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Showing posts from 2016

America's Playground Economy

At record-low interest rates, the San Francisco Bay Area’s real estate market may have officially reached its inflection point.

Properties in the Bay Area have seen losses of greater than 20% over the past year, while other metropolises are plateauing or following this trend.

Indeed, if this price decline were the consequence of expanded supply or the ease of manufacturing new homes, this would be a sign of economic progress; however, this is not the case, as this price drop is the consequence of an artificial valuation rooted in a debt-frenzied, speculative marketplace with tepid material growth in productivity, ironically in a market wherein zoning laws, building restrictions (such as San Francisco’s law limiting the height of buildings to 40 feet), and a scarcity of building permits, have choked the Bay Area of the style of growth which would likely ensue to accommodate existing demand from the population who have elected to settle for all of the features of what Jim Cramer derides…

The Fair Price Fallacy

The notion is rampant that producers and businesspersons are responsible for the supply of their goods at a so-called and so-believed fair price. 
What is a fair price after all? Is it not merely the supposition of a price which is only remotely convenient for the individual considering the product? Is it not merely the desired price for any given individual? 
Of course, the producer and the businessperson are easy to vilify in the public eye, as he or she is recognizable as a person who has or who has been fortunate, and the reader or onlooker is hardly familiar with the background or daily routine of that individual. 
However, the narrative of the supposed have-not is gripping and moralistic in stature, and the passerby may easily envision a way in which this individual's perceived misfortune may be corrected by a nominal adjustment of freedom for those whose routine struggles are diluted by their obscurity or their inconspicuousness. 
Nowhere is this discussion more prevalent …

The Public Good

There exists a game by which the famed economist Paul Samuelson, with support from fellow economist Amartya Sen, contends that the self-interested economic man is revealed to be a rational fool. The game here is one in which eight participants individually enter a room with five one-dollar bills — that is, each individual holds in his or her possession five one-dollar bills. 
Let us suspend for a moment, and in doing so indulge the position of imprudent economists, any curiosity regarding the source of these five-dollar windfalls to conveniently afford the game the convenient assumption that some form of recognized labor, or sacrifice, enabled their acquisition and their utility as money.
The participants are then informed that their anonymous donations to the envelope of “public good” will be doubled then distributed evenly amongst the participants. 
The prediction in this game, as forecasted by the aforementioned economists, is that the individual, facing an 80% loss on his individ…

The Psychological Side of Sunk Costs

Writing off any so-called sunk cost as immaterial to any present decision is equivalent to writing off a relationship, perhaps a marriage, as soon as it proves to be disadvantageous instead of recalling its history or perhaps imagining its future. In terms of sunk costs, the modern economist may easily dismiss those costs, especially in the modern economy, when expenses are facilitated by work which has become less laborious than in prior generations. 
If, for example, a laborer were to purchase a football ticket with an amount of cash earned from fifty days of hard labor, the economist may expect that laborer to go to relatively greater lengths, perhaps despite the winter storm of the season, than a counterpart who spent a fraction of his daily earnings, or perhaps a friend who benefited from a "free" ticket.  
This is, after all, representative of all of those days of painstaking work, a feature of life which may be long forgotten due to the relative ease with which incom…

Blight: More Government "Solutions" to Government-Created Problems

The subject of blight has nearly become ubiquitous in the wake of the dilapidation of cities such as Detroit and Baltimore. One topic which has recently entered the theater of the newsroom has been the restoration of these cities. NPR’s podcast “Planet Money” covers this topic with a charismatic investigation into the specific case of the 900 block in the city of Baltimore. 
This podcast, entitled “Unbuilding A City,” specifically highlights a federal law known as the Uniform Act, which was passed in 1970 to establish “minimum standards for federally funded programs and projects that [either] require the acquisition of real property (real estate) or displace persons from their homes, businesses, or farms. The Uniform Act's protections and assistance apply to the acquisition, rehabilitation, or demolition of real property for federal or federally funded projects.” 
This act was originally intended to afford reasonable accommodations for those individuals whose real property fell v…

The Value of Speculation

Speculators, who are often the target of particular scrutiny in terms of weighing on the prices of commodities such as oil, are found to bear negligible weight on the actual price in comparison to fundamental and ancillary drivers such as monetary policy, geopolitical events, and pure supply and demand often spawning from those other drivers. 
Speculators, wherever they are found to influence price directionality, are effectively affording intelligent cautionary signals to producers whose rapacious appetites for profits are tempered in the immediacy for higher gains in a future wherein the utility for the given commodity, as gauged by projected price as a consequence of a climbing demand-to-supply ratio, will be measurably, perhaps desperately greater. 
The reader here must first recognize, however, that speculative activity in today’s financial markets is far more artificially-driven and ubiquitous than in previous, more normal times, today compelled by artificially-low rates of int…

