Wednesday, July 30, 2014

War. What's it good for?

Absolutely something good, says Thomas Sowell--who, as an economist is trained to evaluate things by their incentive structures--if the stuffed shirts like Sec'y of State John Kerry would shut up;
...where have the U.N., Kerry and Obama been during all these decades of endlessly repeated Middle East carnage? The Middle East must lead the world in cease-fires. If cease-fires were the road to peace, the Middle East would easily be the most peaceful place on the planet.
"Cease-fire" and "negotiations" are magic words to "the international community." But just what do cease-fires actually accomplish? In the short run, they save some lives. But in the long run, they cost far more lives, by lowering the cost of aggression.
In the long run there will be more dead thanks to the likes of Kerry, but students of history know something else;
At one time, launching a military attack on another nation risked not only retaliation but annihilation. When Carthage attacked Rome, that was the end of Carthage.
But when Hamas or some other terrorist group launches an attack on Israel, they know in advance that whatever Israel does in response will be limited by calls for a cease-fire, backed by political and economic pressures from the United States.
If Hamas knew Israel would be unconstrained in its response, by international opinion, it's likely they would not even think of shooting rockets into their neighbor's territory. Peace would be at hand.

When light rail isn't convenient

Have your getaway car waiting after you rob the sitting ducks;
According to [Seattle] police, the victims all got off the light rail at the Columbia City Station around 10:15 p.m.
The suspects, who had their T-shirts pulled up over their faces, reportedly came up behind two of the victims -- a 13-year-old girl and 21-year-old woman -- in the 5000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, showed their guns and took the victims' purses.
....According to police, the men ran to a silver car with large chrome rims parked at 30th Avenue South and South Dawson Street and fired two shots into the air before driving away.
At least they carpooled.

FDA to Ebola sufferers: Drop Dead

Or, keep your shirts on(?);
Campaigners are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States to fast-track their authorisation of the TKM-Ebola drug.
The petition, created on, states: 'One of the most promising is TKM-Ebola manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals.
'This drug has been shown to be highly effective in killing the virus in primates and Phase 1 clinical trials to assess its safety in humans were started earlier this year.'
In July the FDA put clinical trials on hold, despite the fact 14 research participants had already safely tolerated the drug, campaigners said.
Cue the apologists, 'But we kept thalidomide off the market!'. But, what's the comparative body count?

D Day for thee, Argentina

It's the 30th of July, and that means Argentina has to belly up to the bar in New York and pay their overdue tab;
Despite the defiant tone of the government, many people seem resigned. Argentina has defaulted before and it will do it again.
I met Carina Etchegaray, the mother of two children aged 14 and 16.
When Argentina last defaulted at the end of 2001, she lost huge amounts of savings.
She had wanted to buy a house for her young family. But at the end of 2001, the government introduced what was known as the "corralito". It literally means a small enclosure in Spanish, but refers to when the government partially froze bank accounts and people were stopped from taking money out.
"When we finally had the money, because of devaluation, we could only buy a car for the same quantity of money we had for a house," she says.
But she is also practical.
"We live with this shadow of crisis. You have to continue with your life because you have children and have to work.
"You have to adapt - in this country, it's the way of life."
What we've bolded in the above ought to warm the cockles of Scott Sumner's Market Monetarist heart, but what's a nice girl like Cristina Kirchner doing in a place like New York federal court?

Well, to make a long story short, the 'way of life' (weaker than weak rule of law) in Argentina meant that if you want to sell sovereign bonds to the world (i.e., borrow their money) you have to subject yourself to an authority where they haven't (yet) hanged all the lawyers.

In which case 'the vultures' will come home to roost, eventually. Como hoy. If they didn't, international finance as it is known, will be changed drastically, to the detriment of just about everyone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What socialists do well

In Chile it's belt tightening time;
SANTIAGO – Budget Director Sergio Granados told Congress today that the Bachelet administration is now looking for 2014 GDP to come in at 3.2 percent, down from a previous forecast of 3.4 percent.
Granados also said that the fiscal deficit, after implementation of tax reform, will be 2.0 percent compared to the previous estimate, not including tax reform, which would have been 0.9 percent. The updated calculation of tax revenues will be slightly lower with a slightly higher expense component.
The Central Bank’s most recent Financial Trader’s Survey showed that the majority of respondents are looking for an even lower 2014 GDP at 2.9 percent.
Chile. Formerly the jewel of South America.

Growing on Dollar Trees

Profits, they hope, by serving the poor!
The acquisition of Family Dollar by Dollar Tree has created, overnight, an $18 billion 13,000 store powerhouse. This newly combined company has some pretty big implications for not just the deep discount segment of retail, but mass merchants too.
....“This is a transformational opportunity,” said Dollar Tree CEO, Bob Sasser. “This acquisition will extend our reach to lower-income customers and strengthen and diversify our store footprint. Combined, our growth potential is enhanced with improved opportunities to increase the productivity of the stores and to open more stores across multiple banners.”
Why won't the customers just go to Wal-Mart or Target?
Chains from Walmart all the way down to regional players such as Shopko have been chasing these shoppers for decades. As dollar stores proliferated in the 1990s, so did sections within larger stores selling similar merchandise. No name deeply discounted store brands appeared at Walgreens and Walmart to counter those offered at dollar stores.
Even Target succumbed, creating a small area near store entrances with a revolving selection of deeply discounted items in bins.
They would, if there was one handy, but;
...the small stores are easily dropped into urban, suburban and rural communities alike. These units are cheap to build and turnkey operations.
Meet the new Mom n' Pop retailers.

Y'all kin fergit it

Let's say neether, or nyether, of the parties wanted it to play out this way;
Some employees at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee complained about a class aimed at teaching them how to reduce their Southern accents. Now, managers are calling the whole thing off.
The course had been advertised as a way to feel confident in meetings, when one might need to speak with a more neutral accent. The class was touted as a way to "be remembered for what you say and not how you say it."
....ORNL spokesman David Keim said the class "probably wasn't presented in the right way" and managers decided to cancel it after other employees complained.
In Tennesseean?