Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Night Links

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* The strategic genius in charge of the economy had an adjustable rate mortgage? No wonder everything collapsed.

* Also on Bernanke watch: Matt Yglesias on class biases in major media.

Bernanke takes office in February of 2006 holding what’s probably the second most-important job in the United States and the most important job for determining overall macroeconomic conditions. He follows basically conventional thinking and doesn’t make any unusual errors. Unfortunately, conventional thinking and normal errors lead into a major financial panic and the worst recession in 70 years. Then during the desperate fall of 2008 Bernanke takes decisive action and helps put a floor on the collapse. By spring 2009 it’s clear that this will be the worst recession since the end of the Great Depression rather than, as some had feared, the second-coming of the Depression. At this point he basically unfurls a “Mission Accomplished” banner, says ten percent unemployment is okay by him, and if congress wants to do anything fiscally it should look at cutting Social Security benefits.

That’s not nothing. That’s not the worst record of any 21st Century public official (I dunno…Robert Mugabe?) or even of any major 21st Century central banker (Jean-Claude Trichet) or any Bush administration appointee (Don Rumsfeld) or anything. But it’s really not all that great. And it demonstrates a very specific class skew—extraordinary intervention into the market place just long enough to fix the situation from the point of view of asset-owners while leaving wage-earners holding the bag. But the owners and managers and editors of Time Magazine and the companies that advertise in it probably don’t care so much about that.

* Superfreakonomics and the “All Else Equal” fallacy.

* An energy policy both ExxonMobil and MoveOn can love: cap and dividend. Via Ezra Klein.

* Alien “water world” found.

* Star Wars Kid was in the 2000s too? It’s been a loooooong ten years.

* Looking for Life in the Multiverse.

* Apparently it’s a New Jersey thing, as I did an impromptu dorm floor census (of both sexes), and everyone from Jersey wiped standing up. More important toilet science findings at MetaFilter.

* Life as a registered sex offender. He had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17.

* Alice, Wonderland, and 19th-century mathematics.

* And Alex sends in a late entry for worst magazine cover of the year: “Will Global Warming Stave Off the Impending Ice Age?”

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