Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: The Beatles. How curious that decades later, The Beatles -- the #3 and #5 Trending Topics on Twitter as of 3pm EST are still more relevant than any other musicians (except, arguably, Jay Z). Their doings -- albeit electronic -- can still fetch the valuable real estate of the New York Times magazine. EMI is presently sending out 5 million remastered CDs. From FT.com:

"Advance orders indicated that Wednesday’s re-release of all 13 UK Beatles albums was on track to be 'the biggest catalogue reissue ever conducted in the history of the music business', Ernesto Schmitt, head of EMI’s global catalogue business, told the Financial Times."

Ed Note: The remastered editions have sold out on Amazon.com. That, and The Beatles: Rock Band equals internet clicks.

Out: Blind Idealism. How ironic that the fiscal shrewdness of The Beatles, that ultimate emblem of the idealistic 60s, puts them at the top of my little chart while the blind idealism of the Republicans places them on the "outs." And how odd that Republican conservatism -- or neoconservatism -- which historically has been perceived as sober and realistic was ensorcelled in the modern era by two forms of hyper-idealism. First, unilateralism and the belief that wider democratic reform always advances the interests of the United States collapsed upon itself messily. Then, at the end of the Bush Presidency, the unfettered belief in laissez-faire capitalism unravelled. What the fuck happened? From Krugman's NYTimes magazine essay:

"As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. Until the Great Depression, most economists clung to a vision of capitalism as a perfect or nearly perfect system. That vision wasn’t sustainable in the face of mass unemployment, but as memories of the Depression faded, economists fell back in love with the old, idealized vision of an economy in which rational individuals interact in perfect markets, this time gussied up with fancy equations. The renewed romance with the idealized market was, to be sure, partly a response to shifting political winds, partly a response to financial incentives. But while sabbaticals at the Hoover Institution and job opportunities on Wall Street are nothing to sneeze at, the central cause of the profession’s failure was the desire for an all-encompassing, intellectually elegant approach that also gave economists a chance to show off their mathematical prowess.

Unfortunately, this romanticized and sanitized vision of the economy led most economists to ignore all the things that can go wrong. They turned a blind eye to the limitations of human rationality that often lead to bubbles and busts; to the problems of institutions that run amok; to the imperfections of markets — especially financial markets — that can cause the economy’s operating system to undergo sudden, unpredictable crashes; and to the dangers created when regulators don’t believe in regulation."

This is a must read.

In: Peter Jackson. "Peter Jackson has a knack for picking winners," says ifmagazine. The Tolkein trust has settled a lawsuit, clearing the way for Peter Jackson to produce The Hobbit (for what is said to be nearly $40 million). And Nikki Finke of DeadlineHollywoodDaily reminds us: "Sony pickup District 9 hit $100M domestic Sunday, the 5th Wingnut Film production in a row from Peter Jackson's company to do that. It also opened #1 in the UK this weekend."

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