Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fifty years ago.........................


Cream.........................................................................I Feel Free


If you ask my kids.............................


........................they will likely tell you that I love books and I love reading, and they would be correct.  Haven't really given much thought to why this is so - until this morning. 
      I grew up in Philadelphia in an era when the Philly sports teams were not very good.  The 1964 Phillies set the standard for how to break a City's collective heart.  What Philadelphia did have during that era was three daily newspapers and a flock of superb sports writers and columnists.  I learned to love reading (and good writing) by reading the Philly sports pages circa 1962-1975.  Stan Hockman at the Daily News, Sandy Grady at the Evening Bulletin,  Frank Dolson at The Inquirer.    Sports on TV was in its infancy in those days.  ESPN with its relentless loop of highlights was unimaginable.  If you wanted to understand the game, and the players, you had to read the newspapers.  Those writers were like gods to this twelve-year-old boy.  I am feeling old all of a sudden. 
       Anyway, good sports writing is one of the many proofs that God loves us and wants us to be happy. If you doubt that, read this column about LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers by Joe Posnanski.  


via

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fifty years ago.....................................


Buffalo Springfield.............................................Go And Say Goodbye


Doubt..............................



























"Believe those who seek the truth;  doubt those who find it."
-Andre Gide

image via

Acceptance.............................


 
 

"Stuff happens".............................


The common failing of Keynesian and neoclassical models of fluctuations in the economy as a whole is that they are concerned with the economics of "stuff".  By this I mean that they focus on total spending - aggregate demand - rather than take seriously the fact that it is the very multiplicity of things which households could buy that creates problems in coordinating spending plans in the economy.  If the only choice for households and businesses was to buy "stuff", then it would be easier to coordinate plans because only one price - the real interest rate (the price of "stuff" today in terms of "stuff" tomorrow) - would need to move to coordinate total desired spending with desired investment.  But the purpose of a market economy is to provide households and businesses with opportunities to spend their money on a wide variety of goods and services, as well as holding some back for unimaginable events or opportunities.  Radical uncertainty ("stuff happens") means that many of the markets in which prices might move to produce an equilibrium simply cannot and do not exist.  The market economy cannot, therefore, coordinate spending plans.  There are too many missing markets.  As a result, a market economy is not self-stabilising, leading to occasional sharp ups and downs in total spending.  Traditional macroeconomics is the economics of "stuff".  We need instead the economics of "stuff happens".

-Mervyn King,  The End of Alchemy:  Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy

Improving my vocabulary................


.................................................................one word at a time.

IT WILL BE ADMITTED by the least charitable reader that the entertainment value of Mr. Keynes' General Theory of Employment is considerably enhanced by its satiric aspect. But it is also clear that many readers have been left very bewildered by this Dunciad. Even if they are convinced by Mr. Keynes' arguments and humbly acknowledge themselves to have been "classical economists" in the past, they find it hard to remember that they believed in their unregenerate days the things Mr. Keynes says they believed. And there are no doubt others who find their historic doubts a stumbling block, which prevents them from getting as much illumination from the positive theory as they might otherwise have got.

-Sir John Hicks,  Mr Keynes and The Classics:  A Suggested Interpretation

I will confess to not knowing much about Keynes, other than his name gets tossed around a lot when economics is in the discussion mix.  His General Theory is loaded on my Kindle, but no investigative attempt has yet been made.  This essay from Hicks was found in the Intertunnel after Mervyn King made mention of it.  I'm thinking that Hicks is not a fan of Keynes, although further reading may prove that assumption incorrect.  Regardless, the word Dunciad was a new one for me. Described here, maybe most recognizable from here.  Enjoy.

Warp and woof.............................


     We assert, then, that nothing has been accomplished without the interest of the actors; and if interest be called passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of volition, concentrating all its desires and powers upon it, then we may affirm absolutely that without passion nothing great in the world has been accomplished.  Two elements, therefore, enter into the object or our inspection;  the first is the idea, the second is human passions;  the one the warp, the other the woof of the vast tapestry of human history.

-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelLectures on the Philosophy of History

Learning is hard........................................

.........................................................I'm sure this will end well:


Rather than 20%, the reality is that over 70% of first-time buyers are putting down 5% or less for their new homes. But there is more. Due to their exemption from the Qualified Mortgage rule, which limits total debt-to-income ratios to 43%, the five government mortgage agencies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Rural Housing Service) have been all too willing to support the purchase of more expensive homes... Expanding debt leverage is a conscious policy choice that is drawing new borrowers into the market by allowing them to take on more debt — and unfortunately greater risk — to “afford” home ownership.


-as excerpted from here

Sort of like life its ownself...................


"What he meant was that, in the face of radical uncertainty, decision makers must act even when they simply do not know"

-John Kay, as excerpted from here

Expectations......................Part one


     Worse, there is a retrospective disenchantment with the mood that motivated the effort and set the goals in the first place, back in the 1960s.  There is a chagrin at having been too enthusiastic about what could be accomplished.  There is disaffection toward those whose demands are insatiable and whose gratitude is inconspicuous.  Whatever the reason, there is a reexamination of policy, especially policy that reflects social obligation.  There is a retrenchment in the air and on the ballot, and second thoughts about what we can afford for ourselves and what we owe others.

-Thomas C. Schelling, from his 1984 book, Choice and Consequence:  Perspectives of an errant economist

Expectations................................Part two


     It isn't all sour grapes.  Our projections of the possible has shrunk.  Our economy is not behaving.  Growing income no longer promises to make light of our burdens in another decade or two.  We do not know what has been depressing our productivity and can't be sure that, whatever it is, we shall recover soon.  Inflation has a mind of its own.  The demographics of the labor force are against us, and at the same time the rules of the game allow endless numbers of people from faraway places, once over the line, to touch base and be safe.

-Thomas C. Schelling, from his 1984 book,  Choice and Consequence:  Perspectives of an errant economist

Expectations.................................Part three


     These are not "hard times" in the old sense.  In this country life is still good and getting better for most people.  But it is not measuring up to expectations.  They might better be called "difficult times":  it is the problems, not the times that are hard.  And among the hard issues are some ethical ones.  They may not be the hardest or most important, but they are important and they are hard.

-Thomas C. Schelling, from his 1984 book,  Choice and Consequence:  Perspectives of an errant economist

Do anything...............................


Eric Clapton, channeling Robert Johnson...Kind Hearted Woman


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fifty years ago...................................


Buffalo Springfield...........................................Everybody's Wrong


It might be common-sense.....................


.......................................................but I never looked at this way:

A homeowner is both landlord and tenant in her own property.  A rise in house prices increases the wealth of the homeowner as landlord but increases the implicit rent paid by the owner-occupier as tenant.  That is an economist's way of expressing the common-sense observation that a rise in the price of a home that you own does not mean that you will now be able to afford a new car or expensive holidays.

-Mervyn King,  The End of Alchemy:  Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy

OPE anyone..............................?


"What experience and history teach us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it."

-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

A bit of wisdom and philosophy............


Walpole  by  Joshua Reynolds   Oil    1756






















"To act with common sense, according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know; and the best philosophy, to do one's duties, take the world as it comes, submit respectfully to one's lot, bless the goodness that has given us so much happiness with it, whatever it is, and despise affectation."

-Horace Walpole, from a letter to Horace Mann,  May, 1776.  One found this quote by looking for the source of this one:  "I have often said, and oftener think, that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel - "

Over and over again....................




"there is still time ... to bring back again the sunshine which has been darkened by clouds of human folly."

-Winston Churchill, from a February 1932 speech in NYC

Perspective........................







"There is more to life than increasing its speed."
-attributed to Mohandas K. Gandhi

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski..................



"I finished reading the book though, full of admiration for both Conrad and myself:  him for his moral scope, me for my endurance.


-Clive James, as excerpted from his musings on Lord Jim in Latest Readings


Perhaps I was too young, but I was never able to finish Conrad, nor get much out of it.  The queue is now too far out-of-hand for the task even to be considered.

One war that is going quite well.....................



........................................................................Unfortunately.

Founding Fathers........................................



Cultural Offering is running a series on the folks who began the Great Experiment know as the United States of America. Us history majors are enjoying it.  Do check it out.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Many thanks..............................


.......to whoever provided the introduction to The Man in The Wind!

The magic of language..............


"The butterfly of an information society is struggling to escape from the industrial age cocoon."

-as excerpted from here

Reasonable people..............


.........................may reasonably disagree about the state of our economy, and how to improve it, but, this rings true:

"When quality improvements and new products are pervasive and so different from what came before, the national income accountants who construct gross domestic product might underestimate how much life is getting better."

-Greg Mankiw, who smartly offers no definitive answer to the economic puzzle

Waste no more..........................



16.  Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.  Be one.


17.  Let your mind constantly dwell on all Time and all Being, and thus learn that each separate thing is but as a grain of sand in comparison with Being, and as a single screw's turn in comparison with Time.


18.  Realize the nature of all things material, observing how each of them is even now undergoing dissolution and change, and is already in process of decay, or dispersion, or whatever other natural fate may be in store for it.


-Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations,  Book X

Well, yeah............................


"Stabilizing the economy was proving harder in practice than in theory.  There were fierce intellectual battles."

-Mervyn King, describing life at King's College, Cambridge circa 1966, as excerpted from The End of Alchemy:  Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy

Truth telling........................


And yet one only has  to listen to the inflammatory rhetoric, much of it directed against anonymous others, which is today heard across the European continent and in the United States  to realise that the tribal aggression which has been part of human nature since humans evolved is never far below the surface.

-John Kay, as excerpted from here

O'Brian....................................




      My elder daughter should take some of the credit, or blame, for getting me to start reading again as if there might be a tomorrow, when I was ready to settle down on my deathbed and read nothing but the Bible.  She had all of Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey novels in her house and urged me to try the first one, Master and Commander, with a  promise that it was even better than the movie.  She was like a drug dealer handing out a free sample.

-Clive James, Latest Readings

The answer is...................


...................................."We still don't know.  In fact, we may not understand the question."   The question is, "Why do our minds wander?"

Everytime.............................


Jackie DeShannon.....................When You Walk In The Room


Sounds like a plan.............


"All of which is to say that I’m not sure what the next 10, 20 or 30 years will look like, but I’m sure that it will be very little like we expect, so we should plan accordingly."

-Ben Carlson, as excerpted from here

Fifty years ago...............................


The Association...................................................Enter The Young



thanks for the reminder Doug

So, you're telling me now............


................that my college degree is worthless?   The history major in me quickly learned (by watching a significant percentage of the freshmen football players flunk calculus) that studying higher math might interfere with my college career.  Forty-three years after graduating I haven't had the need for any math beyond what I learned in high school algebra and geometry.  Your experience may vary.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Good to remember.......................






thanks hugh

So I was having this conversation...........


..............on Friday with a friend and business partner when he expressed amazement that the younger generations (his kids and mine) don't particularly seemed fazed by the state of the world that us older types will be leaving them.  That conversation came to mind when visiting the View From the Ledge today:

"I like that kids are less inclined to discount things because they can’t be done. They have an imagination that thinks that maybe things can be done."

In the absence of free will...........





Beauty...........................


Clothing shortage.....................


     For centuries, alchemy has been the basis of our system of money and banking.  Governments pretended that paper money could be turned into gold even when there was more of the former than the latter.  Banks pretended that short-term riskless deposits could be used to finance long-term risky investments.  In both cases, the alchemy is the apparent transformation of risk into safety.  For much of the time the alchemy seemed to work.  From time to time, however, people realized that the Emperor had far fewer clothes than the Masters of the Universe wanted us to believe.

-Mervyn King,  The End of Alchemy:  Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy

Opening paragraphs..........................


     Jack Ryan, Jr., would later wonder what exactly saved his life that night.  One thing was certain:  It hadn't been skill.  Maybe the heft of the bok choy had bought him a split second, maybe the mud, but not skill.  Dumb luck.  Survival instinct.

-Grant Blackwood, channeling Tom Clancy,  Duty And Honor

Celebrating Father's Day eve.....


An after-dinner bonfire and cigar with sons.  Life is very good.