Tuesday assorted links

1. Solve for the equilibrium price of real estate.

2. Kanye + Star Wars vs. NIMBY.

3. Reputation markets in everything: “The Wall Street Journal’s Erich Schwartzel recently wrote a story revealing that none of these tough-guy actors likes it very much when the characters they play get pummeled on screen. One of them even negotiated limits on how much his character can get beat up. Another has his sister, a producer, count how many times his character gets punched, to make sure he gives as good as he gets.

Today, Erich joins us to talk about the lengths these actors have gone to preserve their ever-so-fragile reputations for macho toughness. And the incentives they have for doing so.”

4. A Straussian take on Kenyan rebellion (song, The Rivingtons, 1962).  This was the recording that prompted Dave Marsh to describe Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a Changin'” as a “dull diatribe.”

5. A new piece on Harriet Martineau.

6. Stephen Williamson on the Fed.


Well, considering how much Iron Man gets punched around in the last few Avengers movies, Robertt Downey Jr. is apparently not worried about being considered a tough guy actor.

Even if he is Iron Man - snap.

1. Most buyers of houses work backwards: they determine the monthly payment they can afford, and buy a house with a mortgage that produces that payment. If a mortgage bore no interest, the payment would be significantly lower because interest is, in effect, front-loaded. The monthly payment on a $200,000, 30-year loan at 3.75% interest is $926. The monthly payment on the same loan with 0% interest is $556. Thus, the buyer could borrow $350,000 with 0% interest and the payment would be $972 per month. Theoretically, the buyer would be willing to pay about $150,000 more for the same house. Rising asset prices: the path to prosperity or doom?

What do builders of housing think?

"If I build new houses I will become poor because the lost wealth from driving housing market prices down to labor costs will make me so much poorer I'm better off building nothing and getting rich on scarcity inflating old asset prices and putting money in my pocket as I borrow more as my housing decays and loses value."

Clearly Nordic socialism leads to way too much saving creating too much cash chasing a shrinking pool of real and intangible assets.

I suspect that there is sarcasm in that comment, but hasn’t Copenhagen been experiencing a huge run up in real estate prices, making it unaffordable for most people to buy a home?

If building is allowed you would not buy the same house for a higher price, you'd buy a bigger and better home.

hmmm. My math says that a -0.25% (negative) interest loan on US$346,000 for 30 years (I thought most 30 yr loans were actually 29 yr or 348 months, is that no longer the case? but say 360 here) is $926 per month. I've no idea if there'd be interest/income tax costs...

Apparently, banks should be charging depositors a tiny amount per dollar to keep their money.

7. Larry Summers on Steven Mnuchin: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/06/by-naming-china-currency-manipulator-mnuchin-has-damaged-his-credibility/

Larry Summers commenting on reputation is kind of funny. At least he know the definition of currency manipulation though.

Oh he's not so bad, I even had him on my plane a few times along with Steve Pinker!

He cannot help it. What do you expect from "vents chin menu" ??

#1 Two points. A) The commonly heard trope that 'they're not making anymore of it' is false. New real estate is created and destroyed all the time and B) the price of real estate is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. The price rises and falls, but real estate ALWAYS has inherent value. Is there such a thing as a permanent 'commodity'? If there was, real estate is that thing.

#3 Mel Gibson must be very secure in his manhood then because I never saw anybody get worked over like he did in Porter (1999). He literally got 'hammered'.

A common trope is for the good guy cop, detective or secret agent to get pummeled and humbled for most of the show by assorted bad guys but have the last laugh with one well-timed punch and accompanying quip.

The pummeling serves to establish their self-deprecating wit and humanity, a la Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in The Man From UNCLE. Or Robert Montgomery as Philip Marlowe in The Lady in the Lake (1949) -- oddly filmed in first-person style so every punch he takes lands right in the camera

3. I suppose there’s a distinction between actors who are tough (someone mentioned Mel Gibson above) and actors who owe their livelihoods to being seen as tough?

The former can get beat up but the latter can not afford to show that they aren’t, in fact, tough. “Toughness” once “lost” can’t be regained.

Reminds me of the joke: “I pounded thousands of nails but can’t call myself a carpenter, but perform one measly oral sex act on a dude and now I’m a f*g”.

