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Monday morning links

September 12, 2011

First, if you know and love the Statistical Abstract as much as I do, then help save it! Go to this post and follow the instructions to appeal to the census to not discontinue its publication.

Next, if you want evidence that it sucks to be rich, or at least it sucks to be a child of rich people, then read this absolutely miserable article about how rich people control and manipulate their children. Note the entire discussion about “problem children” never discusses the possibility that you are actually a lousy, money-obsessed and withholding parent.

Next, how friggin’ cool is this? Makes me want to visit Mars personally.

And also, how cool is it that the World Bank is opening up its data?

Finally, good article here about Bernanke’s lack of understanding of reality.

Categories: news, open source tools, rant
  1. Bindicap
    September 13, 2011 at 1:52 am

    The inheritance article is definitely an eye-opener. How wrong that so many of these older couples are trying to punish their children’s spouses.

    Always cathartic to read a YS takedown (and FDL piling on), but when you read the actual words it ridicules, they’re nothing at all out-of-touch and mock-worthy. Seems like Bernanke was making a point something like the Paradox of thrift.

  2. September 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

    I guess I’d say, whenever you end up saying something which amounts to, “yeah, you don’t have a car, or a job, and you’re still trying to pay off that flat screen TV you bought in 2006, but seriously, why are you so depressed?” then you shouldn’t be surprised when people mock you for being insensitive.

    Put another way, if he had been giving that speech to Americans who have actually been dealing directly with problems with unmanageable household debt, rather than the Economic Club of Minnesota, he would have said it differently.

    • Bindicap
      September 14, 2011 at 8:00 am

      I still don’t get it, because the actual comments by Bernanke are not close to your summary.

      The quote people are jumping on does mention context: “Even taking into account the many financial pressures they face, households seem exceptionally cautious.” And earlier he’s talking about changes between 2010 and 2011H1, where the bubble-era flat screen debt is probably fairly constant. He says they understand some of the drag and explicitly lists “headwinds” like unemployment and debt burdens.

      Could be interesting to speculate what kind of controls they are doing to back up the “taking into account” part and what they might be missing. But they don’t seem clueless.

      • September 14, 2011 at 8:30 am

        I guess I wasn’t trying to paraphrase what Bernanke was saying so much as I was paraphrasing how his speech would sound to those people he was referring to in his speech- the people who aren’t spending as much money as he is expecting them to.

  3. FogOfWar
    September 13, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    What struck me about the YS/Bernanke was the retirement point. Bern doesn’t seem to want to discuss the fact that his QE program has decimated the real earning power of defined benefit plans in retirement (not to mention moving most of the pensions out there deep in the red on an actuarial basis).

    If I have $100,000 for retirement, pre-QE I might be able to pull an interest stream of 5% ($5,000/yr). Post-QE I can now pull an income stream of at best 1% ($1,000/yr) (yes, I’m simplifying by focusing on debt rather than equity, but the core point remains the same). People may not be “rational actors”, but you don’t need a PhD to be able to do real-world math, and there’s a fair bit of evidence on ‘target savings’ being a much better explanatory model than labor/leisure tradeoff. If the population is target saving for retirement, that target just got moved way the fuck out there. In that light, it’s not surprising at all that the consumer spending numbers have been “surprising”….

    FoW

    • FogOfWar
      September 14, 2011 at 12:28 am

      Whoops, meant to say “defined contribution plans”

  4. FogOfWar
    September 14, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Too tired to write something up, but could we explain why this is really crappy math:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-12/greece-s-risk-of-default-increases-to-98-as-european-debt-crisis-deepens.html

    Here’s the important quote:

    “The default probability for Greece is based on a standard pricing model that assumes investors would recover 40 percent of the bonds’ face value if the nation fails to meet its obligations.”

    See the problem?

    FoW

  1. September 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm
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