Friday assorted links


Why 0 comments?

Well, it would be rather blasphemous to comment before Mr. Lopez has had to opportunity to ask why there are no comments, wouldn't it?

Exactly - we have to wait until that question is asked before we can post. Netiquette and all that.

Because everybody is busy shagging his young girl friend.

I'm pretty sure Ray pays her enough to keep her exclusive

That's what he'd like to think at least

I imagine she's rarely out of his sight, he doesn't do anything but post here.and use her services.

2. Edelman should be institutionalized for thinking that more cream cheese makes bagels taste worst, and that a majority of New Yorkers want less cream cheese. It’s basically a giant “who’s coming with me?!” article, and I regret to inform you Gilad… no one in this city is with you.

No, there really isn't anyone who wants a quarter pound of cream cheese on their bagel. The reason they do it is that cream cheese is cheap and they are trying to make you think you're getting a lot for your money. I hope nobody gets their PhD for figuring this out.

I don't see the connection in #2. In the fast food world, air conditioning is too cold because they want you to eat up and get the heck out of the restaurant. The only explanation offered in the bagel world is psychological.

I thought he was alluding to a possible gender divide in the bagel wars:

This grates on me. You can always put on a sweater in the office. In most businesses, it is not acceptable to take off your shirt.

But really, modern HVAC ought to allow me to keep my office comfortable, and you to keep your office comfortable.

"You can always put on a sweater in the office." Yes, and also long-johns, thick socks and mittens. That's a small inconvenience in order to keep the office cooler in the summer than it's in winter.

The people complaining about the cold are not generally wearing long-johns, thick socks, and mittens. I merely point out that one problem, "it's too cold," is easily solvable with attire, while the other problem, "it's too hot," isn't.

But really, you should be comfortable, and I should be comfortable. And I don't care if that costs a little more energy.

My testicled co-workers and I have to wear a suit and tie. If you want us to not visibly sweat in meetings with outside guests, the a.c. must remain cranked. Else, let us wear shorts. I've never seen a female co-worker, who also has the option to wear a pants suit, ever do more than put on a sweater. They choose to wear all skirts and sandals because it is hot outside. This debate is stupid. The men win, sorry.

Jan, you've been found guilty of being a misogynist.

The suits are probably the most important thing. The people who are wearing them tend to be the most important, and even if not, people in suits are usually in them for a reason. They don't have the option of dressing down, so you make wearing a suit bearable.

It ensures that the women stay covered up, which prevents office affairs and subsequent sexual harassment complaints. Consider it the American office equivalent of the hijab.

Never had a problem with this (excessive AC) in a workplace. But when I lived in Florida it seemed to be the case that every single restaurant and bar was freezing. You'd be dressed for 90/90 weather (90 degrees/90% humidity) then go in somewhere for a drink and you'd be shivering.

Well, when you enter your skin is hot so the a/c offers an immediate welcoming. But after a time, your skin temp declines and the moisture in your clothing starts to feel cold from the a/c and the enhanced evaporation due to the lower humidity inside.

Whereas, if the restaurant was to load up with customers, the change in heat load would quickly cause patrons to feel hot and people leave when the feel hot or order less.

And then you have the kitchen staff working over a hot grill or steam line. And all the employees, kitchen and wait are moving around.

Next time, check your feeling over the climate control at several instances in a restaurant. When you first enter, after about 10 minutes, after your done eating and when you leave. You will probably see a trend that leads to you being cold and ready to go rather than linger after the meal. Also, observe your relation to the constantly running vents in the ceiling that make it feel colder in their air path.

Heh. In an office the administrator had complaints of it being cold. (Not ac, it was winter). The complained approached while I was there, the woman administrator looked her up and down and said girl, if you wore some clothes... She had a short skirt and a light blouse.


"She had a short skirt and a light blouse."

Which explains why putting on a sweater is not an acceptable response to being cold to the complaining.

Too much cream cheese?

#3 - gravity model vindicated in ancient trading center of the Middle East. This reminds me of the following (theme: ancient times in the Middle East were complicated in transactions, and the Jews were into these complications), I hope it all fits and apologies for those of you that don't like to scroll past long comments...

