Saturday, November 8, 2008

Our future

Here's an interesting article about Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, two possible choices for New York Federal Reserve president. It's a pretty interesting look at the two gentlemen. A WSJ blog gives more information.

Greg Mankiw writes a memo to President-elect Barak Obama. Hopefully Obama listens to Kling (and many others) on the auto industry.

Some advice for those seeking jobs in academia.

Prof Glaeser says that we need better teachers to improve our education system. I think there's much more to the issue. Also, Prof Glaeser doesn't say how we should attract better teachers--some data, for example, shows that better teachers often work at private schools, where they get lower pay. So, if pay isn't a good enough incentive, how do we attract teachers? Either much larger pay, or we should take a look at the incentives of teachers. My bet is that teachers are concerned with their work environment, their freedom in the classroom, and job security. The government has done a number of things to dissuade teachers from staying in their field. (h/t Thoma)

Still on education, Charles Murray argues that we should get rid of four-year BAs.

For those that follow oil prices and the industry, Mike Shedlock provides a wealth of information. Personally, I thought it was hilarious that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez "predicted" $100/barrel oil, with no qualifiers. Firstly, price tends to increase in all goods--we call this inflation, and it's especially true in prices tied to the dollar--so with no time qualifier, Chavez's "prediction" is basically self-evident. Secondly, not even Chavez could "predict" how oil would skyrocket (proving him right, by technicality), then plummet again (making him still sound ridiculous).

Lastly, in a paper about the ancient history of economics, Gavin Kennedy talks about the origins or bargaining. Now that's economic history!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just a few more things on my mind.

This mention of growth of the Chinese hat industry sticks out at me, only because I happen to know a guy who heavily invested in hat factories in China, buying up a few factories back in May or June. He must be doing very well, now!

Here's an interesting article pointing out that helping developing countries (in particular, countries to the south of us) is beneficial to the United States, due to positive impacts on trade. It's a point that most people outside of Economics haven't understood, it seems.

While I don't agree with everything the Economic Policy Institute believes, I think their post-election letter, Wall Street rescue plan, and their agenda for "Shared Prosperty" are interesting reads.

Monday, November 3, 2008

For students of Economics

The Economics Help blog poses a question--is Economics irrelevant if there is no scarcity? The answer seems to be yes. It's an interesting thought question, certainly.

And, some links about how a degree in Economics can help you.

2.79 Quintillion.

That's Zimbabwe's inflation rate. Yowza! That's 2,790,000,000,000,000,000%. I didn't even know what came after quadrillion! That's just a ludicrous number. I half expect the Cato Institute to update the page with, "Just kidding!" Oh, and the link goes to a new blog in the econoblogsphere, Crisis Talk. When they linked their source on the 29th, it was 10 quadrillion percent.

The WSJ shows that states in which housing prices have fallen are voting for Obama, and states in which housing prices have risen are voting for McCain. I wonder if the economy as a major issue drove states to vote for Obama, or if states predisposed to voting for McCain have more responsible lenders.

Robert Shiller at the NYT talks about Greenspan's self-admitted mistake. Though Greenspan says that their models did not predict the housing bubble, Shiller points out that people hinted at it, but the warnings were ignored. Contrary views are unpopular, and when you're a policy maker, you are less likely to want to risk your job with contrary views.

Mark Perry at Carpe Diem quotes an energy economist who claims that oil will go down to $20-25. It's around $66 now, and it was $140 not too long ago. I find it difficult to believe it will go down to $20.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Congratulations, Paul Krugman, and Thank You

If you've been paying any attention to the econoblogosphere, or to a number of other news sources, you've heard that Paul Krugman won the Nobel prize. I didn't feel inclined to go out of my way to help break the news on Monday, because it was really everywhere. Though many disagree with his politics--and, he's an easier target than most economists, due to his visibility--it's hard to argue that he's not deserving.

Congratulations, Paul. You've done great work, and you definitely deserve the prize.

A couple links to Marginal Revolution, who give an overview of the decision and work of Paul Krugman, and who explain so-called 'New Trade Theory,' for which Krugman apparently won his prize (though, Krugman has explained that the idea certainly isn't new, he just put it into a workable model--it's also worth noting that he doesn't agree with all of the implications of the model... but there are problems with every model).

Mark Thoma has spent some time showing off some of Paul Krugman's work, recently, including Krugman's defense of macroeconomics (a great read for an economist, I think), and a quote from The Accidental Theorist on how to think about economics (the relevant section is even available as part of the limited preview on Google Books, page 17 of the book, or so).

