Assorted links (12/28/2011)

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

David Keyes: Merry Christmas From Saudi Arabia

“David Keyes writes of the holiday card sent out by Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir—Christmas greetings from a regime that prohibits Christians from worshipping publicly or wearing crosses… Had Jesus been born in Saudi Arabia today, he’d likely be imprisoned, flogged or beheaded.”

Gerald O’Driscoll: The Federal Reserve’s Covert Bailout of Europe

“When is a loan between central banks not a loan? When it is a dollars-for-euros currency swap… This Byzantine financial arrangement could hardly be better designed to confuse observers…the Fed is, working through the ECB, bailing out European banks and, indirectly, spendthrift European governments.”

Holman Jenkins: The Fannie and Freddie Hate Storm

“[T]he SEC’s legal complaint against former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is dubious but helps set the record straight… The financial crisis isn’t over, and around the world the problem is not housing but governments whose commitments far exceed their resources.”

Freakonomics » Is There a Rooftop Solar Bubble? And Is It About to Burst?

Sound familiar? “Government efforts to boost affordability and expectations of unsustainably high investment returns generated a boom market that’s destined to crash.”

The Just Distribution of Income and Wealth

“There has been a lot of talk this year, and especially during the holiday season, about the inequities in the distribution of wealth and income. But most of what has been written is quite simple-minded, if the writers mean to convey something more than their own personal preferences for a different distribution.”

Midlife Crisis Economics

“The Obama administration used to like to compare today’s problems to those that led to the Great Depression. But they differ in many ways.”

McGurn: Taxing Kim Kardashian

“[Progressives] will not be swayed because they are not being driven by their economics. They are being driven by their conception of immorality: the idea that millionaires have more than they should—and that any wealth they have is not something they have earned but something the state has allowed them to keep. It says much about the progressive Puritanism of our age that what these folks really find most sleazy about Ms. Kardashian is not her sex tape or her marriage, but that she’s unembarrassed about making money.”

Macro Santa And The Austerity Grinch

“Lock up Santa: The stimulus gifts under the tree come at a heavy price to our children.”

Andrew Lo reviews 21 books on the financial crisis

This article referenced in this will appear in the Journal of Economic Literature (cf. Quoting from the article abstract, “No single narrative emerges from this broad and often contradictory collection of interpretations, but the sheer variety of conclusions is informative, and underscores the desperate need for the economics profession to establish a single set of facts from which more accurate inferences and narratives can be constructed.”

Guest post: Eight thoughts on higher education in 2012

“Today’s guest bloggers offer four causes for concern and four reasons for hope.”

Design Your Own Profession

Way back in 1997, futurist Paul Saffo introduced a concept called “disinter-remediation” (cf. which describes the dynamic process discussed in this article. Not only are existing intermediaries replaced by new ones; the overall level of intermediation in society goes up. Basically, by making it cheaper to be a middleman, the Internet causes more intermediation, not less to occur…

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