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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:55 pm 
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LittleWing wrote:
That institution is engaging in quantitative easing for the same reason they allowed all that financial innovation to take root in the first place - because it's politically expedient.

Also, there are no other actions to take if they wish to take action. Even buying MBS's has drawn criticism for intruding on the turf of Congress because it ventures into credit allocation more explicitly.


LittleWing wrote:
You're right, barter isn't magical. But you're wrong in suggesting we don't have a barter economy. You barter every time you participate in a free transaction. You barter for the best compensation you can get for your labor, you barter for the goods you buy and by shopping around, you barter by going to the wholesaler instead of the retailer. Sometimes, particularly with used items between a private individual, you barter like hell. Who doesn't barter for the cars they buy? I bartered my house down substantially when I bought it. The only difference is the MEDIUM we do our bartering with. I didn't barter some future engineering to the bank for my house. Currency provides a clear means of directly bartering. It enables specialization. It facilitates growth. And sure, banking has almost always been fractional (not an absolute truth though.)

OK, in the context we're speaking (macroeconomics/monetary economics), barter has a generally used, generally accepted definition, and that definition is the one I was referring to. From wikipedia: "Barter is a medium of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money."

You're talking about bargaining, and of course bargaining is a feature of economic transactions.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:26 pm 
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I disagree, you can use more mediums for exchange than money. You can still use other commodities.

I don't view gun trading as any different than going to the gun shop and buying new guns. I don't view me partnering up with my coworker to make our own ammunition as any different than purchasing my own ammo. It's just a different apportionment of my time and labor. I find that definition offensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:05 am 
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LittleWing wrote:
I disagree, you can use more mediums for exchange than money. You can still use other commodities.

That definition allows for that: "without using a medium of exchange, such as money"

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I don't view gun trading as any different than going to the gun shop and buying new guns. I don't view me partnering up with my coworker to make our own ammunition as any different than purchasing my own ammo. It's just a different apportionment of my time and labor. I find that definition offensive.

You're correct that it does amount to a different apportionment of time and labor. I'm not sure why that makes the definition offensive. Barter is barter because it does not use a medium of exchange: it is the direct exchange of goods or labor. That's not to say it's morally superior or inferior. Barter is simply different, and the presence of a medium of exchange does change the functioning of markets.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:05 am 
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It begs the question then - why isn't the lending happening anyway as there are HUGE sums of cash sitting on the sideline? I'm pretty sure that the last two batches of QE were proof positive that QE wasn't going to stimulate the banks to lend. They simply sat on their new pile of cash, and the credit markets continued to remain abysmal at best.

I agree.

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I think this is one of the most important things to understand about our economy right now and why QE I and II failed to deliver, why the stimulus failed to deliver, and why growth has been so terrible. It presumed that just because money was added into circulation that it would lead to growth - a preposterous assertion - because the banks had nothing (relatively speaking) to invest in. Most of the firms that were running on debt were no longer worth investing in. Those that were succeeding weren't relying on credit in the first place.

Well, the money from QE wasn't really added into circulation, so that's one of the key problems with it. The hope, as you mentioned, is that QE will get the banks to put the money into circulation, but they're not doing it.

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I don't think giving people money would lead to any growth at all. Particularly the set of people the author is gearing his money throwing out of a helicopter scheme at. If you gave me an extra hundred dollars a month to spend, is it going to make me more productive? My coworkers more productive? Will you be more productive? Or is the idea that our spending will create new jobs elsewhere? What makes anybody think that the kind of useless consumer bullshit that would be bought with this money would be made in America and create new jobs? What makes anybody think that it wouldn't do anything other than inflate the value of disposable goods: energy, housing, food, and clothing?

I think it would do both: inflate prices and increase production. If I've got more money to spend, maybe I buy a gym membership, which increases the demand for gym space and/or workers--if enough people do this, it will increase the quantity supplied of these. Of course there are limits to supply, especially in food and raw materials, and those prices would rise in response to rises in demand. given that American employment faces international competition, it seems most likely that goods and services which can't be imported will see the largest increases in employment and wages. But I don't know how much good it would do, overall, if the money was directed to consumption. If the money were instead spent paying down debt, however, I have to think the inflationary effects will be more limited, and the long term benefits of faster deleveraging are high for the resumption of growth and stability.

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Giving people money to pay down private debts, and paying for it with public debt is a sick thought.

