Re: Econ

1

There, there, you're a nice thread too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 11:27 AM
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We could be all bashing economists up in here but apparently the food thread has sucked all the joy out of the blog.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 11:38 AM
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It was a good headline, though, heebie!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 11:42 AM
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3: Very economical in its use of space.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 11:53 AM
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I'm prepared to take the contrarian view that failure to foresee the financial crisis doesn't speak too poorly of the economics profession.

The financial crisis involved some genuinely unprecedented financial behavior. We understand that behavior retrospectively - banks invented new ways to create bank runs, basically. Once that was understood, the economists did a good job of figuring out how it would all play out in the macro-economy.

It wasn't the economists, but rather the financial wizards, who should have understood what was going on in advance. And I think maybe many of them did; it just wasn't in their best interests to clue the rest of us in.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 11:58 AM
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I agree with 5.

Most had no idea the financial wizards had created such a host of new unregulated and unreported financial instruments that resulted in a collapse like a long string of dominos. There was also a substantial amount of outright fraud throughout the financial industry. It is hard to model what we don't know exists and then do we include fraud in the model.


Posted by: Amos | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 4:38 PM
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Poor little thread.

Frederick Lordon, Willing Slaves of Capital, 2014

The subordinate's desire to meet the desire of the superior in order to please the superior and to be loved in return belongs incontestably to the subordinate and there is nothing 'foreign' in it. That it was not originally the subordinate's desire matters little. No desire is 'original', and this desire will become well and truly the subordinate's own. The only alienation is that of passionate servitude. But this is universal, and cannot be used to make objective distinctions between people.

Even more than the excesses of quantitative appropriation, it is the extreme nature of the hold claimed over individuals that is the hallmark of the neoliberal enterprise's pursuit of total enlistment.

To subordinate the entire life and being of employees to the business, namely, to remake the dispositions, desires, and attitudes of enlistees so that they serve its ends, in short, to refashion their singularity so that all their personal inclinations tend 'spontaneously' in its direction, such is the delirious vision of a total possession of individuals, in an almost shamanistic sense. It is therefore legitimate to call totalitarian an attempt to exercise control in a manner so profound, so complete, that it is no longer satisfied by external enslavement - obtaining the desirable behaviour -
but demands the complete surrender of 'interiority'.It wants to abolish the distinction between the individual and itself that is measured by desire and its tendencies - it wants, in other words, full coincidence.

Since it seeks the total identification of enlistees with its own ends as the condition of the complete capture of their power of acting, the neoliberal enterprise 'takes' individuals and appraises the degree of their pre-existing co-linearity.

Their extreme character should not obscure the general tendencies of the economic shift towards the service sector, where the productive performance is primarily a 'human' performance, namely, affective and behavioural. Pushing to the utmost the reification already inscribed in the vocabulary of economists ('labour factor') and shareholders ('human resources'), the master-desire of capital no longer makes a secret of the fact that it sees employees as endlessly malleable material, capable of being reshaped to any model that suits its requisites, thus revealing in this image the ultimate truth of the employment relation as a relation of instrumentalisation, a reductio ad utensilium. One must in fact go very far in denying individuals any inner consistency - at this stage no one dares even to mention grand terms such as 'dignity' - in order to find projects of identity remanufacturing of comparable scope.

Economics is the best!!

You just have to read the right kind of economists.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 5:25 PM
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6 is hilarious to me. So the economists claim they are more scientific than all those smooshy fields like anthro, poli Sci, sociology, but then appear to completely ignore doing any data collection in the actual finance industry and then agonize over whether to account for totally normal human behavior (fraud, altruism, greed, desire to achieve something else in life other than running after the bucks/euros/insert-your-currency-here) in their models. You go with that science, dudes!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 05-11-15 8:15 PM
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8: But...but...economists put equations in their papers! That totally makes them all sciencey and stuff!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 4:56 AM
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6: It seems to me that not including fraud in the model is leaving out a very important driver of activity.

I'm reminded of the fact that when Bernie Madoff's scheme came apart there were mutters all across Wall Street that everyone thought he was getting such good and consistent returns by insider trading, not outright fraud. As if the former somehow made it just part of the game.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:25 AM
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Forget fraud; models used by economists rarely included the financial industry at all.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:33 AM
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10: it is a very important part of many cons that the mark thinks he's part of the con. It a) makes him less likely to inform the authorities and b) gives him a good reason for why the con appears too good to be true, and why the con artist isn't taking it to JP Morgan instead.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:34 AM
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13

Assume a spherical bank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:35 AM
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14

