For Your Non-Farm Payroll TGIF Reading Pleasure – March 6, 2015

untitledNoted for your Friday morning procrastinations or ruminations – take your pick.

Here are some of the things that I found interesting around the net that you too may find interesting. Some are related to the market, some to geo-politics and some are for fun.

  1. I Was Alabama’s Top Judge. I’m Ashamed by What I Had to Do to Get There – “Judge Cobb,” she asked, “how does it feel to be the victor of the most expensive judicial race in the United States this year? And how can you assure the people of Alabama that the contributions you sought are not going to impact how you rule? And how can you convince the people of Alabama not to believe that their courts are for sale?”
  2. World Bank Admits It Ignored Its Own Rules Designed To Protect The Poor -The World Bank, created to fight poverty, has admitted that it’s failed to follow its own rules for protecting the poor people swept aside by dams, roads and other big projects it bankrolls. This conclusion, announced by the bank on Wednesday, amounts to a reversal of its previous efforts to downplay concerns raised by human rights activists and others working on behalf of the dispossessed — people evicted from their land, sometimes in violent ways, to make way for World Bank-financed initiatives.
  3. Wage Data That Drove Treasury Rout in February Loom for Bonds – Who has money at stake in in Treasuries? Just about everyone. The biggest holders are U.S. households, banks, insurance companies, pension funds and mutual funds, along with foreign investors, according to Federal Reserve data. The Treasury 10-year yield will rise to 2.60 percent by year-end, based on a Bloomberg survey of economists.
  4. Norway Faces Substantial Risk of Negative Rates on Krone – Scandinavia’s richest economy may need to join the ranks of nations resorting to negative interest rates to keep out investors.Svenska Handelsbanken AB says the Norwegian central bank may have no choice but to push its benchmark deposit rate below zero to devalue the krone and live up to its inflation mandate.
  5. Putting the Private Market “Bubble” in Perspective – Mark Cuban might not be wrong to say that there is a bubble in some of the private markets. But when you say that this one is “worse” than the tech bubble I think it’s helpful to put things in some perspective because the collapse of this private market bubble would not have nearly the same macroeconomic impact as the decline in the public markets like we saw during the tech bubble. Is it worse in terms of its size relative to the Nasdaq bubble?  Maybe, but when it’s orders of magnitude smaller it helps to put things in perspective. Otherwise we end up saying silly things like the idea that the student loan bubble is similar to the housing bubble….Anyhow, I’ll get back to being poor and stupid now.
  6. Top 20 Years For GDP and Tax Rate of Top Bracket – Of course, high taxes on the rich (or any bracket) does not in and of itself increase economic growth. Taking money out of the economy in the form of taxation always slows economic growth. But, raising tax revenues allows the government to spend, which always boosts economic growth, and the data does suggest that a dollar in government spending tends to do more good for the economy than a dollar in income for the rich. It is, however, possible that the relationship is not causal at all and that the high tax rates are a response to economic growth rather than a cause. But, at the very least, the data proves beyond a doubt that much higher taxes on the rich than we have today can be compatible with much faster economic growth than we have today.
  7. The uncertain nature of the natural rate of interest – A new paper argues that the concerns about permanently lower interest rates are overhyped. The authors, James D. Hamilton of the University of California at San Diego, Ethan S. Harris of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Jan Hatzius of Goldman Sachs, and Kenneth D. West of the University of Wisconsin, take aim in particular at the idea that the main determinant of the natural rate of interest, or the rate when the economy is in equilibrium, is the growth rate of the economy. If this relationship doesn’t hold up, then slower economic growth in the future won’t necessarily result in lower interest rates.
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