Monday, December 12, 2011

Quotes of the day

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht--Joseph Mohr

In the beginning God disclosed himself, and that self-disclosure was with God, and that self-disclosure was God.--Don Carson of John 1:1

If you believe, then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible.--Tim Tebow

Tebow. TEE-bow. Verb. To defeat an opponent while overcoming a major impediment. Ex.: Despite having a 102-degree fever, Lucy managed to Tebow her competition for the Miss America pageant through her great determination.--Peter King

Corn grits, cocoa, condensed milk, white bread and sugar. This was America's menu for the starving millions in Soviet Russia during the 1921-23 famine – one of the greatest human disasters in Europe since the Black Death. The famine relief was spearheaded by Herbert Hoover, whose biographers credited him with saving more lives than any person who has ever lived.--CYNTHIA HAVEN

... to the extent you measure poverty as a relative concept, you ensure that no public policy can eliminate what you call poverty.--Arnold Kling

So much for Obama's endlessly repeated promise that if you like the health insurance you have, you can keep it.--David Henderson

We have 37 Christmas trees here at the White House--37! That's a lot, right? Yes, that's a lot of trees. And we also have a 400-pound White House gingerbread house.--Michelle Obama

There is surely no such gulf between Marx and Keynes as there was between Marx and Marshall or Wicksell. Both the Marxist doctrine and its non-Marxist counterpart are well expressed by the self-explanatory phrase that we shall use: the theory of vanishing investment opportunity.--Joseph Schumpeter

North Korea has warned South Korea of "unexpected consequences" if it lights up a Christmas tree-shaped tower near their tense border.--BBC News

Many [New York Times reporters] them seem to have a congenital inability, or, at least, unwillingness, to distinguish between libertarians and conservatives. The differences are not small.--David Henderson

Everybody was laughing because when I signed my tax returns this year I had to get completely wasted.--Lady Gaga

Liberals are inclined to see progressive policies as the solution to family breakdown. Conservatives are inclined to see progressive policies as the cause of family breakdown. I think that the reaction of libertarians is to squirm with discomfort. You think that the liberals are in a bad position intellectually, but you are reluctant to affiliate with conservatives on an issue where they are so. . .umm. . .conservative.--Arnold Kling

Undergraduate tuition at New York University is around $41,000, but parents can be assured their bright young things are still getting The People’s Education, reports the student newspaper The Washington Square News. NYU plans to offer not one, but two classes on the burgeoning social movement known as Occupy Wall Street, so that the 1 percent may study the 99 at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.--Adrianne Jeffries

... the current price of a college degree is not just the balance of four years’ tuition; one must also consider the cost, to students and employers, of the ambiguity hanging over what the degree actually means.
One root of the problem is the fact that the college degree is issued by the same institution that is in charge of setting, and enforcing, the standards of that credential, says [Salman] Khan, who holds four degrees himself. This is tantamount to investment banks rating their own securities, he says. Meanwhile, the accrediting agencies that are in charge of making sure those “ratings” are legitimate do not currently focus on what students coming out of those institutions measurably know.--Steve Kolowich

I heard this morning that the non-euro members who did go along [with the new rules giving the EU greater power] did so mostly because they hope to join the euro. Talk about the triumph of hope over experience! This is like supporting the death penalty because you're hoping to end up on death row.--Megan McArdle

What “Anglo-Saxon economists” are doing is confusing their own ideology with reality. Economists tend to look at economic problems as involving incentives. Align incentives properly, and problems are easily solved. The tricky part is all in the figuring out how to get incentives properly aligned.
This turns a blind eye, however, to the role of ideological commitment. The strong commitment on the part of European central bankers to austerity may make the incentives irrelevant. All the incentives in the world might not matter because at some level the central bankers believe that the necessity for expansionary monetary policy is incommensurable with their other ideas about how the world works.
To put it differently, the monetary experts in Europe may just be too ignorant of the peril they are in thanks to their world view. We cannot count on Draghi and others suddenly taking a more rational approach to monetary policy. They can remain irrational longer than Europe can remain solvent.--John Carney

Over all the notion that the path to safety for banks is to turn them into a service business seems misguided, coming from a place of consumer-finance rhetoric rather than serious thinking about the purposes of a financial industry. The point of a bank is not to reduce credit card fees and clearly disclose mortgage terms, but to provide credit. And the idea that “focusing on the underlying economics of a transaction” can distinguish between a loan and a bond – or a residential mortgage and an RMBS – severely undersells the ingenuity of the financial sector.
Bair is probably right that the distinction between “prop trading” and useful activity drawn by the Volcker Rule does not prevent banks from doing all manner of risky things. It wasn’t really intended to: “prop trading” sounded sort of nasty, and people made money doing it, and we’d had a financial crisis, and a futile and stupid gesture was required, so presto, Volcker Rule. But that’s because clearly drawing that line is really hard, and replacing the line drawn by the Volcker Rule – in one sentence (“no prop trading”) or 300 pages – with another arbitrary one-sentence definition is equally unlikely to work.--Matt Levine

Players of an online video game called Foldit have helped researchers discover the structure of an protein-cutting enzyme produced by an AIDS-like virus found in monkeys. Scientists have struggled with the problem for a decade, but the gamers helped crack it in just three weeks.--Jacob Aron

... the bottom line is the bottom line, and the best way to get your boss to appreciate you more is to help him make more money for the firm.--Eric Falkenstein

In whatever it is that we try to do, grow trees, cure the ill, distribute food, keep the lights on or build houses, we would always prefer to do this in whatever manner it is that uses the least resources.
We don't say that using 5 tonnes of copper to wire a house is better than using 500 kg to do the same job. Well, we don't say it is better just because we're using more copper that is. So why would we say that having a retail sector that employed more rather than fewer people would be a good idea?
Quite, we shouldn't, for the claim is a claim that we should be using more of a scarce resource, labor, to get a job done, the distribution of consumer items. We should no more want to use more labor here than we should use more copper in wiring a house.--Tim Worstall
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