The Accidental Theorist is actually the first economics book I ever read, and probably contributed heavily to my decision to pursue economics as a profession. I apparently owe much to Paul Krugman. He has written that he never had truly great students like some other professors have had, but he has certainly had an impact on me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Academics on fixin' the crisis, prizes, realists/fundamentalists, and official statistics.

Academics actually get their voices heard in regards to rescue plans. It took them a while to realize that everyone thinks the focus should be on recapitalization.

Tim Hartford muses on Nobel prizes, and other prizes ('tis the season, after all).

Arnold Kling picks a nit about Paul Romer's piece on economic realists and fundamentalists. The Romer piece seems right on track in theory, but Kling disagrees that realists agree on the bailout plan.

I mentioned, before, the defense of BLS numbers--many people don't seem to believe them, apparently. Shadowstats responds.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Get an education.

Craig Newmark points me to Chris Blattman, who tells us how to get a PhD and save the world, and what kind of degree helps if you want to go into international development. They're old posts by Blattman, but still really useful.

Home ownership and the financial crisis

In the Wall Street Journal, an Australian says that not everyone should own a home, and explains the link between owning a home and the current financial crisis. She brings up a very valid point, and it's certainly worth a read. A lot of economists, in analyzing the financial crisis, having been showing rent-to-own ratios (or whatever term they happen to use) from the housing industry--this is very likely what's at the heart of those graphs. (h/t Mankiw)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Moving onwards.

I've created a page on my website that includes links to some of the best commentary about the financial crisis around. With so much opinions on the matter, it's difficult to keep up with it all, difficult to figure out what's useful, and it kind of crowds out other interesting pieces of information. I'll keep that page updated with information or links to information, and try to keep this blog for other stuff (though, chances are there will be interesting financial crisis news I'll want to mention on here as well).

Robert Waldmann, on the Angry Bear, refutes the claims of the previously mentioned physicist. While Waldmann brings up good points, I don't think he refutes all of the claims with satisfaction. In a similar vein, a University of Houston physicist writes "What Economists should learn from Econophysics."

Now for a few links from Dani Rodrik. He's a Harvard professor specializing in developmental issues. He points to a useful site for development data. But, he's sometimes silly, such as linking this economics rap (I'm kind of impressed). He also sometimes takes on fellow Harvard professor Greg Mankiw. He also has a number of posts pointing out that subsidies can lower prices, not raise them (depending on whether the country is a net importer or a net exporter). MyC4 looks like a Kiva-type site. That's good stuff. And, a ranking of econoblogs, updated with data from the past 90 days. The other common ranking I knew of is here.

Here is a video archive of London School of Economics lectures. Nice stuff. I'll eventually make a webpage with economics podcasts and videos.

Phil Izzo at the Wall Street Journal tells us that most lawmakers don't have economic educations. Well, I think we all knew that already, but it's particularly pertinent when they're trying to fix a financial crisis.

It's interesting to note the net present value of a JD. I wish I could also find the study that shows the incidence of JDs in various countries.

I Bits is an interesting blog, and Laura Holson tells us that wireless broadband boosts economies.

Lastly, a couple of Slate articles I meant to post on here a long time ago. A discussion about automobile subsidies, and a commentary on Obama's law exams he used to give.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Some recommended articles, not just about the financial crisis.

I'm not very familiar with Capital Chronicle, but they have an interesting article of some compiled for and against arguments of the original Paulson Plan. Though it failed, I think it's important to know why everyone wasn't gung ho about it.

While it didn't make huge news, the Fed pumped $630 billion dollars into the economy. Let's hope that has a positive effect and that it doesn't end up hurting the Fed.

A physicist makes the case for new models of economics, such as computer modeling as opposed to mathematical modeling.

You think you pay a lot in taxes? In the United States, taxes rates used to get above 90% for a pretty long time. Those weren't necessarily bad times, either.

Political Calculations points out that stocks are still doing okay--there hasn't been a collapse. We're not in panic mode, despite some pretty strong setbacks.

A look at price increases in New York City over the past 40 years. It seems quite interesting, at least. Prices for food went up less than I expected.

Professor Hal Varian makes the case that piracy doesn't kill an economy, it just requires different business models. Rather, he made the case four years ago but more people still need to know.

