Guest Post – Jack Hirshleifer on Gary Becker

February 1st, 2013 → 7:00 am

Lear: “Dost thou call me fool, boy?”

Fool: “All thy other titles thou has given away; that thou wast born with.”  – King Lear

I came across an old academic article by Jack Hirshleifer the other day (“Shakespeare vs. Becker on Altruism: The Importance of Having the Last Word,” Journal of Economic Literature 15(2):500-502) where Jack begins the article with this Shakespeare quote, and then uses it throughout the piece.  I won’t bother to explain the economics of it here, but it was fun to read.  Let’s just say that Jack wasn’t calling Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker a fool himself, but he was arguing a non-foolhardy point in Becker’s analysis.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

Gerard Depardieu

January 12th, 2013 → 4:58 am

“Wicked meaning in a lawful deed.” – All’s Well That Ends Well

Is Gerard Depardieu a monster?  I’ve seem him called such because he gave up his French citizenship and became a Russian on January 3 simply to avoid high taxes.  I do think he’s an ass – though more for his treatment of women and people in general, than for his views on taxation.  Admittedly, I might be slightly peeved if I faced a 75% taxation rate as well.  In the end, I guess the joke is on him as it appears the French constitutional court struck down the high tax rate as “confiscatory.”  At least he has easy access to great caviar now…

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Stupid/Evil People

The Puck of Economics

December 23rd, 2012 → 6:03 am

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I’m reading Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar right now.  It’s not nearly as good as A Beautiful Mind, but that isn’t actually the point.  The point is that I just read the passage (p. 245) where the British Prime Minister Lloyd George called the famous economist John Maynard Keynes “the Puck of economics” for being such a mischief maker during the Peace Conference in Paris after WWI.  If only PM George had listened to Keynes, more than mocked him, history might have been so different!

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Politics/Politicians

The British Museum-Shakespeare Exhibition

September 1st, 2012 → 9:23 am

The quote today is not from Shakespeare, but about Shakespeare.  The British Museum in London is staging a major exhibition of Shakespeare and his world right now – if I were wealthy, the trips I’d take!  As I am not independently wealthy, however, and can’t just hop on over to London for a random weekend of fun, I did the next best thing and ordered the books published in conjunction with the exhibition.  One of which is called Angels & Ducats: Shakespeare’s Money & Medals.  It is from there that the following quote is taken.  It claims that Shakespeare wrote his plays for the reward of gold.  I never really thought of that as Shakespeare’s motivation before, which I guess is ironic since I am an economist after all. 
(Note when reading below that Will Summers was Henry VIII’s jester.)

    “Did not Will Summers break his wind for thee?
    And Shakespeare therefore write his comedy?
    All things acknowledge thy vast power divine
    (Great God of Money) whose most powerful shine
    Gives motion, life.” – Thomas Randolph, Hey for Honesty, 1627

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Literature/Theatre/Art

Decline and Fall?

August 24th, 2012 → 6:00 am

“We have seen the best of our time.” – King Lear

A friend emailed me the other day asking if I thought the world was on the decline; if morals had been abandoned by politicians, if the current generation was excessively lazy, if entrepreneurs and businesspeople were unconscionably conniving.  I don’t know, but the fear that we are on the decline appears to be a repeated one throughout history.  Every generation seems to think the next one is lazier, the politicians even worse, etc.  I know they are from his plays, but Shakespeare repeatedly has characters saying that this is it, but was it?  We have a lot of problems in this world, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not so narcissistic to think MY time is the pinnacle.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Politics/Politicians & Stupid/Evil People

The Euro

July 30th, 2012 → 8:05 am

    “Thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    And lose the name of action.” – Hamlet

Last week there were more rumblings from Europe that the Euro will be saved!  (This time from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi).  All well and good, but to be honest, I kind of doubt it.  I’ve already written a few blog posts about the poor handling of the Greek debt situation.  Along with that goes a poor understanding of what it takes to really make the Euro work.  If the singe currency doesn’t break apart in the next couple of years - and no reforms are done to better unify the European economies - then there will be more troubles in the years ahead and eventually the Euro will break down.  Repeated “announcements” with no firm action are worse than useless.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Politics/Politicians


July 14th, 2012 → 8:16 am

“This is the time that the unjust man doth thrive.” – Winter’s Tale

The scandals concerning bankers and Wall Street just keep coming.  From Enron to Madoff and now to Barclay’s and the LIBOR manipulations.  To be honest, Wall Street messing up and doing stupid things now and again doesn’t bother me as much as the rewards that these people continue to get.  Inequality is a real problem in the U.S., in a way it hasn’t been since the 1920s.  Extreme inequality isn’t just unjust, as I’ve stated in earlier posts, it is actually harmful to overall economic health.  Bankers, who do not produce much of fundamental value and who keep making mistakes to boot, in particular simply get paid too much (i.e. “inefficient amounts” of) money.  It does appear that this is the time that the unjust man (for let’s face it, they are also mostly men) doth thrive.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Stupid/Evil People

Citizens United

July 10th, 2012 → 7:45 am

    “‘Tis gold
    Which buys admittance.” – Cymbeline

It’s stunning the amount of money being raised by the presidential candidates right now.  I don’t think totals will win or lose this election, but they do still matter marginally.  And the amounts are just eye-popping.  I guess what’s bothersome about it all is that it seems as though the little donor just doesn’t matter anymore.  It’s all a big guys game now.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Politics/Politicians

Happy Birthday +1

July 6th, 2012 → 6:21 am

“There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned.” – Antony and Cleopatra

This time it is my husband who gets the Happy Birthday wish!  I chose the quote above because it’s probably the greatest lesson my husband has taught me over the years – not to reckon love.  When I first met him I was much more concerned with “evenness” – I cleaned the bathrooms this week, your turn next week, I bought dinner last time, now it’s your turn, etc.  It took me awhile, but I finally gave all that up.  And in so doing it did change my perspective to be less about “him” and “me”, and more about simply “us.”  Happy Birthday baby.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Self/My Life

Jamie Dimon

May 16th, 2012 → 8:01 am

“The naked truth of it is, I have no shirt.” – Love’s Labor’s Lost

Shakespeare couldn’t have more poetically set up the most outspoken critic of banking regulation, to subsequently suffer a $2-$4 billion loss from lack of banking regulation.  Thank goodness this happened before the federal banking rules were finalized; perhaps now they won’t be completely gutted.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money