Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quotes of the day

The nation's state and local public employee retirement systems had $2.5 trillion in total cash and investment holdings in 2009, a $726.1 billion or 22.7 percent decrease from $3.2 trillion in 2008, according to new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. This follows a $176.7 billion loss the previous year.--U.S. Census Bureau

... IS-LM provides absolutely no framework for policy analysis because it makes no assumptions, and draws no conclusions, about what people are trying to accomplish. If you don’t know what people are trying to do, you can’t possibly know how best to help them.  ... Greg Mankiw and Matt Weinzierl have recently provided ... a [useful] model. Like IS-LM, their model is fundamentally Keynesian. Unlike IS-LM, it is capable of evaluating the relative desirability of various policies. Would we be better off in a world where everyone floats in a vat of money until we all starve to death? The Mankiw/Weinzierl model, reassuringly, says “no”. The IS-LM model, unhelpfully, says “that’s not my department”.--Steve Landsburg

You know, Jamie Dimon is one of the greatest bankers, he’s brought more business to this city than maybe any other banker.  To go and pick on him, I don’t know what that achieves. Jamie Dimon is honorable and works very hard and pays his taxes.  ... The majority of people who work in the financial services sector make something like $72,000 a year. They’re hard-working people and just bashing them doesn’t make a lot of sense.--Mayor Bloomberg

... deviations from Benford's law are compellingly correlated with known financial crises, bubbles, and fraud waves. And overall, the picture looks grim. Accounting data seem to be less and less related to the natural data-generating process that governs everything from rivers to molecules to cities. Since these data form the basis of most of our research in finance, Benford's law casts serious doubt on the reliability of our results. And it's just one more reason for investors to beware.--Jialan Wang

... analysis of the Senate returns over the six-year period, published in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis in 2004, showed that the Senate portfolio outperformed the market by approximately 12 percent a year. In April of this year, the team published a follow-up analysis of the House in Business and Politics, which showed that House members on average outperformed the market by a smaller but still impressive figure—roughly 6 percent a year. ... Certainly, the guardians of our laws don’t seem eager to pursue the question. No member of Congress has ever been investigated for insider trading. Four times since 2006, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D–New York) has sponsored the STOCK Act, which would explicitly make congressional insider trading illegal, and require members of Congress to disclose significant trades within 90 days. It’s never even come to a vote.--Megan McArdle

Why should our legislators be above the law? I have yet to hear an even vaguely plausible reason that our legislators shouldn't be watched at least as closely as we watch CEOs. In fact, I've yet to hear any reason. No one in government wanted to talk about it. The best I can infer is that well, it's a pain in the ass, and they don't wanna. That's absurd. What's even more absurd, however, is that we permit it.--Megan McArdle

If the Republicans want a nominee who will pander to the left, right and middle with no coherent philosophy and no coherent policy proposals, why not just drag out Bob Dole [instead of Mitt Romney]? At this rare historical moment when the country just might be willing to take a flyer on some truly radical changes, it saddens me deeply that warmed-over Dole might be the best the Republicans can manage to dish up.--Steve Landsburg

I find myself liking Herman Cain this year. It reminds me of how I liked Sarah Palin in 2008. And Barack Obama in 2004.--Cav

For an economist, the most fascinating aspect of Pan Am is the highly attractive flight attendants -- or rather, stewardesses, since the show is set in the early 1960s. If you’re young enough, you might think that’s just TV. But I’m just old enough to remember flying in the 1970s, and I recall stewardesses who really were, in fact, hot. Okay, I was too young to understand the concept of “hot” -- but I was definitely aware that I was being attended by some very pretty young women  Not so anymore. Flight attendants aren’t necessarily unattractive now, but they’re no more fetching than people in any other service profession that doesn’t get tips. And what’s changed? In a word, deregulation.--Glen Whitman

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