Friday, December 11, 2009

Quotes of the day

A new study by Hedge Fund Research found that, from January 2000 through May 31, 2009, hedge funds run by women delivered nearly double the investment performance of those managed by men. Female managers produced average annual returns of 9%, versus 5.82% for men.--Cathy Arnst

But how do the laws of economics fare against a tougher opponent: the laws of sexual attraction?--Adam Martin

There are huge gains to be made, for instance, in decreasing hospital-acquired infections and paying attention to the inefficacy of many types of chemotherapy. Also, it may be that less interaction with the healthcare system in general would be a very good thing.--Stephen Dubner

The ability of [James] Cameron's oeuvre to seemingly print money for his backers is rivaled perhaps only by the Federal Reserve. His last three feature films (Titanic, True Lies and Terminator 2) have grossed $2.7 billion worldwide. As Levin notes, those movies each made more than 60 percent of their gross overseas. Attention Avatar haters: Don't bet a against a guy who can make grown men hoot, tween girls weep and Tom Arnold seem funny.--Derek Thompson

Why sell 50 when we can sell Kanye? ... Money is not going to make you happy. A new idea is what makes you happy. ... In my house, Carmelo Anthony is bigger than 50 Cent. ... My son is more important to me than I am to him. ... Am I being honest right now? Yeah. Most people would answer that question with a yes. Even the liars. ... You know how a person is made for something? Eminem is made for hip-hop. The best rapper is a white man. ... I like generals. I like Napoleon. I like strategy. The majority of them are praised for mass destruction, but it's exciting to see how it comes to the mind mentally. Is Charles Manson a serial killer? No, he isn't, because he ain't do no killing. He's a coward. He was just crazy enough to influence people to kill for him. There were a lot of Charles Mansons in my neighborhood. There were no Napoleons. Hip-hop is arrogant because people are arrogant.--50 Cent

The question of courage is something I've thought about for a long time. Tell me if I'm wrong, but courage is when a man in a difficult situation acts as if he truly believes he's right. And in the end, he is right. When I was young, we were taught not to dunk. We were taught not to stand out from the rest of the team. It's different now. The young guys in China are new age. They want to show their stuff. But I am old-school. It was a big adjustment when I first came here to play at a camp. The coaches told me to dunk, but I would lay the ball in. Finally, the coaches made everyone else on my team run laps when I didn't dunk. I didn't want my teammates to be punished because of me. That's how I learned to dunk. ... The alcohol in China is made of rice. It's strong. You know it's strong when you drink it. So you have an idea what it can do to you. But here, you have alcohol that doesn't taste very strong. So you think you can have many shots. You don't find out the truth until the next morning. I haven't done much trash-talking. But last year, I did complain about a call. Nobody could believe it. So I said, "I've spent a lot on English lessons. I want to get my money's worth." The official was laughing. My American strength coach says he liked me better before I could talk English. We don't have a tip culture in China. If you give a tip to an old waiter, he might feel like you don't respect him. But I think the younger waiters would take it. ... When I got my first paycheck playing in China, I thought, I'm making money now! I'm independent! That first month I went broke. My next paycheck was two weeks away and I didn't have anything in my pocket. That was a good experience to have before coming to the NBA. Our first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. Napoleon. Roosevelt. That would make a good table for dinner. Power means different things in different times. But the more I read, the more I think power is about intelligence. Kobe's heart is as strong as his muscles. ... Our honeymoon was in Europe. One stop was Venice. Cost fifty dollars for a ride in the gondola. There was also the romantic package. Three hundred dollars. That gets a bottle of red wine and a man playing music. But I don't really drink red wine. And you can hear the music coming from the other boats. So the fifty-dollar package seemed like the way to go. ... Sports teach you how to be quick. Injuries teach you how to slow down.--Yao Ming

I'm sorry, I tried to be all breezy and cynical about this, but it's time for Democrats to tell Max Baucus that it's time for him to resign. Not because he had an affair with an employee, which doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't bother the employee. But nominating your girlfriend for US Attorney, and then withdrawing the nomination when a paper says they're about to break the story, clearly indicates that you know it's unsavory. Say what you want about Republicans, but they have a much better sense than their opponents of when it's time to grab one of their own and throw him off the sled to the wolves running behind.--Megan McArdle

