The Economic Summit I will be attending will be held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, July 11-13. It is their 5th annual such get-together. Details are here at their website.
It appears I will be there with the expectation that I write about and report about what transpires. Well, of course! As much as I love to consume economics, I also love to talk about it and write about it. This will be a perfect fit!
My attendance at the summit is supported by several sponsors, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina.
Sponsorship in professional sports is big money, even at the minor league level. I recently had a Facebook exchange with some local friends about sponsorship at the local ballpark back in the days when I was Doc Palmer, doing play-by-play of the London Werewolves. Here is a summary I wrote for some friends.
Following some discussion on FB yesterday about promotions andsponsorships at sporting events, I wrote that John Kuhn, when hewas general manager of the London Werewolves [Frontier League,baseball], once told me that he had a fantasy of having every pitchin a game sponsored, as in "the next pitch is brought to you by..."but likely much more creative than that. John then wrote to me viaFB [reproduced here with his permission]:
If only to test the limits of one's patience.
"This crotch grab brought to you by Crüex--the brand real menchoose when they have jock itch.."
May I pass this on? I love it!
Yes, you may Doc and thank you for asking.
True, I did once want to do a Promotional Gluttony night.I believe folks would rebel by the 2nd inning.
John was an amazing, creative entrepreneur while he was here.
I have been invited to attend the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit in Jackson Hole in mid-July. This is not THE big Jackson Hole monetary economics conference (that one is scheduled for August), but it will have a number of well-known, well-informed, bright people whose brains I am looking forward to picking (see below).
Fortunately several sources, including the Department of Economics at The University of Regina, will be supporting my attendance there. In return, I'll be live-blogging the presentations, to the extent possible, blogging the preliminary work, blogging post-summit reactions, and presenting a seminar in August at The University of Regina about the Summit.
Some of the speakers there will include:
I am really excited about this opportunity and am grateful to the Summit sponsors and to The University of Regina Economics Department for making my attendance possible.
John Silvia, Chief Economist, Wells Fargo (TBC)
Julian Callow, Head of International and European Economics, Barclays Capital
Axel Weber, Chairman of UBS, former President, Deutsche Bundesbank and visiting professor, Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago
W. David Hemingway, EVP & Chief Investment Officer, Zion Bank Corp
Charles Plosser, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Jim Bullard, President, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
I had never heard of this until a few days ago: The Great Emu War of 1932. [h/t Rebekah]. It is a classic example of how private citizens, responding to incentives, outperformed gubmnt employees. From Wikipaedia,
Following World War I, large numbers of ex-soldiers from Australia, along with a number of British veterans, took up farming within Western Australia, often in marginal areas. ...
The difficulties facing farmers were increased by the arrival of as many as 20,000 emus. Emus regularly migrate after their breeding season, heading to the coast from the inland regions. With the cleared land and additional water supplies being made available for livestock by the West Australian farmers, the emus found that the cultivated lands were good habitat, and they began to foray into farm territory...
Farmers relayed their concerns about the birds ravaging their crops, and a deputation of ex-soldiers were sent to meet with the Minister of Defence, Sir George Pearce. Having served in WWI, the soldier-settlers were well aware of the effectiveness of machine guns, and they requested their deployment. ...
Summarizing the [highly unsuccessful] culls, ornithologist Dominic Serventy commented:
“ The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.
[For the second foray]: Taking to the field on 13 November 1932, the military found a degree of success over the first two days, with approximately 40 emus killed. The third day, 15 November, proved to be far less successful, but by 2 December the guns were accounting for approximately 100 emus per week. Meredith was recalled on 10 December, and in his report he claimed 986 kills with 9,860 rounds, at a rate of exactly 10 rounds per confirmed kill. In addition, Meredith claimed 2,500 wounded birds had died as a result of the injuries that they had sustained....
In spite of the problems encountered with the cull, the farmers of the region once again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943 and 1948, only to be turned down by the Government. Instead, the bounty system that had been instigated in 1923 was continued, and this proved to be effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed over a six-month period in 1934.
Desalination (and other processes to derive potable water) are expensive and use a great deal of energy. If the process of using graphene can be perfected, the cost of producing potable water will plummet. People will be better off, especially those who live in areas where fresh water is both scarce and under-priced and salt water is plentiful. Here is a recent article about the possibility of using graphene in desalination filters. An excerpt:
Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material.
