Monday, December 07, 2009

Quotes of the day

Once scientists set out to mislead the public, they can no longer expect to be trusted. End of story.--Clive Crook

Is John A. Paulson, the hedge fund manager who earned billions betting against subprime, a one-megahit wonder? --Saijel Kishin

I started praying when I came to Treasury. At Goldman, I didn't pray. Not once. 'Cause I just didn't care. At Treasury, there were so many times.--Neel Kashkari

We don’t live in a perfect world with perfect people. We live in a world where we fail. We live in a world where some people borrow money they shouldn’t be borrowing, and where other people lend money they shouldn’t be lending. That’s the way it’s always been, and always will be. So do we judge Bernanke and Geithner for the failings of our imperfect world? Or do we judge them on how they rose to the occasion to save us as our failings overwhelmed the economy?--Evan Newmark

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky was once asked about his success on the ice. He responded by saying, ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.’ He didn’t chase the puck. Instead, Gretzky wanted his hockey stick to be where the puck would be going next. He scored many goals with that strategy, and I believe monetary policymakers can better achieve their goals, too, if they follow the Gretzky strategy.--Charles Plosser

The dollar is faith-based. There's nothing behind it but Congress. But now the world is losing faith, as well it might. It's not that the dollar is overvalued—economists at Deutsche Bank estimate it's 20% too cheap against the euro. The problem lies with its management. The greenback is a glorious old brand that's looking more and more like General Motors.--James Grant

The best solution to reducing the real burden of the public debt is neither inflation nor higher taxes, but more rapid growth of the American economy. This involves lower, not higher, taxes on investments and incomes of small and large businesses. It also requires greater concern about the fact that the US is falling behind many other countries in the proportion of its young population, especially males, who receive a higher education.--Gary Becker

If I had to "sell short" one country or city-state in the world today, it would be Dubai.--Tyler Cowen, back in December 2007

On a dark November night in 1978, 18 Chinese peasants from Xiaogang village in Anhui province secretly divided communal land to be farmed by individual families, who would keep what was left over after meeting state quotas. Such a division was illegal and highly dangerous, but the peasants felt the risks were worth it. The timing is significant for our story. The peasants took action one month before the “reform” congress of the party was announced. Thus, without fanfare, began economic reform, as spontaneous land division spread to other villages. One farmer said, “When one family’s chicken catches the pest, the whole village catches it. When one village has it, the whole county will be infected.” Ten years later, in August of 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev lifted his nation’s 50-year-old prohibition against private farming, offering 50-year leases to farm families who would subsequently work off of contracts with the state. Few accepted the offer; Russian farmers were too accustomed to the dreary but steady life on the state or collective farm. Thus began reform of agriculture in Soviet Russia. The results in each country could not have been more different. Chronically depressed Chinese agriculture began to blossom, not only for grain but for all crops. As farmers brought their crops to the city by bicycle or bus, long food lines began to dwindle and then disappear. The state grocery monopoly ended in less than one year. Soviet Russian agriculture continued to stagnate despite massive state subsidies. Citizens of a superpower again had to bear the indignity of sugar rations.--Paul R. Gregory and Kate Zhou

Among the points of interest in the unfolding climate scandal is the fact that the term “climategate” rapidly eclipsed global warming in the number of links produced by a simple Google search. As is standard, Google’s auto-suggest function facilitated this, several days into the story’s evolution. Anyone typing in the letters c-l-i would see the suggested time-saving choice of climategate. Within a day or two of the auto-suggest function being added for “climategate” it had become the top item in the list. Suddenly, though, on Monday December 1, Google stopped offering “climategate” as a choice to those who typed c-l-i and even to those who typed c-l-i-m-a-t-e-g-a-t. Strange. Intrigued, I sent a few questions to Google’s Global Communications Department ...--Harold Ambler

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