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Michael Gracie

Stuff you might have missed while searching for your old ‘Thriller’ vinyl – 06/29/09

Technology

  • How Difficult Is It To Post A Bill On The White House Website For Five Days? [Techdirt] – Watch for a new government job listing for, uh, White House Blogger. Primary responsibility: cut and paste.
  • Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out [Wired] – All Google has to do is remove Facebook from their search results, and the fight is over.
  • Indian CEO Says Most US Tech Grads “Unemployable” [Slashdot] – The kingdom of outsourcing may be hedging its bets through the PR channels.
  • Finance

  • Krugman and the Housing Bubble: A Love Story [Reason] – Mr. Krugman is long to get his story straight. Looks like the ‘internet is forever’ mantra is getting the best of him.
  • Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine [The Big Picture] – A must read, particularly the final blow on cap-and-trade. I suggest clicking through to the Scribd page and going full screen.
  • Frank Pushes Fannie and Freddie to Take On More Risky Loans [Contrarian Profits] – Along with a plan to refinance homes that are underwater, it looks as though we’ll all soon be in government housing, whether we like it or not.
  • Fly Fishing

  • Is It Time For Rodmakers to Get Out of the Warranty Business? [MidCurrent] – It would certainly force people to rest their rods someplace besides the door jam of their vehicles.
  • Invention Lets Fish Live Without Water [Cutthroat Stalker] – A fly fishing photographer’s dream come true? Heh, nothing can help my photog skills.
  • Elite anglers focused on FKO/IGFA Inshore World Championship [Fishing World] – Coming soon, and on EPSN to boot.
  • Adieu.

    Around the world in nine links flat – 03/05/09

    World MapTechnology

    • Surprise – cyber-crooks are targeting Facebook. This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but Facebook participants won’t understand that until it’s too late. They are busy throwing up pages in a vain attempt to garner attention, and have to figure out that the barrel is already too big first.
    • Speaking of social networks, you only have five core friends anyway. The rest are, I guess, ‘fake friends’.
    • But if you still think you have more friends than that, Yahoo! is on their way to helping you stay caught up with them. It’s a collaboration with JS-Kit for access everywhere.

    Finance

    • Everyone who disagrees with the present administration’s economic policies is now evil, at least in the eyes of Paul Krugman. Greg Mankiw is willing to bet hard money that the GDP forecasts being floated to justify the massive spending are, for the most part, bunk. Will Vegas take side bets?
    • The Fed is not only bailing out ‘unfortunate’ homeowners – now that third mortgages for widescreen TVs are passe, they are going to start funding credit card balances instead.
    • And just in case anyone is still wondering where the financial world is headed, let’s ask the world’s presently most popular prognosticator, Nouriel Roubini: Mr. Roubini, what say ye? The U.S. financial system is effectively insolvent. Ok, got it.

    Fly Fishing

    • Science folks speculate that hunting trophies leads to smaller fish. There’s a lot of killing mentioned, which leads me to believe the studies may be funded by PETA. Meanwhile, down in the Keys, it’s long been known that the biggest bonefish reside in Islamorada specifically because so many trophy fish are released there during tournaments.
    • Speaking of Florida, high-income earners aren’t the only one’s who may be seeing tax hikes. Guides have long had an exemption from sales tax, but the state legislature is discussing a change to that. Ron Brooks notes (correctly) that not only will guide/charter fishing rates go up, but the bookkeeping will add additional burden to an already very hard working group of folks.
    • And finally…

    • The Roughfisher is ready for spring – it’s just that spring isn’t ready for him. Spring has been in and out of Colorado for weeks – we’d weep for the rough dude, but we’re too busy fishing. I’m not being spiteful, really I’m not.

    Adieu.

    Paul Krugman’s latest informal fallacy (UPDATED)

    Mr. Nobel talks taxation, but fails from the start:

    Other things equal, public investment is a much better way to provide economic stimulus than tax cuts, for two reasons. First, if the government spends money, that money is spent, helping support demand, whereas tax cuts may be largely saved. So public investment offers more bang for the buck. Second, public investment leaves something of value behind when the stimulus is over.

    First, there’s not only nothing wrong with saving, despite Krugman’s apparent disdain for the concept. But you might also ask yourself why the average citizen would be willing to save when 1) interest rates are back at historical lows; 2) the stock market is running on fumes; and 3) they are sitting on piles of debt they need to pay down. Then ask why Krugman fails to mention that debt repaid is now a credit line re-accessible – you really don’t think people (or businesses) will shun pulling out their plastic again, do you?

    Second, public investment leaves something else behind besides value “when the stimulus is over” – items the prize winner also omits – they are commonly referred to as 1) a pile of debt your children will be responsible for, and 2) massive legacy costs your children will be responsible for. Public projects need ongoing support (which rarely materializes – just ask Jimmy Carter or the Afghan Mujahideen of the ’80s) – pumping massive amounts of money into willy-nilly temporary job creators will have significant long-term repercussions. Of course, you need not worry about what might happen after the next election, or the next round of Nobel prize voting.

    I’m still trying to figure out what “other things equal” means, besides a weasiley way of saying “my medal affords me some magical interpretation of the situation you can’t possibly fathom.” I loathe the effort that may be required to succeed in that particular quest for enlightenment.

    UPDATE: A more salient discussion on tax cuts as stimulus.

    Fannie’s Perilous Pursuit of Excuses (and Shills)

    Daniel Mudd wanted the loans to “optimize the business“…

    Internal documents show that even late in the housing bubble, Fannie Mae was drawn to risky loans by a variety of temptations, including the desire to increase its market share and fulfill government quotas for the support of low-income borrowers.

    Hmm. Just a few weeks back, Paul Krugman said (emphasis mine)…

    But here’s the thing: Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago, an explosion that dwarfed the S.& L. fiasco. In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble.

    You’d think a professor of economics (at Princeton University no less) might have some idea what he is talking about, particularly when allowed to regularly op-ed at the New York Times. Note that this wasn’t supposition – it was an attempt to relay facts well after the events.

    Even though they’ve long been THE largest purchaser of mortgages, maybe the fact that Fannie Mae didn’t originate the pile of bad loans equates to “had nothing to do with”? I wish I knew the answer, but I’m no famed academic.

    UPDATE: Oops…h/t to Paul Kedrosky on the Post story.

    Contradicting thyself on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    As previous noted, Paul Krugman of the New York Times tried wishing away Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s problems by pinning the housing crisis on sub-prime. Now the guy is contradicting himself, while claiming more informed statements are non-contradictory.

    Krugman said…

    Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago, an explosion that dwarfed the S.& L. fiasco.

    And the better informed laughed…

    Fannie and Freddie had about as much to with the “explosion of high-risk lending” as they could get away with.

    Considering the GSEs touch almost half of the mortgages in America, it’s quite improbable for them not to have at least minor complicity. Nonetheless, Krugman is again explaining away…this time the glaring difference of opinion – it’s not contradictory!

    Well, at least he got the S&L bit right. But I wonder who he’s going to be covering for when the liar-leveraged McMansions start falling.