Friday, September 11, 2009

Quotes of the day

If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it;
if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.--Proverbs

[John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley] zigzagged so many times and he increased the instability in a company that was already reeling from instability.--Dick Bove

Crying “bubble” is no good unless you have an operational procedure for identifying bubbles, distinguishing them from rationally low risk premiums, and not crying wolf too many years in a row. ... More deeply, the economist’s job is not to “explain” market fluctuations after the fact, to give a pleasant story on the evening news about why markets went up or down. Markets up? “A wave of positive sentiment.” Markets went down? “Irrational pessimism.” (And “the risk premium must have increased” is just as empty.) Our ancestors could do that. Really, is that an improvement on “Zeus had a fight with Apollo?” Good serious behavioral economists know this, and they are circumspect in their explanatory claims so far. --John Cochrane

[For conservatives,] responsibility is a more important value than either liberty or equality.--Tyler Cowen

The president didn't hesitate to tell American kids to take responsibility for their behavior. It's time he delivered that same message to states, school districts and unions.--Paul Peterson

A science that moves forward almost never ends up back where it started. Einstein revises Newton, but does not send you back to Aristotle.--John Cochrane

My overall conclusion is that productivity advances will lead the world out of the recession, and after a while toward a decent rate of growth in world GDP. These advances will occur even if the financial sector is not fully recovered from its crisis. As productivity advances continue at robust levels, that will stimulate the demand for labor, and begin to reduce unemployment and produce sizable rates of growth in employment.--Gary Becker

But for the advocate of government growth, hope springs eternal, and this time, by golly, we’ll tweak things just right. No runaway expenses. No unintended consequences. We’ll get more health care for more people at lower cost without denying care to anyone, and we’ll do this by pulling exactly the right levers from Washington, D.C. And if you disagree with us, you are in favor of denying millions of people care, and bankrupting others. It’s that last bit that sticks in the craw, the notion that their opponents actually prefer human suffering to a robust solution. This is despicable when conservatives do it (remember how those who questioned the “Patriot Act” were borderline traitors?), and it’s equally deplorable when liberals do it. In this I am an equal opportunity hater. A pox on both your houses, I say.--Tony Woodlief

[Office of Management and Budget Director Peter] Orszag has argued that if Medicare spending could be as low in Newark as it is at Mayo, the nation could save billions. But this theory doesn't hold up in practice. Consider: One-fourth of the folks in Newark live in poverty, compared with less than 10 percent of those in Rochester. And national surveys show that poor people consume more health-care resources -- 50 to 75 percent more than average. They are sicker and they stay sicker, despite the best efforts of physicians and hospitals. Mayo is a fine institution, but it isn't more cost-effective than other hospitals in its home region, nor are its operations in Jacksonville, Fla., and Phoenix more cost-efficient than other hospitals in those cities. So why would it be more cost-effective in Newark? To really achieve health-care reform, and find a way to pay for it, the president will have to ... with some painful truths. First, medical care is inherently variable in different regions of the country -- socio-demographic differences matter. Second, more is more and less yields less -- the best care is the most comprehensive care, and it costs more. Finally, poverty is expensive -- the greatest "waste" is the necessary use of added resources when coping with patients who are poor. If we want a technologically advanced, socially equitable health-care system, we will have to organize our finances accordingly. There is no quick fix. That's what we should be talking about.--Richard Cooper

The problem is that what [Senator Olympia Snowe] wants--a cheap [healthcare reform] bill that doesn't either force a bunch of people to buy coverage they can't afford, or leave a bunch of people uninsured--is not possible. I assume that she actually knows this. So her public dithering means one of two things: she has decided to break with her party, and she wants to signal how difficult this decision is; or she has decided to torpedo the hope of busting a filibuster, and wants to signal to her Democratic constituents that she was forced to it by a bad plan.--Megan McArdle

Allow me to propose a new rule of political discourse: whenever Megan McArdle and Matt Yglesias agree about something, then that thing should become law. Immediately.--Pockets

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