Assorted Links (1/26/2011)

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

My State of the Union Address

“President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and gave his report on the state of the union last night. Here’s mine: We’re in deep trouble.”

If We Win the Future, Who Loses?

“Or does that question even make sense? The State of the Union Address was predicated on the notion that The Future is something that can be won or lost, and if we as Americans are not diligent about doing what it takes to Win, someone else will. ”Winning the future” is an idea that doesn’t really make sense.”

Fazzari on Keynesian stimulus

“The latest EconTalk is a conversation with Steve Fazzari on the economics of government spending to improve the economy. We talk about the intuition of the Keynesian argument on behalf of government spending and whether it’s possible to evaluate whether it made things better or worse.”

Uncertainty Continues To Depress Jobs

“President Obama, in his State of the Union address, promised to focus on job-creation this year. But robust new hiring is unlikely when so much uncertainty — created by the same White House now promising jobs — hangs over the economy.”

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt… — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“If lawmakers are going to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling, they should do it only in exchange for a change in the country’s direction.”

Too Moderately Moderate

“The main flaw that has dogged Obama’s progressive thinking from the outset is that on domestic issues, he believes that the appropriate path toward prosperity is a combination of new regulation with larger government spending.  Slimming down government through deregulation is a distant third on his agenda.”

Risk, Uncertainty, and Rule of Law

This article provides an excellent explanation of risk versus uncertainty (relying upon Frank Knight’s seminal book (published on 1921) on this topic), and explains well the Austrian economics concept of “regime uncertainty” (see also

Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices

“The postal service is reviewing more than half of the nation’s post offices, which are operating at a deficit, and lobbying Congress to allow it to change a law so it can close the most unprofitable.”

Paul Samuelson’s Secret

David Warsh provides a fascinating narrative concerning the late MIT economist and Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson’s involvement in one of the earliest and most influential hedge funds ever, Commodities Corp.  Along the way, Mr. Warsh also manages to provide a rich conceptual framework and intellectual history for understanding how important developments in finance theory which were largely pioneered by the likes of Professors Samuelson and Fama (e.g., the notion that financial markets are informationally efficient which in turn implies that stock prices follow a random walk) have influenced the evolution over time of financial markets and institutions.  Mr. Warsh also liberally references a recently published book by Sebastian Mallaby entitled “More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite”, which he refers to as a “…very interesting book about the origins and recent history of the hedge fund industry”.  I think I’ll buy a copy!

Journal of Universal Rejection

“The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected.”

Number of the Week: Americans Dipping Into Savings

“Over the two years ending September 2010, Americans withdrew a net $311 billion — or about 1.4% of their disposable income — from their savings and investment accounts.”

Review & Outlook: Amber Waves of Ethanol

“Four of every 10 rows of U.S. corn now go for fuel, not food.”

Generation ‘Y Me?

“Michael Casey Jr. writes in The Wall Street Journal that demographic changes here and abroad mean young Americans face a bleaker investment future than their parents did.”

The Weekend Interview with Walter Williams: The State Against Blacks

“In The Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley interviews economist Walter Williams, who says that ‘The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do. . . . And that is to destroy the black family.’”

George F. Will – Hubris heading for a fall

“This is the vicious cycle of government that should worry Larry Summers.”

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