links for 2009-12-31
1998 and 2008: A Comment on Simon Johnson

Five Economics Pieces Worth Reading: December 31, 2009

1) Felix Salmon: Inside the legislative sausage factory, banking committee edition:

Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney have the must-read story of the day, on the politics of the House financial services committee. It’s long — 6,500 words, spread over three pages — and it took five journalists in all to piece it all together: don’t say that HuffPo doesn’t do original reporting! Do read the whole thing, but in a nutshell, the problem is that the committee is far too big, weighing in with 71 members: when was the last time that you ever saw a 71-member committee which ever got anything done. To make matters worse, a large proportion of those 71 members are conservative Democrats in marginal seats facing Republican opponents. They want to be on the committee because it’s an easy way to monster campaign donations, with freshmen representatives raising over $1 million apiece if they sit on the committee. That’s twice as much as if they don’t. And once they’re on the committee, they tend to be pretty friendly to Wall Street and its lobbyists. And with so many members, you can imagine the number of revolving doors there are...

2) Justin Fox: A critique of Ron Paul's 'End the Fed':

Here's the list of happy consequences that [Ron] Paul says ending the Fed would bring:

  • A new heaven.
  • A new earth.
  • No more tears.
  • No more death.
  • No more sadness.
  • No more crying.
  • No more pain.
  • The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • That great city, the holy Jerusalem, descend out of heaven from God having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
  • No admittance to any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.
  • Admission to all they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

3) BEST NON-ECONOMICS THING I'VE READ TODAY: Ezra Klein: The world's most embarrassing legislative body:

I've been focusing on the filibuster today, but Senate "holds" are almost as pernicious.... The Senate has jurisdiction over a lot of things that most of its members don't care about very much. The deputy U.S. trade representative, for instance. And when senators have that much individual power, they can take a strong stand on things other senators don't care about in order to extract concessions on something they themselves do care about. And why would the other senators stop them? They like having that power, too. And so Sapiro's nomination stalled for nine months -- and the position went unfilled -- because Bunning wanted to sell more -- sigh -- candy-flavored cigarettes.

4) STUPIDEST THING I'VE READ TODAY: Outsourced to the Poor Man: Shoot Now, Because We Might Ask Questions Later « The Poor Man Institute For Freedom, Democracy, and a Pony:

Shorter Joe Lieberman: "If we don’t invade Yemen today, then at some point in the future we might have to invade Yemen.  So we better invade now just in case." That, my friends, is a war monger’s war monger.  One wonders whether the conscience of America will ask the CBO to score the invasion costs.  Actually, one doesn’t wonder that at all.

5) HOISTED FROM THE ARCHIVES: DeLong (December 27, 2002): Nor Trust in Wodan/Walhall's High Drighten...:

The raw ingredients out of which J.R.R. Tolkien fashioned The Lord of the Rings are equal parts Norse-Anglo-Saxon-Germanic myth, chivalric romance, and Christian apocalyptics (evil personified and mighty, but also powerful guardian spirits, and over all a God who arranges things so that the highest prizes fall to those who suffer). The mix is extraordinarily powerful. But if you want the Norse-Anglo-Saxon-Germanic myth itself, akratos--unmixed, undiluted--you have to go elsewhere: to a place like Stephan Grundy (1994), Rhinegold (New York: Bantam: 0553095455: 1994).