September 2008 Archives

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"top executives and regulators do not understand the technical characteristics of today's financial instruments"

[W]hen trouble hits, everyone looks out for themselves, and your goal is to be the first person to jump ship. If Merton is right, a lot of people are going to be hurting, relative to their plans, over the coming years, and a lot of them may turn to government for help. The financial sector will have gotten the jump on everyone else, and there won't be much money left in the Treasury when individuals start to realize they are suffering. The banks mark their mortgage assets to market right away. Individuals don't revalue their houses and revise their retirement planning. (Granted, this means that when house prices were rising they didn't become as optimistic as they would had they mentally marked to market.) In a few years, as people retire, they won't have nearly as much home equity to borrow against as people had a few years ago, and we don't know how that might play out.

The other point that Merton [Robert C. Merton of Harvard] made was that top executives and regulators do not understand the technical characteristics of today's financial instruments. Once again, this is vindication for a view that I have been pushing. I worry that there is a disconnect between the geeks and the suits in valuing these mortgage securities. The geeks think that their low values are realistic. The suits think that the securities are undervalued. [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson is a suit. I'm a geek.

"Mankiw, Rogoff, and Merton," by Arnold Kling, EconLog, September 27, 2008 (emphasis added)

Also see
"Is a Potential Bailout Making Things Worse?" by Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, September 27, 2008

"Smaller Banks Thrive Out of the Fray of Crisis: People Shift Money From Wall St. to Main St." By Binyamin Appelbaum, The Washington Post, September 26, 2008

Posted September 27, 2008 06:57 PM  ·  Permalink   ·  Caught Our Eye   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBacks (0)

"I've always said a congressman should ride across country."

[John] Madden, lolling in the front seat with his feet on the windshield, nods at the colors.

"People pay money to see scenes like this," he says. "You only get to see America driving through places like Nebraska for eight hours.

"This is seeing our country. I've always said a congressman should ride across country. Not drive, because you can't see when you drive, you have to ride. You have to be a witness to America."

"John Madden: America's biggest commuter," by Paul Bannister,, December 9, 2003

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Posted September 27, 2008 10:47 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Caught Our Eye   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

The Hamburger

How did a sandwich once reviled as something unsanitary and purchased outside factories and at carnivals come so far? The answer can be found in this little book, The Hamburger: A History. "What do Americans think of when they think of the hamburger?" asks the author, Josh Ozersky. "Is it a sizzling disc of goodness, served in a roadside restaurant dense with local lore, or the grim end product of a secret, sinister empire of tormented animals and unspeakable slaughtering practices? Is it cooking or commodity? An icon of freedom or the quintessence of conformity?"

"Burger Triumphant. Or, requiem for the hot dog." By Victorino Matus, The Weekly Standard, September 29, 2008


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Posted September 26, 2008 02:47 PM  ·  Permalink   ·  Hamburgers   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

"Movie Wisdom"

The great thing about Paris is that you can always see the Eiffel Tower from your room, whether you're an artist in a tiny garret or a millionaire in a first-class hotel. Just look out the window and there it is. We who have spent much of our lives at the movies know this to be a fact, having seen it demonstrated on many occasions.
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Fans of traditional western movies, for example, know that the gunmen on the American frontier settled their disputes fair and square, meeting in one-on-one main-street pistol duels, ideally at noon.
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Over the last 25 years or so the movies have also taught me that there's no such thing as a good man who is also rich.
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[Y]ou can be sure that the nicest, sweetest, most helpful character who appears in the early scenes will likely die before the end (providing he or she is not a star).
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If we are watching a movie about people in Biblical times, we can expect that they will sometimes wear ragged clothes but their teeth will always be perfect.
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[I]t's in the matter of romance and courtship that Movie Wisdom provides the most helpful guide to life. It teaches us that if a man and a woman intensely dislike each other when they meet, they will soon fall in love and marry. It warns us that if a girl has sex just once, she'll for sure get pregnant, particularly if she's only 16. When a baby is about to be born, the important thing is to boil a lot of water. Who could do without this information?

"Always settle scores at noon: And other lessons learned at the movies," By Robert Fulford, National Post, September 9, 2008

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Posted September 25, 2008 06:47 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Caught Our Eye   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

Sushi Yasuda

This very fine Japanese sushi establishment is conveniently located at 43rd Street between Lexington & Third Avenues...for a pit-stop to refuel your body-energy before you hit the streets of Manhattan or catching the late Jitney from 40th Street and 3rd Avenue to the Peconic Bay or if you missed the Jitney and have to wait for the next bus...about 4 walking blocks...perfect for this coming Christmas season...ho-ho-ho...

Sushi Yasuda, web site, 204 East 43rd Street, 212-972-1001 [MenuPages | NYT | NY Mag | Village Voice | Gayot | Yelp | Citysearch]

Posted September 22, 2008 10:47 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Japanese , Mid-Town   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

Food from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia

What with three Chinatowns to choose from, cabs driven by legions of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and nightly colonization of St. Marks Place by the Japanese, finding Asia in New York is hardly a challenge. But hiding in the shadows are cultural and culinary gems from Asian countries that, for reasons of history or demographics, did not send huge numbers of immigrants or expats to the city.

"Experiencing an Asia Beyond China and India," by Seth Kugel, The New York Times, September 21, 2008

Don't forget the delicious curry-puffs at SANUR for $0.80 each!!!




Posted September 20, 2008 10:37 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Malaysian   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

David Kalb beats Lebron James in a game of H-O-R-S-E

David Kalb, a warehouse worker from La Habra, California, won a contest to compete against Lebron James in a game of H-O-R-S-E. Using some bizarre trick shots and benefiting from some lucky misses by Lebron, Kalb managed to win. Via Muttpop.

H-O-R-S-E - from Wikipedia

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Posted September 19, 2008 07:17 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Caught Our Eye   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

"You were always free to go."

Advocates of liberty and limited government should not concede the concept of “law and order” to those who engage in “excessive use of police powers.” Those who actually believe in law and order would hold police and prosecutors, as well as criminal suspects, to the rule of law; and that seems to be what the Virginia Supreme Court did.
I was reminded of this when I came across this video of a law-and-order type encountering Customs and Border Patrol agents as he attempted to drive on State Route 86 in Arizona.

'Law and Order' -- YouTube Version," by Jim Harper, Cato @ Liberty, September 12, 2008


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Posted September 17, 2008 06:17 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Caught Our Eye   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)

Fourth Annual Vendy Awards, October 18, 2008

Nominations are open and tickets are for sale for the Fourth Annual Vendy Awards, which will take place Saturday, October 18, 2008, from 3-7 pm in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Purchase your tickets while they last to what has been called New York's "biggest food event of the year":

Tobacco Warehouse, at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in DUMBO, 68 New Dock Street, Brooklyn, NY

Posted September 16, 2008 11:57 AM  ·  Permalink   ·  Street Vendors   ·  Comments (0)   ·  TrackBack (0)