Thursday, September 15, 2022

Thursday Night Links

  • As a result, then, both of accident and preparation, Trump was able to name three Justices in short order—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. These three gave the country for the first time a bench of six conservative Justices, from whom a changing team of five could be fielded for even the most controversial cases. President Trump deserves enormous credit for taking advantage of this opportunity, or series of opportunities. He didn’t blink and he didn’t bungle. It’s very probable that the repeal of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the blow against the administrative state’s pretensions in West Virginia v. EPA, and the expansion of religious liberty in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (the case of the praying football coach, as it’s likely to be remembered) will amount to a turning point. Throw in next term’s likely repeal of affirmative action in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, and these cases could mark a real annus mirabilis in the recovery of American constitutionalism. [Charles Kesler]
  • The Emiratis - apart from the UAE simply being their country, which they have no wish to relinquish control of - seem to understand that there is no democratic way to rule a state in which your own people or ruling class is only a tenth of the population, with the other nine tenths polyglot foreigners. Democracy requires cohesion, which is a big reason why democracy works in 85% Hungarian Hungary. I think our rulers understand this, too, which their constant bleating about "our democracy" is meant to obscure. [Michael Anton]
  • There are 29 billion British coins in circulation with Queen Elizabeth II’s face on them. Since she first appeared on the coins, a year after her ascension in 1952, the Royal Mint has used five different portraits. And on all of them, she faces to the right. Now it’s King Charles III’s turn to be on the coins, but he’ll most likely be facing the other direction. Since the reign of Charles II in the 17th century, the monarch has typically faced the opposite position of their predecessor on coins, according to the Royal Family’s website. Because Queen Elizabeth faced to the right, the new king will presumably be shown facing left. There was one exception: Edward VIII, who was king for less than one year in 1936, faced to the left because that is what he preferred, even though the monarch before him, George V, also looked left. The tradition was resumed with George VI, who faced left. He served until he died in 1952. [NY Times]
  • The SPR rumor that the Biden administration may contemplate refilling at $80 doesn't need to be true for this to have an effect. All this rumor needs to do is to force a perception that the Biden administration is even contemplating refilling SPR. The price here is irrelevant, the fact is that from a trader's perspective, the simple thought of a possible refill down the road implies asymmetry to the upside. And that's more important. [HFI Research]
  • The US may begin refilling its emergency oil reserve when crude prices dip below $80 a barrel, according to people familiar with the matter. Biden administration officials are weighing the timing of such a move, with an eye toward protecting US oil-production growth and preventing crude prices from plummeting, said the people, who asked not to be named sharing internal deliberations. [Bloomberg]
  • Adults in Oregon can walk into any state-licensed liquor store and buy all kinds of flavored liquor, from cinnamon whiskey to whipped cream vodka. At Oregon grocery stores, they can buy caramel stouts, fruity sour ales and mango hard seltzers. Cannabis is legally sold in the form of milk chocolate bars and pink lemonade jellies. But if a new proposal passes the Multnomah County Commission, it will soon be illegal to sell flavored tobacco or nicotine products to adults. [Jacob Grier]
  • Prouty was a former air force colonel in charge of the spooks during the Kennedy administration. He is most famous as being the inspiration for “Mr. X” in Oliver Stone’s JFK movie. He is, of course, denounced in the usual ways; “conspiracy theorist” and is the type of guy who’d be writing at Unz these days. I dunno if the guy in charge of the CIA during the Kennedy administration thinks it was a CIA coup, maybe we should simply listen to what he has to say. This book is beyond reproach though: it’s basically a personal history of how the spooks work, and how they interact with the rest of the government: within the letter of the law, but with maximum deception. It presents the way the spooks orchestrated the Bay of Pigs, favoring Kennedy in the election and cultivating the relationship and idea months before he was actually elected; even pointing out the investments in sugar done by CIA insiders right before the invasion. This book was written towards the end of the Vietnam war and also describes the escalating spook nonsense that got us into the war in the first place. Not some hidden mastermind idea: just bureaucratic incompetence, in-fighting, inertia and narrative control. One of the key issues he raises repeatedly is that the spooks are reasonably OK and useful for intelligence, but it’s their clandestine activities which are a problem. They often spin up on otherwise unviewed intel input and serve no national purpose: more or less imagine if the DMV had the ability to overthrow local county governments to impose traffic rules which help them meet some internal bureaucratic figure of merit like number of registered drivers who live in apartments: that’s what they spooks are and why they do what they do. [Scott Locklin]
