Grimy drums! No autotune! Lil’ Wayne rapping through the phone on Riker’s Island!
I love this kind of rap, reminds me of buying hip-hop mixtapes on the street, then popping the CD into my discman for the train ride home. Take a moment to check out this list of top rap albums of 2001 and enjoy some nostalgia.
Now that I do most reading on the Kindle, I’m more likely to read a large numer of books in rotation. I’ve been reading 13 Bankers for a month or two now. Its a little slow moving overall, but line by line its very well written. I really loved the following quote about the point of finance and financial innovation.
"The core function of finance is financial intermediation—moving money from a place where it is not currently needed to a place where it is needed. The key questions for any financial innovation are whether it increases intermediation and whether that is a good thing.
Much recent “innovation” in credit cards, for example, has simply made the *pricing* of credit more complex. Card issuers have lowered the “headline” price that they advertise to consumers while increasing the hidden prices that consumers are less aware of, such as late fees and penalty rates. These tactics have increased the profits of credit card issuers, but have not increased financial intermediation—except insofar as they helped consumers underestimate the cost of credit and therefore borrow excessive amounts of money.
Innovation that increases the availability of credit can also be harmful. The stated-income mortgage, where loan originators explicitly did not verify borrowers’ incomes, made it easier for some people to borrow more money to buy houses, but also served as an invitation to fraud (by both borrowers and mortgage brokers) and left many borrowers unable to repay their mortgages. Investments can be economically value-creating or value-destroying; when financial intermediation increases to the point where value-destroying investments are being funded, financial innovation is doing more harm than good.”
I really love how this author frames the judgement of financial innovation. His simple question — does it create value? — greatly simplifies the debate around financial innovation, which usually centers centers around competing interpretations of fairness.
The most immediate fairness question is usually whether the innovators deserve so much money. When teachers, police officers, and firemen earn x, how can the financiers justify their 100x compensation?
In the recent credit bubble, collateral damage came took shape with many Americans owning underwater mortgages. The government was in a position to bail them out, but this raised the question of moral hazard. By bailing speculators out, would the government be rewarding the irresponsible risktaking that markets typically punish?
Untangling these issues of fairness is complicated. And though a consideration of fairness is an important part of any policy debate, I do find the others financial utilitarianism really satisfying. By refining the hardcore rah-rah-personal-freedom libertarian perspective — that *all* transactions between consenting parties are inherently good — to include the consideration of value creation, I think he makes the typical free market perspective much more attractive.
I had heard a lot of people rave about Glee, the primetime musical comedy-drama, but never checked it out since, well…its a musical comedy-drama. I finally got into it this weekend and I feel silly for waiting so long.
This show is fantastic, a real delight. The genre mashup works better than I ever thought it could. The comedy is funny, the drama compelling, and the musical numbers are irresistible.
I see Glee as a part of a larger American cultural trend embracing song and dance. For a decade we’ve experienced an onslaught of reality tv programming, where Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fames is handed out arbitrarily. It seems like many famous people are known for nothing more than being famous. Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way and we’re returning to the quaint tradition of watching entertainers who actually have talent. American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, the Step-Up Movies, America’s Best Dance Crew…it’s a far cry from Paris Hilton in “The Simple Life.”