Monday, August 30, 2010

Krugman thinks it is going to get really ugly.

It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.

If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.

It aint gonna be pretty, folks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Still Not In the Paper
But it is good that it is being said. Krugman.

I’m finding it hard to read about politics these days. I still don’t think people in the administration understand the magnitude of the catastrophe their excessive caution has created. I keep waiting for Obama to do something, something, to shake things up; but it never seems to happen.

Here’s what I wrote in February 2009. It’s pretty rich that now the usual suspects are accusing me of having shared the administration’s optimism. But that’s a trivial point; the important thing is that all signs are that the next few years will be a combination of economic stagnation and political witch-hunt.

This is going to be almost inconceivably ugly.

It is not hard for me to conceive of how ugly it will be. One political party is saying we will tank the economy for political gain. The other party wants to believe that they fixed the economy. Yet we have 10% unemployment. I do not see how we avoid 20%-30% unemployment in the next couple of years.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glenn is on fire.
It is indeed difficult to believe that the country will so quickly return to power the same Republican Party -- in an even more warped and primitive form -- that virtually destroyed the U.S. over the last decade through a mix of extreme corruption, recklessness and lawlessness. But nothing is more foolish than underestimating the dangers that come from this potent mix of economic oppression and the aggressive fanning of racial and ethnic resentments.

Not Even Trying
Shame shame shame! The democrats are not even trying to make the economy better. The republicans are actively trying to make it worse. Things are going to get bad.


The administration has less freedom of action, since it can’t get legislation past the Republican blockade. But it still has options. It can revamp its deeply unsuccessful attempt to aid troubled homeowners. It can use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders, to engineer mortgage refinancing that puts money in the hands of American families — yes, Republicans will howl, but they’re doing that anyway. It can finally get serious about confronting China over its currency manipulation: how many times do the Chinese have to promise to change their policies, then renege, before the administration decides that it’s time to act?

Which of these options should policy makers pursue? If I had my way, all of them.

He is a Nobel Prize winner.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Religion
I am glad the NYT publishes stuff like this but it would be nice if they put the truth in the paper.
So where is this “media?” Two sources, and they are — no surprise here — the usual suspects. The first, of course, is Rush Limbaugh, who claims the largest radio audience in the land among the microphone demagogues, and his word is Biblical among Republicans. A few quick examples of the Limbaugh method:[....]
Climate-change denial is a special category all its own. Once on the fringe, dismissal of scientific consensus is now an ariticle of faith among leading Republicans, again taking their cue from Limbaugh and Fox.
It is nice to see that other people understand republicanism is a religion and you need faith to believe in it.

As with trust, faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Would Like To See Maggie's Face Somemore
Do Not Mess With Their Religion
A good op/ed by Thomas Homer-Dixon in the NYT. It is about the catastrophic climate change we are undergoing and how we are not dealing with it.
But social scientists have identified another major reason: Climate change has become an ideologically polarizing issue. It taps into deep personal identities and causes what Dan Kahan of Yale calls “protective cognition” — we judge things in part on whether we see ourselves as rugged individualists mastering nature or as members of interconnected societies who live in harmony with the environment. Powerful special interests like the coal and oil industries have learned how to halt movement on climate policy by exploiting the fear people feel when their identities are threatened.

To be a republican you have to believe some pretty crazy things.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trader Joe's
A fun article about Trader Joe's

A closer look at its selection of items underscores the brilliance of Coulombe's limited-selection, high-turnover model. Take peanut butter. Trader Joe's sells 10 varieties. That might sound like a lot, but most supermarkets sell about 40 SKUs. For simplicity's sake, say both a typical supermarket and a Trader Joe's sell 40 jars a week. Trader Joe's would sell an average of four of each type, while the supermarket might sell only one. With the greater turnover on a smaller number of items, Trader Joe's can buy large quantities and secure deep discounts. And it makes the whole business — from stocking shelves to checking out customers — much simpler.

Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. "People are worried they'll regret the choice they made," says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. "People don't want to feel they made a mistake." Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn't quite so large. Trader Joe's organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won't increase the chances they'll buy. (It also explains why so often people are on their cellphones at the supermarket asking their significant other which detergent to get.) "It takes them out of the purchasing process and puts them into a decision-making process," explains Stew Leonard Jr., CEO of grocer Stew Leonard's, which also subscribes to the "less is more" mantra.

Customers accept that Trader Joe's has only two kinds of pudding or one kind of polenta because they trust that those few items will be very good. "If they're going to get behind only one jar of Greek olives, then they're sure as heck going to make sure it's the most fabulous jar of Greek olives they can find for the price," explains one former employee. To ferret out those wow items, Trader Joe's has four top buyers, called product developers, do some serious globetrotting. A former senior executive told me that Trader Joe's biggest R&D expense is travel for those product-finding missions. Trade shows that feature the flavor of the moment "are for rookies," a former buyer said. Trader Joe's doesn't pick up on trends — it sets them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Those Poor Rich Folk
We need to pinch pennies these days. Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What — you haven’t heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I’m talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Conservatism/Republicanism/Very Serious Personism Has Become A Religion
Krugman calls out the cultists.
As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there’s an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it’s over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite — central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue — are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.

It is something I have been thinking about for a while. You have to believe so many things that have no basis in fact to be a republican.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I Have Contempt For Most Of The Senate

But Not Jeff Merkley.