Assorted Links (8/31/2011)

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

Review & Outlook: Krueger vs. Obama

I love it whenever empirical academic studies find evidence in support of common sense; this article notes that Princeton economics professor Alan Krueger’s labor economics research indicates, among other things, that “…paying people not to work increases the incentive not to work and thus tends to encourage longer periods of joblessness.” Professor Krueger is the incoming Chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.  One can only hope that President Obama might take Dr. Krueger’s scholarly insights into consideration as he contemplates re-upping 99 week unemployment insurance benefits…

Mike Bloomberg and the End of Tolerance

“William McGurn writes in The Wall Street Journal on liberal intolerance and why New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no room for religious leaders on 9/11.”

65% of All Adults Use Social Media

“Only 5% of all adults used Social Media in 2005 when Pew Research first asked, and as ofAugust 2011 Pew now reports more than 65% of all adults use Social Media…”

Beware conflicts of interest

“TED Talks In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal stories that explore scientific conflict of interest: How the pursuit of knowledge and insight can be affected, consciously or not, by shortsighted personal goals.”

Beyond the Gold and Bond Bubbles

“In The Wall Street Journal, David Malpass asks why the Federal Reserve isn’t promoting sound money and fiscal restraint to improve incentives to invest in growing businesses.”

Steve Jobs and the Death of the Personal Computer

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Malone writes that after the revolution wrought by the Apple impresario who resigned last week, even Hewlett-Packard is out of the game.”

Justice’s New War Against Lenders

“Mary Kissel writes in The Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration is repeating mistakes of the past by intimidating banks into lending to minority borrowers at below-market rates, all in the name of combatting discrimination.”

Bank of Political Works

“The Wall Street Journal on a Fannie Mae for ‘infrastructure.’”

Krueger and the Minimum Wage

“Since President Obama has chosen Alan Krueger as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, attention is focusing on his academic career. Jonathan Chait for instance highlights one of his seminal papers written with David Card, which argued that hiking the minimum wage did not lower employment…”

Alternative Energy: The Bloom Box – 60 Minutes

“Large corporations in California have been testing a new device that can generate power on the spot, without being connected to the electric grid. They’re saying it’s efficient, clean, and saves them money.”

John Steele Gordon: A Short Primer on the National Debt

“Writing about the national debt in The Wall Street Journal, John Steel Gordon says that with a return to 1990s growth rates, the debt-to-GDP ratio could drop to 56.7%, about where it was in 2000.”

Assorted Links (8/27/2011)

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

Five Myths About Social Security and Medicare

“The federal government’s largest two programs, Social Security and Medicare, are at the center of a vibrant national debate over our fiscal future. Each program faces a significant financial shortfall, the solution to which remains elusive.”

iowahawk: New Scandal at DoJ as Illegal Guitars End Up In Hands of Mexican Drug Lords

“Say ‘ello to my leetle fren’: axe confiscated in border rawk-out WASHINGTON – Today’s uncovering of secret multi-agency program for shipping illegal Gibson guitars to Mexican drug cartels left red-faced officials of the U.S. Department of Justice scrambling…”

Perry’s Popping-Off Problem

“In The Wall Street Journal, Declarations columnist Peggy Noonan says GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry has appeal as a consistent leader but a quick-draw machismo that can scare voters away.”

How We Got the King James Bible

“In The Wall Street Journal, Leland Ryken of Wheaton University notes that a request by persecuted Puritans led to the creation of the best-selling book of all time.”

Fiscal Hurricane Season

“The Wall Street Journal writes that Florida’s state-run insurers can’t cover their liabilities, and all Americans may end up paying as a result.”

President Rick Perry?

“The rise of the Republican presidential candidate reflects fundamental shifts in the electorate, and it’s time to take him seriously.”

The Importance of Jobs

“The Wall Street Journal on Apple’s former CEO, Say’s Law, and the sources of prosperity.”

The Fed vs. the Recovery

“How is increasing the price of imported oil and industrial commodities supposed to make U.S. industry more competitive?”

Why the Labor Movement Moved Left

“In The Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Institute fellow Steven Malanga says that unions weren’t so uniformly behind tax increases when most of their members worked for companies in the private economy.”

Assorted Links (8/25/2011)

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

Religion and the Bad News Bearers

“In The Wall Street Journal, Rodney Stark and Byron Johnson of Baylor University say that the widely reported declines in religiosity are utterly implausible.”

