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Henry Kissinger's realism was right. Some cultures are incompatible with liberal democracy. It is unrealistic to expect to be able to spread liberal democracy and it is mistaken to have a conscience about "supporting dictators". if you let a Kai-Shek fall you get a Mao. If you let a Batista fall you get a Castro. If you let a Shah fall you get a Khomeini. The only rational approach is: "does this dictator fear us and not cause us any problems outside his own borders - yes/no"? If "No" - THWACK!!!!!!!
“25 percent [of GDP] as the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation may be exceedingly near the truth.” - John Maynard Keynes From Vito Tanzi and Ludger Schuknecht, “Public Spending in the 20th Century”, page 54
“25 percent [of GDP] as the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation may be exceedingly near the truth.” - John Maynard Keynes From Vito Tanzi and Ludger Schuknecht, “Public Spending in the 20th Century”, page 54
Elasticity of housing supply is actually everything. For decades, housing affordability improved in the entire western world, home ownership increased, homes improved even as the real price of them fell, and there was cyclical stability, with prices remaining stable and supply varying as necessary. This is how free markets WORK. All the problems more recently stem from regulations and planning that strangle the supply of greenfields housing beyond the urban fringe. This is the case all over the western world. Mostly it is explicit "save the planet" urban planning, but in some parts of the USA there are identical problems as a result of rural zoning by municipalities exercising their "local democratic right" to stop an adjacent city expanding into their area. It is a total waste of effort and argument to talk about reforms other than those that have to do with the elasticity of housing supply; it just diverts attention from the real problem. There is no problem in Texas, caused by "loose credit" or low interest rates or the CRA or mortgage securitisation; and there was no problem anywhere in the 1950's when governments threw subsidised, low-interest loans at young couples - because developers were allowed to just get on and built freakin' houses. The result is exactly the same for cars and computers today - lower interest rates don't make the prices go up, do they? Supply and competition takes care of that.
In response to:

What We Women Want

Phil from NZ Wrote: Jul 25, 2014 3:46 PM
One of the things women should get concerned about, is the way that regulations end up consigning double-income couples to mortgage slavery by making the supply of housing inelastic, which makes the prices go up even faster than interest rates are lowered. Elizabeth Warren's presentations are worth watching, on the subject of "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class", but of course being a libbewwal she won't ever have a clue that "save the planet from urban sprawl" regulations are the cause of the crisis in housing costs and mortgage related bankruptcies that bedevil certain parts of the USA - and the same thing is a much, much worse problem in most other first world countries, that don't have cities like Houston that young couples can flee to.
Quadrant Magazine, Australia, is a great publication with some great writers. Here is Peter Smith on Piketty: http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2014/06/questionable-equations-thomas-piketty/
Has anyone else heard of the book "The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility" by Gregory Clark? Excellent and informative review here: http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2014/06/pays-choose-ancestors-carefully/ ".....Social mobility is no greater in the West today than it was in medieval England. Upward mobility in Sweden today is no better than in the eighteenth century. Nor is it better in contemporary Sweden than in the United States. The wealth of East Asia exploded in the past half-century. Modernity came to Asia aggressively. But this had relatively little impact on who climbed up or slid down the social ladder. Neither huge spending on higher education nor even mass-scale totalitarian murder of millions made a difference. All government schemes to increase social mobility end in failure. This does not mean that social mobility does not exist. Individuals, families and social groups rise and fall over time. But the time scale is very long. Social mobility is glacial. It occurs at a snail’s pace over centuries. Yet states, encouraged by social science, invest massively in the expectation that they can effect major changes over short periods. This is an illusion. Across two generations, between parents and their children, churn occurs. Children do better or worse than their parents. But the net result of millions of movements up and down the social scale is only ever incremental change to the long-term underlying social pattern...... ".......Clark’s remarkable insight is that the strongest correlation of generations is not that of parent and child but between grandparent and grandchildren, or great-grandparent and great-grandchild. Thus a child from a high-status group may slide down the social ladder but there is a high chance that the child’s child or the grandchild’s child will slide back up. Novelists and ordinary people observe this all the time. Social science screens it out, in part because social science has a progressive bias. Social democrats and social liberals desire a correlation coefficient of 0. They deplore a correlation of 1. Yet social reality over the long run is actually much closer to 1 than 0. That is true across a thousand years of data. A hundred years of social democracy has made no difference to the historical pattern......"
In response to:

Is a New Housing Bubble Possible?

Phil from NZ Wrote: Jul 12, 2014 5:56 PM
Why does no-one notice that there are dozens of cities in the USA that don't have significant house price fluctuations? It is very simple; cities with a high elasticity of housing supply don't have price bubbles. They might have construction booms accompanied by moderate price increases, and moderate price falls, but they are NOT economy-busters like what happen when housing supply is rendered inelastic by regulations. And for decades, house price bubbles and busts in many countries were minimised - the decades when planners promoted automobile-based development. When politics turns against automobile based development, you get the return of price volatility. Further proof: the UK imposed a planning system back in 1947 that rationed land for urban growth - they had the volatility that other nations did not, from then until now.
Chinese property investors are reaching bigger epidemic proportions than ever before in all attractor Anglo housing markets, including Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland; and Vancouver, and notable in London and New York. It is not just California, although this might be the most affected. The phenomenon is probably at a new peak because many smarter Chinese can see a meltdown coming in their own property market and there is probably a lot more money to lose there. But if they want to pay prices that are not already in a bubble condition, and hence minimise their future losses even further than if they left their money in Chinese property, they should be heading for Texas.
There is a massive problem with "USA aggregate" data on housing. While the USA is regarded as more of a homogenous entity than, say, "the EU", the differences between housing markets in different States of the USA is easily as great as the differences between different member nations of the EU. It makes just as much sense to use USA aggregate data, as it does to use EU aggregate data and ignore what happens in Germany versus what happens in Ireland and Spain. For example, US aggregate data says "look, house prices and construction are both going up". But construction is mostly going up in States with few restrictions on sprawl, where prices are more stable, (eg Texas) and the prices are mostly going up in States where there is a serious under-supply as a result of regulatory distortions (eg California). This leads to absurd misinterpretation of what kind of reforms might be needed.
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