I am not a supremely gifted psychologist but I am very gifted and I have seen people on the border of insanity pull themselves back, they were not there (at that ugly border) because they were losers, they were not people who any of us have a right to mock, they were there because they were hated by evildoers, at some previous point in time --- evildoers who they did not know how to defeat

think about it, prayerfully

and I helped them defeat the evildoers

My job in life is twofold: I help the people who were hounded almost into insanity, and tell them they are not at fault that they did not know what they were up against:

and I look the evildoers who were on the other side, and I look them in the eye and I tell them what they need to hear:
God loves you despite your evil acts ///

these are the sorts of things I have said, again and again, in prayer (every day) and on the street, in real life, more days than I can count:

and here is what I want to tell the sad people who think they are tougher than I am:
Repent, and tell the demons who you have been the servant of for so long that they can go to hell if they want to or they too can repent and go to heaven with the rest of us when we leave behind our addictions and our resentments and our lazy desire to dwell on the past


My body is in this world but my heart is in heaven.

By the way, back in the 80s and 90s, 2 or 3 actors who went on to get nominated for Oscars imitated the way I talk (I was a friend of a friend of some screenwriters here and there, and the girlfriends of at least two actors really wanted to be with me instead of with their actor dude boyfriends - sad!)

I am in a good mood tonight. So I am going to say this (and if you are reading this before it is deleted, remember - I never lie) I know Chesterton is in Heaven and I know he is going to help me to pray for those who have NO ONE TO PRAY FOR THEM BECAUSE they are erroneously thought of as saints:
poor Father Wojtyla,
who did not have enough love in his heart to be a "santo subIto"
(I remember, sadly)
and poor Father Pacelli, among a few others ....
and their pals .....
pray for them.

God hears our prayers, my friends.

You can do so much that nobody else can do if you
observe the commandments
stop being selfish
and help someone live a good, blessed, life

Proverbs 8

Memorize it


Seriously if you have a friend struggling with addiction ask me to pray for your friend

and I will do that


AND ..... please try and do what your addicted friend wants you to do


Because you need to learn how to care ....


If you have a friend who needs you to be there for them

stop right now reading comments on the computer and start being there for your friend

you have my prayers helping you
God listens to my prayers
but more important

do the right thing and be there for your friend

be there for your buddies
"Americas Buddies"
Buddy & Julie Miller

no upcoming tour dates!

My advice is good.
That is one reason why Death Itself, the poor creature, is afraid of me.
(I was gonna comment tonight on an interesting dispute between Hayek and von Mises on an interesting topic, but I thought, hey, maybe it is more important to get it out there that at least some of us are loved by God and feared by poor Death .... just saying .....)
Trust anyone who tells you:
do the right thing and be there for your friend!
This is our world, my friend ....
do the right thing and help a friend be the good person they need to be.
Follow the commandments.
Love your neighbor as much, and preferably more, than you love yourself.

Pray for poor Death,
Saint Francis called the poor creature by a good name, but I am not Saint Francis, I know what the creature has done: and I am not in a mood tonight to joke about the bad things the creature has done, as poor rich boy born rich Saint Francis did:


God loves you much much more than you can imagine.

You have nothing to worry about, once you understand that, and it

well anyway I hope not. (!!!!!!!)

(seriously when was the last time you read a comment on a blog asking you to pray that DEATH would repent of the sins the poor creature had committed ....
remember this ....
you have to love this world as much as God loves it if you want the people you love to know that

you really and truly had love in your heart.)

Seriously, do the right thing, every chance you can. No "minor sins", no "excusable faults", no misdemeanors and no felonies, it goes without saying.

You are welcome for the good advice.

Proverbs 8, Romans 8, and Ephesians 1-2 and Philippians 1-2.

Fifteen minutes, and you can read all that twice.

You won't regret it.
You are more intelligent than you think you are, at a minimum.

3. This is portrayed as some kind of macho vanity thing, but in Hollywood, perception is everything. The public perception very much affects what kind of roles you will be offered in the future. Obviously actors will try to actively manage their own image.

This is no different than some actresses negotiating strict limits on nude scenes, and what is allowed to be shown and for how many seconds. Especially when they become more successful later in their careers. In most cases modesty itself is not the primary concern.

#6 Good point. It is important that central banks manage money and the business cycle in a very wise way. All in all, I am not sure FED is doing a good job in fulfulling its dual mandate.

I think we could learn much from Brazil's Central Bank's countercyclical measures. They are feeding a boom in the likeable South American country that, I dare to say, may be a great business opportunity for American businessmen.

By jove, old sport! I think you've got it!

Thank you.! I think, a few years from now, having invested in Brazil will feel like having invested in Microsoft in the late 70s.


The Fed is failing to shrink the tradable pool of tangible and intangible assets fast enough thus driving corporate slashing of labor costs to boost profits to match inflated asset prices?

Does anyone think share buybacks creates jobs?

Or tax cuts and cutting building of transportation and other housing infrastructure complements like water and sewer and schools to inflate real estate prices creates jobs?

I grew up before Friedman successfully argued paying workers to build capital harmed workers by putting them on a treadmill of ever higher living costs paid for by ever higher wages.

