Things to read, 1/4/10

Enjoying the slow adjustment to being back to work in a brand new year? Here’s some stuff you may have missed over the break.

The Urban Economy by Ryan Avent. He’s responding to this Prospect piece, but Avent’s blog post slowly turns into a mini-manifesto about how to think of urban economies. I love when that happens on blogs, and Avent is a dynamo on urban issues.

Why hasn’t the Fed been targeting two or three percent inflation? at MR. Takeaway: “In sum, maybe three percent expected inflation conflicts with the desire to rapidly recapitalize banks through maintaining a wide interest rate spread…It means that “Main Street” is paying for “Wall Street” (forgive me the use of those awful terms) in at least two ways: high unemployment and inability to earn much on one’s savings.”

Spencer Ackerman on whether or not the attempted plane bombing terrorist attack was an intelligence failure. We may simply be at an efficient frontier of homeland security, and it’s a matter of how much we are willing to take in tradeoffs for risks-versus-security.

Joe Stiglitz’s 5 Lessons from 2009.

– I’ve linked to this before, but one more time, because it’s always fun to ring in a New Year, and it should have made it into the discussion of terrible things to remember the 00s by:

From 2006, Bank Of America banking center manager Ethan Chandler reworks U2’s “One” to sing about the wonder of the MBNA / Bank of America (BoA) merger at a corporate conference. Full lyrics are here, but I want to point out this verse:

Do you like the cowboys?
Or your university?
Do you like the Yankees?
Or is NASCAR more your speed?
Well it’s your choice
Your right
To pick a card that shows
Your heart and your pride

It’s worth noting that the biggest benefit of the large bank mergers for consumers as pointed out in this celebratory song is that there are more credit card logos to choose from. That’s an argument not brought up enough, and I’ll grant it to them. A political science friend pointed out to me in gchat that “you can’t get just any logo; you probably couldn’t get a card with a Tamil Tigers emblem on it.” That’s a decent point, but it doesn’t acknowledge the huge innovations in card logo technology that has occurred over the past decade while the financial system has both merged into a top-heavy systematically risky mess while massively leveraging up to keep returns high. So I give them this point entirely. But in retrospect, was it a fair tradeoff?

What else did you miss over the holidays online?

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One Response to Things to read, 1/4/10

  1. Nancy Irving says:

    The funniest thing about that clip is that not a single audience member is laughing.


    Thanks for posting it.

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