Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quotes of the day

Know someone. Or know someone who knows someone. If you’re a guy, bring attractive women—ideally younger women in designer clothes. Don’t go with other dudes. And doormen are well versed in trendiness, so wear Coach, Prada, Gucci—but don’t show up in a nice suit with DSW shoes. ... Bouncers are status judges who make hundreds of status decisions every night. They do it by having hundreds of patrons line up and on the basis of very little information, they size up who will be an esteemed customer.--Sociologist Lauren Rivera

... take an item from years past and ask what we could afford to buy today with the same number of labor hours. So take the $400 TV from 1973. At the 2009 wage of $18.72, the 97.1 hours of labor it took to earn that $400 in 1973 would net you $1817.71. So with the same work that would have purchased what, by our standards, was a pretty crappy color TV in 1973, we could today buy a darn-near top of the line very large flat-screen with 3D. Or alternatively, we could go to Walmart and get a relatively cheap LCD TV that would still be a way better product than the 1973 TV and tack onto it a surround sound system, a blu-ray player, and then for giggles maybe a cheap laptop and a small iPod and maybe even a digital camera and still have change left for some DVDs and software. And all of this ignores the increased variety and higher quality of the artistic creations one can enjoy on all of those toys. Looked at this way, it's just a no-brainer. When you tack on the fact that crime rates are down from the 1970s and the advances in medical care (even if their second derivative is negative, which is questionable) and the cleaner air and water, why exactly would anyone think it was better back then? And presented this way, one could make a reasonable case that the second derivative isn't negative either. Despite what the aggregates show, it's possible that what our time can buy us is growing at a steady, if not increasing, rate.--Steven Horwitz

... let's remember that by their own admission Keynesians believe that Keynesian politics also failed during the Great Depression.--Alex Tabarrok

I notice that Paul Krugman is now saying fiscal stimulus was never tried. That’s right; America didn’t do any fiscal stimulus. Funny, I seem to recall he argued that fiscal stimulus was responsible for the relatively fast RGDP growth of 2009:Q4. ... Keynesians like to act like there is some sort of rigorously scientific model behind their calls for the government to waste hundreds of billions of dollars. Now we find that two of the top Keynesian commentators don’t even agree on whether tax cuts count as stimulus. If they don’t, Thoma’s point is flat out wrong. If they do, Krugman’s post is completely inaccurate. ... Krugman’s new argument makes it extremely likely that the $1.3 billion stimulus package that he preferred, that the Keynesian models suggested was needed, would also have been a giant flop. --Scott Sumner

There is no such thing as “shovel ready.” In my view we learned that from the 1970s stimulus packages, and indeed it is part of the reason that many of us teach in elementary economics that such discretionary stimulus packages are ineffective. There were also two missing chairs on the witness panel, which reminded me of an op-ed I wrote for the Washington Post several years ago called “The Empty Chair at the Iraq Hearings.” The name plate on the desk in front of one of the missing chairs said “Dr. Christina Romer” and the other said “Dr. Jared Bernstein.” Of course, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein were the authors of the influential economic white paper on the stimulus package back in January 2009. They were invited to testify and give their views as the authors of that paper, but they declined. So the Committee decided to set up empty chairs, making a point similar to my earlier op-ed though on a different topic. To be sure, a broader discussion would be welcome.--John Taylor

Indeed if tax regimes really didn’t matter, it would be pretty difficult to explain why New Hampshire’s population has grown much faster than any of the other New England states.--Scott Sumner

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