Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quotes of the day

Despite more than 10 years of experience and billions of dollars, the [United Nations] peacekeeping force still seems to be failing at its most elemental task: protecting civilians.--Jeffrey Gettleman

China has become a big power in economic terms as well as political terms, and it is normal that big powers should be under criticism.--Thorbjørn Jagland, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman

... I think [the Republicans] are pushing the wrong policies, but I’m not in a position to stop it. I don’t believe in standing in the way of an avalanche.--George Soros

Ronald Reagan lost 2% of U.S. jobs by this stage of his first term, and Bush (the younger) 1.7%. Both were re-elected. But this hole is deeper.--Brett Arends

Lawsuits and interviews with judges show that lenders in many cases submitted fraudulent documents as they sought to evict struggling borrowers. The paperwork problems raise broader questions over whether the constant trading of mortgages on Wall Street left lenders without clear title to the properties they are trying to seize. Several federal agencies, such as the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are looking into the matter. Banks have said a remedy will take only a few months, but some Obama administration officials are unsure whether the system can be fixed that quickly. On Friday, Bank of America froze foreclosures nationwide, and many other banks have stopped them in dozens of states. Litton Loan Servicing, the mortgage servicing unit of Goldman Sachs, on Monday halted some foreclosures so that it could review its procedures, a spokeswoman said. If these freezes turn into a prolonged delay, Fannie and Freddie would face "billions" of dollars in losses, since the companies wouldn't be able to sell off properties that have fallen into foreclosure, said Anthony B. Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University.--Zachary A. Goldfarb, Dina ElBoghdady and Ariana Eunjung Cha

In this environment, it would be easy for Netflix to fall back on its safety cushion, milk the existing DVD business for all it’s worth, and try to slow down customers’ migration into streaming, particularly since a customer who streams movies is less lucrative than one who rents three DVDs a month. But then, a decade from now, we’d be writing Netflix obituaries that sounded just like the ones for Blockbuster. Sometimes you have to destroy your business in order to save it.--James Surowiecki

I’m ready to declare in public my belief that Facebook will be bigger in five years than Google is right now, barring some drastic action or accident.--Adam Rifkin

[Mark] Zuckerberg is the Angelina Jolie of the Internet. His lovers, friends, and acquaintances—like those of any other celebrity—are caught up in the vortex. He has to make a choice; and they have to make a choice. And none of the choices—retreat from the public eye, abandonment of friendship—are palatable. I actually like the guy. Apparently, his original idea for Facebook was this dark Facebook. Like, the idea was that it was going to be a place for people to bitch about each other, and then it evolved. It was interesting how agnostic he was about which approach to take.--Nick Denton

Nick [Denton] is a bit of a sphinx on purpose. He has some of the attributes of the dork who wraps his Asperger’s around him like a cloak.--Joel Johnson

This [is a Nobel economics] prize for the importance of economic heterogeneity and the importance of second-order effects. The cited labor market imperfections cannot be cured by reflating nominal demand, although that policy may be desirable for other reasons. Mortensen and Pissarides have an explicitly Schumpeterian approach and their work represents one version of a "recalculation" argument. (Peter Diamond in contrast does not draw out that aspect of the problem and I think of the three as each a quite different kind of economist.) You can think of Mortensen and Pissarides as providing one reason why private recalculation takes longer than is socially optimal and how this might be fixed. Their work shows how cyclical and structural phenomena operate together and must be analyzed together. In the last twenty years their work on labor markets has been much more influential, and rightly so, than traditional Keynesian approaches. Furthermore their work has dissolved the entire characterization of "Keynes vs. whomever" as out of date. Their work has much influenced my blogging on the recent employment crisis.--Tyler Cowen

How’s that no-brainer working out, [Nassim]?--Eddy Elfenbein

The news that [John] Meriwether is starting his 3rd fund, a global macro fund, has me wondering if we're nearing a top for that strategy.--David Shvartsman

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