Well, additional public debt isn't really necessary to do this. If the Fed buys up the debt, it can just tear it up. I have to wonder how much more inflationary the Fed buying debt is than some foreign government or foreign national buying our debt. And I don't see how the Fed tearing up debt it already owns is more inflationary than not tearing it up, in the present. So this could be essentially printed money--no additional debt needed. Then again, that's not accounting for effects on the dollar's value if lots of money is put into circulation, which could contribute to inflation here depending on pass through and inflation abroad depending on what countries do with their exchange rates in response and on whether hot money flows pick up in anticipation of currency revaluations.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:40 pm 
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Losing the Future by Daniel Altman

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The biggest problem facing the global economy is not climate change, trade imbalances, financial regulation, or the eurozone. It is short-term thinking. An epidemic of myopia has swept over the world in the past few decades, and it threatens our living standards like nothing else.

It's an epidemic with more than one cause, and not all of them are obviously sinister. Part of the problem is the growing complexity of the global economy. Life is simply getting harder to handle with the brainpower at our disposal.

To understand why, imagine a chess master. She might be able to think her way through the game about eight moves in advance. Now add more squares to the board, and perhaps a few new pieces. How many moves in advance can she think? Not eight -- maybe not even five. Because of the growing interconnectedness of the global economy, our lives are becoming more complex in much the same way, with many more moving parts; we can no longer worry just about those closest to us. As a result, we can't plan for the long term as easily as we used to. Every corner of the global economy is like a chessboard with an infinite number of squares; there's simply too much uncertainty.

Structural aspects of the global economy are magnifying the problem. For instance, the quarterly-earnings culture of financial markets -- the obsession with meeting analysts' expectations for corporate profits every three months, no matter what financial acrobatics that may imply -- owes its existence in part to arbitrary choices about how often companies have to report their results. Similarly, the money pumped into political campaigns has allowed them to lengthen considerably -- up to 22 months in the case of the 2008 U.S. election -- but legislative cycles have stayed much the same. With only two years between Congresses in the United States, for example, there's hardly time to focus on anything except reelection.

Together with these challenges, there is one truly odious cause of short-term thinking: narcissism...

[continued]

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:44 pm 
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And my reply from Facebook, b/c cross-posting is economical:

I like this. I might disagree with the premise of short-term thinking being a recent phenomenon--it's not like JFK didn't cheat on his wife, financial panics are a product of the 21st or even the 20th century, or various get rich quick schemes haven't long been around. However, less scarcity/more abundance/less risk (because of various safety nets, which prosperity allows for) gives ordinary people the freedom to think shorter term, more widespread wealth and credit allows their decisions to have a larger impact (peasants weren't suffocating in credit card and student loan debt), and the structures Altman describes in the article exacerbate these problems. But overall, I think Altman's spot-on.

I do think some cultural shifts have taken place encouraging people to think shorter term, but many of these are positive. Utilitarianism is a better basis for social morality than honor and glory: glory comes from victory, and victory often comes through violence--war between nations, for instance; some people may derive utility from violence, but on the whole, I think people would rather be safe from violence than free to do violence to others, even if they might take both freedoms if given the chance. But glory also requires sacrifice in pursuit of a larger goal, while utilitarian approaches have a tendency to underrate larger goals and thus take away some impetus for sacrifice.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:35 am 
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dkfan9 wrote:
(snip)
I do think some cultural shifts have taken place
(snip)


So, I thought that article was good but a little underdeveloped. Where do you think religion falls in this? The ultimate behavioral control device, the thought of eternal damnation, has been pretty much killed over the last one hundred years by science and technology. I can't help but think part of the reason we drive our selves to over-consume, to ignore everything from the federal debt to the changing climate, is because we know there is nothing for us beyond our own lifespan and no punishment for our excesses, so why worry?

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:56 am 
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broken iris wrote:
dkfan9 wrote:
(snip)
I do think some cultural shifts have taken place
(snip)


So, I thought that article was good but a little underdeveloped. Where do you think religion falls in this? The ultimate behavioral control device, the thought of eternal damnation, has been pretty much killed over the last one hundred years by science and technology. I can't help but think part of the reason we drive our selves to over-consume, to ignore everything from the federal debt to the changing climate, is because we know there is nothing for us beyond our own lifespan and no punishment for our excesses, so why worry?

