Wednesday assorted links

by on January 27, 2016 at 2:27 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Jos. S. Laughon January 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm

re: 1# I wonder if that is also due to the fact that homosexuality tends to be more common among middle/upper class. Either way, interesting.

2 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 27, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that homosexuality shouldn’t necessarily be more or less common in a given social class, but that the urban poor simply don’t have the time to explore their sexuality (not to mention the rampant homophobia in poor urban communities). An academic’s life is even more disconnected from the day-to-day needs of earning a living, so the theory would fit.

3 Ben January 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm
4 Urstoff January 27, 2016 at 3:37 pm

Maslow’s hierarchy of need is also complete bunk, so that’s not particularly illuminating.

5 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm

As a precise predictor of human behavior it may not be an especially useful model–different people have different priorities–but as an abstract framework for thinking about patterns of human behavior it’s a perfectly useful shorthand for my underlying point.

6 TMC January 27, 2016 at 7:07 pm

I’d agree with the homophobia remark, but I’d also bet they have more, not less time to explore than the middle or upper class.

7 Dan in Euroland January 27, 2016 at 3:44 pm

(Clinical) Narcissism is most likely the major underlying determinant in both conditions (HS and academia.)


8 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Amazing they could get that published nowadays. Off the reservation sociologists and psychologists have been subjected to campaigns of harassment by the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. The outsize presence of homosexuals in psychology is likely one vector in generating some of their shadier public interventions over the years.

9 John L January 27, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Maybe it is homossexuals, maybe it is the Jews, maybe it is the Catholics “our founders distrusted”. Who knows?

10 Ray Lopez January 27, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Statistically, there must have been a few closet gays* among the US founders, as well as Jews, Catholics, and probably a few Free Masons (George Washington?).

*gays being biological gays, not social gays. The former is well documented these days (e.g., even animals like sheep are homosexual). The latter is largely extinct, and involves things like ‘rites of passage’ among Polynesian tribes and “Greek massage” (sic, made that up but you get the idea) among ancient Greeks. The point being is back then you had straight men who did anal sex with each other as a social convention. Aristotle for example reports that two different neighboring Greek city-states were such that one practiced homosexuality while the other did not, which rules out homosexuality being genetic back then. Ditto for the ‘coming of age’ rituals in Polynesia, which every male performed.

11 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm

No Jews. The only Catholics were Daniel Carroll, his cousin Charles Carroll of Carollton, and Thos. FitzSimons. About six (out of 118) were bachelors, reason unknown.

12 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 5:09 pm

The culture being what it is, they had to frame their inquiries in terms of assets homosexuals are supposed to have in greater abundance which attract them to certain occupations, rather than deficits which would induce them to avoid certain occupations. Just about every occupation wherein homosexuals are supposed to be more prevalent is a bourgeois occupation, presumably because ordinary working class occupations were excluded from inquiry. You’ll notice that pretty much all the occupations listed incorporate verbalization, creativity, or touching people.

13 Cooper January 27, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Isn’t that partly because traditionally blue collar industries are often occupied by socially conservative men who hold strongly negative views of homosexuality?

If you’re a gay steel worker and all of your coworkers are constantly harassing you, you’re going to be pretty miserable.

14 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 6:22 pm

If you’re a gay steel worker and all of your coworkers are constantly harassing you,

Your imagination is vigorous.

15 Terri January 27, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Not a fan of the Simpsons?

16 Mark Thorson January 27, 2016 at 7:54 pm

If you catch tonight’s PBS Newhour, there’s a welder being interviewed on that show. Curious how many people think that person is heterosexual.

17 Ricardo January 27, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Social conservatism isn’t the issue. I worked in blue collar environments when I was a college student and there were more than a few recreational marijuana users and guys with out-of-wedlock kids. What I think you mean to say — and I would agree — is that people in these occupations probably have more traditional views of gender roles and tend to see themselves as tough guys who need to prove their masculinity in front of their peers.

18 Poincare January 30, 2016 at 12:00 am

Yeah, that’s what makes them social conservatives – traditional views of gender roles, duh.

