Collected posts on the financial crisis

governmentLinks to my posts over the last three years on the causes of the crisis. This is an ongoing project, and I’ll add new items to the Financial Crisis page as they are posted. Ten posts:

1. What is the US economy? Introduction. Before blaming the economic crisis on either government regulation or free enterprise, we need to know what kind of economic system the U.S. had before the crisis. A survey of the relevant factors in identifying the degree of capitalism or socialism then in place.

2. Deregulation? The Federal Register’s size: Data on one measure of government regulation — page counts of its publication of new rules each year.

3. register1991When was the financial sector deregulated? Data on two measures of regulation: The size of the federal government’s annual budget for regulating the financial and banking sector, and the total number of government employees regulating that sector.

4. The Subprime Mortgage Crisis: A simplified flowchart of subprime mortgages’ contribution to the crisis. Presidents, congressmen, Fannie Mae, and lenders’ changing incentives.

5. longerPathologies of the mixed economy (or, How we got into this frackin’ mess): A big-picture overview of the development of our mixed economy. Integrating developments in ethics, economics and political history, and public choice. A video-lecture version.

6. Money and monetary systems: An introductory contrast of private/competing money systems to our government/monopoly money system. Includes an analogy of books to money: Books are to the intellectual realm what money is to the economic realm.

7. Has the Federal Reserve been a failure? A report on a conference paper given by economic historians George Selgin and Lawrence White comparing the Fed’s original mission with its track record over the twentieth century.

8. wall-streetWhat is the OWS complaint? A question for those venting their frustration at Wall Street rather than Pennsylvania Avenue.

9. Warren Buffett and the power of corporations: On the crucial distinction between political power and economic power.

10. John Allison on the financial crisis: I can’t take any credit for this excellent talk, but the former CEO of BB&T had a front-row view of the events leading up to and during the crisis. I also can’t take any credit for economist George Reisman’s depressingly clear overview explanation.

[Return to the Financial Crisis page. Return to the Business and Economics page. Return to the main page.]

Worth Reading for May 2006

5/31 Two recent takes on contemporary intellectual culture: In the Chronicle, Michael Kimmel reviews several trendy novels in the “lad lit” genre, describing that genre as “a sort of anti-bildungsroman, in which a sardonic, clever, unapologetic slacker refuses to grow up, get a meaningful job, commit to relationships, or find any meaning in life.” And Julian Baggini argues that, philosophically, the “comic cartoon [is] the form best suited to illuminate our age”: “To speak truthfully and insightfully today you must have a sense of the absurdity of human life and endeavour. Past attempts to construct grand and noble theories about human history and destiny have collapsed.” (Both via Arts & Letters Daily.)

5/30 Is Darwinian conservatism an oxymoron? James Seaton reviews Larry Arnhart’s recent book. And here is a review of leftist Todd Gitlin’s new book on how postmodernism gutted the Left. Exactly. (Though it had already suffered a brain-stroke, as I have argued, by the time it turned to desperate pomo measures.)

5/27 Has Ragnar shrugged? And here is an inspiring profile of Ken Iverson, a twentieth-century business hero.

5/26 Sally Satel on organ donation and the kindness of strangers. (Thanks to Roy for the link.) Here is the latest in human longevity research. And 91-year-old Cliff Garl will be forever young.

5/25 Fascinating: What physicists think happened the first few microseconds after the Big Bang. And how much progress have we made toward strong artificial intelligence? Jeff Hawkins summarizes. (Thanks to Jim H-N. for the link.)

5/24 Harry Binswanger makes a strong moral and practical case for open immigration. (Via Not PC.) And Russell Roberts identifies some further cultural and political components of a full solution to the issues that immigration raises.

5/23 Michael Barone has more good world-economic news. (Via Rich Karlgaard.)

5/22 New record-high life-expectancy statistics in the U.S. (Thanks to Virginia for the link.) And the Bureau of Labor Statistics has average hourly and weekly earnings for American workers.

5/19 Here are five fascinating numbers. And worth browsing is this History of Mathematics Archive.

5/18 Why the rich need a tax break. For more data see also this government report.

5/17 Improving the fruits of the Enlightenment: Gadgets then and now. And here comes the Six-Billion-Dollar Man. And here is a website devoted to one of the mathematical and political giants of the Enlightenment: the Marquis de Condorcet.

