Random thoughts on politics, economics, Greece, and life in California.

After time in NY and abroad, I currently live in San Francisco.

Illinois’s 4th Congressional district. Gerrymandering at its finest.
via mapsontheweb

Illinois’s 4th Congressional district. Gerrymandering at its finest.

via mapsontheweb



Greek protesters clash with police after parliament passes latest austerity measures. Collection of photos at Denver Post.

Greek protesters clash with police after parliament passes latest austerity measures. Collection of photos at Denver Post.



Greg Mankiw on the election:

With the President reelected and the House and Senate largely unchanged in composition, the first thought that came to my mind was the classic Sartre play No Exit, with President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Majority Leader Reid playing the three characters.



The World Economic Forum recently published its annual Global Competitiveness Report. Not surprisingly, Greece ranked last in the EU and 96th overall. The US ranked 7th. From the report:

Overall, low levels of productivity and competitiveness do not warrant the salaries that workers in Southern Europe enjoy and have led to unsustainable imbalances, followed by high and rising unemployment.

Spot on.

Thanks Takis Pappas for the pointer.



Many things you hear about Greece just aren’t true. The Greeks aren’t lazy — on the contrary, they work longer hours than almost anyone else in Europe, and much longer hours than the Germans in particular. Nor does Greece have a runaway welfare state, as conservatives like to claim; social expenditure as a percentage of G.D.P., the standard measure of the size of the welfare state, is substantially lower in Greece than in, say, Sweden or Germany, countries that have so far weathered the European crisis pretty well.

Can’t say I completely agree with the conclusions, but interesting statistics nevertheless. 



From this week’s Economist cover story:

The half-truth in Athens is that bigoted northern Europeans give Greeks no credit for the hardship they have borne. Greece really has suffered: between 2007 and 2012 its economy is expected to have shrunk by almost a fifth. The economy is being strangled by a severe credit and liquidity crunch, with more budget cuts and tax rises to come. Even if all goes well, Greece’s debt will be 161% of GDP next year. Whatever the make-up of its next government, the idea that Greece can repay this is the biggest fantasy of all.



A counterargument to national ID card privacy concerns:

Central to the Estonian project is the ID card, introduced in 2002. Nine in 10 Estonians have one, and – by slotting it into their computer – citizens can use their card to vote online, transfer money and access all the information the state has on them.

"…I feel much more secure with a digital ID. If anyone goes into my files, they’re flagged. Whereas if my files – which would exist anyway – were made of paper, no one would know who was looking at them."

Every Estonian can see who has visited their data, and they can challenge any suspicious behaviour. In one famous case, a policewoman was caught accessing information about her boyfriend.

via @aporterprice



New Greek unemployment numbers were released today:

The real fiasco for the Greek economy, and at the same time the unvarnished truth, was the number of people who actually have jobs...the number of employed dropped by 20,600 in January to 3,880,120 people—35.9% of a population of 10.8 million.

Nearly 65% of Greeks do not work! As a point of comparison, the US employment population ratio is 59%.



Ethics violations at home

SC Lt. Governor Ken Ard resigns. One of his numerous violations:

Ard also spent more than $3,000 worth of campaign money at Best Buy for what he told the ethics agency was computer equipment and was “for campaign and office-related purposes.” It turned out he had really bought a Playstation 3, a flat-screen TV, an iPod Touch 8G, and two 3G iPads.

Unfortunate state of affairs in SC.



Nigel Farage takes on “Puppet Papademos”.

He’s not even a democratically elected prime minister. He’s been appointed by you guys. Greece is not run through democracy now, it is run through a Troika. Three foreign officials that fly into Athens airport and tell the Greeks what they can and cannot do.

The violence and destruction that you saw on Sunday is being caused directly because people are having their democratic rights taken from them. What else can they do?


Tough votes fracture coalitions.
via WSJ.

Tough votes fracture coalitions.

via WSJ.



An Iowa caucus ballot. Not surprising that vote tallies keep fluctuating.
via TheMoneyCage.

An Iowa caucus ballot. Not surprising that vote tallies keep fluctuating.

via TheMoneyCage.



mbsthatthatisis:

in case you didn’t know, Dmitry Medvedev is a also photographer…

SF skyline by the Russian President:



My Gosling meme was picked up by the Ryan Gosling Political Scientist blog. First Feminist Ryan Gosling, then F**k Yeah! Ryan Gosling, now this.
Update: Law School Ryan Gosling now launched.

My Gosling meme was picked up by the Ryan Gosling Political Scientist blog. First Feminist Ryan Gosling, then F**k Yeah! Ryan Gosling, now this.

Update: Law School Ryan Gosling now launched.



The latest Greek debt freak out. Will Papandreou’s highly anticipated speech tomorrow make any difference? In the grand scheme of Greece’s problems, I think not.
GGGB10YR is an index comprised of generic EUR Greek government bonds. As investors become more worried that the government may default on or restructure their debt, yields on government bonds (the cost of borrowing for the Greek government) rise.

The latest Greek debt freak out. Will Papandreou’s highly anticipated speech tomorrow make any difference? In the grand scheme of Greece’s problems, I think not.

GGGB10YR is an index comprised of generic EUR Greek government bonds. As investors become more worried that the government may default on or restructure their debt, yields on government bonds (the cost of borrowing for the Greek government) rise.