Dean Baker points out that the stock market is not the economy. A lot of people have been freaking out about stocks lately.

UPDATE: I have a bunch of these things, so there'll probably be more updates to this thread.

Steve Sailer tells why minority lending didn't contribute to this mess (I've heard people say such government regulations and pressure are the original source). He also provides some interesting background information.

And, another compilation of blurbs from pundits.

At Marginal Revolution, they have a lot of interesting commentary. These from Tyler Cowen: Best and Worse Case Scenarios, his summary on the crisis, he points out that the FDIC coming into the picture is a brilliant idea (one that should've been thought of earlier, maybe), and he's my original source of the minority lending issue. Oh, and he also points to a new blog by Chicago economist Casey Mulligan, with some interesting but wordy commentary. He could use some better formatting too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The economy and presidential politics according to Dilbert.

Well, not exactly. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, polled AEA economists.

The CNN report.
Adams posts about it on his blog. 1, 2.

The gist? Economists favor Obama on the majority of issues. Also, economists tend to be Democrats, though Independent economists also favor Obama.

I'm not surprised Education is the top issue for economists (I'm sure, that most AEA economists work in academia is a factor), but I am surprised that number two is Health Care. Do we have a lot of geriatric economists? I would have thought international trade, energy, and innovation would be bigger issues for economists.

Still, interesting stuff.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Houston: We're so great.

According to the Department of Labor, Houston has seen the second strongest job growth in the past 12 months. That's really good!

And, if you weren't impressed by that, there's a new book out to tell people why Houston's great. I wonder how widely it'll be distributed.

There are apparently projects to make the city more green, too, at affordable prices. Interesting!

In other news, ConocoPhillips is getting out of retail gas.

Economics is all about how everything is linked to everything else. If you cut taxes for the poor, they can more easily afford education, meaning a more educated populous, meaning a higher skilled workforce, and thusly higher GDP (just as an example). Hurricane Gustav may have hurt parts of Louisiana, but it's also affected the shrimping industry.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Some side thoughts.

Professor Brad DeLong asks why universities still have large lectures. My contribution: professors don't feel textbooks do an adequate enough job of explaining material. This is partly due to limited space in textbooks, which are a function of production costs. Authors have to find a balance between precision and clarity in the span of 800 pages. However, online textbooks don't have this restriction. An online textbook could be written to be very clear, with hyperlinks to rigorous mathematical proofs, or somesuch. Paradigms change slowly, though.

Bianaoh points me to the Dataverse Network, which seeks to make data and its analysis more accessible, while preserving credit. It strikes me as a great idea, and I hope to be able to use such tools in the future.

Cartoonist Scott Adams tells people what economists are good for. Convincing the public of anything unpopular is an uphill battle, Scott.

Lastly, something more related to the current economy. Current numbers with an historical perspective. The message: things have been worse, and we're still around. Cheer up, people.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cities, broadband, and globalization

This should surprise no one. As cities grow more dense and traffic gets worse, people turn to closer-to-home solutions for shopping. Sprawling cities get shopping centers, close to home, that support the majority of local shoppers' needs. It, of course, makes perfect sense. Some places even have everything self-contained in single, massive buildings--living space, work, and shopping all in one.

Have you ever been worried that municipal politicians are wasting your money? It happens at every level of government. How's that for dead weight loss?

Google talks about municipal broadband. As I said in my other blog, Houston's working on it! Apparently, other cities aren't having success, though.

PBS has a neat web page on globalization, though the economist in me always wants more data.

Monday, August 18, 2008

National and International Governments

According to a Reuters article:

McCain's top economic advisers said Obama's proposals would hurt small businesses and not foster job growth. Martin Feldstein, a Harvard professor of economics, said Obama's approach would backfire.

"Obama's plan will slow the economy, will depress the economy by raising taxes -- raising taxes on business investment, raising taxes on individuals. And that tax increase isn't going to happen immediately, but the fact that he promises that he will make that happen in 2010 or 2011 is enough to continue to depress the economy now," he said.

Now, Martin Feldstein is a smart guy, but I don't agree with him here. Given the fiscal lag, the relative lack of power a president has over the economy, and the fact that congress will alter any bill proposed, it'll be a long time before anything similar anyone's currently proposed economic plan will have an effect on the economy. Moreover, the Federal Reserve Board governors are betting on upside risks being greater than downside risks--so we may actually want a slow down of the economy when any kind of plan does eventually hit, in order to stave off inflationary pressures. Moreover, the results of the Obama plan may be mixed, as middle class consumers will supposedly be getting help (and thusly be buying more things, helping all companies).

