Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Great Recession captured in 1 minute of comedy

Just watch this.  It is 1 minute long.

Could it be anymore surreal?


Obviously, the lesson has not been relearned since at least sometime before 1992.  If it had been relearned, we would not be here still proposing solutions that sound just like, almost word for word like the 1920’s.  (start reading at 1920) I mean, it’s not like people haven’t been sounding the horn on what the results would be from the proposed solutions in 1992.   Nope, it’s the same proposals as in 1992, which will produce more of the same.


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Fifteen years ago this evening, my wife made the biggest mistake of her life. And she still hasn’t repented. But that doesn’t mean there might not be a little “buyer’s remorse“:

G-d help me, that was the best specific option I could find.* So let’s go instead with a standard:

*Really, folks, does no one celebrate fifteen years? The only other alternative I could find that specifically mentions “fifteen years of marriage” is even more depressing.

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Random Notes on Economics, Music, and Death–and a Bleg

  1. Excess Rents Datapoint of the Day: Since the NYT doesn’t pay Paul Krugman for his blog posts, why should reading those count as part of the “20 free articles” non-subscribers are allowed?
  2. I want the Grapelli track, but not enough to pay for a six-CD set.
  3. This—built by government employees—is the greatest accomplishment in music since Alan Lomax.
  4. And, for fun, via my buddy Tom, the best obituary you’ll read today.
  5. Bleg of the Day: Anyone have a good source or sources on the structures, organizations, and operations of the old “Tea Companies”? Have been thinking about bubbles, and Tea Companies seems to be the Goldman Sachs of the pre-20th century: always in the middle of the problems, but treated reverentially in the histories.

    And, in the Posts I Plan to Write Soon category:

  6. This book is making me wonder if we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe it’s not “Is Economics a Science,” but rather “Is Economics a Discipline.” More to come on this.

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It Takes a Village: Scarcity, the NCAAs, and the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing

I don’t remember seeing any of this type of story last year. But this year, Socialism stories abound from the Midwest.

My ex-roommate* sends this link to a story about Butler Bulldogs’s Senior Matt Howard’s family being able to attend the NCAA Finals tonight in Houston (video link here).

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated covered the macro territory. The 12.7% unemployment rate, up from a few years ago and still 2nd-highest in the state of the 92 counties. The population of “about 13,000,” which puts the decline since I graduated high school at worse-than-Detroit levels—but that makes sense since most of the factory work over the previous forty years was Ford-related as the town once referred to as “Little Detroit” lost competitors to larger areas and consolidation.

Winn’s article, not to mention several other recent pieces about Howard’s childhood make it clear that it really does take a village. From the NYT piece:

His mother, Linda, who credited her faith for helping her raise 10 children, said strangers would stop and ask, “Are you the lady with all the kids?” before dropping off bags of clothes. “Maybe everything didn’t fit,” she said. “But we didn’t complain.”

Bryan Caplan’s noted in his presentation at Kauffman that he knows no one who is liquidity-constrained in their ability to raise children; rather, it’s time allocation that stops them. I suspect he needs to get out more.

And now the city with 12.7% unemployment and a dim future has once again reached into its collective pockets to make certain that Matt Howard’s family gets to see their son’s/brother’s final college game, which also happens to be for the NCAA Championship.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

As I said, I didn’t see stories like this last year. Last year, there was still another year for Howard and the Bulldogs. Now, there is no possible future NCAA Championship; this is the last time this can ever happen. An economist would tell you that people recognized the Scarcity Value and dug into their pockets accordingly.

So not only did it take a Village to help as best they could to raise the ten Howard children, it took a Village to enable the family to go to Houston to see now-senior Matt Howard and the rest of the Butler Bulldogs play—win or lose; I hope win—for the NCAA Championship.

Ex ante, it’s a great decision. Ex post, it will still have been one.

Musical accompaniment: Tom T. Hall, of course.

*For whom Mike Mandel took a picture of Tyler and Natasha Cowen at last week’s Kauffman Economic Bloggers Forum, since he and Tyler were once ranked (by Tyler) as the #1 and #2 chess players in the area. Sadly, neither went into the sport as a full-time professional.

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Japan May Have Reached Point 7

I give up. It was perfectly obvious what was happening at Fukushima on Saturday afternoon, when I posted bullet points at Skippy: there was going to be a major cleanup cost and the live reactors were not salvageable, but nothing fatal to many was loose in the atmosphere yet.

Which is why I followed up here on Sunday with “use saltwater as the best option.” Once you accept that you’re doing damage control, do it efficiently and don’t worry about the sunk cost.

But evacuation and problems with all three plants that were offline at the time of the earthquake moves to stage seven, which was summarized by Pink Floyd:

Though even that may be pessimistic; Al Jazzera English (via their Twitter feed) reports that the heroes of this entire episode—the unnamed workers who are trying to avert serious leakage into the environment—are back at work after having temporarily been evacuated to a bunker.

Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders)


Global Giving

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Reposted in its Entirety: Memorial Service for Alison Snow Jones

Just in case anyone didn’t see this, or overlooked it the first time, at Maxine Udall, Girl Economist:

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held for Alison at 1:00 pm on March 5, 2011 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 145 West Rose Tree Road, Media PA, 19063.

We invite you all to attend. We welcome your thoughts and memories of Alison as we remember her, so please feel free to come prepared share them if you wish.

Please let us know if you plan to come. Email

For those who would like to make a gift in Alison’s memory to please consider giving to the FaithTrust Institute or the Alison Snow Jones Memorial Fund at Drexel University. If giving online to Drexel University, please be sure to add “Alison Snow Jones Memorial Fund” in the special instructions field. Call Ray Slater, the director of development at the School of Public Health, at (215) 762-8437 for more information.

-David Pinney, Meredith Frost

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