19 M January 30, 2016 at 12:13 pm

That might also in turn be linked to smaller family size among high achievers. Less focus on reproduction and family building -> an easier or more attractive environment for homosexuals. Working class folk are probably disproportionately from the ranks of people who passed up career and wealth opportunities, even ones they could easily meet on “merit”, for family building and working without payment to sustain their community.

20 dearieme January 27, 2016 at 2:42 pm

More likely to be gay, or more likely to have “come out”? If the latter, cause/effect?

21 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

My guess would actually be that LGBT individuals are more likely to be drawn to the academy–even if they weren’t “out” when they first went to college, the comparative social freedom on campus compared to out in the rest of the world must have been liberating (especially in the decades-ago time when the subjects were making their career choices).

22 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 6:40 pm

A mid-career academic would be about 50 today and likely have entered graduate school around about 1990. Office manners at that time (as I experienced them) incorporated a saving circumspection you don’t see much anymore, but the times were not radically different in everyday life.

It’s also quite strange to see contemporary academe as a locus of ‘social freedom’. Being an academic means you can show up for work in sneakers and only have to be a particular place at a particular time about 400 hours a year. These are ‘social’ freedoms?

23 P January 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

#1: What sort of academics? Hard or soft fields?

24 cheesetrader January 27, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Depends on whether or not Viagra is involved….

25 Neil Tennant January 27, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Which do you choose
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)

In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls

26 Ben January 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Re: Corporations hoarding cash: the end logic is that they expect a transformative investment opportunity in the future which would be good news, but that logic seems backward from the usual. Wouldn’t the usual explanation for a cash reserve be because a calamity is expected? Treasury bonds are the things that go up in price when stocks crash, no?

27 8 January 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

The word balance sheet and debt did not appear in the article. No mention of corporate bond issuance in recent years. No mentioned of ultra low interest rates. Also no mention of rising credit spreads on investment grade bonds, or high yield spreads at a point that was associated with the 2000 and 2008 recessions (also 2011).

>>>”Outstripping even the cash growth, however, was the growth of outstanding debts.

“The $1.8 trillion in cash is dwarfed by the $5.8 trillion in total debt outstanding, which increased 6x to that of cash during 2014 as borrowers of all stripes took advantage of the low borrowing cost and investors’ thirst for yield,” Chang said.”<<< America’s big companies are sitting on a record $1.82 trillion in cash

28 Ben L January 27, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Ok, presuming you can’t take on debt just to invest in bonds and make a profit, then, the article’s claims make a bit more sense. You’d hoard cash instead of paying off the debt if you guessed there was a high return high uncertainty opportunity coming.

29 8 January 28, 2016 at 12:13 pm

They issued debt to get the cash. It’s not net savings, it is net zero and possibly a liability if they’ve already spent some cash on stock buybacks. If prices drop and yields rise, this “cash hoard” becomes a liability and loss making venture.

30 mulp January 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Corporations with high cash holdings are monopolies. As monopolists, they can only invest in furthering their monopoly power, ie, buying competitors and preventing too much investment in production, or buying out owners to concentrate ownership among a smaller number of owners.

Cheney ran secret meetings with the fossil fuel industry developing strategies to strengthen their monopolies and blocking competition from investing in productive assets. That’s the reason US oil production fell each year of Bush-Cheney. Government was critical by threatening Wall Street with loses on investments in competitors. Extremely expensive government to leases were issued that could be afforded only by the monopolists who then slow walked development. Most leases saw little investment, and usually only enough to set a theoretical price on oil in the ground to boost the GAAP assets on their books, but production was not increased.

With Obama, the belief was Obama was blocking production on government leases making development on private land highly risk free profitable. The fossil fuel companies in the room with Cheney were not the ones frantically acquiring leases, frantically drill baby drill, frantically getting oil to market anyway possible, frantically investing in real productive assets.

The decades of the monopolists creating scarcity of productive capital assets in fossil fuels was suddenly met with frantic investment fueled by the monopoly profits and poof! the monopoly is gone and with it the profits as the productive assets flood the market with more output than can be demanded.

The past five years have been a disaster for the energy monopolists who hoarded cash to keep profits super high.

31 Keith January 27, 2016 at 4:19 pm

This elaborate theory could all be true, or it was supply and demand. I am going with supply and demand.

32 mulp January 28, 2016 at 2:07 am

ExxonMobil did not invest it’s high profits in drill baby drill because the rising prices and profits did not indicate an increase in demand for oil?

