Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quotes of the day

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized.--Paul Krugman

If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl.--President Obama

We should and do condemn people for their crimes, not for their metaphors.--Greg Mankiw

... "structural" unemployment may account for up to three percentage points of total unemployment. In other words, were it not for construction, the US unemployment rate would be 6.5% – a far healthier situation than today.--Raghuram Rajan

When I worked for an economics department, I quickly learned what a lame business we were in. Our stated purpose--to forecast the economy to allow people to make better decisions--was different than our actual purpose--to provide rationales for decisions already made, to serve as an excuse to have a get together. The sad thing is that a Big Lie needs many little lies, as the stated goal of forecasting accuracy could not be discussed openly and honestly, because if one did the stated purpose becomes untenable, and then the unstated purpose becomes unworkable. It's one of those phony little kabuki dances that seems so quaint in primitive cultures, but just as common in our own. A problem in this field is that accuracy spells extinction because no one wants to listen to an honest forecaster, they don't purport to know enough. Rather, listen to someone who can make you rich! In selling forecasts to the masses, honesty is a strictly dominated strategy.--Eric Falkenstein

The traditional bookstore is doomed by e-readers and online sales of hard copy books. I use the word “doomed” in the same sense that online digital sales of movies and music have doomed movie rental stores, movie theatres, and stores that sell albums of music. Doomed does not mean that these stores will quickly, or ever fully, disappear, but that they have received deadly blows from Internet competition. Joseph Schumpeter, an outstanding economist in the first half of the 20th century, originated the term “creative destruction” to describe new technologies and other forms of new competition that wreak havoc on older and established industries. The process is creative because it provides consumers and producers with more effective ways of satisfying their wants. The process is at the same time destructive because it greatly reduces the value of services and products provided by older industries.--Gary Becker

Of the top two dozen or so elite universities in America only one has managed both to avoid the craziness of the post-60s intellectual fads, and to establish something pretty close to a pure meritocracy -- California Institute of Technology, which has not received the general recognition among academics that it clearly deserves.--Russell Nieli

Surely, if you can't pay back a debt there should be a way to avoid slavery, and we have that now, it is called bankruptcy. To simply repudiate loans, as with the whole 'robo-signer' pretext, is a naive, populist remedy that has always been regretted. The basic problem is, by getting rid of debt you get rid of savings, and without savings, you have no investment.--Eric Falkenstein

Blame is a way of simulating control: if we can just identify who was at fault, we can stop it. The problem is, when we can't identify any very plausible target, we too readily go after implausible ones: Freemasons poisoning the wells, or Federal Reserve bankers plotting to monetize the national debt. At worst, this tendency is dangerous, corrosive; at best, it leads us to make unproductive policy choices.--Megan McArdle

So should we subsidize or tax research into time travel?--Tyler Cowen

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