  • A major empirical achievement of the sociology of science is the evidence of the ubiquity of simultaneous invention. If many scientists are trying variations on the same corpus of current scientific knowledge, and if their trials are being edited by the same stable external reality, then the selected variants are apt to be similar, the same discovery encountered independently by numerous workers. This process is no more mysterious than that all of a set of blind rats, each starting with quite different patterns of initial responses, learn the same maze pattern, under the maze's common editorship of the varied response repertoires. Their learning is actually their independent invention or discovery of the same response pattern. In doubly reflexively appropriateness, the theory of natural selection was itself multiply independently invented, not only by Wallace but by many others. Moreover, the ubiquity of independent invention in science has itself been independently discovered. [Donald Campbell]
  • Rather than praying, 'May I be a competent and well-read X-ologist, may I keep up with the literature in my field,' a scholar will pray, 'Make me a novel fish-scale. Let my pattern of inevitably incomplete competence cover areas neglected by others.' Each scholar would then try to have a pattern of journal subscriptions unique to his or her department, university, or profession. Noting that the scholar and a colleague were reading the same set of journals, the scholar would feel guilty and vow to drop one of these in favor of some other. Recognizing that the interdisciplinary links in the collaborative web of knowledge are the weakest, the scholar would give up some in-group journal in favor of an out-group one. The scholar would feel guilty if he or she did not cut attendance at in-group conventions to attend relevant out-group ones, and so forth. [Donald Campbell]
  • Good or bad she was just not a very interesting person, was she? Again everyone is today writing pieces qualifying her and her reign, which I find rather unfair. She was a woman! What did you expect? Yeah sure, she reigned over the complete destruction of the British Empire and unprecedented decay of the British nation. The death of it, really. The physical death of the nation; the stock of the British race is gone, probably forever. On that note, sure, she was the worst monarch ever. Ye shall know them by their fruits. But was it her fruits? Look at that nice lady, how could she have any fruits at all? She's a woman, women have generally no agency, how can you blame her for all that? Her office had no power, by law, but even if it had, she was still an unremarkable woman. The only responsibility we could ask her is about her children. Her own children, which… lol. Well OK, those aren't too good either. But hey at least she had a bunch of them. [Spandrell] 
  • In the beginning, I figured we would do floppy disks, but never CDs. Eventually, we got into CDs and I said we’d never do DVDs. A couple of years went by and I started duplicating DVDs. Now I’m also duplicating USB drives. You can see from this conversation that I’m not exactly a person with great vision. I just follow what our customers want us to do. When people ask me: “Why are you into floppy disks today?” the answer is: “Because I forgot to get out of the business.” Everybody else in the world looked at the future and came to the conclusion that this was a dying industry. Because I’d already bought all my equipment and inventory, I thought I’d just keep this revenue stream. I stuck with it and didn’t try to expand. Over time, the total number of floppy users has gone down. However, the number of people who provided the product went down even faster. If you look at those two curves, you see that there is a growing market share for the last man standing in the business, and that man is me. [link]


CP said...

Above all, I can't emphasize enough that this inflation flare-up was not caused by a Fed policy error: it was caused by the federal government's attempt to soften the blow of Covid lockdowns with massive, deficit-financed transfer payments that inflated the money supply. That mistake ended over a year ago, and M2 money supply growth has since decelerated significantly. So the fundamental reason for our current inflation has long since begun to fade in importance.

I've been saying for months now that inflation pressures have peaked, and I still think that's the case. But I've also said that inflation would remain uncomfortably high, probably through year-end, because of all the inflation "in the pipeline" which takes awhile to work through the economy. So we need to be patient.

What this means is that the Fed is not going to have to tighten much more than it already has. A 75 bps hike at next week's FOMC meeting might be enough. That in turn implies that the market is overly-concerned about the downside risks to the economy.

Allan Folz said...

Now do govs' attempts to soften blow of inflation.