Archive for November, 2011

Banks’ “Bigger Concern”: “Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”

November 19th, 2011 Comments off

…”and might start running against them too.”

What a nightmare that would be.

This from the a sales pitch by lobbyist/strategy firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford to the American Bankers Association, trying to sell them on a $850,000 deal to plan the bankers’ response to OWS.

HT: Barry Ritholtz


Did CRA and the GSEs Cause the Housing Crisis? Uh uh.

November 19th, 2011 Comments off

areas disproportionately served by lenders covered by the CRA experienced lower delinquency rates and less risky lending. Similarly, the threshold tests show no evidence that either program had a significantly negative effect on outcomes.

Emphasis mine.

via The Subprime Crisis: Is Government Housing Policy to Blame? | The Big Picture.

Conservatives Love to Point Out that Personal Incentives Matter

November 18th, 2011 2 comments

And their #1 stated goal is to beat Obama in the next election. They have very strong incentives to achieve that.

With that as a given, take a look at the top two economic predictors of incumbent (i.e. Obama) victory, 1948-2008, according to prediction sage Nate Silver:

Conservatives/Republicans have strong incentives to make the ISM index and the growth of nonfarm payrolls as bad as possible next year.

The only remaining question is whether they will (continue to) act on those personal incentives, or whether they will seek what’s best for the country, and the people, they profess to love.

Here’s the whole list of predictive indicators from Nate’s great article:

Which Economic Indicators Best Predict Presidential Elections? –

Hard-Working Germans vs Lazy Italians? Not so Much.

November 18th, 2011 Comments off

My buddy Ole has a great line that I’ve been following and quoting as a mantra for businesspeople for a couple of decades:

Hire the lazy.

By which he means (and I mean), hire people who will figure out how to streamline and automate the boring and repetitive parts of their jobs, so they can do interesting, creative, and productive work instead. I want my employees to spend a good amount of their time making their current jobs obsolete. If they can succeed at that valuable task, believe me, we’ll find plenty of other things for them to do.

Which is just a lead-in to this graph from Matthew Yglesias:

The Italians aren’t lazy and feckless; they work really hard compared to increasingly liesure-lapping Germans. If anything the Italians are foolish. They should have been paying a lot more attention to boosting their productivity over recent decades.

But it’s quite possible that they simply prefer stomping grapes with their feet; it’s what they want to do with their lives. It increases their well-being, and they’re willing to sacrifice monetary income to that end. (Yes, there are also undoubtedly many dumb inefficiencies that could be corrected.)

What economic system would give them the freedom and liberty to make that choice, without being severely punished at some point by the financial markets? Does one exist? Added: Could the Italians pull it off, long-term, if they had their own currency?

A more general question: should people be punished more for foolishness, or laziness? Should we incentivize people to work smart, or work hard?

Hard-Working Italians vs Lazy Germans | ThinkProgress.

More on American Inequality and (Lack of) Opportunity

November 17th, 2011 1 comment

The data is in, again, some more (follow links to related posts, below, for much more): high inequality correlates with low opportunity to climb (or descend) the ladder.

The U.S.? Meritocracy resides elsewhere. (Think: Denmark.)

the United States is among the most unequal and the least mobile of the rich countries, with about 50% of a father’s earnings advantage (or for that matter disadvantage) being passed on to the son.

In Canada this is about 20%, less than half the US figure.

Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 5: decline of the American Dream « milescorak.

“Riddle me this: did all of these countries have a Fannie/Freddie or CRA?”

November 17th, 2011 5 comments

The Legacy of Reaganomics in Two Graphs

November 14th, 2011 3 comments

Why People Vote: “Doing It” Together

November 13th, 2011 Comments off

PoliSci folks have been pointing out forever that voting is irrational. The odds that your vote will make any difference are miniscule, so taking the time and effort to fill out the form (much less learn about the issues) is a losing proposition.

It seems that people believe in the power of collective action.

Or maybe they just want to get laid:

The Voting Paradox Explained! Why People Vote… — The Monkey Cage.

Monetary or Fiscal, Discretionary or Non? Think: Automatic Stabilizers

November 13th, 2011 Comments off

Richard Williamson and Lars Christensen are having an interesting discussion on the language of Market Monetarism (a moniker that Lars coined). Lars objects to Richard’s use of “monetary stimulus” because for him as an economist:

o “Stimulus” smacks of discretion(ary fiscal policy).

o One of the keys to Market Monetarism (actually of monetary policy, period) is setting/anchoring expectations.

o Discretionary policy, since it can be changed in the future at the policy-makers’ discretion, can’t anchor expectations so well.

As usual, Steve Waldman nails it (tweet):

Best to replace the fiscal/monetary debate w/rules vs discretion debate that is catholic about means. cf @shewingthefly

Automatic stabilizers are the key to effective 1) policy and 2) expectation-setting. Because 1) They happen, and 2) People know they’re gonna happen. Could be fiscal or monetary, largely a question of where you inject the money.

My personal preferred stabilizer is to up the EITC bigtime, expand it up the income spectrum, pay it on weekly paychecks, and index its benefit levels to some measure of unemployment.

Or the MMTer’s guaranteed employment scheme.

Both long-term goals, of course, not happening any time soon. (But who would have guessed that NGDP level targeting would get in sight of the goalposts in only a few years?)

Either, it seems to me, would give the Fed a much more congenial environment for exerting its moxie, more flexibility for managing the tradeoffs between its mandates.

Tea Partiers and OWSers: Who Needs to Get a Job?

November 13th, 2011 Comments off

In fact their employment level is about the same, but a lot more of the OWSers are working for a living.

How can that be? Retirement.

the Wall Street Journal found:

… the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).

Professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman and business analyst Harrison Schultz from the Baruch College School of Public Affair puts the unemployment rate of the Occupy protesters at 13.1%.  In other words, approximately 85% employment rate.

In contrast, a 2010 New York Times CBS News poll found that only 56% of members of the Tea party were employed (question 105).

… 32% of the Tea Party members surveyed are retired.

Add those up, and 88% of Tea Partiers are employed or retired. Assume that 3% of OWSers are retired, and the numbers are the same.

But there is a big difference: a lot more Tea Partiers are protesting in their leisure time. OWSers are putting in extra hours after work.

via Most “Occupy Wall Street” Protesters HAVE Jobs | The Big Picture.