hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011
Good for Harry Reid. I think what Senate Democrats need to use this new power for, first of all, is to confirm political appointees, i.e. confirm people whose term may end in Jan 2013. For those people, there's no time to waste. And the problems the nation confronts are too important for Obama not to have a full team, or to have great people not confirmed because they rub one senator the wrong way.

Much better news on the jobs numbers. But important not to forget how poor the numbers are compared to the 90's.

Karl Smith - The Silver Lining

Karl Smith - On IS-LM
. . .there is a severe monetary contraction going on in their community. The answer to this story must involve banking, lending, debt, prices, import or export. It will not be solved by changes in real productivity alone. . .

. . .the more you listen to people talk about “economic problems” the more you realize that they are talking about monetary problems. Problems involving prices, money, debt and lending.

The economy of China is quite poor. The economy of Portugal is quite rich. Yet right now Portugal is experiencing a severe monetary contraction while China is trying to put the breaks on monetary expansion.

Thus it feels to just about everyone that the economy of China is doing well and the economy of Portugal is doing poorly. . .

Question: What is the probability the average citizen will be forced, by adverse economic setbacks to a) change their daily/weekly schedule b) change their location of residence/location of work/commute in China, versus in Portugal?

Is perhaps that what people mean by saying China's economy is doing better than Portugal? That the average Chinese has a lower probability, going forward, of being forced to change their lives due to adverse economic setbacks?

Question: How quickly did unemployment decline as the economy was going to full-employment in WWII? How quickly did it decline in 1983 recovery? How quickly could we reasonably expect it to decline now, if we had good economic policies?

Susie Madrak - The Light Dawns
Charlie Pierce: "The flip side of arrogance is opulent self-pity. . ."

(via Susie Madrak) Tim Shorrock - Michael Moore on “Here Comes Trouble,” the Left, the Wall Street protests – and Ralph Nader

Gary Farber - Said the Red Queen

Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Arthur Silber - Once Upon a Time...

a good (7pm - 8pm) hour of talk radio with (host) Peter. B Collins & (guest) William K. Black, on housing, HAMP, etc. (interview starts at 21:30, and a lot of the good stuff starts at: 39:30)

Jeff Pearlman's SI cover story on Walter Payton was astonishing to me, because I never would have guessed a man as great as Walter Payton - and there were/are few greater - would become (partially) unmoored after losing the rhythms and routines of a football season. I guess the lesson is if it can happen to Payton, it can happen to anyone. It reminded me of Kasparov's WSJ op-ed on Fischer: "People may believe that this is what happens when a genius plays chess -- instead of what happens when a fragile mind leaves his life's work behind." Walter Payton was not all that fragile, but leaving your life's work behind must be hard for anyone.

. . .If fans approached him with footballs to sign, Payton first insisted on a quick game of catch. If they wanted him to shake a child's hand, Payton knelt down and engaged the youngster in a conversation about school. While traveling to Orlando for a vacation in 1996, Payton, sitting in first class, was told that a 10-year-old boy named Billy Kohler, who needed liver and kidney transplants, was on the plane, heading to Disney World courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"A stewardess comes up and says, 'There's someone who would like to meet you in first class,' " says Jim Kohler, Billy's father. "We go up front, and who's standing there—Walter Payton." He introduced himself and knelt down to Billy's level. "You've been facing a lot of adversity," Payton told the boy. "You will come through this. No matter what follows, you need to keep your head up, you need to keep fighting forward, and you need to believe. You've gone through more in your short life than most of us have in a lifetime."

Overcome by the moment, Billy began sobbing. Payton tickled him beneath the chin. "You're a hero," he said. "Just know that—you're a hero."

Billy Kohler, now 24, is a construction worker in Orlando. . .

John Madden's book One Knee Equals Two Feet has a very good chapter on Payton, "Why Payton is the Best".

NYT reader comments on Brooks's In Defense of Romney column:
Dan (CA): ". . .everyone knows that what private equity is most about is creating efficiencies, including cutting jobs, to squeeze out more profits for investors. There's nothing fundamentally wrong about that, but it's wrong to misrepresent the nature of private equity as Romney does. Private equity is not the same as venture capital. . ."

BH (MA): ". . .With all due respect to Prof. Hubbard and Prof. Mankiw (after all, they are the teachers and advisers of future economists who possess more brain power than most of us,) one should be mindful that they were the advisers of President George W Bush. While President Obama has not been able to fix the economy after pulling America out of the potential Great Depression II, these two powerhouse economists were the team getting us there. Not something we should cheer for. The premise is based on some simpleton math: 8 years versus 3 years, even if one is to discount the fact that fixing things is much harder than breaking things!. . ."

Three very good letters in the Financial Times:

Greg Beier - Polite conversation with a lawyer, two hippies and a nanny

Finn Jackson - Creating more hedge contracts increases the risk

William Thayer - HFT’s only ‘advantage’ is to the traders

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