Assorted Links (6/29/2010)

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

Allan Meltzer: Why Obamanomics Has Failed – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Carnegie Mellon University economist Allan H. Meltzer says the Obama administration’s policies have introduced uncertainty about future taxes and regulations. This inhibits investment and job growth.”

If You Have to Be Wrong, How Can You Admit It More Easily? – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com

www.nytimes.com

“Making admissions of error easier.”

Cash for Clunkers: A Retrospective

www.american.com

“Top-down industrial policy carried out through the sheer force of incentives is welcomed by behavioralist Washington.”

The Unemployment Insurance Crisis

www.american.com

“As of this summer, unemployment insurance trust funds in 30 states were insolvent.”

Fred Barnes: King of Pork—and Proud of It – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes writes that the late Robert Byrd made the most of his time in the Senate.”

Rupert Darwall: Britain Tries Fiscal Austerity – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Rupert Darwall writes in The Wall Street Journal that Keynesianism goes out of fashion in London.”

Randy Barnett: The Supreme Court’s Gun Showdown – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Randy Barnett writes that thanks to five Justices, the right to keep and bear arms is now protected from state interference. And thanks to Clarence Thomas, an important clause in the Constitution has risen from the grave.”

Bill Wilson’s Gospel – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“The story of Alcoholics Anonymous teaches us about human nature and the kinds of social programs that do and don’t work.”

Congressional Budget Office – Distribution of Federal Taxes

www.cbo.gov

“The federal tax system is progressive–that is, average tax rates generally rise with income. Households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution (with average income of $18,400, under a broad definition of income) paid 4.0 percent of their income in federal taxes. The middle quintile, with average income of $64,500, paid 14.3 percent of that income in taxes, and the highest quintile, with average income of $264,700, paid 25.1 percent.”

Is Academic Freedom Worth Its Price? – Project Syndicate

www.project-syndicate.org

“In these hard economic times, when ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet, there is a nagging sense that universities are luxuries. In fact, universities may be the most consistently high-performing products of long-term capital investment.”

Review & Outlook: Kagan’s Commerce Clause – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal says that Senators should ask Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan if Congress can compel Americans to do anything?”

Drilling for Better Information – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Information Age columnist Gordon Crovitz says that the financial crisis and BP share a common attribute: regulatory failure.”

Fouad Ajami: Petraeus, Obama and the War in Afghanistan – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami says that there is a mismatch between the general’s Afghan mission and the president’s summons to his countrymen.”

Review & Outlook: Triumph of the Regulators – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal says that the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill doubles down on the same system that failed.”

Russ Roberts: Hayek: An Economist’s Comeback – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Russell Roberts of George Mason University comments on the revival of interest in the Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek.”

How Christianity Created Capitalism

www.torenewamerica.com

“It was the church more than any other agency, writes historian Randall Collins, that put in place what Weber called the preconditions of capitalism: the rule of law and a bureaucracy for resolving disputes rationally; a specialized and mobile labor force; the institutional permanence that allows for transgenerational investment and sustained intellectual and physical efforts, together with the accumulation of long-term capital; and a zest for discovery, enterprise, wealth creation, and new undertakings.”

Indiana ironing-board factory faces stiff competition from Chinese companies

www.washingtonpost.com

This article provides an interesting case study which clearly illustrates various dysfunctional aspects of trade protectionism in the real world; in particular, how tariffs shield US companies from having to compete and innovate in terms of the goods and services that they produce and the business models that they employ.

Assorted Links (6/26/2010)

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

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Verizon CEO and Business Roundtable Chairman Ivan Seidenberg on government and the economy.”

The Keynesian Dead End – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal argues that spending our way to prosperity is going out of style.”

Weekend Interview with Jim Flaherty – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Mary Anastasia O’Grady interview Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister and writes in The Wall Street Journal that Canada will lead the charge against new bank taxes and for spending restraint at the G-20 in Toronto.”

Seth Lipsky: Conrad Black and the Criminalization of Business – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Seth Lipsky notes that according to the Supreme Court, the media mogul Conrad Black was convicted on overly vague concepts of corporate fraud concerning the honest services statute.”