Yeah I think you're right on that. The decline of religion's power and the embrace of materialism by some parts of Protestantism (see televangelists for an example, but even centuries ago success on Earth was seen by some as an indication of being chosen by God) probably do encourage short-sightedness. And the decline of religion means the decline of arbitrary moral codes--morality is up to the individual to decide; I have to think most of the internet pushes this further. Of course there are always forces pushing back, such as secular humanism and even neoconservatism in a sense. But these forces can only persuade; they can't coerce through fear like an afterlife can.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:25 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:26 am 
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Excerpt from one of my favorite economists (more at the link)

http://www.mpettis.com/2012/09/16/by-20 ... collapsed/

Quote:
By 2015 hard commodity prices will have collapsed

For the past two years, as regular readers know, I have been bearish on hard commodities. Prices may have dropped substantially from their peaks during this time, but I don’t think the bear market is over. I think we still have a very long way to go.

There are four reasons why I expect prices to drop a lot more. First, during the last decade commodity producers were caught by surprise by the surge in demand. Their belated response was to ramp up production dramatically, but since there is a long lead-time between intention and supply, for the next several years we will continue to experience rapid growth in supply. As an aside, in my many talks to different groups of investors and boards of directors it has been my impression that commodity producers have been the slowest at understanding the full implications of a Chinese rebalancing, and I would suggest that in many cases they still have not caught on.

Second, almost all the increase in demand in the past twenty years, which in practice occurred mostly in the past decade, can be explained as the consequence of the incredibly unbalanced growth process in China. But as even the most exuberant of China bulls now recognize, China’s economic growth is slowing and I expect it to decline a lot more in the next few years.

Third, and more importantly, as China’s economy rebalances towards a much more sustainable form of growth, this will automatically make Chinese growth much less commodity intensive. It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with my expectations of further economic slowing. Even if China is miraculously able to regain growth rates of 10-11% annually, a rebalancing economy will demand much less in the way of hard commodities.

And fourth, surging Chinese hard commodity purchases in the past few years supplied not just growing domestic needs but also rapidly growing inventory. The result is that inventory levels in China are much too high to support what growth in demand there will be over the next few years, and I expect Chinese in some cases to be net sellers, not net buyers, of a number of commodities.

This combination of factors – rising supply, dropping demand, and lots of inventory to work off – all but guarantee that the prices of hard commodities will collapse. I expect that certain commodities, like copper, will drop by 50% or more in the next two to three years.

Not everyone agrees. In the July 17 blog entry I made a reference to a book by Dambisa Moyo, a former investment banker turned economic writer, called Winner Take All, in which the author argues that the world is facing a crisis in the form of a commodity shortage, and she expects prices to surge. Unlike her, however, I expect the price of hard commodities and certain industry-related soft commodities (like rubber) to drop sharply in the next three years, and to stay low for many years thereafter.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:52 am 
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It's interesting that Mr. Welch got in the middle of such a sh*tstorm for saying exactly what we all already know: government statistics are fabricated crap.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:04 am 
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broken iris wrote:
It's interesting that Mr. Welch got in the middle of such a sh*tstorm for saying exactly what we all already know: government statistics are fabricated crap.


Have the folks at BLS had much contact with Kirchner's people?


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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:35 pm 
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Quote:

Honey Boo Boo Child and Incentives

by W.F. Price on October 5, 2012

I became aware of an unfortunate pop phenomenon known as “Honey Boo Boo Child” while clicking through channels not too long ago, and at first simply wrote it off as another example of the depravity that characterizes entertainment today. For those who don’t know, Honey Boo Boo is a little girl named Alana who participates in beauty pageants. She hails from a working-class Southern white family (AKA redneck), is overweight even at the age of six, and also happens to have quite a talent for getting attention. Her mother, known as “Mamma June,” is an obese woman in her 30s who has four children by four different men.

Although it’s tempting to write the mother off as another example of the typical Jerry Springer type trailer trash and simply laugh at the dumb rednecks, there’s more going on in that family than meets the eye. I looked at a few of the videos of their home life, and Mamma June, AKA “the Coupon Queen” actually manages to stock her home fairly well. In fact, the house is loaded to the gills with essentials such as detergent and toilet paper that she’s picked up on the cheap. So well-stocked that I suspect June is a compulsive hoarder, and not exactly a psychologically normal individual.

