Assorted links

by on July 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. On the limited powers of Ben Bernanke.

2. Richard Ebeling on Vincent Ostrom.

3. A long post on libertarianism and the workplace, though I say the post should have more economics.

4. India this week, slideshow.

5. How does Hollywood ever make money?

6. Does the Icelandic miracle disappear if we add in just a little bit of data?

Andrew' July 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm

5. I liked the fine print:
A version of this article appeared in print on July 1, 2012, on page MM16 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: When You Wish Upon ‘Ishtar’ . .

TheAJ July 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Dude, what is with your desperation to cling to this Baltic-Iceland thing? Its almost sad. No one, not even Dr. K, holds up Iceland as some sort of success, the way you guys pimp your Baltic of the month based on quarterly data. (The Icelandic miracle headline was obviously tongue in cheek)

A quick check on WIkipedia shows that Iceland’s per cap GDP is 3x that of Latvia. Are we supposed to be surprised that these countries had faster growth than Iceland did in the 2000s? Hell, why don’t we just plop India and Malaysia on there too?

Iceland had banking assets that were multiple times its GDP. I don’t know if thats the case with these Baltics, but its clear that Iceland could have been hit hard. Its experience has been significantly less painful than . . . pretty much every other country out there.

I still have not understand the conservative infatuation with having a strong dollar. Is it because of some “we are conservatives, we must be strong, including our currency” or is it more of a “we can’t be weak, because we are conservatives, and neither can our currency.” Where were these people during the Bush 30% debasement? I don’t understand why savers are automatically entitled to some sort of reward of forever high interest rates, or why lowering rate is also punishing them. Can we talk about unemployment please? Yet another Latvia/Iceland/Estonia link that just ignores 20% unemployment because the most pressing issue is one’s euro-denominated savings.

Jeff July 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Thank you.

derek July 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

If this means that we can ignore what Krugman writes, then I agree with you.

Benny Lava July 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Remember that Tyler is the guy who talked up how well Ireland was doing under austerity because of one quarter of not terrible GDP numbers. Tyler is a joke on macro. Oh sorry, he suffers from mood affiliation.

TallDave July 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Actually, his talking up consisted of “not exactly the Keynesian story” and he was right — the Keynesian argument was Ireland should have been doing much worse in that quarter.

Andrew' July 3, 2012 at 3:07 am

Ummm, excuse me, but who is NOT a joke on macro?

From my limited, sampling biased view, it seems we are down to Scott Sumner…and on him we just haven’t heard the punchline yet.

W4LT3R July 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Is it ironic or merely coincidental that Davidson’s piece on the decline of Hollywood earnings due largely to a dearth of new ideas was written just before the biggest June weekend in history, a box office bonanza driven by not one but two original ideas – an R rated talking teddy bear and male stripper drama?

Careless July 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Note that #6 is 2 years old.

The Cleaner July 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Sorry but I assume Tyler wanted to link to this post dated July 2, 2012

Also, regarding # 1, I assume that MY meant Obama rather than Bernanke.

TallDave July 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Hey! The polite term is “chronologically disadvantaged.”

The Fool July 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm

The one thing that link #1 misses is that all the extraordinary actions of ths feed have been undertaken while firmly holding to a 2% inflation target. This means ( per Yglesias) that the maximum boost any of these unprecedented actions could elf in its a boost in current inflation to 2%. As all of the unprecedented measures have been in dollar amounts instead of promises to continue purchases until a higher rate of inflation is reached (leaving alone the rates v. levels argument for a moment), the markets will take the money and do nothing with it, as any increase in growth would result in the Fed tightening it’s monetary policy (either by rate increase or, far more likely, withdrawing continued street for easing policies in an attempt to head off ah increase in inflation).

Bashing Bernanke is done because his prior work ostensibly agrees with market monetarists and because it’s polemically useful to rail against a person instead of a faceless committee.

TallDave July 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

3. Ugh, I would like the time I spent on that nonsense back, please.

Go Kings, Go! July 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

#3. The first picture, “A crane removes the carcass of a 40-year-old elephant called Chanchal after it was hit by a truck”.

Commentary on GOP challenge to ACA? Prestige of macro-economists? Alabama and new graduation requirements for NCAA playoff eligibility? Pink Elephants, White Elephants and monetary policy? Quality of economists’ commentary on Supreme Court cases? Self-driving cars? Job prospects of elephants with abnormal names?

Donald Pretari July 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I’m not sure I understand the argument in #6. I would start the analysis of the effects of Iceland’s Response to the Financial Crisis in Oct. of 08, when the UK froze Four Billion Pounds of Icelandic Assets using Anti-Terrorism Laws.

Indianophile July 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

#4: “the final solution to the Muslim problem is reconversion”. Dr. Konrad Elst

Bender Bending Rodriguez July 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

On #5, you don’t even have to read past the first paragraph to find that the whole thing is bullsh!t.

