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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Keith's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
9:56 pm
In relation to a couple of posts ago, about governments paying down debt triggering a depression, take a look at:

http://www.investorsinsight.com/blogs/john_mauldins_outside_the_box/archive/2010/03/09/the-european-union-trap.aspx

Basically, for a government to pay down debt, requires, according to this analysis, for the private sector to take on debt.  (Or for foreign countries to take on debt in exchange for goods and services.)

The net result of which is arguably a debt bubble in the private sector, which has a strong correlation to severe recessions / depressions.

Conversely, by this analysis, the government must run up a huge debt while the private sector is liquidating their own debt or the math doesn't work...

This may be strictly looking at short term (i.e. instantaneous) results, not the long term valuation, money flow, investment flow, etc. 

But it is a rather ugly implication that, essentially, once debt is created, it can't be destroyed.  (Which implies a strong regulatory obligation to control debt creation and terms.)
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
2:06 pm
Taxes vs. Borrowing..
In a discussion over here:

http://chapel-of-words.livejournal.com/308075.html

I stated that government spending is all that counts in terms of the availability of goods and services for private consumption and investment.  Taxes and borrowing aren't directly part of the equation.

From wikipedia:

The definition of GDP (Y) is a sum of Consumption (C), Investment (I), Government Spending (G) and Net Exports (X - M).

Investment is defined as purchase of plant, equipment, inventory, etc. and does not include exchange of existing assets.  (i.e. buying bonds or stocks.)

Government spending is defined as government expenditures on final goods and services and investment by the government (as defined above) .  It specifically excludes transfer payments, as they are covered under the Consumption or Investment by whoever receives the transfer payment.

No where in this equation is government taxation (an exchange of existing assets, of a form), government borrowing, or government payment of their debts.

I also added in the original post that, in theory-land, borrowing, taxes, and transfer payments just re-arrange the wealth in the country.  (Certain borrowing policies, taxes, and transfer payments may impact growth, but don't directly change GDP per se.)

If the government borrows the money, people have to forgo consumption to loan the money to the government.   (And everyone in the nation has to commit a future portion of their consumption to repay the debt.)  Further, the interest rates have to be high enough to compete with private demand for money, which crowds out private consumption or investment.

If the government taxes the money, people have to forgo consumption to pay their tax bill to the government.

If the government conscripts the labor, or confiscates goods, someone one way or another will give up "their share" of consumption.

It's just a question of who gives up the consumption, and how that burden is distributed.  So every possible tax policy, including borrowing, has the effect of controlling the distribution of wealth in the nation.  And that's before we get into outright transfer payments.

Which leads to the point in the original discussion that the federal government building up a "rainy day fund" has odd effects.

From a GDP perspective, the government building a "trust fund" to pay later "emergency" expenses has very little difference from just taxing people at the time of the expense.  The year that you incur the expense, and dramatically increase Government Spending (G) above, will require that  "C" consumption drop proportionately.  (Assuming that GDP can't magically increase.)

The government can stockpile certain materials (weapons, construction materials, other raw materials) and move the G into earlier years (reducing "C" in those years), but at some opportunity cost.  After all, those weapons might not be appropriate (or even necessary) for the emergency, and you have to safely store construction materials, etc.

And selling a whole bunch of paper assets the government has stockpiled, driving down prices and sucking up private investment, has roughly the same short-term effects as a tax hike that year.  i.e. it's just a question of how you remove the "G" spending from the "C & I" categories.

So government "rainy day funds" may not really have the desired effect.
12:28 pm
Federal debt reduction correlated with Depressions
The rest of this article is mostly crap, but one point he does make is that every major depression in this country has followed a significant repayment of government debt...

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/02/wray-the-federal-budget-is-not-like-a-household-budget-%E2%80%93-here%E2%80%99s-why.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

He doesn't discuss WHY, but points out that in all 6 (and possibly now 7 with Clinton) cases of repayment of significant government debt, we've had a depression.

Perhaps it is because we only repay debt when we have a major bubble that dramatically increases federal revenue?

