Like much of her commentary, I find this considerably overstated. Still, it suggests a few points of interest and also concern:
The mere existence of this facility could exacerbate liquidity runs during times of market stress. Borrowers in the short-term debt markets will have to compete with it for investment dollars and all, to varying degrees, will be viewed as higher risk than lending to the Fed. Even a relatively minor market event could encourage a massive flow of funds to the Fed while contributing to a flow away from other short-term borrowers.
Nonfinancial companies could find themselves unable to find buyers for their commercial paper. Banks could confront a sudden outflow of deposits, particularly those which are uninsured. Even the U.S. Treasury—traditionally viewed as the safest harbor—could see its borrowing costs spike as investors decide that the Fed is even safer.
Ironically, faced with a more acute liquidity crisis, the Fed would likely have to use the funds it is borrowing through reverse repos to provide a lifeline to the very markets that suffered. For investors seeking safety, the Fed would become the borrower of first resort. For borrowers affected by the resulting diversion of funding, the Fed would become the backstop lender.
The reverse repurchase facility also seems to be at cross-purposes with Congress’s efforts to contain the government safety net. After many years of consideration, Congress in 2008 reluctantly gave the Fed authority to pay banks interest on the money they keep on deposit with it. The reverse repurchase facility essentially gives large nonbank financial institutions the routine ability to place money in the functional equivalent of an overnight deposit with the Fed and receive interest.
In December 2012 Congress allowed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s crisis-era program to provide unlimited guarantees for non-interest-bearing transaction accounts—such as those used by businesses and local governments to process payroll and other expenses—to lapse. So the Transaction Account Guarantee Program is dead—but the Fed’s reverse repurchase facility enables large nonbank financial institutions to obtain explicit government backing for billions placed with the Fed, but without the burdens of deposit insurance premiums and the kind of prudential supervision that applies to banks.
The full WSJ Op-Ed is here.
1. The London pheromone party.
2. Get paid (a little) for Facebook posts.
3. “Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior.” Link here.
4. Do you value more what you choose yourself?
5. Claims about the pricing of cocktails. And do you value more what you choose yourself?
6. The life of Vladimir Putin. Good coverage.
The Ryan plan is here (pdf), an NYT summary is here. Overall it’s pretty good. It attacks excess incarceration and occupational licensing and regressive regulations, three issues where a serious dialogue is badly needed. It makes a good attempt to limit the incentives for lower-income people not to work. It’s better than what the Left is turning out for the first time in…how long?
I’m not crazy about the complicated plan to monitor the lives of the poor in more detail (“…work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty.”) And my biggest conceptual objection is the heavy stress on block grants and letting the states figure things out. I’m not opposed to that in principle, and I might even favor it, but I think it’s often the lazy man’s way of avoiding talk about difficult trade-offs. I’d like to see a possible plan for just a single state, or better yet two or three, that is supposed to represent an improvement. That shouldn’t be too hard to do, or if it is maybe the states can’t do it either. It’s not as if fifty states are giving us a market-based discovery process, as the rhetoric sometimes implies. Furthermore we have a bunch of large states with ongoing bad governance, such as CA, NY, and IL, and maybe the federal government really can do better for those places.
Here is Vox on the regulation side of the plan. Kevin Drum offers comment. Ross Douthat mostly likes it. Jared Bernstein doesn’t like it. Robert Greenstein is critical. Here is Neil Irwin. And Annie Lowrey. And Josh Barro. And Yuval Levin. And Ezra Klein. Other people have opinions about it, too. Or so I am led to believe.
…they all had help in the early going from Matt Scherer. Scherer is, or was up until about a week ago, a professional track pacer, one of only a handful of people worldwide who used his speed and finely honed sense of time to help other people run fast. Though he started out as a competitive runner, his resume is filled with other runners’ accomplishments.
Pacers, or rabbits as they’re sometimes called (thus the bunny photo loop on his website), are frequently used in track races of 800 meters and longer to standardize the early laps and facilitate lively competition and fast times. Their job is to accurately lead through the first lap or 600 meters in a very specific time, getting the field off to a good start before stepping off the track, in anonymity. The pacer is a visual embodiment of time. Other runners in the field can easily judge their pace by how close they are to the rabbit. In recent years, almost every middle distance and distance world record was set with the help of a pacer. They’re not allowed in World Championship or Olympic competitions, which may account for the few world record performances at those events.
The full story is here, interesting throughout, and for the pointer I thank Michael Cohen.
…in South Korea, the Hanwha Eagles (former team of Hyun-Jin Ryu) have gone “next level” by providing robots to stomp and yell unifying chants for those who cannot attend the game in person.
There is more here, good short video, the robots take on the actual faces of absent fans, and for the pointer I thank Isaac.
There is a new piece of interest in Technology Review, here is one excerpt:
Psychologists have always assumed that patterns of behavior change more quickly in countries that emphasize collectivism. Once an idea has taken hold, the pressure to conform means it spreads rapidly. “It has previously been argued that social support mechanisms in collectivistic societies make it more likely that a person will stop smoking,” say Lang and co.
And conversely, in countries that emphasize individualism, patterns of behavior must change more slowly because there is less social pressure to conform.
The puzzle is that the data on smoking shows exactly the reverse. Sweden was much slower to adopt smoking and much slower to stop.
Now Lang and co think they know why. They’ve created a mathematical model that includes the effects of social pressure allowing them to simulate the way behavior spreads through societies with different levels of individualism.
The model reveals why Sweden stopped smoking more slowly. “Our model suggests that … social inertia will inhibit decisions to stop smoking more strongly in collectivistic societies than in individualistic societies,” say Lang and co.
The original research, by Lang, Abrams, and De Sterck is here. Their results do not rest on Sweden alone, but for the record I consider the Swedes to be relatively individualistic by most metrics, most of all when it comes to atomization.
In most Darwinian models there is competition across siblings for resources and parental attention, from the womb but also stretching into adulthood. Siblings who do well therefore will be hyper-aware of the strategies employed by their brothers and sisters. They will need to counter those strategies on a very regular basis and furthermore they will on average be deploying similar strategies themselves.
At the same time, siblings probably won’t see each other as so evil by nature. They will be realistic about motives — some would say cynical — while at the same time recognizing that the siblings are probably, on average, no worse than themselves. Plus there is a natural genetic and also family affinity.
How about mothers? Genetically speaking, mothers often adopt the interests of the sibling as “their own.” For instance a lot of mothers died in childbirth before modern medicine, when alternative biological arrangements would have given the mothers greater protection. So the children can commandeer the loyalty of the mother (and sometimes the father) more readily than they can commandeer the loyalties of their siblings.
Mothers are therefore often deceived about or simply tolerant of the manipulations employed by their children on them. In other words, mothers worry less about moral hazard problems with respect to their children. The siblings will in some respects understand these strategies better than the mother will.
The other children may feel that a mother should punish (or possibly but less likely reward) the other siblings more. And “Johnny is being a stinker” will be a more frequent complaint than “Johnny is possessed with Original Sin.”
In turn, mothers may worry more about problems of type. If a mother is hyper-aware of the faults of her children, she may do a better job of protecting them or teaching them how to overcome those limitations.
A world where fewer people have siblings may be a world where recognizing moral hazard problems may be for many people less intuitive. Is it also possible that men may on average be more aware of moral hazard problems than are women? And women more aware of problems of type?
Elaine Sciolino is pretty critical. She writes:
A new consumer protection law meant to inform diners whether their meals are freshly prepared in the kitchen or fabricated somewhere off-site is comprehensive, precise, well intentioned — and, to hear the complaints about it, half-baked.
Public decree No. 2014-797, drafted and passed by the French Parliament and approved by the prime minister, went into effect last week. It allows restaurateurs to use the logo if they have resisted the increasing temptation to buy ready-made dishes from industrial producers, pop them in the microwave and pass them off as culinary artistry.
It doesn’t seem to be working to encourage quality:
French fries, for instance, can bear the “fait maison” symbol if they are precut somewhere else, but not if they are frozen. Participating chefs are allowed to buy a ready-made pâte feuilletée, a difficult-to-make, multilayered puff pastry, but pâte brise, a rich pastry dough used to make flaky tart shells, has to be made on-site. Cured sausages and smoked hams are acceptable, while ready-made terrines and pâtés are not.
…Périco Légasse, a food critic for the weekly magazine Marianne, wrote: “ ‘Homemade’ doesn’t mean freshly made. A dish totally prepared with frozen products, even if they come from a Romanian slaughterhouse, can enjoy this happy distinction as it was cooked on-site.”
Mark Bittman piles on. I would stress there is no substitute for consumers who demand the right kind of food and who otherwise won’t buy it.
The subtitle is An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness, and the author is Russ Roberts. The focus is on Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and why that is an important book. This is Russ’s best book in my opinion, so you should consider buying it here. My favorite section is the discussion of the Chilean maid, definitely recommended.
Slowest Growing Populations (%, 2000-10)
1 Moldova -13%
2 Georgia -8%
4 Bulg -6%
5 Latvia -6%
6 Lithuania -5%
7 Belarus -5%
That is from here, the most rapidly growing populations are given here, some Gulf states and Africa, both are tweets from Ian Bremmer.
From Neil Irwin at The Upshot:
Five years into the economic recovery, businesses still aren’t plowing much money into big-ticket investments for the future. Nonresidential fixed investment — what businesses spend on equipment, software, buildings and intellectual property — still hasn’t bounced back to its pre-crisis share of the economy, let alone made up for lost ground from the record lows of 2009. As Justin Lahart notes in The Wall Street Journal, equipment spending in particular has averaged 5.2 percent of the economy over the last five years, down from 6.5 percent over the previous half-century.
If firms increased their spending enough to close that gap, it would mean an extra $220 billion in annual economic activity and perhaps a couple of million more jobs. But there may be even more important and lasting consequences for this lack of spending by businesses.
Capital spending improves worker productivity. And worker productivity improves living standards. Less capital spending by businesses means less investment in the kinds of equipment, software and intellectual property that will make the economy more competitive over the long haul.
One simple hypothesis is that it’s not worth spending more on American workers at current wage levels. As workers, while Americans are quite good, they are just not that much better than a variety of high-IQ individuals in cheaper countries, many of whom now have acceptable infrastructure to work with.
Addendum: Brad DeLong considers potential gdp.
…on July 13, about four days before the actual incursion began, about 67 percent of Israelis supported a ground operation. By authorizing one, Netanyahu has given the public what it has demanded.
That is from Brent Sasley.
Fred Kaplan wonders whether Israel has lost its ability to think strategically. Even Max Boot seems to think Hamas will stay in charge of Gaza.
Or is the fear that even intercepted Hamas rockets will in the long run spur too much Israeli emigration? Are the economics of long-run rocket/shoot-down reciprocity unacceptable to Israel?
A friend of mine suggests that Israel feels the need to send a tough signal to Iran.
Or all of the above?
I am by the way not impressed by various Twitter demands that I should spend more time moralizing about this conflict. I do think it is deontologically wrong on the part of the Israelis, and I also do not understand their strategy from even a purely nationalistic point of view. But my voice will have no influence, and I would rather learn something from the comments section about why such strategies are being pursued. Call me selfish if you wish, I am.