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The Great Divide

British academics Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett believe they've discovered the underlying cause of all modern society's ills: inequality. In their book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, they explain how health and social problems follow a strikingly similar pattern, being closely correlated with income distribution (pdf). To spread the word, they've founded The Equality Trust
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth on Mar 15, 2009 - 99 comments

Wasting Away in Hooverville

Quit Lying About Roosevelt! "Amity Shlaes, the GOP's Great Depression philosopher-queen, couldn't be more dangerously wrong." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 9, 2009 - 36 comments

To everything there is a season and this is true of Economics

Everybody knows the economy and thus the markets move in cycles. Economic expansion naturally leads to contraction, driven by credit and business cycles. But are economic booms followed by busts inevitable? [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Mar 6, 2009 - 32 comments

The Axis of Upheaval

The Axis of Upheaval: A special report on the coming age of instability.
posted by homunculus on Feb 21, 2009 - 61 comments

Brother can you spare a jet?

With orders for new aircraft down, the private jet industry is launching a PR onslaught and a website to counter all the bad press surrounding greedy executives flying private jets. Lo and behold, two financial columnists expressed strikingly similar views on the subject. Members of Congress, who love to catch a ride home on a contributor's private plane, are helping out too.
posted by up in the old hotel on Feb 18, 2009 - 48 comments

Prescient Economist: Housing Crash Result of Government Incentives

Peter Wallison, an economist who arguably predicted the housing crash and bailout in 1999 explains his current views on the crash: "Other players...played a part" but "...government policy over many years--particularly the use of the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to distort the housing credit system-- underlies the current crisis."
posted by shivohum on Feb 11, 2009 - 98 comments

Chavez' Venezuela At 10 Years

Just ahead of a re-election referendum in Venezuela (scheduled for February 15), The Chávez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators [PDF][Via]
posted by Rykey on Feb 10, 2009 - 26 comments

Cost of a dozen eggs: $5.29

Evolution of the household 1950s to today, with values adjusted for inflation. (via Geek Press)
posted by caddis on Feb 10, 2009 - 49 comments

Staring into the abyss

$550 Billion Disappeared in "Electronic Run On the Banks" (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Feb 9, 2009 - 49 comments

"...And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

Picture a three-guy trading floor. They would call a carrier,... [and] manually move trunks in and out of route by issuing SQL commands against the Veraz's Oracle database.... Let me write that out for you: One ass-hat residential customer with a 20yo telephone with four extra buttons did thirty million dollars in damages in less than one night. Anyways, that's how the company went bankrupt... and about 6000 or so people ... all got laid off.
posted by orthogonality on Feb 9, 2009 - 97 comments

alternative currencies

Hard up for cash? Roll your own :P [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 8, 2009 - 36 comments

Obama FAIL?

The Bad Bank Assets Proposal: Even Worse Than You Imagined -- the administration appears intent on building another black swan. This is political capitalism. [via]
posted by kliuless on Feb 4, 2009 - 103 comments

Duffonomics

Playboy has hired Duff McKagan to write a weekly finance column. His mission? 1) To educate. 2) To bring down The Man. [via Fimoculous]
posted by not_on_display on Feb 3, 2009 - 32 comments

Paging Mr. Dickens...

When welfare benefits the rich, and starves the poor: Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years. [more inside]
posted by dejah420 on Feb 2, 2009 - 68 comments

Deals of the Day

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank gave a bank, whose capital ratio equaled only 1.88% of assets at the bank, versus a desired level of about 6%, TARP money after heavy lobbying. Frank inserted into the bill a provision to give special consideration to banks that had less than $1 billion of assets, had been well-capitalized as of June 30, served low- and moderate-income areas, and had taken a capital hit in the federal seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (WSJ link) [more inside]
posted by SeizeTheDay on Jan 22, 2009 - 92 comments

De la démocratie en Singapore

Economist Bryan Caplan is author of the best contemporary critique of democracy and democraticness (previously), and therefore the person I'd most like to visit Singapore and share his thoughts. He recently took a trip to this quasi-democracy lauded for both its pro-growth policies and its strong, competent government (and criticized for its repression and its draconian penal code). The trip to what is in some ways an economist's utopia allowed Caplan to think about the implications of his own writings, and the validity of Churchill's dictum on democracy. Here's what he had to say: [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Jan 19, 2009 - 19 comments

Randolph and Mortimer have moved on from FCOJ.