5/16 Do not miss the excellent underwater photographs from the sunken city of Alexandria. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.) And here is a series of
lovely images of planet Earth.

5/15 The always-worth-reading George Reisman enlightens us about price gouging. Professor Bainbridge has an intriguing hypothesis about union leaders’ arguments about CEO pay. And Roy Poses reports on out-of control conflicts of interest in the University of California system.

5/13 Should we privatize peace efforts in, e.g., Darfur? Rebecca Ulam Weiner weighs the issues of efficiency, cost, and accountability. Shelby Steele wonders why, since World War II, the West fights its wars so delicately. And Andrew Klavan believes that to get the job done we should draft Hollywood.

5/12 Neil Parille’s new web blog has an admirable goal: “Its aim is to discuss Objectivism free from the name calling and hoopla too often associated with the discussion of Rand and Objectivism on the web.” The Objective Reference Center has a good selection of texts by Ayn Rand available online. And this just in: Kathy Sierra has advice Objectivists could profitably adapt to philosophy.

5/11 The home decoration dictators are coming to your neighborhood. (Via Philosophy 101.) And now that the health police have put Big Tobacco on the defensive, it’s time to take on Big Ice Cream.

5/10 Philosopher Lester Hunt explains why he is against multi-culturalism. And here is an immigrant-group success story—twice.

5/9 Humberto Fontova rips into the historically-uninformed critics of The Lost City: Andy Garcia’s movie about Cuba. (Thanks to Brent for the link.) Which also raises an interesting question: How much is Fidel Castro worth? And “Protagoras” asks another: Why do some find it so hard to learn from history?

5/8 Grant McCracken asks: How do we measure how creative a culture is? And Jeff Cornwall has advice to entrepreneurs about failure on the highway to success.

5/6 Is the evolution of the eye irreducibly complex? In this four-minute video, Swedish scientist Dan-Eric Nilsson demonstrates one possible straightforward evolutionary path. And some actual—as opposed to mythical—intelligent design: This is one Clever design for a car.

5/5 A new tutorial by artist Michael Newberry: Rhythm in painting.

5/4 Superstar teacher John Taylor Gatto is working on an ambitious documentary project about American education: “The Fourth Purpose”. (Thanks to Jim for the link.)

5/3 A website devoted to the great Romantic novelist Victor Hugo. Interesting and new to me was this account of Carl August Hagburg’s visits with Hugo in 1836.

5/2 A new book on one of the architects of the Reign of Terror: Maximilien Robespierre. And for something more uplifting, Ken Gregg has a post on a vigorous and fascinating Pole who embraced Enlightenment ideals: Tadeusz Kosciuszko was recruited by Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, became a great friend of Thomas Jefferson and a hero of the Revolutionary war.

5/1 Logic and economics: Don Boudreaux has a good example illustrating why ad hominem is an invalid argument tactic. And he has a further post illustrating why tu quoque is a perfectly understandable reaction.

Worth Reading for March 2006

3/31 Being a Brief Guide to Religious Denominations in America:

A Baptist is a man who got saved.

A Methodist is a Baptist who got shoes.

A Congregationalist is a Methodist who moved to town.

A Presbyterian is a Congregationalist who got rich.

An Episcopalian is a Presbyterian who ran for public office.

(Author unknown.)

3/30 In the Chronicle, Diane Ravitch has a short history of the College Boards and SAT—and a suggestion that we revive the College Boards.

3/29 An extended interview with Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng, who was imprisoned by the communist Chinese for twenty years. And here’s an interesting, briefer interview with Shelby Steele, author of the new classic The Content of Our Character.

3/28 Professor David Mayer argues that political “progressives” are anything but that.

3/27 Do you recall the (now-debunked) claim that 500 scientists had signed a letter opposing evolution and supporting “Intelligent Design”? Here’s a snappy comeback: the Alliance for Science has published a letter with the signatures of 10,000 members of the clergy who support evolution. And here is a troubling item: some public school districts in Arkansas prohibit teachers from mentioning evolution.

3/25 Collectivism and human rights: Disabled newborns are killed in North Korea, says a defector. Here is a musical based on an unlikely theme: North Korean concentration camps. (Thanks to Karen for the link.) A picture that is worth one-hundred-thousand words: North Korea is dark. And R. J. Rummel has this summary overview of the horror that is living in North Korea.