From the book by historian Paul Johnson, "The Jews":
The literary finds are very considerable and suggestive. In 1933 A. Parrot excavated the ancient town of Mari (modern Tell Harari [Tell Hariri]) on the Euphrates 17 miles north of the Syria-Iraq border, and found an archive of 20,000 items.20 This was followed by the transcription of a similar archive of clay tablets at ancient Nuzi, near Kirkuk, the city of the Hurrians—the Horites of the Bible—who formed part of the Kingdom of Mitanni.21 A third archive of 14,000 tablets was discovered at Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh) in north Syria.22 These archives cover a large span of time, those at Ebla being somewhat before the time of the patriarchs, those at Nuzi, sixteenth, fifteenth century BC, being somewhat after, while the Mari tablets, end-nineteenth century BC to mid-eighteenth century, coincide closely with the most probable dating. Together they help us to create a picture of the patriarchal society which illuminates the Bible text. One of the strongest objections to the contention of Wellhausen and others that the early Bible books were compiled and edited to suit the religious beliefs of a much later age has always been that many episodes in them do no such thing. They embody customs which were evidently strange and inexplicable to the later editors of the first millennium BC who, in their reverence for the text and traditions handed down to them, simply copied them out, without any attempt at rationalization. Some passages remain mysterious to us, but many others are now explicable in the light of the tablets.
Thus both the Ebla and the Mari tablets contain administrative and legal documents referring to people with patriarchal-type names such as Abram, Jacob, Leah, Laban and Ishmael; there are also many suggestive expressions and loan-words related to Hebrew.23 Moreover, these unknown litigants of the early second millennium BC faced exactly the same kind of difficulties, arising from childlessness, divorce, inheritance and birthrights, as their Biblical namesakes. Abraham’s despairing plan to make one of his retainers his heir, for lack of his own, and his proposal for the adoption of Eleazer as heir-presumptive, reflect closely Nuzi practices. Nuzi also produces exact parallels with Abraham’s dealings with his wife Sarah and his resort to her maid Hagar as a licensed concubine as a result of Sarah’s failure to have a child—and, indeed, of the unhappy domestic consequences which followed. Nuzi marriage contracts, indeed, specifically provide for these contingencies. One Nuzi tablet attests the sale of birthright by an elder to a younger brother in return for three sheep, just as Esau transferred his to Jacob for a mess of pottage.24 A Nuzi tablet also provides an instance of the binding power of the oral disposition of property, in the form of a death-bed blessing—thus illuminating the remarkable scene in Genesis 27, when Jacob and his mother Rebecca conspire to deceive his father, Isaac, and get his dying nomination as heir. Most strikingly of all, perhaps, the Nuzi archives explain the baffling Biblical account of Jacob’s relations with Laban, which we now know to have been a common adoption problem. The heirless Laban adopted Jacob as his son, as well as his son-in-law; then he had sons of his own. A tablet from Nuzi reads:

The adoption tablet of Nashwi, son of Arshenni. He adopted Wullu, son of Pohishenni…. When Nashwi dies, Wullu shall be heir. Should Nashwi beget a son, he shall divide equally with Wullu, but Nashwi’s son shall take Nashwi’s gods. But if there be no son of Nashwi then Wullu shall take Nashwi’s gods. And Nashwi has given his daughter Nuhuya as wife to Wullu. And if Wullu takes another wife he forfeits Nashwi’s land and buildings.25

The Nuzi tablets show that family gods were like title-deeds, with symbolic legal value: we now understand that Rachel stole Laban’s teraphim-gods to redress what she felt to be an unfair legal provision. The Mari tablets, again, give examples of the legal ritual of confirming a covenant by slaughtering an animal, just as Abraham confirmed his covenant with God in Genesis 15:9-10.26

This all suggests that Jews during the Babylonian exile wrote down tales from the local Iraqi culture.

@dearieme - no, the timelines are different. The Mari tablets are 1800 BCE while the Babylonian captivity is 580 BCE.

I like less cream cheese on my bagels but it sounds like he's complaining about too much beer in his pint and too much sex at home. Complaining about having too much just sounds hollow when it's easy to take less.

But it's NOT very easy to scrape cream cheese off your bagel. It gets on your hands; you start to run out of wax paper to put it on; and it looks unattractive to the person who's eating with you. Those are only my top 3 complaints.

Yeah, but I've never been to a place that refused to go light on the cream cheese. This guy lacks the balls to request less cream cheese, but he is happy to write this brave statement of a story about the shame of the bagel world.

In the post-modern future, we will have artisan cream-cheese scrapers. No upscale deli will be without one.

#6: She calls what she does "development service". I puked a little in my mouth.

She skipped med school "because she didn't want to go into debt", but completed a theology degree, among other useless additional degrees. I guess those are free.

The combination of UN bureaucracy and liberal Christianity is suspect. Now I know that it's not just Pope Francis.

You know what's "development service"? Chinese expats selling underwear door to door in Egypt. Study that, Sabina.

