Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

LinkSwarm for February 6, 2015

Friday, February 6th, 2015

I’ve got a cold and my dog had major dental surgery yesterday, so pardon me if I seem out of it.

  • Democratic Party makes it clear they expect reporters to be good little lapdogs, going so far as to escort them to the restroom to keep them from talking to congressmen.
  • Muslim attack in the Philippines kills 49.
  • London Mayor “Boris Johnson says [jihadists] watch pornography and masturbate excessively.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • Entire Rotherham City Council resigns. Not enough Many should be in prison.
  • ISIS is big on book burning.
  • Guy builds real Nine Inch Nailgun. Because #Merica:

  • When the CEO of your startup gets convicted on child pornography charges, there’s a good chance you’re not IPO-bound.
  • Minimum wage hike kills San Francisco independent science fiction bookstore Borderland Books. I’ve bought books from Alan before, so I have a personal connection here.
  • Is that a Batmobile in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  • Venezuelans Now So Screwed They Can’t Afford to Get Screwed

    Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

    Thanks to the Magic Power of #Socialism™, in Venezuela a 36-pack of condoms now costs as much as an iPhone:

    Venezuelans who already must line up for hours to buy chicken, sugar, medicines and other basic products in short supply now face a new indignity: Condoms are hard to find and nearly impossible to afford….

    On the auction website MercadoLibre, used by Venezuelans to obtain scarce goods, a 36-pack of Trojans sells for 4,760 bolivars ($755 at the official exchange rate), close to the country’s minimum monthly wage of 5,600 bolivars.

    It take a special kind of socialist magic to make your people too poor to have sex.

    In other Venezuela news:

  • The Maduro government has seized a supermarket chain. I’m sure that will do wonders to make more basic goods available to people.
  • They’re also arrested pharmacy owners for “conspiring” to create long lines out their stores. Maybe Maduro thinks business owners can conjure hard currency out of their own asses.
  • Interview with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
  • One wonders if The Road to Serfdom or Economics in One lesson have ever been translated into Spanish…

    Greece Inches Closer to the Endgame

    Monday, December 29th, 2014

    Just because the European Debt Crisis hasn’t been in the headlines much as of late doesn’t mean it’s gone away.

    Greece’s government has fallen again and they’ll be holding general elections next month. “Opinion polls point to a victory by the radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to wipe out a big part of Greece’s debt, and cancel the terms of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Greece still needs to pay its bills.”

    The problem is that Greece wants to continue spending other people’s money to prop up a bankrupt welfare state, and the rest of Europe has decided they would really prefer to stop pouring money down that particular rathole. Syriza is against “austerity,” which is to say they oppose the Greek government even pretending to practice fiscal restraint. Because pretending is all they’ve done.

    Remember, real austerity is reducing outlays until they match receipts. All those “austerity” street protests were over lowering Greece’s budget deficit from 9% of GDP to 7.5% of GDP. The rest of Europe didn’t ask them to stop digging their own grave, they just asked them to dig more slower. And this year, Greece’s budget deficit stood at 12.2% of GDP. Evidently even fake austerity is too much to ask of them; even the illusion of fiscal restraint is intolerable. This is why all news that Greece has “balanced” next year’s budget should be taken with several grains of salt.

    So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.

    Europe has had several years to acclimate itself to the fact the Greece might exit the Euro, and the possibility of a “grexit” has been priced into the markets for some time now. I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of the European banking system, but my impression is that much of the “stress testing” of European banks this year was to prepare for one or more of the PIIGS leaving the Euro. I suspect that the European elite have minimized their own exposure to a Greek default (which is really all they care about), and that the EU and the European Central Bank has found new, sneaky ways to put taxpayers on the hook for any possible sovereign defaults, strengthening the banking system without addressing Europe’s long-term economic problems (unsustainable levels of debt to support cradle-to-grave welfare states for shrinking populations).

