The people who run banks and other lenders see 2008 as mostly a result of poor underwriting. They figure “if we and our peers and competitors had been more careful, it wouldn’t have happened”. If you suggest “maybe the Fed had something to do with it” you get weird looks.
This si because almost everyone, PhD economists, MBAs, former engineers/science guys, you name it, thinks recessions are natural disasters, earth quakes, tsunamis. The Fed, in this strange world, is the hero who comes in to save the day, fire fighters are a good analogy. The Fed only gets blamed in so far as it screws up the response. People don’t realize that ‘oarsman’ is a better analogy. If a ship hits an iceberg, its ultimately the oarsman who’s at fault. It might have been choppy seas &c. but ultimately his decisions led the ship astray.
The Fed should get all the blame and all the credit for the state of the nominal economy. Banks didn’t cause the recession, they just failed to build portfolios that were robust to a catastrophic and unforecastable drop in nominal spending.
I just watched the Vox interview with Bernie Sanders, the first time I’d ever held my nose and consumed media from Vox for more than a few accidental seconds.
I grew up about a mile from Bernie Sander’s house, in Burlington, Vermont. Bernie lives in a nice, if otherwise unremarkable house (a little nicer than my neighborhood, but hardly extravagant), about a 10 minute walk from the Burlington bike path, and maybe 15 minutes from Lake Champlain. I recall seeing Bernie in the grocery store frequently. One time I got on the local TV news after I threw him a soft-ball question when he spoke at my high school. Needless to say, it’s strange to see him making this seemingly credible run for President; almost as strange as when Howard Dean (my mother’s first boss) made his run.
I grew up in a vaguely conservative household, a demographic remnant of Vermont from before the New York lefty invasion. It was routine to complain about what an embarrassment Bernie was to the state. But when I listen to his rhetoric, he’s basically saying “I want to make America more like Germany or Denmark”. It’s not such a bad vision. You’d need a nation of Germans or Danes to pull it off, but you could pick worse goals.
I’m done with libertarianism. Not because I disagree with the core ideas so much, I think Rothbard and v. Mises had some compelling points (not on monetary policy of course), and believe Milton Friedman’s vision would have been perfect for the United States of 1980 or 1990 or even 2000. I’ve basically just grown tired of the smug, sanctimonious status signaling that libertarian economists throw off theses days. I guess I’m whatever Tino Sanandaji calls himself.
What I like about Bernie, and what makes him stand apart, at a fundamental level, from internet libertarians and normal politicians, is that he sees the nation state as a club good. An asset that’s to be managed so as to balance out the interests of the club owners (citizens) as much as is possible. For example, 0.5% of citizens might really want faster population growth, so their companies can sell more goods and so land becomes scarcer, increasing the value of their holdings. They push for more immigration. But then you might have, say 30% of the population who want to form households and have children, immigration makes it harder for them to do this, because it makes housing expensive, lowers wages and strains government resources. 30% v.s. 0.5%, should be an easy choice given what each wants.
Bernie really does seem to see the welfare of the bottom 90% or 95% of Americans as his priority. This stands in stark contrast to libertarians—at least since Rothbard and Friedman died—who see Americans as 320 million individuals, with no group interests, nationless, rootless. Republican and Democrat politicians see Americans as dangerous chattel, to be manipulated, farmed and social engineered for the benefit of donors and certain interest groups. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic; America remains one of the best places to live. But it’s in a lot of trouble and needs major reforms, foremost of which are an Israel-style border fence and vastly more limited and selective legal immigration framework.
I don’t agree with Bernie on much. He’s wrong on many economic issues, puts too much faith in price controls and the like. I also couldn’t disagree with him more on social issues. Yet I find myself curious to see what a leftwing, pro-labor politician could do. I’m not saying it’s optimal, I’m saying it’s an interesting possibility.
The post title is sort of joke. It’d be an awkward pairing, Trump and Sanders. Yet I can almost imagine it happening, if the oligarch class are able to engineering a Hildawg vs ¡Jeb! election. Trump making a deal with Sanders to steal the election from the major parties in the name of economic nationalism. Anyway, I endorse Trump and hope the Dems pick Bernie.
There’s never been a better time to be a car enthusiast.
Western Civilization might be well into its spiral ’round history’s toilet bowl, but goddamn are there some compelling offerings from the world’s major automakers!
I recently had the fortune to ride in an ultra high performance 4-door sedan. Ultra high performance as in 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, that is faster than the old Tesla Roadster’s 3.9 seconds. Granted this car carried a $100k price tag, but that sort of performance would have cost $200k or $300k a decade ago.
More realistically, today I test drove the new 2016 Maza MX-5, a car which can be had for $25k, and is best bought at $32k (mabye $330 a month for a 3-year lease with zero down). It was an absolute dream to drive, with the top down in the late summer Texas sun. The gears could be shifted with a generous bend of the wrist, the clutch was nearly effortless. I was with a saleswoman, and the car was new, so I didn’t dare take it above 3700 rpm. Even still, it felt fairly speedy, and was eminently satisfying to take on highway exit turns. A great car. Looked sexy too.
I got into my 2014 Civic Si Coupe after the dealership sales bollocks to drive home. At first my Honda felt loose and bloated. The shifter needed some elbow and shoulder to change gears, the clutch felt like a leg press machine after the Mazda. Yet before long I was passing plebians in the right lane at 5500 rpm on Texas’ generous concrete highways. I wondered how it was that I could easily afford a low-end sports car like this, and deign to replace it with a slightly less low-end model.
