Assorted Links (11/27/2011)

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

How the Dow Distorts the History of Wall Street: Echoes

“On Nov. 23, 1954, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after 25 long years, finally surpassed the high it had hit on Sept. 3, 1929. It remains, by far, the longest period between new highs on the Dow in the 115-year history of the index. And the story behind that long recovery tells us a lot about how statistics can distort our view of the past.”

Intrade Update: The Gingrich Surge

“Intrade odds for Gingrich are up to an all-time high of 19.3% and Romney’s odds are down to 60.6%, the lowest since early October…” I have blogged extensively over the years about how useful prediction markets such as can be in assessing political events (e.g., election outcomes), as well as various other kinds of contingent events related to the economy, climate, entertainment, scientific discoveries, etc.; see for various examples. It remains to be seen whether Gingrich continues to gain on Romney or whether he is yet another in a long line of GOP “flavors of the day”. Also, for what it’s worth, currently puts the odds that the Democratic Party will win the presidency in 2012 at 50.6% and the odds that the Republican Party will win the presidency in 2012 at 46.5%…

George Will: Privatize the Postal Service

“Today, the U.S. Postal Service, whose financial condition resembles that of the federal government, of which the USPS is another ailing appendage, is urging cancellation of Saturday deliveries, perhaps en route to three-days-a-week delivery.”

Faith Matters Sunday: The Jewish Discovery of Jesus | Via Meadia

“Years ago I had some friends in a klezmer band in New Orleans; one of the members of the band was an African American musician whose church was so taken with the music that they wanted to produce a klezmer gospel album.  This unfortunately never happened, but something almost as remarkable has just been published by Oxford University Press: The Jewish Annotated New Testament.”

Freakonomics » The Inefficiency of Local Food

“Two members of Congress earlier this month introduced legislation advancing a food reform movement promising to help resolve the great environmental and nutritional problems of the early 21st century. The intent is to remake the agricultural landscape to look more like it did decades ago. But unless the most basic laws of economics cease to hold, the smallholder farming future envisioned by the local farming movement could jeopardize natural habitat and climate change mitigation efforts, while also endangering a tenuous and temporary victory in the battle against human hunger.”

Mayans Call the Stock Market

“Maybe there’s something to this Mayan calendar, end-of-the-world-in-2012 thing. Al Lewis thinks the ancients concluded the world would end badly once the debt-laden global financial machinery unwound.”

Dostoyevsky on Gratitude

“Wonderful passage on gratitude from ‘The Brothers Karamozov’…One of the best paths to both truth and happiness is to learn to be grateful to be proven wrong.”

Memo to the Occupy protesters: here are ten things we evil capitalists really think

Hat tip to University of Michigan economics professor Mark J. Perry for this article (cf. I particularly appreciate the following quote: “There is a world of difference between being pro-market and being pro-business. Sometimes, the two positions happen to coincide; often they don’t.”

Cairo: Paris of the East?

“With the accelerating euro crisis in Europe, the geopolitical revolution in Asia and increasing doubts about the Chinese economy, the increasingly misnamed Arab Spring sometimes has to struggle for airtime these days.  But the struggle in Egypt has entered a new phase, one which will test the strength of the various groups struggling to control the country in the wake of President Mubarak’s fall from power.”

The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin

“Wired follows the story of Bitcoin, the virtual currency you can actually spend—if it doesn’t get stolen first.”

Milton Friedman – Redistribution of Wealth

“Milton Friedman clears up misconceptions about wealth redistribution, in general, and inheritance tax, in particular.”  Hat tip to Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, who hat tips University of Michigan economist Mark Perry for pointing to this classic video of Milton Friedman opining on the question of the redistribution of wealth…

Milton Friedman Schools Young Idealist

A second tip of the hat to Mark Perry by way of Greg Mankiw for pointing to this classic video of Milton Friedman opining on the role of government in a free society…

Tracking Europe’s Bond Yields—Interactive Graphic

“See how yields on 10-year bonds have risen in the economic crisis. Rising yields signal a lack of trust in a government’s ability to pay off the debt; yields above 6% are particularly risky.”

Roger McNamee: Six ways to save the internet

“The next big shift is now, and it’s not what you think: Facebook is the new Windows; Google must be sacrificed. At TEDxSantaCruz, tech investor Roger McNamee presents 6 bold ways to prepare for the next internet.”

China Open to Canadian Oil

“This is what bad energy policy looks like: as the US dithers over Canadian tar sands oil, China is ready to buy. Access to reliable oil from a friendly neighboring country like Canada is one of America’s greatest geopolitical blessings. Throwing this away would be the height of folly…”

The New Tammany Hall

“Matthew Kaminski interviews economic historian Fred Siegel on Occupy Wall Street, public unions, and the future of New York in The Wall Street Journal.”

Send These, the Homeless, Tempest-Tost to Me: I’m Thankful for Immigrants

“Let’s give thanks for immigrants past, present, and future.”

The Grover Norquist tax myth

Quoting from Charles Krauthammer’s essay, “Raising revenue through tax reform is better than simply raising rates, which Democrats insist upon with near religious fervor. It is more economically efficient because it eliminates credits, carve-outs and deductions that grossly misallocate capital. And it is more fair because it is the rich who can afford not only the sharp lawyers and accountants who exploit loopholes but the lobbyists who create them in the first place.”

Are the Unemployed Victims of Discrimination?

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Saltsman writes that the push is on to make the jobless a new protected legal class, but there’s little evidence to justify it.”

How America Can Escape the Energy Trap

“In The Wall Street Journal, Mortimer Zuckerman writes that our soaring natural gas production has already helped cut the share of oil consumption met by imports to 47% last year from 60% in 2005.”

Stringing Up Gibson Guitar

“In The Wall Street Journal, Potomac Watch columnist Kimberley Strassel writes about the federal raids on Gibson Guitar, set in motion by environmentalists and trade protectionists coming together to trap American businesses.” This is a fascinating case study of unintended economic consequences of well meaning, but often overly complicated laws and regulations…

Fairness and the ‘Occupy’ Movement

“Arthur Brooks writes in the Wall Street Journal that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are on firm ground when they denounce those who get rich because of their political pull.”