Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quotes of the day

My job as an artist is to channel the feelings I have about society right now, these are the things I’m feeling about our isolation, about our ambiguous relationship with materialism, about failure, about our declining self-esteem. About our attitude towards change and technology. These are things I’m feeling every day, that I put into [Mad Men]. ... it’s not a great moment for someone who just got out of working 24 hours a day and wants to be entertained. And I don’t blame the artistic community. I really don’t. Something happened that nobody can make a movie between $500,000 and $80 million. That can’t be possible.--Matthew Weiner

Pay-TV changes the economics by encouraging the production of high consumer-surplus television because with Pay-TV there is at least some potential for trading off eyeballs for greater revenue. In addition, as more channels become available, lowest common denominator television is eaten away by targetted skimming. Thus, in one way or another, Pay-TV has come to dominate television. The movies, however, have become more reliant on large audiences--at least relative to television. Note that even though the movies are not free, a large chunk of the revenue is generated by concessions--thus the movie model is actually closer to a maximizing mouths model than it might first appear (see also my brother's comments on how flat movie pricing makes it difficult for indie films to compete). Finally, the rise of international audiences for movies has fed a lowest common denominator strategy (everyone appreciates when stuffs blows up real good). As a result, the movies have moved down the quality chain and television has moved up.--Alex Tabarrok

Laws that criminalize insider trading cover corporate insiders and those they tip, but not specifically Congress. And while scholars differ on whether existing law could be applied on Capitol Hill, it hasn’t been. It’s a gap in the law that two members of Congress have been trying for years to plug, to no avail. Congress is famous for telling others what they can and can’t do. When it comes to proscribing its own conduct, it’s a different story.--Ann Woolner

This is a game [Paul Krugman] been playing from the beginning. When it suits his purpose to claim monetary policy can do nothing (i.e. calling for fiscal stimulus or bashing the Chinese) he does so. When it suits his purpose to claim that monetary policy still has unused ammunition (as when he’s bashing the Fed, or bashing the ECB) suddenly monetary policy can do much more. His only way out is to confuse the issue—maybe it’s a 50/50 proposition. Maybe monetary stimulus will work, maybe it won’t. But notice how when he attacks China it’s all about the 50% chance it won’t work, and when he attacks the ECB it’s all about the 50% chance it will work.--Scott Sumner

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