevent a new devaluation.         
Finally, if Germany adopted a low-interest-rate policy, and superlow rates arrived in European nations accustomed to high rates, banks could open the credit spigot and create a debt-financed boom in much of Europe. That would invite a mushrooming of imbalances. Ultimately, deeply indebted countries would face a crisis, one that they could solve only if they acquiesced to German policies and surrendered a large part of national sovereignty.
Germany, China and the Republicans are the Axis of Fools.
Still a Phantom Menace by Krugman
To be fair, I and other have been surprised by the stubborn persistence of low core inflation; if you’d asked me three years ago, I would have predicted slight deflation by now. My current interpretation is that downward nominal wage rigidity is a bigger issue than we realized. But this is a relatively small failure of prediction compared with the dire forecasts of soaring interest and inflation rates.
Finally, I just want to flag this for the record:
Regardless of what the triumphant Keynesians would have you believe, my analysis continues to be that the current combination of monetary and fiscal stimulus is driving us toward disaster. Instead of a real recovery, the US will experience an inflationary depression. Europe, on the other hand, will suffer much less, precisely because it was not seduced by the short-term appeal of stimulus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lost Girl's Bo is pretty awesome. I like how she pulled a Galadriel in last night's episode. We need more Canandian TV shows here in the States!

"It's almost as if Europe is trying to start a bank run." by Matt O'Brien

Monday, June 11, 2012

True Blood starts the new season off with a bang. Banging siblings, that is (io9 recap) by Meredith Woerner(!)

audio of Adam Davidson interview with Doug Henwood

Pam! Pam! Pam! (or "One what?" as in Sookie will "owe one," a favor, to Pam.)

"Turn! Turn! Turn!" by Carrie Raisler (True Blood Onion recap)

I never understood why fans hate Tara (because she's unhappy?) or why people dislike True Blood enough to make negative comments.

In entertainment as in sports, is being a "hater" an essential part of being a fan? by Noel Murray

(excellent discussion in commment section. For instance:
According to Freud, who no one cares about anymore, we underestimate how much sadism and masochism underlies the average personality (because it is taboo in a 'civilization' and because it is a fundamentally infantile dichotomy of desire). I'm not crazy about Freud, but I think something like the popularity of '50 Shades of Grey', which gets pretty explicit in its descriptions of S&M sex, amongst the most normative demographic (Soccer Moms) is arguing for the possibility that Freud was right.)

Psychologists attribute anger to the feeling of being wronged by someone or something, internally or externally.  Ironically, pop culture provides an unusual number of opportunities for such anger.  Two specific cases come to mind.

First is the narcissism of small differences.  That is to say, we often get very angry when someone very similar to us disagrees strongly with us about something that is very similar to our own tastes.  The brutal competition in sports fandom is an example of this, as is Jezebel complaining more about the Daily Show than the Taliban.)

I hate "haters" of stuff I like! I am annoyed by "haters" of NGDP level targeting and unconventional monetary policy, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, etc.

A song featured in last night's True Blood season opener.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Updated this post on Prometheus.
Crucifying Mankind Upon a Cross of 2 Percent Inflation Targeting by Yglesias
I think the right way to think about this is that inflation and employment aren't two separate levers that the Federal Reserve addresses separately. Rather, the Fed impacts both inflation and employment by influencing aggregate demand. A years-long span of 8+% unemployment helps keep prices low. People who are broke or unemployed curtail their own consumption and thus alleviate scarcity. A tradeoff needs to be made in the short-term. If gas prices spike, people will be upset and many families' bottom lines will suffer. But is keeping the labor market weak in order to keep millions of people unemployed rather than commuting really a sound way of coping with the moderate scarcity of oil? I say no. Ben Bernanke seems to say yes. But he's getting away with not putting the issue squarely before the public.

2012 May Lack Drama, but Not Significance
Will the Keynesian principles that have guided economic policy for generations be affirmed or replaced by a belief that smaller government will make room for a more vibrant private sector?
Should Social Security, under pressure from the ever-growing costs of an aging population, remain a government-run, taxpayer-financed, guaranteed-benefit program? Or should it be reinvented to allow workers to invest in, and assume some of the risk for, their own retirements?
Is it necessary for government to reshape the private health care system in order to bring insurance coverage to those who do not have it, or can tax incentives and other free-market principles take care of the problem?
Are banks and investment firms being stifled by over-regulation as they try to finance economic growth, or are they irresponsibly reverting back to the casino-like culture that brought us the last financial crisis?
Are we heating our planet at a rate that demands substantial and immediate changes in the way we use energy, or is the evidence still insufficient to require that we assume the costs of altering the way we live?
The list goes on, amounting to a huge ideological front in the combat over a long series of issues. And on many of those issues, time is fast running out for the nation to make up its mind about how to proceed, giving additional urgency to outcome this time around. 
“American politics sees this kind of dynamic happen every few generations, and it seems to sneak up on us,” said Anthony R. Dolan, who was Reagan’s chief speechwriter and served as an adviser this political season to Newt Gingrich. “A president governs in an unexpected manner, and it becomes a defining moment in our political history.”

The stakes for conservatives this year could be greater than in 1980, Mr. Dolan said, if only because much of the case against President Jimmy Carter back then was about competence, whereas with Mr. Obama the case is about fundamental philosophy.
“He’s decided he’s going to start a mission to change America and its bourgeois consciousness,” Mr. Dolan said of Mr. Obama.
In Era of Cheap Money, Consumers Are Shut Out
New data this week from the Federal Reserve shows that in the first quarter of this year, American businesses were taking on new debt at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008. American households, though, were heading in the opposite direction, increasingly shedding debt.
Just as I had written Obama off...

Election Forecast: Obama Begins With Tenuous Advantage by Nate Silver

(via DeLong)

The Fed could determine the outcome at its next meeting. And Germany might have helped with its TARP for Spain. My guess is that the recent Greek and French elections combined with the June 17th Greek elections concentrated and focused the Germans' minds.

We'll see what happens with Greece.
Ryan McCarthy:
Twitter / mccarthyryanj:
It just occurred to me that I've been reading/editing "Bernanke calls on Congress to spend" stories for more than 3 years…
(via DeLong)

Federal Reserve Confirmation by DeLong

To my knowledge:

  • Two people whom Obama intended to nominate or nominated to the Federal Reserve have been refused confirmation: Peter Diamond and Rich Clarida in 2010-2011.
  • Two people whom George W. Bush intended to nominate or nominated to the Federal Reserve have been refused confirmation: Larry Klane and Randy Kroszner in 2008.
  • Two people whom Bill Clinton intended to nominate or nominated to the Federal Reserve have been refused confirmation: Alicia Munnell and Felix Rohatyn in 2005-6.
  • Before then… to my knowledge, at least, you have to go back to 1914 and President Woodrow Wilson and the first batch of nominations to get any other examples: Thomas Jones, Richard Olney, and Harry Wheeler.

It's the Fed's Time to Step Up by Christina Romer
Instead, the policy-making committee could adopt the proposal of Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, that the Fed pledge to keep rates near zero until unemployment is down to 7 percent or inflation has risen to 3 percent. Such conditional guidance assures people that the Fed will keep at the job until unemployment is down or the toll on inflation becomes unacceptable. 
(via DeLong)