December 16, 2009
Links for 2009-12-16
- NY Fed economist Erkko Etula finds that he can predict oil prices using the volume of broker-dealer financial assets.
- Washington University Professor James Morley and separately Kansas City Fed economist Todd Clark haven't given up on the Great Moderation.
- My colleague Eli Berman discusses his book Radical, Religious, and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may seek an increase to their $400 billion federal lifeline before the end of the year.
- Billy Hallowell puts together a blog carnival on Facing Up to the Nation's Finances.
- Berkeley Professor Petr HoYava proposes a new theory of gravity.
Posted by James Hamilton at December 16, 2009 05:53 AMdigg this | reddit
Thats the loosest use of the word communism I've seen outside of a tea party.
Eli Berman can call networks of support and mutual aid all sorts of things. But communism seems like it has already been assigned a specific meaning, specific determinate conditions of communal property.
Posted by: Taxonomist at December 16, 2009 09:09 AM
Thank you Eli Berman for unlocking a great mystery! I always knew that Americans were Communists.
Right now, the USA is the foremost terrorist nation-state. (During the Vietnam War period other despotic regimes competed for the title.) Terrorism has historically been an important part of US nation building. WW II would not have been won if Allied forces had not extensively targeted and killed civilians.
Communism. That's it.
Posted by: GNP at December 16, 2009 10:15 AM
Glad to see someone came up with a new theory of gravity. I've long suspected that space-time and quantum mechanics are hoaxes perpetrated by the scientific community so they can make money writing sci-novels and movies. Newton was the only one that new what was going on.
This is good news for economists too...you CAN suck all matter into a black hole and jumpstart the universe!
Posted by: Cedric Regula at December 16, 2009 10:30 AM
Well, slowly making my way thru today's reading assignment while keeping one eye on the markets and econ releases to see if they know what is going on.
Found that this AP reporter had some trouble coming up with a headline for his article on the CPI release today. Best he could come up with was this.."Higher energy lifts prices but inflation tame".
Let me re-frame that a different way. "Jumbo Scrimp are jumbo or shrimp, but not jumbo and shrimp."
We have got to do something about this concept.
I tackled New Gravity first, being the most pressing subject in my mind. But I guess we need to wait for the scientific community to re-do all their calcs from quantum to cosmos level before we can say that issue is finally settled.
Eli Berman was next, and I have got to admit I can't think things could be any different than what he describes.
Next is the Errko Fed paper. I was happy to read JDH's brief description, "...he can predict oil prices using the volume of broker-dealer financial assets.", thinking that someone finally was able to present firm evidence confirming my layman understanding of the modern, post Glass Steagle workings of the commodity markets. Like my near zero interest money market fund, savings and checking account funds, bank CDs, and idle brokerage funds are the root cause of my increases in food and energy costs, and also the reason that integrated banking is the only industry on this planet that can pay out massive bonuses to so many employees, even during a recession.
So I eagerly downloaded the 52 page report and got to page 7 before getting mired in econ-market speak. My high expectations don't seem to be really dealt with in this report. For one thing, the author doesn't seem to take a position anywhere whether he thinks such high influence on prices by the broker-dealer community is a good thing or a bad thing. Nor does he try and draw any obvious connection with the cost and volume of money available to broker-dealers in influencing their behavior, and if this is something that should fall under the realm of the Federal Reserve Causal Universe.
Since JDH is the expert on this, maybe picking apart the report in more detail and providing some expert opinion on the details of what it means, and what it omits would be a good future blog topic.
Posted by: Cedric Regula at December 16, 2009 12:09 PM
Thanks for the article on Fannie and Freddie. With the silence of the mainstream press of some very major issues, it comes home just how important free speech and expression are. Our press is guilty of malpractice for ignoring the important stories. Fannie and Freddie brought us down once and even thought hidden have the power to do it again.
Then the paper on gravity was choice. It may lead to an interesting change in direction for physisc.
Posted by: RicardoZ at December 16, 2009 12:55 PM
I'd also be interested in your opinion about Etula's article. He and co-authors claim that broker-dealers financial assets and leverage forecasts not only commodity prices, but also (in different articles) exchange rates (that's harder to believe, but well...), market volatility, stock and bond returns etc...
I think that would indeed make a fine future post!
Posted by: RMS at December 16, 2009 02:24 PM
FHA is the solution to Fannie and Freddie. Subject closed.
Well, maybe not.
It's not often that Econbrowser tasks us with grappling with monetary, fiscal, national security, state of the mortgage market, and facing the fact that reality is not reality as we have been led to believe... all on the same day. Good thing we get to skip climate change, healthcare, social security and can put that off for another day.
I hope JDH is not that tough on his college students. It would make me consider dropping the course.
But I'm plugging along and am getting to Billy Hallowell's spending carnival (and I want more credit hours for this one, since it links to a whole bunch of other articles) and am holding out some hope here, now that I know we have a new theory of the formation of the universe, pending verification of New Gravity.
I am aware that economists have much more than merely a marginal propensity for drawing parallels between econ matters and the physical world. This gave me some concerns when I read that New Gravity may have implications on our understanding of Dark Matter.
The way we (I'm allowing weak association between myself and economists when I say "we") understand Dark Matter today, is US investors made more money in offshore investments than foreign investors made in US financial assets. This has been considered ranging anywhere from good to lucky on the fortune scale from a macro perspective of the US.
However, from a future USG budgeting perspective, I see the need to recognize another, less beneficial, form of Dark Matter that may be necessary to address.
Since we don't have the Super Collider yet, I've been relying on old technology, like telephones, internet and things of that nature. The thing that got me thinking of New Dark Matter is when I got a telephone call from my buddy in California, and he shot a stream of electrons in my ear, which my decidedly undecided quantum, space-time or Newtonian brain was able to decode as follows. His buddy bought a house in Riverside (somewhat low in S.Cal's location-location-location pecking order) at the peak of the boom for $390k. It was recently appraised at $125k and my rich buddy agreed to make a short offer for that amount and see if the bank will let his buddy off the hook. If not, jingle mail is the next step, because his buddy already decided he is not going to spend the rest of life paying on equity he will never see.
I have seen confirmation in data on banks that many mortgage debtors (letís consider 1sts, 2nds and MEW for completeness) are in a similar state of mind. And we do have a trillion in excess reserves, which I suspect may be unofficial loan loss provisions in the minds of bankers, but not yet committed to official loan loss provisions. We do have data saying that US macro home equity is 30%, so not everyone is deeply underwater. But I don't think it's splitting atoms to say that what is ok for protons is not ok for electrons, and the potential for an avalanche of jingle mail, and its impact on the Treasury and Fed balance sheet is something that hasn't gone away.
Don't know were I'm going with this, other than the markets are boring today, CNBC is uninspired, and this leaves me with too much time on my hands, whatever we find out that may be.
But in an effort to turn lemons into lemonade, maybe we need to come up with a new way of government budgeting, to augment the way the CBO does it. Since this negative equity Dark Matter can not be represented by real numbers (being an unrealized loss), I propose representing it on the imaginary number axis. I sense this may stir some excitement in Menzi, since so far economists are limited to working with real numbers, negative numbers are generally frowned upon, although they can do some quirky things working with nominal-real numbers and real-real numbers, especially when mixing them into the same equation.
So Iím sure there are lots of details to work out here, not the least of which is should we allow imaginary money to pay for imaginary Dark Matter moving to the real axis.
But maybe Menzi will come to my rescue and work this all out for me.
Posted by: Cedric Regula at December 16, 2009 03:12 PM