The Value of Guilt

The self-monitoring individual, who benefits from the ills of guilt, is regulated by the expectations of future gain or pleasure which are vaguely estimated and weighed against alternatives in a present in which those options may be at odds. 
When considering going for a run, for example, when tempted by sleep, Olympic programming on TV, a relaxing reading session or a satisfying breakfast, how does the individual determine the value of a suspension of one in favor of the other? It seems that there may be some chronological compatibility or avoided guilt-induced trauma which may, after all, enhance the quality of some experience in the future, which may supplement the aforementioned suspended endeavors or may, in the end, completely exceed their expected value to justify the chronological configuration or even their outright displacement. 
This is extremely important to the discussion of the welfare state, whereby the nudging force of guilt is displaced from the financial sphere of i…

The Fixed Pie Fallacy

The fixed pie fallacy demonstrates how people often regard the marketplace as containing a limited supply of work, whereby one individual’s production is deliverable only at the complete expense of another. I emphasize the operative adjective complete because this exhaustion of resources or the conveyance of some service is interpreted as an encroachment upon the single viable mechanism by which this pinpointed victim (of commercial progress, mind you) may become gainfully employed. Of course, this assumption is categorically false, as there is nearly an infinite appetite among individuals for goods and services, ranging from the menial to the most sophisticated. 
In fact, the expansion and reach of labor-saving devices, combined with their productive might, enable a form of scaled labor which returns relatively progressive compensation, in forms of face-value financial gain and diluted on-the-job risk, to enrich the sea of career options in forms which may not recognizably appear on …

The Price of Equality: A Participation Society

Those promoting the notions of equality fail to recognize that their deity fails to exist in both theory and practice, as no two objects, whether notional or physical, can occupy the same space in time.

A cursory perspective on the composition of poverty, for example, is akin to finding inequality in the stations where newborns are brought into this world.

While it is true that most of the newborns are delivered at hospitals, as opposed to palaces, they do not spend their entire lives there.

Just as with their birthplaces, individuals spend merely a fraction of their time in the lowest quintile of the income spectrum, while a majority of them will scale the ranks throughout their lives, and a great number of them will even drift between the the higher and lower quintiles at some point in their lives.

The free world is a place of mobility, not one of equality.

Ultimately, suggesting that all people are equal is analogous to claiming that a BMW 320i is equivalent to an M3, purely becau…

Short Track or Juiced Field

There is just so much to cover from yesterday: LeDucky dominates again, Phelps grabs silver in typical come-from-behind style in a three-way tie, Ervin takes home gold in the 50-meter freestyle 16 years after winning gold in that event, and I may be forgetting something... Nah, I think that’s all the legitimate news coming from the Olympics. The rest simply fails to jive with any narrative rooted in reality, desperately requiring a complete overhaul of the history and trajectory of the sport of running to make any sense. I am now inspired to reconsider the nature and history of this sport, the ubiquity of questionable behavior, and whether there is anything that can be done to insulate the sport from these influences. 
Throughout my running career and as a fan of this sport, I had never experienced the feeling that wafted over me while observing the utter demolition of Wang Junxia’s, an admitted doper, 1993 mark. We’ve scarcely witnessed at any Olympics in recent memory any world-rec…

A Deeper Look: What's Under the Tent?

The common refrain of cost savings spawning from the Housing First model focuses exclusively upon the savings posted by the participants, holistically ignoring the more convoluted systemic costs, both conspicuous and inconspicuous, and its effects across time, both immediate and long-term. 


These costs stem from tacitly encouraging non-work or static employment at the expense of work and professional advancement, fueling the viability of homeless and jobless living, and empowering those numerous forces which effectively validate, and provide upward pressure to, the popularly-vilified price floors of the housing market which then prevent market-clearing at lower prices and achieve nothing in terms of driving actual supply or advancing the interests of the real originators of these tax revenues, the lot of which ironically live in shared housing with family, friends or roommates, or across the Bay Area, while their homeless counterparts enjoy subsidized independent living in close proxim…

Is Money the Root of All Evil?

The vilification of money and the unequal possession thereof is merely the tip of the iceberg of imminently-recognizable disparities among individuals. Money, oddly enough, serves merely to express individual preferences across regular intervals of time, rendering possible and powerful the dynamic demands of all participants and the benefits of mobilizing to match those demands. As it turns out, money most clearly reveals the costs of behavior, further motivating merit-based transactions. Without the expedient and efficacious tool of money, civilization regresses to a state of uncertainty and imperfect matches. The civilization becomes more insensitive to its losses spawning from lower-level discrimination, while an agrarian or barter-style system of exchange, heavily limited by the double-coincidence of wants, restricts the reach and convertibility of goods in foreign markets, thereby inherently impeding relationships and hardening the civilization’s isolationist posture. Of course, …

The Infamously-Invalid Gender Wage Gap Myth

A recent article released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation covers the mythical gender wage gap in a way which supposes that the gap is the consequence of gender discrimination. This is a myth. If you believe that gap to be the outcome of gender-specific discrimination, you are surely confused. If this indeed were the case, that women were being unfairly discredited or outright ostracized or exploited in this manner, one must then follow this thread to its end to conclude that employers on the whole, whether men or women, are actively foregoing the substitution of the male staff, at a considerable discount, to favor their expensive tastes in gender. 
That perceived inequality, a 21-percent gap which has time and again been explained away as a mere comparison between aggregates, exists merely as the headline source from which politicians have aimed to launch their campaigns for so-called social justice, despite Congress having always been comprised of a supermajority of males,…