A couple recent gems:
- “Socialized firefighting”
- “Water off a duck’s back”
A couple recent gems:
A recent few with varying degrees of promise and accomplishment, but all of interest:
… is the often art of the prophet and the fool. Nevertheless, I’ll dare to go ahead and describe what I expect will be, a decade hence, two consensus views about economic policy during the past tumultuous year.
First, people will believe that on balance Ben Bernanke and the Fed did a spectacular job at averting depression. The risk of even more extreme collapse was real, and abundant provision of liquidity was stabilizing. Doing too little would have been the far greater risk, and the designation of Bernanke as hero will have stuck.
Second, people will conclude that the greatest policy failure was providing too much direct support to banks rather than to homeowners. Let me elaborate. First, many banks lent to anyone with a pulse during the boom, in the form of residential mortgages, credit cards, and commercial loans. When the bubble burst, so did these banks’ balance sheets. Some of the wave of bank failures was inevitable.
But consider the ailing institutions (including some of those deemed too big to fail) that were in trouble largely because of their residential mortgages. Many of these received lines of credit, support for being acquired, or direct infusions of resources (see this useful rundown of these steps as of 7/22/2009). Suppose that instead of most of the steps in that rundown, the Making Home Affordable program had been vastly more aggressive: larger in size by an order of magnitude, implemented within months rather than years, and more generous to individual homeowners in amounts and eligibility. (Treasury celebrates the accomplishments of MHA, but capacity constraints and foot-dragging by lenders and servicers have prevented it from living up to expectations even at the actual–modest–$75B scale). These would have been the advantages:
Sheila Bair was a prescient early proponent of large transfers to homeowners via mortgage loan modification. Marty Feldstein has just recently signed on. Populist outrage against the banks has not been in short supply. These views and others may be enough to coalesce into consensus over time.
The biggest surprise to me in this article in Sunday’s Times, about how lenders use meticulous information about purchasing patterns to forecast default, is that the article treats this as a surprise. Data on what we do is valuable to firms, and we should all expect that much of that data is being used for individual-level forecasting.
But I was also interested that I could find only this one source online (unrelated to the Times article) that discusses what Martin did at Canadian Tire, and it and the Times article are comparably vague. I’d be curious for other sources and technical details.
Simply, straightforwardly, I appreciate and support BlogCatalog’s quarterly efforts to unify bloggers behind a meaningful social cause. Today, November 10, with them I think of the plight of refugees.
I work with big, complicated databases all day, and I find it incomprehensible that any so critical as the voter registration databases could be managed so incompetently, in a way that encompasses so much belief in unreliable records and so much disbelief of human beings.
Massive federal allocations to the states, conditioned on massive upgrades and improvemets in voter registration technology and election-day voting technology, seem like no-brainers, even if more states adopt Oregon’s brilliant– and brilliantly successful– strategy of conducting all elections by mail.
hailed the new year earlier tonight. In dried form, from Trader Joe’s, it was a not-unappealing cross between raspberries and potato chips.