Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Quotes of the day

Much like Charlie Sheen, who seems to believe that all publicity is good publicity, recent market behavior suggests that we are in the part of the cycle where “all news is good news.” This was true for the broad market, which shrugged off the continued escalation of commodity prices, unrest in the Middle East, a catastrophe in Japan, tightening monetary policy outside the United States and a deceleration of domestic economic growth.--Greenlight Capital

Pawn shops are benefiting [from the surge in gold and silver prices]. Three publicly traded pawn shop companies, Cash America, EZCorp and FirstCash Financial, recently reported sharp increases in net income compared with a year earlier.--STEPHANIE CLIFFORD

I said to myself, what are the chances of [Mark Zuckerberg] becoming the next Bill Gates? So I didn't meet with him [even though my son-in-law, a former classmate, set up a meeting]. So now I have to work for a living.--David Rubenstein

If I thought delaying this [strike against Osama Bin Laden] could in fact produce better intelligence, that would be one thing, but because of the nature of the security at the compound, we’re probably at a point where we’ve got the best intelligence we can get.--Leon Panetta

Reserve currency status is a global public good that comes with a cost, and people often forget that cost. Just as importantly as a public good it requires a number of characteristics. At a minimum these include ample liquidity, central bank credibility, flexible domestic financial markets, minimal government or political intervention, and very deep and open domestic bond markets. With the exception perhaps of the euro, which may or may not emerge in the next decade on a more rational basis than it currently exists (albeit with more than one defection), no other currency has the necessary characteristics that will allow it plausibly to serve the needs of the global economy. And no other country, not even Europe, will be willing to pay the cost. If there is any chance that the dollar’s status declines in the future, it will require that Washington itself take the lead in forcing the world gradually to disengage from the dollar. Ironically, this is exactly what Washington should be doing. Conspiracy theory notwithstanding, claims that the reserve status of the dollar unfairly benefits the US are no longer true if they ever were. On the contrary, the global use of the dollar has become bad for the US economy, and because of the global imbalances it permits, bad for the world. ... We may seem to be straying from the topic of the role of the dollar, but basically Austin argues that under-consuming countries today are able to use the dollar today for the same reason that European countries used colonialism in the past – as a way of allowing them to export capital and import foreign demand.--Michael Pettis

While some authoritarian leaders greatly improve their economies, they are not the rule. For every example of a dictator like Pinochet and Chiang Kai Shek (in Taiwan) who produced fast economic growth, there is a Stalin or Idi Amin in Uganda with dismal economic policies. Similarly, not every democracy handles the economy well. India, for example, has been a vibrant democracy since its independence in 1947. This democracy during its first 40 years produced slow growth under a socialist government, and then India transited to much faster economic growth after the government shifted toward more market-friendly economic policies.--Gary Becker

Phelim McAleer, an Irish-born film-maker, who lives in Los Angeles, specializes in short polemics poking fun at bossy celebrities who preach green living while traveling in private jets and limousines (previous targets include James Cameron and Robert Redford). Now he’s turning his artistic howitzers upon the heir to our throne.
His film “Prince Charles, hypocrite” was released on YouTube earlier today. It highlights some of the inconsistencies involved in a very wealthy royal, who lives in several palaces, demanding that his subjects “live with less.” Watch it ... on YouTube here.--Guy Adams

A good insult requires far more skill than any compliment. “Cole Porter sang like a hinge” (Ethel Merman). “When she sings, deaf people refuse to watch her lips move” (Jed Larson). “Sting, where is thy death?” (Joe Queenan). The humourless say it’s easy to criticise. Not to that standard, it isn’t. [Simon] Cowell’s put-downs aren’t quite up there, but he hits the odd winner. “You sound like someone who should be singing on a cruise ship. Halfway through your song, I wished the ship was sinking.”--Michael Deacon
Photo link here.

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