Site Meter

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The One True Catholic and Apostolic Church

Archbishop Roger M. Mahony  discusses "objective eternal unchanging moral truth."

When an attorney for an alleged victim suggested "the right thing to do" would have been to summon police immediately, Mahony replied, "Well, today it would. But back then that isn't the way those matters were approached."
Good thing we have such men of the cloth protecting us from the scourge of situational ethics.

I stress I do not not use the phrase "objective eternal unchanging moral truth." ironically.  I believe that there is such truth.   Not even the Catholic church can convince me otherwise.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Princess Bribe

Berlusconi: "Voglio tutelare il mio onore"

Inigo Montoya "I do not think that word means what you think it means".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Government Spending deflated by the GDP deflator


(a) Federal Government: Current Expenditures (FGEXPND), Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, 1947-01-01 to 2012-07-01


Remove Data Series

(b) Gross Domestic Product: Chain-type Price Index (GDPCTPI), Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted, 1947-01-01 to 2012-07-01

the graph shows a/b

Federal State and Local


(a) Government total expenditures (W068RCQ027SBEA), Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, 1960-01-01 to 2012-07-01


Remove Data Series

(b) Gross Domestic Product: Chain-type Price Index (GDPCTPI), Quarterly, Seasonally Adjusted, 1947-01-01 to 2012-07-01


Finally the log of the ratio of Federal + State + local to the chained GDP deflator

Fabricant Fabricates

Tory Vice Chairman Michael Fabricant attempted to change the record mid debate by deleting a tweet.  Jonathan Portes nailed him.

Portes writes and will have written

Indeed Fabricant's current (who knows for how long) twitter stream does not contain  the second tweet captured by Portes

I don't think that politicians should be allowed to change the public record.  In particular Fabricant's combination of deleting something he wrote and then attributing it to Portes seems to me to be libelous (under UK law -- not that I know anything about UK, or for that matter any other, law).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Karl Marx is Dead

BP stands first for Brian Plumer then for British Petroleum -- I'm pretty sure DuPont is the firm and not Pierre "Pete".  TS is Theda Scocpal.  When I knew her (OK when I took freshman physics from her husband Bill) she was one of the few Marxists at Harvard (I think the only one in the Sociology department).
BP: So around 2007, Republicans were becoming more skeptical of climate policy. Yet the main climate strategy in D.C. was to craft a complex cap-and-trade bill amenable to businesses like BP and DuPont in the hopes that those companies would bring in Republican votes.

TS: I think a lot of environmental groups were under the impression that the Republican Party is a creature of business, and that if you can make business allies, you can get Republicans to do something. But I don’t think the Republican Party right now is mainly influenced by business. In the House in particular, ideological groups and grassroots pressure are much more influential.

Sent there by Kevin Drum who writes about why cap and trade died in 2010.  He wrote "Unlike healthcare reform, where you could essentially buy off the opposition, there are big costs to cap-and-trade for certain states and senators simply aren't going to ignore that." I nodded my head and thought yep hard to get votes from West Virginia.  Then well I can imagine a vote for cap and trade from John D Rockefeller whose lack of sympathy for big business and fossil fuels is well known.  

Don't let anyone ever tell you that history doesn't have a sense of humor.

Successful Communication with Minoriteis

Via Steve Benen 

the folks who'll appear on the panel about "successful communication with minorities and women," and the criticism here seems far more reasonable.
[The session will have] a female moderator (Rachel Campos-Duffy), a female consultant (Ana Navarro), a female congressman (Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler), and three congressmen who are neither female nor minorities: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Rep. Scott Rigell, and Rep. Frank Wolf.

 I will pass over the gender confusion of "female congressman" and note that  the congresperson in question is Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler who is not named Jaime Herrera Buetler.  Inability to spell Spanish surnames does not contribute to  "successful communication with minorities ..." .  Oooooops

via Hunter

In the unlikely event that they get hammered again in 2014, they can say "the 'Buetler' did it".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Short Takes On J Barro

1) Reasonable and reasonably honest conservative list update.  Josh Barro is very reasonable and quite honest. But is he still a conservative ?  He sure doesn't always sound like one.

2) re 1) see an example of the ness monster

"But the conservative worldview is robust because of its imperviousness to evidence." which clearly means
But the conservative worldview is robust because it's impervious to evidence."

3) what's with the Bloomberg Headline person ? The article explains how Conservative's are insane and might destroy the economy to make their prediction that it will be destroyed if Obama is re-elected true
"Conservatives are sure that the Obama presidency will lead to an economic calamity, and they will prove it, if necessary." but the headline suggests that Obama might ruin the economy "

Will Obama Ruin the Economy to Ruin the Republicans?"

Did the person who wrote the headline actually read the article ?

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

This is an authentic screen shot of my authentic twitter feed.  Oh the omnipresent and not yet omnipotent internet works in un-mysterious ways.

