Random Links XXXXVII

Marketing & Signaling

Geoffrey Miller: 

this is how consumerist capitalism really works: it makes us forget our natural adaptations for showing off desirable fitness-related traits.  It deludes us into thinking that artificial products work much better than they really do for showing off these traits. […] The net result could be called the fundamental consumerist delusion — that other people care more about the artificial products you display through consumerist spending than about the natural traits you display through normal conversation, cooperation, and cuddling.

Tyler Cowen: 

Would it be cheaper and more effective to wear credible, verifiable tattoos of our personality types from the six-factor model?


Non-electronic RobotsProviding motive energy via chemistry rather than electric motors. 

Risk MismanagementPerhaps the financial crisis isn’t a failure of the economics profession, so much as a failure to pay attention to the findings generated by said profession. 

Incorporation, Original Meaning, & NewspapersIf true, this is a blow to the notion that incorporation via “privileges & immunities” is compatible w/ original public meaning. 

Willem Buiter on Brown ShootsWhy recent signs of recovery may be overrated. 

Another Harbinger of Financial CrisisApparently Fannie & Freddie warned of the potential risks posed by private-label securitization back on 2000.  Thoughts: 

1.  Interesting how prescient Frannie was about the risks posed by lowering capital requirements for structured securities.

2.  Of course, the lower capital requirements for Frannie MBS (relative to whole-loan mortgages) were themselves the camel’s nose in the tent. 

3.  IMHO, the lesson here is the same set of capital rules for all loans & all institutions. 

Bank Guarantee CostsSomething to be considered by those inclined to view FDIC guarantees of bank paper as “costless”.  Even if such guarantees don’t generate losses for the government (e.g., if the banks in question fail), the competition provided by such guaranteed paper could raise borrowing rates for Treasury bonds.  TANSTAAFL…. 

College Rejection Letters, Compare & ContrastI never read my rejection letters very closely.  Apparently there are better & worse ways of doing the deed. 

Humane Interrogation: 

Maj. Moran:  http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200506/budiansky

Interrogating Nazis:  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003929105_torturevets06.html

Bowden’s take:  http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200310/bowden

Illegal Immigration & Wages

Apparently the Swift raids led to higher wages for employees at the targeted plants.  So supply & demand does apply to immigration, after all…. 


…firms employing undocumented workers enjoy a competitive advantage over firms that do not employ undocumented workers. […] …cost savings enjoyed by firms employing undocumented workers is a result of paying these workers wages that are less than what is paid to comparable documented workers.

Politicians & Math:  “Town Officials and Journalists Unclear On Fractions”


Dangers & Solutions:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/us/28cyber.html

Why the first link may be overrated:  http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13527677

Mexican Repatriation Watch

“the highest unemployment rate in more than 25 years would make it difficult for President Barack Obama to push legislation that would legalize millions of immigrants in the country illegally and create a new guest-worker program.”


ExtinctionThe weird appeal of “Life After People”.  I heard about it over a year ago, and I still don’t quite get it…. 

Chuck Norris, Investment BankerHilarious. 

The Fed, Bernanke’s Hedge FundApparently the Fed’s making money on the interest from all those assets dumped on its balance sheet by the private sector.  Let’s hope those earnings aren’t one day accompanied by capital losses…. 

How to Cheat at EverythingTips from a former professional con-man.  PT Barnum was right…. 

Piracy & Armed Crews, Redux

Flu Vaccine Delays

Gay Marriage Bandwagon (& Limits thereto) 

How FDR’s NIRA Prolonged the Depression:









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