Assorted Links (4/30/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Peggy Noonan: The Big Alienation –

“Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal on uncontrolled borders and Washington’s lack of self-control.”

Matthew Kaminski: Europe’s Other Crisis –

“Matthew Kaminski writes in The Wall Street Journal that the bailout of Greece threatens the very integrity of the European Union and the euro zone.”

‘Racially Resentful’ –

“James Taranto dissects the latest bogus tea-party poll.”

Grace-Marie Turner: States Face Their First ObamaCare Test –

“Grace-Marie Turner asks in The Wall Street Journal whether states should they join the new high-risk, high-cost federal insurance pools.”

Mathematicians Offer Take on Luck, Superstition – The Numbers Guy – WSJ

“While there is some evidence that a belief in superstition can be beneficial, many mathematicians are sticking with rationality.”

Daniel Henninger: Smart Aleck-in-Chief? –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger explores the reason why President Obama is going negative and why it may wreck his presidency.”

Randy E. Barnett: The Insurance Mandate in Peril –

“Randy E. Barnett writes in The Wall Street Journal that Congress called the health insurance mandate a commerce regulation, but is now calling it a tax. Neither claim will survive Supreme Court scrutiny.”

Betting on Future Movie Receipts: Beware the Hollywood Lemons – Knowledge@Wharton

“In another of his personal finance columns, Wharton professor of insurance and risk management Kent Smetters looks at the pros and cons of investing in a new futures exchange — approved last week by the U.S.”

The Deficit: Nine Myths We Can’t Afford

“Has the federal government run out of money? Will we have to slash Social Security? The time has come to examine our fundamental assumptions about government deficits and debt.”

Garven’s cynical comment: Apparently money does grow on trees after all. I am very relieved to learn this!

Dodd Wins the Vampire Squid Caucus – Kevin D. Williamson – The Corner on National Review Online


“Need more evidence that the Democrats’ financial-reform bill should be stopped? Goldman Sachs is supporting the bill. So is Citi. Translation: The foxes love this henhouse-security program.”

Q&A: Is Insider Trading Beneficial? – Fama/French Forum

“Some economists argue that prohibiting insider trading does more harm than good by reducing the flow of useful information. Do you agree?”

Ninth Circuit and Wal-Mart –

“The Wall Street Journal writes that a appellate court decision against Wal-Mart sets a new standard for certifying class action lawsuits.”

Holman Jenkins: Is Financial Innovation the Enemy? –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Holman Jenkins writes that hedging against risk is hardly evidence of misbehavior.”

The Deflation Club — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“Declining inflation, veering into outright price declines (or deflation) in some countries, continues to be a major risk to the global economy.”

William McGurn: In Post-Obama Illinois, Hope and Change –

“William McGurn writes in The Wall Street Journal about an Illinois school voucher bill that’s getting surprising, bipartisan support.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: ‘South Park’ and the Informal Fatwa –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes that we should take the veiled threats against South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker very seriously.”

Bret Stephens: Peace Processes Never Work –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens writes that wicked men are the only winners in this game of self-congratulation and deceit.”

Book review: Power Hungry –

“Trevor Butterworth reviews Robert Bryce’s Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.”

Yushu Earthquake, 12 days later – The Big Picture –

“Wednesday, April 21st was a national day of mourning in China, for victims of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck remote Yushu County on April 14th, 2010 with over 2,200 confirmed dead and many thousands injured or homeless.”

ObamaCare Mulligan: Readying Price Controls for Insurance –

“The Wall Street writes about what it calls the ObamaCare Mulligan, in which the Administration is already readying price controls for the lower insurance costs they it promised.”

Peter J. Wallison: Taxpayers and the Dodd Bill –

“Peter Wallison writes in The Wall Street Journal that the FDIC could borrow vast sums to bail out failing banks and their creditors.”

Mary O’Grady: Ortega Tries to Join the Axis of Evil –

“In The Wall Street Journal, America’s columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady reports on the attempt by Nicaragua’s President, Daniel Ortega, to ignore the constitution and assure his re-election.”

The Misguided Attack on Derivatives –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz says that short sales like the one Goldman Sachs and John Paulson participated in provide an important function, that of warning markets that asset values reflect a bubble about to burst.”

Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins: How Could the Fort Hood Massacre Happen? –

“Writing in The Wall Street Journal Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins say administration continues to withhold crucial information from Congress on how the Fort Hood massacre happened.”

Assorted Links (4/25/2010)

Number of the Week: 103 Months to Clear Housing Inventory – Real Time Economics – WSJ

“103: The number of months it would take to sell off all the foreclosed homes in banks possession, plus all the homes likely to end up there over the next couple years, at the current rate of sales.” – Administration Defends Health Law Despite Medicare Report Hiking Nation’s Tab

“The Obama administration on Friday defended the new health insurance law after a report from its own Medicare services agency showed the provisions will increase the nation’s health care tab over the next 10 years instead of bringing costs down.”


The Weekend Interview with Paul Kagame: A Supply-Sider in East Africa –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Anne Jolis interviews Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who is also the man who ended the country’s genocide in 1994. Unlike so many African leaders, he doesn’t want foreign aid, but investment and free trade.”

Austin’s Cathedral of Junk Attracts Tourists to Artist’s Backyard, Neighbors Are Bummed –

“After a safety complaint last month, the city issued a notice advising Vince Hannemann that his creation is in violation of city code. It told him to obtain building permits or potentially face demolition of the cathedral.”

The Equal Pay Day Reality Check — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“The claim that American women as a group face systemic wage discrimination is groundless.”

Yes, It’s a Bailout Bill — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“Market participants will understand that the Senate financial regulation bill allows for bailouts, and this will give rise to riskier behavior that in turn makes future bailouts more likely.”

MVMA Fest 2010 at Vizcaino Park (Marfa, Tx)
My awesome son Erik and his awesome band Auroravore (see will be featured at this concert!

Op-Ed Columnist – The Government War –

“The stale, old debate of big government on the left versus small government on the right is back with a vengeance.”

Apple’s iPad Struggles at Some Colleges –

“Apple’s iPad isn’t having an easy time during college admissions season, as the tablet encounters problems at some major universities due to network issues.”

Ted Forstmann and Niall Ferguson: Financial Regulatory Reform Needs to be Simplified –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ted Forstmann and Niall Ferguson say the case for limiting leverage and regulating derivatives is overwhelming, but that doesn’t require a new 1,300-page law.”

Financial Reform’s ‘Public Option’ – Regulating Wall Street

“How President Obama’s consumer-protection plan threatens his plan to rein in Wall Street excess.”


Assorted Links (4/22/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

The NFL Draft Drives Economists Crazy –

“With its fixed costs and hard-to-judge talent, the NFL Draft is a mess. Now some economists think they have a better way–a type of auction that uses an academic-research area known as market design.”

On Presidential Rhetoric –

“More than any President in memory, Mr. Obama has a tendency to vilify his opponents in personal terms and assail their arguments as dishonest, illegitimate or motivated by bad faith… Politics ain’t beanbag, but most Presidents leave this kind of political attack to surrogates or Vice Presidents. Mr. Obama seems to enjoy being his own Spiro Agnew. A President may reap a short-term legislative gain from this kind of rhetoric, but he also pays a longer-term price in ill-will and needless polarization.”

An Important Human Right – Freakonomics Blog –

“Europe declares vacations a human right.”

Paul H. Rubin: Environmentalism as Religion –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Paul Rubin writes that Greens have a holy day, food taboos and sacrificial rituals. They proselytize too.”

Daniel Henninger: Democrats at the Edge of the Cliff –

“Daniel Henninger writes in The Wall Street Journal that Democrats are spending trillions at the worst possible moment, with a new poll showing public trust in government at a historic low of 22%.”

Book review: Bonhoeffer –

“Joseph Loconte reviews Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.”

Will the VAT Lady Sing? –

“If so, it’s over for America, writes Pete du Pont.”

How should we define Too Big to Fail?|

“I’d like to propose some structure to the policy debate around the Too Big to Fail (TBTF) concept. This arises mostly from my frustration with both the debate among policymakers and the press coverage of that debate. Many people seem to be talking past each other.”

Those Meant to Benefit From Health Law Still Face Hurdles –

“Under the new health care act, some people with low incomes might face penalties if they don’t buy health insurance.”

This New York Times article provides a case study concerning how the abolition of medical underwriting coupled with poor enforcement of the individual mandate will likely result in substantial adverse selection and correspondingly higher health insurance costs throughout the system.

Senate Bill Sets a Plan to Regulate Premiums –

“Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats Tuesday laid a foundation for federal regulation of rates.”

Scenes from Sudan – The Big Picture –

“Residents of the African nation of Sudan recently cast votes in the first national election in over 20 years. Official results are still forthcoming, but early indications show that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is set to win a landslide victory.”

Assorted Links (4/21/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Have You Accidentally Sold Your Soul Lately? – Freakonomics Blog –

“An online retailer adds an interesting clause to its contracts.”