I go with ExxonMobil not investing it’s high profits in increased production capacity because they wanted prices to rise, just as the House of Saud wanted prices to rise just as BP, Chavez, and others wanted prices to rise.

ExxonMobil certainly expected that major increases in production were possible if it did not greatly expand production in coordination with the House of Saud and a few others. If it believed that outsiders could deliver five million barrels more per day in five years, they would have warned of an oil supply glut that would lead to a crash and bankruptcies in the small upstarts in order to generate FUD to cut investment in those small upstarts. If projections of excess production and the resulting prices were publish, lending for new projects would have tightened, with zero negative impact to the cash rich ExxonMobil with no need to borrow to fund anything.

33 Cooper January 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Oil production in the lower 48 fell consistently every single year from 1971 to 2009. There was a small bump to overall production in the 80s when Alaska came on line but the pattern in the lower 48 was unchanged.

Mulp, if you’re going to come up with a conspiracy theory, at least pretend to use accurate information.

34 mulp January 28, 2016 at 2:41 am

Oil production in the lower 48 fell after tax reform cut the significant tax subsidies to promote independent exploration. The oil depletion allowance allowed wells that cost more to drill and operate to be profitable if part of a limited partnership of high marginal tax payers (50% to 90% tax rates) with the tax deductions on “losses” turned into five year long term capital gains taxed at 20%. Milton Friedman wrote a number of columns attacking these tax dodges as promoting inefficient excess investment in the US when oil imported from Saudi Arabia was the same price and didn’t require the IRS subsidizing the drilling.

You can argue that these subsidies eliminated the need to invest in drilling technology in the 50s and 60s. The problem in the 50s and 60s was also too much supply, but the Texas Railroad Commission limited production to keep the global price at $3 a barrel for WTI. But after 73, the price was well above $3 so the TRC reverted to preventing over pumping fields. By the mid-70s the expansion of oil production was defined by the Federal government: Alaska. Wallet Street would not fund the Bakken, the government picked losers in the 70s. With a flood or oil from Alaska on its way, who would fund without government backup any new drilling in the lower-48?

With Reagan, Saudi oil flooding the global market meant simply importing cheap oil and letting the US oil industry suffer. Reagan cared nothing for the workers and would do nothing to save them from lost incomes and lost homes. Mortgage defaults were as bad from 1987 to 1993 as from 2007 to 2013. (I bought in 1986 at the peak with 35% down, and two years later I’d lost my initial equity, in NH, but not my job, while in Texas they lost their jobs.)

But the price of oil fell from 1985 to 1998, and that means global supply was increasing faster than demand. But from 1998, the price was riding, yet production in the US continued to fall. The price rising and profits rising to record high levels spanned a decade without enough investment to keep US oil production constant.

That defies economic theory of competitive markets but fits monopoly theory exactly.

35 Alain January 27, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Embarrassing article. But I guess that is standard fare for the nytimes.

They are holding on to cash reserves due to taxes. The end. Nothing else. Zero. Zip.

Companies, eg: Apple, have even gone so far as to borrow to pay dividends when they had billions on the books.

We need to rationalize our corporate taxes. And make no mistake, by that I mean make them lower.

36 Nick January 27, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Have corporate taxes radically changed in the past 15 years concurrently with this rise in corporate cash holdings?

37 Bill January 27, 2016 at 4:35 pm

There was a repatriation program under Bush in 2002 and the corps are waiting for a similar program again, if admins. change. If not, then they will do the inversion game.

38 Nick January 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm

That would explain a lower level around 2002 followed by rising levels afterward, but if corporate cash consistently builds up waiting for repatriation programs (or low tax rates), wouldn’t we expect to have had high levels of corporate cash immediately before the 2002 program, as well as back when tax rates were higher overall? I don’t know the historical pattern for corporate cash, but I don’t think it fits that model.

39 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Well, a shift in the profit streams away from domestic markets would put more of the cash on hand into an offshore account, so the global expansion of big businesses over the past 15-20 years would screw with the model you envision. At least some of that money can be re-invested where it was originally earned, but those growth opportunities may be limited enough to have acted as an accelerant to the hoarding phenomenon.

