Irving Kristol in His Own Words, R.I.P.
Bruce Bartlett on Irving Kristol and the Public Interest

links for 2009-09-19

  • I have to say, if I’d been saying stuff like this..., I’m not sure I’d be making myself the poster boy for the “freshwater” defense against Paul Krugman:... “Nobody else gets hurt if you buy a lousy mortgage pool,” Cochrane said. “The government doesn’t need to write a new rule every time someone buys a rotten tomato. Investors will demand the right amount of transparency, complexity, and risk-sharing – or monitoring of mortgage pools – unless they all get bailed out and learn to count on a bailout instead.”... Obviously, only a very small proportion of the people who’ve lost their jobs during the recent recession actually bought lousy mortgage pools. Apparently in the real world bad decision-making on the part of a relatively small number of key players at financial institutions. One might have thought this was obvious from such historical incidents as “every financial panic in human history” but perhaps not.
  • For a long time, I took questions about stifling innovation very seriously. So did a lot of liberals. But then I realized that the people making those arguments wanted to do things like means-test Medicare, or increase cost-sharing across the system, and generally reduce costs in this or that way, which would cut innovation in exactly the same way that single-payer would hypothetically cut innovation: by reducing profits. I also found that I couldn't get an answer to a very simple question: What level of spending on health care was optimal for innovation? Should we double spending? Triple it? Cut it by 10 percent? Simply give a larger portion of it to drug and device manufacturers? I'd be interested in a proposal meant to maximize medical innovation. I've not yet seen one. It turned out that concerns about innovation weren't really about innovation at all. They were just about attacking universal health care ideas of a certain sort. Which is why I stopped taking them seriously.
  • THEY'RE still high. News outlets may trumpet that they feel by more than expected, to 545,000, but the numbers continue to be where they've been, more or less, since the beginning of July. That's nearly three months with no significant improvement. As usual, Calculated Risk has the helpful chart. The only real bright spot is that fairly soon, weekly claims will be below their year-ago level. But that's because a year ago claims were rising, not because current claims are falling. Other economic indicators continue to show real improvement, which suggests that it will take strong growth to really end the job losses, and sustained strong growth to pull down unemployment. Now, who sees sustained strong growth in the offing?
  • “If, on the other hand, structured notes, CMOs [collateralized mortgage obligations] and exotic options do not fill a void – do not help to ‘complete the market’ as economists would say – then they will be gone for good. And their demise should be regarded not as a social cost, but as one of the social benefits of recent derivatives disasters. In short, a vivid demonstration (if one more were needed) that our financial markets and institutions are fully capable of recognizing and rejecting ‘toxic waste’ without intervention by government regulators” -- Merton Miller on Derivatives (1997)
  • Brooks is entitled to his opinion that the grassroots protestors are not motivated by personal animus for Obama, or that their animus is not driven, even partially, by race or xenophobia. But anyone who gets paid to write for a living owes his readers a more honest effort to prove that point than just riffing on what he learned from a five-minute jogging break, and a long digression on the history of agrarian populism that the one author he cites disagrees with.
  • Download now or preview on posterous 20090917 115.pdf (1321 KB) ...

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