Weekly Roundup 02: A Curated Linkfest For The Smartest People On The Web

Weekly Roundup

1. The Ying and Yang of The Frontal Cortex – Via Trader Psychology – Which brings me back to the Yin-Yang symbol. Remember that the two, the Yin and Yang, the light and dark, the strictly rational and the emotional are both necessary and complementary.

2. Physical and Interpersonal Warmth LInked – Via Science Daily- Do people trust others more when they experience physical warmth? That’s the theory of CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Lawrence E. Williams, who says simply handling a hot cup of coffee can change one’s attitude toward a stranger.

3. Why Some People Have A Better Head for Second Languages – Via Science Daily- Learning a second language is usually difficult and often when we speak it we cannot disguise our origin or accent. However, there are important differences between individuals with regard to the degree to which a second language is mastered, even for people who have lived in a bilingual environment since childhood.

4. Brain Mechanism Predicts Ability To Generalize – Via Science Daily- A new study reveals how the brain can connect discrete but overlapping experiences to provide a rich integrated history that extends far beyond individually experienced events and may help to direct future choices. The research, published by Cell Press in the October 23rd issue of the journal Neuron, also explains why some people are good at generalizing from past experience, while others are not.

5. The Brain Keeps Time With Metronome – Via Neurophilosophy – The fourth dimension – time – is essential for many cognitive processes, and for rhythmic movements such as walking. Recent research has begun to elucidate how neuronal activity encodes events that occur on the timescale of tens to hundredths of milliseconds (hundredths of a second) and contain cues which are required for processes such as visual perception, speech discrimination and fine movements.

6. Effects of Weather on Daily Mood – Geary Behavior Center – A Study from this months issue of ‘Emotion’ examines the effects of six weather parameters (temperature, wind power, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure, and photoperiod) on mood (positive affect, negative affect, and tiredness). Using a multi-level approach they find “Sunlight had a main effect on tiredness and mediated the effects of precipitation and air pressure on tiredness. These individual differences in weather sensitivity could not be explained by the Five Factor Model personality traits, gender, or age.”

7. What Makes A City – Via Everyday Sociology – What defines a city? How do you know if you are in one? The definition of a city is rather vague, like a population center of significant size. The U.S. Census Bureau defines a metropolitan area as having at least 50,000 residents. But it takes more than numbers of people to create what a city is all about.

8. Towards A NeuroPsychology of Religion– Via Mind Hacks – This week’s Nature has a fascinating essay by anthropologist Pascal Boyer discussing the quirks of spiritual belief and how they may result from the evolution of our mind and brain. Boyer is best known for his book Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought where he argued that religion can be understood as where the cognitive abilities we’ve developed through evolution are applied to things like group identity, ritual, or the explanation of otherwise mysterious things, such as weather or disease.

9. Ten things to know Before you PItch an Idea to a VCVia Ted Talks

10. How would you feel if you lost everything? – Via Ted Talks

11. A Healthy Dose of Irrational Exuberance– Via Big Think Blog – The last eight years have shown that Americans may be confident to a fault: Invading Iraq, betting on bum securities and doing it all while driving around in gaz-guzzling Hummers. And while the economic crisis ought to function as a nation-wide wake up call, its possible that American Overconfidence is actually standing us in good stead. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center shows that “there is little indication that the nation’s financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair.”

12. Columbia Professor Studies Fear Itself – Via Big Think Blog – If the Iraq war, NSA wiretapping and increased airport security are any indication of national temperment, Americans are having a hard time feeling safe these days. Whether its privacy invasion or actual invasion, there may, in fact, be a lot to fear. But how helpful is fear? A new study from the Eric Kandel lab at Columbia University takes FDR at his word—that fear itself may be the problem.

13. MIT Sloan School of Management on opportunities for business and society – Via MT World – If “organizations are the way that ideas change the world,” as MIT Sloan Dean Dave Schmittlein puts it, then look to institutions like MIT, which has wrapped its arms around the issues of energy and climate change, to help make sustainability real and attainable. The Dean describes some showcase work launched at MIT, including a long-lasting battery for electric cars, and MIT’s own green campus efforts.

14. Paul Krugman on the financial crisis and the coming recession – Via Open Culture – How does the new winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics think the US government should manage the big looming recession? And does the New Deal offer a model for confronting this new jam?

15. Ordinary Americans Growing Wealthier Over Long Run – Via Cafe Hayek – In the September 2008 issue of The Region, Terry Fitzgerald, Senior Economist at the Minneapolis Fed, has another revealing article. In this one he explains that after adjusting the Census Bureau data for three key factors — inflation-adjusted median household income for most household types increased by roughly 44 percent to 62 percent from 1976 to 2006. The only household types with substantially lower growth were “working-age male householder without spouse present” and “male householder with children but without spouse,” but these types constitute just 10 percent of all households. Household income inequality increased notably over this period; nonetheless, middle American households had substantial income gains.

16. Milton Friedman Admits Entire Life Was A Lie– Via Cafe Hayek – In one of the most shocking and eerie moments in the history of Congress, the ghost of Milton Friedman recently completed an appearance on Capitol Hill before the House Committee of Government Oversight and Reform. Appearing just eight days before Halloween, Friedman’s ghost admitted that markets weren’t perfect and that sometimes people make mistakes. “But wasn’t your whole life a rosy, the glass is always filled to the brim Pollyanna paean to the power of markets and the evil of regulation?” Chairman Waxman demanded of the ghost.