A Day of Prayer for the Gulf States

www.torenewamerica.com

“The governors of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi and the lieutenant governor of Florida, have proclaimed this Sunday, June 27 as a Day of Prayer for relief from all the problems related to the oil spill, especially for the people, animal life and economies of the affected states.”

Ensuring That Our Economies Remain Terror-Proof

www.huffingtonpost.com

“The heads of terrorism insurance programs decided to establish — under the aegis of the OECD High Level Advisory Board — a permanent international platform on the financial coverage of terrorism risk.”

Peggy Noonan: McChrystal Forces Us to Focus – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Now General David Petraeus owes us a candid assessment of the Afghan effort, writes Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal.”

Mark Moyar: Petraeus’s Opportunity – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, this selection reassures our Afghan allies that the U.S. will not begin substantial troop reductions until the Afghans can handle the insurgents on their own.”

Pete du Pont: Generation Gap – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Kerry-Lieberman energy bill would enervate America, Pete du Pont argues in The Wall Street Journal.”

Jon Shields: Manute Bol’s Radical Christianity – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, Jon Shields notes that sportswriters love to use the word redemption to describe athletic performances, former NBA player Manute Bol, shoed the true meaning of the word, and literally died for Christianity.”

Terry Anderson: Why It’s Safer to Drill in the ‘Backyard’ – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, PERC executive director Terry Anderson notes that spills on land are much less dangerous and easier to contain than underwater.”

Kim Strassel: Business’s Buyer’s Remorse – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Potomac Watch columnist Kim Strassel reports that the Business Roundtable has finally figured out that the Obama administration has been playing them for a patsy.”

General McChrystal and the Culture of Exposure – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“The firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal shows our troubling emphasis on private over public performance in public officials.”

Marginal Revolution: Not from the Onion: EPA Classifies Milk as Oil

www.marginalrevolution.com

“New Environmental Protection Agency regulations treat spilled milk like oil, requiring farmers to build extra storage tanks and form emergency spill plans.”

Charles Krauthammer – Afghanistan: The 7/11 problem

www.washingtonpost.com

Charles Krauthammer argues, and I agree, that “President Obama was fully justified in dismissing Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The firing offense did not rise to the level of insubordination — this was no MacArthur undermining the commander in chief’s war strategy — but it was a serious enough show of disrespect for the president and for the entire civilian leadership to justify relief from his post.”

Should We Raise Taxes on the Middle Class? We Already Are

www.american.com

“Taxes are already rising to record levels, with or without legislative changes.”

Assorted Links (6/24/2010)

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

Economics for (and by) 10th Graders – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“An economics primer written by 10th graders.”

Bounding the Price Impact of the New Home Buyer Credit

caseymulligan.blogspot.com

“1.6 percent is still less than the housing price increase reported by Case-Shiller over the most recent twelve months. So, even if a 1.6 percent impact were not exaggerated, housing prices would have been stable or increasing over the past year even without the credit.”

Sculpture Made by Bees

www.neatorama.com

“Dutch designer Tomáš Gabzdil Libertiny made a sculpture of Jesus that was completed by bees. He erected a sealed glass container with his mold inside. Libertiny then released 40,000 bees who worked on the honeycombed surface of the mold.”

France Loses; Warren Buffett Wins : NPR

www.npr.org

“Berkshire Hathaway sold an insurance policy that would have paid $30 million if France won the World Cup.”

The Classroom Still Matters – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“Classroom instruction beats the internet in a new paper.”

Drop Argentina from the G-20

www.american.com

“The G-20 heads of state will gather June 26 and 27. One issue that should be on the agenda: Argentina’s unsuitability to remain a G-20 member.”

Arthur Levitt: A Missed Opportunity on Financial Reform – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt asks: How could Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have escaped the Democrats’ attention?”

John Yoo: Democrats and the McChrystal Fiasco – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Yoo says that Democrats during the Bush years egged on military resistance to Bush’s war policies, further increasing distrust between civilian and military leaders.”

