Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome back, attention span!

So, my personal life jumped off a 20 story building, landed on concrete and exploded all over the f-ing place...I've been frustratingly distrait (widget word of the day!) for the past few weeks but have been regaining my attention span.  I decided to celebrate by reading old issues of The Economist that had been piling up and posts on my Google Reader.  Some things that I particularly liked (even though they're mostly from older issue of The Economist...):

"Ouch: Obama says he doesn't begrudge $17 m bonus on Wall St, quasi-defends bonuses. I begrudge 'em. " [NickKristof tweet]

"The authors say that what is needed is not merely institutional tinkering but a different frame of mind. Governments, they say, should think more in terms of reducing risk and increasing resilience to shocks than about boosting sovereign power. This is because they think power may not be the best way for states to defend themselves against a new kind of threat: the sort that comes not from other states but networks of states and non-state actors, or from the unintended consequences of global flows of finance, technology and so on."
Milton Friedman, who, when monetarism was being mocked in the 1970s, replied "our basic function [is] to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable." [The Economist - "A Needier Era"]

"The Volcker rule may have looked like a reaction to the Democrats' loss of a once-safe Senate seat in Massachusetts.  Insiders insist, however, that Mr. Geithner and Mr. Summers were not suddenly sidelined but gradually persuaded of the merits of limiting banks' activities." [The Economist - "New plan, new people?"]  (I think it's funny to imagine Larry Summers being gradually persuaded of something...or like, coaxed into saying, "Hey, yeah! You're totally right!")

With respect to the unintended consequences of past financial reforms...
", like water, tends to flow around obstacles.  Try to dam its movement at one point, and slowly but remorselessly it will find it's way around." [The Economist (Buttonwood) - "Not what they meant"]

"As many gardeners and farmers know, crossbreeding two wimpy specimens sometimes produces strong offspring - an effect known as hybrid vigour.  Hybrid vigour is common in plants and is found in some animals - though, some speculate, it may be lacking in European royalty." [The Economist - "Shelling Out"]  (Made me crave oysters)

"By separating our sample into boys and girls, our results also show that girls significantly benefit from interactions with very bright peers, whereas boys are negatively affected by a larger proportion of academically outstanding peers at school. We also find that the positive effect stemming from interactions with ”good” peers is more pronounced for female in the bottom part of the ability distribution. On the other hand, while not strongly significant, our results suggest that more able boys suffer from interacting with a larger fraction of outstanding schoolmates."
"At the other extreme, the most talented girls could gain more than 0.20 of a standard deviation from being educated in homogeneous environments." (Wellesley!)  [The good, the bad, and the average: Evidence of ability peer effects in schools]

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