I grew up as Friedman was decrying the ever increasing building of factories, roads, schools, houses filled with ever increasing products from ever increasing factories, driveways filled with ever increasing numbers of cars and boats from ever increasing car and boat factories, and ever increasing too much reliable electric power and too much reliable telephone service causing too much talking on the phone.

Milton argued we should have the option of unreliable electric and telephone service, like exists in so much of the world in places calls hellholes. In other words, Milton argued the US worker would be better off in what Trump considers a hellhole.

It is more complicated than that. We need a rebalancing of the economy. A countercyclical fiscal/monetary policy alone won't gelp us. It would be like pushing a rope. What it is needed, as Brazili realized, is a new, grand design that can allow us to mobilize and, liberate and harness the unemployed potential energy of our society.

#6 Good point. It is important that central banks manage money and the business cycle in a very wise way. All in all, I am not sure FED is doing a good job in fulfulling its dual mandate.

I think we could learn much from Brazil's Central Bank's countercyclical measures. They are feeding a boom in the likeable South American country that, I dare to say, may be a great business opportunity for American businessmen.

6. Critics of Williamson like to point out that, according to Williamson's theory of interest and inflation and causation, Paul Volcker should have cut interest rates to fight inflation back in 1979-83. In today's setting, Williamson believes the Fed should have raised the nominal interest rate last week if the goal is higher inflation. To Williamson: "That's just the logic of Irving Fisher, which we all learned as undergrads. . . . That's abundantly obvious . . . ." One will recall that John Taylor argued something similar during the depths of the great recession, that raising interest rates would be expansionary. I get the logic (raising interest rates creates expectations of growth, inducing firms to invest and consumers to consume), but for Williamson to criticize Powell ("who can't explain what's going on") because Powell won't accept Williamson's voodoo economics is, well, Trumpian.

I meant John Cochrane not John Taylor.

Cochrane was right. Rock bottom interest rates punish savers and inhibit consumption because you have to save more to achieve the same investment income.

I should acknowledge that I did not appreciate Williamson's libelous comment that Powell "doesn't know" monetary policy because he is a lawyer, unlike the all-knowing Williamson.

Why are you talking to yourself?

The guy is lonely, let him

#4 Forgive me for being dense, but I don't get it. Can someone explain how this song is about a rebellion in Kenya? Please read between the lines for me.


Mau Mau.

In other words, it's no really about rebellion in Kenya, it just contains the syllabels 'Mau mau' which can be taken that way, just for fun. That's rather a long way to go for a joke. Is the joke supposed to be at the expense of esoteric writing, esoteric reading, or popular music? We already knew there is nothing esoteric or deep in any other way in Dylan.

2. Kanye. It’s notable that the first thing he utters isn’t that he wants to help x number of people but that he wishes wants to be “one of the biggest real estate developers of all time.”

And his buildings/designs will overcome social distinctions between the rich, the middle class and the poor? Sure, the rich and middle class would love to live near some poor people, yessiree.

#2: It's difficult not to be skeptical of domes as low-cost housing.

Although a dome may be cheap to build, capital, operating and maintenance costs seem to go up rapidly once you try to turn them into housing.

For example, if you're going to put a lot of people inside a really big one then you'll need plenty of doors, so people can get out quickly if something goes wrong. But, putting vertical doors into a non-vertical structure is inevitably going to be costly (and if not done carefully will threaten the structural integrity of the dome).

Do poor people need windows in their homes? Windows don't have to be vertical, but, if they're not they'll either leak or they'll be far more costly than a window designed to be vertical.

And all that height! There's a lot of volume in there, and you'll probably want to heat or cool it (or at least bring in some fresh air). And, yes, you can add insulation to a dome but it's not easy.

And, umm, yes, they do tend to leak.

Finally, Kanye may or may not care about acoustics in his residence, but domes are notorious for reflecting just about every sound that originates within the dome right back down into the dome.

So, maybe the answer to quality, low-cost housing is indeed "domes." But, it's very hard not to be skeptical, given the many problems people have had in adapting domes to human habitation over the years.

It's pretty cheap to build a small rectangular concrete block house. Something similar to how dorms were built during the 60's. Just build those.

#4. Huh -- is this what I get for saying Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell are too deadly earnest? If so, I LOL'ed (unlike any time ever listening a Dylan or Joni Mitchell song). And in the spirit of 'Papa Ooo Mow Mow' and Bob Dylan, how about a bit of this.

Sorry Boomers, that movement of yours (so profound, so revolutionary, so beyond what your parents could ever understand) petered out after a few years and was replaced in the public imagination by John Travolta in leisure suit.

