Links 10/18/09

Green spaces ‘improve health’ BBC. So people in Tokyo and Manhattan must not be very healthy.

Swedes divided over bunny biofuel BBC. Eeew.

Beware The Reverse Brain Drain To India And China TechCrunch. Um, this is news?

Levitt and Dubner on the northern spotted owl Felix Salmon, Steven Dubner Digs the Hole Deeper Matthew Yglesias and Superfreakonomics on climate, part 1 Paul Krugman. The econoblogs are having a field day on this one.

Michael Moore must leave US to find new elite Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Marshall Auerback: Claims of Financial Reform Victory? You Can’t Reform Vampires and Zombies Huffington Post

State Revenue Falls Most Since 1963 on Incomes, Sales Bloomberg (hat tip Michael Shedlock)

Derivatives Markets Rebound As Reform Recedes Research Recap

Goldman Can Spare You a Dime Frank Rich, New York Times

Royal Bank of Scotland to give huge bonuses Times Online

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Garrett, click to view full image):

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  1. rjs

    that living in “green places” is inherently healthy is obvious to those who do…traveling to cleveland in the summertime, the air is noticably different smelling and its even harder to breathe when i cross the county line…

  2. attempter

    Re the Moore piece:

    The Plutonomy guy is angry and says in his defence that “we just analyzed and advised on aggressive class war from above, we didn’t morally judge it”, as if that makes it better.

    On the contrary, I’d say that even the consciously wicked are still closer to human status than a cold, dispassionate totalitarian robot.

  3. CB

    Green space does help diffuse some of the neuroticism in city-life.. as beautiful and iconic as Central Park is, I still feel awful for the little kids I see playing there. That elemental childhood bonding w/ nature is about the having the freedom to wander, dig, break, kill, build.. feel like a solitary king over and/or a little peon in the natural world. Not skitter around on rocks of a playground in view of tens or hundreds of people.

    More than lack of green space though, I think the fact that bars are the primary meeting place for friends is the what really grinds New Yorker’s mental and physical health. NY’ers spend so little time in their friend’s actual homes. Guess its a way to keep your home a ‘sacred’ place in a caustic city, but it just makes for weird socializing.

  4. Dana Hata

    “Green spaces ‘improve health’ BBC. So people in Tokyo and Manhattan must not be very healthy.”

    That statement is illogical. Rather like someone saying that tea has health benefits, so therefore people who don’t drink tea must be unhealthy…

  5. Hugh

    “For the 12 months to June 30, the fiscal year for most states, revenue declined 8.2 percent, or $63 billion, about twice what states got from the $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus package”

    This is just more evidence that the stimulus was too small and poorly structured. The current fiscal year will be worse. This is another deteriorating fundamental which the happy talk mainlining on bailout money ignores.

    1. eric anderson

      Nah, the stimulus was too large, and poorly structured. Borrowing money to “stimulate” just kicks the can down the road. It weakens future growth. Even the CBO will tell you that.

      The problem is, and will remain (as long as the current knuckleheads are in charge) is that there is little incentive for small business growth. Small business creates more jobs than any other sector. Real jobs, based on real market needs. Yet, it appears to me that the government response to this crisis has done nothing but increase the level of fear among the business community, small and large (unless you are too large to fail and surviving on government infusions). And they should fear. The cost of doing business is about to get much worse — regulations, mandates, taxes.

      John Mauldin quotes Van Hoisington and Dr. Lacy Hunt in his column “Debt and Deflation,” July 13:

      “Thus Barro and Perotti are saying that each $1 increase in government spending reduces private spending by about $1, with no net benefit to GDP. All that is left is a higher level of government debt creating slower economic growth.

      “The most extensive research on tax multipliers is found in a paper written at the University of California Berkeley entitled The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a new Measure of Fiscal Shocks, by Christina D. and David H. Romer (March 2007). (Christina Romer now chairs the president’s Council of Economic Advisors). This study found that the tax multiplier is 3, meaning that each dollar rise in taxes will reduce private spending by $3.”

      Borrowing to “stimulate” does not create a multiplying effect, and simply makes it harder to service federal debt in the future. Higher taxes — even admitted by one of the president’s own advisors — kills the real economy by a multiplier of 3 for every dollar taxed.

      This administration is killing our economy. They must know these things. It must be on purpose. Be aware.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        I’m always amazed when I read comments like this. Your knowledge is so much less than you imagine it to be.

        “It weakens future growth.” Growth of what? Growth for whom? I have to imagine that those not participating in the “benefits” of future growth probably wouldn’t care too much about some growth if that solely meant that a select few will later become more wealthy. Every policy decision has winners and losers. There are always distributional concerns, not the least of which here include inter-class and inter-generational distribution concerns. A good starting point for an intelligent analysis is to use precise terms. Many would reject the idea that the only logical way to evaluate this particular policy decision is on the basis of some ill-defined future growth.

