Tag Archives: Economy

All Gaga for Obama

In celebration of Obama’s first 100 days, and also given the popularity of Lady Gaga, I decided to try a bit of songwriting for the President.  The following should be sung along to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face (play the song in a new window – with lyrics | instrumental):

Barack (0:24):

I gotta clean up what they did back in ’08
Corrupted and got busted with a messed up SEC (Oh Dubya)
So now the country’s sufferin’ and the times are hard
With Ponzi schemes and broken dreams and guys without a job

Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh
I’ll get it right, or we’ll pay the price
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh,
I’ll go at it hard, show them who’s in charge

obamaeconomy

With Larry
And Timmy
These are the
Obama days
(Gotta stop the Dow from dropping)
Plus Citi
Bernanke
The Fed completes the
Obama days
(Government is going shopping)

Chorus (1:12):

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days

Barack (1:21):

I’m gonna roll with Joe a hard pair we will be
Republicans can teabag all they want with Dick Cheney
Afghanistan will see me coming on the front,
And baby when it’s war if it’s not rough it isn’t fun,

Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh
I’ll get Iraq, show them what I’ve got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh,
I’ll get a bomb, show them that it’s hot

karzaizardari1With Karzai
So close by
These are the
Obama days
(Karzai is grumpy, likes nobody)
Talking peace
Zardari
These are the
Obama days
(Waterboarding’s not his hobby)

Chorus (2:09):

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days

Barack (2:24):

gm-ceoI’ve got my hand in GM’s pocket
Squeezing hard to keep ’em knockin’
‘Cause I’m trying
To go on and end this downspin we’ve been rockin’
With my bailouts and my guarantees
I’m fixing these securities
I promise this, I promise this
I’ll bring back life to AIG

aigsoccerWith swine flu
Coming through
These are the
Obama days
(Bacon’s not for everybody)
Arlen who
S’my new boo
These are the
Obama days
(Specter’s got a new buddy)

Chorus (2:59):

gagaobamaCan’t beat my
Can’t beat my
No one can beat my
Obama craze
(He’s got me like nobody)
Can’t beat my
Can’t beat my
No one can beat my
Obama craze
(Eight more years of peace and harmony)

— Repeat x2 —

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days, Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Obama days

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Random Thoughts on… Cutting Back

During the past few months, the S&P 500 has fallen nearly 30%.  Hedge fund managers and i-bankers are losing their jobs.  Gordon Gekko is trading in his Ferragamo loafers for food.  Trendy derelictque fashion lines may soon reflect our dire reality.  We’re squeezed for some cash. 

So, let’s get out our scalpels and start thinking about what we can live without.

Here are some suggestions of what to cut in 2009:

facil1) Impulse Buys: Personally, some past regrets include neon sneakers and the Staples easy button. ¡Que facil!

2) Useless Junk: this category includes bouncy balls, rubber chickens, whoopee cushions, and finger puppets–all of which I have received as gifts in the past.  Therefore, someone is buying this crap.  Stop… for your own sake.

3) Alcohol, Drugs, and Prostitutes: Just not a good idea, especially in a down economy.  

4) Coffee: Starbucks takes about $3.50 of your hard-earned money every day.  Then it takes that cash, stuffs it in a recyclable paper bag, and lights it on fire (its stock is down 15% this month alone).  Why not keep your money and light it on fire yourself?  It would be more fun.

 

5) Dessert: This is a tough one to let go… I might have to offset this by buying fewer rubber chickens instead.  I’m not sure if I can do without molten chocolate cake.

 

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Random Thoughts on… Halloween

I’m guessing that if you go out tonight, you’ll see an assortment of scandalous Sarah Palins and sexy Joe the Plumbers. There will also be a glut of nurses, cabaret dancers, and schoolgirls, because we all know that Halloween is the one evening when looking trashy is socially acceptable. But, if you’re not one for fishnet stockings and go-go boots, here are some other last minute Halloween costume ideas, as culled from my friends and co-workers.