How Steve Jobs Changed The World

“In The Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler says that Steve Jobs’s attention to aesthetic design helped vault Apple to the top of the technology industry.”

What Austerity?

“The Wall Street Journal writes that federal spending will hit a new record this year.”

Business Regulation vs. Growth—The View from Middle America

“In The Wall Street Journal, Warren Stephens says that CEOs of midsize companies feel held back by growing regulatory burdens.”

Obama and the ‘Competency Crisis’

“In The Wall Street Journal, Mortimer Zuckerman writes that like many Americans who supported him, I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country.”

Krugman Stimulus

“I have not found time to comment on the Onionesque argument by Paul Krugman (scroll down) that if we could only get people to believe that the world was about to be invaded by aliens from outer space, the spending.”

A Value-Added Tax Fuels Big Government

“In The Wall Street Journal, Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins write that in Europe the VAT hasn’t substituted for income taxation—it’s merely added to the tax burden.”

Keynesian Economics vs. Regular Economics

“Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Robert Barro says food stamps and other transfers aren’t necessarily bad ideas, but there’s no evidence they’re a stimulus for growth.”

Unready Shovels II

“President Obama is ginning up a marketing push for new infrastructure spending, but the same factors preventing earlier projects from being ‘shovel-ready’ remain.”

How Democrats Hurt Job Creation

“At a time when nothing matters more than job creation, the case between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board over the assembly of the Dreamliner is doing the opposite.”

The Post Office: Neither snow nor rain

“Not heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers. But the internet will…”

How Not to Grow an Economy

“The Wall Street Journal reports on a week of policies and headlines that illustrate how the federal government and Obama Administration are undermining the recovery.”

A Thrilling Spectacle in Tripoli

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami writes that four decades of Libya’s life were squandered by the Gadhafi regime—surely the successor can do better.”

Did health law’s added burdens bring about economic doldrums?


“Why did the recovery stall? President Barack Obama recently chalked it up to “bad luck.” Even in more searching discussions of why the economy remains flat, politicians and economists largely ignore the elephant in the room…”

Assorted Links (8/20/2011)

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

Last Straw or Time to Buy?

“For many individual investors, the 419.63-point selloff by the Dow was a tipping point—many of them are finally throwing in the towel.”

Paul Krugman Is Still Wrong about Texas

“Kevin D. Williamson writes on NRO: Paul Krugman continues his campaign to discredit the economic success of Texas, and, as usual, he is none too particular about the facts.”

RealClearMarkets – Obama’s Jobs Policies Will Reduce Job Opportunities

“The White House announced that President Obama will deliver a major address on job creation early in September. Mr. Obama could address proposed Labor Department regulations that would hobble employers with paperwork, reducing hiring.”

Henninger: America’s Dog Days –

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Wonder Land column, Daniel Henninger writes that the deeper some people get into politics, the more antipolitical it makes them.”

Report: State’s drought losses top $5 billion

“The Texas drought, lasting since fall 2010, has cost $5.2 billion to agriculture, a report said. This is now the most expensive year of drought, according to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service economists.”

With a Math Proficiency Rate of 32 Percent, U.S. Ranks Number 32

“Thirty-two percent of U.S. students in the class of 2011 were proficient in mathematics when they were in 8thgrade, according to the official U. S. report card on student achievement. Coincidentally, that places the United States in 32nd place among the 65 nations of the world that participated in PISA, the math test administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

Remembering the Berlin Wall

In 1961, East Germany erected a wall — initially barbed wire, eventually concrete — in the middle of Berlin to prevent its citizens from fleeing the communist country to West Germany during the height of the Cold War. It has been reported that 136 people died while trying to escape, but the total number is unknown. The wall finally came down at the beginning of November in 1989, part of the reunification of East and West Germany.”

Exceptions to Keynesian Theory

“An economist concludes that Keynesian economic theory has too many exceptions to be reliable for policy analysis.”

Paul Meier – Statistican who saved millions of lives

“The Kaplan-Meier estimator may not sound as if it is terribly important to most people’s lives. But if you have had a successful treatment for, say, cancer, or for diabetes, or for HIV/AIDS, or for heart disease, or for any one of dozens of other diseases or medical conditions, at any time over roughly the last fifty years, it may be that you owe your life to it and to one of the men who devised it.”

Lessons From Cloud Nine

“Bryan Caplan reviews The Happiness Equation: The Most Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset.”

Lesson From Europe (Take 2)

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens writes that social democracy clearly doesn’t ‘work.’”

The Fall of the Midwest Economic Model

“Michael Barone writes in The Wall Street Journal that in 1970, the economic future of the U.S. seemed to belong to Michigan’s example of big companies and big unions. Not anymore.”

Religion and the Cult of Tolerance

“In The Wall Street Journal, Main Street columnist Bill McGurn writes that freedom of religion isn’t just about thought and speech.”

Life as an Academic Can Be Tough on Family

“Academia seems like an attractive fit for a working parent, with its long summer vacations, flexible hours and the possibility of tenure — but academia may not be as family-friendly as it appears.”

Obama: Worst. Approval. Rating. Ever.

“Gallup reports that President Obama’s approval rating is at its lowest point yet, with just 39 percent saying hail to the chief these days.”

World-Wide Wealth

“Why estimates of global stock-market losses in a recent slumping week varied by trillions of dollars.”

The Arab World Condemns Syria’s ‘Killing Machine’

“Fouad Ajami writes in The Wall Street Journal that the least President Obama can do is call for Bashar Assad, the orchestrator of the Syrian slaughter, to step down.”

Chris Christie’s Cue

“Yes, Republicans can do better than a Romney-Perry slugfest (with Michelle Bachmann as spoiler).”

‘Steady As You Go’ Still Good Policy for Uncertain Times

“Forty years ago this month, President Richard Nixon sharply shifted hiseconomic policy in an interventionist direction with deleterious economic results that continued for a decade and provide lessons for today.”

Perry, Prayer, and Politics

I found this to be an interesting and thought-provoking essay from the Witherspoon Institute concerning the dynamics of the interplay between politics and religion…

McKinsey: U.S. Job Market Won’t Rebound for Years

“Although the financial crisis caused unemployment to soar, the labor market was lagging even before the housing crash. Are jobless recoveries the “new normal?””

Internships: A foot in the door?

“CBS Sunday Morning: Internships: A foot in the door? – Is it something young people can take advantage of, or are they being taken advantage of?”

Lack Of Rigor Leaves College Students ‘Adrift’

“According to one study, more than a third of college students don’t measurably improve in critical thinking skills through four years of education.”

Assorted links (8/14/2011)

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

The Debt Downgrade and Stock Prices

“The market gyrations go beyond events like the downgrade of United States debt and are being driven by the long-term outlook for the economy, an economist writes.”

Musicians Are Getting the Blues

“In an interesting new piece in The Atlantic, Edward Tenner discusses the rapid increase in musical virtuosity over the past generation, to the point where bygone masters would have trouble simply gaining acceptance to Julliard today. There is a downside, however — the flowering of new talent has been accompanied by a contraction in job opportunities…”

‘Breathtaking in its Expansive Scope’

“The Wall Street Journal writes that ObamaCare’s individual mandate loses again, this time in the 11th Circuit.”

Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Cross Country column, Charles Dameron writes that the presidential candidate’s signature economic development initiative has raised questions among conservatives.”

Why Has College Tuition Risen so Much? Ask the Administrators, Whose Ranks Have Grown 84% Since 1989

“Via Instapundit comes this Investors Business Daily report on the metastization of college and university administrators over the past 20 or so years.”

What Happened to Obama? Absolutely Nothing.

“In The Wall Street Journal, Norman Podhoretz writes that Obama is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president.”

Tax Reform Is the Swiftest Path to Growth

“Columbia University’s R. Glenn Hubbard writes in The Wall Street Journal that broadening the tax base would enable significant cuts in marginal tax rates, which is the surest path to economic growth.”

A New Strategy for Economic Growth

“In The Wall Street Journal, Kevin Warsh and Jeb Bush write that to have real economic growth we need to stop the barrage of ad hoc, short-term policy initiatives, lower tax and regulatory burdens, and transform our flagging education system.”

The Folly of Economic Short-Termism

“Allan Meltzer writes in The Wall Street Journal that easy money and more government spending won’t help the U.S. economy—we need policies that encourage long-term productivity growth.”

America as Less Than No. 1

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Wonder Land column, Daniel Hennniger writes that this is what being a shrinking superpower will feel like—enjoying it yet?”

But the President and Congress MEANT Well

“There’s a shortage today of low-priced, life-saving drugs for cancer patients. And the cause – surprise, surprise – is the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, explains why…”

Satz on markets

“This week’s EconTalk is Stanford professor of philosophy Debra Satz talking about why she finds some markets noxious and what ought to be done about it.”

How to Get That AAA Rating Back

“Writing in The Wall Street Journal about the rating downgrade, Harvard’s Robert Barro says that President Reagan inherited economic problems and fixed them, while President Obama’s strategy is to blame President Bush and Standard & Poors.”

Burton Malkiel: Don’t Panic About the Stock Market

Burton Malkiel writes in The Wall Street Journal that investors who resist the urge to get out of the stock market during rough times like this will be glad they did.

They Once Loved Jimmy, Too

“In The Wall Street Journal, Main Street columnist William McGurn writes that Democratic intellectuals and journalists are increasingly comparing President Obama to to the feckless President Carter.”

Is Obama Smart?

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens write that Barack Obama’s presidency is a case study in stupid is as stupid does.”

Ex-Directors of Failed Firms Have Little to Fear

“A look at the career paths of onetime Enron directors indicates that the former directors of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers may not have much to worry about.”

Postrel: Obama Glamour Can’t Fix Charisma Deficit

“One thing is clear in the aftermath of the debt-limit debate: U.S. President Barack Obama has lost his glamour. The alluring icon of hope and change has become just another pol, derided by his supporters as well as his opponents.”

S&P Move Isn’t a Shock but Adds to Gloom

“S&P’s downgrade could lead to some market tumult next week, investors and analysts said. But they said a ‘Lehman effect’ wasn’t likely; over time, the downgrade might do little more than mark a moment in the decline of U.S. economic strength.”

Assorted Links (8/6/2011)

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

xkcd: Significant

As xkcd clearly illustrates here, if you torture data long enough, you will eventually hit upon some (statistically significant) correlations.

Super-Economy: The Obama Hockey Stick

The Obama “Hockey Stick” graph is obtained from a time series chart showing Federal Nondefense Spending as a % of GDP; as this blog posting notes, “…President Obama decided to expand federal non-defense spending more than any President in recent history.” Thus the “Hockey Stick”…

Freakonomics » Why the Market Meltdown is Crazy

“After Thursday’s massive stock market sell-off, a lot of people are talking about how we may be experiencing another year like 2008. I’m going to get right to the point: that’s impossible. Here’s what was happening in 2008…”

Downgrading our politics

“Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade America’s credit rating Friday is momentous, but not, I suspect, for the reasons most people will cite.”

Notable & Quotable –

“Blogger Ryan Young on Lemonade Freedom Day.”

The Heartless Lovers of Mankind

In this classic 1987 article Paul Johnson warns to beware of those who love humanity but have problems with people.  I would further note that Peter Berkowitz’s recent Wall Street Journal essay (see basically applies Johnson’s insights from his “Heartless Lovers of Humankind” essay to the politics of the (for now) concluded debt ceiling debate…

The Weekend Interview with Eric Cantor: Obama and the Narcissism of Big Differences

Interesting quote about the (for now) concluded debt ceiling debate: “”Never was there ever an underlying economic argument” from Democrats. “It was all about social justice. Honestly, one of them said to me, ‘Some people just make too much money.'””

S&P Downgrades U.S. Debt Rating — Press Release

Standard & Poor’s took the unprecedented step of downgrading the U.S. government’s “AAA” sovereign credit rating Friday in a move that could send shock waves through global. The following is a press release from Standard & Poor’s.

More S&P Downgrades Expected

This article sets forth an hypothetical scenario (originally published by S&P on July 22, 2011, just as the debt ceiling political drama began to attract substantial media attention) of further possible downgrades of US debt ratings, over and above the AAA to AA+ downgrade which occurred yesterday.

S&P Downgrades U.S. Debt for First Time

A US Treasury Department official is quoted in this article as saying “A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself”. This is a case of shooting the messenger. S&P was very clear (see that in order to be credible, a $4 trillion cut was needed. The feds called S&P’s bluff with a $2 trillion cut, and S&P responded by following through on what they promised they would do…

The Invisible Hand Is Writing On Our Wall | Via Meadia

“The invisible hand has been writing on our wall of late, and the message is scaring the markets.  The markets should be scared; there is real trouble afoot, and the world’s political and economic leaders are terrifyingly out of their depth.”

How Big Government Hurts the Average Joe

“In The Wall Street Journal, Stanford University’s Edward Lazear writes that job growth is very closely linked to GDP growth—if the economy is not growing, then jobs aren’t being added.”

C.S. Lewis and the Devil

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, John A. Murray analyzes C.S. Lewis’s famous book, The Screwtape Letters, about faith, temptation and the devil.”

The Power of Bad Ideas

“What we’ve got here is far worse than a failure to communicate, Peggy Noonan writes of President Obama’s predicament.”

Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?

“In The Wall Street Journal, Congressman Paul Ryan criticizes Barack Obama and the Senate Democrats for failing to produce a specific budget plan with numbers to deal with the expanding federal deficit.”

Public Employees Stand Alone in their Support for Government Management of the Economy

“Likely Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Free Markets Over One Managed by Government, Yet 50% of Public Sector Employees Favor Government Management.”

Obama’s Deal With the Debt Devil

“In The Wall Street Journal, Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that cruel history turned against the president and the left’s long-term spending dreams.”

Assorted Links (8/4/2011)

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

Two Joint Committee structures that could succeed

“The Budget Control Act creates a Joint Committee whose goal is to recommend legislation that will reduce the deficit by $1.8 T over the next ten years.”

Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever. by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Summer 2011

“Women prefer the mommy track.”

Henry Kaufman: Excessive Optimism and Other Economic Biases

“In The Wall Street Journal, Henry Kaufman says that we need new thinking to solve the problems plaguing the economy today.”

In Flood Zone, but Astonished by High Water

“Residents of Dakota Dunes, S.D. question whether the programs designed to safeguard people from floods actually encourage them to take unnecessary chances.”

Hat tip to my friend and colleague, Jim Hilliard, for pointing this article out to me. This is a particularly interesting (as well as tragic) real-world example of the so-called Peltzman effect; quoting from, “The Peltzman effect is the hypothesized tendency of people to react to a safety regulation by increasing other risky behavior, offsetting some or all of the benefit of the regulation.”

Why Canada Is Beating America

“In The Wall Street Journal, Jason Clemens says the new Conservative majority government will tackle health reform and promises lower income taxes.”

Fouad Ajami: Barack Obama the Pessimist

“In The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami says Barack Obama’s lack of faith in American exceptionalism has dashed any hope of a transformational’ presidency.”

Gallup: US Conservatives Outnumber Liberals 2-1

“The latest Gallup survey of US political ideologies is out, and anybody who wants to understand why Democrats kept ceding ground during the debt battle should take a look at these numbers.”

Regulatory burden is wrapped up in impenetrable red tape

“Whatever deal eventually is struck between the White House and Congress on raising the debt ceiling, our “hidden” taxes will continue to multiply.”

The Big Mac index: Fast food for thought

“IT IS nearly 25 years since The Economist cooked up the Big Mac index.”

Risk and the government’s credit rating

“Inspired by Michael McConnell’s post and a comment by Charles Krauthammer on Special Report with Bret Baier, I offer a different way of thinking about the current budget battle. Let’s consider it in terms of tradeoffs among different types of risks.”

Default, Dear Brutus, Is Not In Our Stars, But In Ourselves

“August 2 is but a few days away, and you know what that means: I need to buy mom a birthday card. Also THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE BUDGETARY MELTDOWN END DAYS WHERE WE FACE FINAL ARMAGEDDON UNLESS WASHINGTON GETS ITS BAR TAB RAISED ANOTHER TRILLION. Or something.”

George Melloan: The Budget Crisis and American Power –

“In The Wall Street Journal, George Melloan writes that the U.S. can afford the strong military it needs—if it uses its forces more carefully.”

Review & Outlook: The Debt-Limit Hobbits –

“The Wall Street Journal argues the GOP fantasy caucus is empowering Nancy Pelosi.”

Review & Outlook: The Obama Recovery –

“The Wall Street Journal explains why there is a growth recession, and what to do about it.”

Noonan: They’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes that President Obama still has supporters, but theirs is a grim support.”