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Max Boot writing yesterday in Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog on General Petraeus replacing General McChrystal in Afghanistan.”

American Thinker: Paul Krugman, the Self-Contradicting Economist

www.americanthinker.com

“An argument that questions the credibility of economists in general is that there are a number of disagreements among many economists, and not all of them can be right at the same time. In the case of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, these disagreements come from Krugman himself, as he holds contradictory opinions on a large number of topics.”

Nonsense 4.0 at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas

www.thebigquestions.com

I wholeheartedly agree with Steven Landsburg’s assessment of Anatole Koletsky’s Wall Street Journal essay (see http://bit.ly/9Hjoqg), excerpted from his book Capitalism 4.0. A better title for Koletsky’s tome would be Nonsense 4.0!

How the Unemployed Spent Their Time in 2009 – Freakonomics Blog – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“They weren’t doing the laundry.”

Schumpeter 2.0 — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

www.american.com

“A great thinker’s contribution not only appears in his or her finished works and arguments, but also within the rich intuitions or core ideas that underlie the arguments.”

Unintended consequence of expanding liability…

According to bloomberg.com, “Proposals in Congress to raise U.S. liability costs to $10 billion to drill for oil in the Gulf could leave just three companies — BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc — with the finances to self-insure”.  As I recall, prior to the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, liability for offshore oil drilling was capped at $75 million. Thus, an unintended consequence of expanding liability by a factor of 133 times (from $75 million to $10 billion) would be to make it virtually impossible for the insurance market to insure offshore oil drilling liability, which in turn would ensure that only the very largest companies in the world will have the financial capacity needed in order to be able to continue to pursue deep water drilling as a business activity (because companies such as BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have the resources to self-insure this liability risk!). 

Lenny Bruce quote affirming free enterprise

I love this Lenny Bruce quote:

“Capitalism is the best. It’s free enterprise. Barter. Gimbels, if I get really rank with the clerk, ‘Well I don’t like this’, how I can resolve it? If it really gets ridiculous, I go, ‘Frig it, man, I walk.’ What can this guy do at Gimbels, even if he was the president of Gimbels? He can always reject me from that store, but I can always go to Macy’s. He can’t really hurt me. Communism is like one big phone company. Government control, man. And if I get too rank with that phone company, where can I go? I’ll end up like a schmuck with a dixie cup on a thread.”

Assorted Links (6/23/2010)

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

Jenkins: Blowouts Will Not Always Be Prevented – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Business World columnist Holman Jenkins says Americans are curiously unwilling to acknowledge known risks.”

A Moratorium, Drilled – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal writes on a federal judge’s decision to block the Obama Administration’s ban on deepwater drilling.”

Robert C. Pozen: $100,000 is Plenty for Deposit Insurance – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Robert C. Pozen writes that raising the cap will enhance the ability of weak banks to expand their deposit base and cause trouble for the FDIC.”

BP Spill May Be Less Than Doomsayers Think: Tadeusz W. Patzek – BusinessWeek

www.businessweek.com

“Two months have passed since the blowout of the BP Plc exploratory Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Much more is now known about a string of fateful decisions taken in the course of drilling this well.”

The Runaway General | Rolling Stone Politics

www.rollingstone.com

“Here’s the link to the controversial Rolling Stone article that is making lots of news today!”

Op-Ed Columnist – Faustus Makes a Deal – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“From the confluence of recent events, one might think the Democrats had made a deal with the Devil — and still managed to lose.”

Le Monde on The Brink | Monday Note

www.mondaynote.com

Hat tip to Tyler Cowen for the pointer to this article. Of particular interest is the following excerpt: “In France, firing a printing plant employee is hugely expensive. The gent is paid €50,000 per year, works 32 hours per week and 164 days per year. Firing him costs about €466,000 – that’s a French government estimate…”

The Gulf Spill and Compensation for Disaster Victims | Psychology Today

www.psychologytoday.com

“When man-made or natural disasters strike, do the victims deserve compensation? Most people assume the answer is yes, but the case for compensation is not always clear.”