  • Holy cow! Find a cow costume, and combine it with an angel costume. This will be especially appreciated in pro-America areas of the country where people actually say “cow” instead of the s-word. Other expressions that beget costume ideas: cool as a cucumber, moral fabric, smoke and mirrors, wet blanket, when pigs fly.
  • Dress up as a cocktail (idea stolen from my co-workers…thanks!). Cover your face with blood and carry along a few tomatoes–you’re a Bloody Mary. Find a bomber pilot outfit and aviators, and you’re a Kamikaze. Throw on some horns, wear red, and you’re a Red Bull. Cosmopolitans, White Russians, Car Bombs…the list goes on. if you can drink it, you can wear it.
  • A Fun Disease. Dress up as a fun disease, like flesh eating bacteria, the bubonic plague, or the clap. Basking in your power over the weak-stomached, you should go up to those dressed up as nurses and doctors and ask for their diagnoses.  That way, you can make others feel dumb for not knowing that you are an enlarged microbe of typhoid fever, obviously.
  • The Walk of Shame. This one is best done with a group of three girls. The first girl is the “Before,” simply dressed like she is going out. The second girl is the “After”, with smeared makeup, crazy hair, and drinks spilled all over her dress. The third girl is the “Morning After,” wearing a man’s shirt and carrying her heels. It’s social commentary, really.
  • Rags to Riches. With a friend, dress up as either a hobo or a billionaire (complete with bling, of course). One of you will be derelicte, trailer-park chic, while the other will play the role of a haughty ice queen, channeling a character on Gossip Girl, or Cindy McCain.
  • A 401(k). Walk around slumped over all night. When people ask what you are, just say, “I’m your future savings, withering away. Muahahaha.” After all, Halloween is supposed to be scary.

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2008: The Race That Was

We’re five days away from November 4th, and it kind of feels like summer camp is ending. I’m a bit sad, but I’m also excited that it’s finally over. After the 4th, there will be no more political ads, no more pandering for votes, and no more McCain-Obama melodrama… something we can all look forward to. To me, election day is almost like an early New Years: I expect that everything will turn out fine, but I still have a little pocket of dread that Y2K will hit, the country will be catapulted back into the dark ages, and Joe the Plumber will become Secretary of State. And so, with the upcoming end to a tumultuous campaign, here is our requisite look back at what we’ve learned in 2008, The Race that Was.

  • If you want to be President, start vetting your acquaintances. If someone you know ever did or said something crazy, you’re on the hook by association. It doesn’t matter how well you know them: if you have an acquaintance who eats babies, you’re a baby eater too.
  • If you want to be Vice President, shoot some moose, drop your g’s, and wink a lot: Vettin’ is not necessary. Neither are press conferences, direct answers, or substance. Simply put on $150,000 worth of designer digs, and tell people that the other presidential candidate eats babies. And if it doesn’t work, well, there’s always 2012. By then you should be able to handle a press conference or two.
  • Tina Fey should send Sarah Palin a Christmas card. With a picture of her in a black power suit, surrounded by the pile of money she’s made.
  • Once again, Ohio and Florida decide. And we shall find out if they are “pro-America” on November 4th. If they are not, we should consider seceding them to Canada and Mexico, respectively.
  • The economy is like an ugly stepsister. When you’re in the family, you don’t want to trot her out at the risk of repulsing other people. So, you dress her up, throw on some lipstick, and try to divert all attention to the pretty, wink-happy stepsister instead. When you’re outside the fam, you take one look at the atrocity, say, “holy crap,” and schedule an emergency extreme makeover.
  • The focus of this election being the economy. Back in 2004, the election focused on terrorism and Iraq. In 2000, social issues like gay marriage and stem cell research were at the forefront. It’s interesting to see how priorities change… Thanks, George.
  • Joe the Plumber has come to symbolize middle America. But, he owes back taxes, he’s not actually a plumber, and his real name is Sam. And if he’s making $250K+ a year, middle Americans should probably look for a better spokesperson… like Phil the Pharmacist or Martha the Schoolteacher.
  • There is still racism in this country. Not just the black-white kind, but also based on religious beliefs. (Colin Powell said it best on Meet the Press: “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”) You’d think that by 2008, we would be better than this.
  • Democracy can sometimes be scary. They are predicting that McCain only has a 4.3% chance of winning, but I’m still scared about Y2K.

November 4th… VOTE! And even though this post is biased, you can vote however you like.