Its production costs were close to $250 million; worldwide marketing most likely added at least that much; and a big chunk of the ticket sales go to theaters and distributors.

Really? What “big chunk” goes to distributors for MIB3? It’s being distributed by an arm of the studio that made it. The average take on ticket sales is 50-50 between the theater and the
distributor, but that discounts the high frequency of sliding scales where the distributor (read: The people who made it) get 90% (or more) of the box office. I’ve even heard of blockbuster
movies that got 100% of box office _plus_ a bit of concessions.

I’d note that since we’re talking about Sony, you can probably ash-can a big chunk of that “worldwide marketing” as bogus too. How much of it was coupons for $5 off a ticket to MIB3 with the purchase of MIB or MIB2 on Blu-ray or DVD? How much more was UOP* trailers on DVD/Blu-ray films distributed by Sony? Poor, poor Sony. They barely have two dimes to rub together.

*UOP is user operation prohibited, which means you can’t skip it.

Go Kings, Go! July 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Who are you going to believe? Some guy posting a comment in the nether regions of the web, or the New York Times?

(And yes, I know you’re wholly correct, BBB, and have even reviewed such contracts, but it’s the NEW YORK TIMES.)

Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I rather wish that the author of #3 had engaged with the ideas of “real libertarians” (his term) rather than dismissing them.

How can he claim to refute the values of a political philosophy if he does not engage it?

GiT July 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

His term? The term “real libertarians” never appears in the piece or the comments of the author (one of multiple authors) who posted it.

In any case the argument was with a specific group of libertarians – ‘bleeding heart libertarians,’ as represented in a series of posts made by them. Whoever you think “real libertarians” are and what “real libertarianism” is, with your gesture towards a no true Scotsman defense, doesn’t really seem to the point.

Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I made no defense of any kind, let alone one of the no true Scotsman variety…

The article of #3 seems to attempt to refute Bleeding Heart Libertarians – or at least to force them into positions which are indistinguishable from those held by regular liberals.

Okay, sure, fine.

What would have been more interesting to see is how real libertarians – that is, those not of the Bleeding Heart variety – address points regarding coercion in the workplace.

The author assumes the consequent – that regulation of these coercions is required. What is the real libertarian response to this point? Surely they have thoroughly fleshed out positions regarding this. What are they are why does the author of #3 not find them compelling?

TallDave July 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm

The “real libertarian” response is simple: the freedom of employees is not more important than the freedom of employers, even if there are more of the former. They should both be free to contract however they like — even if the employee really, really wants the employer’s money and is therefore at a disadvantage.

Berman defines freedom in Marxist terms, which works about as well as it sounds. (Year 1: “We’ve redistributed all wealth equally. Hooray! Freedom is maximized!” Year 2: “Uh oh, where’s all the food?”)

GiT July 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

If you aren’t gesturing towards a no-true-Scotsmen defense (note I never said “making,” just as the first object of your criticisms never said “real libertarians,”), then why continue on the rather inane point that you didn’t like what they were talking about and they should have responded to “real libertarians,” not “bleeding hearts”?

The post wasn’t about what you find interesting. I’d bet the authors of it would find your preferences (and ‘argument’ – “oh, don’t they realize they’re just begging the question?”) quite boring and not worth their time.

Doc Merlin July 3, 2012 at 3:19 am

The post was an attempt to refute libertarians by attacking “bleeding heart libertarians.”
It was nonsense.

GiT July 3, 2012 at 6:45 am

The post was an attempt to debate with bleeding heart libertarians by debating with bleeding heart libertarians. That you think the post is nonsense is a vindication of both the CT post, which explicitly did not chose to engage with you and your ilk, and a vindication of the BHL project, which was spawned as an attempt to argue for libertarianism outside of the rather cramped intellectual space in which the more benighted libertarians reside.

Anthony July 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

The author in #3 claims that 40% of all employees were “investigated” during the McCarthy period. The link is to the author’s own book. I find that claim rather hard to believe, unless by “investigated”, he means “were required to sign a loyalty oath”, or “their names were checked against a short list of known subversives”, and even the latter of those seems difficult to believe. The parenthetical “and a smaller percentage punished” adds to the smell of bullshit, since 0% is smaller than 40%, and that’s about what we’re talking about, but his phrasing implies a percentage closer to 20% or 30%. If that part of his argument is bullshit, why should I take any of the rest of it seriously?

PO July 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Perhaps #3 needs to be introduced to the “mutualist” variety of libertarian:

nemi July 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I think that they implicitly refer to right wing libertarians – not real libertarians

Silas Barta July 3, 2012 at 8:30 am

Oh, you mean the ones that make sure to wish *extra* hard that low-skilled labor will have a lot more market power than it does today?

