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SermonOfMockery

i just struck up a drunken conversation about finance

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i just got home from an interpol show... it was boring, but i did happen to strike up a drunken conversation with this guy that does energy trading (enron type stuff). he also has a friend that was in agnostic front for a while. it was pretty interesting, but i also laughed at myself because i somehow managed to meet the only guy in the room that could talk about hardcore and finance. he high-fived me when i told him i liked robert d kaplan and victor davis hanson.

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I probably agree with you more on economics than on whatever Hanson is about. I can see him dreaming that he's at the front of a Spartan army, spear held firm, ready to cut swathes through the ranks of those pussy Athenians like Diomedes in his aristea about to wound Aphrodite and Ares, only to wake up and discover that the viagra kicked in and he's holding his own wrinkled pecker.

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ha! A+! you've got him right on that count... hanson makes a lot of really astute observations on the unchanging nature of Man (with a big M) as they apply to current social and political issues, which are really compelling to me when you see that thucydides or whoever made the same observation 2000 years ago. he can be really annoying when he turns into a republican shill, as he does from time to time.

 

you really should read Kaplan's Warrior Politics, it's one of the best books i've ever read. it's no exaggeration to say it changed my life. realpolitik isn't always the answer- in fact, it usually isn't- but it's a tool you have to have in your arsenal, and Warrior Politics lays the foundation.

 

do you ever read greg mankiw? i really like him a lot- very subtle, dry sense of humor that makes his writing really engaging. plus he likes capitalism a lot.

 

i'm also a big fan of Hobbes, but i guess that wouldn't really be a surprise.

 

as i pointed out to the guy i had the drunken conversation with last night, it's interesting that people that know a lot about finance or economics are almost all "classically liberal" (AKA "libertarian" with a little l).

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Dude, you really gotta love economics to read it when you don't have to! From what I remember, Mankiw's okay. I think I had his textbook for a class. I say he's okay despite his cheerleading for those silly tax cuts when he was chair of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. Oddly enough, Mankiew also calls for a carbon tax, wtf? My shorthand for things is, if my boy Brad DeLong can stand him, I'm fine with him. But Hanson and Kaplan are just too tarred with their rah-rah over the war. If you went to a party for them and started bouncing around the pit, you'd find yourself knocking into all kinds of loons and goofballs, from Pam Oshry to Mark Steyn to Daniel Pipes to Charles Johnson to Glenn Reynolds.

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i'm far from an authority on economics, but i definitely do enjoy it! economics is great because, like life, it's all about tradeoffs. want to protect american jobs? no problem, just institute a tariff... as long as you don't mind sacrificing long-term competitiveness. the lesson is that there are no free lunches (just Pareto optimal arrangements LOLOLOLOLOLZ).

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Replying to my own reply, I must be drunk on a Monday morning (sleepless is more like it, argh). I think this guy in my link below was also drunk at a hardcore gig, but he was the one drinking chardonnay. He lays out clearly what I've misremembered so many times in posts here--for half the economics world (the better half I think even though he classifies my boy DeLong in the bad half), the world is dirtier and less theoretically clear than the elegant theories can account for. Since econ isn't like physics, because it calls for actual policies that affect the actual livelihoods of millions, I tend to think it's a good idea to pay attention to the potential massive holes in what Keynes called in that great quote in that blog piece the 'Ricardian' framework. I compare it to physics because I think many economists delude themselves to believe that their field is akin to the hard science theoreticians, that they can form theories that curl around in attractive patterns while remaining remote from whatever actually happens in the 'second best world,' where wealth distribution can become self-reinforcing and where people don't act rationally and over-discount future events and over-weight the risk in nearly every decision they make. As for that last, being overly concerned with risk, if you remember the 80s, there's at lot of money to be made in upsetting conventional wisdom like this. The dogmatic attitude toward debt for decades was dead-wrong, and it took the leveraged buyout guys at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Michael Milken (setting aside the other douchebaggy things they did) to point out, while becoming near-billionaires, that high-yield debt is not only massively lucrative if you have the idea first, but it also adds welcome liquidity to the market, and the people peeing their pants for years were, like people will, over-reacting to risk.

 

http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_web...o-economis.html

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