Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Twitter is now officially important to the political functionings of this country:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Irony? An iPad app about business models that needs a better business model:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Once again, this blog is generally too conservative for my liking, and its snarky attitude does grate on the nerves, even when they are right. However, I must admit Barak Obama did make a stupid point by saying there are structural issues that have led to firms being more efficient. Uhhh... What?:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

A long (but worthwhile if you have the time) discussion of Adam Smith (he's important, right?) and his writings:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Harry Potter-nomics

The final Harry Potter film is coming out soon (I think). I'm not really sure of the date, as my fanaticism over the series ended a while back with the 5th book. However, it should be noted, as a commercial and cultural entity, ole' Harry has a has cast a long shadow. I might add that, as a young kid, the Harry Potter books corresponded perfectly with my age (I think). But I do remember standing in line for the 4th outside Barnes and Noble (R.I.P.) at midnight with my dad and friend. Then they made movies. Not only that, but the movies are STILL coming out, years after the books ended. We're doing it all over again, with no love lost.

What's the secret?

I have no idea. But somehow, J. K. Rowling realized that people, old and young, like wizards. If I was more knowledgeable in non-economics stuff, I'd give a theory as to why. For now, let's just accept and look at the numbers.

Harry Potter brand: $4 billion

J.K. herself: $1 billion

Film revenue: $6,343,865,842

But let's end with an anecdote. There is somewhere in Florida, apparently, that is "Harry Potter World." According to my boss, he went there once and was, in so many words, blown away by the absurdity of the place, and more precisely, its customers. It's one thing to read books and watch movies. To travel to Florida, and dress up like a wizard, and visit a place the imitates an imaginary place, well... Let's just say that it's easy to exploit the cult phenomenon for some dubious cash.

At this LaLa land there is a machine. This machine is in the gift shop. In the gift shop, you can buy wands. However, for those who want the real Harry Potter experience, the wand can "Choose" you. So, there are some wands in a machine. Which is for you? Which is most expensive? People don't make the connection. People buy a lot of $80 wands, and probably fewer $30 ones. And no one's complaining... All for a kid who wears glasses, has a scar, gets his ego continually boosted, and plot that's simply too confusing. It's the children's book that adults read. It's 700 pages and still gets read. How is this possible?

Abracadabra! It's magic!

Link of the (Variable Time Period)

Not wanting to commit to a link of the day like my considerably more prodigious co-poster, I'll get back in the groove with a predictable link to a plug for the Volt. I have been very skeptical of the use and promise of early electric cars like the Volt and the Leaf, but after reading Joe Nocera's article, I have more faith.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Big news, right?! The EU decided to bailout the Greeks. Well, everybody knew that was gonna happen anyway, even though the stock market reacted to the news. What did the bond market do, and what does that mean?:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US Politics Suck. So I'm Back.

When it comes to the opinion pages of the NY Times, I have two idols, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. Honestly, that tells you about all you need to know about my political views (moderate, very concerned with clean energy growth). The only difference I have from these guys is that I'm much, much more fed up with the way our "government" works.

If I wrote everything here that I thought was going wrong, you would 1) still be reading three days from now and die of starvation, 2) destroy your computer out of shared frustration, or 3) hunt me down and kill me for trying to waste your time with a massive post. So, for that last third, I'm just going to focus on our voting system.

Then again, I have a number of bones to pick with our voting system. I'll just stick to one: in our hyper connected age, it has made our representatives too wary of the whims of the voter. That's right. I believe that our voting system makes our officials MORE responsive than they should be. To back up this claim, I'm going to keep it short and sweet.

When electing officials, we almost always select college-educated, polished, intelligent individuals. These individuals may co-opt populist positions, but if "Joe the Plumber" went up for office, he'd be laughed off the podium. We elect individuals to lead us and make intelligent and informed decisions that WE CANNOT MAKE. However, with the rise of ubiquitous connectivity and information, everyone and their crochety grandmother thinks that they could do better than their representative. Because the internet has an inherently viral quality, people tend to band into groups of their intelligent opinion of "THIS NEEDS TO BE DONE!!!", followed soon by "GET THIS MAN/WOMAN OUT OF OFFICE". Instead of allowing our officials to lead, we force them to constantly be keeping tabs on every little whim that catches flame in their constituency. They must constantly pander to this internet audience, and have no room to compromise, maneuver, or do anything that requires more than denouncing the other party.

