The bottom line is this: we are being asked to believe that a big, trillion or even multi-trillion fiscal stimulus can boost the current macroeconomy. If you look at history, there isn’t good reason to believe that. Any single example, such as the Nazis, can be knocked down for lack of relevance or lack of correspondence to current conditions. Fair enough. But the burden of proof isn’t on the skeptics. It’s up to the advocates of the trillion dollar expenditure to come up with the convincing examples of a fiscal-led recovery. Right now we’re mostly at “It wasn’t really tried.” And then a mental retreat back into the notion that surely good public sector project opportunities are out there.
So what you have is the possibility of faith — or lack thereof — that our government will spend this money well.
And that is under “emergency” conditions, with great haste (“use it or lose it”), with a Congress eager to flex its muscle, and with more or less one-party rule.
For me, that’s not enough.
Jeg tilbragte eftermiddagen i dag på Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium, hvor der var ‘klaverdag’ med hele tre koncerter; kl.11.00, kl.13.30 og kl. 16.00 (jeg kom til de to sidste) – nævnte jeg i øvrigt, at der var gratis adgang til alle tre?
De tre koncerter bestod af bidrag fra 13 forskellige studerende ved konservatoriet. De studerende er naturligvis alle ekstremt dygtige, og det var en meget positiv oplevelse for mig at deltage, en oplevelse som jeg uden tvivl vil gentage. Den studerende der imponerede mig mest var Lærke Sloth Nielsen, som spillede Mozart’s 23. klaverkoncert i A-dur firehændigt sammen med Anne Øland, hendes ‘lærer’/professor, samt et Rachmaninoff-stykke, op.16 nr. 4 – begge blev spillet fuldstændigt fejlfrit, ja nærmest perfekt (og nej, det er selvfølgelig ikke sådan at forstå, at der var mange fejl i de øvrige fremstillinger – det var et par yderst velspillede koncerter).
Tilbage til hvis man nu skulle kede sig… Her følger lidt reklame (/eller kaldes den slags bare vidensdeling nu om dage?): Lærke spiller Mozart igen på lørdag til en gratis lørdagskoncert, som starter kl. 12.00 i Symfonisk Sal i Musikhuset. Hvis du bor i nærheden af Århus og ikke har noget bedre at tage dig til, eller måske alligevel skal ind i byen og shoppe de sidste julegaver om formiddagen – hvorfor så ikke bruge en lille bid af din eftermiddag på noget lidt anderledes? Man kunne jo evt. invitere partneren med, hvis man har sådan en?
Det her er musik som man sagtens vil kunne påskønne, også selvom man “ikke har forstand på den slags”.
“It’s important, my darling, that you should not hope too much for the end of my term.”
Nerzhin was already fully prepared for a second term followed by perpetual imprisonment – it had happened to many of his comrades. He could not mention it in letters, and he had to speak about it now.
An expression of fear appeared on Nadya’s face.
“A term is a conditional thing”, he explained, speaking hard and fast, accenting his words in the wrong places, so the guard could not follow what he said. “It can spiral on forever. History is full of examples. And even if it should miraculously end, don’t imagine you and I will return to our city, to our old way of life. You must understand one thing and never forget it: they don’t sell tickets to the past. For instance, what I regret most of all is that I’m not a shoemaker. How useful that skill would be in some North Siberian village, in Krasnojarsk, in the lower reaches of the Angara. That’s the only sort of life to prepare for. Who needs Euler’s mathematical formulas there?”
He had been succesful: the retired gangster did not stir but only blinked as Nerzhin’s thoughts flew past him.
But Nerzhin forgot – no, he did not forget, he did not understand, just as they all failed to understand – that persons used to walking the warm, gray earth cannot rise over icy mountain ranges all at once. He did not understand that his wife even now continued, as at the beginning, to count off methodically the days and weeks of his term. For him the term was a bright, cold endlessness, and for her there were 264 weeks, 61 months, slightly more than 5 years, left – much less time than had already passed, because he had gone to war and not been home since.
As Nerzhin spoke, the fear on Nadya’s face turned to horror…
From Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle, which I’m currently reading.
For years, investors, rivals and regulators all wondered how Bernard L. Madoff worked his magic.
But on Friday, less than 24 hours after this prominent Wall Street figure was arrested on charges connected with what authorities portrayed as the biggest Ponzi scheme in financial history, hard questions began to be raised about whether Mr. Madoff acted alone and why his suspected con game was not uncovered sooner.
As investors from Palm Beach to New York to London counted their losses on Friday in what Mr. Madoff himself described as a $50 billion fraud, federal authorities took control of what remained of his firm and began to pore over its books.
According to an affidavit sworn out by federal agents, Mr. Madoff himself said the fraud had totaled approximately $50 billion, a figure that would dwarf any previous financial fraud.
At first, the figure seemed impossibly large. But as the reports of losses mounted on Friday, the $50 billion figure looked increasingly plausible. One hedge fund advisory firm alone, Fairfield Greenwich Group, said on Friday that its clients had invested $7.5 billion with Mr. Madoff.
A curious fact I didn’t know about: The unemployment effect of the current slowdown has been highly asymmetrical wrt. gender – in the US, as unemployment has been rising for the last year, men have been hit much harder by the slowdown than women:
“the U.S. economy has lost 2.352 million jobs in the last year (Nov. 2007 to Nov. 2008). Further analysis shows that 82% of the job losses (1.932 million) were jobs held by males, and only 18% of jobs losses (430,000) were jobs held by females”
(I found the graph as well as the quote at Mark Perry’s site. Follow the link for more)
If our culture had never invented religion, it would never occur to anyone that moral choices ought somehow to depend on the existence of a higher being in the first place.
And there would still be selfishness, and there would still be altruism, and all the philosophy in between would be more or less the same.
Eliezer Yudkowsky. Here’s the link.
The standard procedure for most members of Congress is to ignore everything public choice economists teach us about the incentives of bureaucrats, give the bureaucrats enormous power, and then complain when they use that power badly, fail to achieve their goals, create other problems, and transfer wealth to their political allies.
This working paper has taken a closer look.
The abstract reads:
This paper tests whether being convicted of a crime affects marriage market outcomes. While it is relatively well documented that crime hurts in terms of reduced future income, there has been little systematic analysis on the association between crime and marriage market outcomes. This paper exploits a detailed Danish register-based data set to fi ll this gap in the literature. The main fi ndings are that male convicts do not face lower transition rates into partnerships as such, but they face a lower chance of forming partnerships with females from more well-off families. In addition males who are convicted face a signi cantly higher dissolution risk than their law abiding counterparts.