ThomasH July 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm

If the Fed announced an ngdp target and that it intended to keep buying assets as long as ngdp growth is below the target and thng kept buying assets as long as ngdp growth is below the target, I predict that it would rapidly gain credibility. I don’t konw why that would be called “irresponsibility, but what ever it was called, I predict success.

Doc Merlin July 3, 2012 at 3:20 am

I predict that if the fed did that, in 10 years we would be looking for a new target variable.

chuck martel July 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm

It’s truly amazing that hundreds of experienced, talented people can get together on a project with a zillion dollar budget and produce something that’s unwatchable. Aside from that, here’s an interesting interview on the subject, especially the finance part:,13793/

Bender Bending Rodriguez July 3, 2012 at 1:33 am

Nobody who’s seen a film using a George Lucas screenplay would be amazed.

Nattering Nabob July 3, 2012 at 12:15 am

That doesn’t deal with the issue the CT post raised, which is: if you, the employee, and I, the employer, make an explicit contract to exchange x for y, and then I demand something extra that isn’t explicitly in the contract (e.g. that you take no toilet breaks), why do I get to decide unilaterally what’s implicitly in the contract? It’s not obviously the right answer to say that the solution (if you and I don’t agree on what was implicitly in the contract) is for the two of us to go our separate ways – it’s arguable that what’s actually implicit is something like “no firing except for genuine business reasons, and no duties above those explicitly enumerated (except those clearly required for business viability.)”, and that you the employee should be able to enforce that contract. Which brings in the government to adjudicate as to whether I the employer have failed to live up to my obligations under the contract that I freely signed.

Now what if I got you to explicitly agree to never take a toilet break, before starting the job (as opposed to after an indeterminate contract was signed, which was the Crooked Timber scenario)? Well, if you’re going to starve otherwise then it’s arguable that such a contract is unconscionable. You and I are free to sign it, but it’s not the government’s obligation to enforce any cockamamie writ that you and I scribble down.

Nattering Nabob July 3, 2012 at 12:17 am

(That was meant to be in response to TallDave.)

Ricardo July 3, 2012 at 2:47 am

I think the second paragraph describes the U.S. employment situation well enough. Most employment is “at will” and most HR departments will have you sign a document explicitly acknowledging the fact that your employment is not contractual and can terminate when one party gives notice to the other.

I don’t think the “work or starve” argument applies very well although it might in an actual libertarian society. The bigger problem with being unemployed in the U.S. is that a spell of unemployment almost regardless of the circumstances is extremely destructive toward one’s future career prospects. Many employers will look at a resume, see the dreaded “resume gap” and throw it away. The conventional wisdom that it is easier to look for a job when you already have one is very true. Employees simultaneously face poor bargaining power with their employers (unionized tenured academics are an exception) and are also on the wrong side of an asymmetric information/signaling game in which termination and a “resume gap” will count heavily against you.

chuck martel July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

For probably the overwhelming majority of human experience nobody had a “job” or “employment” as we now know it. This remains true over much of the world even today. Yet Americans, discomfited by an unemployment rate of supposedly +/- 8%, have to believe that life is impossible without the relatively new employer/employee relationship. Do we imagine that we’ve reached the end point of societal change when we sign a W-4 form?

Silas Barta July 3, 2012 at 8:03 am

Arguments like those in #3 (on crookedtimber) are so bizarre, and come from such a contorted mentality that I barely know where to begin. It basically (using WAY too many words) says that, wow look at all these things you’re FORCED to do, that deprive you of your FREEDOM! ~*clutch the pearls*~

Of course, you’re *not* forced to do those things; it’s just that you won’t be given money if you don’t. It’s no different from the situation when I pay someone to fix my roof. Under CT’s “understanding” (and I use the term loosely), the roofer is “forced” to climb on top of a building, from which he can fall and die! Of course, it’s BS there too: the roofer doesn’t have to climb up there; it’s just that he won’t be paid if he doesn’t.

Are there situations where people can be unduly desperate for money? Sure, and we need a principled framework for spelling out what those situations are and what the proper response is. But the CT mentality never gets any deeper than, “yuck — I wouldn’t like trading that right way, so nobody else should either, and if they are it’s because their freedom is being violated”.

And of course, there we see the modern liberal’s confusion. To them, a right (or a freedom) is really an obligation. The right to privacy means you can never ever ever waive any privacy for money. That is, incidentally. why they get all giddy over Sen’s Liberal Paradox: it only works if you equate rights with obligations and refuse to let people swap rights. But of course, they whole *point* of rights is that you can WAIVE them as necessary to trade for things you value more.

athEIst July 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm

When top stars first asked for a percentage in their pay, they asked for a percentage of the profits. They now ask for a percentage of the revenue. Pictures that pay their stars a percentage of the profits, never have profits.

Floccina July 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

3. , though I say the post should have more economics.
We need to think of a job as an association that last as long as both parties benefit. The employer also loses if an employee leaves.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: