Tuesday, 15 December 2009
You have to admit, as ringing endorsements of a city go, it's hard to beat.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
You can pay with a rocket launcher in lieu of alimony? Who knew? The numbers seem pretty compelling, and you can get in on the act in cash, kind, or with your own life at risk:
Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.
"I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation," she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.
"I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company'."
I particularly like the bit about "community activity"...
One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.
"Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said.
"The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials ... we've made piracy a community activity."
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
I am prepared to believe that we got the house price series wrong (and actually, Tom Nicholas of Harvard B-School has a new series for Manhattan that suggests we can do much better than the data currently used). Crucially, Eugene asks why the big bust in housing at the end of the 20s didn't have the same effect on the financial system as it did today. Financing was more conservative, with 20% down regarded as quite risky already. Bank regulation was much tighter, with strong limits on how many mortgages could be kept on the books in relation to assets. Financing housing, it seems, need not create a powderkeg...
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Do I believe it? Only partly. Housing in Barcelona still costs more per square meter than in Manhattan. If you compare like with like (Village=Born, Eixample + Saria = Upper East Side, etc.), the premium is about 20%-30%. The weak dollar helps, but be that as it may -- salaries are very low compared to Manhattan ones, relative to house prices, and the financial system is certainly no better in producing sustainable house prices than in the US (30 year fixed mortgages, anyone?). So the quality adjustment may be part of the story, but the underlying mispricing is still Elephant-sized, if you ask me.
Friday, 16 October 2009
1. In your opinion, what has been the impact of the crisis on:(i) how the outside world perceives economists and economic research?(ii) how you perceive the value of economic research?
2. Do you think the economics profession deserves part of the blame forthe great financial crisis as some (even famous colleagues) would claim?
So I did some background reading, from revisiting the "famous" Krugman piece to the now infamous "Crisis? What crisis?" papers by Chari, Christiano, and Kehoe. The latter's abstract is worth reproducing:
Some economists, when faced with diatribes like Krugman's, sound a bit like General Buck Turgidson. When scolded by the President about the fact that despite the "human reliability program", an air force general ordered his wing of nuclear-armed B-52's to attack the Soviet Union, Turgidson says:
Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip-up, sir!Having said that, I think I will talk a bit about unreasonable expectations -- why the public thinks its a good way to measure the value of economics in terms of predictive power, and why that makes little sense.