Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back to the grindstone

some not entirely quick shorterizationings.

Seriously, though: That an NYTimes blogger put perhaps too much stock in a white supremacist's claims of ties to Ron Paul means RP is definitely not a racist extremist, just an extremist. The support RP receives from white supremacists, such as David Duke (no link to any of his hate, but support for RP is all over Duke's home site), isn't significant. That this whole episode reeks of a low quality attempt to paper over RP's ties by discrediting one particular set of claims, in the model of rat-fucking Dan Rather in Memogate to negate the AWOL from National Guard duty issue, should not raise any suspicions. It certainly doesn't for Megan.

Who cheated whom?: ... *sigh* Megan simply will not hear of possibly blaming banks for any portion of the subprime loan crisis. Neither will a famous product of the U of Chicago Economics dep't, who is above reproach because of awards.
The housing bubble was a great national folie-a-deux. Buyers and lenders alike were deluded by long years of easy credit into thinking that risks were lower than they actually were. It is not plausible to argue that the banks knew the loans would go bad . . . and nonetheless jammed billions of them into their portfolios.
Don't blame the banks, they made the same mistake as the people they extended credit to. Blame the people who accepted that credit, instead, who were operating under the exact same mistaken beliefs. I'd say why, but I can't snark that well.
To many people, of course, this cries out for regulations to keep the bankers from being stupid: force them to up their loan quality. This is likely to just replace one kind of error with another. Most people who got subprime loans are not in default, and I will be very, very surprised if the number of defaulters even gets near the 50% mark. Why would we want to cut off credit to the sensible majority who can meet their payments, in order to protect those who take out loans they can't afford? There is no way to tell Class A from Class B--or believe me, the banks would already have weeded the latter group out.
A month ago, Megan was claiming 15% default was no biggie and had to actually update to admit that she was being flip, by being flip and joking about a "financial holocaust", as M. noted at the time. Now, she's claiming a 50% default rate wouldn't justify denying, or not aggressively pushing, credit on people unqualified for it. I'm no economist, but this strikes me as extremely fucking stupid.
But Megan is more worried about whether people will be able to put themselves in massive debt in the future.
It is characteristic of major economic problems that whatever problem you're having now seems like the only problem worth solving, no matter what the cost. But the cost of denying credit to millions of people is very high--and tellingly, it will not be borne by any of the people who are advocating it.
Are you willing to bear the costs of forcing bankers to perform due diligence? Could you live with yourself?

Why shouldn't we punish rich people who renounce their citizenship?: Maybe because their wealth was generated by participation in our economy and would not exist without it? Or the fact that the rich folk at issue here are often, usually, trying to continue earning income from US holdings but avoid paying taxes on them?
This is an excellent example of the shallow nature of Megan's glibertarianism.

Ron Paul on taxes: This is probably the longest post Megan has produced for The Atlantic, and it amounts to saying RP's batshit crazy beliefs on taxation and the Dep't of Education are a different flavor from Megan's batshit crazy beliefs on taxation and the Dep't of Education. This is two schizophrenics arguing over what God's voice sounds like.

And while I'm building my wish list...:
In general, I try to assume that when someone does something professionally, they have some passing familiarity with the subject. This prevents me from looking like an utter fool when I triumphantly catch, say, a science journalist in some "error" that turns out to be my own misunderstanding.

In fact, I have caught professional economists and journalists in errors, sometimes embarassing ones; and in turn, I have been caught in a few bloopers of my own.
....
.
.
I could link to examples of posts where Megan disproves her own claims here, but that'd be roughly of half everything we've ever posted on this blog. Instead, I'm going to stop, because Megan's degree of self-deception in this makes my head hurt.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the Atlantic is staffed by a bunch of Libertarian wingnuts. McArdle is simply the most prominent one on staff.

Anonymous said...

Great job... particularly the analysis of the RP/NYT situation. Far beyond the scope of a blog such as this, but I hope to read someday a thorough analysis of the strange history of the NYT in promoting the conservative ascendancy of the past decade or more. From Judith and WMD to today's bit whitewashing the WH's role in the CIA tape debacle to hiring Kristol (for the love of God) the grey lady has either been artfully manipulated or an active participant in some of the most shameless propaganda efforts of our times.

spencer said...

Megan wrote:

It is not plausible to argue that the banks knew the loans would go bad . . . and nonetheless jammed billions of them into their portfolios.

Um, yes it is plausible, if the banks assumed there'd be a bailout at the end of the party. They would naturally want to get while the getting was good, working under the very reasonable assumption that the Bush administration would look the other way when everything came crashing down.

Seriously, how stupid is Megan, really?

clever pseudonym said...

"In general, I try to assume that when someone does something professionally, they have some passing familiarity with the subject."

I used to assume that, too. Then the Atlantic hired Megan as an "econoblogger." Then again, "passing familiarity" is a somewhat apt description of her economic analysis. Most of it does, after all, read as if it were copied from the synopsis of chapter 2 in my high school economics text book.

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