Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Core GDP

The July GDP numbers were superb - 0.7% growth for the month, balancing out prior disappointments. Of course, July seems like ancient history now. Also, Statscan needs to produce a GDP series ex-energy, analogous to core inflation. Presumably with the recent slide in oil, we can write most of that growth off already.

Also, shock and awe. The Green Shift has penetrated municipal chambers. Apparently it will cost the city some $800,000 annually, minus whatever transfers come back. The quoted report, is, of course, not available online.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ouch, My Pride

"[N]o rich country has a coin as worthless as the US penny.

I guess Canada doesn't make his list of rich countries, because the dollar isn't at par anymore. I support the abolition of pennies in both countries.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Canadian Election

Ten minutes between completing a problem set and going to bed. Election commentary, here goes.

I voted for the Conservatives the last time around because I figured that Canada is happy enough with its social policy that we won't see much change there regardless of who gets in, so I'll let it ride on fiscal policy and the harder issues. The reward was dumb tax cut after dumb tax cut and command-and-control legislation with respect to CO2. I supported the cuts in arts funding, but it's not something I'd vote on.

The NDP are promising to mandate all prime-time television be Canadian content. TV isn't something I've ever been big on, especially these days, but I find this downright offensive. Economically, they're against corporate tax cuts, want to throw money at auto plants, believe in "price gouging", etc, etc, etc. Voting for these people is equivalent to a book-burning of economics texts.

Skipping over the Bloc to the Greens, I still think they're a bit too loony to be a real alternative. I remember their 2006 platform contained a proposal to ban chemical fertilizers. They advocate "regional self-sufficiency" in food. If this ever did happen - it won't - Newfoundlanders better brace for the return of scurvy. I feel like their platform isn't serious.

Finally, the Liberals. I'm still scared of the Liberals - public daycare, giant social programs, so on and so forth. And a Liberal-NDP coalition could well be frightening. But Dion gets so much credit for supporting a carbon tax and being brave enough to not hide it from the people that it makes me think he might have what it takes to be a leader.

I guess it's a blessing that I don't have to face this decision, really.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Sorry I haven't been posting much, but I'm out of touch with the Canadian election, don't know anything about financial markets, and much more importantly, Rochester is doing a real number on me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Box

The BBC is sticking a GPS reciever on an ordinary shipping container and seeing where it goes for a year. No RSS, unfortunately.

Here's the book that inspired the project. It doesn't take much thinking to convince oneself of the magnitude of containerization's impact.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Posted without much comment, because I'm chuckling too much:
The price of credit default swaps on five-year US government debt hit a record 18 basis points in early trading, according to CMA Datavision. This means that it costs $18,000 a year to buy insurance on $10m of US government debt.

Tim Backshall, chief strategist at Credit Derivatives Research, said the price implied that the US was more likely to default on its obligations than Japan, Germany, France, Quebec, the Netherlands and several Scandinavian countries.
Hard to feel good about being less sound than Quebec. Still, it could be worse.
I don't think there's been any federalist news in the papers recently...

Source: Free Exchange. What's the next stop, Eastern European nations?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I am told that it is a tradition within the department to lecture for considerably longer than the hour and a quarter alloted for class, and will attempt to rectify this starting today.

Certainly not a direct quote, but you understand what I'm getting at.

Friday, September 5, 2008

On Palin

Okay, I want to make this brief. We will continue to see more VP picks like Palin - i.e. "inexperienced" because, guess what, the vice president doesn't have much in the way of actual responsibilities compared to many others. Theoretically, they are indeed the heir apparent, but if aliens came to earth and witnessed the movements in Washington DC, the vice president would not top their list of important people. Hence, the cost of appointing someone "inexperienced" is low, and it's more enticing to pick someone who can help swing crucial demographics.

And off to work on some problem sets.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Markets in Everything: Hipster Edition

Yes, sue me for ripping off MR.

A nascent website promises to give users site credit (in the future, cash) when others purchase the same songs they've already bought.

What's particularly interesting is that the artists decide how much of the cost of the song is channeled back to the users. No idea on how that willl play out. Unfortunately, hard details on the exact structure are uncertain - and yes, it does ring of a pyramid scheme.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can You Believe I Had To Pay For This?


Day 1

Couple quick notes. The math for economists course has budgeted four full weeks to discuss measure and the lebesgue integral. The micro course is comprised over 25% with ambitious undergraduates.

More seriously, there's a real game of Survivor ongoing with respect to seeing how the study groups are formed. To the best of my knowledge, nothing has coalesced so far.