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Comments

Re1:
"Still lacking is an explanation of why low interest rates sometimes seem to be associated with bubbles, and sometimes not. "

Sigh... macroeconomists.
The question isn't if the rate is "low" or "high" its if the rate is being held down artificially or not. His model can't distinguish this two states, and he doesn't seem to talk about them even being different states.

::Sigh:: for me too. Macroeconomics don't deal with the detail data. Microeconomists who work in banking have a better handle. "Bubbles" are accumulations of "momentum buying," whether it's listed stocks, real estate, collectibles, etc. The low interest rates don't *cause* the bubble, but they sure do *feed* into the momentum.

A majaor contributor to the housing bubble was multiple property ownership. That's why, when the bubble stopped expanding, it burst. There was vastly more inventory than was needed. Why did so many people buy second and third properties? Same reason I bought a new watch, even though my old one works fine. Because I COULD. But I could by a watch I didn't need without borrowing for it. If I want a vacation home I don't need, I'd most likely have to be able to afford the payments. Low interest = increased affordability.

Sound familiar?

Tyler, did you read the note issued by S&P in connection with their eurozone downgrade? Their rationale is sound and comprehensive I believe. In particular they focus on the flawed diagnostic reached by european governments about the causes of the crisis. Thoughts? Cheers, Ramon

3. Luis Von Ahn epitomizes the MR ethos: making the world slightly better by small steps. Duolingo is a crafty idea. I hope it works as well as reCaptcha.

Even more interesting than the Amanda Hocking article is the article linked from there (at the very bottom) about AmazonCrossing, an imprint of Amazon itself.

Apparently Amazon uses its sales data to identify bestselling foreign-language books, acquires the English-language rights, commissions a translation and then sells it. The German-language book The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch became a strong success in English.

Bringing foreign books to English-speaking audiences is an area that traditional publishers have increasingly stopped bothering with. Given how poorly those publishers have served people like Amanda Hocking and Oliver Pötzsch, they probably deserve to vanish (though you can hardly blame Hocking for graciously accepting the bucketloads of money they are now throwing at her in a desperate attempt to demonstrate that they still matter).

Increasingly, it seems that e-books are not merely a different delivery mechanism for books (like digital music instead of CDs), but are changing books themselves in unexpected ways: we'll see more self-published works previously filtered out by gatekeepers, a richer selection of global authors, probably more novellas and short stories that now have few natural print outlets, and fewer filler-padded thousand-page doorstops by top authors obeying publisher's directives to deliver the kind of paper bulk that convinces the prospective buyer hefting it that it's worth the list price.

"we’ll see more self-published works previously filtered out by gatekeepers,"

Yes, but will we start to have problems filtering the good out from the trash. For every good author who couldn't get a first chance there are probably a dozen who's writing is very poor or just spam.

I suspect will see the equivalent of thumbs up/down recommendations on everything, but even that system can be bypassed.

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