While mere exposure to green products may “prime” us to think about social consciousness and perhaps improve our behavior, if we actually buy a green product, we appear to take it as license to act like jerks.--Ryan Sager

Green jobs are NOT a zero sum game where nations are competing for a fixed number of them. If China or Germany or anyone develops "innovative energy technology", that is NOT bad for us. It is in fact *awesome* for us, as we can then adopt it and use it. People, ideas are public goods. That is the whole basis of new growth theory. If China is now doing cutting edge R&D, that is an unmitigated blessing for everyone on the planet.--Angus

Fiscal policy is discussed in terms of whether it can create jobs. Monetary policy is discussed in terms of its impact on inflation. Which sounds better, jobs or inflation? Obviously jobs. ... If your intuition still tells you that monetary policy is more of an inflation threat than fiscal policy, you are probably right. But that is because, and only because, you intuition is correctly telling you that monetary policy is a far more powerful tool for boosting NGDP. Which begs the question of why so many economists support fiscal stimulus, and so few criticize the Fed. --Scott Sumner

If you keep your cell phone with you most of the time, especially if the earpiece is in place, I think we can call that arrangement an exobrain. Don't protest that your cellphone isn't part of your body just because you can leave it in your other pants. If a cyborg can remove its digital eye and leave it on a shelf as a surveillance device, and I think we all agree that it can, then your cellphone qualifies as part of your body. In fact, one of the benefits of being a cyborg is that you can remove and upgrade parts easily. So don't give me that "It's not attached to me" argument. You're already a cyborg. Deal with it.--Scott Adams

I remember asking my older cousin, "How do they do that?" My cousin must've been about eight, and he said, "Oh, that's just special effects." I can still remember hearing those words for the first time. In some respects, I can chart everything I've ever done since back to that moment.--Peter Jackson

What struck me as I watched these movies was that a good deal of the Hollywood magic these Halloweentown witches perform is surprisingly part of ordinary Americans’ everyday world. Not truly magically, of course – it’s due to science and markets – but it’s nevertheless marvelous and amazing and wonderful. We gently press a button and the sound of a Bach concerto recorded a decade or a half-century ago fills our room as if it were being performed live, then and there. We turn a knob and out comes a jet of clean water for us to shower in, at whatever temperature we choose. We crawl into giant hunks of metal and plastic, filled with highly explosive liquids, press a few pedals and we’re traveling down highways at superhuman — even super-equine — speeds. We hold tiny devices in our palms, press some more buttons, and we’re talking to other human beings who are miles, maybe thousands of miles, away from us. We flick switches and lights turn on or off at our whim. I could go on and on and on ... There’s an irony in this fact: the more deeply and widely that people believe in magic, the less magical are their lives, while the more fully people untangle themselves from belief in myths and magic, the more magical their lives become. That is, the many marvels of our world – proximately the consequence of technology, ultimately the consequence of free markets and rational thought – are possible only insofar as we no longer really believe in magic. ... But one serious species of belief in magic continues to haunt us: politics. Many of us – indeed, most of us – believe that high priests who utter or write certain words according to treasured ceremonial prescriptions and done in certain temples (usually made of marble and topped with domes) can perform magic. They can’t. But they try and try – and too many of us simply have faith that their rituals are effective.--Don Boudreaux

The L.H.C. is not merely the world’s largest particle accelerator but the largest machine ever built. At the center of just one of the four main experimental stations installed around its circumference, and not even the biggest of the four, is a magnet that generates a magnetic field 100,000 times as strong as Earth’s. And because the super-conducting, super-colliding guts of the collider must be cooled by 120 tons of liquid helium, inside the machine it’s one degree colder than outer space, thus making the L.H.C. the coldest place in the universe.--Kurt Andersen

