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Showing posts from March, 2014


I reserve the right to be wrong.

Tonight watching a silly but very entertaining action movie put me in a blogging mood.
So the movie Fast Five is set in Rio de Janeiro, and sets its plot against the backdrop of Brazilian economic inequality. Interestingly the villain is a rather wicked kingpin who is said to own the city, but not by naked cruelty or viciousness. His empire is one of carrots and sticks.
In one scene early on in the film this villain, Reyes, is talking to a couple of potential business partners in a plushly appointed office, and he contrasts the Spaniards with the Portuguese in their respective colonisation policies towards the area that is now Brazil.
The Spaniards charged in, killing everywhere they went, and in turn were slaughtered by the more numerous locals. The Portuguese, on the other hand, gave the natives gifts, which then turned into a form of bondage, by making the natives rely on them.
This Reyes treats the slum-dwellers in much the same way, by funding sch…


I reserve the right to be wrong.

So this is a thing. Iwao Hakamada is now going to trial again. I have read in moderate outsider's detail about the legal system in Japan, and the fact that it is a festering pile of shit basically designed to prosecute, not establish truth.

That makes Japan's legal system the very antithesis of the ideal of innocent until proven guilty. You're guilty until the police get a confession out of you ( and by the way, have fun trying to get a defence lawyer, as they can't sit in on police interviews to advise you ).

The more I have learned about Japan over the years the more batshit crazy the country has seemed, and not in an endearing way anymore. Where previously I was drawn to this metropolitan, civilised, powerful and fascinating country on the far side of Eurasia, now I am horrified by an officialdom that is comfortable with no accountability for the systems it sustains, and thus the wanton inhumanity of those systems.

And I'm not th…


You know I reserve the right to be wrong.

Prices are the rates charged in transactions, usually understood as the money sum the buyer pays to the seller. Barter is actually subject to prices as well, but let's leave that for now as we all use one form of money or another these days.


Price freedom is the condition of prices moving up and down through the haggling of buyers and sellers; which is to say the preferences of buyers and sellers causing the levels of supply and demand to vary. This is a slightly different way of looking at supply and demand; te two very clearly exist, but

Buyers and sellers get the hint about each other's readiness or ability to exchange through price signals...


Buyers want less of something that's in the shops, then the sellers take a hint in the form of a price signal. That is to say, the market in this good/product tells them "LOWER YOUR PRICE-TAG!"

The same process takes place in reverse; if interest in a go…


I reserve the right to be wrong.

I wrote the following as a comment on a website that was set-up in protest against back-door privatisation of the NHS. I don't agree with back-door anything, but do I agree that the NHS is literally the best healthcare system in the world? No!


The private sector includes individuals and households. 'Private sector' is actually a synonym for 'civil society', and civil society did just fine at providing for people's welfare until the Liberals legislated it into the ground in 1909.
This meant that by 1945 the government had induced (not intentionally) a breathtaking shortage of doctors since the BMA had negotiated minimum wages for doctors that were way above market rates and made seeing a doctor impossible for poor people, and becoming a doctor far more difficult, hence the sky high entry requirements today.

The NHS was created out of a necessity that the government itself had created, by legislating to change human behaviou…


I still reserve the right to be wrong.

So, goods. Goody gumdrops. It's a good thing, in a blog about economics, to talk about goods. Hopefully I'll do a good job, because I'm running out of tired turns of phrase.


So, there's some stuff you can get as much of as you like ( I can download the pdf of Jeffrey Tucker's "It's a Jetsons World" ) and there's some stuff you can't. The latter would include computers. But let's use an easier example; that pdf is a digitised version of a book, and books in their hardcopy form are scarce, as opposed to the intangible text inside.

Air is another non-scarce resource.


Non-scarce goods are called goods because they can be consumed by humans. If they have their origin in human action or production they can also be called products (as per ECON 1a).

You can consume air, so air is a good. As regards produced goods, if they are infinitely reproducible, like a pdf…

LANCES UP! CHARGE... my bong...