17. Alan Greenspan: The Penitent– Via Cafe Hayek – Alan Greenspan has been forced to admit the heresy of his youth. He has recanted. The New York Times reports:Facing a firing line of questions from Washington lawmakers, Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman once considered the infallible maestro of the financial system, admitted on Thursday that he “made a mistake” in trusting that free markets could regulate themselves without government oversight.

18. The Price of Optimisim – Via NYT

19. Larry Summers Creative Reconstruction – Via Economist’s View- Larry Summers says the financial crisis is an opportunity to address some long-standing structural problems, and to implement “transformational technologies” that “stimulate demand in the short run and have a positive impact on productivity”

20. Greg Manwik: But Have We Learned Enough? – Via Economist View- But Have We Learned Enough?, by N. Gregory Mankiw, Economic View, NY Times: …[W]hen Olivier Blanchard, the I.M.F.’s chief economist, was asked about the possibility of the world sinking into another Great Depression, he reassuringly replied that the chance was “nearly nil.” He added, “We’ve learned a few things in 80 years.”

21. The Goal Of Increasing Homeownership – Via Economists View – If someone has been paying rent month after month, year after year, and has a good credit record, it seems to me there ought to be some way for them to buy a house. We are about to start passing rules and regulations to try to prevent another financial crisis from happening, and I don’t want to see people excluded from home ownership unnecessarily.

22. Why the government will have a hard time being the white knight of foreclosures – New York Times- If you think it’s simple for the government to swoop in and stop home foreclosures, think again. There were an awful lot of moving parts in the machine that built this mess — just ask Alan Greenspan* — and therefore it’s no easy matter to clean things up.

23. Marcia Stigum’s “The Money Market” – Via Marginal Revolution – Often people ask for me background reading about the financial crisis. I recommend blogs first and foremost but still people wish for a brief primer. Well, I can recommend a 1200 page primer, namely Marcia Stigum’s The Money Market, now in its fourth edition. It provides comprehensive coverage of all the major institutions in…the money market. When I used to teach monetary economics at the Ph.d. level, I made all of the students read this entire book (in an earlier and slightly shorter edition) and I quizzed them on every chapter.

24. The Bogus Credit Crunch– Via Mises Blog – For months Alex Tabarrok has being doing a great job yelling to all the world that this “credit crunch” is bogus. What’s hilarious is that even his critics–see this post by Mark Thoma–rely on evidence that actually proves Alex’s case.

25. Getting Started With Austrian Economics – Via Mises Blog – Many of us at the Institute get asked this kind of question all the time — more and more in light of current events. Beginners often don’t quite know what to make of all the resources here, or how exactly to start dipping into them. The resource list I’ve put together for the Campaign for Liberty might be of some use. It features many items from the Mises Institute, but arranged in a logical progression for someone interested in self-education. The sections on economics in general and sound money in particular are especially relevant, though visitors to this site will likely be interested in all the subject areas covered.

26. The IMF as a Global Fed – Models and Agents – Is the world running out of balance sheets?
With banks “done”, investors terrified and corporates struggling to raise cash to keep business as usual, there was only one balance sheet left to (try to) resurrect the financial system: The government’s. And so it went. Governments across the developed world stepped in with a joint $2 trillion-plus “rescue” package, while their respective central banks also injected hundreds of billions, determined to re-liquefy the system.

27. Financial Crisis Hit Gulf States – Naked Capitalistm- Large current account surpluses do not mean a country’s are on a sound footing, as Japan, China, and now the Gulf States illustrate. A big bank near-failure in Kuwait has led the central bank to mount a rescue plan, and is weighting guaranteeing bank deposits. As the example of Ireland showed, bank guarantees (when stronger than those prevailing in the region) will syphon deposits from banks that lack such a backstop, which in a worst-case scenario can morph into a bona-fide run (the flip side is that if the Gulf States have tough currency controls, other central banks in the area may not be forced to respond in kind).

28. Roubini Forsees Possible Market Shutdown – Naked Capitalism- After the Fed, ECB,, Bank of England, and other central banks took unprecedented measures over the last month to restore liquidity and recapitalize banks, Nouriel Roubini sounded slightly less gloomy. He had deemed that the authorities has avoided a systemic financial meltdown, but a nasty, protracted recession was in the offing. It appears that Roubini has reversed himself with his latest remarks He now says systemic risks are increasing due to hedge fund margin calls, redemptions, and liquidations, and the authorities may be forced to close financial markets. Note that this is not a new line of thought. During the turmoil of the last month, particularly the week of October 6, some professional investors were quietly discussing the possibility of short-term market closures.

29. The Mother Of All Currency Crises – NYT – I invented currency crises. No, really — not the thing itself, of course, but I did publish the first paper in the modern academic literature on the subject, back in 1979. And as I like to say, business has been good ever since. But I never anticipated anything like what’s happening now.

30. Was The Housing Crash Good For America – Supply and Demand – I am not a fan of the blame game. However, regardless of what public policy actions might follow, determining the fundamental cause of the housing price crash is necessary to understand where the economy is headed. Let me give three hypotheses, and demonstrate how each of them affects what we should be forecasting for the future.

About Miguel Barbosa

I run this site.

26. October 2002 by Miguel Barbosa
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