For anyone with a sense of history, the idea that a post-cold-war bubble embodied a new world order was obviously absurd. The built-in instability of capitalism had not gone away - it had been accentuated, as the US and other western economies became ever more dependent on unsustainable debt. Far from being in­destructible, the neoliberal market order was highly fragile. But millennial fantasies regarding a short-lived variety of capitalism were far from being the only delusional beliefs that helped shape events during the decade. ... The intellectual default of politicians cannot be remedied by returning to the ideologies of the past. It is shared by much of the public, and comes from a chronic inability to engage with reality. Perhaps only a more serious crisis will overturn the delusive fancies on which so many policies are based. A run on sterling in the event of a hung parliament after the next general election; the cataclysmic defeat that will follow Barack Obama's decision to reinforce inevitable failure in Afghanistan; a spiral in oil prices after a flare-up over Iran; the collapse of the dollar as the world finally loses patience with American solipsism - any one of these eventualities, together with others that cannot be foreseen, could be a catalyst for rethinking. But the omens are not encouraging. The make-believe that surrounds climate change - epitomised in the empty statements of intent regarding unachievable goals that will be the only outcome of the Copenhagen meeting - shows that the biggest challenge for the future is being evaded. It looks as if we may be wandering in the ruins of the Noughties for some time.--John Gray

Yitzhak Ganon was taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau hospital, where Josef Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death," conducted grisly experiments on Jewish prisoners. Ganon had to lie down on a table and was tied down. Without any anesthetics, Mengele cut him open and removed his kidney. "I saw the kidney pulsing in his hand and cried like a crazy man," Ganon says. "I screamed the 'Shema Yisrael.' I begged for death, to stop the suffering." --Christoph Schult

Egalitarians only outnumber libertarians by about 2:1. If you adjust for the initial leftism of the humanities, it seems like libertarian arguments must be making a lot of converts among the philosophers.--Bryan Caplan

To be sure, the government can design the regulation to make arbitrage and jurisdictional competition more costly. But the tighter the straitjacket we put bank governance into, the less ability the industry has to evolve to meet the challenges of modern finance.--Larry Ribstein

I won’t rehash all the evidence that his misrepresented his own views. And before [Paul] Krugman's fans write in saying; “There is no contradiction, he’s always said inflation targeting can work, he doesn’t think that merely increasing the money supply can help once rates hit zero” you might want to check out the next paragraph in the new Krugman piece ... Yes, [having the Fed expand credit] could do a lot indeed. Last March it would have been even more helpful. On March 1st I asked Krugman to endorse this sort of plan. I am glad that he has finally done so.--Scott Sumner

As I said the last time I blogged about this bozo, it’s not his conclusions I’m objecting to. It’s his apparent belief that “No you may not” is a substitute for logical analysis based on clearly stated principles that are at least stable enough to be maintained for the length of a newspaper column.--Steve Landsburg

Now, it’s no surprise that Immelt’s speech is an ode to the glory of governments and businesses working together. Governments around the world are GE’s biggest customers. The U.S. government saved GE Capital. The U.S. government will need to approve GE’s sale of NBC Universal. And Immelt is a high-profile member of President Obama’s economic recovery board. But shareholders should ask themselves whether hitching GE to the Obama administration is the right strategy. Sure, GE and the White House may transform the U.S. economy into some new private/public manufacturing utopia. But given GE’s recent past and its current leadership, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about such a renewal.--Evan Newmark

It’s especially important for those persons who support minimum-wage legislation to realize that employers can almost always, at the margin, substitute away from human labor and toward mechanized or electronic “labor” — that is, capital. Mythical indeed is the notion that employers must hire a given, or minimum, number of low-skilled workers. As the cost of hiring such workers rises, employers have greater incentives to substitute away from employing such workers. This machine whose operation I witnessed today at Target testifies to the futility of minimum-wage legislation to improve the lot of most low-skilled workers.--Don Boudreaux

But tax policy is a blunt instrument, and it acts on the economy a lot like a water balloon: every time we squeeze one end, the other end swells up bigger than before. Moreover, I am sad to say that all available evidence seems to indicate our water balloon is a whoopee cushion, too.--Epicurean Dealmaker

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