Are we doomed to some post-modern quantum mechanical nightmare wherein “Schrödinger’s Banks” are simultaneously alive and dead until some politically-shaped measurement by a regulator forces a collapse of the superposition of states into hunky-doriness?"
Paul Krugman - Savings and trade balance - "But what really gets me is that Joe [Stiglitz] is thinking of savings as an independent determinant of the trade balance. I tried to clear this up 23 years ago; here we go again. Imagine that US savings rise and China’s savings fall, holding the exchange rate constant. Does this painlessly reduce the US trade deficit?
No, it doesn’t. Most of the fall in US demand is a reduction in demand for US-produced goods and services; most of the rise in Chinese demand is a rise in demand for Chinese-produced goods and services. So the net effect is to raise unemployment here and create inflationary pressures there — unless something shifts demand from Chinese to US goods. And that something should be the exchange rate."
Rajiv Sethi - Hirschman, exit and voice - "While it is commonly believed that most organizations would prefer that their customers or members had no exit option at all (as in the case of a monopoly) Hirschman argues, instead, that monopolists would welcome a modest degree of competition in order to shed their most vociferous customers:
[There] are many... cases where competition does not restrain monopoly as it is supposed to, but comforts and bolsters it by unburdening it of its more troublesome customers. As a result, one can define an important and too little noticed type of monopoly-tyranny: a limited type, an oppression of the weak by the incompetent and an exploitation of the poor by the lazy which is the more durable and stifling as it is both unambitious and escapable."
Self-Evident - Negative swap spreads - "Recall the negative swap spread perfect arbitrage: Borrow short at LIBOR; use that to buy Treasuries; swap the fixed Treasury coupons for (floating) LIBOR; use those payments to pay interest on the short-term loan; and roll the short-term loan every three months.
What could possibly go wrong?"
Language log - Neuroscience vs. financial analysis - "Getting back to the "explanatory neurophilia ≅ physics envy" idea, it seems to me that there are some analogies but also some striking differences. The research of Weisberg et al. on "The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations" suggests that logically irrelevant neuroscience impresses novices and outsiders, but not experts. In contrast, Lo and Mueller argue that the seductive allure of irrelevant but interesting mathematics has distorted the judgment of the most highly-regarded economists and financial analysts.
For those who are interested in the sociology of economics (about which I obviously know very little), I recommend Deirdre McCloskey's The Secret Sins of Economics (summary and discussion here)."