Oh happy day when I first added @JC_Christian to my twitter feed. Clickable Patriotboy. Clickable Billmon link to "Crooks and Liars"

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Are Platinum Coins Constitutional ?

I think it might be an open question whether section (k) of

31 USC § 5112 - Denominations, specifications, and design of coins is constitutional.

It reads 

(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

The US Constitution article 1 section 8 begins

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

It isn't clear to me that Congress can delegate the decision about the value of Platinum coins, either bullion or proof, to the Secretary of the Treasury.

See post below for why I think the fate of the world economy doesn't not depend on this. 

How to Hide Debt a cook book for book cookers

Now the old world can address the fiscal imbalance of the new.  It seems that some of the best minds in the USA are trying to figure out how the US Treasury can disburse money without issuing debt.   Finally a topic I know something about.  There are many ways.

1) Paul Krugman proposes Moral Obligation Coupons.  OK so that's just one of the best minds, but he has a very good mind.

2) Everyone proposes minting a $ trillion Platinum coin including Josh Non Ricardian Equivalence Barro.  I'd just add that the coin should be made now and Obama should carry it in his pocket when negotiating uh refusing to negotiate so he can pull it out and threaten to tell Geithner to declare it worth $ trillion.

3) It's Greek to me.  Look over here we are very expert in borrowing without issuing debt.  How do you think Greece managed to get so deep in debt ?     The trick (described by my colleague Gustavo Piga) is to make a very bad speculative bet.  Greece (following a country which will remain nameless) made REPO deals with banks involving currency exchange -- the bank gave Greece a great deal on the spot market and Greece gave the banks a great deal on the forward market.  In effect the deal consisted of an actual arms length market priced speculative position and a loan.  But since they were officially linked, it was not 100% certain that Greece would be paying the banks when the futures contract matured.  So by only for governments allowed accounting practices, Greece had not issued debt.

I think it would be best to explain exactly what is being done and how failure to raise the debt limit could cause the US to act like Greece this March.

4) Preferred shares.  OK this is close to 1.  Preferred shares are not debt. The whole key to TARP was that preferred shares are not debt.  Government agencies can issue preferred shares and the Fed can buy them.

5) Gagnon style.  heyyyy what about just good ol Fannie and Freddie ?  IIRC They are only 85% owned by the Federal Government exactly so that their debt does not appear as Federal debt.  86% and the balance sheets would have to be unified.  They owe the Treasury a lot of money.  They can issue debt instruments which the Fed can buy for an absurdly high price.  They can repay their debt to the Treasury.  Now they would have to have something to sell (say absurdly over priced MBS so it would be Gagnon style QE too).  Of course dealing with DeMarco might make dealing with Republicans in Congress seem easy.

6) If potential US Treasury default isn't a financial crisis, I don't know what is.  The Fed can lend to any entity during a financial crisis.  I think they could make 0 interest loans to federal contractors to be repaid when the Treasury pays them in exchange for their not billing the government.

7) Ask the big banks for a bailout.  What goes around comes around.  We saved them when they were in trouble.  They can give money to the US Treasury.  These are moral obligation coupons again.  They can demand limits on, say, compensation of Congress persons as part of the deal ala TARP.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

To Platinum Coin a Phrase

I just signed a petition asking Barack Obama to have the Treasury mint a $1,000,000,000,000 platinum coin.

But whose face should be on the coin ?

Duncan Black suggests Ronald Reagan (just for giggles)
Josh Barro (thanks for the RT) suggests Mwai Kibaki 

I was thinking of maybe
Ron Paul (he likes coins) or
Rudolf Havenstein (he liked large denominations)

But I think we really have to honor a senator who appreciates money  our heritage and tell a pun and order the mint to mint a  DeMint coin.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Fiscal Cliff notes

Left blogosphere commentary on the Fiscal cliff deal seems to me to have come in two phases. First outraged horror over $450,000/year.  Then a reading of the full bill which was much better than the one number summary, some embarassment and much insistence that what really matters is that Obama drew a line in the sand at $250,000/yr then let the Republicans cross it.  So the lesson, it is said, is that Obama compromises and this will lead to terrible trouble in two months.

I think that left of center commentators are falling into the obsession with perceptions of possible perceptions rabbit hole.  I think that the bill sacrificed nothing which Obama could possibly have obtained.

Also this has happened before. Remember long ago before the debt ceiling crisis there was the continuing resolution crisis (with  brief government shut down).  Many liberals were extremely upset that the final bargain included spending cuts larget than those originally proposed by Boehner.  Then the CBO scored the continuing resolution and those cuts turned out to be smoke and mirrors.  Note the absence of weasel words such as "partly, partially, or in part."  IIRC the CBO decided that with the total more than 100% Obamanable concessions continuing resolution,spending was scheduled to be higher than it would have been with a standard simple clean continuing resolution.

When one is dealing with insane ignoramuses, one must use their ignorance.   The headline number appeared to show a total Obama cave, because it wasassumed that some Republican congressmen won't read past it.  The fine print was, again, very fine indeed.