In addition, the film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply "pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind," said Stetson [of Lockheed, which is working on the project].
Lockheed anticipates that their filters will be able to provide clean drinking water "at a fraction of the cost of industry-standard reverse osmosis systems," their press release says. Water-poor regions of the world will be the first to benefit.... Perforene isn't a game-changer, yet. Lockheed is still in the prototype stage. One challenge is figuring out how to scale up production. Graphene is cheap but it's very delicate because of its thinness, also making it difficult to transfer.
There is undoubtedly much to perfect yet, and this announcement from Lockheed may well be unduly premature. But here's hoping. Something like this would really benefit the poor of the world. And it would be a game-saver for Florida, California, Hawaii, and probably the US Southwest, indirectly. Is it real, or will it go the same way as the various attempts to revive the steam automobile?
Addendum: I really doubt that using graphene-based water filters would do much to alleviate the low-water-level problems in the Great Lakes, however.
Last week I posted about a duck and her eggs in downtown London. I am happy to report that all seems well so far.
I have walked by the nesting place nearly every day since then, and the mother duck is still alive, quiet, alert, and nesting. One of the eggs that was outside the nest seems to have disappeared, but amazingly one is still there.
Clearly I am not the only one to have noticed her. There is a little plastic container inside the tree, possibly to capture water for her or possibly to hold food someone might have been providing (or who knows? maybe it was there before she began her nesting, but I don't remember having seen it there initially).
Yesterday noon during my walk to McDonald's, I checked on the situation again. I was initially quite concerned when I saw that ALL the other evergreens had been removed from their huge planters (something I don't understand. I liked them). But the shelter tree for the mother duck and her eggs had been left in place. Here's a photo of two of the other planters, showing the trees removed.
So someone on the city works/parks crew is doing their best to leave her undisturbed and protected.
Can you imagine this situation during the depression less than 100 years ago? What are the odds the duck and her eggs would have been left alone then? My guess is they wouldn't have survived there. As our society becomes wealthier, we tend to forego hunting and foraging for food like this. I guess there's a positive income/wealth elasticity of demand for "Awww....".
Over five years ago, I posted that McDonald's was no longer my favourite restaurant:
Over the years, though, I find that I go to McDonald's less and less. Partly that is because I just cannot eat the way I used to. But my past two visits to two different outlets were more than disappointing. Both times, the burgers were far too salty. And both times the McFlurries (which are nowhere near as good as DQ Blizzards anyway) tasted really awful — sort of sour or something. And, now that I think about it, the shakes have tasted off lately at other times, too.
Because I am now on a low-carb diet, I haven't been to a McDonald's for quite some time. But because today is McHappy Day, and McDonald's is giving a dollar to Ronald McDonald House for every large-ish item ordered, I decided to give them a try. I went to the one near where we live, in downtown London. I was very pleasantly surprised.
In my email today, I received a message stating that the University of Regina will [hallelujah!] a have balanced budget this year. In part the message said,
The 2013-14 Saskatchewan provincial budget provided a base operating grant increase to our University of 1.9 per cent plus funding for the third year of the Nursing program. Even with this investment, the University had to find savings to maintain a balanced budget. As a result, budget reductions of 3 per cent, totaling $3.5 million, have been requested of, and achieved by, all academic and administrative units.
Funny, the university is receiving more money but has made all units take budget reductions. What??
Either way, this doesn't sound like much to be happy about.
And to get those reductions? They have eliminated twenty posiions. I have no idea how many (if any!) administrative positions have been cut; my guess is that they came from the teaching faculty. 8-(
We absolute must face the reality that because of scarcity, we will not all receive "the best medical care possible". There simply is not enough to go around. Jonathan Kay nails it:
Even the wealthiest societies, no matter what the funding model for their health systems, have finite resources available to treat the human body’s potentially infinite medical needs. Someone, somewhere has to make a decision about where those finite assets go.
Such decisions seem horrifying to most of us because life, in most contexts, is too precious to be captured with dollars and cents, or even with the ordinal rankings used to assign transplantable organs. And utilitarianism can, indeed, be taken to monstrous extremes on the fringes of bioethics. But where the day-to-day business of critical-care medicine is concerned, some measure of soulless cost-benefit analysis is an absolute necessity — because every dollar (or organ) used on one patient within a public or private insurance network usually is, in effect, taken from another.
If we don't understand this simple truth, we are doomed to misallocating health resources.
A summary of too many people's view of the Canadian health care system is:
Better that one rich person be denied care so that 50 poor people can stand in line hoping to get it.
... which of course completely ignores both supply effects and the beneficial rationing effects of the price system.
People who have seen me with dark hair tell me it takes years off my appearance. Here is one example:
So maybe there's hope? From Gabriel,
I expect none of this stuff will be commercially viable while I'm alive. Or if it is, I'll probably be too old to care. Oh well, the rest of you have so much neato stuff to look forward to.
"For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, the editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, "but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what's even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people's lives."
Some years ago, on the recommendation of Bill Sjostrom who was then an active blogger, Ms. Eclectic and I bought a round, clear-glass teapot that held a stainless-steel basket as an infuser. We bought a cheap one (perhaps something like this one only smaller and probably not as good), but it worked just fine until last week when we discovered that the plastic cradle/handle was seriously cracked.
Before checking Amazon, we visited a couple of local shops and on an impulse bought a Bodum Tea Infuser. It is fantastic! I gather from the reviews that other people also love this type of tea pot/infuser, but that it is fragile and one must handle it with a bit of care.
What do I like so much about it? Very simply, the basket that holds the tea leaves is designed so that once you press down on the Bodum plunger (i.e., once you "Bodum-ize" the tea leaves), the steeping process stops. The tea doesn't become at all bitter, a major complaint I have had with the tea at some places that serve afternoon tea. See my reviews here.
The tea Bodum-izer system works so well, I have even re-used the tea leaves for a second and even a third pot of tea, and there is still absolutely no bitterness in my lapsang souchong tea (which is prone to bitterness if over-steeped).
I love this teapot. If you're a tea-drinker, you probably will, too. At the very least, consider getting one like it and make sure you can stop the steeping easily. We have the 34-ounce size and find it is just the right size for us.
A blatantly anti-semitic rally took place in Hungary [h/t Tom Palmer].
It is maddening and frightening that this party is the third largest in Hungarian Parliament. Also be sure to check out the links along side that story.
Several hundred supporters took part, despite attempts by the government to prevent it going ahead.
Jobbik said the rally was a protest against what it said was a Jewish attempt to buy up Hungary.
The party, which says it aims to protect Hungarian values and interests, is the third largest in parliament.
It regularly issues anti-Semitic statements.
A long-time friend and former student asked me the other day about Facebook [he is not on FB...yet]. Here is my reply:
Recall that I joined facebook nearly six years ago under some pressure from Scoop and his friends. At that time I think there was one other person from my high school graduation class (class size = 574) and maybe two others from my undergraduate class (class size ~ 300?) on Facebook. I have unfortunately lost touch with several of my friends from Chicago Theological Seminary and have been unable to locate them on Facebook.
Ms. Eclectic and I often have bacon and eggs for breakfast. We don't much like frying the bacon first in the frying pan, so I've taken to microwaving it while I'm cooking the eggs. I put two sheets of paper towel on a plate, then the bacon, then one more sheet of paper towel over it to control the spatter. This method has worked pretty well most of the time. I just throw away the paper towels and wash the plate, and I quite like the way the bacon comes out.
Lately, however, perhaps because we keep changing brands of bacon and/or brands of paper towel, the paper towels have been sticking to the bacon. If they peeled off neatly that wouldn't be a problem, but sometimes they don't. And bacon with paper bits isn't as good as bacon without the paper bits.
So what is the most convenient way to fix bacon. Don't tell me the healthiest or most environmentally friendly or best-tasting or whatever. Just the most convenient. Thanks.
Side note to all my Facebook friends (Jim, Rod, Butch, Rebekah, et al): yes I like bacon; I just detest having it wrapped around my tenderloin steaks or mixed with chocolate ice cream, etc.
The first summer I taught at Herstmonceux Castle (2006), there were three different mother ducks who made nests and laid eggs in the courtyard.
The first batch to hatch included 13 ducklings, 11 of whom survived the summer being well-fed by profs, staff, and students, and somehow avoiding attacks from the jackdaws. The second batch was smaller. I'm not sure if any of them survived, but the first mom and her ducklings were so well-developed, they pretty much fought the second batch into oblivion. The third batch didn't even hatch; the mom laid them in a somewhat open area, and the jackdaws got the eggs.
Every year there is also a duck who lays her eggs in a planter outside the castle tearoom. Some of her ducklings seem to survive much of the time.