 Q&A: Semi-Variance: A Better Risk Measure? – Fama/French Forum

“Is semi-variance a more useful measure of downside risk than standard deviation?”

Don’t Fear the Invisible Tax – Economix Blog –

“Despite the criticism of the value-added taxes Government spending is no lower in countries with more visible taxes.”

Holman Jenkins: The War on Shorts –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins says the SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is part of a long campaign by the federal agency against short sellers. It is also a convenient way of deflecting attention from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role in the housing bubble.”

The Violence Card –

“The Wall Street Journal writes that Bill Clinton plays politics with Oklahoma bomber Tim McVeigh.”

Op-Ed Columnist – Riders on the Storm –

“The growing belief that the Internet has led to an increasingly fragmented and polarized media market may be contradicted by new research.”

The English Patient

“A 64 year old breast cancer survivor suffering severe back pain is told she’ll have to wait five months for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon through the National Health Service (NHS). She therefore (and perfectly legally) chooses to pay 250 pounds (about 385 dollars) for a private appointment. He puts her on …a waiting list for surgery to remove a cyst from her spine, surgery which is routinely covered by the NHS. But the NHS decides that since she can afford 250 pounds for a private appointment, she can also afford 10,000 pounds (over 15,000 dollars) for private surgery. They therefore deny to provide her the surgery for which she’s been paying taxes her whole life.”

Campaign For Liberty — A Strong Majority Wants to Repeal ObamaCare

“Support for repeal of the recently-passed national health care plan is proving to be just as consistent as opposition to the plan before it was passed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of likely voters nationwide favor repeal, while 41% are opposed. Those figures include 48% who Strongly Favor repeal and 29% who Strongly Oppose it. Over the past four weeks, support for repeal has remained in a very narrow range from a low of 54% to a high of 58%. Forty percent (40%) now believe repeal is at least somewhat likely, up two points from a week ago. Forty-nine percent (49%) say it’s not likely. This includes just 15% who see repeal as Very Likely and 12% who say it’s Not at All Likely.”

Assorted Links (4/19/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Clunkers for Caulkers –

The Wall Street Journal writes that cash for caulkers is another opportunity to game Uncle Sam’s energy subsidies.


The Toxic VAT –

The Wall Street Journal writes that the Senate votes against the VAT, 85-13.


This Is Apple’s Next iPhone – Iphone 4 – Gizmodo

You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.


More from Eyjafjallajokull – The Big Picture –

As ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano continued to keep European airspace shut down over the weekend, affecting millions of travelers around the world, some government agencies and airlines clashed over the flight bans. …


Andrew Kohut: Americans Are More Skeptical of Washington Than Ever –

In The Wall Street Journal, the Pew Research Center president, Andrew Kohut, notes that significantly more people now favor a smaller government with fewer services since Barack Obama took office.

T.H. Breen: Americans Should Celebrate April 19 as Our Independence Day –

In The Wall Street Journal, Northwestern University historian T. H. Breen writes that for ordinary Americans, the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, meant that the rupture with Great Britain was irrevocable.


Supply and Demand (in that order): Cartoon About Work Incentives

The basic tools of supply and demand help immensely to understand and predict everyday events in our world. These days, many of those events are related to the financial crisis — or the Panic of 2008 as I call it. …


On Leadership Panelists: High-risk, low-probability: Why leaders must envision and prepare for futur

The art of leadership includes preparing for the unexpected. In an unpredictable world, that’s more valuable than ever.


The following study documents, among other things, that the top 1 percent of income earners will pay an additional $50,000 per year in taxes because of this legislation, whereas the average net benefit to income earners in the bottom half of the distribution will be about $1000 per year.

The Tax Foundation – Health Care Reform: How Much Does It Redistribute Income?

The health care bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama is arguably the most significant piece of domestic policy legislation since the 1960s. The law will transform the financing of U.S. …


How Is the Stimulus Money Allocated? – Veronique de Rugy – The Corner on National Review Online



Will the Icelandic Volcano Cool off the Planet? – Freakonomics Blog –

Probably not – it’s just not that big of an eruption.


Spending, Not Tax Cuts, Is the Real Driver of the Fiscal Mess — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

It’s hard to argue that our looming budget problems derive from ‘too little taxes’ when by any historical standard taxes will rise to record levels even before the fiscal gap is addressed.


Why do so many Americans pay no income taxes?|

Today many are discussing how many Americans do not owe income taxes. The traditional debate splits along partisan lines. Many Republicans and conservatives argue it is both unfair and politically dangerous …


EDITORIAL: Cheaper insurance for celebrities – Washington Times

Joe Sixpack shouldn’t have to pay for Rosie O’Donnell’s home insurance. Yet as crazy as it sounds, the House Financial Services Committee next week is expected to consider lending a helping hand to the owners of some of the most exclusive properties in the country. …


‘The First White Farmer Had Been Murdered’ — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

An eyewitness account of the Zimbabwean civilization’s collapse.

