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Chris, looking at the graph it appears that all the outliers (US, Norway etc) seem to one side only - there don't seem to be any cases of countries under-performing the expected amount, only cases where countries outperform it. Do you think this is just a sampling bias (it is the OECD after all) or is there something more fundamental at play?
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2012 on Laziness & productivity at Stumbling and Mumbling
I first came across positive money a few weeks ago when they parked themselves outside my students' union (Newcastle Upon Tyne) and started waving placards and handing out leaflets. Intrigued, I decided to engage to see what they were protesting about. I got the usual spiel about the evils of the banks but I didn't really get a clear explanation of what and why they were protesting, what their solutions were and if they were any good. The first question of mine was 'what are you protesting about?' An agitated woman explained to me that the banks were lending more money that they had, and were therefore creating money. The woman (and later a man who joined in) didn't really seem to understand the difference between actually creating new money and just increasing bank deposits through fractional reserve banking. A bit of cobblers about how awful and nasty banks were got thrown in between but overall at any given time they were advocating one or more of the following ideas: 1) reduce lending overall, 2) prevent banks from lending using deposits, 3) "stop banks from creating new money". As evidence for their incoherent proposals, they relied increasingly on a misquote of Martin Wolf, and some obscure Bank of England report from the early twentieth century. Additionally they seemed to accept ideas or world-views in which the identity of assets = liabilities + equity was often violated. They also got quite angry when I explained that actually banks can't do that without committing crimes - I think their retort was 'well the banks are doing that, so they are committing crimes'! Our current situation is a complicated mish-mash, with interlocking layers of finance, economics and politics colliding like the earth's tectonic plates. The idea that a simple (although actually it's not that simple) change to banking rules would solve all this is either absurd or as you say preposterously arrogant. I am reminded of a passage in David Aaronovitch's "Voodoo Histories", in which he explains that conspiracy theories proliferate because (some) people crave a worldview in which actually there is a simple answer to the problem which "they" (the conspirators) don't want you to know about. The actual truth, in which great human catastrophes such as 9/11 were created by a bunch of fanatical cretins who were less organised than the film-crew of your average low-budget indie film, is too unappealing to consider. (Some) people would prefer an orderly world controlled by evil than a chaotic world with no sense of right-or-wrong. I suspect a similar psychology has pervaded the positive money crowd.
Two things 1) I'm not sure Obama was actually as uninvolved in the negotiating process as you make out, McConnell and Obama were certainly talking late on Saturday night at the White House. 2) I would agree with you however that Obama has handled this rather poorly. a)This fight was avoidable - the debt ceiling could have been raised in the previous congress (eg December 2010). b)Normally you open with an unreasonable proposal and move to the middle in negotiations. The Republicans made their position clear and stuck to it. Obama moved from his opening positon with remarkable speed - shifting swiftly from asking for a 'no-strings' increase to a moderate compromise, and then later met the Republicans in the middle from this position. c)Obama put his powerful (albeit unusual) negotiating arsenal away, denying him leverage and giving him a self-inflicted wound in a fight over a self-inflicted crisis. Citing the 14th amendment was perfectly legal, in the eyes of a former counsel to the Fed. Minting trillion dollar platinum coins is on the statute book. Options that while they might be odd, would carry weight in negotiations.
Toggle Commented Aug 1, 2011 on the absent president at Marbury
I'm guessing a major reason why you never made it to the oval office is that you're not a natural-born US citizen?
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2011 on obama's credit problem at Marbury
At the very least, it's a massive shot in the arm for the Japanese construction industry.
Toggle Commented Mar 18, 2011 on adrift at Marbury
I'm baffled by this post. HOW exactly would have a voting system that allows voters to cast 2nd, 3rd etc preferences alter the behaviour of MPs once elected? The article does not explain how all this increased sensitivity of MPs comes from AV.
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What utter rot. The Conservative party doesn't have a monopoly on reforming policies. In fact if I recall correctly it was the Tories who were late to the free schools game. In 2007 David Willets got absolutely mauled for suggesting that grammar schools should not be reintroduced.
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If I recall correctly, Reagan left office in Jan 1989. The Soviet Union collapsed fully only in the later half of 1991.
Toggle Commented Jan 18, 2011 on reaganology at Marbury
Ahh good, he's leading again. I was getting a bit worried he'd fallen a bit comatose too - I even for a few weeks began to feel that Obama might face a competitive fight for re-election. Still, he shows his finger is on the pulse of ordinary americans, and that he isn't into petty washington squabbles, which will make for some great authentic-sounding campaign rhetoric in 2012. As for the tax cuts, the strategy is simple. Get all but the top 2% tax cut sustained for two more years. Use the money from the top 2% to fund a payroll tax cut for two years. This is a second round of stimulus by the backdoor - 500,000 jobs from that payroll tax. The economy gets moving, Obama gets re-elected in 2012 easily, and then to cure the deficit all he does is veto anything that isn't the full set of tax rises.
Toggle Commented Dec 8, 2010 on no more mr nice guy at Marbury
Another brilliantly incisive analysis. Cuts straight through the bullshit.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2010 on ed's problem at Marbury
McCain's face says it all! Lucky for the general that the camera wasn't focussing on Petraeus at the critical moment.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2010 on petraeus conks out at Marbury
Yes, current planes are slower than Concorde (a subsidised government project after all!). But they are as fast or faster than their standard civilian counterparts were 30 years ago. They are are also safer, more fuel efficient and substantially cheaper. I would contest your point about building sites. Although I am no expert, it seems to me that modern techniques have shortened construction time, but that this has been disguised by increasing complexity in housing design. As for music quality, if there's one thing listening to CDs through a hi-fi can tell you, it's that most studios in the 60s and 70s were rubbish at getting decent quality from their microphones. Yes, some say that CDs are worse than records, but who buys CDs nowadays anyway? Consumers have shown they value convenience, portability and ultimately lower prices over quality. It seems to me you're taking very specific metrics and moaning about them, rather than looking at the broader picture and saying "are these industries more pareto efficient than they were 30 years ago?
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2010 on On technical regress at Stumbling and Mumbling
I think a really really important thing that most people never grasp is what would happen if the match were played again. Imagine if we played the match again, and wiped everyone's memories (impossible, I know, but humour me). The result of the match would not be the same as the 1-1 draw we had. Gerrard would be unlikely to score his 4th minute goal and Green would never have let that ball slip out of his hands. In the absence of known probabilities, the outcome where Gerrard doesn't score early and the USA never get their reality check allows England to ramp on to 2-0 is equally likely. But people can never grasp the fact that the match would be different if it were played again - people always see the outcome as preordained. In my view this is one of the many problems with humanity - most people have an overly deterministic, rather than stochastic, view of the world.
"Halfalogue"??? Surely monologue?
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2010 on the halfalogue at Marbury
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Jun 13, 2010