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You Just Don’t Mess With Must-See TV

With the return of television’s hottest heartthrobs like McDreamy, McSteamy, and Michael Scott in a fat suit, TV is officially back from its eight-month hiatus. During the next few weeks, network execs are undoubtedly waiting to see if audiences will also come back…especially after enduring a long summer of repeats, Japanese game show knock-offs, and Deal or No Deal.

While some may have enjoyed a continuous helping of Howie Mandel as a placeholder for quality programming, I am slightly skeptical that viewers will come running back with open arms to their favorite old shows. After all, to put it in economic terms, TV is a normal good with plenty of substitutes. When the writers strike halted production earlier this year, viewers naturally altered their behavior. Instead of installing themselves on the couch for 30 Rock every Thursday, people may have gone to the gym, read a magazine, or, God forbid, even had conversations with their families during dinner. Plus, some Americans are probably still ticked off about the strike itself; instead of watching our 401ks plummet, it would have been nice to have a quality show on TV to distract us.

So now, even if viewership returns to their normal levels, is this necessarily a positive development? For everyone who does NOT work at a television network, the answer may be no.

To illustrate this point, I have included a graph which shows how substitutes to television (like reading, exercise, and family time) may have crept into our daily routines… and how such activities may be preferable to Project Runway marathons:

  • Lower TV consumption = High literacy, healthy kids, more time with family = Not so bad?
  • Higher TV consumption = Low literacy, rampant obesity, excessive Paris Hilton exposure, remake of Knight Rider = Armageddon?

Then again, if 30 Rock gets canceled and I never find out what happened to Liz Lemon’s baby quest, someone’s gonna pay… and it might be the woman on the neighboring elliptical at the gym. I’ve got a lot of aggression.

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Lipstick, Politics, and the Economy

There are many political issues that preoccupy us on a daily basis. Some care deeply about issues like climate change and environmentalism. Others are concerned about healthcare costs and the future of Social Security. On John McCain’s website, McCain describes his stance on 19 vital issues, including the second amendment, the space program, and the “sanctity of life”. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama lists 23 issues on his site, although blindness caused by small text does not seem to be one of his major concerns. However, while recent news headlines have revolved around another investment bank possibly going under, the takeover of Fannie and Freddie, and our highest unemployment rate in 5 years, the candidates have been arguing over… lipstick.

After spending four years studying economics in college, I would like to think that the economy is more newsworthy than another story about Sarah Palin. But even while we hear about it all the time, the economy is often difficult to understand, and even more difficult to explain. The complexity of today’s economy can lead smart people to different conclusions with regards to policy… thereby confusing the rest of us even more.

For simplicity’s sake, I would argue that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans focus on the macro aspect of the economy, while Democrats focus on the individual. From a macro perspective, we judge the economy based on indicators like the stock market, consumer confidence, the unemployment rate, and GDP growth, to name a few. As individuals, however, our perception of the economy is colored by our own experience: Do we have a job? Can we afford to buy things? Do we have money in the bank? Conservatives promote free-market ideals, lower taxes, and less government–sometimes at the expense of unskilled laborers and people who have fallen into misfortune. Liberals, on the other hand, advocate for an active government to temper the market’s unpredictable and unequal consequences on its citizens–sometimes at the expense of productivity and efficiency.

Then, determining good economic policy may ultimately depend on one’s beliefs and values.

My personal opinion is that while conservative economic policy may lead to greater productivity and wealth, I do not believe that increasing wealth is the only source of fulfillment for most people. The Darwinian inclination of the market can create an unhealthy focus on accumulating wealth as the benchmark for success or happiness, and can lead us to lose compassion for anyone less fortunate. We also know that a rising tide does not lift all boats, as inequality in America is just getting worse. I would rather live modestly in a community where I feel safe, than lavishly in a place where I’m constantly looking behind my shoulder.

An interesting take from RFK on our measure of the economy:

Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities…. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.Robert F. Kennedy, Kansas, 1968

Of course, the reason why most economists are conservative is because it’s difficult to measure the joy of children’s play and the behavioral reaction to growing inequality. For a conservative perspective and more technical tidbits and interesting facts about the economy: http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/

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