A lot of these compulsive types have above average intelligence, and June looks like one of them (she can do math in her head pretty damn well for a high school dropout). She may be trashy, but she isn’t dumb, and she has a good eye for material opportunity. Hence the praise she’s garnered for managing to wrest child support from four different men, which adds up to a lot more than she’d get if she’d had all four with the same man (in my state, twice as much). Even if all men are low earners, she could still pull down about $1,200-1,500 month, which is more than enough to house, feed and clothe her kids and herself in rural Georgia.

But perhaps the biggest opportunity was the beauty pageants she’s enrolled her daughter Alana in. She certainly knows that Alana is not going to grow up to be Miss Georgia (the girl is too big boned), but she has such a talent for amusing people and acting outrageous that people can’t get enough of her. She’s a very entertaining girl, although in a very inappropriate manner. However, inappropriate has become the norm in entertainment, so June saw an opportunity and pounced on it.

In order to maximize her daughter’s antics on stage, June jacks her up with a sugary, caffeine packed concoction of mountain dew and red bull before acts. Given that the girl is already overweight, this is beyond questionable, but apparently it works, and June defends it, saying “at least I’m not giving her alcohol.”

A lot of people in the middle class and above probably look at this and say “what a train wreck! How could a mother do this?”

Well, let’s look at the facts. June is obese, far from wealthy and stuck in a dead-end life. She did the best with the opportunities provided to her, and in contemporary America that meant having children with multiple men to maximize child support. Next, she took advantage of trash culture and voyeurism to capitalize on her daughter. Now she has her own reality show and is being paid thousands of dollars per episode, and richer than she’s ever been.

Each “bad choice” she made was incentivized. Every time she did something we look down on, she was rewarded for it. If she had simply buckled down and lived a modest, decent life, she’d be in a pretty lousy place today. The idea that simply doing what we’re “supposed to do,” presented to us in that enormous fake of a movie Forrest Gump, will pay off, is just plain wrong for a growing number of Americans.

We have engineered a society that punishes the common people for making socially responsible choices. Men who “do the right thing” and marry young end up divorced, childless, impoverished and indebted. Women who stay with their man have to work harder for less. People who bring their children up with the values of hard work and honesty find that there aren’t any jobs for their kids, or that the jobs that do exist pay Latin American wages. This is true for most Americans under the age of 40 now. It is a real catastrophe, and our elites are doing absolutely nothing to change it. No, instead they fly around the world with their billions involving themselves in third world projects, ignoring the collapse at home.

There’s a lot of blame for this to go around. From willful ignorance to outright class hostility, many upper income Americans are complicit in wrecking things for the more fragile lower half. Fundamentally selfish ideologies like feminism have played a very important part, but if we’re honest with ourselves selfishness will find any excuse for the damage it does; if it weren’t feminism it would be something else.

The collapse of values amongst the lower classes, the blame for which can be laid squarely at the feet of our “leaders” and cultural elites, is a grim portent of things to come. If there is a collapse of order in the United States, and it’s starting to look more like a “when” rather than an “if” at this point, having half or more of our population devoid of any notions of responsibility, integrity and social obligation will make the outcome that much more brutal and savage. Think Hurricane Katrina X 100.

Whatever the case, I wouldn’t count on one or the other of our presidential candidates to save us from it. Things are too far gone.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:14 pm 
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I blame TLC. Didn't that used to be educational? I'm pretty sure it had some interesting stuff on it at one point and it wasn't, Lifetime 2.

The Learning Channel is now The Lunatic Channel.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:25 pm 
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I'm insulted by his insinuation that half the population does have integrity and acts in a responsible manner.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:37 pm 
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Interesting to see the opinions of big-name economists on a huge number of issues. Good link (click "Bio/Vote History").

http://www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic- ... rticipants

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:21 pm 
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Interesting, on Starbucks tactics for avoiding UK taxes

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/ ... EX20121015

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:53 pm 
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http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-22/bernanke-set-unveil-number-larger-eternity

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 7:11 am 
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What do you guys think of this idea?

Quote:
The Fed should have a single mandate, but it is not the mandate commonly proposed. The Fed should restrain the total growth of credit in the economy, and ignore inflation and unemployment. Let the Fed defend us against depressions. It can succeed at that.

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 Post subject: Re: Apparently people care...the ongoing saga of the US Economy!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:39 am 
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You guys think the Sandy-induced boner made Krugman's dick explode already or what?

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