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Showing posts from December 30, 2012

On Mark Thoma's bad advice from economists post

Mark Thoma has a note on the paper he is giving at the AEA which makes the case that economists can sometimes worsen a situation by giving bad advice - as happened in 2003-2007, apparently.  It is a nice model , and it is a nice and mildly heterodox paper, but I  think it gives way too much respect to economists. Bad advice sounds so... neutral.  As the very unprofessional and not nice Matt Tsibbi wrote in Griftopia, one economist in particular, Alan Greenspan, gives us an example not so much of bad as of malign advice. He gave a speech lauding ARMs in 2002 - which he intoned was a good deal if interest rates weren't going up - and then turned around and used all his power as Chairman of the Fed to raise interest rates. Malign advice wouldn't be mildly heterodox, but would cross the boundaries. So instead of using herding models culled from economics,  I would turn to other models to explain the economists supported Great Moderation cul de sac. It is simply that the counsel

the credentializing society

I like Lorrie Moore’s short stories. That is, I like them enough to read them when they come out in the New Yorker. I admit, I am not one of the world’s big readers of short stories.   If they are not funny, like George Saunders when he was funny, I have a tendency to begin with high hopes and invisible pats on the back (here I am, fulfilling my cultural duty) followed by a tendency to peak ahead at other articles, which engross me in I don’t know, some profile of a forgettable pop singer, some crime story until I shake myself temporarily free of a text that I know, rationally, holds a content as trivial at least as the short story incident I have abandoned and return to characters that I have, in that brief interval, forgotten to the extent that I have to begin over. What I am saying here is that I am unfair to short stories. But Lorrie Moore’s stories have such an easy flow that they hold me, like a story about some celebrity will hold me – I am bonded to the text by the lesse


I celebrate myself, and sing myself,   And what I assume you shall assume,   For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.   I loafe and invite my soul,   I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. “Loafe” is one of the great verbs, I think. Partly, this stems from the homonym “loaf”, as in a bar of something – bread, for instance. The loaf of bread is not something that can loafe – alas, it exists either on a plate for you to eat, recently made or at least shot up with enough preservatives to seem recently made, or it starts to look greenish and ready for the penicillin factory, at which point it is given the unceremonious heave ho into the waste can. Of course, when bread was much more precious and famine was a real possibility in the hinterlands and urbs of Europe, you would not be so cavalier with a loaf of bread.   Hans Christian Andersen begins one of his characteristic fairy tales (which mix sentimentality and a truly satanic sense