Archive for July, 2011

On hair metal political analogies

July 27, 2011

In his epic book about heavy metal in the 80′s, Chuck Klosterman writes: When Open Up and Say Ahh… was released, I remember reading a bunch of reviews where writers claimed it lacked the “rollicking fun” of Poison’s first album, Look What the Cat Dragged In. This confused me, because those same writers had...
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On Market Reactions to Politics

July 24, 2011

There’s an interesting passage in Michael Lewis’ The Big Short, in which he describes how a couple of amateur wanna-be hedge-fund managers made their fortune by identifying (what they saw as) an anomaly in options pricing. Basically, they observed that companies suffering from cataclysmic events (ex: a serious SEC investigation into company leadership) tended...
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On Package Deals

July 20, 2011

How do you get a series of related policies through a legislative body when there are large factions with intense preferences against each of the individual policies?
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On youthful talent

July 20, 2011

Trivia question: most fans of baseball history know that Indians legend Bob Feller struck out 17 batters in a game his rookie year (1935), when he was only 17 years old.  What most people don’t know is that someone else has also struck out as many batters in a game as they were years...
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On Courage

July 19, 2011

Too many smart people make the mistake of saying that politicians “lack courage.”  Usually when they say this, they mean something like the following: 1) There’s a significant public policy problem on the agenda; and 2) The politician has to choose between policy X, which is normatively desirable but unpopular, and policy Y, which...
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Two thoughts

July 11, 2011

Number One – I generally subscribe to the line of thinking that says the surest way to reduce the public and politician appetite for governments spending is to raise taxes and balance the books. Deficit spending — either in the short-term or over the long haul — allows people to get $1 worth of...
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Pop quiz

July 8, 2011

Question: When you see on the stock ticker that the price of a barrel of oil has gone up (or down), is that a good thing or a bad thing? Answer:  I think this question is a whole lot more complicated than it first appears. I bring this up because I’m watching one of...
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On winning lotteries

July 5, 2011

You don’t have to be a bleeding-heart liberal to agree that that some proportion of one’s destiny in life is dictated by factors utterly beyond the control of the individual. In fact, my experience has been that despite some arguments to the contrary, conservatives and libertarians are just as willing as liberals to accept...
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