Random Links LII

MEW & Consumption:

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/03/q4-mortgage-equity-extraction-strongly.html

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/03/equity-extraction-data.html

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/05/mew-consumption-and-personal-saving.html

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/05/impact-of-changes-in-saving-rate-on-pce.html

What seems to have happened:  1) rising equity & home prices during the ’90s & ’00s lowered the savings rate; 2) rising home prices also finance increased consumption (via MEW); 3) the housing crash obliterates MEW; 4) attitude shifts among US consumers also result in higher savings (both into savings accounts and/or debt paydown), and via decreased borrowing; 5) the end result of #3-4 is downward pressure on PCE (such that it either decreases, or grows more slowly than it otherwise would have absent #3-4).

Rodrik on Trade & Immigration: An interesting argument for favoring skilled over unskilled immigrants.

Origins of Life: Another blow to “God of the gaps”….

Neutron Star Crust: “Star Crust is Ten Billion Times Stronger Than Steel.”  Nifty….

Marine Mammal Cold Tolerance: How whales, dolphins, etc., avoid freezing to death.

Obama Housing Bailout: Friction apparently afflicts government programs as well as warfare.

Whence Chinese Savings:  various possible causes, including health care costs.

Burning Food Watch:  It’ll be interesting to see if these developing countries end up nationalizing foreign biofuel plantations in the not-too-distant future.  Possible rationales might include a desire to use the land for food cultivation; anger at “foreign imperialism” & “exploitation”; rural populations’ resentment at being displaced from ancestral lands; etc.  It’s been done before w/ oil, after all….

Global Imbalances & the Financial Crisis:

Setser:  Yes, the were a factor.

Dooley/Garber:  No, they weren’t.

Setser:  Yes, they really were.

Edmund Andrews’ Personal Credit Crisis

Megan McArdle on AndrewsBravery; unaffordable marriage; spousal bankruptcy (part II).

Delong on McArdle on Andrews

Carbon Taxes & Protectionism: Krugman in favor; Cowen’s opposed.  IMHO, if we’re going to impose (further) costs upon domestic producers, we ought to utilize tariffs to level the playing field vis-à-vis imports from countries that don’t impose such costs upon _their_ producers.  Otherwise we’ll end up lowering US GHG emissions by exporting even more of our industry overseas.

Hilarity: “A man in Germany discovered the dangers of driving an open-top car when an envelope containing 23,000 euros (£20,600) blew off the back seat.”

Sleep Deprivation & Premature Death: Physiological effects of sleep deprivation.

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One Response to “Random Links LII”

  1. WRT neutron stars, you might be interested in Robert L. Forward’s novel, “Dragon’s Egg,” which Forward himself described as being a textbook on neutron stars disguised as a novel. Note that he posits that there could be mountain ranges on the surface varying from 1mm up to several cm in height, the latter height being relatively rare, given that the surface gravity is an estimated 67 billion (yeah, _billion_) g’s. Additionally, the Forward estimates that the magnetic field of the star would be roughly one trillion gauss – strong enough to distort the atomic nuclei in the crust of the star. Forward also posits the notion that “volcanoes” could form on the surface, though I’m not so sure that these are possible, given the ridiculous forces in play; OTOH, given that we have not directly observed a real neutron star at close range, I suppose that it is theoretically possible.

    Regarding sleep deprivation, I know from direct experience that humans can voluntarily survive for at least 120 hours without sleep (to be fair, though, I passed out for a few minutes during the last day); there is a popular urban legend within the architecture school that eight days without sleep is fatal. I don’t know how true this is, but I can say that I felt like I was going to die after staying awake for five days. Eight days certainly would seem like torture. OTOH, the visual hallucinations were fun; I wasn’t quite so excited about the aural hallucinations, since those were a little spooky…

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