Of course, Madoff did take it to JPMorgan.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:43 AM
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I wonder if the told JPMorgan about how he was robbing Kevin Bacon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:45 AM
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6: Had they known, would there have been a consensus that these activities should be regulated and reported?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:46 AM
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10: The real weakness of economics is that they accept that people will try to commit fraud, but they don't accept they will fall for it. Economic models can include fraud, but they can't include gullibility.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:55 AM
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In my very limited experience, most macro (and even micro) models pre-crisis just treated the capital markets as a black box that intermediated (technically, disintermediated) supply and demand. There wasn't a consensus that the details even mattered, let alone that they should be modelled. To the extent that they were modelled, it was around the structure of interest rates (and the subsequent effects on the money supply) and that sort of thing.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:56 AM
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19

17 is very meta.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 5:57 AM
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20

14: good point. I'd forgotten about that.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 6:07 AM
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18: Economics suffers from overspecialization. Macro models have an industrial sector and a consumer sector, but don't really have a financial sector. Financial models have a financial sector, and nothing else. (In a financial model, manna rains from heaven, and then we all spend our time speculating in the manna futures market.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 6:10 AM
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Economics suffers from overspecialization the same way Fran Drescher suffers from The Nanny.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 6:18 AM
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12 is a really good point. Let me plug David W. Maurer's wonderful "The Big Con" which so colorfully lays out the mechanics and psychology of the confidence game.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 6:49 AM
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22 is like a Zen koan.

Anyhow, I did some financial fraud cases pre-2008 amd there were certainly lots of hired gun economists, many with excellent academic credentials, who were willing to opine, depending on who was paying them, either that a fraud could not possibly have caused damage or been significant because of (x model) or that a fraud definitely was significant and caused huge damage because of (y model). Certainly there were a lot of economists who made a lot of money talking about manipulations of the financial system even if this never (apparently)* made it into mainstream models about what could crash the economy.

*but is this even true? I feel like I remember stuff about the "shadow banking system" in I think 2006 or 2007, though coupled with a lot of stuff from IIRC Brad DeLong among others about how the system was sufficiently hedged so that there could never be a systemic problem.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 7:24 AM
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Some variant of this quip is correct: "A liberal is a person who thinks that economics is fake-scientific right wing ideology with equations, unless it's Paul Krugman talking, in which case economics is a well-established science that is being shamefully ignored by right-wing monsters."


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 7:30 AM
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26

24.1: As long as it isn't an analogy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 7:30 AM
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19: Sorry, that was a bit terse. Economic models usually include "rational expectations" -- anything you don't know, you at least know the probability distribution of it. So someone will try to commit fraud if it's in their interest to do so, but nobody will actually fall for the fraud because they know the probability of fraud is high.

An example is the famous used car paper, The Market for Lemons. If you have a good used car, you are more likely to want to keep it, while if you have a crappy car, you are more likely to want to unload it on someone else. If you're buying a used car, you know the percentage of cars that are crappy. In the most extreme case, all the cars on the market are crappy, and customers refuse to buy any.

This is fine as it goes, but there's no role in it for suckers, or for charismatic used car salesmen that can talk you into buying a crappy car. There's no way to incorporate these into rational expectations models, because if you had rational expectations you are by definition not a sucker, and the used car salesman can't talk you into anything.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 9:29 AM
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I thought you were making a joke like the one where you tell people that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 9:31 AM
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25: It's sort-of true, though. The business cycle is a pervasive fact of life that we've all experienced, one that goes back to the Industrial Revolution. We have more experience with business cycles than we do with the laws of supply and demand. If anything in economics is unscientific, it's the people who assume that there's no such thing as business cycles.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 9:33 AM
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Yeah, I include myself in the people in 25. I guess the truth is that Bob is right, economics is fine, it's just that America has a ton of shitty, prominent economists, thank you once again University of Chicago.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 10:45 AM
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I can't believe I've only just noticed this but why the hell is there no Helvetica font in MS Word?

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Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:29 AM
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I do everything in SAS monospace.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:32 AM
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I can't believe I've only just noticed this but why the hell is there no Helvetica font in MS Word?

My recollection* is that there's a licensing fee for Helvetica and MS didn't want to pay, so they designed Ariel as their replacement.

* Of something I heard at some point -- I wouldn't put money on it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:34 AM
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Helvetica is not free, MS did not pay to license it. They used a shitty imitation, Arial, instead.

I'm a little frustrated that ios system information is not font-customizable. On the other hand, I would probably choose Xirwena and then regret it.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:36 AM
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Hi NickS. I liked the Haitian tarot photos you found.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:37 AM
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monospace

There are actually legible monospace fonts-- I like terminus over courier-flavored system defaults a lot.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:39 AM
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37

Monospace monotype monologue.

Monad. Nomad. Daemon.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 11:43 AM
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38

I love the way Boeing aircraft and 60s-era NASA viewgraph presentations are full of what looks like Futura Extra Bold caps. 1920s Berlin, going to the stars with cynical aerospace bureaucracy!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-12-15 12:16 PM
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39

Relevant.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 1:41 AM
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re: 38

I was in the Aerospace museum in DC last week, looking for gits for xelA, and there were a lot of cool(ish) baseball caps and t-shirts with classic 50s and 60s fonts and graphic design. Sadly all a bit too military-industrial-complex for me to plonk on a 2 year old.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 3:04 AM
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I have Helvetica in MS Word (Japanese Word for Mac 2011).


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 3:08 AM
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I was in the Aerospace museum in DC last week, looking for gits for xelA

"Here's another one, xelA! Punch him in the face! Good boy!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 3:23 AM
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You'd probably have been better off looking in the Capitol.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 4:45 AM
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No offense to anyone present--and indeed, I think aerospace stuff is very cool--but you'd absolutely find a bunch of gits at that kind of museum.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:13 AM
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Helvetica is not free, MS did not pay to license it. They used a shitty imitation, Arial, instead.

I'm just about totally font-blind... I'm just so crude in general, I think.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:21 AM
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46

Wasn't the Air & Space Museum the location where the magazine Modern Jackass was conceived?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:38 AM
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Hah hah! I am wrong; totally Modern Jackass'd that one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:40 AM
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The cafeteria of the Air and Space Museum is the D.C. area restaurant that I have visited most often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:48 AM
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49

Their Barsoomian Malagor stew is wonderful.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:50 AM
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So, as far as I can tell, pretty much the only noticeable difference between Helvetica and Arial is the upper-case "G". I think I spotted a couple of other very minor variations the last time I looked. But it's a pretty close copy.

Ahistorical right-wing museum gits are the worst. I hope xelA gets in some good kicks.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 5:54 AM
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51

All the .gitignore jokes I'm trying to come up with are dumb.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 6:04 AM
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52

something something github something


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 6:17 AM
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53

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FFS if I'm forced to use a travel agent because that's how the company paying for the trip does it, you'd think the travel agent could at least book the correct flights that we discuss on the phone. I guess I should be impressed they got the correct day even though both flights were at the wrong time (including return that is before the conference ends and is explicitly on the instructions from the organizers in the travel agency file, return flight must be after 6:30pm.) You have one fucking job...
|>


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 6:47 AM
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The e in arial, the top of the i the top of the t, look at those. The arial a, b, and p are ac ut-and-paste hack, my 14-year old could do better. Try this quiz:
http://www.ironicsans.com/helvarialquiz/


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 6:50 AM
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The kerning in the second sentence of 54 could use some work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 6:53 AM
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Speaking of British insults, I've been wondering if Chris Pratt is considered to have an amusing name over there.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:02 AM
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54: Arg. I missed the first one. Mostly it's easy once you realize that Helvetica goes for the edges of characters being perfectly vertical or horizontal, and Arial goes for angles.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:03 AM
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Lately I'm really liking the way papers look on my computer if I typeset them with the Mac version of Baskerville together with the usual Computer Modern math fonts. Unfortunately I can't really publish that way because this Baskerville font isn't among the default LaTeX fonts, and the "baskervald" version that is doesn't look as appealing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:05 AM
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Speaking of British insults, I've been wondering if Chris Pratt is considered to have an amusing name over there.

Not that I'm aware of, but I can't say I've ever heard him come up in conversation. I only know him from the GotG movie.

a) Prat is a fairly low salience insult these days. It's the sort of thing you'd only hear on, say, Eastenders, where they need to have a character "swear" but can't actually swear.
b) It was always fairly mild
c) There are easier targets out there when it comes to amusing names, especially in Hollywood.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:11 AM
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Yes, spelling and grammar errors in a bitchy gripe about aesthetics. Also, picking up on the advice column thing, Molly Ringwald has an advice column in the Guardian.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:14 AM
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Speaking of British insults, I've been wondering if Chris Pratt is considered to have an amusing name over there.

Not hugely - as GY says, no one has really heard of him very much.
Plus we know that when it comes to "Americans with silly names" the bell curve extends much further to the right than "sensible first name + mildly silly surname". Butch Otter, Launch Faircloth, Newt Gingrich, Arlen Specter, and that's just the Republican Party.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:16 AM
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If, god forbid, the NFL gets a toehold you'll learn the joy of football player names.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:17 AM
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Butch Otter, Launch Faircloth, Newt Gingrich, Arlen Specter, and that's just the Republican Party.

Don't forget Travis Couture-Lovelady.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-13-15 7:24 AM
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64

Some behavioural economics results on broken windows.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-15-15 1:35 AM
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The Helvetica R vs the Arial R is my easy tell. But Arial is quite a bad copy, for some reason - it has very similar metrics but looks quite different, compared with the usual run off knock-off fonts. (Not sure why - fonts are pretty weakly protected legally.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 05-15-15 3:57 AM
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