3/24 In Wired, Will Wright, creator of The Sims, argues that video games build “creativity, community, self-esteem, problem-solving” skills. Not to mention that growing up on video games means you can kick tail on the real battlefield.

3/23 Political philosopher Tibor Machan takes the editors of a recent book on business ethics to task for a package-deal besmirching of libertarianism. And economist George Reisman places the blame for higher oil prices on those who help prop up the Middle Eastern cartel—including the U.S. Senate.

3/22 Is it teaching-versus-research in higher education? Professor Jonathan Zimmerman argues that it is time to give teaching more weight. Or is it athletics-versus-education at some state universities? Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl Wieman is fed up with the University of Colorado. And here is an example of the education bureaucrat mindset in action. (Via John Enright.)

3/21 Fascinating: a study released in 2005 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University: The Top 100 Universities in the World. The global-distribution patterns are striking: Of the top 10 in the world—8 are in North America, and 2 are in Europe. Of the top 30 universities—23 are in North America, 5 are in Europe, and 2 are in Asia. Of the top 50 universities—39 are in North America, 9 are in Europe, and 2 are in Asia.

3/20 Fortune magazine has a list of 10 cool colleges for entrepreneurs. I especially like the University of Rochester’s idea of integrating entrepreneurship across the curriculum rather than having it located only in the business department. And Forbes has a great list: The Twenty Most Important Tools Ever. (Thanks to Roger for the link.)

3/19 Art insight: painter Michael Newberry explains and illustrates triangulation of light and color.

3/18 Aesthetics—from beauty to edginess: Donald Pittenger begins a chronicle on the decline and fall of the classical face.

3/17 Professor Margaret Soltan suggests that the professor-as-intellectual is obsolete and asks a dangerous question: Do sabbaticals create more value than they cost?

3/16 Fruits of the Enlightenment: Researchers have restored the vision of mice blinded by brain damage. And scientists have harvested stem cells from menstrual blood.

3/15 Bjørn Stærk requests that we translate Shakespeare into English.

3/14 With March Madness upon us, Neal McCluskey takes on the morality of taxpayer money and public university sports programs. (Via University Diaries.)

3/13 Why are there so many unhappy endings in great literature? And how can we change that? Ben Macintyre shows us how To Cuddle a Mockingbird.

3/11 Has another Michelangelo fresco been authenticated? And here is a site with some good quality images of Leonardo da Vinci sketches.

3/10 FIRE has announced its college speech code of the month.

3/9 When government schools fail, some of them turn to the private sector for help. On the other hand, as Mark Lerner reports, some failing government schools turn to yet more centralized, top-down control.

3/8 Simply excellent: Dr. Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera television. Joshua Zader also has the link and some key quotations from the talk. And R. J. Rummel has the text of a widely-distributed letter written by Major General Vernon Chong, Command Surgeon, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. Update: Here is a follow-up article on Waha Sultan and her outstanding interview. (Thanks to Karen for the Sultan links.)

3/7 In the new Cato Unbound, philosopher David Schmidtz asks: When does inequality actually make a difference?

3/6 Breath-taking photographs of aurora phenomena. And is Jupiter developing a new red spot?

3/4 In the Literary Encyclopedia, Ashland University’s John Lewis states that “Ayn Rand wrote the most intellectually challenging fiction of her generation” and provides an introduction to the themes of Rand’s novels. Grant Schulyer opines about the state of the debate about Ayn Rand’s literary and philosophical significance. In a talk to SLIS, doctoral student Robert White gives an overview of Ayn Rand’s thought and significance. And if your German is up to it, check out Kapitalismus-Magazin, Freie Radikale—Das Blog der deutsch- sprachigen Objektivisten, and Objektivismus. Update: George Reisman takes Robert Mayhew to task for altering Ayn Rand’s wording in a newly-published volume of her Q & A.

3/3 For researchers and admirers of the Enlightenment: Electronic Enlightenment, a developing site with texts and correspondence of over 3,800 eighteenth-century figures. Check out also the Voltaire Foundation, the force behind Electronic Enlightenment.

3/2 In The New York Times, Dr. Brian Day on Canada’s socialized medical system: “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.” Worth reading again is Mark Steyn’s review of a Canadian film, The Barbarian Invasions. And at Division of Labour, Frank Stephenson follows up on the issue of how much high medical bills contribute to personal bankruptcies in the USA.

3/1 At San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a set of science experiments anyone can do. And Australian scientists have grown a prostate gland from stem cells.