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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres









Krugman-graph-102314


"First, as (Martin) Wolf says, developments in emerging markets, especially in Asia, have in some ways been a mirror image of developments in advanced economies. While the United States was experiencing its 'great moderation,' emerging markets were being whipsawed by huge inflows and outflows of capital (made possible by the widespread dismantling of capital controls). It’s interesting to ask why the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, which brought Great Depression–level slumps to several economies and pushed Japan into prolonged stagnation and deflation, didn’t shake the policy complacency of Western economists. But it didn’t. (Full disclosure: I did indeed see that crisis as an omen, and published a book to that effect, The Return of Depression Economics, in 1999.) What it did do was convince emerging markets that they needed huge foreign currency reserves as insurance against future crises. And the enormous accumulation of overseas assets meant that the Chinese and many others were, in effect, lending large sums at very low interest to advanced economies, the United States in particular. In another influential speech, Ben Bernanke dubbed this phenomenon the “global savings glut.” At the time (2005), this analysis was meant to be reassuring: Bernanke was telling his audience not to worry too much about large-scale US borrowing from abroad. But Wolf argues that the savings glut interacted with unsound finance to make America even more vulnerable to crisis. If the 1990s were an era of crisis in developing countries, the years since 2010 have been an era of crisis in Europe. In a general sense the euro crisis follows the Minsky schema. There was a complacency-fueled rise in debt, followed by a severe slump as many debtors were forced to retrench at the same time. In the European case, however, complacency came not so much from the experience of stability as from the false belief that a shared currency, the euro, eliminated lending risks. Borrowing costs in Spain, for example, plunged in the late 1990s, as it became clear that Spain would indeed share a currency with Germany. Low interest rates, in turn, helped inflate an enormous housing bubble. And when this bubble burst, Spain and other borrowers—with no currencies of their own—found themselves with no room for maneuver, forced into fiscal austerity that deepened their slumps. While the special circumstances of emerging markets and the euro area complicate the narrative, however, Wolf’s essential story remains that of Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis: stability begets complacency, complacency begets carelessness and hence fragility, and fragility sets the stage for crisis." (Paul Krugman)





"The Democratic presidential bench is looking a little thin these days, isn’t it? After Hillary Clinton, we have ... um ... Jim Webb, who I bet you can’t even remember what office he held, and outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t even get his own lieutenant governor elected as his handpicked successor in a blue state. If anything happens to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee will effectively be taking out LeBron James to send in Pee-wee Herman.
But how big a problem is this? You don’t need a dozen good people on the bench, just one or two who could make a plausible run for the presidency. And those people tend not to emerge when there’s not much of a realistic shot at winning -- for example, when you’ve got a high-profile candidate with great name recognition, primary experience and most of your party’s donor base sitting in their back pocket. Once Hillary wins or loses, other people will presumably start grooming themselves for a serious run, rather than make an idealistic attempt to pull the party leftward in the primaries or a long audition for the VP slot. I’ve seen this argument made by smart people who know more about politics than I do, and part of me is convinced. But the other part of me wonders where those candidates are going to come from if Democrats remain confined to the deep-blue parts of the map. Those places are more populous, but less numerous, than the red states -- which means fewer governors and congressmen to choose from. Especially because a few blue states have shown a penchant for electing Republican moderates to rein in their liberal legislatures." (Megan McArdle)


Bill Cosby
Stephen Lovekin/Getty
Bill Cosby speaks at the Jackie Robinson Foundation 2014 Awards Dinner in New York City on March 3rd, 2014.