    It would be great if Greece actually undertook real structural reforms of their bloated, dysfunctional government, but I see precious little evidence that they’ve actual done so. Expect more pain ahead, and at least one more bailout…

    Texas Economy Continues to Kick Ass

    Monday, December 22nd, 2014

    Two bits of news dropped right after I put up the most recent Texas vs. California update.

    First, Texas added 34,800 nonfarm jobs in November, and 441,200 more jobs year-over-year, more than any other state. And this happened despite the drop in oil prices.

    One reason Texas does so well is that it has the highest level of economic freedom of any state (tied with South Dakota).

    Needless to say, those two facts are strongly correlated. In the long run, free states produce jobs and economic activity while less free states produce dependency and stagnation.

    (Hat tip: TPPF.)

    LinkSwarm for November 21, 2014

    Friday, November 21st, 2014

    Here in Austin, we’re enjoying a temporary respite from Winter in November, but I don’t expect it to last long.

    Links!

    All the lies of ObamCare:

    The growing impression that politicians don’t play straight with their constituents is completely toxic, particularly to Democrats, who actually want to use government to improve people’s lives. It’s one thing to downplay unpalatable choices made in the law; it’s another to never disclose the consequences of legislation until it’s too late for anyone to react. Combine that with the moustache-twirling of a Jonathan Gruber, saying that the idiots should be happy for what they got, and you have basically every conservative stereotype about liberal elites confirmed.

    Also: ObamaCare is designed for people buying insurance through it to get a nasty sticker shock in year two. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • House Republicans file suit over Obama’s unilateral actions on ObamaCare.
  • The administration is lying about ObamaCare signup numbers. Again.
  • “Why Texas Could Remain a Republican Stronghold for Another Generation.”
  • “The president’s promises have been proven to be worthless…How many illegal immigrants want to come out of the shadows and identify themselves to law enforcement based upon this promise?”
  • Jay Carney admits that with his illegal alien amnesty, Obama is doing something he previously called unconstitutional.
  • Mickey Kaus thinks the courts could very well act quickly to squash Obama’s illegal amnesty, much as they did with Harry Truman’s steel mill seizures.
  • Aaron Worthing thinks illegals will pass on Obama’s amnesty as a bad deal.
  • “These illegal aliens are willing to do the work that Americans will no longer do — namely, vote Democrat.”
  • How desperate are the Democrats? They’re saying Republican opposition to Obama’s illegal alien amnesty will lead to ethnic cleansing. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Top Obama bundler arrested on child rape charges.
  • Lefty lawyer Alan Derschowitz on Harvard’s kangaroo court sexual assault rules: “Harvard’s policy was written by people who think sexual assault is so heinous a crime that even innocence is not a defense.”
  • How come Bill Cosby gets convicted in the media for rape allegations by Bill Clinton gets a pass? “There is more sympathy for a white southerner like Clinton than a black comic like Cosby.”
  • A giant leap backward for woman-kind.
  • Price of ground beef hits record highs.
  • Oh lovely: Microsoft is deploying Daleks.
  • LinkSwarm for October 31, 2014

    Friday, October 31st, 2014

    Happy Halloween!

  • This week’s example of Democratic elected official defrauding a non-profit comes to you from Philadelphia congressman Chaka Fattah.
  • Democratic Representative Alan Grayson, the 17th richest man in congress, has cut off funds to estranged wife, and now both she and her kids are on welfare.
  • Former Obama champion Tina Brown now says he makes women feel unsafe.
  • Secret Service investigator into prostitution scandal resigns after his own prostitution scandal.
  • Marine veteran father banned from school after objecting to his daughters history assignment to “list the benefits of Islam.”
  • The war in Ukraine has cemented Putin’s dictatorship in Russia.
  • On the other hand, the ruble is crashing, despite rate hikes.
  • How’s that Chicago model working out?

  • High and trying to grab a cop’s gun is no way to go through life, son. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Michael Brown no longer walks among the living…
  • Japan may have a low murder rate, but as the follow chart from this piece on “haunted” apartments shows, their suicide rate dwarfs our murder and suicide rate combined.