This is a great idea that should've been done a long time ago. I saw it linked on some other site, but I don't remember which.

In UK, you can get money if you come up with a way to improve the lives of UKers with online applications or providing easy access to data. They "want to hear your ideas on how to reuse, represent, mashup or combine the information the government holds to make it useful."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yet another store closure.

Every Bennigan's and Stake & Ale in the country suddenly closed today. That's pretty drastic, and without warning. It's probably a bad way to run a company, to not warn even your employees about possible closures, or to close everything at once, but when you know you're going bankrupt you may not care.

Friday, July 25, 2008

News that doesn't get out as much, I think.

BW Senior Economist Michael Mandel reports that real college grad wages are down a whopping 5.5% Ouch! That's a figure we generally don't want falling, because we want to give incentive for people to pursue college degrees. I think we should expect that figure to rebound over the next few years.

And, while new home sales are down (IHT), it's actually higher than expected (Bloomberg). Bloomberg also reports that durable goods orders are up, consumer confidence is up, and moderate growth is expected.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Factory Output and Unemployment

Bloomberg reports that factory output rose in June. What does this tell us?

Well, nothing we didn't already know, I think. Take a look at Capacity Utilization. Looks like it's been falling, until a recent jump up. We don't know if there'll be a change in trend back upward, but I find it interesting how different indeces are tied together.

Look at capacity utilization over the past three years (you'll have to click on 'Charts' then '3-year'), and you'll see the rise in capacity utilization, before its downward descent. It shouldn't surprise you to hear that there's probably a negative relationship between capacity utilization and the unemployment rate (or, perhaps, a positive relationship between capacity utilization and the employment rate).

Capacity utilization measures the percentage of factories in use, but it takes people to work those factories. With constant technology (or, in the short term), a decrease in physical capital will likely lead to a decrease in human capital. For a given technology level, there's a particular ratio of physical-to-human capital, so a decrease in one form of capital will mean a decrease in the other form of capital, in order to keep the ratio constant. A rise in utilized physical capital--as the Bloomberg article reports--might portend a drop in the unemployment rate, or at least provides downward pressure on the unemployment rate.

"Downward pressure" just means that there will either be a drop in unemployment or less of a jump in unemployment, all other things equal.

On the other hand, the report may not be indicative of a trend. Capacity utilization has been dropping this year, and unemployment has been rising. Unemployment continued to rise in June, which suggests that capacity utilization will continue to drop.

Bottom line is this: if the report is actually the start of a trend, we'll see the unemployment rate start to drop. If no, the unemployment rate will continue to rise.

Side note: interesting 2002 article on the savings rate.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Educational issues

Apparently some people in the educational system want to do away with summer school. I wish he'd expound on his reasons a bit more, as summer school has been shown to help even low-income students.

An interesting topic raised in one of my old classes was Good Cause employment, we called it. In parts of Europe, I think by law, someone cannot be fired without a very good reason--and poor performance isn't good enough. In the United States, someone can be fired, essentially, at will or with no cause. In Europe, therefore, hirings and firings are less frequent, it is more costly to employ people (you have to be extra careful who you hire), and salaries are relatively lower. The discussion went on to conclude that in the United States, since hirings and firings and contracts are determined by the market forces, Americans prefer the extra pay to job security.

That's a long set up for one link, I think, but according to an online poll, some educators don't feel this same way. Those teachers prefer their job security over their high salaries. Also, according to that site, most teachers have functional or better parent-teacher relationships at their school, so I think that those polls don't represent a very representative sample of educators.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Police and Privacy

This is a good op/ed piece in the Houston Chronicle about better neighborhoods having better police enforcement.

Under a truly free market system, all policing would be handled by private entities, and the poor would suffer from little to no policing. Indeed, there used to be private militias. I think most Americans agree, though, that safety should be universal, and police forces should equally protect everyone. There are certainly economic arguments to be made to this effect as well, particularly concerning the necessity of private property. If wealthier areas would like more or better police enforcement, maybe they could push for higher taxes to pay for better police wages or more officers for all. That's essentially what we do with national security, isn't it?

EDIT: Another article about the lack of police officers and how it affects other parts of an economy.

An article in PC Mag about the anonymity (or lack thereof) of internet activity.

Of course, this is an issue outside the realm of PC Mag, as people are afraid of losing their privacy. Allow me to play the devil's advocate: what are people trying to hide? In an age of the freedom of information, we learn that a more informed citizen is a more powerful citizen (and, you can substitute "citizen" for "consumer" or any other type of person). What are people doing that will harm them if their secret is revealed?

Let us assume a world in which we have no (or minimal) privacy. Let's call this a Free Information World. Everyone would have access to your phone number, your address, your name, your current location, what television shows you like, and so on. You wouldn't be afraid of stalkers. Why is that? Everyone would be able to identify a stalker pretty easily. If your current location was always known, the resident of a house would know when you were at his window. Stalking would be much more difficult. Criminal activity in general would be more difficult--which means that there would be fewer criminals, and less to be afraid of. This, of course, requires world-wide freedom of information. The system would work if it was limited to a country only if immigrants and foreign visitors were also tracked.

This Free Information World possess some practical problems with money. We wouldn't want people to be able to access your bank accounts, regardless of whether or not people knew how much money you had (it's not like you can be physically robbed, if your current location is known, and the source of "new" money is known, and so on). We'd need some high-tech DNA sampling identification system (or maybe just an ID card that stays around with you, assuming its current location is always known as well, in the event the card is lost or mistakenly picked up by someone else, or whatever).

But, your money, like all of your possessions, could be considered a private property issue in the sense that everything you own must be protected, and inaccessible by others unless you give it to them (blackmail is also more difficult, and naughty secrets are harder to keep in this world). As long as these private property issues can be resolved, this world should be a functioning society.

The only other issue I can possibly imagine is prejudice. If people know your medical history, they may be less likely to want a long-lasting relationship with you. If they know your financial history, they may be less inclined to spend time with someone outside of his socioeconomic class. I answer: you would know ahead of time what people's prejudices were. Do you want to associate with a prejudiced person? Associating with someone is a mutual thing. Also, if you knew every one's problems, then you'd likely be more understanding with people in different situations. Sure, that person may have some issue you don't like, but are you so perfect? Everyone has their issues.

Regardless, this hypothetical world is also probably futuristic enough that maybe there'd be less prejudice in the world anyways. I can hope, right?

Monday, July 7, 2008

More interesting things

It's been a tumultuous time around the world. Zimbabwe has just been a mess! Sadly, no one decided to do anything about it until after their elections were over.

Anyways, everyone knows oil prices have been high. Iraq wanted to try to get some help producing the stuff, but I've heard that has not met much success yet. It would be nice to get higher supply now, but if the situation is anything like how Heilbroner describes in Economics Explained, then we have a rough ride ahead of us regardless, with no easy end in sight (interesting bits on pages 181 and 207, regarding the 70s).

By the way, if you think everyone's doing poorly and losing money, take a look at McDonald's and Walmart. Inferior goods are an interesting thing.

And for those curious, Business Week had an interesting article to explain why it takes so long to call a recession. They don't really explain it very well, but it's still an interesting read.

Lastly, a Newsweek article asks if the president has the power to fix the economy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

News round up

Microsoft has been trying to join powers with Yahoo for some time to try to beat market juggernaut Google--Microsoft apparently didn't offer Yahoo a good enough deal, which opened the door for Google to spread its influence even farther, and to partner with Yahoo. Interesting how joining with Google could possibly benefit both Yahoo and Google (at least, they can find an agreeable partnership for now).

More news about the economy doing better (rather than weakening, maybe stabilization); also economists seem to back up the Fed. Inflation is supposed to dip to 2.4% rather than 3.9%, which is a mixed sign. Before people start worrying too much (these numbers have been going up and down, mind you), keep in mind that the historical average is 3.42%--we're relatively close to that.

Lehman Bros reported their first negative quarter in its history, I believe, and people act like the world is ending. It likely doesn't warrant firings, but if that's what keeps the investors happy...

I always find strikes interesting, because of the economic situation that drives people to strike, and the economic consequences following the strike. Recently, in Spain, the shellfish industry is affected by striking lorry drivers.

Looks like the Fed is right to target inflation. Note Houston isn't too bad, according to the graphic. Beware Dallas.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

HISD policy

According to this recent article, five years ago HISD started charging out-of-district students a tuition for enrolling in HISD schools. Did the decline in enrollment really surprise them? Due to the decline in enrollment, HISD started losing money, and they're now considering getting rid of the tuition to HISD's schools.

