3.05.2005

Paul Krugman Gotcha

As many of you may already know, Paul Krugman is one of my least favorite people. Ever since Bush got elected he’s written books and columns in the NYTimes that breathlessly foretell a grim future where the US dollar collapses like the Argentinean peso because of the “unjust” tax cuts. Well those tax cuts which certain media outlets would like to portray as completely discretionary might be the biggest factor behind the current economic growth we’re now seeing. As this guy will likely be as close as progressives will get to winning a Nobel in Economics it should come as no surprise that virtually everything Krugman has written over the last 5 years has been completely wrong.

enjoy:
http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/03/happy_anniversa.html

Roll the tape from March 11, 2003, please; his lead:

With war looming, it's time to be prepared. So last week I switched to a fixed-rate mortgage. It means higher monthly payments, but I'm terrified about what will happen to interest rates once financial markets wake up to the implications of skyrocketing budget deficits.

Well. Per the Federal Reserve, I see that mortgage rates were 5.67% on March 7, and 5.61% on March 14, 2003.

Today, despite the war, financial markets continue to slumber - as of March 3, 2005, the Federal Reserve tells me that fixed rate mortgages were at 5.79%. Robert Samuelson puzzled over this a few days back.
Perhaps the Earnest Prof is a bit stronger when forecasting equities? Let's check his stock market call of
June 20, 2003; with the S&P 500 closing at 994.7 on June 19, 2003, Krugman wrote this:

The big rise in the stock market is definitely telling us something. Bulls think it says the economy is about to take off. But I think it's a sign that America is still blowing bubbles — that a three-year bear market and the biggest corporate scandals in history haven't cured investors of irrational exuberance yet.
Or, to put it another way: it's hard to find any real news to justify the market's leap. Instead, investors seem to be buying stocks because they are rising — which is pretty much the definition of a bubble.


As of this writing on March 4, 2005, the S&P is at 1221, up 11 on a good jobs report.

3.02.2005

Would they rather rule in Hell…..?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been chagrined at the “unspinnably” good news coming out of the Middle East. So irrefutable is the progress that even the New York Times editorial page can’t find a way to knock it. Despite this, there seems to be a sizable contingent on the left that still wants to minimize any progress that has been made, dreads the accelerating democratization of many Arab nations and wants nothing more than the US to fail in potential future endeavors in Iran and Korea.

Here’s a transcript from a recent Daily Show interview with Clinton Aide Nancy Soderberg about a book she wrote with contributions from Clinton and Albright.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110006362

Stewart: He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.

Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.

Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter]. No, it's--it is--I absolutely agree with you, this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.

Soderberg: Well wait. It hasn't actually gotten very far. I mean, we've had--

Stewart: Oh, I'm shallow! I'm very shallow!

Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work.

And another attempt by Matt Yglesias to minimize the signifigance of Lebanon's shift towards democratic self rule:

I don't think that's a reason not to hope for the emergence of real democracy in Lebanon, but it's a bit of a sticky situation. More to the point, there simply doesn't seem to me to be any major geopolitical windfall we could possibly reap from any outcomes in Lebanon. It's a country that's very important to Syrian interests, pretty important to Israeli interests, and not really important at all to the United States. It just happens to be kinda-sorta near the strategically important Persian Gulf region. But nothing really bad has happened to us thanks to Syrian control, and nothing really good will happen to us if it ends.

Another Bit of Humor

***I realize that my posts are usually kind of random, but sometimes there are things that amuse me and that I want to share. So indulge me.

Yesterday as I was walking home from work I happened to actually look up one of the buildings that I pass every day on my way to and from work. I knew that it was a storage rental facility, but had never really taken a good look at it. The first time I had really noticed it was probably when I saw fire trucks roaring past me one morning, only to find them further on in my walk in front of this building. There was smoke pouring out of the basement. Not exactly the type of event that you would want to see at a place where one, I dunno, STORES VALUABLES.

It wasn't until passing it more recently that I noticed the name of this trusty business: "King Tut Storage."

Hmm. Ummm.... Like the King Tut whose tomb was RAIDED??!! Right.

Perhaps they would like to convey that even if your belongings are stolen, then the thieves will face the wrath of curses for generations.

3.01.2005

Video-Blogging... of a sort

This is the abreviated version of spiel I have been storing up for a while and plan to elaborate upon soon. In an effort to easily and effectively distribute media, I came accross a website called Internet Archive. It is exactly what it sounds like, and opens up some very interesting conceptual doors for the average Joe, which I will prattle-on about later. For now, check this out. It's viewable on Quicktime and features Mark (in front of the camera) and I (behind the camera) testing our mettle.

2.27.2005

Schadenfreunde

For most of my childhood, growing up near Madison, WI meant hearing weekly sermons (daily if I listened to WPR) about how much better certain European nations were for having social programs and economic regulations not present here. Repeated mentions of 10%+ unemployment and stagnant GDP didn’t matter – to these Europhiles some maddeningly inconsistent and subjective concept of “quality of life” was all that mattered. During my last visit over Christmas to extended family who live in a neighborhood festooned with signs warning about the risks of angering the neighborhood “eco-team” if unsatisfactory recycling takes place, I was lectured on how irresponsible US social and fiscal policies are in comparison to the EU’s. Well, I’m glad I’ll probably live to see their positions proven otherwise.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn27.html

CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side.
But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.
For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.
Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.
Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere.