Re-evaluating Your Own Private Idaho

Is there no end to this chicanery?  Is there some fairly prominent recessive gene that just needs the right lighting, the right Pinot Noir, and the right blatantly faux promises of undying fidelity to surface in some inbred blueblood?

The footprint of these schemes is growing so wide that I think just about everyone knows at least one person directly affected by Ponzi schemes.  I have a good friend who lost a six-figure chunk of his savings to one of these charlatans.  (I feel like a victim myself, but it’s a bigger challenge to litigate when your grifter was a publicly-traded, federally-regulated financial services company.)

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The Chicago Tea Party

The folks at CNBC are often accused of cheerleading regardless of the evidence — with some justice, though no disparagement of Erin Burnett will be permitted on this blog.

Rick Santelli was not cheerleading today.  Watch the video.  CNBC’s online poll is showing substantial support for Santelli’s sentiments.

Valentine’s Day in the Poetry Corner

It’s funny:  The longer I’m married, the better this poem gets. Read the rest of this entry »

Too big to succeed?

This is not really another bailout post; it’s just a short pause to notice something that we should probably think about later, when we have more time and better concentration.

I think it was Groucho Marx who said he wouldn’t belong to any club that would have him as a member. Joseph Heller used the same circular logic to comic effect in Catch-22:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.

“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

In much the same way, it seems to me there is something at least paradoxical, and perhaps self-contradictory, about spending unprecedented amounts of public money to shore up institutions so large that in better times we would rather have expected to see them get attention from antitrust authoritiesRead the rest of this entry »

Five Quick Thoughts on the New and Improved, This-Time-We-Really-Mean-It Stimulus Bill

It’s a big day for bailouts, and there’s too much happening for us to look at any of it in depth.  But here are five quick thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Rival Histories of the Great Depression

Whatever one thinks about history repeating itself generally, the case for repetition is pretty strong in economics because economic activity is by its nature cyclical.  Yes, times change, and no two business cycles are ever exactly alike, but there are certainly recurring patterns and it makes great sense to try to understand what worked and what didn’t in past cycles.

Ever since late September, it has been difficult to discuss the economy in much depth without encountering simmering controversies about what did an did not work during the Great Depression.  But there is a problem.  Read the rest of this entry »