"Now I know that it’s not just Pope Francis."
Of course not, he is only the second or third pope Rush Limbaugh outed as a Communist... Before that, one of the leaders of Brazil's 1964 coup d'etat outed the Italian popes as Moscow's useful idiots. All in all fascists have seen communists sitting in St. Peter's throne for at least 51 years. Many Christian Churches are not that old.

You ought to work on the nuance, man.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs in the Kingdom of God, which is not of the here-and-now, but the hereafter.

Jesus prophesied that the poor will always be with us until the end of time, when He comes again in glory to judge all.

It is a shame He was giving fish and bread instead of trying to corner the market and preaching helping "the least of these brothers of mine" instead of preaching the importance of low corporation taxes and a strong third quarter profits, right?

There can never be too much cream cheese, sir!

I am thinking that 4 oz of cream cheese on top of 3 oz of melted butter would be perfect.

With a fried egg. We call it the "Good Morning Bagel."

And, bacon! Because everything...

And cheese.

Not a fan of eggs, but if I were, I'd be fine with tons of butter, bacon, and eggs on it. But I agree on the cream cheese thing. That's one thing you really can have too much of.

My dad always told me, "better to bring too much and get yelled at than not bring enough and get fired." Same holds for bagels I guess. Put on too much cream cheese, and the guy scrapes it off. Don't put on enough, the guys says I'm never eating here again.

New Yorkers *really* like to talk about bagels for some reason.

You'd understand if you didn't live in a vast, bagel-less, wasteland.

Are the bagels at least better than those horrid pieces of cardboard you call "pizza"?

No, they're not. They just think they're better because New York.

Enjoy your Dominos.

Yeah, great burn. Because we only have Domino's outside of NYC. Way to avoid feeding negative stereotypes about yourself.

sorry that the best thing about your city is a small round disc of bread.

#3 On Ancient Trade

Great piece, I wonder how many other treasure-troves of ancient documentation there are lying around waiting to be found.

For folks interested in ancient economics along these lines, I'd recommend checking out
the Arthashastra, a work written in by a key scholar in the Maurya Empire of ancient India, on political economy.

On the New York Times piece, though, I was thrown off by the ending comments:

>The Gravity Model may seem like bad news for people who want the economy to be fairer. I have spoken to countless activists and concerned friends who see global trade as a choice, something a specific set of politicians and businesses decided to impose on the rest of us, through all those confusing acronymic trade deals: GATT, Nafta and (probably, soon) the T.P.P.

This doesn't make much sense to me; the issue with free trade deals, to me, isn't that global trade exists, but rather that the terms of this "free trade" is dictated and controlled by elites who exploit these deals to shore up and expand their own power. I.e. NAFTA was a huge boon to wealthy Mexican landowners and US agricultural corporations, at the expense of rural Mexican peasants, in how subsidies to Mexican small farms were slashed while subsidies to US agro-businesses were maintained and used to dominate the Mexican markets.

Maybe another way to view NAFTA is that large US industrial farming was more efficient than small, family owned farms. Its dominance was inevitable.

As such, it was also inevitable that US small family farms, as well as peasant farmers in Mexico, would be steamrolled.

The trade agreement merely codified the coming industrial agricultural reality.

I'm not saying that's a good thing in every way (or in any way, except maybe thru lower prices on mass market, low-quality food). But perhaps that's how the author of article #3 might be tempted to view NAFTA.

Yes, Arthashastra is very interesting.

Go to Beijing and you will see that the Chinese have no qualms about defecating in the street

Don't test drive cars but my bagel has too much cream cheese. got it.

#1 - characterizing interest rates of 0.25% as a tight monetary policy is insane.

Something else is going on and it is not monetary policy. Economists need to stop looking under the street light.

I shudder to think of the amount of damage caused by your seemingly commonsensical first sentence.

Nope, he's just right. Not everything can be counterintuitive.

Inflation is zero.

We were always at war with Eastasia.

Inflation being zero does not mean that monetary policy is too tight.

There is something creating enormous "fiscal" drag on the global economy.

Monetary policy at the Fed has gone as far as it can go. Now we need to:
1) address where and why the global savings glut is happening ( I think Apple and other multinationals parking money in tax havens is part of the problem)
2) address the lending channels - particularly the market for residential mortgages
3) possibly address fiscal policy (The Fed's purchases of MBS crossed the line from monetary to fiscal policy and they should not have done that on constitutional grounds no matter how much sense it made on economic grounds.)


The Great Inflation Conspiracy? This is the hill on which you choose to die? So be it.