I reserve the right to be wrong

In 2003, the Lancet published an article requesting that the Labour government ban tobacco. My bro is going to hate me for this, but legislating to abolish a human behaviour rarely works. Legislating alcohol away in the 1920s didn't help public order, or the death rate, a great deal in the United States.
I think we need to come to terms with the fact that all our debates on this or that harmful lifestyle choice are ultimately about the cost to us (the taxpayers*) of treating people who indulge in narcotics, alcohol, bungee jumping, cliff diving, binge-eating, owning and operating motorbikes and bicycles, and all the other lifestyle choices that heighten the likelihood of a visit to A&E, a cardiologist, or a hepatologist.
Banning tobacco is not going to rid the world of it, or its harmful effects. Not unless you go full 1984/V For Vendetta on us, Guvnor. It didn't work for alcohol. The drug wars raging in various parts of the world are a bloodba…


I reserve the right to be wrong.

Competition is the by-product of more than one participant offering the stuff on the supply side of those diagrams in ECON 2a.


This would be a situation where supply and demand are in perfect harmony, and prices are always in equilibrium. That doesn't mean they stay the same, it just means that prices always represent precisely the value placed on the exchange by both sides of it!

Real-life information-flow is imperfect due to needing time to propagate to all those concerned. So real markets are imperfect, which is to say that competition itself is imperfect


Demand excess leads to prices rising above the market equilibrium price until the dearth of supply has been undone by competitors and the two factors are aligned again,

Supply excess leads to prices falling below the market equilibrium price until the excess of supply has been bought up and the two factors are aligned again,

It's probably true that …


I reserve the right to be wrong.

Food for thought, my slutty humans. God forbid that a woman take ownership of performing in porn to make ends meet. Porn isn't really my cup of tea, I confess, but the fuss-mess that kicks up when my sex tries to shame the 'slut' of the day is, well obviously horrible, but also rather creepy.

After all, it's mainly my sex watching the stuff, so what's so bad about what this woman did? Did I miss a meeting?

Your body is just that; it's a lump of very shapely meat in your possession, and if you decide you have a chance at an improvement to your life, or at least getting by, by using that fleshy asset of yours then I don't see any reason for me or anyone else to berate you for it.

It isn't an intrinsic male trait to want to shame women who take pride - or even just pleasure - in their sexualities. It is a cultural trait. It is learned. Which means it can e attributed, neatly or not, to patriarchy.

I firmly believe that the …


I reserve the right to be wrong.

But on the effects of economic freedom, I seriously doubt that I am...
It makes a pretty good case, but since you probably think this is some kind of conspiracy to extract your precious bodily fluids, here's the skinny on the Kochbrothers, who funded this video.

I had a quick lookup of the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom on Wikipedia. The index is pretty much the one thing I really like from this organisation. While the HF are a Conservative think tank, and their thinking does not align with my own, the simple facts collected together in this index do.

It is imperfect, to say the least. Some criticisms in that article above include a poor correlation between a country's ranking in the Index and its real GDP growth. Fair enough, but since the example of a fast growing, economically unfree country was China, a country which is playing economic catch-up to the developed nations of the world, I don't find it an overpowering …


I reserve the right to be wrong.

Supply and demand is the process by which people figure out the price, in money, for an exchange to take place. So supply and demand is the mechanism by which we discover what prices we can charge others if we're selling, or what we should fork out if we're buying. So supply and demand is people in a free market undertake 'price discovery'.


This is the quantity of a product that is produced.
Oh myyy! What an uncurvy curve! Oh well, any line on a graph is apparently good enough to call a curve. Whatevs. 'But Matt!! Why is the price going up in line with quantity???' Well, this represents the increasing cost to get the products to market and so the desire to charge more to offset that cost.


This is the aggregate of all potential desire for a product. That is to say, this curve represents the potential market for whatever is being sold.
'But Matt, why is this one the opposive of the supply curve.' That is beca…