Sarah Palin and Froot Loops

by Norman Horowitz

Almost all Americans are familiar with Sarah Palin (SP) and Froot Loops (FLs), but not everyone notices the similarities:

  • Both SP and FLs are good to look at.
  • Both SP and FLs come in a variety of colors.
  • Both SP and FL’s look sweet but have little “nutritional value.”

SP was and is a fanatic supporting “drill, baby, drill.” FLs (and Kellogg’s) are, I gather, silent on this issue.
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SP continues her rants in support of big oil and regularly repeats this in paid speeches.

Glibness is easy. Specificity, not so easy.

Taking cheap shots at the President is also easy. Creating alternative economic policies for the country is not so easy.

SP is still a very young woman who has (for whatever reason) captured the “hearts” of many Americans; however, in my view, she will never capture those who as a rule do not consider eating FLs. I’d prefer some granola, oatmeal, or Cream of Wheat.

Bottom line: Had either Al Gore (AG) or John Kerry (JK) been elected President  our dependence on foreign oil would have been reduced. AG has spent a lifetime warning about the polluting and economic dangers of dependence on foreign oil. JK is battling today to wage war against climate change and unshackle the potential of new energy sources. They were right all along. They should have been heard long ago. They should be heeded today.
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Tell the Jury, in Your Expert Opinion…

You may have noticed that I’ve been the only one writing on Trading 8s lately. Most of our contributors keep moving to bigger and better things, leaving less time to write. (They grow up so fast.) Alex Nakahara, as you’ll read, has been studying and researching at the world epicenter of his field. In an age where climate change and evolution are always in the news and increasingly important in our everyday lives, the importance of Alex’s message cannot be understated. — AWO

by Alex Nakahara

This fall, I started studying for my Master’s degree in Aeronautics at MIT. One of the first things we had to do when we arrived was to take the Technical Writing Exam. I was obviously extremely excited to write two essays on a presumably dry and pointless topic, remembering how much fun the GRE and SAT were. However, the topic turned out to be something very relevant to an incoming class of engineers, and especially the Aeronautics/Astronautics students: the debate between manned and unmanned space exploration, which I touched on in an earlier post.

We read two articles, one for manned space exploration and one against, and had to write a summary of the two articles as well as an analysis of what further questions would need to be answered in order to make an informed choice on the issue. In no time at all, pencils were scribbling away at paper.

While the topic was interesting, it was the structure of the test that made the most impact on me. It was not until halfway through the first essay that I noticed that in my supposedly impartial summary of the two articles I was in fact writing my personal opinions on the subject. I went back and removed my opinions (hopefully), and continued to write while focusing more on trying to be neutral on the subject. It was much harder than I expected.   Continue reading “Tell the Jury, in Your Expert Opinion…”

A Good Economist Knows What He Doesn’t Know

I’ve been banging the “uncertainty” drum (as opposed to “risk”) for a few months now (see here, here, here, and here):

In his latest book, Keynes’s biographer Lord Robert Skidelsky argues that you just can’t insure against some risks. In fact, some expectations shouldn’t be called risks at all. One of Keynes’s least appreciated contributions, also voiced by his contemporary Frank Knight, was the importance of uncertainty, events in the future that we can’t measure or predict because we don’t have enough information or computational capacity.

Markets depend on prices, and prices depend on information, rational behavior, and predictable distributions of random shocks. When those foundations break down, governments are the only institutions that have the ability to restore order, from central banks injecting liquidity during credit crunches to regulators preventing or monitoring new innovations (be they financial derivatives or oil rigs) with uncertain social costs.

One important example that I haven’t spent enough time talking about is…   Continue reading “A Good Economist Knows What He Doesn’t Know”