Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED explains why have strict sexual "rules" in society actually helps women, more than the sometimes proposed "liberally erotic" lifestyle:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

An analysis of two opposing schools of thought: The first claims the world is naturally in a state of conflict and strife, the other assumes that society is bettered without these internal conflicts:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Efficiency in Movement

That very small group of EconStu devotees might have noticed that said blog has been silent for the past few days. It was so because your humble blogger was in the process of moving. Not merely the verb, by definition, but I, along with my mother and father, put all of my belongings into boxes, left my keys behind, and took someone else's keep as my own. Yes, we "moved."

From the packing of the first boxes to the final unpacking, I'd estimate the process will take around 2 and a half weeks. In the grand scheme of life, that's not a long time, however I can't help but feel that things could be done more efficiently. Of course, it could be done A LOT more quickly if we had some absurd technological advancements (teleportation, anyone?), but barring that, here's my proposal:

First, a professional of some sort takes multiple photographs of each room in your house, making sure to capture all the "objects" that need to be transported. Those images are uploaded to a computer, and the objects are marked. The computer, using the angles in the pictures, gives the dimensions of the objects. Next it runs an algorithm to determine the quickest, most efficient use of box and truck space for everything. That way, instead of haphazardly throwing shit into boxes, you know, "Things A, B, C, and D go in this box, etc..."

I'm just not sure if this is cost efficient. How expensive is a computer program like that?

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Home sales still look weak, and the Pending Home Sales Index is down, suggesting things won't be picking up. Lesson: It takes a LONG time to recover from real estate crashes, and, unfortunately, real estate is mighty important to the economy:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

A theory on why unemployment is still high: Capital is siphoned away from productive, private-sector jobs to "welfare and warfare":

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

If you're gonna bail-out the banks because they're too big too fail, why not bail-out homeowners?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Michele Bachmann, Stop Speaking

Some of you might have heard Michele Bachmann's pledge to bring gas prices down to their 2008 levels. That, for those of you who have forgotten, was somewhere around $2.00 a gallon. She says we're a "can-do" nation. Well, the problem with that logic is, you cannot just make prices be something.

So, as the rest of the world, particularly China and India, demands more oil, what do you think happens to the price of oil and gas? If you said, "Goes up," then you're not Michele Bachmann. Perhaps she's going to ask those nations' leaders to "make demand fall?" I have a solution. If you want to lower prices, just set a price ceiling at $2.00. Here's what will happen: The price of gas WILL NOT exceed $2.00 a gallon, and there will be an ENORMOUS shortage of gas, as suppliers will provide much less than what is demanded. Because who wouldn't rather have cheap, unavailable gas than market-priced gas?

The real sad thing is that she is a serious political contender. Somehow in this system, you can say something so asinine, something that displays your ignorance of key matters so profoundly, and STILL be viable. Sure, a few angry bloggers and some newspapers will ridicule her, but the beat goes on...

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Here's where you stand on the totem poll of life:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Does economics makes us envious, particularly the "distribution" of income?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

I'm just so nice to Austrian economists and their websites these days. But it's for an academic cause, so it's okay. Here's a resource for you would be Austrians:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Cool numbers... The thing we see: Lotsa unions and lotsa money to Democrats:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is the World Ending?

A maddening week in the world economy has come to a close, and we stand at levels that are not so distant from what they were at the beginning of this week. Of course, ignoring how we got here is simply ignorant and misses some large points. Money market funds, funds of short-term government securities that offer virtually no return or yield, saw inflows of around $50bn this week. This is one week after those some funds posted enormous outflows. Money markets are considered to be very risk-less investments, hence their low yields. So are we seeing pessimism about the world economy from all this risk aversion?
While all this money flows to these funds, equity markets finished the week rallying. Looking at the starting and ending points of the major indexes that week, one might be tempted to say it was relatively low-key. That person would also have to have lived under a rock, because anyone paying attention would have noticed the crazed volatility of the market. As the Financial Times reports, “… the Dow Jones Industrial Average recording for the first time seven straight sessions that alternated between ending the day higher one day and lower the next.”
For those who like to judge the state of the economy by looking at markets, it will be very difficult to come to anything resembling a consensus this week. But let’s act like bigger picture people for a second and look at what’s actually going on. The Fed announced on Tuesday that rates were going to stay down for a good while more (till 2013) and left open the door for more maneuvering. Alright, so no surprises there. It seems that most investors have not lost their minds over the S&P downgrade. People recognize that the move is more a comment on the U.S.’s political situation than it is on our credibility, financially speaking. What’s cracking in Europe? Well, the ECB pulled the good old-fashioned “Buy the stragglers’ bonds” technique to stave off a bit of fear over Italy and Spain. At the same time, some European regulators introduced short-selling bans again. The latter is a somewhat trite move, and while I respect the goal of trying to stop a downward spiral, if certain companies are overpriced, then their share prices should fall. Yes, it's painful, but as the saying goes, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." Interfering in the stock market obfuscates investors' views of where prices REALLY should be. But that's a side point. The big picture is somewhat counterintuitive to what I stated at the beginning of this piece. Yes, ignoring the ups and downs of the week is silly, but the world looks very much the same as it did seven days ago. The day to day fluctuations of financial markets are NOT good indicators of the macroeconomic health of an economy. Remember, in economics, when we say “short-run,” we still mean longer than 24 hours.