Does repaying the government debt drive money back into markets, which futher inflates bubbles?
Monday, April 27th, 2009
8:26 pm
Live to Dance, Dance to Live...
A while after I started dancing, I heard about this guy named Frankie Manning.   I got the impression he was older, but didn't know anything about him.  So I looked him up on YouTube.

I find a video, and start watching it.  I could do that move.  That's some solid dancing.  I could probably learn that move.  OK, he's got style, and it will take me a while, but I might get there.  What's the big deal?  And then I read the info and it was at his 88th birthday party.  I can't find the exact video, but here's one of him looking EVEN better at age 84:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru6Vto6t54U  (And to my non-dance friends, no, I can't even come close to touching all the stuff he does in there today, after 3 or 4 years of fairly intensive classes and practice.)

And then I found the video for hellzapoppin'.  He's the one in the mechanics outfit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTg5V2oA_hY 

A little more research, and it turns out that, among other things, he invented the swing dance aerial move.   He led a troupe of dancers in a number of moves and performed with all of the jazz greats.  He saw active duty in WWII.  And then when he couldn't make a living dancing, he worked for 32 years at the post office.

After retiring, he picked up a full time schedule teaching swing in the 1980's, 90's and to the present day.  He won a Tony for the co-choregraphy of "Black and Blue."  He's been teaching the majority of the weekends, even into his 90's.

So when the chance came for me to go to Seattle for Masters of Lindy Hop and Tap in 2007, I leapt at the chance.  On the flight out, I read his recently published autobiography. 

At the event, we got to listen to stories from the good, and bad, old days.  We watched the masters perform, and spent some time taking classes from them.  I had 2 from Frankie, a Big Apple, and a short lindy routine.  

It was "A" Big Apple,. because the Big Apple was originally not a choreography or routine, but a called dance.  The caller would name a move, and everyone would do it.  When it was popular, there were over 200 different moves and variations that were called.  So he taught us some moves, and called a big apple.

The lindy routine had some cool moves.  One of them he called the "cha-cha", had the man behind the woman, and he lead her to the right, stopped her, looked down into her eyes, and then back to the left.    (I stole that move to put in the Scottish Dance choreography my wife and I performed as our first dance..)

And Frankie was an amazing teacher.  I've never seen anyone get dancers organized so quickly and efficiently, and his instructions were clear and I had a really good time in the class.

Sometime during the weekend, I stretched out on a bench he'd apparently been using to nap.  He politely asked for his spot back.   We chatted a bit and he was REALLY nice.   I think some of the Masters had a bit of an attitude, but Frankie was just good people.  Later, I had him autograph my copy of his autobiography, and got a quick snapshot of the two of us..

So when they announced his 95th birthday party  over Memorial Day weekend, I signed up almost as soon as registration opened.  They sold out over 1000 spots, to people from all over the world, in just a few weeks.  People have been begging for tickets to any part of the weekend.  Everyone loved him and everything he's done both originally, and for the swing scene for the last 20+ years.

Frankie Manning passed away this morning, at the age of 94.

Current Mood: sad
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
10:13 pm
While some of the stimulus bill is going to get spent on useless things, this just makes my blood boil:

From http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090211/ap_on_go_co/congress_stimulus

There also was last-minute disagreement about a House proposal that could direct education funds to schools even if a state's governor didn't approve, they said, a squabble that one official said related principally to South Carolina. [...]

School construction was a problem apart from all others.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told reporters that $6 billion would be set aside, and officials said it could be spent only on repair and modernization work, a limitation designed to appease the moderates.

It was a problem because South Carolina doesn't want to fund the (poor, mostly black) schools along the I-95 corridor, including rebuilding them to have such extreme luxuries as heated classrooms and roofs that don't leak.  For more details, see:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-school-stimulusfeb12,0,1891849.story

Yeah, it may not be an enumerated power of the federal government to provide sound school buildings to students in one state.  But I don't think I care that much.


Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
11:00 am
Shakespeare Tavern January 4th..
We've decided to go to the Shakespeare Tavern for Doctor Faustus on Sunday, January 4th.  