40 Nelson January 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Yeah, probably not a coincidence that cash on hand is pretty close to cash held overseas…

41 The Anti-Gnostic January 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm

That was my understanding as well. Tax policy is really distorting corporate finance.

42 Jamie_NYC January 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm

I agree that the article is low quality, but the tax rates do not explain the puzzle: the issue is why are the companies not investing into profitable projects – it shouldn’t be difficult to beat 2% rate they get on Treasurys.

43 Heorogar January 27, 2016 at 5:20 pm

The writer could have interviewed corporate executives and/or securities analysts in the companies he cited.

The writer compares book/financial statement cash and short term securities balances to aggregate stock market valuation. More valid comparisons would be cash and short term assets to corporate total assets, total liabilities, and/or book equity capital. It appear he didn’t consult the financial statements, specifically Statements of Changes in Financial Position, a.k.a., cash sources and uses statements or the footnotes to the financial statements.

Not so embarrassing if you consider the writer is a NPR reporter whose resume includes authoring a book, Planet Money.

In any case, the article is aimed at the unenlightened, typical NYT reader. .

44 BDK January 27, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Yup, to me, the below language from Apple’s last 10-K suggests that the bulk of Apple’s cash (95%) is abroad and that repatriation is a big issue, if not the whole issue. When yields are as low as they are now, tax issues can easily dominate cash management analysis. If you generate a bunch of cash abroad and there is even a low chance of a repatriation holiday, it makes more sense to sit on it and earn 2-4% abroad than repatriate, pay taxes, and then try to get a few more points here. I have no idea if the same applies to Google, GM, etc. but I imagine you could dig into their disclosures.

From Apple 2015 10-K, p.30:

The Company believes its existing balances of cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will be sufficient to satisfy its working capital needs, capital asset purchases, outstanding commitments and other liquidity requirements associated with its existing operations over the next 12 months. The Company currently anticipates the cash used for future dividends, the share repurchase program and debt repayments will come from its current domestic cash, cash generated from on-going U.S. operating activities and from borrowings.

As of September 26, 2015 and September 27, 2014, the Company’s cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities held by foreign subsidiaries were $186.9 billion and $137.1 billion, respectively, and are generally based in U.S. dollar-denominated holdings. Amounts held by foreign subsidiaries are generally subject to U.S. income taxation on repatriation to the U.S. The Company’s marketable securities investment portfolio is invested primarily in highly-rated securities and its investment policy generally limits the amount of credit exposure to any one issuer. The policy requires investments generally to be investment grade with the objective of minimizing the potential risk of principal loss.

45 mulp January 28, 2016 at 3:09 am

No taxes are due if cash is spent on labor costs for capital assets. All sorts of investment tax dodges exist. That’s why Amazon pays effectively no taxes – Amazon has operating business profits similar to Walmart, but Amazon can still grow very rapidly so it’s capital spending is effectively expensed, not “invested” eliminating taxable profits. But the 90% or fully depreciated assets are highly productive. Walmart expands by buying land and building real estate which can’t be expensed, so high profits (due to scale) do not result in huge pools of cash because it’s used to pay for assets.

Apple, on the other hand, has designed a business around no assets other nothing government monopolies. No factories, no manufacturing machines, not even the vast computer farms of Amazon, google, ibm, et al, which would consumer lots of cash to build, but that won’t generate 40% to 50% margins that Wall Street demands of Apple. And using the cash to buy existing companies gets you limited tax dodges.

IBM had margins higher than Apple, global sales, tax rates on profits of 50%, and paid a lot in taxes back in the 50s and 60s, and they had lots of cash most of the time, but with big capital projects always in the works, which made them a high growth stock.

All the tax cuts in the corporate arena has not resulted in an increase in capital asset building in the US. No gigantic steel mills built or expansions. No new major expansions in car factories. And since 2000, not even aggressive building of $5 billion dollar chip fabs.

Because added labor costs come so heavily out of profits, corporations demand tax subsidies to build auto factories so the cost to shareholders can be reduced to the levels of the 50s when a tax deduction was worth 50% or more.