First of all, thank goodness they're lowering barriers to education. I highly suspect that when this policy was passed five years ago, long term economics benefits were not considered--that is, making education more affordable for children now will allow them to contribute more to the economy in the future. There are high pay-offs to lowering barriers to education, but they take a pretty long time to come. Still, as a general policy, charging such tuitions at the primary and secondary education levels is probably a bad idea.

The first issue that comes to mind, however, is that there may be free riders from other districts. That is, other districts may severely lessen funding to their educational programs, and lessen their taxes, if they know their students are going to HISD for their schooling. The possible effect? Cost of living in surrounding areas goes further down, those surrounding areas reap the benefits of higher population growth (and the longer term benefits of an education populace), and depending on the elasticity they may still come out ahead financially.

Then again, transportation is a big issue, unless the surrounding areas use their educational funding to transport their children across district lines.

Side notes: The article refers to HISD schools as "elite." Pardon my skepticism. And, when evaluating the unknowns of what will happen with the policy (the article mentions a board member worried that neighboring districts will send their problem children to HISD), why not just look at the numbers from recent history (five years prior)? Look at the number or percentage of problem children (however the board member my define that term; whatever she's worried about) before and after the previous policy change. There may be none, but if there is, find out how much those extra problem children cost the district, and do a basic cost-benefit analysis. I just hope they consider longer term factors as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Texas-related news

The Trans-Texas Corridor looks like it may get rerouted to go through Houston. As traffic is a big issue in Houston--and, a key part of our mayor's platform--I don't know if the benefit to the local market will outweigh the cost of traffic, but I'm hoping that it'd go through Grand Parkway rather than down 59 or 610.

I like the focus on commuter rails in Houston--surely a result of gas prices. It'd be nice to have a low energy-consumption society, as Paul Krugman depicts in a previously mentioned article, but I previously worried that Houston was going about this the wrong way. Dallas has a great system, with rails that parallel major highways, and according to this news report, Houston is looking to do the same. If this gets off the ground, I may not complain as much about a Trans-Texas Corridor through the city.

The IRF predicted that Houston, so far lightly hit by the credit crunch, will be hit much harder later in the year. The IRF is an essential resource in Houston, and it'd be nice if it was expanded.

Also, I would like to see statistics showing the efficacy of teacher bonus incentives that prompt such news articles regarding HISD as this.

Still, the Texas economy as a whole seems to be doing fairly decently. Fifth in the country? Not too bad. Besides that, Kiplinger says that Houston is the best city to live in the United States, with Austin also making the top 10.

In personal news, I recently got my BS in Economics, and am hoping to soon start graduate work. That's my excuse for not updating this blog very often. Maybe I'll ask Dr. Barton Smith of the IRF if I can work with him in his regional work.

Interesting news.

I think this is an interesting news bit that won't get enough air time, but the EU antitrust chief is apparently a fan of open standards. While he may push for open standards, the statement probably is not going to have much of an effect on actual business practices. Still, the more people who are aware of open options, the better.

I predicted before that the recession, if there was one, ended at least a month ago (not that we're recovering already, but we're probably in a trough). It's worth noting, though, that while businesses may be bouncing back or adjusting, the adjustment period is the part of the cycle that is most painful on the population. We'll feel the effects of the recession for maybe six to nine months after the recession is over (again, the numbers are my prediction). Some evidence is recently provided by Paul Krugman in his blog. And, some evidence for why I think we're in a trough rather than a recession (this is not nearly exhaustive): positive growth (more recently it's been adjusted up, too) and strong or seemingly unaffected production. And, according to recent news, the Fed and gold/commodity prices might agree with me. Note that I'm not saying the economy is doing well, just that the term 'recession' is not an accurate description of the current economy.

And, some interesting oil-related articles. Krugman, NYT, Mankiw, Forbes. I find that Forbes article particularly interesting because it mentions that Bernanke's implication that rates will rise in the future has strengthened the dollar, which in turn has lowered the cost of oil.

I thought this was interesting: Economists and their investments. They're apparently not bad.

Lastly, can I talk about economics and not politics? Yes, but it's more difficult when we're so close to elections. I'll just mention that I like Obama's economic advising staff, and it just got a boost. Obama should consider himself lucky, I think, and if this sort of thing was more publicized, Obama would have the edge on economic policy issues. Not that presidents have much control over that sort of thing, but it's one of those things people talk about.

Edit: Looks a little more definitive that Bernanke agrees with me.