Door at 5:15, Dinner at 5:30, show at 6:30, and it should be over a bit after 8pm.

If you'd like to join us, you can make reservations for the main floor by calling the Tavern at 404-874-5299.  Tickets are $24 normally, but if you say you're with the Graham party, you can get a $5 discount.
Monday, December 22nd, 2008
4:22 pm
Doctor Faustus
Anyone interested in joining us for Dr. Faustus at the Shakespeare Tavern?   Sounds like a VERY cool production.

We might be interested in the 2nd, 3rd or the 4th or possibly the 11th or 18th..  But let us know what works for you..
 
Show details after the cutCollapse )
Saturday, December 13th, 2008
5:41 pm
International Weekend..
So far in the swing dance workshop this weekend, I've danced with people from Macon, New Orleans, Rochester, and somewhere in Minn.

And Halifax and Toronto, Canada; Madrid, Spain; Sweden; and 3 follows from Paris, France.   (There's apparently a group of 5; 4 follows and a lead.)

I had no idea this was getting international attention!
Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
2:12 pm
BNL does the alphabet song..
For the amusement of my linguistic friends and parents of young children.

Barenaked Ladies has a version of the Alphabet Song on their new album for kids:

A is for aisle
B is for bdellium
C is for czar
D is for djinn
E for Euphrates
F is for fohn, but not like when I call the ladies
G for Gnarly,
H is for hour
I for irk
J for jalapeno
K is for knick-knack
L is for llama
M for mnemonic
N is for ngomo
O is for ouija board
P for pneumonia, pterodactyl and psychosis
Q is for qat
Okay, Q - qat? What?
Yeah it's uh...q-a-t,
It's an evergreen shrub
It's a perfect scrabble word because it's a q with no u,
R is for R-gyle
No, it isn't
Okay, you're right; I couldn't find a good "r" word
S is for Saar, a lovely German river
T for tsunami, a wave that makes me quiver
U is for urn, but not like earning money
V for vraisemblance from French,
And therefore kind of funny
W for wren, wrinkly, and who.
X is for Xian, an ancient Chinese city, true!
Y is for yperite, a very nasty gas.
And zed's the final letter


This was just the letters and words, the rest of the lyrics here:

http://www.icelebz.com/lyrics/barenaked_ladies/snacktime/crazy_abc%27s.html
Saturday, November 8th, 2008
10:49 am
So partytrick now has her MacBook...

Any software that is absoutely essential for us to download (or buy)?

We've got firefox, skype and open office currently.

What's the best IM (AIM) client?    Any other cool add-ons?  (The cat-on-keyboard detector?  :-)


Thursday, October 30th, 2008
9:53 am
Sub-prime defaults..
A great article on a new study out about the default rates on mortgages..

www.housingwire.com/2008/10/29/foreclosure-rates-comparable-across-incomes-study-says/

Some select quotes:
But among subprime borrowers, LISC also found that income level had little correlation to foreclosure rates: in other words, subprime borrowers in more prosperous communities defaulted at nearly the same rate by March 2008 as those that defaulted in impoverished areas.
[...]
Interestingly, as well, only one-third of subprime mortgage loans were made in communities with high rates of poverty, according to the data.
 
And they don't mention it in the article, but if a sub-prime loan on a $150K house defaults, it isn't as big of a loss as a $500K mortgage defaulting.  Once you factor in home price, the wealthier neighborhoods will represent the vast majority of the problems with the total cost of sub-prime.

So, as I've pointed out in several people's journals recently, sub-prime is not limited to poor areas.  Sub-prime is a matter of credit rating, and quite a few people with large incomes have poor credit history.

And the majority of loans to people with below average incomes ARE prime mortgages, which, according to some studies, perform as well or better than prime loans to wealthier people.

If we're going to fix the problems with the mortgage system in the US (and the credit situation in general, which is an international problem), we need to look at what really happened.

Sunday, October 19th, 2008
1:30 pm

From Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama for President:

Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who paid them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there is nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that that makes you a socialist, I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn't accurate.