  • Texas Tech student admits to filing false sexual assault charges. Under California’s new kangaroo courts, the student falsely accused would have already been convicted and expelled by now. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Fund managers are the fish in the game. They can’t leave the table.
  • Interesting piece on GamerGate. “The feminism of male demonization and female victimhood has become an insidious force that, despite its faux-progressive trappings, stands in the way of genuine equality. Whatever its flaws, GamerGate is a politically diverse movement of cultural resistance to this brand of toxic feminism. For that, it deserves at least two cheers.”
  • Dear Ridley Scott: Moses did not wear scale armor.
  • Links to this and previous years’ Fark scary story thread.
  • Now that’s what I call shag carpeting.
  • Salon Writer Complains That Democrats Are Corporate Whores

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

    Well well well, what have we here?

    It’s a jeremiad by Democrat Bill Curry about how his party has abandoned its soul for the sweet smell of Wall Street crony capitalist dollars.

    Democrats hooked on corporate cash and consultants with long lists of corporate clients were less attuned to Nader’s issues.

    Democrats today defend the triage liberalism of social service spending but limit their populism to hollow phrase mongering (fighting for working families, Main Street not Wall Street). The rank and file seem oblivious to the party’s long Wall Street tryst. Obama’s economic appointees are the most conservative of any Democratic president since Grover Cleveland but few Democrats seem to notice, or if they notice, to care.

    These days, says Curry, Democrats “don’t believe in ideas because they don’t believe in people” and calls for a Nader-esque populism. (Indeed, Nader’s latest book seems to provide the spine for his piece.)

    Curry actually sees the populist Tea Party energy on the right and laments its absence on his side of the aisle. “If there’s a true populist revolt on the left it is as yet invisible to the naked eye.” (Though I note one very hot populist issue, widespread opposition to the Democratic Party’s push for illegal alien amnesty, is conspicuous by its absence from his piece.)

    “Democratic elites are always up for compromise, but on the wrong issues. Rather than back GOP culture wars, as some do, or foreign wars, as many do, or big business, as nearly all do, they should back libertarians on privacy, small business on credit and middle-class families on taxes.”

    This advice is far from the worst Democrats have received, but they are congenitally unable to follow it for numerous reasons:

  • As a party, Democrats are all in on Big Government. Access to the Gravy Train and charging a transaction fee on robbing Peter to pay Paul are the only thing that holds their coalition together. Likewise, to say Democrats are unenthusiastic about cutting taxes is to vastly understate the case.
  • Democrats can’t embrace populism because both the political and cultural soul of the party is rooted in elitism. The people who run the party in D.C. are absolutely certain that they and their brethren can run peoples’ lives better than they can run their own. And the party’s biggest supporters in blue bastions like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco are convinced that they are manifestly smarter, more moral, and above all more sophisticated than those gun-toting redneck freaks of JesusLand. Asking them to embrace real populism (as opposed to candidates making meaningless promises every 2 or 4 years) is almost certainly futile.
  • A significant fraction of their supporters in those blue bastions benefit directly from the crony capitalism Currey decries.
  • There are also numerous areas where Curry appears unable to shed his blue-colored glasses:

  • When he says “Oddly, the one system working relatively well, public education, is the object of our only sustained reform effort,” he’s ignoring the huge problems in teacher union controlled schools and curricula as documented everywhere from Waiting for Superman to Vergara vs. California. And in his conclusion, the very first member of his potential future coalition mentioned is “unions,” pointedly ignoring the populist revolt against fat cat public sector unions that have helped bankrupt Detroit and numerous California cities.
  • The plight of American workers pushed out of jobs by illegal aliens, and the popular revolt against busing them to communities across the country and amnesty? No mention.
  • He seems equally enthused about small business and fighting “global warming,” with nary a mention about how the EPA’s power grab thanks to the latter is crushing small business left and right, nor how many “green” firms are riding the crony capitalist gravy train.
  • Other populist “small ball” issues that never get mentioned: cheap light bulbs that work and toilets that flush. Though Shalt Not Question Washington’s Mandates.
  • Agribusiness subsidies, crony capitalism in almost its purest form? Not mentioned.
  • The Democratic Party faithful are never, ever, ever going to reengage with Nader, because their hatred for George W. Bush is far stronger and more visceral than their theoretical attachment to populist economic policies.
  • Of course, since it’s Salon, the piece has more than one inside-the-blue-bubble howler:

  • “Nader’s belief in convergence isn’t the same as Obama’s naïve pursuit of the holy grail of bipartisanship.” Obama has pursued “bipartisanship” with much the same fervor the late Amy Winehouse pursued “sobriety.”
  • “Republicans can talk values even while defending a corrupt status quo because, recent Tea Party convulsions aside, defending the status quo is their job. The Democrats’ job is to challenge the status quo; when they don’t do it, nothing they say sounds sincere. ” Republicans certainly defend many cultural status quos, but it is the Democratic Party that has consistently defended the status quo of the lumbering monstrosity that is Big Government.
  • When he says that until 1996, congress “had not enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s,” he’s flat out lying. (Kemp-Roth was certainly reform.) What he actual means is “No reforms that far left economic populists like myself approve of.”
  • In the next paragraph he decries the deregulation of the airline, trucking and phone industries, missing the point that these were not only reforms, but populist reforms that ended monopoly profits by entrenched special interests, and ones which radically brought down prices for consumers.
  • “But Nader always hit hard; you don’t get to be the world’s most famous shopper by making allowances or pulling punches.” I would venture to guess that the world’s most famous “shopper” is probably someone like Paris Hilton, which is probably not the image he wanted to convey…
  • “Liberals have spent the intervening years debating macroeconomic theory.” Have they? As far as I can tell, the only debate in the ideological vineyards of the Democratic Party is over how much Keynesian vs. how much Marxism.
  • “Democrats must also learn to argue history. They chortle when Michele Bachmann credits the founders with ending slavery or Sarah Palin forgets who Paul Revere rode to warn.” Tiny little problem: By and large Sarah Palin got Paul Revere’s story right, no matter how much liberals might insist otherwise.
  • “The best template of populism remains the career of William Jennings Bryan.” Well, it’s not that Curry is necessarily wrong per se, but one must view with a certain jaundiced eye the idea that current electoral models can be found in a man who probably peaked in 1896.
  • Indeed, when you get right down to it, Curry’s piece could be boiled down to “Talk vaguely about populism while pushing the same Big Government, redistributionist schemes liberals always push.” Maybe the Nader book itself is bolder (and if someone wants to pay me to review it, I’d happily give it a go), but Curry’s piece is very old and undistinguished wine decanted into a slightly shinier bottle.

    No matter how many times liberals declare “This is it! I’m finally fed up with the Democratic Party!”, the party’s fat cats know the truth. Come November 8, 2016, they’ll remember they loathe Republicans far more than they love reform, and pull the (D) lever no matter how many jeremiads Bill Curry and his ilk pen.

    We’ve seen this movie before, and we know exactly how it ends.

    LinkSwarm for July 25, 2014

    Friday, July 25th, 2014

    Time for another random roundup of news and links:

  • Jimmy Carter looks like frickin’ Bismark next to the feckless dorm-room intellectual currently haunting the golf courses of the greater DC area.”
  • Even Thomas “What’s The Matter With Kansas” Frank calls Obama “ineffective and gutless.” (Warning: Salon Liberal Whining Ahead.)
  • Liberal law professor Lawrence Tribe thinks that ObamaCare is probably doomed due to the Halbig decision. “I cannot see how this Court could do anything other than decide the same way as the DC Circuit did. The statue is clear on its face.”
  • Even “ObamaCare Architect” MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber said the same thing back in 2012: “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”
  • Mark Steyn on the Halbig ruling:

    As to Mr Earnest’s point on “what Congress intended”, who can say? No Congressman who voted for the bill read it. Presumably, some legislator’s staffer wrote that actual line about “established by the State”. If we could locate him among the vast entourages of the Emirs of Incumbistan, we could ask him what his “intention” was. Until then, calibrating the competing degrees of deference to a corrupt bureaucracy, a contemptuous executive, a politicized judiciary and a feckless hack legislature brings to mind Samuel Johnson’s line about arguing the precedence of a louse and a flea, with a tick and a cockroach thrown in.

  • Missing from my Gaza roundup: “Shalom, motherf****r.” “I will not apologize for surviving.” (Hat tip: Josh Perry.)
  • Bill Whittle makes the case for Israel:

  • Obama won’t help arm Ukraine because he had a key role in disarming them.
  • Democrats plans for November: All race card, all the time.
  • 50 years of Democratic rule and now Detroit is cutting off people’s water. “Just goes to show that nothing is so expensive as when it is ‘free.’”
  • “That’s not funny.”
  • Republicans should stand firm and let the Export/Import Bank corporate welfare boondoggle expire. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Che Guevara, racist:

  • Maureen Dowd is never so readable as when she’s slamming the Clintons.
  • “Canadian Candidate Drops Out After Masturbation Video Surfaces.”

  • Sarah Palin endorses Joe Carr against Lamar Alexander in Tennessee senate primary. I don’t think anyone who watched Alexander’s “Lamar!” flannel flameout in the 1996 Presidential race has ever really trusted him since…
  • A New York City cupcake truck seems a little unclear on who their clientele might be. (They’ve since deleted both this tweet and the one where they implored people not to “snitch” to cops when they see crimes committed…)
  • Evidently nobody is actually reading Thomas Piketty’s book.
  • In praise of Power Girl’s boob window.
  • How Bad Has ObamaCare Been for the Economy?

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    This bad (click to embiggen):

    Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department’s third reading released Wednesday. That was the fastest rate of decline since the first quarter of 2009, when output fell 5.9%.

    Just about every sector was down:

    My takeaway is that ObamaCare has been twice as bad for the economy as the subprime meltdown.

    The Clintons Just Don’t Get It

    Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

    Hot on the heels of Hillary Clinton claiming that her family was dead broke in 2001 (for certain values of “dead broke” that include being worth more than $20 million) comes news that Hillary has doubled down on the “shucks, we’re just regular folks” gambit.

    In an interview with The Guardian, Clinton said she isn’t “truly well off”:

    But with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution?

    “But they don’t see me as part of the problem,” she protests, “because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work,” she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.

    The full quote is actually more damning than just the “not truly well off” bit because it suggests an even more radical disconnect from the economic reality most Americans face every day. Evidently Hillary is suggesting she gets a pass from class warfare envy because: A.) She and Bill have actually deigned to obey the law by paying taxes, and B.) Americans know just how hard it is for Bill to give $103 million worth of speeches.

    A few choice reactions:

    Moreover, Hillary’s daughter seems to have picked up on her mother’s entitlement issues. It seems that the woman married to a former Goldman Sachs manager who started his own hedge fund, the woman who owns a $10 million Manhattan apartment, the woman who was given a $3 million wedding and the woman who MSNBC paid $600,000 a year to (or $26,724 for every minute she appeared on-air) says she doesn’t care about money.

    At least one pundit has suggested that Hillary’s clan suffers from “Status-Income Disequilibrium”, in which people with All The Right Opinions suddenly realize how much wealthier fellow members of the Overclass are. Or, as Rush Limbaugh puts it, “in [Hillary]‘s world, $50 million is peanuts.”

    Let’s give Bill Clinton one small piece of praise in all this: As far as I can tell, on this particular subject he’s apparently been smart enough to keep his mouth shut…