"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, January 04, 2014
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Do more people have health insurance? ...Does the U.S. become more like other advanced nations?
Do Americans have better access to health care? ...
Are Americans getting healthier? ...
Is health care becoming more affordable?
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
...“My sense is, he is going to be very intent and dedicated to showing that he can construct this new model of municipal governance,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, a left-leaning periodical that has dedicated a journalist full time to covering the early days of the new administration.
“He needs to deliver, and he understands that,” Ms. vanden Heuvel added.
Cornel West, the professor and political activist who recently returned to New York to teach at Union Theological Seminary, said the mayor represented “a sigh of relief from the reign of Bloomberg.”
But he invoked his own disappointment with President Obama in sounding a note of caution.
“There’s got to be a connection between vision and speeches, and execution and policy,” Dr. West said. “Our beloved president — that brother gives beautiful speeches, but he is milquetoast oftentimes when it comes to execution.”
Dr. West allowed himself a laugh. “We don’t want de Blasio going down that Obama lane, or we’ll be in trouble,” he said.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Ah, some of the comments on my post about cynical lack of realism happen to illustrate a favorite observation of mine: the extent to which people who demand that we learn the lessons of history tend to rely on historical episodes in which we have very little idea of what really happened.
Thus, they’ll tell us to ignore the extensive evidence from the past century that fiat currencies needn’t lead to runaway inflation — instead, look at how currency debasement led to the fall of Rome!
Or, maybe, how the fall of Rome led to currency debasement?
The thing is, we have no data and not even that much informal evidence on the economy of ancient Rome. We do have informed speculation: Peter Temin had a lovely paper in the JEP (and a book I haven’t read yet) on the prosperity of the Augustan empire, which he estimates was comparable to late 17th-century Europe. All of that fell apart in the third century:
Around the start of the third century CE, the early Roman Empire came to an end under the pressure of a number of problems: several emperors who were exceptionally autocratic and excessive and a series of revolts by the army which in turn led to Rome being ruled by a series of short-term emperors.14 The disruption manifested itself in many ways, including increased inﬂation in the third century CE that is visible to us through debased coinage and occasional price quotations.Inﬂation was less than 1 percent in the ﬁrst and second centuries CE, but prices doubled after the Antonine plague of the late second century and doubled again soon thereafter. The denarius began to be progressively debased at this same time.So currency debasement can ruin your whole day — as long as it’s accompanied by civil war and plague. This is actually the same pattern as modern hyperinflations, which have always followed major political disruptions, like the collapse of the Central Powers at the end of World War II or the breakup of the Soviet Union.
But isn’t it odd that people prefer the largely undocumented distant past to the far better documented recent past? Why? My guess is that it’s precisely the vagueness that attracts them, because it’s so much easier to project your prejudices onto the scattered information available.
Inflation Lessons From Syria's Civil War—Hyperinflation is Never a Monetary Phenomenon by Yglesias
Monday, December 30, 2013
Gavyn Davies: The separation principle drives the Fed towards tapering:
“A new ‘separation principle’ seems to be emerging, and it explains why
the FOMC seems eager to begin winding down its asset purchases in the
near future, while relying even more heavily than before on ‘lower for
longer’ guidance on forward short rates. This could have important
ramifications for markets…. The separation principle was spelled out
more clearly than ever before in Ben Bernanke’s speech on communications
policy…. Bernanke’s core point is that the Fed’s reading of monetary
conditions now distinguishes sharply between two distinct factors, which
are the expected forward path for short rates, and the term premium
built into long term bond yields. Asset purchases by the central bank
are intended to affect the second of these factors, the term premium,
but are not intended to give any signal to the markets about the Fed’s
willingness to keep short rates at zero for a prolonged period ahead…”
The economic book of life by Izabella Kaminska
A Pick-Up Mini Internet Symposium: **More Than** Five Posts on BitCoin Triggered by a Question from Adrienne Jeffries of The Verge… by DeLong
And the list of heavies continues. Mr. Obama has told people he is a big fan of “Game of Thrones,” a brutal imagining of the wars in medieval Europe. He has raved about “Boardwalk Empire” and the BBC’s “Downton Abbey,” two period dramas that document the angst and difficulties that people faced during those times. And he has worked his way through the DVDs of AMC’s smoldering “Mad Men” series, telling friends that the character of Peggy Olson has given him insight into what it must have been like for his strong-willed grandmother in a world dominated by men.
Then there is HBO’s “The Wire,” which Mr. Obama has repeatedly called one of the “greatest shows of all time.” The drama depicted the poverty-stricken projects in Baltimore and documented the drug war between worn-out cops and the city’s African-American residents. (The president’s favorite character: Omar Little, the stickup man who robs the drug dealers.)