Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

The wrong verb

October 30, 2005

From a story in today’s New York Times by Richard W. Stevenson and Robin Toner (italics mine):

After weeks of political turmoil, capped by the indictment of a senior administration official, President Bush will try to give his second term a fresh start by naming a new conservative nominee to the Supreme Court and intensifying his drive to cut government spending, White House officials and other Republicans said.

Intensifying his drive to cut government spending?

George W. Bush has been the most financially profligate president since Lyndon Johnson.


Gas prices

May 22, 2004

Harry Boswell has “some thoughts about gas prices”:

When you bought your enormous SUV with the huge V-8 engine, there was a sticker on the window. That gas mileage number on the sticker? It meant something. Stop whining.


January 16, 2004

Future historians may well mark the mid-1980s as the time when Japan surpassed the United States to become the world’s dominant economic power. […] America’s GNP may remain larger than Japan’s well into the 1990s (depending on exchange rate measurements), but there are many reasons to believe that Japan will extend its lead as the world’s dominant economic power in the years ahead.

— Ezra F. Vogel, “Pax Nipponica?”, Foreign Affairs, Spring 1986, pg 752.

According to the 2004 World Almanac, the United States in 2002 had a $10.4 trillion economy, while Japan had a $3.6 trillion economy, when measured in American dollars.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the American economy grew 57.5% (after adjusting for inflation) between 1986 and 2001, measured in American dollars. According to the Japan Statistical Yearbook 2004, the Japanese economy grew 42.5% (after adjusting for inflation) during the same time period, measured in Japanese yen.

At that rate, “America’s GNP may remain larger than Japan’s” well into the 2090s.

The Great Depression and Wall Street

November 27, 2003

For a glance at how the Great Depression affected the popular view of Wall Street, see how the title of this book changed:

The 1930 title: Hetty Green, a woman who loved money.

The 1936 title: The witch of Wall Street, Hetty Green.

Same book: The 1936 edition was a reprint of the 1930 edition. Only the title changed.

Land before capitalism

October 5, 2003

As late as the fourteenth or fifteenth century there was no such thing as land in the sense of freely salable, rent-producing property. There were lands, of course—estates, manors, and principalities—but these were emphatically not real estate to be bought and sold as the occasion warranted. Such lands formed the core of social life, provided the basis for prestige and status, and constituted the foundation for the military, judicial, and administrative organization of society. Although land was salable under certain conditions (with many strings attached), it was not generally for sale. A medieval nobleman in good standing would no more have thought of selling his land than the governor of Connecticut would think of selling a few counties to the governor of Rhode Island.

— Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (6th ed.), pg. 28

Fooled by randomness

June 22, 2003

In his recent book, Fooled by Randomness, hedge-fund operator Nassim Taleb twists a familiar saying to provide an analogy for people (such as, say, some mutual fund investors) who make investments based solely on past performance:

If one puts an infinite number of monkeys in front of (strongly built) typewriters, and lets them clap away, there is a certainty that one of them would come out with an exact version of the Iliad. […] Now that we have found that hero among monkeys, would any reader invest his life’s savings on a bet that the monkey would write the Odyssey next?

[…] Think about the monkey showing up at your door with his impressive past performance. Hey, he wrote the Iliad. Quickly, sign him up for the sequel.

Lose Ben Stein’s Money

May 28, 2003

Ben Stein’s new book, You Can Time the Market

(No, Ben, you can’t.)