        “Even the CBO will tell you that.” Well, then it must be right. Actually, the issue about what drives measures of economic “growth” appears so overwhelmingly complex and the data accumulated over the centuries seem so inadequate that I would question anyone who thinks that it is obvious that either all attempts to stimulate have a chance at success or that all attempts to stimulate achieve nothing more than “kicking the can down the road.” The data analysis is almost always flawed because it is almost never an apples-to-apples comparison. To wit, I really doubt that the relatively enormous federal expenditures in the first half of the 20th century targeted at transforming Los Angeles into a shipping and industrial center, from building the Port of LA (which was totally useless for just about anything before the feds built a man made harbor) to starting the nearby interstate highway network, were a negative drag on the normal measures of overall economic growth, whether your scope of analysis encompasses Los Angeles, the State of California, or the US as a whole.

        “There is little incentive for small business growth.” This is just some random statement planted in the comment with no apparent factual basis. I run two small businesses in California, a state with obviously high regulation on a relative basis. I have no idea why you think I have little incentive for growth. It seems to me that I have a huge incentive for growth, and in fact, both of my businesses have been growing, even in this current recession. With my businesses growing, I have received the benefits of this growth. How am I not incentivized under your theories? Further, regulations don’t just add to my cost structure. Of course, they do add costs, but they also seem to provide me with a safer economic environment, which gives new consumers less reason to avoid trying my products, makes my supply chain safer and more efficient, and can also level the playing field in many other important ways. So this idea that regulations are solely a negative for my two businesses also does not comport with my experience. I don’t know what the proper level of regulation should be, and I doubt you do either.

        “Even one of the president’s own advisers.” Well, if one of the president’s advisers once said something in a paper, it certainly must be true (or at least widely accepted as true within the administration).

        “Higher taxes kills the real economy.” Lawlessness and insecure borders also kill the real economy. Can you really not see that the issue is more subtle than lower-taxes-must-always-be-good? Should taxes be zero in your ideal world? If you say yes, then there is no reason to continue discussing the issue. If you say no, then there has to be an intelligent analysis of the proper level of taxation, which requires far more than a few paragraphs on the “tax multiplier.” I don’t know what the proper level of taxation is. I could easily imagine that the proper level is higher than the level currently in place.

        “The administration is killing our economy. They must know these things.” What is their motivation for doing this again? I missed that in your analysis. To be honest, it doesn’t really appear that you thought all this through.

        In any event, intelligent people have spent their lives studying the “stimulus” topic and yet amazingly, they don’t all agree with your conclusions. I doubt all those who disagree are just shilling. That leads me to believe the issue isn’t as simple as you portray it.

        1. eric anderson

          That’s hilarious Mr. Jones. You say your business in California is growing. What business is that, sir? Are you a repo man???

          You say my analysis is not adequate to support my statements. I certainly did not intend to present a paper with footnotes. Especially since I have not heard any business people tell me how thrilled they are with the new government and how they can’t wait to expand. You see, there is a simple test — the test of reality. The reality is that businesses are not encouraged to hire. We know this, because they aren’t hiring. I have a number of unemployed friends who can confirm this. If you do not find more regulations and taxes to be a disincentive, then you must be some freak in the business world, or else you are somehow tax-advantaged or big enough to have regulations written in such a way as to disadvantage your competition. Or perhaps you are just altruistic and don’t care much about profits.

          Yet what I find most amusing is that you did not present a single piece of evidence that any of the actions taken by this administration can have or will effect positive growth that outweighs the long term negative consequences, except some falderal about how more regulation might help your sales because the customer feels “safer.” Well sir, you are nothing if not entertaining.

          So, you’ve given your unsupported opinion, and I’ve given mine. I guess we’ll leave it at that. If growth without inflation starts exploding, if middle class incomes after taxes start growing and income growth in the top 5% slows to the same rate as the rest of us (I am actually in the poor class), well then you can come back in a couple of years to Naked Capitalism and crow about how Eric Anderson was full of beans back in Oct ’09. And I will hang my head in shame.

          But for the sake of the country, I will be glad to be wrong. Historically, I do not see any precedent for the current efforts to “stimulate” ever working over the long term. Do you? Really?

  6. eric anderson

    Yes, grudgingly I admit Krugman is right about freakonomics. I wasn’t impressed with the first book, and would consider his conclusions suspect.

    However, to dispell global warming myths, one need only take a good hard look at historical data and proxy data going back hundreds of millions of years. Look at satellite global temperature data. Look at the climate models — look at their failure to track real measurements. Look at the admitted uncertainties. Consider the unknown unkowns.

    Adding to that, most of the countries that want to curb CO2 can’t meet their own reduction targets. To say nothing of the industrializing world that doesn’t want to do so. It is a practical impossibility. Nevertheless, I favor moving away from all non-domestic fossil fuels as much as possible. That’s a strategic necessity, having nothing to do with climate.

  7. Paul

    Rabbits are a poor fuel for combustion, being mostly water. They are an lean and tasty protein source. We in the US eat them by the millions, and would have no trouble eating an extra 6,000. I’d be interested to hear from Swedes on the cultural barriers to eating them.

    And yes, it is wabbit season.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Herr Hans Wagner aus Deutschland grows giant rabbits.

    He was very sad to learn that North Korea bought his giant rabbits for human consumption.

    I wonder if he is losing sleep over what his northern neighbors might do to his giant rabbits?

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