46 Ben January 27, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan have a much better coverage of the gay/lesbian jobs paper in Slate than the one linked above. The link is below. The study wasn’t actually about academics specifically; it seems it was more of an attempt to identify the features of occupations that gay and lesbian workers tend to cluster in. (And they measure gay/lesbian as people living in a same-sex cohabiting couple or, alternatively, self-identifying in a survey as gay/lesbian).

47 Miguel Madeira January 27, 2016 at 3:04 pm

I suspect that, in environments with strong job security, is more common the people being openly [anything minoritarian].

Of course, today is perhaps more probable someone being fired for being “homophobic” than from being homossexual, but then there is all the “path dependence” thing.

48 Nathan W January 27, 2016 at 3:53 pm


49 So Much For Subtlety January 27, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Tenured academics are noted for their ideological and intellectual narrowness. There is no political, or intellectual, diversity in universities. More so in the US than the rest of the West, but not much there. Economics Departments, and in my experience, Engineering, tend to be a little better.

However in the Arts and Humanities as a field, despite the massive job security, no one is going off message. Conservatives have to keep quite or they will be hounded out of their jobs. As many have.

50 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I dunno, I’ve had a look at some remarkably cookie-cutter arts and sciences faculties.

51 Bill January 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm

#7 Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Blowhard.

52 Plucky January 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

When you get your PhD in your teens and write Mathematica, you’ve earned a lot of leeway

53 Todd Kreider January 27, 2016 at 10:49 pm

A lot of jealousy here.

Anyway, thanks Tyler for linking to an interesting obituary of a great 20th century thinker. I realize he was not a Straussian thinker nor an great post modern intellect..Minsky simply had a sharp mind.

54 anon January 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm

4 Once Hans Rosling and Gapminder have documented the malleability of global culture, it seems an odd backtrack to explanations for now-missing rigidity.

55 Kevin Erdmann January 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm

#2: ” If the companies spent their savings, rather than hoarding them, the economy would instantly grow, and we would most likely see more jobs with better pay.”

This may be true in a ceteris paribus sort of way, but is it really true at all in a realistic, dynamic context? Cash is not capital.

56 msl January 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

It is true in the shortest of “short-runs.”

57 Alain January 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Ohh is the nytimes suggesting that we should give corporate tax holidays to make this happen? That’s wonderful. A brilliant policy.

Oh, no they are just bloviating. Bummer.

58 TallDave January 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Agree, even for the NYT, it’s a bit economically illiterate. The author doesn’t seem to understand the concept of investment risk, let alone liquidity premia.

“These companies would be better off investing in anything — a product, a service, a corporate acquisition — that would make them more than 2 cents of profit on the dollar, a razor-thin margin by corporate standards. And yet they choose to keep the cash.”

Many investments make back something between +2% and -100% — or even worse if the investment not only doesn’t add value but actually destroys existing value.

Then we find out the study says “sometimes lots of cash is good, sometimes bad.” Pellucid!

59 rayward January 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

8. Do great minds (Beckworth and Sumner) think alike? Maybe not, but they end up at the same think tank. I asked (in a comment to a different post) if Beckworth’s view (that the great recession was caused by an imbalance in demand, an imbalance in the demand for money (too much demand for it)) is an example of ecumenism or blasphemy? In any case, I am always amused by the creative explanations for the economic malaise (e.g., unemployment benefits, an imbalance in the demand for money, regulations), although Tabarrok has popped the regulations balloon. Ecumenism or blasphemy?

60 cheesetrader January 27, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Re #2 – is this a direct result of zirp? Heard an interesting theory that consumers are spending less b/c they need to save more as a result of zirp – could this also be manifested in coporate cash savings?

Also – would like to see the breakdown of cash totals – I’m thinking the cash is concentrated among primarily just a few companies – apple, alphabet, gm, etc. Pretty sure we’d see some sort of power distribution here – so the question might be better why do some companies sit on a lot of cash while others, which are roughly equal in terms of industry/size, do not

61 adam January 27, 2016 at 3:29 pm

“If the companies spent their savings, rather than hoarding them, the economy would instantly grow, and we would most likely see more jobs with better pay.”

I don’t get this persistent myth that saving money somehow takes it out of the economy. Does the author think that this cash is sitting in some vault cordoned off from the economy? It’s obviously in bank deposits, which banks can and do lend out at low rates to good risks.