This would be a good thing if the average internet opinion were more informed and intelligent than that of our leaders. However, even the best viral internet opinion is worse than any compromise our college-educated, intelligent leaders could come up with. Thus, when our current voting system is coupled with the intense scrutiny and vacillations of the internet, it precludes our leaders from actually doing any leading. It forces them to pander to their audiences, ensuring that they will be elected to again get nothing done.

My solution? Increase all terms to five or six years. After all, the Senate does the best job already.

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED explains why there is no singular answer to regulatory reform in the financial industry:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Paul Krugman laments the probability of a lost decade. He does so by presenting to us a statistic which seems to suggest things aren't as good as they seem (and they don't even seem that good):

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED gives the critics of the two big recent IPO pricings (LinkedIn and Pandora) a good lashing:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mazi's Link 'O the Day

No link today... Just:

"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

I started reading that book in junior year of high school, but was encouraged to give it a rest by my English teacher. I'll get back round to it someday.

Happy Bloomsday

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We Are the Champions

Time to gloat, yes? This spring I mentioned being involved in the "Fed Challenge" team at Vassar College. It was in the fall when one of my professors emailed me about this competition. He knew I was interested in whatever "extracurricular" economics events there were available (I have many varied and exciting interests, I swear). So, I sent out some emails, talked to some friends, and next thing you know, we've got a group of kids meeting every three or so weeks to discuss the "Fed Challenge." The Challenge itself takes place next fall. Our goal as a team will be to come up with a succinct presentation that captures our understanding of the operations of the Federal Reserve, its history, the current macroeconomic conditions, and a recommendation for monetary policy and interest rates. This is a hefty task, so naturally we've been preparing for a while. As something of a warm-up exercise, one of our professors suggested we enter another competition: The St. Louis Federal Reserve video competition. The topic at hand was, "Why should the central bank be independent?" The video had to be under 5 minutes and be understandable at a high school level. Of course, we finished our video, and I sent it in (albeit, 5 minutes late). Time went by, and we were fairly certain he had hit the end of the road. Lo and behold, I received an email a couple days ago, and to sum up the contents:

Vassar College is #1.

We also won a $1,000 savings bond for the school, so you might say only economics majors give back, too! Here's the video again:

Mazi's Link O' the Day

A little Marxism in the 21st century for you this Sunday morning:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

In a rebuttal to another article, this one also provides good insight into the European central banking system:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

An explanation of why labor supply can be as important as aggregate demand in affecting employment:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Takin' Care of Business

Well friends, your humble narrator has commenced his summer job. I shall keep names out of it, but let's just say it's a bulge bracket bank. Training is currently under way, and I just clocked an 11 hour day... Learning about PowerPoints. People in the business of Wall Street, I have already observed, are more than self-aware. In fact, they make YOU aware of how self-aware THEY are. I have already heard a number of times to remember this is a heavily scrutinized industry. Be careful. Don't say or do anything stupid. Even, "If a reporter calls you asking about the Firm (it's always capitalized), your response should be 'No comment.'" It's an experience unlike any I've had in my life, and I intend to continue to put in 11 hour days and live to tell the tale. I'm looking forward to my first night spent asleep underneath my desk. EconStu shall remain about economics as a whole, though I may bring back the occasional financial-life observation. Carry on my friends, and let the games begin...

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED celebrates his 1,000,000th page-view:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED gives a little primer on private equity and the application of Dodd-Frank to such firms and funds:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Apparently, Wednesday was Marilyn Monroe's birthday. TED has, accordingly, some philosophy for ya:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

If you're an economics nerd, you'll love this (I did). If you're not, you'll say, "Only an economics nerd could love this.":

Wednesday, June 1, 2011