But even if we stop joking and appreciate earnest, poetic lyrics, Dylan really never came close to his idol Woody Guthrie. Compare the pedestrian lyrics of Lay Lady Lay to the genuine poetry of this Woody Guthrie song (set to music and sung by Jeff Tweedy).

You're comparing one of Dylan's lamest songs with one of Guthrie's best. Not fair.

What Dylan song should I have used?

D. A. Pennebaker (who filmed Dylan) recently passed away so that Weird Al Yankovic video is timely.

I hadn't been aware of it, nor for that matter the Woody Guthrie poem, good stuff.

6. Stephen Williamson on the Fed.

Where does all that leave us? Not in a really bad place. The central banks of the world are going to model themselves on the Bank of Japan. Barring a Trump recession, things will be OK. We'll have inflation below 2%, a large central bank balance sheet in perpetuity, odd behavior in overnight markets, and puzzled central bankers who can't explain what's going on. Oh well.


Japan style debt deflation, for about 40 years.

Under stand the Fed dynamics. It pays gains to Treasury as seigniorage, except for its fixed expenses. The Treasury bills in its portfolio are its loan portfolio, and whenever the Fed lowers interest on deposits, it pays out less and returns more to Treasury, keeping it internal gains equal to fixed expenses. The treasuries on account hardly change, so depsits do all the adjustments whenever IOER goes up or down, and both loan and deposit rates move lock step. The effect is for the fed to move left on the curve, and cause depostors to rescale to faster transaction rates or move right on the curve, and visa versa. Depositors are simply rescaling their business to accommodate government, and look at the charts and we see the one year Treasury is indeed that actual target of the Fd, the rest is faked.

During Harriet Martineau's trip to the US, her and her American guide knocked on the door of the Andrew Jackson White House. It was answered by Jackson himself, who then instructed them to wait while he dressed and then accompany him to an address he was to make. On the way, he was attacked by a would-be assassin but was uninjured and continued on to his scheduled affair.

It seems to me that if everyone has the same advantage to the new discounted value of money, whatever the equilibrium price turns out to be, you would get about the same house as now. There may be more money going to the builders instead of bankers, but the house would be just about the same.

4. I caught this 50 years ago. The girl on the left is much more, um, interesting.

4. is annoying on several levels. So Dave Marsh is willing "to stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in his cowboy boots," er, his tennies or topsiders or whatever, and declare that the creators of "Papa Oom Mow Mow" are better songwriters than Bob Dylan? First off, Dylan is not really responsible for his songs being generationally appropriated to the point of tedium - see that time he appeared before a hushed, reverent crowd come to see a reunion show for some sincerely-felt cause that made people feel like they were conjuring the spirit of the 60s, and angered everybody by launching into not "The Times They Are a Changin'" but Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at Forty." Anyway, Dylan for years demonstrated with discographic proof how much he really loves everybody else's music with his weekly satellite radio show - he probably digs the Rivingtons, a little bit anyway, and would play their song over his own himself - though he's unfortunately too intelligent to make idiotic comparisons, lively though the reaction might be.

Anyway, the posturing reminded me of the New Yorker actually pretty humorously riffing on Keith Richards' putting "Tutti-Frutti" on his "Desert Island discs" list. Of course "Tutti-Frutti" is way better than the "Mau-Mau" song, but still, if you want a nonsense-word song on play forever, "Iko Iko" is obviously the one.

Anyway, I am not looking to catch any flak for this - I'm not a huge Dylan fan, I just live with one, and he's not up yet to write this himself; but this is reminiscent of the first fifty times Tyler felt himself unequal to "getting" the Beatles.

My own dull diatribe, amended: Anyway, he's up now, and says Dave Marsh is a hero because he's such a purist about late 50s/early 60s R&B, so slavishly devoted to the music of the period, that when he said that about Dylan - of whom he's also a huge fan - it was just meant to suggest that after Dylan music got sanctimonious.

He also recalls that Dave Marsh edited an edition of the Rolling Stone record guide one time and his review of the Rivingtons' album, as opposed to the single "Papa Oom Mow Mow" went something like- "I assume, whoever you are, you know "Papa Oom Mow Mow," and if you also need to own "Mama Oom Mow Mow," that says more about your obsessiveness than anything else. I did."

And whatever you think of the message, "The Times They are a Changin'" has some indelible phrases: "The curse it is cast," especially.

My favorite read of the week was about Neil Gaiman's fountain pens. Surprised it didn't make it here given his popularity as a scifi recommendation on numerous of MR's lists: https://unsharpen.com/what-fountain-pens-does-neil-gaiman-use/

My favorite read of the week was about Neil Gaiman's fountain pens. Surprised it didn't make it here given his popularity as a scifi recommendation on numerous of MR's lists

Comments for this post are closed