Archive for December, 2008

Nate Silver should stick to political prognostication

Posted in Finance, Politics on December 22nd, 2008

File this one under the department of huh? Nate Silver over at 538.com decided to throw up a post encouraging people to spend their way out of the current recession:

But, after a decade or so of spending outside their means, Americans seem almost to feel guilty right now about spending money. This is exactly the opposite of what the economy needs. The structural problems of the financial sector are liable to take a long time to untangle, but if consumers signal that they’ve weathered the storm and are prepared to start consuming again, then jobs and investment capital will follow.

That is exactly the wrong approach to this entire problem. Why are we having massive problems in the housing market? Because the American public as a whole is indebted to the hilt. We have a negative savings rate in this country. The last fifteen years have been a veritable orgy of unfettered consumerism and we are just beginning to have to pay the piper. So for the love of god, if you have extra money SAVE IT. Stick it in savings account, a CD, or some T-bills.

Increased savings will help to recapitalize the banks, which might actual get commercial lending starting again. It will help counteract the massive account deficit the USA is going to have to get out of this recession/depression. Spending more money right now is just throwing more fuel on the every growing fire. Nate should stick to political prediction, since this advice is about as bad as it gets.

Update: I just have to say. 70% of the GDP in this country was consumer expenses. There is NO WAY such a percentage is maintainable. If all you do is buy things (and not make things for others to buy), there is going to be an eventual liquidity crisis. The only thing that kept this giant Ponzi scheme going as long as it has was the Fed monkeying with interest rates to create the housing bubble. We need to seriously reduce consumer expenditure and bring our GDP percentages back into whack. Asshattery.

Another strike for the processed-food industry

Posted in Food, Health on December 1st, 2008

Another day, another study showing that vitamin therapy doesn’t work. From the Guardian:

The notion that antioxidant supplements such as vitamins C and E could slow ageing has been dealt a blow by a scientific study showing that the theory behind the advice is wrong.

Beloved of health food shops and glossy magazines alike, antioxidants have long been peddled as preventative pills that have the ability to slow ageing and protect against diseases such as cancer. But the research has shown that the molecular mechanism proposed to explain how they work is mistaken.

Is this really a surprise? I know that there are desperate people out there who want a super-pill that will make them healthy and live forever, despite all the crap they routinely consume. And there sure is a huge industry that exists to try and sell it to them. But guess what? We are so far from understanding the nuances of how the human body works and how it processes nutrients (both macro and micro) that anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to make a buck. Food and vitamin companies do not you want to be healthy, they want you to spend more money.

Again, there is a simple solution. Eat in moderation. Eat whole foods. Limit your consumption of products from the agri-industrial complex: buy organic, but even more so, buy local. Eat foods that are raised the way nature intended them–grass-fed cattle for example. And remember that no one who has a quarterly EPS to meet has your best interests in mind.