May 4th, 2012 → 8:10 am

    “The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it
    Because we see it; but what we do not see
    We tread upon, and never think of it.” – Measure for Measure

If you haven’t heard yet, Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” sold for $119.9 million this past Wednesday at Sotheby’s in New York.  That’s certainly a fabulous price but I disagree with art critic Holland Cotter who said that it was too much – if I had an extra $119.9 million lying around I’d totally have bid on it.  But I do agree with the common complaint that everyday art isn’t appreciated enough.  I have a neighbor across the street who is an artist (primarily) and a bookkeeper (to pay the rent).  She isn’t famous, as far as I know, but her work really is very good.  Too bad it’s so hard for such “unknowns” to make a living.

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money & Other

The War on Women

March 19th, 2012 → 6:32 am

“He…curses all Eve’s daughters – of what complexion soever.” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

There’s been a lot of commentary lately about the G.O.P.‘s apparent “war on women.”  And it is true, that the increasing discussion and reappraisal of many issues and rights long thought decided is worrying.  But as an economist I have to wonder if much of this isn’t recession related.  When societies (like people) enter hard times, their worst tendencies tend to emerge.  Yes, much of this is emerging from Republican lawmakers, but I think the reason it is coming out now is partly because of this darn recession.  When times are good people are happy, forgiving, tolerant.  When times are bad people are resentful, accusatory, and, sadly, surprisingly intolerant.  I pray the effects of this recession end soon, so that we can return to being a relatively decent, tolerant society again.

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


February 18th, 2012 → 6:07 am

“The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.” – Measure for Measure

I say this to the people of Greece, who are rioting in protest against greater austerity measures.  I say this to the people of Syria, who are fighting for basic liberty and freedom.  I say this to the citizens of the United States, who are desperate for a third party presidential candidate.  I say this to myself, whenever things are bleak, because it is true.

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

Guest Post – Solyndra & the Federal Loan Guarantee Program

February 9th, 2012 → 7:35 am

    “I’ll so offend to make offense a skill,
    Redeeeming time when men think least I will.” – Henry IV

In my day job I’m an economics professor, with a specialty in environmental and energy economics.  My love of Shakespeare hardly ever crosses into this domain, so I was quite surprised when, sitting at my desk in my office yesterday, reading a technical industry publication, I came across the above quote used in reference to the Solyndra debacle and the federal government’s loan guarantee program for renewable energy.  I actually don’t think this was the best use of a Shakespeare quote, because it requires knowing a bit about Prince Harry (think: wild child) and the context of his ascent to king as Henry V (think: reformed wild child) to fully understand the meaning here (and how many people reading technical energy publications know that??).  But for me at least, this was fun to come across.

If anyone out there sees other uses of Shakespeare in odd contexts in their daily lives, please pass the quotes along!  I’d love to hear them, and I may even start posting some of these “guest” quotes now and again on the webiste.

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

Facebook IPO

February 3rd, 2012 → 6:53 am

“The game’s afoot!” – Henry V

There is so much hype going around right now about Facebook’s upcoming IPO that I can only grin and see it as a big game.  I’ve heard potential valuations for the company ranging from 5 billion to 100 billion dollars.  $100 billion!  That’s more than the GDP of many countries (including Syria, Ecuador, Lebanon, and more than 100 others).  I wish I had some popcorn to eat while I sit back and watch all this craziness play out…

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

The Rich & The Poor

January 20th, 2012 → 5:46 am

    “Whiles I am a beggar, I will rail
    And say there is no sin but to be rich;
    And being rich, my virtue then shall be
    To say there is no vice but beggary.” – King John

Why must it ever be so?

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money

Durban Climate Agreement

December 18th, 2011 → 6:08 am

    “O ruined piece of nature, this great world
    Shall so wear out to naught.” – King Lear

I keep reading that the U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa last week were a success.  Really?  So very little was accomplished regarding actually decreasing emissions that it doesn’t seem that way to me.  The problem, of course, is that everyone is worried about the economy instead right now.  Which is why I became an economist 15 years ago in the first place – because I saw how fundamental it was to so many other, more important issues.  If only economics weren’t a social science, but a hard science, and we could jerry-rig things to work as we pleased…

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

The Stock Market

December 2nd, 2011 → 6:20 am

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” – Macbeth

This is one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes, that I used to recite even when I was a kid (I probably couldn’t stay awake past the first act when I was younger to remember anymore 😉 ).  Right now I feel like it applies to the volatility in the stock market.  Down 2% one day, up 4% another!  It didn’t used to be quite this volatile!  And I know there are reasons for it, like EU announcements and government jobs reports, but it still feels crazy sometimes, like a hot bubbling cauldron…

Filed under: Blog & Economics/Money


November 10th, 2011 → 7:07 am

    “…we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools.” – King Lear

Originally I was thinking that this quote fit the Republican presidential debate last night (and in particular the gaffe by Perry).  But the more I think about it, the more it seems to fit everything that is going on right now.  The political leaders in Europe and their poor handling of the debt crisis, the shocking sexual abuse cover-up at Penn State, a number of my colleagues at work.  It really makes one want to throw up their hands and cry!

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

Jon Corzine

November 6th, 2011 → 5:13 am

    “All that glisters is not gold;
    Often have you heard that told;
    Many a man his life hath sold
    But my outside to behold.” – The Merchant of Venice

This quote, that not all that glitters is really gold, applies both to Jon Corzine and his failed firm, MF Global.  Corzine, we now know, was certainly not the talented man he seemed – he simply took big risks and stole other people’s money.  And MF Global was not a safe place to park your retirement funds, despite what laws and regulations were around to protect it.  I feel as though you can’t trust anyone and nothing is what it seems right now…it’s an awful feeling.

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