Endless Curiosity

July 13, 2010

The Rich are Happier and More Content

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Psychology — Alec @ 6:07 am

I got this title from Jeffrey Goldberg’s posting, where he adds:

I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief that the rich are happy. I imagine you feel the same way. How could you not?


June 18, 2010

We Talk, They Act

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Psychology, Republicans — Alec @ 5:48 pm

I’ve blogged before about the ability of people to vote against their own interests, and after reading George Montbiot’s great article in the Guardian, I decided to write about it again. Montbiot has some interesting perspectives that are worth spending a few brain cells pondering.

The simple idea is that the right wing persuades people to fight for things that either don’t affect them, or indeed, harm them. Sample quote:

[The new conservatism] blames the troubles of the poor not on economic forces – corporate and class power, wage cuts, tax cuts, outsourcing – but on cultural forces…The anger of the excluded is aimed instead at gay marriage, abortion, swearing on television and latte-drinking, French-speaking liberals. The working-class American right votes for candidates who rail against cultural degradation, but what it gets when they take power is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.


May 31, 2010

Obama is Pathetic

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 6:00 am

Obama is Pathetic. I say this with a lot of love because I’m a Democrat through and through. But he’s handed crisis after crisis and what does he do?  Stands aside, studies, intellectualizes, thinks. What he doesn’t do is take advantage of the crisis. But, as Maureen Dowd said, “Presidencies are always about crisis management.”

Economist Paul Romer said in 2004, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” a sentiment echoed by Rahm Emanuel when he said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” But Obama wastes crisis after crisis.


May 3, 2010

The world’s first third world first world country

Filed under: Economics, Life, Politics, Psychology — Alec @ 8:52 pm

These days it seems that we are slowly on the way to becoming the world’s first third world first world country. As I drive I notice more and more potholes in the roads, signs of a slow slide into the third world.


December 13, 2009

The Rich get Richer

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 3:32 pm

I can’t blame the rich for wanting to hang on to what they have, and I can’t blame them for framing the issues in a way that benefits them. That said….

Supposedly the free market is the best hope for a good life, the best hope for freedom, the best hope for humanity. It’s faster than a speeding bullet… oh wait, that’s something else. Anyway, it’s supposed to be pretty good.


November 19, 2009

Economic Strategy: Then and Now

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 6:42 am

I thought I list a couple of area from the article I mentioned yesterday (Why America Needs an Economic Strategy). Porter first describes some of the “unique competitive strengths” that have allowed the U.S. to prosper. He then describes what he sees as the current situation. I’ve chosen two items that particularly resonate with me, reordering the paragraphs to match items up.


November 18, 2009

An Economic Strategy

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 10:15 pm

I’ve just read a great Business Week article called Why America Needs an Economic Strategy. It’s by Michael Porter, who leads the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard, and you would think that with a title like that, Porter believes we don’t have one. You’d be right.


October 26, 2009

The Elderly are the Problem

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Alec @ 8:29 am

“We have met the enemy, and he is the future us.” –with apologies to Pogo

Yes, the elderly are the problem. Or at least one of the causes of the problems this country faces.


October 10, 2009

Backlash against inherited wealth

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Republicans — Alec @ 7:30 am

With unemployment so high and the dreams of many people crushed, I wonder if there will ever be a populist backlash against inherited wealth.


September 9, 2009

Blind Spots and Cassandra

Filed under: Climate Change, Economics, Politics, Psychology — Alec @ 6:35 am

I watched a great 2008 documentary on Labor Day called Blind Spot. It’s about the problems we face as the production of oil starts to run down. The fascinating thing is how much we as a race don’t want to think about these problems. We ignore the problem, or we tell ourselves that technology will solve it. As one of the interviewees said, we should go to church, mosque, or synagogue if we want to rely on miracles.


July 3, 2009

Astounding Belief

Filed under: Economics, Psychology — Alec @ 10:52 am

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

I just came across this quote from John Maynard Keynes, the hot economist-du-jour. I loved it because it ties in so nicely – and thus validates 😀 – my February posting about the Market and Invisible Hand.

Why people believe that The Market will cure all ills and solve all problems is beyond me. On the other hand, perhaps no one really believes that. Perhaps Market Believers just believe that the Market will give results that are beneficial to them, the rest of society/the people/the world be damned.

June 9, 2009

Libertarians are Pussies

Filed under: Economics, Psychology — Alec @ 7:21 am

I’ve always thought of myself as a bleeding-heart liberal, but recently have changed my mind. Now I think that even Libertarians are wimps and pussies.