News: Who Really Failed? – Inside Higher Ed

Louisiana State U. removes a tough grader from her course mid-semester, and raises the grades of her students. Faculty leaders see a betrayal of values and due process.


Defaults Rise in Federal Loan Modification Program –

Defaults nearly doubled in March, continuing a troubling trend that threatens to undermine the federal program.


Grace-Marie Turner: Obamacare will make every day feel like April 15th | Washington Examiner

New taxes on investments, taxes on medical supplies, taxes on drugs and health insurance, and taxes on you if you are just breathing… the list of taxes Americans will face just got a lot longer thanks to ObamaCare.

Journeys to the International Space Station – The Big Picture –

April 12th marked the 49th anniversary of human spaceflight, when Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth in 1961. At this moment, 13 humans are currently in low-Earth orbit, aboard the International Space Station. …


Q&A: Does Gold Belong in My Portfolio? – Fama/French Forum

Based on spot price data from January 1970 through February 2010, the average return on gold bullion was almost exactly the same as the S&P 500 at 88 basis points per month. Volatility was significantly …


Taxation: Tax the rich, and the rest | The Economist

Today’s Parade Magazine (with a circulation of 32 million) includes its “Annual Salary Survey.” What this means is that the magazine presents about a hundred photos of various people with their names, occupations, and annual earnings. …


The Upside of an Impenetrable Tax Code – Economix Blog –

It keeps people attuned to and angry about how much money their government is spending, an economist writes.


Pension crises: Debt bomb | The Economist

CALL me a fiscal conservative, but mounting federal and state debt scares the heck out of me. At the Kauffman economics bloggers forum, many participants claimed that they expect a sovereign debt crisis in America in the next few decades. …

Assorted Links (4/13/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately (organized by topic):



“The size of the gender pay gap depends on how you calculate it.”


“Earlier I displayed some data on output and factor usage in the manufacturing and home construction industries. Those were clearly cases of lack of demand: people wanted to buy less of those items, so suppliers produced less of them and used less capital and labor in the process.”

Financial Crisis


Interesting article about the corrosive effect that the de facto bailout of states through “stimulus” is having upon our country!    

Health Care Reform


“Now that the year-long debate in Congress over health care legislation has come to a close, it’s reasonable to ask: What’s next?”

Foreign Policy


“Bret Stephens writes in The Wall Street Journal about denial of the Katyn massacre.”




“TED Talks Photographs do more than document history — they make it. At TED University, Jonathan Klein of Getty Images shows some of the most iconic, and talks about what happens when a generation sees an image so powerful it can’t look away — or back.”

Public Policy


Casey Mulligan surveys the literature on the effect of extended unemployment benefits on the unemployment rate. The findings are universal – other things equal, extended unemployment benefits result in higher levels of unemployment. As Larry Summers, who is President Obama’s top economic advisor wrote in his chapter on “Unemployment” in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics several years ago, “The second way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. Each unemployed person has a ‘reservation wage’—the minimum wage he or she insists on getting before accepting a job. Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs increase [the] reservation wage, causing an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer.”    


“Allysia Finley writes in The Wall Street Journal that a New Jersey teacher’s union prays for Chris Christie’s death.”




“In The Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise president Arthur Brooks reports that surveys show Americans think taxes area already too high, even for the rich.”


“April is here, which means it’s almost time to pony up and render unto Caesar. We’ve gathered our receipts and other documents, and dragged ourselves to the strip-mall tax preparer or fired up do-it-yourself software to determine how big our refund is — or how much we owe Uncle Sam.”

Assorted Links (4/9/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately (organized by topic):



“Andrew Manshel writes in The Wall Street Journal that elite colleges have an elaborate system for deciding how much money they can squeeze out of desperate parents, and surprising ways of spending it.”



“Economic theory suggests that marginal product of capital series might help predict economic growth forward one or two years, even under abnormal conditions such as wartime or depression. In some situations, …”


Foreign Policy


“Fouad Ajami writes in The Wall Street Journal that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s anti-American shift is a statement about the standing of the Obama administration in the region.”


Does anyone really believe that our moral example will move other countries?


Financial Crisis and Public Policy


“How did Texas manage to avoid the housing bubble?” This looks like a good thesis topic to me!


“The men behind the TARP bailout talk in impenetrable jargon, writes Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal.”