The reason of course is that we are in the golden age of the auto. If you live in America, outside the Northeast or California (with their massively overburdened roadways and dysfunctional maintenance regimes) you owe it to yourself to get a sweet car, they’re so affordable. The auto industry is hyper competitive, GM, Ford, Honda, Mazda, and even Chrysler are at each others throats trying to produce affordable performance cars. Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, and a few others are also in the mix with these others trying to accommodate every taste in auto (but for affordable performance). The new F-150 is apparently a masterwork, and the Silverado is good too, for the money especially. I don’t follow trucks much, but apparently that segment is at new highs in terms of quality and performance per dollar.
Americans might not be able to afford the exorbitant costs of family formation: out-bid the underclass to access a low-crime neighborhood, pay the priestly class off with college loans, or earn a decent share of NGDP in an open-borders labor market; but we can certainly self medicate with nice cars. My lease and insurance costs me less per month (about $370) than many people spend on lunch, and less than some people spend on bar tabs, let alone total alcohol spending. For something so central to American life as a car, it’s really quite a bargain. And it’s all because the auto industry is highly mature, made honest by ruthless competition.
With oil prices ranging around $50 per barrel, it only costs me about $35 to fill a 12-gallon tank with 93 octane, I don’t even think about fuel costs.
In this age of Donald Trump I find myself increasingly sympathetic to moderate economic nationalism, so it is with some sense of dissonance that I point out our golden age of cars was brought about by low tariff international trade. It’s basically a mix of Japanese v.s. Anglo v.s. German engineering genius which has brought us to this point of hyper competitive car company offerings (honorary mention to the Koreans). Americans writ large might still be better off if we had higher tariffs (higher relative wages for median ability workers), but it’s easy to imagine that cars might not be quite as sweet as they are today under such a regime. A trade off with all things.
It’s well-established that married men live longer, and make more money, than bachelors of a similar background. It’s also true that men earn more money in the years following marriage. These facts might be reported in Charles Murray’s Coming Apart but I’m sure I read them long before that book came out, I don’t remember where though.
The only way marriage seems to harm productivity is in highly creative fields. Most scientists do their great work before marriage, lifelong bachelors remain productive. Think of Newton v.s. Einstein.
Background, I’m a bachelor, nearly 30. It occurred to me yesterday, as I built an excel workbook to review my assets, liabilities, expenses and income, that I’ve been terrible about saving. A factoid about East Asian cultures then arose in my mind: In China and especially Japan, wives manage the household finances. I also remembered that East Asians achieve remarkable personal savings rates.
It makes sense. With a wife around, who knows everything about you, where all your money comes from, and where all of it goes, one is shamed into saving. Just like Christianity seems to improve economic outcomes (God is observing a judging) only there is a verifiable observer, so it works on the faithless too. This might also explain some of the health benefits of marriage. With a wife around to observe (and judge) you might not have the second bowl of ice cream, or the extra six beers. The origin of the saying “mind your P’s and Q’s” (pints and quarts, i.e. don’t drink too much beer) gets at this.
The Republicans have got to be the dumbest, least strategic-thinking major political party in the English speaking world.
Case in point: the GOP in Colorado refuse to fund a long term contraceptive program (using intrauterine devices or IUDs). The program in question gives long term birth control to poor teen girls and young women. Not sure if the Republicans are aware of this, but they’re the party of intact families!
In contrast, the archetypal Democrat voter is a single mother. A sure fire way to cut down on the number of future Democrat voters is to give poor women free birth control, particularly passive, long-lasting birth control like an IUD. If I were a Republican strategist, looking to the long term future of the party (and the country), I’d push legislation tying modest cash rewards (say $500 or $1000) to each year a woman under 35 uses an IUD. It’s brilliant. This way we reward women who can’t afford to have babies for not having babies. It’s just smart policy, and a good first step toward reversing the dysgenic fertility patterns we seen.
Cuckservatives wonder why The Donald is eating their lunch…
So the news that Planned Parenthood—what I understand to be the biggest provider of abortions in the U.S.—has been selling baby body parts for profit has brought up the abortion issue in a big way. I’m not sentimental or emotional when I think about things like this, and even I found the news a bit ghoulish.
I’m not whole-hog antiabortion. I think if there is known genetic disease, incest, rape, then abortion is a no-brainer. Moreover, if you really don’t want to have a baby, but as Stefan Molyneux says, you slipped and fell on a penis, well then I guess you should have an abortion so your (likely) cruel, reckless genome can be bred out of the population. But Zeus’ beard, did we need to have 50 million abortions since Roe v Wade? That seems like a lot.
Here’s my take on it, if something as morally dubious as abortion can be legal and federally funded, why can’t we make safe, effective contraceptive injections and IUDs part of the deal for welfare services? How is preventing pregnancy in women who can’t afford to support their current families any worse than paying for them to have their unfinished offspring vacuumed out? It just makes sense.
I should have known better than to hope for a different outcome.
The Greeks and EU Kaiser Merkel are back to denying reality, trying to keep Greece on the same monetary policy as Germany.
Even if Greece’s debts are cut 50%, the country’s nominal GDP is still at the lowest point since before the 2008 recession, lower than in 2014, lower than in 2012. Debt relief isn’t enough, they need monetary stimulus, lots of it.
It seemed, earlier in the week, that all the worthwhile commentators were saying a new Drachma was inevitable now. That inevitability might be pushed off for a while yet.
That the Greek and German leadership are still seriously weighing more debt restructuring shows they don’t understand the fundamental problem (monetary union), or if they do understand it, value the EMU more than they value economic sanity. I put more weight on this last option as being true.