I don't want my taxes raised. I don't want anybody else's taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don't want to have a $12 trillion national debt, and I don't want to see an annual deficit that's over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So, how do we deal with all of this?

I'm pretty sure I don't agree with Obama's specific plan for taxes.  In particular, I'm not a big fan of tax credits and weird deductions, because they can easily distort the economy in subtle and potentially dangerous ways.    The mortgage interest deduction, for example, almost certainly contributed to the housing bubble, for example.  And the way it is structured, it encourages people to borrow more money against their homes.  AND it mostly benefits wealthy people, as people buying an inexpensive house are better off with a standard deduction.  These are all things worth examining.

But I am for looking at our entire tax structure, and looking at who is paying how much, and having a discussion of what is and is not fair and appropriate because SOMEONE has to pay to support the government spending.

 
Saturday, September 27th, 2008
12:53 pm
Economic mess..
This isn't the entire source of the problem, but..

When someone steps up and says "This is significantly our fault, and here are some ways to keep it from happening again.."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/27/business/27sec.html
Thursday, September 25th, 2008
11:43 am
I've been talking to lots of people about the bailout mess, but this summarizes it pretty darned well in fairly simple language:

http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/09/economic_disasters_and_stupid.php

(via unixronin)
Monday, September 1st, 2008
3:06 pm
At DragonCon this weekend, I was standing next to a poster with pictures of the guests.

3 teenagers walk up, and look at the poster.  They start pointing out people, "Oh look, there's Nathan Fillian".  

Then one of them points at George Takei, and says "Hey look, it's that guy from Heroes."
Monday, August 25th, 2008
3:30 pm
I'll be at DragonCon Friday through Monday.  (Might stop by Thursday night to get my badge.)

If you want to get together, leave a comment.  I've screened comments, so feel free to leave contact info if I might not have it..
Thursday, August 21st, 2008
3:44 pm
Amazon recommendations..
A recent email from Amazon.com that indicates their matching algorithm could use a little improvement:

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated books by Frankie Manning have also purchased A Is for Abraham: A Jewish Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Alphabets: Cultures) by Richard Michelson. For this reason, you might like to know that A Is for Abraham: A Jewish Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Alphabets: Cultures) will be released on August 10, 2008.

Product Description
From Abraham to Zaydee, and from ancient times to modern day, A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet encompasses the history of Jewish traditions and customs and how they are practiced today.

The description of the auto-biography of Frankie Manning:

Frankie Manning spread swing dancing's popularity throughout the world while touring with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers in the 1930s and '40s. Dance writer and swing dancer Millman conducted extensive interviews with Manning for a vivid account of his career. Manning became a star in Harlem's popular Savoy Ballroom with his unique style, including dancing at a sharp angle to the ground like a track runner, speed and musicality. In a dance competition, Manning astonished the crowd with the first-ever Lindy aerial, or air step (where the man sends his partner flying). Later Manning toured with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and performed in several films, including Everybody Sings with Judy Garland. After a long hiatus from dancing, he was a consultant for Spike Lee's Malcolm X and coached a new generation of dancers in the swing dance revival of the '80s and '90s. While the first-person accounts of Manning's life capture his vibrancy, humor and charm, the narrative is interrupted by short sections of historical notes; their formality is at odds with Manning's ease and charisma. Still, this vivid memoir by one of swing dancing's innovators and stars is a must for lovers of dance, jazz and African-American history.
Thursday, July 24th, 2008
3:14 pm
Canasta?
Any Atlanta folks interested in getting together to play Canasta?
Thursday, June 26th, 2008
2:39 pm
Dancing Friday night..
We've got a Scottish Country Dance we might attend on Saturday, so dancing on Friday night isn't essential for my sanity.

But there's the weekly Contra Dance, as well as the GT Swing Dance, on Friday night, so I'm contemplating 4 days of dancing in a row.  :-)

Anyone interested in joining me for either dance?
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
6:34 pm






Current Mood: annoyed
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