Friday, March 25, 2011

Quotes of the day

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.--Samuel Johnson

Quite often that dragon of failure is really chasing you off the wrong road and on to the right one.--Paul Tudor Jones.  Entire speech here.

Milton Friedman helped revive capitalism when he showed that the Great Depression didn’t show capitalism was unstable, but rather that monetary policy had been unstable. Some critics argue he actually was a closet interventionist, as he thought capitalism required active stabilization policy. Perhaps, but one could also argue that he was saying “as long as the government runs our monetary regime, they need to do it well.” Sort of like a libertarian arguing that if governments build our bridges, they should build them so that they don’t collapse. In any case, conservatives later started to drift away from the Friedman/Schwartz view of the Great Depression, and became increasingly disdainful of “demand shock” explanations of the business cycle. This created a huge problem in 2008, as conservatives had great difficulty defending the free market, which seemed to have once again failed us.--Scott Sumner

Economics is most like a science when people do not care about the outcome of the argument.--Tyler Cowen

... the market is inhabited by people, heterogeneous and context-sensitive, who do not live up to the lofty assumptions of mathematical optimization and Aristotelian logic that underlie these approaches – and do not do so for good reasons. The nature of complexity also is different in the economic realm from that in physical systems because it can stem from people gaming, from changing the rules and assumptions of the system. Ironically, "game theory" is not suited to addressing this source of complexity. But military theory is. ... Simply put, a system is complex if you cannot delinate all of its states. You may think you have the system figured it out, and you might have it figured out most of the time, but every now and then something happens that leaves you scratching your head. This is an epistemological interpretation of complexity. It defines complexity as creating limits to our knowledge. Neoclassical economics does not admit such complexity.--Rick Brookstaber

... if [a strategy] works, it is obsolete. Yesterday’s rules won’t work today.--John Boyd

... what separated those with modest but significant predictive ability from the utterly hopeless was their style of thinking. Experts who had one big idea they were certain would reveal what was to come were handily beaten by those who used diverse information and analytical models, were comfortable with complexity and uncertainty and kept their confidence in check.--Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner

... for most people, the best guess for the income you'll need to live on in retirement comfortably is: about the same as the income you need now. ... There are no easy answers. But the real problem is that most people still don't even understand the questions.--Brett Arends

Why didn’t [President Obama] talk to [Christy] Romer? I suspect that Larry Summers blocked access.--Scott Sumner

If a professor is interested in raising his or her citation ranking, he or she should should prefer a journal with open access.--Greg Mankiw

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.--Jennifer Dirmeyer's Public Choice in One Lesson

I've always wondered about Afrika Bambataa emerging only after Aerosmith's "Walk This Way". Allegedly, the first rapper was a white Red Sox fan. It is what it is.--Cav

... just 64.2 percent of adults were either in a job or actively looking for one, representing the lowest participation rate in 25 years. ... The report observes that the participation rate peaked at about 67 percent during the late 1990s and in 2000, since that’s when baby boomers were in their prime working-age years of 25 to 54. Women had also been entering the labor force at a rapid clip. But since then the share of women who choose to work has fallen. In fact, it’s now at the lowest level in nearly 20 years. Meanwhile baby boomers are reaching retirement age and dropping out of the labor force. Additionally, the share of people under age 25 who are working or looking for work has also fallen.--Catherine Rampell

I’m not so sure we would have had the influx of demand for people to make [New York City] their home [if former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current Mayor Michael Bloomberg hadn’t focused on] the small stuff, like graffiti on the subways, trash and quality of life issues.--Jonathan Miller
Photo link here.

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