Friday, 6 August 2010

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The ‘name it yourself’ edition

  • Former constitutional law lecturer Barack Obama might just give the world a demonstration of how the constitution works—by having his laws struck out. On Monday, a federal judge let Virginia's attorney general challenge ObamaCare as unconstitutional.  And on Tuesday, Missouri voters voted overwhelmingly to reject the federal mandate.
    Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Reject ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate in Referendum – BASTIAT INSTITUTE
  • It seems the ACT Party now has two positions on the Foreshore and Seabed replacement legislation. One principled position that they now keep to themselves, and one they argue in the House.
    Where is ACT on the Foreshore and Seabed replacement legislation? – LINDSAY MITCHELL
  • I’m very glad to see someone is joining the dots on the end of youth rates, the rise of the minimum wage, and rising and ever-rising unemployment numbers—especially among youth and the unskilled. Any humanitarian worth the name would surely be reconsidering their support for measures that only increase the economic misery, wouldn’t they?
    Is A related to B? – Gooner, NO MINISTER
  • Briton Chris Neal proposes a “Cobdenian solution” to Britain’s unemployment problem—one that some folk could take up here.
    A ‘Cobdenian’ Solution to Seeking Work – COBDEN CENTRE
  • Te Rodney King: These police are so frightfully brave… [sent by reader Russell W.]
    Whakatane CCTV footage – NZ HERALD
  • If you still think Tea Partiers are all just dumb ranters, then whatever you do don’t watch this articulate woman explain how rights and the constitution work to a know-nothing Congressthing with a bad case of Entitle-itis and Power Lust. [Hat tip Rational Capitalist]

  • And don’t watch this one either, just in case you learn something [hat tip Capitalism]:
  • “Over 200 years ago, the Founding Fathers of the United States fought a long and bloody war to preserve the laws and principles necessary for a free and prosperous society.  What happened?”
    The Founders' Vision Versus Ours – Walter Williams, ATLASPHERE
  • An op-ed in today’s New York Times “brings to a wider audience key facts about the character of self-professed Arab champions of the Palestinian cause… Arab states — who routinely jockey to be seen as advancing Palestinian goals — have in reality exploited that cause for their own power-seeking ends.” Hat tip Elan Journo, who adds add this point: “even if these backers had been genuine in their motivations and truly sought to serve the cause, that too would be deplorable. From my reading of the issue, the Palestinian movement has at its root an antipathy to Western political values, such individual freedom, and it has pioneered in the vile tactic of terrorism. Regimes that back that movement, for whatever reason, are complicit in its aggression.”
    Championing the Palestinian cause – VOICES OF REASON
    The Palestinians, Alone – Efraim Karsh, NEW YORK TIMES
  • In every important respect it can be said that the trials of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge killers are really Communism’s Nuremberg Trials.  But from media reports of the trial, you’d be hard pressed to even realise that was the ideology these genocidal monsters were killing in the name of.
    Communism's Nuremberg Trials? – Joseph Kellard, AMERICAN INDIVIDUALIST
  • What makes immigration such a hot-button issue? “So much vitriol, so much bluster, so much money! And for what precisely? What are the principles motivating those so upset over immigration? That immigrants use things once they get here? That some immigrants commit crimes? That the immigrants capable of getting around the obtuse and illogical legal immigration system do so? These aren't principles so much as gripes.”
    Immigration: A Problem in Need of Principle – ALEXANDER MARRIOTT’S WIT & WISDOM
  • If a one-size-fits-all education is bad, then why are national educational standards so good?
    One Size Fits All = Bad; Uniform National Standards = Good – Andrew Coulson, CATO @ LIBERTY
  • Um, what’s all this nonsense we keep hearing about the west having “an oil addiction.”
    One Person’s Oil Addict is Another’s Intelligent Consumer – Michael Lynch, MASTER RESOURCE
  • Kiwi ingenuity gets the lame walking again.  It’s a miracle! [Hat tip Terry V.]
    Video 1 : Rex, the Robotic Exoskeleton
  • “Economists are good at presenting the information that seems useful, but as per tying it together, they can't and most people making important decisions know that. This is why economists are always on TV and not in boardrooms… If someone presents themselves as especially credible because they were a chief economist, I know they are fools.” Yes, he’s talking about you Cameron Bagrie, Tony Alexander & Brendan O’Donovan—people who are great at forecasting after the event, but utterly hopeless when time’s arrow goes in its more usual direction. [hat tip Anti Dismal]
    Economists for PR? – Eric Crampton, OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
    Why does anyone support private macroeconomic forecasts? – Tyler Cowen, MARGINAL REVOLUTION
    The forecasting delusion – NOT PC
  • When alleged economists like Brendan O’Donovan bleat that “no-one can forecast shocks, that’s why they’re called shocks,” what he’s really saying is that he can’t, with his models. And you should believe him. Matt Nolan defends macroforecasters like Brendan here and here, arguing that if anyone can build a successful “macro” model based on real “micro” foundations “they should really just do it or STFU.”  Well, Roger Garrison has just got on and done it—or at least, he’s put into easily understandable graphic form the capital-based macroeconomic model that allowed the likes of Peter Schiff et al to forecast this latest crisis, and the likes of Ludwig Von Mises to predict the crisis of the Great Depression.  You’d think at least some of the alleged economists talking their books would know about it, wouldn’t you?
    Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle – Roger Garrison, MISES UNIVERSITY

  • Speaking of failed economists … no longer taken seriously even in his own columns, alleged economist Paul Krugman finally gives up. Paul Krugman Gives Up – Fred Douglas, AMERICAN THINKER
  • Obama’s new financial bill “is based on the premise that finance is a fundamentally dangerous field, and therefore that we need the government to protect us against financial crises,” says Yaron Brook.
    Financial Reform Makes As Much Sense As Electing The Neighborhood Arsonist To Be Chief Of The Fire Department
  • Not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I’ve just added the final (or at least the latest) version of the Economics Family Tree to the “Downloads” section of the blog.  Just thought you’d like to know.
    Economics Family Tree
  • David Harriman’s superb new book on induction in physics has inspired economist Per-Olof Samuelsson to begin investigating induction in economics.  He’s come up with some fascinating notions.
    Induction in Economics (A very preliminary remark) – PER-OLOF SAMUELSSON
  • rationaloptMatt Ridley’s book Rational Optimist has got everybody talking. It’s an excellent book, says Dale Halling, “disfigured however by the author’s irrational infatuation with the open source movement” and consequent complete misunderstanding of intellectual property and the relationship between technology and population growth.
    The Rational Optimist: Excellent Book, Disfigured by Open Source Utopianism – Dale Halling, STATE OF INNOVATION
  • Well, “collective intelligence” is clearly Ridley’s misnomer for the division of labour, but isn’t it wonderful how it allows us to live like a king!

  • My, hasn’t Obama been busy!

  • “"There has been a lot of noise lately about banning burkas, and it is all wrong."
    Behind a Veil of Hypocrisy – UNCOMMON SENSE
  • Here’s the credit crisis in pictures [hat tip Justin Ptak]:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

  • And finally, here’s an exquisite little slice of Mahler for the weekend (Adagietto from his 5th). Because as the woman said, wouldn’t you just die without Mahler?

Have a great weekend!


  1. I'm not sure that O'Donovan would even make my list of NZ economists needing a smack for saying silly things. Indeed, he often does very well indeed. Did you hear him smacking Nana around a few weeks back? It was priceless!

  2. I missed that, I'm afraid. What was the gist?

  3. Haha, Krugman took a beating from knowledgeable commentators on his own blog. Now he resorts to moderation in order to eliminate the comments from those knowledgeable commentators because he (Krugman) knows that he is being exposed (knowledge-wise) by people who are superior to him. Those knowledgeable commentators have exposed him as a kindergarten economist.

    I suspect that this is the reason I am being moderated at RedAlert blog for similar reasons. Clare Curan labelled me as a troll but she was making an excuse, because I have exposed all of the RedAlert bloggers frequently in various topics, where they could debate with me (from minimum wages to property rights, etc...). See, if they had the knowledge, they love to have me a full time sparring partner with them, but because they know that I can always give them a left hook and an upper cut right hook in the debates, they therefore think that I am a troll and therefore should be moderated.

  4. PC: Check this out. O'Donovan rocks.

    It really has to be frustrating for him to get paired with Nana on this kind of thing. O'Donovan knows his stuff. Sure, he's not an Austrian, but he's good mainstream. Nana on the other hand....

  5. "Well, Roger Garrison has just got on and done it—or lat east, he’s put into easily understandable graphic form the capital-based macroeconomic model"

    These models are as "micro-based" as current macro-economic models.

    In fact I'd go as far as saying they had the same relative price story of a lot of macro models - which is why everyone was expecting a crash "eventually", but peoples ability to pick timing was well off.

    I don't have compelling evidence that Austrians had a better out of sample performance at picking the timing - however, if there is evidence of such I would be happy to see it.

    My main defence of macroforecasters isn't on the accuracy of their forecasts - it is based on the fact that they provide a service that discusses risks and condenses information. Criticising macroforecasters without actually looking at what they do seemed inappropriate - and so I had to say something.

    I mean, these guys are transparent with what they provide for their clients - would we attack workers in any other industry when their employment comes from voluntary trade?

  6. Rex Bionics — brilliant!! Check out the entrepreneurs who are investing in these ideas...

  7. Actually, I'm mostly with Matt here. Condensing and conveying info has value. And he's not wrong on timing either: I'd heard Austrians talking about the coming big crash from, well, about the time I started hearing the Austrians.

    But I think Matt's wrong about the critics not having seen what macroforecasters do. They're just talking about a different branch of forecasting.


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