There were several possible insights from those experiences:
It was these memories that affected me when Ms. Eclectic and I saw these two eggs under an evergreen in a huge planter in downtown London last week.
I was saddened by the fact that the eggs had been abandoned, but knowing how few eggs and ducklings survive, it seemed part of the order of nature.
Last night I walked past the same planter and the eggs were still there. That puzzled me. I had expected that some animal or some hungry person would have taken them.
So I investigated further (albeit from a distance). Sure enough, very well-camouflaged inside the evergreen is a mother duck. I'm guessing she laid so many eggs she can't incubate them all, so these were pushed out of her nest. But that's just a guess. Anyway, here's a photo of her that I tried to take with my smartphone (it is cropped; I didn't really get this close).
You can just about make out her head and body in the photo. Nesting mother ducks really know how to lie still and blend in with their surroundings.
Let's suppose she is able to hatch a bunch or even several of these eggs. What will happen to the ducklings? That looks like a fairly hefty drop to the sidewalk in the first photo. Will the ducklings survive, or will Londoners have to pull a Spokane here and catch them as they fall?
And if/when the ducklings survive until they reach the sidewalk, it's a several-block walk to the river from their nest. Will Londoners stop traffic for them? And even if that happens, will they survive attacks from crows, hawks, racoons, etc.? Updates to follow.
I just received the following announcement:
I don't know who the members of the Trono chapter of the BBWAA are, but I question their judgement. Arencibia had an OPS that was only 10 points lower than Encarnacion's and he is a catcher, a much more valuable defensive position than 1B/DH. Granted, Arencibia could do well to improve his OBP (a BIG plus for Encarnacion), but overall they're mighty close on offense, and Arencibia contributes so much more on defense.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS 1B EDWIN ENCARNACION has been named the HONDA PLAYER OF THE MONTH for April by the TORONTO CHAPTER of the BBWAA. ...
ENCARNACION, 30, earned his third consecutive award dating back to last season and fourth since the beginning of 2012. The right-handed hitter batted .238 with a team leading nine home runs and 20 RBI. ...
The cronyism in the financial sector that led to "too big to fail" must be dealt with. The Dallas Fed recommends (and I agree) that banks must instead be "too small to save".
If commercial banking and investment banking could be kept separate within the same corporate shell, that would probably be okay. But when risk-taking in investment banking is implicitly subsidized by deposit insurance on the commercial banking side of the business, then bankers and investors have strong incentives to take on too much risk, knowling that the taxpayers will eventually bail them out.
The Dallas Fed recommends incorporating more market discipline into investment banking and making sure that deposit insurance does not subsidize risk-taking.
To address this situation, we have proposed confining access to the federal safety net—the Federal Reserve’s discount window and federal deposit insurance protection—to traditional commercial banks. Further, we advocate that customers and creditors of companies affiliated with commercial banks sign a disclaimer acknowledging their understanding that there is no federal guarantee underpinning their relationship with these nonbank units or with the parent of any banking company. We believe these two steps would reduce the perverse incentives stemming from the implicit—but widely recognized—creditor protection offered to TBTF [Too Big To Fail] institutions. These two changes would help realign incentives to better resemble those faced by customers of smaller banks whose unsecured creditors and equity shareholders are exposed to losses. In short, our proposal would revive the inhibited forces of market discipline. [Emphasis added]
The piece cited here is a bit short on details of how to implement the transition, but it is clearly on the right track.
Addendum: My former classmate from Iowa State (and KC Fed Prez for years), Tom Hoenig had this to say about the failure of "too big to fail". His position (too briefly summarized) is that banks should be allowed to fail and that priority rules in bankruptcy must be observed. But be sure to read the last few pages at this link; they spell things out in greater detail. Tom is now a director of the FDIC.
One of the best summaries of the current argument raging in the economics profession is here. This table is pretty compelling:
The impact of a difference of 1% or 2% on economic performance 10 or 20 years from now is LARGE. This is an important issue, even using the revised numbers.
The debt-to-GDP levels are given in the left-hand column. The next two columns show the annual economic growth rates estimated by Reinhart and Rogoff and then by the challenging economists from the University of Massachusetts. (They are Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin; Reinhart and Rogoff are both at Harvard.)
Debt/GDP Annual economic growth, 1945-2009
0-30% 4.1% 4.2%
30-60 2.8 3.1
60-90 2.8 3.2
90+ -0.1 2.2