Faith, Doubt, and U.S. Foreign Policy — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

www.american.com

“To the degree that Obama believes in promoting democracy, his efforts will flounder if they continue to lack moral realism: a deep sense of religion’s corruptibility.”

Financial Reform Is Disaster For Banks, Consumers: Bove – CNBC

www.cnbc.com

“New financial services regulations will be so disastrous that Congress will need to repeal them to undo the damage they will cause, banking analyst Dick Bove said Monday.”

Paul H. Rubin: A Tale of Two Disasters – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In the Wall Street Journal, Paul Rubin writes that former President Bush was blamed for local failures after Katrina. Meanwhile, President Obama got a free ride for weeks as federal failures mounted during the Gulf spill.”

William McGurn: Obama Should Publicly Criticize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the Oval Office – WS

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, William McGurn says the president needs to call attention to the role of Fannie and Freddie in the housing bust and the financial crisis.”

Bret Stephens: The Man Who Would Be King – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens explains what Rudyard Kipling tells us about Barack Obama.”

Oil in the Gulf, two months later – The Big Picture – Boston.com

www.boston.com

“62 days have passed since the initial explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the crude oil and natural gas continue to gush from the seafloor.”

Op-Ed Columnist – Trim the ‘Experts,’ Trust the Locals – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“The chaotic organization of the federal oil spill cleanup effort highlights the need for increased local control.”

ObamaCare and the Independent Vote – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In the Wall Street Journal, David Brady, Daniel Kessler and Douglas Rivers write that independents opposed to ObamaCare could swing the November election.”

Think Globally, Sue Locally – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Drimmer writes that plaintiffs lawyers mount PR campaigns against corporations to trash their image and extort a settlement.”

Review & Outlook: The ‘Paralyzing Principle’ – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The Wall Street Journal says in an editorial that the Gulf oil spill is reviving a discredited environmental theory known as the precautionary principle.”

Assorted Links (6/20/2010)

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

The Benefits of the Financial Crisis – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In an excerpt from Capitalism 4.0, Anatole Kaletsky says the financial crisis is leading to a new model of capitalism.”

The Case for Having More Kids – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Social science says kids drain their parents’ happiness, but good parenting is less work and more fun than people think. Economist Bryan Caplan makes the case for having more children.”

CNBC’s Nesto Accuses Obama of Creating ‘His Own Sense of a Legal System’ – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Reporter insists legal framework already in place to resolve oil spill claims, asks why White House has ‘a gun to the head’ of BP.”

Obamacare and its Impact on Doctors – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Congress needs to start over with health-care reform and get it right.” 

Suspect Estimates of Sex Trafficking at the World Cup – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Evidence to support an estimate suggesting that 40,000 sex workers could be trafficked into South Africa during the World Cup is scant, say researchers, and the real number is likely far smaller.”

Alan Greenspan: U.S. Debt and the Greece Analogy – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says that we shouldn’t be fooled by today’s low interest rates. The government could very quickly discover the limits of its borrowing capacity.”

Ethnic attacks in Kyrgyzstan – The Big Picture – Boston.com

boston.com

“Beginning one week ago, thousands of young Kyrgyz men rampaged through parts of southern Kyrgyzstan with weapons and torches, attacking ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods, burning homes and stores, and, according to reports, beating, raping and killing Uzbek residents. … ”

Op-Ed Columnist – Trim the ‘Experts,’ Trust the Locals – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“The chaotic organization of the federal oil spill cleanup effort highlights the need for increased local control.”

Charles Krauthammer – Obama and the vision thing

www.washingtonpost.com

“Obama is world-historical, the visionary, come to make oceans recede and the planet heal.”

Battle For The House Is This Close | The New Republic

www.tnr.com  

“If we project the 1994 loss probabilities onto the 2010 distribution of Democratic seats in terms of party strength and incumbency status, we would expect Democrats to lose 42 of their current seats in November. Since Democrats are given a good chance of picking up at least three current Republican seats (one each in …Hawaii and Louisiana and the at-large seat in Delaware), we would expect a net loss of 39 House seats, leaving Republicans with the narrowest possible majority: 218 seats to 217 for the Democrats.”

Pizza, Long-Distance Calls, and the End of Free Checking – Business – The Atlantic

www.theatlantic.com

“As a child of the 1980s, I have never paid for a bank account…”

Spending Binge, Part Deux – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Stephen Moore writes in The Wall Street Journal that fiscal schizophrenia reigns in the White House.”

Predicting the Financial Crisis: A Q&A With Fault Lines Author Raghuram Rajan – Freakonomics Blog -.

www.nytimes.com

“Rajan on the crisis.”

Home Ownership in the U.S.: Rethinking Big Part of the American Dream – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“The American approach to home ownership and mortgages needs to be reconsidered, as the dream of owning a home turns into a nightmare of debt and foreclosure for many.”

Environmentalists as Battered Spouses — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

www.american.com

“Greens keep returning to their abuser after another promise to do good, but nothing in President Obama’s oil spill speech should offer them any hope that the administration is really going to change.”

Assorted Links (6/16/2010)

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

Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell: The United States of Throw the Bums Out – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In the Wall Street Journal, Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell write that the best thing Republicans have going for them among voters is that they’re not Democrats.”

Daniel Henninger: The President’s Animosities – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger says that BP isn’t the only business President Obama has been beating up on.”

Map: Where Americans Are Moving – Forbes.com

www.forbes.com

“More than 10 million Americans moved from one county to another during 2008. The map below visualizes those moves. Click on any county to see comings and goings: black lines indicate net inward movement, red lines net outward movement.”

‘I Will Not Settle for Inaction’ – WSJ.com

online.wsj.com

“Is Obama really doing everything in his power to fight the spill?”

How Much Will BP Really Pay? – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com

nytimes.com

“How does the public ensure that it doesn’t end up paying for costs of the spill 20 or 30 years out?


European flooding – The Big Picture – Boston.com


boston.com


“Over the past month, heavy rainfall from different storms across parts of Europe has caused massive amounts of flooding – some water moving slowly across river plains and farmland, some moving swiftly through cities and villages.”


Oil Talk – WSJ.com


online.wsj.com


“The Wall Street Journal writes that President Obama is trying to link the Gulf gusher to his moribund green agenda.”


Oil spill crisis as opportunity|KeithHennessey.com


KeithHennessey.com


“The President’s Oval Office address last night suggests an implementation of this principle, as he tries to reconfigure the climate change / cap-and-trade debate into a new War on Fossil Fuels.”


The Economics of Libertarianism, Revealed – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com


nytimes.com


“When government action is required, libertarian solutions can be hard to discern clearly, an economist writes.”


Migration: Texas, here we come | The Economist


Economist.com


“IN THE ten years I’ve lived in New York I forgot how to drive. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time in Austin, Texas. Enough so that I’ve had to start driving again. When you go many years without driving, it becomes terrifying.”


Burying the Incumbent Protection Racket — The American, A Magazine of Ideas


american.com


“Although only 14 percent of the public approves of Congress, in an ordinary year 95 percent of all incumbents are re-elected. How is this possible?”


Richard A. Epstein: BP Doesn’t Deserve a Liability Cap – WSJ.com


online.wsj.com


“Richard Epstein writes in The Wall Street Journal that solid insurance underwriting is likely to do a better job in pricing risk than any program of direct government oversight.”


Creating the Next Crisis – Project Syndicate


project-syndicate.org


“With the Obama administration rejecting what it once supported – the breakup of megabanks that are too big to fail – we are setting ourselves up for another boom based on excessive and reckless risk-taking at the heart of the world’s financial system. This can end only one way: badly.”


Why Relaxing Is Hard Work – WSJ.com


online.wsj.com


“Some people are so addicted to the adrenaline rush of stress that they gravitate to high-pressure jobs, take on too much or leave projects to the last minute.Put them on a beach for a week, and it’s no wonder they can’t relax.”


Op-Ed Columnist – The Larger Struggle – NYTimes.com


nytimes.com


“A rivalry is growing between democratic capitalist and state capitalist systems.”