Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Quotes of the day

... we have sunk to such a depth that the restatement of the obvious has become the first duty of intelligent men.--George Orwell, in 1939

Countering embarrassment can not only enhance pleasure, but save lives. --Jeremy Laurance

The scholars who create economic theory do not read the newspapers regularly or carefully during working hours.--George Stigler

I don't usually respond to illogical cheap shots from around the blogosphere (life is too short). But when the cheap shot comes from a Nobel prize winner in economics, I will make an exception.--Greg Mankiw

Bad moods can actually be good for you, with an Australian study finding that being sad makes people less gullible, improves their ability to judge others and also boosts memory.--Miral Fahmy

How Do You Make $20 Billion Disappear? Start With a $50 Billion Auto Bailout.--Michael Corkery

California is rich. Even in the midst of a drought, we have lots of water, and in the midst of a recession, we have lots of money. The problem is one of distribution, not of actual scarcity.--Rebecca Solnit

Political violence under communism had an idealistic origin and a cleansing, purifying objective. Those persecuted and killed were defined as politically and morally corrupt and a danger to a superior social system. The Marxist doctrine of class struggle provided ideological support for mass murder. People were persecuted not for what they did but for belonging to social categories that made them suspect. ... The failure of Soviet communism confirms that humans motivated by lofty ideals are capable of inflicting great suffering with a clear conscience. But communism's collapse also suggests that under certain conditions people can tell the difference between right and wrong. The embrace and rejection of communism correspond to the spectrum of attitudes ranging from deluded and destructive idealism to the realization that human nature precludes utopian social arrangements and that the careful balancing of ends and means is the essential precondition of creating and preserving a decent society. --Paul Hollander

At best, Kenneth Feinberg's compensation rules for the seven TARP firms and the Fed's proposed guidelines on pay for the entire industry might chase out the opportunistic rabble who poured into the industry over the last decade to take advantage of its well-advertised pay and growing social prestige. People who, in other times, would and have flocked to law, or medicine, or technology startups and who, like rats off a sinking ship, will swarm onto another platform as soon as Michael Porter, or Seth Godin, or Sergey Brin identifies it for them. ... But once these johhny-come-latelies leave, who will remain? I'll tell you who: people against whom your pitiful, transparent little compensation levers will have no effect whatsoever. People who do the business because they love it, because they are good at it, and because there are only so many slots open in the natural ecosystem for pinnacle predators, and the Great White Sharks and Polar Bears got most of them first.--Epicurean Dealmaker

And there's not even a hint that the global disease will be cured. Other behavioral economists' books are misleading, promising a cure -- which only proves their brains are also infected with the disease. There is no cure.--Paul Farrell

... three percent is around the ceiling of sustainable deficits. Six percent is well above that ceiling. At six percent, your debt service burden starts growing much faster than your tax revenues.--Megan McArdle

We have to worry about future climates, because, right now in Nevada, we are in a nine year drought—and, basically since the last Ice Age, we have been in a 10,000-year drought. 80% of the time, if we look a million years into the past, we have, on average, twice the precipitation we have now. Most of the past is—and the future will be—wetter and cooler.--Abraham Van Luik

[Angela Merkel] is, if you like, the anti-Obama: zero charisma, zero glamour, beige pantsuits, and a spouse who rarely appears in public.--Anne Applebaum

Proponents of the “poverty trap” explanation argue that underdeveloped countries are so poor that individuals can’t save enough to support the investment necessary to generate economic growth. The only way to break out of the cycle is through external funding. [Peter Thomas] Bauer argued that the poverty trap cannot be a binding constraint. The mere existence of prosperous individuals and societies—most of which have emerged from poverty without the assistance of foreign aid—flies in the face of the poverty trap. While it is true that poor people can’t save as much relative to rich people, if the right incentives are in place, small scale savings will lead to small scale investment, which in turn will generate marginally higher incomes leading to medium scale savings and investment, thus creating a “friendly circle of wealth.” ... While most development agencies profess a commitment to measurable results and outcomes, “results” in development are puzzlingly often equated with volume of loans given or number of grants handed out. According to Bauer, the reason for this apparent contradiction is that collective guilt has replaced individual responsibility. Because the West feels responsible for the lack of development in the rest of the world, what matters is to give away money, not actually see results.--Claudia Williamson

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