1. Indeed, China and the U.S. are linked, and by more than the monetary policy of the Fed, including a shared high level of inequality and a financial asset bubble. That China and the U.S. would be mirror images of each other today, in 1949 would have been considered preposterous, about as preposterous as the election of a black man as president.

#7 - I took the tuna, I was going to spend $50 on tuna in the next year anyways. Now if the choice had been between $4 million cash and $8 million in tuna the decision would have been different. Unless I'm looking to break into the tuna wholesale business.

I do however, like the idea of the law firm being paid in tuna. Just think of it as a creative way to get rid of lawsuits like this which end up benefiting the lawyers - make it payment in product rather than cash.

I took the tuna. If you want to avoid increased tuna regulations, you gotta let the tort system do its work, right? Screwing over millions of consumers? Sorry, Starkist.

#8: " ... the benefits from a tighter labor market would be very large ... "

Is the best, most direct way to get to a "tighter labor market" lobbying the Fed to keep the overnight rate at zero?

What might be more effective than that?

2. Is there too much cream cheese on your bagel for the same reason the air conditioning is too cold?

And for someone like me who grew up in city with a lot of Italian immigrants there is way to much cheese on the pizza you get in places with fewer Italians.I think it is brute force thinking. They think "How do I make a better pizza, cheese is good I will put more." Not so great. Too greasy, and they do not even use good cheese.

no, it is because tomato sauce is more expensive than the cheese they put on there

"no, it is because tomato sauce is more expensive than the cheese they put on there - See more at:"

At the quantities involved, cheese is a much higher percentage of the price. Cheese and meat are the costly ingredients.

When I worked at Taco Bell, it was sour cream, cheese, meat as most expensive.

What this meant was that our sour cream gun battles were pretty expensive.

(Yes, there is a sour cream gun.)

#2. I'm totally with this guy, but it seems to be a New York thing. I remember getting bagels with WAY too much cream cheese years ago when I lived in (upstate) New York. Strangely, that doesn't happen anymore in the rest of the country. I do think the New York bagels were tastier, despite the enormous amount of cream cheese.

As Gore Vidal famously said, never turn down a chance to be on TV or get extra cream cheese.

$50 worth of tuna sounds like a pretty good deal, since canned tuna lasts forever. But why don't "5-oz" cans of tuna actually hold five ounces of tuna? Why can manufacturers get away with 2.53 ounces? That's just a little more than half.

Yes, seriously, when a can says 5-oz on it, I expect that to be the weight of the tuna inside, not the weight of the can. WTF?

4. And the NYT covers the rise of China’s zombie factories.

From the article in the NYT:

"Authorities in China’s provinces and cities also back struggling factories just because they are deemed important to the local economy.

Similar strategies have been tried before, with little success. In Japan, such businesses, known as “zombie companies,” are blamed for contributing to that country’s two decades of economic stagnation."

Walter Duranty must still roam the halls of the NYT, since the writer could not come up with a better and more relevant example, like, say, from the USSR?

What a toadsheet.

"Cream cheese is a spread, not a sandwich filling." OMG. YES! YES! YES! I'm falling out of my chair nodding my head with agreement. I spend my life scraping those disgusting globs off my bagels.

In America, you complain you get too much cream cheese on bagel. In Russia, we have no cream cheese!

2.) He's right; 3oz is too much.

But "Everyone knows restaurants overcharge for fixings—no one thinks lettuce and tomato really cost 75 cents." is making a basic mistake about how restaurants have to price.

Perhaps a third of the price should be the cost of ingredients; the rest is labor and rent and other overhead. People somehow have this idea that someone else should prepare and cook and serve the food to them, in a building, at cost...

I can totally believe that a nice piece of tomato and freshi lettuce costs $.25 - and that having someone slice the tomato and prep the lettuce and all the other overhead is worth another $.50.

Mostly the labor and line-slowing cost of the add-on, in places that do that; places that upcharge for lettuce and tomato tend to be the ones doing fast food, that I've seen.

A serious burger joint or a restaurant with a burger on the menu tends to include those two.

(Which I mostly ask them to take off, but that's another matter.)

I can totally believe that a nice piece of tomato and freshi lettuce costs $.25 – and that having someone slice the tomato and prep the lettuce and all the other overhead is worth another $.50.

You appear to be valuing the labor of prep cooks at upwards of $300 an hour

4. What is "negative growth"?

What are the "signs of negative growth"?

The visibility is declining from your million dollar condo on the top floor of the high rise indicating the rapid growth in pollution?

Is the contradictory wording hiding the implied criticism of China's government for doing what conservatives want in intervening less in the economy and that has reduced the growth rate from 8-10% annually to say 4-7% annually?