62 cheesetrader January 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

#5 – the amazing part of this, at least to me, is that there are a bunch of competitors in this field already – is it really that hard to find a gas station and take that long to fill it up? Oh crap – now I sound like my parents bitching about home delivery for pizzas….

63 Plucky January 27, 2016 at 4:21 pm

#2 is terrible, terrible article

Only once does the author mention the tax differences between cash held overseas and cash held domestically, and he never gives any quantification as to how much cash held domestic vs overseas

Furthermore, never once does he mention the near-collapse of the commercial paper market during the financial crisis. Between 2001-08, the total outstanding commercial paper bottomed out around $1.3T (, grew to over $2T in 2007, and plummeted during the financial crisis. 2010-present it has hovered around $1.1T (all nominal figures). That episode remains a massively under-appreciated aspect of the crisis, especially given the number and size of companies threatened with distress by a closed CP market. My pet theory is that the near-death experience some companies went through in 2008 caused a permanent change in corporate finance mentality in which they prefer to eat the opportunity cost of idle cash rather than rely on liquidity from money markets (my pet theory furthermore holds that this sudden change in corporate preference partially explains why the Fed didn’t understand in real-time how tight its monetary policy was- money demand curve was rapidly shifting). That short-term rates have remained low has kept that opportunity cost low as well.

The author also never once mentioned one of the most common used of excess corporate cash with no compelling place to be deployed: share buybacks. If the market is really valuing cash on the corporate balance sheet at a steep discount, the rational move on the company’s part would be buying back shares with that cash, which in theory would be pure arbitrage. Share-buybacks tend to be liked by both management and shareholders, and unlike dividends there’s not an implicit promise to maintain them forever. To ask the question “Why are companies keeping so much cash on hand?” without simultaneously asking “Why aren’t they using that cash to buy back their own shares?” betrays a very deep ignorance of how big corps operate.

All in all, just awful. Too ignorant to even ask the right questions

64 Ray Lopez January 27, 2016 at 8:30 pm

+1, sounds good Plucky. I can skip reading the article based on your critique. Saves me time too!

65 johnl January 27, 2016 at 10:05 pm

That article is so dumb. This is what Adam Davidson actually believes. “””Remarkably, the United States government was able to tax all that productive corporate behavior so much that it came close to paying off all its debts for the first time in 160 years.”””

66 Keith January 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm

#5. I looked into this idea years ago. The problem is most states have laws against delivering gas. It is highly regulated. The second problem is people won’t pay a lot for gas; the money made at gas stations is mostly made in the on-site convenience store where you pay.

67 JWatts January 27, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Gas is just the draw to get the tobacco, beer and lottery ticket buyers to stop by.

68 Hazel Meade January 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm

#5 is an answer to #2.

People in Silicon Valley are so busy gobbling up startups and developing new technologies they literally don’t have time to figure out what to do with the hoards of cash they have coming in fast enough. They are so busy, it’s more efficient to have gas delivered to their parked car than to fill it themselves.
I don’t think Goggle and Apple are just sitting on that cash because they are lazy. They are busy investing it, they just literally can’t invest it fast enough. Hence the reason the trend started around 2000.

69 mkt42 January 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm

So instead of WeFuel, the next startup should be WeInvest: I take your money and figure out where to invest it because you’re too busy to.

70 Josh M January 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm

You’re thinking of WealthFront (among many others).

71 Hazel Meade January 27, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Except on the corporate level. Problem is that they are too busy investing luicrous amount acquiring startups to meet with you. I think the money is just rolling in way too fast to figure out what to do with it.

The answer is to stop giving more money to internet technology firms. They’ve got plenty. At this point it’s a misallocation of resources.

72 Nick January 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

#2 seems fairly obvious to me; following the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, corporations as a whole have become more skittish and risk-averse, an over-reaction for the lack of caution a lot of companies had in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

73 Donald Pretari January 27, 2016 at 4:37 pm

#1…Anyone want to help fund my study to find out whether or not gays are disproportionately gay?

74 Jeff R. January 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Caplan could read Mein Kampf and within two hours have a six paragraph post on how, deep down, it’s really an argument for open borders; Hitler’s just all confused.