Was market speculation behind this year's rise in crude oil prices? Earlier this year, prices topped $100/bbl, the highest seen since the oil crisis of the late 70s/early 80s. By July 2008, the price of crude oil reached a record high of $144/bbl, costing US consumers between $4-$5 per gallon at the pump. [more inside]
posted by elizardbits on Jan 13, 2009 - 29 comments

ARR! "dramatic action" ahoy :P

President Obama's plan for American Recovery and Reinvestment [pdf] might be thought of as TARP round two [1,2] -- instead of hiding the bodies, this one's preparing the ground for a big tent or the economic equivalent of war. There are critics and detractors (cramdown nation ;) left and right, natch, but also conservative supporters and progressive defenders to save or create three four million jobs; hooray! [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 11, 2009 - 51 comments

The Deaccessioning Debate

In these difficult economic times, what's a museum to do? Is an art collection a financial asset or a trust to be held in perpetuity? These questions are being raised by The National Academy in New York's recent sale (or "deaccessioning" in museum lingo) of two important paintings for $15 million to shore up its finances, first reported by Lee Rosenbaum's ArtsJournal blog. The museum's director told The New York Times that it was the only way for the 183-year-old academy, which runs a chronic operating deficit, to survive. The Association of Art Museum Directors censured the Academy and called on its members to suspend any loans of art to the institution. New York lawyer Donn Zaretzky's ArtLaw Blog has become ground zero for a fascinating debate involving art critics, museum directors, financial bloggers and others.
posted by up in the old hotel on Jan 7, 2009 - 40 comments

All predictions are wrong. Or are they?

Every year the Strategy Team at Saxo Bank, a Danish virtual bank, publishes a list of ten black swan class market events. Some of the more dramatic possibilities Saxo advance for 2009: crude trading down to $25 a barrel causing severe social unrest in Iran, the S&P 500 falling to 500, Chinese GDP approaching zero and several member states dropping the Euro. The complete 2009 list is here and for completeness their 2008 [ .pdf ] , 2007 [ .pdf ] and 2006 lists [ .pdf ] are also available. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jan 7, 2009 - 32 comments

The bubble to end all bubbles?

The cover of a major financial publication warns: If you're holding U.S. Treasuries, GET OUT NOW! [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Jan 5, 2009 - 74 comments

Why Wall Street Always Blows It

Why Wall Street Always Blows It, and why we're always to blame, as told by banished securities analyst Henry Blodget.
posted by SeizeTheDay on Dec 30, 2008 - 37 comments

The Price of Anarchy

Braess' paradox and the price of anarchy [PDF]: "We had three tunnels in the city and one needed to be shut down. Bizarrely, we found that car volumes dropped. ... We discovered it was a case of Braess' paradox, which says that by taking away space in an urban area you can actually increase the flow of traffic, and, by implication, by adding extra capacity to a road network you can reduce overall performance." [more inside]
posted by parudox on Dec 27, 2008 - 15 comments

Why I Hate Christmas

"Modern Christmas is like primitive Keynesianism, a short-run-oriented economic experiment that has been tried and found wanting." Economist James S. Henry weighs in on "Why the Grinch has it right."
posted by nasreddin on Dec 24, 2008 - 58 comments

Just how long can that tail be?

10 out of 13 million tracks available for purchase online didn't sell a single copy. Jut how Long can that Tail be, after all? Is the length of the tail mentioned in the article down to piracy or the state of the music industry as a whole? Is it possible to make a profit or break even on a niche website based on sales alone, and not on advertising revenue?
posted by Grrlscout on Dec 23, 2008 - 56 comments

Blow-by-blow of Wachovia's Demise

A blow-by-blow analysis of Wachovia's demise, as told by the bank's local paper, The Charlotte Observer.
posted by SeizeTheDay on Dec 21, 2008 - 16 comments

The Grand Experiment

History Repeats Itself in Different Hues -- a readable Q&A data dump comparing the economics and policy responses of 1990s Japan and current events
posted by troy on Dec 19, 2008 - 6 comments

your leisure is my pleasure

Idle Theory: Life Does The Least
posted by kliuless on Dec 6, 2008 - 28 comments

What is 10 or 20 Trillion US dollars between friends?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the award-winning book The Black Swan, (previously), was interviewed recently by Charlie Rose: A conversation about economics with Nassim Taleb (as well as Time Magazine.) Taleb is more pessimistic than Nouriel Roubini, (previously, previously) who thinks that the total sum for this current global meltdown may be somewhere between 10-20 Trillion US dollars.
posted by gen on Dec 5, 2008 - 19 comments

Can We Cure the Health Care Crisis?

Search for an Rx - We asked Johns Hopkins administrators, physicians, and researchers about the health of a system Americans rely on to keep them healthy. Afterall, an ounce of prevention... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 3, 2008 - 15 comments

"a story of great potential overwhelmed by a genius for acts of pointless economic self-destruction"

People with a keen strategic sense maintain a well-diversified hoard of coins and painstakingly build alliances with local shopkeepers or bank tellers, conspicuously proffering coins for one purchase or deposit in the hopes of being indulged when they're short of change at some point in the future. Argentina's coinage problem. [more inside]
posted by cortex on Dec 3, 2008 - 19 comments

Tanta Vive!

The Compleat ÜberNerd: a fascinating series of blog entries detailing the nitty-gritty behind the mortgage industry by Calculated Risk's "Tanta." If you're curious about automated underwriting systems or the ins and outs of mortgage servicing or if you just enjoy some Mortgage Pig Excel art, Tanta was the blogger for you. Tanta, otherwise known as Doris Dungey, passed away on Sunday morning (NYT obit, CR obit).
posted by mullacc on Dec 1, 2008 - 15 comments

The Power of Ideas

What to Do. 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman on what to do about the economic crisis. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Nov 30, 2008 - 67 comments

Depression 2009

Depression 2009: What would it look like? "Lines at the ER, a television boom, emptying suburbs. A catastrophic economic downturn would feel nothing like the last one." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Nov 21, 2008 - 48 comments

"... first by inflation and then by deflation, ..."

Tangible evidence of deflation? The prices of commodities, houses and a wide range of consumer goods have collapsed, with observers predicting continued declines. While many point back to The Great Depression as an example of damaging deflation, the recession of 1920-1921, a frequently overlooked period in economic history, is perhaps the best example we've got of a deflationary wave similar to what might now taking place. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Nov 20, 2008 - 92 comments

The psychology of cons

How to Run a Con. A neuroeconomist looks at the Pigeon Drop. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Nov 15, 2008 - 49 comments

Money for nothing: a new era of zero interest rates?

The Fed cut 100 bps. BOE cut 150 bps. ECB cut 50 bps. India, Vietnam, The Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark, South Korea and other nations have all cut interest rates in recent weeks, with many Central Banks cutting more than once. The G20 is now discussing the possibility of further, coordinated interest rate cuts. As interest rates globally plummet, we are observing what some analysts are calling "The Race to Zero". [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Nov 12, 2008 - 86 comments

Adam Smith in Beijing

Adam Smith in Beijing Embedded Flash film 1hr59mins "Is US power in decline? What are we to make of the rise of China? Will a possible equalization of North-South relations herald a more brutal capitalism or a better world? Giovanni Arrighi, Joel Andreas, and David Harvey give their perspectives in this forum, for a discussion of Arrighi's 2007 book Adam Smith in Beijing. The event, filmed in Baltimore, MD, in March of 2008, was organized by the Red Emma's collective."
posted by Abiezer on Nov 9, 2008 - 10 comments

Planet Finance

Wall Street Lays Another Egg. "Not so long ago, the dollar stood for a sum of gold, and bankers knew the people they lent to. The author charts the emergence of an abstract, even absurd world—call it Planet Finance—where mathematical models ignored both history and human nature, and value had no meaning."
posted by homunculus on Nov 7, 2008 - 63 comments

Building a real financial system

The origins of central banking or, perhaps, central planning[1,2] and a defense of fiat currency[3] in the information age. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 2, 2008 - 39 comments

The most obscure but perhaps the most important economic indicator we've got

How best to take the pulse of the global economy? While market driven rates such as LIBOR or US Government T-Bills reveal the state of fixed income and Credit Default Swaps tell the observer much about possible default rates, many analysts prefer a more basal view. The Baltic Dry Index is one such indicator. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 31, 2008 - 27 comments

In praise of small banks

The nine biggest US banks aren't using $125 billion in federal bailout money to make loans. They're going to use taxpayer dollars to buy other banks. [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Oct 30, 2008 - 80 comments

You don't really own the shares you think you own

All the stocks and bonds you think you own are actually owned by a company you've probably never heard of, a company owned by the same people who own the US Federal Reserve. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 24, 2008 - 58 comments

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

Friedman under attack More than 100 faculty at the University of Chicago, where Milton Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize in economics, are trying to stop the university from putting Mr. Friedman's name on a $200-million (U.S.) research centre. The opponents argue that the Milton Friedman Institute would compromise the academic integrity of the university and serve as a monument to Mr. Friedman's world outlook, which they say has largely been discredited. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Oct 21, 2008 - 31 comments

The Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East

"The Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East"- seeking to understand the effects of the China-Middle East relationship on the United States, the U.S. Middle East relationship on China, and the Sino-American relationship on the Middle East. Book excerpts (Chapter 1) (Chapter 3). Interview with Jon Alterman, co-author. Via the very useful SUSRIS.
posted by Burhanistan on Oct 20, 2008 - 4 comments

Andrew Lahde's goodbye letter

Retiring hedge fund manager Andrew Lahde: "All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."
posted by finite on Oct 17, 2008 - 37 comments

The Nobel Prize is Shrill

"...For his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity," the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics has been awarded to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Oct 13, 2008 - 94 comments

Essential Credit Crunch Reading

Afraid to read the daily news? Need some broader perspective on The Credit Crunch? There are lots of different ideas by lots of different authors floating about ... [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 13, 2008 - 34 comments

Another potentially huge settlement day for CDS contracts ...

Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are derivative instruments providing the purchaser with protection against default on an underlying financial asset. When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac technically defaulted on September 7th there was much speculation that the CDS market would collapse as a result of protection being invoked on $1.4 trillion dollars worth of debt. On October 6th these derivative contracts settled, and the CDS market didn't collapse with recovery rates of 92% being observed. Today CDS contracts protecting against the default of Lehman Brothers settle. The problem? Because industry lacks a central clearinghouse for these derivatives, nobody is really sure how many CDS contracts were written either by Lehman or by other banks providing protection against a Lehman default. Next on the list are CDS' covering Washington Mutual, which are due to settle October 23rd.

Meanwhile efforts to create a clearing house continue, as some folks speculate that the settlement of Credit Default Swaps is a major reason why banks are hoarding cash.
posted by Mutant on Oct 10, 2008 - 155 comments

Steamcreditcrunch

A housing boom and bust, interbank lending rates reaching record highs, people losing faith in complex financial instruments, a stock market crash. We've seen it all before... The Great Depression of 1929? No, the Panic of 1837...
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Oct 3, 2008 - 33 comments

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