Or are you hedging bets in trying to proclaim you expect a recession and reduced GDP, ie, contraction, shrinkage, recession, depression, but just in case China grows faster than the US which might be growing at the fastest rate in more than a decade, you can claim you didn't mean recession?

Certainly the Chinese ruling party is expected to create rising aggregate wage incomes and rising employment numbers and reduced inequality RAPIDLY, contrary to the demands on the US government, so growing slower violates the "rapidly" requirement which risks political legitimacy. Does that mean for China "growth" means 8-10%, "positive growth" means 10-15%, and "negative growth" means 4-8%?

Seeing as how the wife of the subject in #8 is named "Cari Tuna", why isn't this co-joined with #7?

"Mayor Bill de Blasio’s favorite, Bagel Hole" This is the first intelligent thing out his mouth since his term began.

11. Can the Assorted Links get too many?

12. No

Maybe, because I got so distracted by the cream cheese thing, I didn't read the NY Times piece on the gravity theory of trade till today.

Did any one figure out why the Swiss are running exclusive trains for Asians?

They don't like sharing their trains with chattering, spitting, toilet disturbing Chinese tourists ?

"Can a novelist be too productive" ? If one knows exactly what graphomaniacs did before the invention of writing, one can probably accurately answer that question.

" But rather than hold all of it for themselves, the wealthy were made to redistribute a high percentage of their earnings through taxes and religious foundations that used the money for the public good."

There's nothing new under the sun.

3. Mildly interesting until the last couple paragraphs, which are remarkably nonsensical in relation to both modern and ancient economics.

Don't know if those paragraphs are nonsense so much as they were just statements of the authors own political beliefs. Beliefs which I (and you?) disagree with.

However if we take him as saying "Trade can not and a should not be micromanaget. Rather the profits should be subject to high redistributive taxes.", then I will accept the grand bargain. I doubt the story of ancient Kanesh has much to do with it though.

No, I mean they were really nonsense. Ancient non-slave inhabitants of Kanesh were not "free citizens" and ancient taxes were usually administered ad hoc on the basis of "you have money, give us some and maybe we won't take all of it" by whoever had the toughest gang of slavers around, and said taxes were spent on arming, feeding, sexually sating, and status-raising the gang, not job training for alleged victims of gains from comparative advantage. As late as the Battle of Lepanto, Ali Pasha had to bring all of his wealth with him to fight the European Christians because there was no institution in which he could safely deposit wealth.

On the modern front, she says strange things like "Trade with China and other nations may be all but inevitable." What? Is she holding on to some slim hope the United States will embrace autarky? And we can " directly compensate those who fail to benefit from global trade." Gains from trade are ubiquitous.

And she says free trade pacts don't really do anything, because hey, an equation.

I could go on but life is short.

"In 1962 A.D., as our modern era of globalization was just beginning, the economist Jan Tinbergen — who would later share the first Nobel in economic science…"

Not just the first Nobel in economics, but the first Nobel in 'economic science'!

At least he didn't capitalise the last two words.

Davidson is a hack; a tangible example of the decline of the NYT.

If you're really interested in the economic affairs of Assyria, Michael Hudson is a much better source:

I don't know, it's just the mandatory summing-up paragraphs where somebody has to signal his beliefs so we know it's OK to like the piece, right?

If Joyce Carol Oates published only two novels per decade, one or two of her books would be quite famous, and if you wanted to sample Oates, you'd read that famous one and then be able to discuss it with your friends who have also read the same book. But since she publishes about a novel per year, it's difficult to figure out which book to read and so it's easy to skip her entirely like I have.

On the other hand, from reading an occasional book review by JCO, I'm aware she's very talented and that I'm missing something. For example, here's Oates' review in TNR in 1979 of another prolific author, John Updike, near his peak with his amazing / preposterous African dictator novel "The Coup.

Some prolific novelists benefit from having a non-prolific film director pick out one of their books. For example, Stephen King's most famous book is The Shining and Anthony Burgess' is A Clockwork Orange, both of which were made into famous movies by Stanley Kubrick near his peak.

about 6: I can't understand why a profile of an economist in an economics publication should go into so much detail about theological background or beliefs. One need not have any particular religious beliefs to talk about poverty. An atheist too can do the work Alkire is doing.

9. The AEA video is very disappointing.

And the title! "A career in's much more than you think". Ugh.. Why not then "Economics, not as bad as you think..." "Economics...there's not as much math as you think"?

Policy seems overemphasized - is it the east coast emphasis?

And the diversity message, OK, but it is not done well....

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