Friday, February 6, 2009


no foreplay, let's get to it.

When saving becomes dissaving:

What does it mean for the savings rate--savings could conceivably go up as a fraction of income at the same time it goes down in absolute terms. I don't know--I'm not even sure how we could know. Has any other country ever had this level of personal debt before?
Maybe a professional journalist or economics blogger will find out for you, Megan.

Will falling gas prices cut into Visa and Mastercard's earnings?:

Yep, she's worried about gas prices falling.
What other businesses will falling gas prices be bad for? The only one I can think of off the top of my head is mass transit--but then, they lose money anyway.
And only poor, dirty people use mass transit, except the subway, anyway.

How effective are tax cuts as stimulus?:

Amazingly, conservative ideologues claim tax cuts are highly effective as stimulus.
On a practical level, I think tax cuts have to be part of any package that hopes for quick action. As I said in my Bloggingheads with Brian Beutler, the government does not have a lot of mechanisms for spending money quickly. If you really want to shove money out the door, you need to do it through existing transfer systems: unemployment, welfare, food stamps, and of course, our friend the IRS. [Clarified for honesty]
The only way to fix the economy is to keep doing the same things that crippled it, although she's half right, in that if conservatives get their way we will need to pump money into unemployment and poverty relief programs, what with all the new unemployed poor people Megan wants to keep making.

The Costco model:
(Obligatory notation that it is still better to be a laid-off ibanker than a single mom whose shifts at Wendy's just got cut back. But the contraction in incomes at the top has been greater, proportionally, which means those people will be cutting back more than downmarket consumers.)
It's such a chore for Megan to acknowledge the existence of poor people. FFS, don't you have any sympathy for the poor financial types? Some of them have had to cut back their coke use to weekends only. That's way more of a sacrifice than deciding between paying the rent or buying food for your child. Rich folk are suffering, dammit. Priorities, people.

Is Obama losing control of his message?:
Well, yes. My mother, aka The Swing Voter, is absolutely livid that the Obama team thought it was okay to move forward with nominating known tax offenders.
A woman whose excellent judgment led her to vote for both Ronald Reagan and George Bush twice is livid that....
wait, why the fuck do we care?

Wal-Mart reports that same-store sales grew 2.1% in January:
I'd guess that the recession will be good for Wal-Mart--even if they don't actually improve their profits, they'll come out of it in a better position than most of their competitors.
You mean a bad economy is good news for the nation's cheapest, and largest, retailer? Are people trying to save money now or something? You need to explain further, Megan, to make sure your insights aren't lost on us muggles.

Productivity, and unit labor costs, rise:
For all the hyperbole about incompetent managers, layoffs are not actually performed at random. They tend to target the least productive workers in the department, or the least productive departments (though of course there are many individual exceptions to that generalization).
It would must really pain her to put in those qualifying clauses, but otherwise she'd have to admit she thinks most laid off workers deserved to be fired.

DTV in never-neverland:
Why was the DTV transition, which has been planned for years and years, suddenly delayed by the Obama administration? The rationales about people who weren't ready seemed very flimsy, and easily curable with very small amounts of government money. Julian Sanchez suggested one possibility a while back: someone with a vested financial interest has been "helping" the Obama administration with its DTV policy.
OBAMA IS A CORRUPTOCRAT, who, in the middle of a national financial crisis, won't find money for a technical change-over which is in no way important. There must be payola involved, there's no other answer...
You could have got this answer with some basic googling.
There is a backlog of coupon payment to people applying for transition. That program has ran out of money, since the Bush administration didn't adequately fund it. Funding it sufficiently to cover all people who applied for converter coupon will take a few months. Hence the delay which has been overwhelmingly passed in both houses of the congress.
This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.
Posted by Jon
This is why she wants to go to closed comments. The only people who'll bother to register will be sycophants.

Getting long. A couple quickies and a look at the Iraq Body Count posts in a few.


The Ignorant Investor said...

"For all the hyperbole about incompetent managers, layoffs . ..tend to target the least productive workers in the department."

If this is true, why does Megan still have a job?

Chad said...

You could have got this answer with some basic googling.

That pretty much sums up Megan McArdle's career as a blogger.

She isn't even good enough of a writer to know how to avoid looking bad.

M. Bouffant said...

As I said in my Bloggingheads with Brian Beutler

"Her" Bloggingheads.

"With" Brian Beutler.

Ken Houghton said...

"off the top of my head"

Hey, at least she admits it. (Let's ignore actual mass transit ridership stats, or the idea that fewer people can afford to use and park their cars but still have to get to jobs or the requests from the Charlottes and Albuquerques for mass transit funding, especially after the recent successes of expanding it in the former.)