"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, May 04, 2013

Where Have All the Jobs Gone? by Jared Bernstein

How to State the Keynesian Argument Correctly by Yglesias

Employment is determined by the demand for it from the government and private (domestic + exports). Credit conditions set by the Central Bank can modulate demand, turning it up or down depending on inflationary/deflationary pressures. As can fiscal policy. 

The limits of it are set by the supply of employable. When there's an oversupply your going to get low inflation and a lower employed-to-population ratio compared to the 2000s and long term trend. 

Part of it as Bernstein states is that we've had a trade deficit for years. This can be replaced by fiscal (deficits) and monetary policy. A lower currency value will eliminate the deficit and raise employment from exports.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Game of Thrones

Brienne put his age at ten, but she was terrible at judging how old a child was. She always thought they were younger than they were, perhaps because she had always been big for her age. Feakish big, Septa Roselle used to say, and mannish. "This road is too dangerous for a boy alone."
"Not for a squire. I'm his squire. The Hand's squire."
"Lord Tywin?" Brienne sheathed her blade.
"No. Not that Hand. The one before. His son. I fought with him in the battle. I shouted 'Halfman! Halfman!'"
The Imp's squire. Brienne had not even known he had one. Tyrion Lannister was no knight. He might have been expected to have a serving boy or two attend him, she supposed, a page and a cupbearer, someone to help dress him. But a squire? "Why are you stalking me?" she said. "What do you want?"
 "To find her." The boy got to his feet. "His lady." You're looking for her. Brella told me. She's his wife. Not Brella, Lady Sansa. So I thought, if you found her..." His face twisted in sudden anguish. "I'm his squire," he repeated, as the rain ran down his face, "but he left me."
-- George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows 
From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, far more men take their own lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000. 
The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicide rates jumped by nearly 50 percent, to about 30 per 100,000. For women, the largest increase was seen in those ages 60 to 64, among whom rates increased by nearly 60 percent, to 7.0 per 100,000.
The rise in suicides may also stem from the economic downturn over the past decade. Historically, suicide rates rise during times of financial stress and economic setbacks. “The increase does coincide with a decrease in financial standing for a lot of families over the same time period,” Dr. Arias said.

Another factor may be the widespread availability of opioid drugs like OxyContin and oxycodone, which can be particularly deadly in large doses.

Although most suicides are still committed using firearms, officials said there was a marked increase in poisoning deaths, which include intentional overdoses of prescription drugs, and hangings. Poisoning deaths were up 24 percent over all during the 10-year period and hangings were up 81 percent.

Dr. Arias noted that the higher suicide rates might be due to a series of life and financial circumstances that are unique to the baby boomer generation. Men and women in that age group are often coping with the stress of caring for aging parents while still providing financial and emotional support to adult children.
But you know we need the sequester and to cut government spending in a liquidity trap, for the sake of the children and future generations .... whose parents and loved ones are killing themselves.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

this weird Canadian science fiction renaissance

AV Club review of Orphan Black's pilot
The series is also a part of this weird Canadian science fiction renaissance we’re in right now. Fellow members include Lost Girl and Continuum, and like both of those shows, the low-budget production values will be a deal-breaker for some. (The show is so low-budget that there are few—if any—times when Maslany shares the screen with herself, seemingly a prerequisite for a series about people who look identical to each other.) But for those who can look past the low budget and get over their fears about how on Earth this could possibly be a long-running series instead of a miniseries, there’s so much fun to be had in the depths of Orphan Black’s labyrinthine plotting and endless forward momentum, and there’s even more fun to be had watching the young woman at its center make her way through the maze.

Exit Strategy (ramblings)

I believe the last two times the Fed raised rates it did cause problems. In the early 90s you had the Mexican-peso crisis when the Fed raised rates. I'm less clear about the 2000s. They did raise rates but seems like the bubble had run its course and we had a Minsky moment.

I think Krugman made a good point in his recent column* about how the discussion of blowing the bubble is overblown when countercyclical policy to close the output gap has been so lacking.

But for some reason I'm less worried about the Fed's exit strategy this time around. They'll say they'll raise the interest rates on excess reserves (IOER) giving more of a subsidy to the banks, who investors don't trust anymore. (The cash nexus dissolves all bonds of trust into air.)

I'm more worried that we're turning Japanese and will NEVER recover given the governments poor demand management on the monetary and fiscal fronts. Senseless deficit cutting and fears of inflation. But there is hope across the sea with Abenomics and the general sense the economy will always turn around as people forget about the housing bubble and financial crisis and it all starts over again. But maybe that won't happen.

* "Why did spending plunge? Mainly because of a burst housing bubble and an overhang of private-sector debt — but if you ask me, people talk too much about what went wrong during the boom years and not enough about what we should be doing now. For no matter how lurid the excesses of the past, there’s no good reason that we should pay for them with year after year of mass unemployment."
May Day: Should We All Become Marxists? by Yglesias

AV Club reviews "The Colonel" from "The Americans"

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Happy May Day

The Americans season finale tonight.

Wikipedia entry on May Day

It's a 401(k) World and It Basically Sucks by Yglesias

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Orphan Black

Great show on BBC America.

I watched the first episode and was impressed. Felix, Sarah's foster brother and confidante is classic!

The mother of invention by Steve Randy Waldman

Game of Thrones, Season 3: How awful is it to be born a Lannister? Pretty awful. By Tracey Coronado and Rachael Larimore

But as Tyrion tell Jon Snow about Bran, it's better to be a rich cripple than a poor one.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

conservatives and Republicans are liars

Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs: Bush and Obama
The public sector grew during Mr. Bush's term (up 1,748,000 jobs), but the public sector has declined since Obama took office (down 718,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but they are still a significant drag on overall employment.
Can the Fed offset contractionary fiscal policy? by Ryan Avent

Monetarism Falls Short (Somewhat Wonkish) by Krugman

Washington Post Editorial Condemns Austerity in Europe! by Dean Baker
I double-checked to see that this is in fact April 28 and not April 1. This does seem to be real, a Washington Post lead editorial on Europe that calls for Germany to ease up on austerity and to allow the peripheral euro zone countries to grow again. 
I could nit-pick and point out that the editorial doesn't get everything right (nothing wrong with Germany running trade surpluses, if the surpluses were with fast-growing countries in the developing world), but we should just sit back and enjoy this one for a moment. Perhaps evidence and logic can actually have an impact on economic policy debates, even at the Washington Post.