Monday, November 30, 2009

Quotes of the day

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.--Dutch proverb

It happened at least once a year, every year. In a roomful of a dozen Harvard University financial officials, Jack Meyer, the hugely successful head of Harvard’s endowment, and Lawrence Summers, then the school’s president, would face off in a heated debate. The topic: cash and how the university was managing - or mismanaging - its basic operating funds.--Beth Healy

If you're calculating a cumulative return, Time Warner's purchase of AOL for $182B and subsequent spinout at $2.4B works out to a loss of 98.68% over almost 10 years. Nice trade Time Warner!--Kid Dynamite

Markets look a lot less efficient from the banks of the Hudson, than from the banks of the Charles.--Fischer Black

... the EMH is itself under dispute, so it hardly helps to cite the EMH and its implications. (This is akin to a Christian quoting the Bible to an atheist to prove the authority of Scripture.)--Robert Murphy

The usual suggested remedies [to reducing unemployment] are either to stimulate demand for labor, or to reduce the real cost of workers to employers. The stimulus package has tried to stimulate demand. While I believe this package has failed to stimulate demand to any significant degree (see the discussion my earlier posts on January 11, 18, and November 1, 2009), and that the claimed employment effects of the stimulus are vastly overstated, I concentrate my discussion, as Posner does, on reducing the real cost of labor to employers.--Gary Becker

Today [Arthur Cecil] Pigou's intellectual legacy is being rediscovered, and, unlike those of Messrs. [John Maynard] Keynes and [Milton] Friedman, it enjoys bipartisan appeal. Leading Republican-leaning economists such as Greg Mankiw and Gary Becker have joined Democrats such as Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen in recommending a Pigovian approach to policy. Much of President Barack Obama's agenda—financial regulation, cap and trade, health care reform—is an application of Mr. Pigou's principles. Whether the president knows it or not, he is a Pigovian.--John Cassidy

Every time government gets bigger, somebody’s getting rich.--Tim Carney

Dear Mr Bernanke: ... What guided Fed “policy” over the past couple of years if not short-term political influence?--Don Boudreaux

It's curious that the architect of the judicial filibuster is complaining about its use. --Senator Jeff Sessions

My prediction is that politicians will eventually be tempted to resolve the [fiscal] crisis the way irresponsible governments usually do: by printing money, both to pay current bills and to inflate away debt. And as that temptation becomes obvious, interest rates will soar.--Paul Krugman

The trouble with cap-and-trade is that countries must agree how to divide the allocation of permits. This has proved troublesome when emissions targets were assigned relative to a 1990 baseline. Rapid growth in the US economy suddenly made its allocation look stingy, while the Russian allocation looked absurdly lax following the economy’s collapse in the early 1990s. It should not have been a surprise that some economies would grow faster or slower than predicted.--Tim Harford

We shall endeavor to elucidate, not any generalized system of possible worlds but the actual world of men and women as they are found in experience to be.--Arthur Pigou

GPA fanatics usually have few interesting thoughts of their own.--Robin Hanson

In August, physicist Jia Liu at New York University outlined his design for a spacecraft powered by dark matter ( Soon afterwards, mathematicians Louis Crane and Shawn Westmoreland at Kansas State University in Manhattan proposed plans for a craft powered by an artificial black hole ( No one disputes that building a ship powered by black holes or dark matter would be a formidable task. Yet remarkably there seems to be nothing in our present understanding of physics to prevent us from making either of them. What's more, Crane believes that feasibility studies like his touch on questions in cosmology that other research hasn't considered.--Marcus Chown

The potential miracle of the cookbook was immediately apparent: you start with a feeling of greed, find a list of rules, assemble a bunch of ingredients, and then you have something to be greedy about. You begin with the ache and end with the object, where in most of the life of appetites—courtship, marriage—you start with the object and end with the ache.--Adam Gopnik

... there is near-perfect overlap between the group of people who most fervently desires a national health care system, and the group of people who are "strong" supporters of abortion rights (don't want them to be illegal at any time for any reason). This group thus has zero bargaining power, because at the end of the day, they are not going to walk away from this bill. The pro-lifers can and will. --Megan McArdle

[Robert] Wright correctly points out that much research demonstrates that stockbrokers do NO better than you and me at beating the stock market. Yet we pay stockbrokers. Wright then discusses shamans in hunter-gatherer societies, which meet a similar demand – somebody who claims to be able to influence the vast uncertainties of hunting failures, weather, and disease, which makes hunter-gatherers feel better. To Wright, stockbrokers meet the same religious need as shamans. With both shamans and stockbrokers, it helps a lot that we humans are really bad at distinguishing pure randomness from real accomplishment (as this blog is fond of pointing out). ... Some of you have guessed where I am going with this. Development experts are a lot like stockbrokers. To get specific, development experts offer the hope that their expertise will raise a country’s growth rate, despite the lack of ANY clear empirical evidence that they know how to raise a country’s growth rate.--William Easterly

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