Thursday, April 29, 2010

We're All Keynesians Now

My hero, Warren Buffet (aka the Oracle), has featured rather prominently in the financial reform debates going on in Congress this week, due to his close ties to Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson.

In light of that situation, and Buffet's annual meeting coming up this weekend, financial writer James Altucher poses a hypothetical Top 10 question list for Mr. B.

Meanwhile, a bit closer to home than Omaha, UCLA econ professor Roger Farmer will be speaking at Caltech on Sunday. His topic: Untangling the economics of the recent financial meltdown and parsing the Keynesians from the - what, Friedman-ites? - in the crowd. (I wonder if we'll have to sit on "bride and groom" sides of the auditorium?)

Yes, this stuff is dry as dust to most people - and about as appetizing - but I've been trying to get a handle on economics for most of my adult life. It will be interesting to see if I can at least follow the discussion.

A couple of years ago, theoretical physicist extraordinare Lisa Randall addressed the Skeptics Society. I may have followed about one-third of what she said. But it was a great workout for my brain, which had to be taken home and coddled (not like an egg!) afterwards.


  1. I'm going to be very interested to read your take on the discussion. I have to admit, most of my information on the meltdown comes from This American Life and Planet Money. Don't know whether that's a good idea, but they are persuasive -- or at least, speak a language I understand.

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  3. If you can follow half of it you'll be doing better than I am. Let us know what you find out and I'll get my information from This American Life and You.

  4. TAL and PM are excellent sources and have done a terrific job making it comprehensible.

    The lecture was more on macroeconomics and history. Sounds deadly but it was fascinating. Turns out it is Hayek v Keynes.

    The lecturer, Prof. Roger Farmer of UCLA, said it is not "if" but "when" Greece defaults, which he feels will strongly challenge the sustainability of the EU.

    And he likes the exchange trading of derivatives but he's not so thrilled about some of the other provisions of the financial reform legislation. He's got a different idea (which I've never heard discussed) for giving the Fed better oversight of the economy and allowing them to prick bubbles before they burst and put a 'sling' under recessions before they can bottom out the economy.

  5. Was the CalTech talk good if you happened to go? I wood've gone but I missed it.

    Fyi, in case you haven't noticed, there will be a Pasadena area blogger get together on May 8th.

  6. Oh god, that video is brilliant.

    I always thought the concept of the EU or the EC was strange. Most of these countries don't, have never, liked each other. It's easy to find commonground when the champagne is flowing.

  7. Cafe, the talk was really good. I don't have time to write it up due to a very busy schedule this week and next, but I commented briefly on it in this thread.

    One highlight of Skeptic events at CalTech: Great Q&A with the audience.

    Thanks for letting me know about the blogger event - I'm busy that day, but I'm glad to hear about it. Have fun!

    Hiker, yes, the EU is an odd concept. Farmer seemed to predict it is shaky and will get more so. Once Greece defaults, there will be a lot of pressure to kick them out of the Eurozone and he thinks Spain and Portugal are likely to follow.

    It's one thing to share a common currency when there's a central government with laws/teeth, not so much when you're a loose collection of independent countries that traditionally hate each other!