Category Archives: Economics

Bad Economic News

For people looking for…you know…actual bad economic news. Oil prices are at their lowest level in a year and a half:

U.S. crude fell $1.63 to $54.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after tumbling more than $2 earlier in the session. Brent crude traded down $1.28 at $54.32.

Both international benchmarks were at their lowest since June 2005.

“$55 was very strong support that has been broken and below that is not much,” said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix. “If we close below $55, the next big support level isn’t until $50.”

Weather forecaster DTN Meteorologist predicted above normal temperatures for the rest of the week in the U.S. Northeast, extending an extraordinary streak of mild winter weather in the world’s largest heating oil market.

U.S. heating oil demand will run about a third below normal this week, the National Weather Service said Monday.

The steep price drop has rung alarm bells in OPEC producers and the group’s president, the United Arab Emirates, is discussing further action with member states. But traders remained doubtful that OPEC could turn the tide.

I blame George Bush.

No, really. I mean, it’s caused by global warming, right? And isn’t that his fault?

Seriously, this does point out that GW, even if it’s occurring, is not an all-bad thing. We generally use fossil fuels for heat, whereas air conditioning is generated by electricity, which can be produced with nuclear and other means. It’s a complicated world we live in.

Avoidance Of Truth

An interesting essay from Arnold Kling:

One of my strongly-held beliefs, for which I tend to attract supporting evidence and repel contrary arguments, is that markets process information more effectively than does the political process. Perhaps it as an exaggeration to refer to the market as the “world of truth,” as Tim Harford does in The Undercover Economist. However, it strikes me that it is easier for market forces to drive a bad firm out of business than it is for political forces to extinguish a policy that fails to meet the objectives that purportedly drive its enactment.

Those who believe in the wisdom of the political process might argue that the competition between political elites–between Democrats and Republicans or between Krugman and Limbaugh–promotes reasonable outcomes. However, I suspect that the net result of this competition is to lead to greater accretion of government power, giving the elites more to fight over. Politics ultimately becomes a competition to promise the undeliverable, whether it be better public education, inexpensive health care, or government suppression of drug abuse or sexual immorality.

Emphasis mine. That’s why it’s so important to get a private space industry going. A government space program will inevitably be captured by its rent seekers, and be almost invariably ineffective (and even counterproductive) in its stated goals, particularly given how unimportant those goals are to the body politic.

A Great Economist Has Passed

I’m hearing that Milton Friedman died last night. RIP and condolences to Rose.

More thoughts later.

[5 PM Update]

Glenn has some relevant links

As many have noted, he wasn’t just an economist, but (like Hayek) a tireless fighter for human liberty.

[Update at 7:30 PM EST]

Here’s another link roundup. Here’s one from Brian Doherty:

Undoubtedly the most successful and influential proponent of libertarian thought in the 20th century, Milton Friedman, died last night at age 94. His successes as both a technical economist and libertarian polemicist are enormous. We can thank him, in large part, for happy events from the elimination of the draft to the conquest of inflation. Just a quick note now