Category Archives: economics

to put it in perspective

some young people (less now than before koolaid of my father was released) have a hard time understanding how national politics is relevant to their everyday lives.  this is especially true in cases when the topic of discussion is how to spend dollar figures that have more zeros behind them than Isoroku Yamamoto.  some individuals on a forum I frequent came up with two excellent, real-world examples of exactly how much the stimulus could cost:

  1. Enough to buy every US citizen about 87 grams of high-quality cocaine OR
  2. Enough to rebuild the Twin Towers. Five and a half times. Out of weed.

Or, given the fact that indulgences are back in style, you could probably get a few choice 20th century genocide-enthusiasts into the Kingdom.  Or at least John Thain into purgatory.  So many choices!


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well that clears it up

Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club

actually really well-written and informative, I’m sure this knowledge will come in handy for appearing intelligent what with all the cocktail parties I attend…

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and what happens when all the rich people want to move back into the city?


well you kick out all the poor people, of course.  But what if tenants are endowed with limited power to prevent owners from selling their buildings to developers?  Make their lives so miserable that they have no choice but to move out.  This story was also discussed in last week’s This American Life, in the specific context of local governments selling rundown property—schools, civil service buildings, etc—to developers.

So now all the poor people who can’t afford to live in shiny new condominiums get displaced to the suburbs, where they can live in the mcmansions that have lost their collective shininess, and were built quickly and shoddily to cash in on the bubble that has since burst.

in other, unrelated news, I’ve been looking on craigslist for housing opportunities next year, and it’s been a real downer. Like, either the houses have hardwood floors and a modern kitchen, but no jacuzzi, or they only have skeezy linoleum and avocado-colored appliances, but do include the hot tub that I feel is necessary to have a rewarding and satisfying college experience.  it’s going to be a hard choice.  and don’t get me started on proximity to artisan bakeries and farmer’s markets.

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death of suburbia?

“The subprime crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements.”

It doesn’t really address the impact gentrification has on the urban landscape, but that’s not really what it’s about.

The Next Slum?

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interview with a hedge fund manager

really interesting interview with the manager of a large hedge fund, covering the current state of the dollar, the subprime mortgage crisis, etc…

n+1: So the Moody’s ratings were like [taking for granted] the water running…

HFM [hedge fund manager]: Exactly. Triple-A is triple-A. But there were people who made a ton of money in the sub-prime crisis because they looked at the collateral that underlay a lot of these CDOs [collateralized debt obligations] and commercial paper programs that were highly rated and they said, “Wait a second. What’s underlying this are loans that have been made to people who really shouldn’t own houses—they’re not financially prepared to own houses. The underwriting standards are materially worse than they’ve been in previous years; the amount of construction that’s going on in particular markets is just totally out of proportion with the sort of household formation that’s going on; the rating agencies are kind of asleep at the switch…”

he’s frank and I thought it was pretty eye-opening, at least for a west-coast liberal-arts college student with no exposure to the financial world.

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Cold Fronts and Subprime Mortgages

Interesting short in the NYT, regarding the 4 things “they” learned about economics in 2007.  I was most surprised by 2 and 4—the facts that a significant number of subprime mortgages were approved due to fraud on the side of the applicants, rather than solely negligent actions on the part of the lenders, and the fact that cold weather kills more than 27,000 people in the US annually, and that a large amount of the increase in life expectancy in the past century can be explained by an increased concentration of people living in warm climates.

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