Explaining Southern California's economy

Herman Cain says his plan to reform Social Security worked for Chile, but can it work in the USA?

Herman Cain is now polling alongside perpetual Republican kinda sorta frontrunner Mitt Romney. Today, KPCC's AirTalk did a segment on the sudden arrival of the Cain Train. Time to get up to speed on everything the pizza king stands for, and fast! Yesterday, it was the 9-9-9 plan to reform the tax system. Today, it's Cain's scheme to fix Social Security.

In the CNN/Tea Party Debate, Cain said his plan could copy the "Chilean Model" (see the above video). So what does that mean?

It means privatizing Social Security, as Chile did in the early 1980s. José Piñera, the Chilean government official who oversaw the conversion of his country's social security system from its classic model to one based on private investment accounts, explained how and why he did it, back in 1997 (his account now lives on the Cato Institute site).


Econ 474: Will a University of Southern California professor win the Nobel Prize in economics?

UPDATE: I had a conversation with KPCC's Brian Watt about this, and while talking about "saltwater" (East Coast) and "freshwater" (Chicago School, free market) economists, it occurred to me that Easterlin could create a whole new school, should he win. He's in California, he studies happiness. Therefore, he's a "sunshine" economist! Just sayin'...

You've probably noticed that Nobel Prizes are being announced this week. There's even been a minor Nobel controversy, as one of this year's winners for medicine, Ralph Steinman, was actually dead before the Nobel committee made its announcement. They weren't aware of his death, however, so the award, normally given only to living persons, stands.

The economics winner is still to be announced. As you might expect, there's been some handicapping. Reuters has a list of possible winners. So does Olaf Storbeck, who writes a great blog called Economics Intelligence


Wait! Maybe Yahoo will move to LA!

A while back, I suggested that Yahoo, the beleaguered technology colossus, should close up shop in Silicon Valley and move all its operations to Southern California. (It already has an office in Santa Monica.) Now CNN's Juilanne Pepitone reports that something along those lines might be in play. Could Disney buy Yahoo? Here's the lowdown:

While Disney hasn't thrown its name into the ring, one analyst thinks it and its big-media rivals should consider a Yahoo buyout.

"The big guys -- Apple, Google -- aren't interested. And either way, it would make more sense for a traditional media company to buy Yahoo," says James Dobson, stock analyst at The Benchmark Group.

That's because traditional media companies are struggling with how to monetize their online presence. They're still working through the transition from old to new media, and they face stiff competition from upstart online publications.


Everything you ever wanted to know about Goldman Sachs

Well, since Lloyd Blankfein became CEO, anyway, and the financial crisis began to seriously mess with the legendary investment bank's magical, mystical fortunes.

This e-book on Goldman Sachs from Reuters BreakingViews just landed in my in-box. It's free and it's a quick and extremely informative read, a collection of five years' worth of columns.

Very good stuff on Goldman culture, Goldman envy, Goldman hating, Goldman compensation (not as much money as you might think), and the big changes that the firm has faced since the financial crisis.

This is from Anthony Currie's introduction:

The articles selected for this book chronicle Goldman’s bumpy ride underBlankfein over the last ?ve years from virtually untouchable to basicallyunremarkable. It might even be a candidate for a breakup. Of course, Goldman has been here before. The question is not just whether Goldmancan rise again, but whether in the face of a new regulatory regime it can do sowithout a change to its corporate structure – and perhaps its management.


Reportings: Obama v. everybody; old loan troubles; cold September jobs; Tim Cook iPhone 4S fail

Obama can't win: "Of course, aggressively addressing capital requirements and restructuring zombie banks three years ago would have turned Wall Street against Obama—but Wall Street's now against Obama anyway. Meanwhile, blaming Wall Street for its contribution to the country's problems—and actually backing up the talk with action—would have won over the rest of the business community and Main Street." (Business Insider)


The problem of "old loans" versus "new loans" and how it relates to willingness to work. To earn money. And to spend it all paying off the old loans: "A significant fraction of households and businesses are typically so burdened with the debts they accumulated during the housing surge that they have little incentive to produce and work, because their creditors would get most, if not all, of the fruits of their labor." (NYT)