75 Brian Donohue January 27, 2016 at 5:08 pm

#8 is excellent. Of course we were headed for a recession in 2007, but it only became The Great Recession because of the Fed. Very good analysis.

When the natural rate of interest is falling, the Fed tightens by sitting on its hands. Of course, they weren’t even doing that, obsessing over inflation and hinting that the next rate move would be higher well into 2008.

Bernanke has more or less copped to this.

76 anon January 27, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Hmm. In 2007 NINJA loans became non-performing. Would sufficient credit from the Fed have made those loans … zero interest until home prices reinflated?

77 Brian Donohue January 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

The housing boom peaked in early 2006.

How did NINJA loans produce 8.7 million private sector job losses in the 25 months between January 2008 and February 2010?

Neither the timing nor the magnitude adds up.

Beckworth’s blog has more detail.

78 anon January 27, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Can credit truly cure a Minsky Moment?

79 Art Deco January 27, 2016 at 6:35 pm

The Fed set up the Term Auction Credit program in late 2007 and began lending on a large scale. Is this ‘sitting on their hands’?

80 Brian Donohue January 27, 2016 at 7:05 pm

I confess to not being a monetary economist, but it’s cool, because neither are you. Here’s George Selgin:

“At least some of the TAF’s apparent ineffectiveness appears to stem from the fact that the Fed chose to sterilize TAF lending, financing it, in effect, by selling Treasury securities to prospective lenders in the federal funds market. Consequently, rather than increase the overall supply of liquidity to financial institutions, prior to Lehman’s failure the Fed merely forced a reallocation of liquidity to institutions that took advantage of
the TAF and PDCF (Thornton 2009a,2009b). According to Thornton (2009b), if instead the Fed had “pursued a policy of increasing the total supply of credit (the monetary base),” that is, had it engaged in
quantitative easing before September 2008, “financial market participants would have been better able to adjust to a decline in house prices,” and the failures of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and AIG as well as
the need for TARP might have been avoided.”

81 Mike W January 27, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Re: #1 Who cares?

82 Kevin Postlewaite January 27, 2016 at 6:59 pm

#3: The article has an update from 11 January that makes it clear that the medical results for the dolphin were not released because of medical privacy issues with the organization that paid for the medical examination. The dolphin itself had no medical privacy rights.

83 Ray Lopez January 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm

#6 – bitcoin debate was nicely summarized by Vox but it left out the stuff that Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn wrote about (in the link to the Vox article) such as: (1) why the bitcoin community does not adopt a bigger blockchain (conspiracy theory by Hearn involving Chinese miners), and, (2) the curious feature of being able to reverse a blockchain transaction, meaning, once you anonymously buy something with bitcoin, you can ‘reverse it’ (see Hearn’s farewell message) and essentially rip off the seller. I think this is a new feature rather than a bug caused from the long delays currently in settling blockchain transactions.

84 Ray Lopez January 27, 2016 at 8:38 pm

#7 – I once trolled and flamed Marvin Minsky and he was kind enough to accept the bait on Usenet. Later, the details escape me, some academics wrote a paper that confirmed my flamebait about hard AI (this was 20 years ago, so details are hazy).

85 Your Husband's Cane January 27, 2016 at 10:49 pm

#1 — Another conjecture: Straight people are more likely to marry and reproduce toward the end of their undergrad careers, and to have to go to work in jobs that enable them to buy houses in good school districts and otherwise support a hatful of squalling toddlers. Gay people, who until recently were very unlikely to procreate, were better able to get by on low grad-student incomes, so were more likely to obtain Ph.D.’s and qualify for academic positions.

86 Shane M January 27, 2016 at 11:58 pm

#2 – Corporate cash holdings. I think part of the equation has to be investor indifference. Ideally a corporation that can’t use the cash would return it to shareholders, but in this environment shareholders may have no better use. I personally consider any interest on cash in my savings accounts to be closer to a rounding error at this point. Surely Berkshire Hathaway can do a tad better than me with the excess cash. Now if interest rates got back to 4-5%, I’d be paying more attention.

87 msgkings January 28, 2016 at 2:07 am

This is correct, well said.

88 Tom Warner January 28, 2016 at 5:11 am

On corporate cash, the broad money supply is always going to find whoever it is who has the least motivation to spend it, and that’s always going to be some mix of corporates and households.

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