Why? Because they believe we have rights.


April 16, 2009

Hit by a bus on Wall Street

Filed under: Economics, Psychology — Alec @ 4:23 pm

There’s a great article in The Atlantic Monthly about how the financial crisis has affected the writer. The thing that caught my eye was when he talked about how there seems to be an air of passivity and resignation among the public, one that I completely relate to.


March 30, 2009

15 years of forewarning

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 12:30 pm

Amazing, incredible!  Andrew Tobias reported on an article on Derivatives written by Byron Dorgan, the Democratic Senator from North Dakota. This article was written in 1994, almost 15 – yes 15 – years ago. It warns in strong terms about the possibility of “financial conflagration” caused by unregulated derivative trading. Here’s a quote:

Yet, this “false alarm” could turn out to be a harbinger of a real financial conflagration–one that would make us nostalgic for the days of the $500 billion savings-and-loan collapse. In August, The Wall Street Journal declared that derivatives were now a $35 trillion–that’s right, trillion–worldwide market. The U.S. share is estimated at $16 trillion, which is four times the nation’s economic output. And the Journal estimates that since 1993 there have been $6.4 billion lost in the derivatives game–$6.4 billion that could have opened businesses and created jobs. Derivatives are no doubt widespread: An Investment Company Institute survey found that 475 mutual funds with net assets of $350 billion recently held derivatives; about two-thirds of those assets were in short-term bond funds sold to average investors. And here’s the real kicker: Because the key players are federally insured banks, every taxpayer in the country is on the line.

Here’s a link to Tobias’ article, which contains a link to the first page (of 7) of Dorgan’s article. Or you can read the full article below the fold.


February 24, 2009

How did we get into this Mess?

Filed under: Economics, Republicans — Alec @ 5:52 am

This financial recession/depression is going to last a long time. I’m sure the stimulus will help, but most people are running scared at this point, thinking more about saving money in case they lose their job than going out and spending money. And of course, spending money is what is needed.


February 21, 2009

There is no Market, there is no Invisible Hand

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 6:10 pm

There is no Market and there is no Invisible Hand.

There are only people trying to make money.

February 17, 2009

Why couldn’t we have grown-ups in charge?

Filed under: Economics, Republicans — Alec @ 1:21 pm

From Juan Cole: “As Alan Greenspan recently admitted, his conviction that bankers would not steal from us because it would be bad for the bank was naive; I guess that is what comes of never growing out of Ayn Rand when you move into your twenties and later.”


February 16, 2009

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 5:00 pm

Word has it that Obama is going to set up a task force to “reform” Social Security. I hope not. Any “reform” is likely to play into Republican hands, and Republicans have never hidden their desire to kill Social Security.


February 12, 2009

Higher Home Ownership Implies Higher Unemployment

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 7:55 pm

Here’s a fascinating tidbit which is contrary to what you might think: the higher the home ownership in an area, the higher the unemployment.

The economist Andrew Oswald has demonstrated that in both the United States and Europe, those places with higher homeownership rates also suffer from higher unemployment. Homeownership, Oswald found, is a more important predictor of unemployment than rates of unionization or the generosity of welfare benefits. Too often, it ties people to declining or blighted locations, and forces them into work—if they can find it—that is a poor match for their interests and abilities.

This is part of a long article in the March issue of The Atlantic called How the Crash will Reshape America.

February 11, 2009

The Stimulus Package Explained

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 9:36 pm

Just in case you were not sure what the stimulus plan involves, a cartoon from the Economist explains all.


Perhaps you think that Congress is not allocating stimulus package money very well? A web site called ReadTheStimulus.org offers you the opportunity to look for and flag examples of pork, or handouts that you don’t believe will help stimulate the economy.

February 2, 2009

Who is Dean Baker?

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 1:55 pm

So who is this Dean Baker that I refer to in some of my posts? He is a highly respected economist, at least to those people who also respect Paul Krugman.


Let’s hear it for a shorter work week

Filed under: Economics — Alec @ 1:54 pm

Why should France have all the fun with its 35 hour work-week?


Those Thieving Banks

Filed under: Economics, Uncategorized — Alec @ 1:53 pm

From the economist Dean Baker:

These executives bankrupted their banks and brought the economy down with them. They belong in an unemployment line not collecting multi-million dollar paychecks in their designer office suites.


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