"Two of Bill Cosby's 17 rape accusers talked to Rolling Stone about what it feels like to bring down America's Favorite Dad. 'I have been trying to be heard since 2006,' Phoenix artist Barbara Bowman says. 'We have a culture that re-victimizes the victims. It is the most shameful, scary intimidating filthy place to live. It is a place of shame and darkness and fear. When people ask, why didn't you tell anyone? Well I did tell someone.' In the 1980s, Bowman was an ethereal 18-year-old blonde aspiring actress when a female agent introduced her to Cosby, who eventually drugged and raped her. 'There was a good year of grooming and slowly, methodically, calculatingly tearing my spirit apart,' she says. 'I was an only child. I had no dad. My mother was not in New York with me. The only friend I had was a model also transitioning to New York. She knew and they knew she knew, so they separated us. We told my agent together and I never spoke to her again for 28 years." The agent, Bowman says, sent her home to her mother in Denver. Bowman first told her story to the media in 2006, to back up another woman's civil lawsuit against Cosby for similar behavior. Since last weekend, when she published an op-ed in the Washington Post, Bowman says her phone has been ringing off the hook. 'He is going to go down,' she says. 'I believe he will go down as this generation's most prolific serial rapist. We are gathering a lot of details. I am not in a position to reveal things I have learned. I have heard from men and women, from people with information. And I think the public's mind will be blown.' She says she's heard from six more women, none yet gone public, about similar incidents involving Cosby. New York-based writer Jean Tarshis, also spoke with Rolling Stone. Until this week, Tarshis had never talked publicly about her Cosby experience. Tarshis was an aspiring comedy writer in her early twenties when she encountered Cosby in L.A. in 1969. She says he drugged her and she woke up to him sticking his penis in her mouth. She never reported the incident, she says, because it took her 10 years to realize that what happened to her was rape, and then another 10 years to speak of it privately, to friends. 'When people say, do you feel bad that people are accusing you of coming forward late, my response is there is nothing anyone can say that I haven't said to put myself down,' she says. 'After the first people I admitted it to, then I could speak more freely to others. But I had to pick and choose because of who it was. It wasn't 'oh I was raped by John Doe.' He was royalty, a beloved figure. He was adored.'" (Nina Burleigh/Rolling Stone)


A Special Snobbery



"To the grand Herrera house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for lunch in honor of Lord and Lady Linley. David Linley is over here to receive an award for his designs, which even rubes like myself where furniture is concerned find wonderful. Princess Margaret’s son is talented, but he’s also a very nice man. His parents must have done something right because he’s lived a scandal-free life—as has his sister—something other British royals cannot claim. He also earns his own living, as rare among royals as a neoconservative Marine. My hostess, Carolina Herrera, is the best fashion designer in America, by far. She and her husband were very close to Princess Margaret, and David and Serena stay with them whenever they’re in (NYC). It was a fun lunch, with editors of glossy magazines, princes of no longer existing monarchies, a very pretty English lady assistant to Linley, and so on. The latter told me how Marie-Christine of Kent once said of Linley, 'Who cares what a carpenter thinks?'—forgetting, as the fabulist who claims to be related to royals who are unaware of it tends to do while putting her ungainly large foot in it, that our Lord Jesus was a carpenter himself.
Looking around, it struck me that there were no Americans present. This was not by design, but in today’s money-comes-first society, some of our recently minted billionaires are not exactly house-trained, hence their absence. (They have little education, absolutely no taste, and not the slightest perception of refinement or beauty.) Mind you, the English have always reserved their praise of Americans for dancing girls, blues singers, and god-awful rappers who offer British 'artists' no serious competition. I’m afraid this is true. There is a fundamental aversion to anything American in Britain, although the worse the product that comes out of the home of the depraved, the quicker the Brits adopt it. Our own Paul Johnson has always touched upon this. The sneering, the obnoxious condescension, the antipathy toward anything American reached its highest point during the Thatcher-Reagan years. The more the Iron Lady copied Reagan’s Cold War policies, the more the left jeered and shouted. Which brings me to the 'special relationship,' as it’s called, that of the UK and the U.S.A." (Taki)


"The refrain: 'Another opening, another show.' The reality: Another week, another Tina Brown gala. This one for retired General Wesley Clark’s new book, 'Don’t Wait for the Next War.' The general: 'We must come together as a country. A war needs strategy. We can’t lurch from crisis to crisis and just wait for the next war. Eisenhower had strategy. So smart, he knew our real strength was economy, not armed forces. Until there was no more Soviet Union, we all knew our purpose. Fight Communism. This book’s about framing what’s in the headlines. A way to frame what America should be doing.' To honor this four-star general, Europe’s Supreme Allied Commander, a Purple Heart and Medal of Freedom wearer, came handsome former Foreign Affairs editor James Hoge." (Cindy Adams)

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