Mazi's Link O' the Day

STILL no sign of a return to Twitter for TED:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Is it unfair to subsidize/give checks to certain taxpayers, namely those who couldn't refinance out of their crappy mortgages?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

The Bank of England expresses similar feelings towards to the U.K. economy as the Fed did to the U.S.'s. Some economists weigh in:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Low Expectations...

Disappointment. A feeling deep in our stomachs that we have all felt. The numbness that is wrought does not sting like anger or sadness. It merely wallows and persists. We do not feel this way because we failed. We feel this way because the results we see in life are incompatible with the ones we imagined. They’re usually not bad, but they’re not as good as they could be. Or the feeling of success in an endeavor brings is not the feeling we expected. Disappointment does not make one stand up and take action. It does not encourage us to change. It is a lulling emotion that roots us to our chairs. But this being an economics blog, after all, it is worth adding that disappointment is simply inefficient.

In your life and in mine, many, many, many things will not work out. We will try to accomplish many tasks. We will fail at some and be mad. We will succeed at some others and be glad. Yet, more often than both those occurrences, we will finish somewhere in between success and failure. Interestingly, people are terrible at recognizing randomness. Even if we lived in a polar universe where there was only absolute success or failure, our perceptions of randomness would probably lead us to further disappointment. How do I mean? Well, if you asked someone to give you a completely random series endeavors with different outcomes, you’d likely be given a list which alternates between success and failure. Of course, just like flipping a coin won’t give you heads every other flip exactly, neither will pursuing goals in life give you achievement every other try. Add this on to the fact that success is simply harder than failure, obviously, and you’ve got a stew of disappointment.

So what’s so “wrong” with it? Being mad is natural, as is being sad. The real point comes from the beginning of this piece. Disappointment does not stir to action. We don’t need to make a fundamental change to overcome it, which is why we rarely change anything at all. Disappointment, in the end, arises from setting our expectations too high. This is why disappointment can be so easily avoided, especially compared to the inevitability of anger, happiness, and sadness. Reality is not as glossy and wonderful as you’d expect. But don’t despair. If you recognize that truth, you might be a whole lot happier person. Low expectations are the key to happiness.

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED takes a swing at pretentious undergraduates (**cough Ivy League cough**):

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

The price of electriciy reached rcords in some places across the country. Supply and demand:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED's right you know. I even posted the previous article a while ago, but the point is this: as wrong as it might seem, good bankers/lawyers are the only ones who can make good regulators:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Debt Deal: Armageddon?

In the last paragraph of his opining on the debt deal, Paul Krugman suggests that our system of government is broken. His basic argument is as follows: the Republicans "won" the debt limit standoff by being the more ruthless party and threatening to destroy America, and if these tactics work, our system of governance needs to change. I would agree with him if his premises are correct, however, they are not.

Since the federal debt exploded into the national consciousness a few years ago, one thing has been clear above all. Americans do not want to be like Europeans. We don't want our government to spend and spend and take care of every little detail for every person. We were born a capitalist society, and public opinion stays staunchly to the right of socialism. In 2011, the majority of our nation does not want to be told by the government, "you must buy health insurance", and I believe as a nation we will take that sense of freedom and liberty to our graves. This is one half of America's problem with the exploding national debt: the majority of Americans don't want the government to spend money taking care of everything for us.

The other half of America's problem with the debt is the chafing notion that spending beyond one's means cannot be a good thing. Regardless of economic theory that clearly shows nations can spend in ways households cannot, there is a limit to this difference, and Americans sensed that deficit spending was spiraling out of control. This, along with our inherent distaste towards big government programs (aka taxes), is a big part of the reason why the deficit was such a big deal to Americans, even in the midst of the second-worst recession in our history.

This brings me back to Krugman's point. I believe that Republicans "won" the debt standoff because they represented fundamental American interests. They were elected to Congress to reign in spending, they promised to reign in spending, and now they have done so. Krugman can whine and scream all he likes, but economic oracles be damned, Americans wanted to cut spending. Which is why I say: he is right that this is bad for the American economy in the short run. Yes, his theory that this won't help much in the long run may even be correct as well. However, he is incorrect when he claims our system of governance isn't working. We are Americans, and we don't want the government to spend and spend and spend until we all live in the Elysian fields. We want to do it ourselves.

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED is missing Twitter already: