danalwyn: (Default)
What's the word that you use when the country whose low cost labor you exploited through immigration to build your state's first major railway project makes a bid to bankroll and operate your latest high-tech railroad?

Oh yeah, that's right, irony.

(Things were looking ironic enough for California before the article had to mention that the Chinese may be the world's foremost experts in high-speed rail, yet another field in transportation where the geographically large and transport-intensive United States has fallen behind foreign expertise and innovation.)

Hat tip to Foreign Policy's Passport.
danalwyn: (Default)
Want to learn more about the economic theory of recessions and depressions? Want to watch rap videos made by old, dead, white guys? Want to seriously raise your geek rating through the roof? Well now, thanks to this, you can do all three. Just watch this video and you will have it stuck in your head all goddamned day be enlightened.

I don't know why I think this is awesome, but I do, and I don't even like the Austrians.

He Escaped!

Dec. 2nd, 2009 01:18 pm
danalwyn: (Default)
DETROIT - In a press release today, the federal government revealed that Fritz Henderson has escaped from supervised custody and is now loose in the public domain. Henderson was part of an program created by the Obama administration to experiment with filling unwanted but necessary jobs in the US with workers sedated by a potent mix of narcotics, in order to prevent them from experiencing undue suffering. Henderson was subdued by US agents in March of 2009 by means of drugs in his coffee, after which he was transported from his natural habitat to a new position, and kept both tranquil and satisfied through continual injections while performing the duties of his new post.

However, according to an anonymous source within the Obama administration, a clerical mishap led to his dosage being reduced earlier this week. According to reports, Henderson became increasingly confused and agitated as he slowly became aware that he was not, in fact, a highly paid secretary, but was in fact the CEO of General Motors. The stress of being the head of America's largest industrial failure apparently got to him, and spooked by an expense report, he "went berserk" and escaped into the wild, mauling one of his handlers in the process. Reports indicate that, once out of the position of GM CEO he should shortly return to his natural state and will no longer be a threat to the public. However, sources within the administration indicate that there will be trouble finding a replacement willing to take over the burden of being the face of American corporate failure.

The federal government plans a session in Detroit to discuss the situation today, and invites all people with MBAs from prestigious universities to attend. Coffee will be provided.
danalwyn: (Default)
There's been a theory in the physics community, the high-energy physics community in particular, for the last year, a feeling of guilt, that comes from one central suspicion that we, quants in general, but ex-high energy physicists in particular, caused the Great Recession. For many years, those of us who couldn't cut it in HEP jumped ship from Academia and went on to work for ridiculous salaries as quants at Wall Street firms; it was sort of the escape hatch for a lot of us who either didn't want to deal with Academia, or couldn't cut it. And if you look at the mathematical models backing Credit Derivative Swaps, well, that has HEP theorist written all over it, it's the sort of convoluted math that we do prefer. The kind of person who thinks that the Standard Model could be simplified by adding five extra dimensions, one of them large, isn't going to have any trouble reshuffling and reshaping financial instruments to make the profits appear larger, and the risk magically disappear through a mathematical loophole. What regulator, or middle manager, who struggled through Calculus I, is going to be able to keep up with a financial wizard who diagonalizes infinite-dimensional matrices for fun, and when asked for his risk assessments turns in five pages of hand-scrawled equations with all the key steps missing?

Well Calvin Trillin agrees with us at the NY Times.

So, we come to the US public today asking for help in preventing the next crash. Spend money on financial regulation if you must, but the interests of the US might be better served by increasing the number of post-doc and researcher positions in High Energy Physics. By creating new jobs for these sad people, we can keep them safely and happily employed, and off of Wall Street. And believe me, you don't want them there.
danalwyn: (Default)
Interesting economics project for someone who's not me (i.e., a real economist).

Track economic growth and the change in the consumer confidence index against the average and aggregate Kelly Blue Book value of the cars in the Goodwill parking lot. I'm predicting that both those numbers serve as a very good indicator of consumer confidence.

In other words, I don't remember those sports cars there in the past.
danalwyn: (Default)
The Wall Street Journal today reports that a rise in conspicuous consumption creating an inflationary bubble, followed by a panicked rumor in the wake of the beginning of the recession, has destroyed the Tri-County Land Trust, an uninsured loaning co-op owned and operated by, and catering exclusively to, the Amish. Apparently these were more modern Amish, capable of indulging themselves in such luxuries as Dutch Harness Horses, and carriages lined with LEDs and velvet (I don't know how the LEDs got there) powered by a booming furniture business. Now they're back with their ancestors, using their horses to plow fields, and desperately trying to ambush passing cars to sell them whatever furniture they have in house.

Obviously, they should have gotten a bailout. Maybe they could have gotten it in chickens.

(Hattip to lolfed, which also reports that the FDIC has some lawnmowers that they would like to sell you.

ETA: Fixed broken link.


Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:47 am
danalwyn: (Default)
Rarely does an economic crisis get cited as a source of mirth, but this one is approaching bounds that I would say qualify it as "loltastic", and I never use that word.

So if you've been following the bailout dilemma, you know that earlier this month Congress was approached by two businessmen in an attempt to get the United States to bail out a crucial US industry. Larry Flynt (of Hustler fame) and Joe Francis (of the legendary Girls Gone Wild) went to Washington to beg for $5 billion to bailout the US adult entertainment industry, whose years of declining sales may soon result in drunk college girls having to take off their tops without the presence of professional photographers. Apparently they were intending to either get Congress drunk enough to sign away $5 billion (a reasonable proposition), or they were intending to strip their clothes off and dance naked on the tables (which would probably result in Congress giving them any amount of money they wanted just to make it stop). Apparently neither of these schemes worked because we still have $5 billion dollars, and Flynt isn't trying to build a brothel on the moon yet.

But they've recently been joined by a third contender, Dennis Hof, who owns the Moonlite BunnyRanch in Nevada, apparently the site of an HBO TV series. Mr. Hof wants $1 billion to tide Nevada's oldest profession through tough times, ostensibly because those Wall Street High Rollers ain't coming by no more, despite the fact that the supply of would-be brothel employees has apparently been increasing as the crisis gets rolling. Now, I'm half convinced that Hof is just making fun of Flynt and Francis, but if he does manage to slide this through Congress (insert your own juvenile pun here) , given the terms we've used for the rest of the TARP bailout, the US will essentially own stock in a brothel.

Which leads me to two questions. First, if we do end up owning interest in a brothel, how many Congressional visits a year will it take to make sure that the Moonlite BunnyRanch is operating properly? And second, since We The People own the US government, will the rest of us get employee benefits or something?

As expected lolfed is all over this like white on rice. White on white rice that is, because white on brown rice would just not make sense.

In related news, The Economist's Free Exchange blog reports that, while the adult entertainment industry may be down in the dumps in some regions, the sales of things like lube are through the roof. Which means that when times get tough and money gets scarce, people stop buying porn and start having sex instead.

Don't think too hard about that. Seriously.
danalwyn: (Default)
This is sort of old (and also depressing), but just in case you missed it, Chrysler became worthless this week, when Daimler re-evaluated the value of their 19.9% share in the company down to $0. Logic holds that if 19.9% of a company is worth $0, then the other 80.1% is also worth $0.

So next time you're about to plunk down your dollar to buy a hamburger at McDonald's, remember that it costs more then the world's twelfth largest automaker. I would stick with the burger though. Even if it kills you it's still probably a better deal.
danalwyn: (Default)
Boring and depressing economic details behind the cut. Really boring - I mean it. And possibly wrong.

Okay, now we're in trouble )


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