Links 11/17/09

Drilling for Scotch whiskey on frozen continent Yahoo News

When did the housing bubble begin? Bubble Meter

Ministry: Renminbi exchange rate “not related” to imbalance People’s Daily Online. As reader Michael noted, the Ministry of Truth has spoken. The PDO is one of the various mouthpieces of the CPC.

Money Trickles North as Mexicans Help Relatives New York Times (hat tip reader John D)

The Great Wallop Niall Ferguson, New York Times (hat tip Crocodile Chuck)

Shoot the fat guys, hang the smokers Joe Bageant (hat tip lambert strether)

In Reversal, Panel Urges Mammograms at 50, Not 40 New York Times. Hah, confirms one of my long-standing prejudices. Now I am waiting to see how many year it takes before the US quits overadministering colonoscopies (every other advanced economies calls for screening at age 50 only for people at high risk).

Bernanke And The Buck Macro Man

Banking In A State Simon Johnson

Antidote du jour:

Picture 68

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  1. joebek

    I think Californians would say the housing bubble began in the 70’s. Shortly after it began Prop 13 passed for those of you obsessed with tax limitations.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      The California bubble began in 1880! It went exponential with the fare war that followed the Santa Fe railroad reaching LA! The Feds have been serially propping up this bubble with “stimulus” ever since (water acqeducts, flood control projects, ports, interstate highways, war machine factories)!

      (yes, slightly facetious, but there’s kernel there…no, seriously)

  2. Intuition

    “Shoot the fat guys, hang the smokers” was an amazing exchange of correspondence. I’m part of a tiny (and shrinking, in numbers not girth) minority: young fat lawyers who smoke. I remember in law school watching the number of smokers dwindle as I went from first year to third year. First year, there were probably 3 dozen of us who would be out at the smoking area at any given time. By my last semester, you were hard-pressed to find a half dozen people smoking at any time, ever. Somehow all of these intelligent, assertive, seemingly self-confident people just up and decided to stop smoking within the same 2.5 years? I suppose one thing about law schoolers is that they fairly easily succumb to pressures to conform. Still, I’ve been continually amazed at how the apparent hatred for smokers has grown over the past 5-10 years. Five or six years ago, during my undergrad years, you would simply never hear anyone ever complain about smoke in a bar in my college’s town. Now? Psshh. A few people still smoke, but I’m not sure there’s a truly smoky bar left in that town and I attribute the change to the social hatred that exists for smokers. Crazy society we’ve created here.

    1. Mike T.

      You sound a bit paranoid. I for one don’t hate smokers, but I really, really hate cigarette smoke. I’m pretty much small-l libertarian, but your right to smoke ends as soon as I have to breathe your pollution. You abuse yourself however you want, but don’t force it on me, please. Sorry, but if that were the craziest aspect of society we’ve created, then I’d say we’re doing peachy.

      And after all the press that air pollution has (justfiably, for the most part) gotten over the last 40 years, anyone that tries to tell me that 2nd-hand smoke is harmless is an idiot, no exceptions.

      1. earthday

        Hmm, well where’s the hatred for car exhaust and drivers? We all know that’s what’s causing most of the air pollution and yet we aren’t seeing a coordinated campaign to “denormalize” drivers. It’s not paranoid to see that there’s major money involved in the “stop smoking” industry and the weight loss industry.

  3. Peripheral Visionary

    Re: The start of the housing bubble, I think 1997 is a bit conservative, but I’ll go with it. I recall thinking to myself (I lived in the Mountain West at the time), is it just me, or are they building a whole lot more housing than they used to, and are housing prices higher than they should be? I don’t think it was just me.

    And agreed that California has been in a housing bubble for decades. That may be a perpetual condition, at least for some parts of the state, however. Whenever you have a steady influx of retirees or trust fundees (looking at you, New York City), prices can remain disconnected with the local economy in perpetuity.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    What got the little critter’s hair to stand up was the news that, to help pay for bailing out some other reckless squirrels, the squirrel government was going to start taxing more on the nuts he collected.

  5. dearieme

    mammography: how many other medical invstigations are pursued due more to politics than sound evidence?

  6. gray

    While you may enjoy the validation of having your prejudices confirmed (by what I and many others in the profession feel is a flawed decision), you may find it sobering that, if one believes the statistic of one death prevented per 1900 women in their 40s who participate in screening mammography for a decade, then if women in this age group do not participate in screening mammography, approximately 1000 excess and preventable deaths could occur per year. No one has ever claimed that mammography is perfect, or that there are not false-positive results, but the institution of mammography has coincided with a decrease in the mortality from breast cancer, and while there may be some small non-invasive cancers detected which would never cause harm, and others who have biopsies for no cancer at all, in our deference to avoid detecting these we are throwing the baby out with the bath water in my opinion.

  7. DownSouth

    Niall Ferguson does a credible job up until his last three paragraphs, where his true neoliberal proclivities come shining through.

    A “clear commitment to globalization and free trade, and an end to the nascent Chinese-American tariff war,” he counsels us, is what President Obama should offer for “a substantial currency revaluation of, say, 20 percent to 30 percent over the next 12 months.”

    Long live the United States and its role as “the principal upholder of a world economic order based on the free movement of goods and, more recently, capital.”

    But wait! It gets worse! Much worse.

    For then Ferguson’s neoimperialist absolutism kicks in, causing him to spin off into a totally defactualized universe. The US “has also picked up the tab for policing the oil-rich but unstable Middle Eastm” he asserts. “No country has benefited more from these arrangements than China.”

    Hum, I wish somebody would explain that to China:

    “Chinese leaders view Iran as a country of great potential power, perhaps already the economic and, maybe, militarily dominant power in that region,” said John W. Garver, a professor of international relations at Georgia Tech and the author of “China and Iran: Ancient Partners in a Post-Imperial World.”

    An alliance with Tehran, he said, would be a bulwark against what China suspects is an American plan to maintain global dominance by controlling Middle Eastern energy supplies.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ancient partners?

    Under the iron Mongol rule, in China, tax collection was given to the Arabs, who I assume to be most Persians and presumably they got very rich.

    The expansion of the Tang China in Central Asia was finally checked by the Abbasid Caliphate after the battle of Talas in 751 AD.

    So, I don’t see how that ancient acquaintance would endear them to the Chinese any more than some other geopolitical factors.

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