Author Archives: fabizness

Moving Thoughts!

Hi,

did you wonder why my blog is only 1/10 of its original size? Well after nice little conversation with Bruce, I’ve decided to move all objects that didn’t fit into my finance thing. Besides that, this blog won’t be called “Church of Fabiversity” anymore since it is way too confusing for some (Vincent got lost on my page and has yet to be seen in class or anywhere else). Therefore I’ll name it: “Fabizness! Money&Politics” – and hopefully Vincent will turn up safe and sound.

All my older blog posts that didn’t really fit into this are now to be found under “Hearts & Minds“. Enjoy.

FJF

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3 Blogs in 3 Minutes: Greg Mankiw’s Blog!

Who? -“Hey it’s that guy from the book!” is usually the first reaction by economics majors upon hearing the name Mankiw. Everyone else will simply say “Who?” And thats where this category steps in. Besides being “that guy from the book” Greg Mankiw is also an American macroeconomist, professor at Harvard University and the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the most recent Bush administration. He is one of the most influential economists next to the likes of Paul Krugman. That’s not bad at all for “that guy from the book”, now is it?

What? -On his blog Mankiw talks about, of course, the economy. But it is not only financial crisis this, bail-out that (the old game that we never get tired of) he adresses also various subjects that we might not find in every day news like the disappearing money multiplier for instance. Other than that he wants you the reader to understand what he is writing about, therefore he takes time to explain different topics a bit more thoroughly than other macroeconomic blogs do. With all it’s frequent updates, this site is a “must bookmark” for everyone who is interested in the economy beyond rants about bankers and managers (the other old game that which we never get tired of).

My personal upshot! -This blog is why I love economics, it is passionate, sometimes funny, always witty and mostly challenging! Read this blog and you will definitely learn a little bit more about life and maybe, just maybe be able to impress and subsequently pick up hot girl at a bar with your new found knowledge. Especially if she is a hooker, because hookers are all about money – and in the end, so is the economy!

Greg Mankiw’s Blog

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Filed under 3 Blogs in 3 Minutes!, Economics, Macroeconomics

Middle Eastern Promises

Everytime a single spark is lit in the Middle East you can be sure that people all around the globe line up to protest. The current Israeli campaign to finally strike down Hamas has not been excepted from this rule. Last week for instance, as I was out to get some coffe on Ku’Damm, my bus was redirected around a throb of Palestinian protesters who gathered on Adenauer Platz to get their demonstration started.

My intended “get-in-get-coffe-get-out-drink-coffee” in less than 30 minutes operation turned out to last about 3 hours, which irked me just a little bit, but I had the chance to witness the protest march of Palestinians, Arabs and some Germans too. While most of the protesters followed the trail peacefully there clearly was a palpable aggressiveness in the air. As Anti-Israel chants got louder a group of young Arabs created a small turmoil around
U-Bhf. Uhlandstraße, when they verbally abused and threw fire crackers at police officers and called for the boycott of Israel. Although it might sound strange, but that didn’t really cause me any dismay: The whole Israel-Palestine conflict is, regardless of your personal take, a very delicate subject and Protest marches are generally not the right places to thoroughly discuss a subject of this depth and severity. Emotions do run high especially when a group of frustrated people get together and let their anger and frustration out. However there were other things I witnessed that appalled and horrified me during this protest, like the careless use of political signs by protesters.

What I saw was at least one flag of the Hamas being carried around. Big deal? Very big for two reasons:
– Firstly, a self proclaimed peace demonstration that backs a terrorist organization like Hamas (and to me, the presence of Hamas insignia indicates backing) loses all of its credibility. Why? Have a look at this:

Article 7 of the Hamas Charter:
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

Article 13 of the Hamas Charter:
“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. […]”
“[…] There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad […]”
(Source: http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm)

– Secondly, which is a consequence of point 1, the mere thought that shortly after the 70 year anniversary of the pogroms of Reichskristallnacht a group of people bearing the sign of an extremist organization that calls for the extermination of Jews, walks on these very same streets that have already seen antisemitic rallies and agitation, to me is so horrifying, appalling and disgusting that I do have serious problems putting it into words!

Now the difference between this and the chants of a group of youths is that the latter was an incident, the former was part of an organized demonstration. I saw the flag for the first time from the bus, then I saw it while I was standing in front of the coffee shop at Uhlandstraße, the last time I spotted it was around Gedächtniskirche/ Europacenter. During the whole protest march nobody seemed to be bothered by that flag! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that every single one present at the demonstration was for the murder of Jews, I am sure that many of the people only had “good intentions” like bringing peace to the world but that clearly includes standing up against hate groups!

How does that old saying go again? “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

Update: The police has started an investigation due to use of anti-constitutional signs (among other offenses) during other anti-Israeli demonstrations  in Berlin. Apparently there were a few good men who didn’t look away!

Next Up:
Pro Israeli Demonstrations Around the world and the blogosphere!

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Fair Trade & Free Trade

In my last post I wrote “that all of this (i.e. Fair Trade) is just a load of bullshit” this might need some additional clarification.

First of all I am not against “Fair Trade” per se. It is a (free market) way to increase the living standards of farmers and more importantly laborers. Consumers in Europe and elsewhere seem to have accepted the system; otherwise you wouldn’t find a staggering amount of Fair Trade products in supermarkets.
There clearly is a demand for social responsible consumption, regardless if one might perceive it as BoBo or not.

On Pickled Politics you find an interesting and somewhat controversial stance regarding Fair Trade (I do not happen to agree with all of the points raised).

Fairtrade arose from the coffee crisis of the 1990s. This was not a free market failure.
Governments tried to rig the market through the International Coffee Agreement and subsidized over-plantation with the encouragement of well-meaning but misguided aid agencies. The crash in prices was the inevitable result of this government intervention, but coffee prices have largely recovered since then.

Quite interesting look at the root of all these Fair Trade measures, if I had the time I would definitely love to go deeper into that particular subject.

Regarding the effects of Fair Trade, the author summarizes a study by the Adam Smith Institute, stating that pricing floors and other measures worsen the conditions for laborers because farmers are not willing to employ permanent workers. To me this argument seems a little bit far fetched since most laborers in the agrarian sector are and always have been seasonal workers, thus not permanent. He also states that Fair Trade was counterproductive to modernization of facilities, with the purchase of machines. I agree in general because NGOs that hand out the Fair Trade badges do prefer to support farms that are intensive on labor rather than capital. But especially coffee harvest suffices a great deal of man power. Experts (coffee aficionados and farmers that is) do have ambiguous views on the employment of machines for the harvest of coffee beans (according to what I’ve read so far).  They say the marginal increase in economies of scale achieved by machines would not always justify the capital expenditures. Furthermore, that is the coffee aficionado speaking, they claim that the taste would suffer.

All in all I think that coffee is a special good that has to be looked at in a different way. However one statement on Pickled Politics I do agree with wholeheartedly is the following:

Free trade is the most effective poverty reduction strategy the world has ever seen. If we really want to aid international development we should abolish barriers to trade in the rich world, and persuade the developing world to do the same.

As I often argue, peasants in third world countries do produce competitive products. Their climatic and environmental settings are beneficiary for the product. But European Trade barriers and subsidies take away their chance to prove themselves and their produce to the world. If we have had Free Trade with African or Latin American countries, the recent food crisis would not have been as severe. Furthermore increasing prices would have been beneficial to the people who produce corn and other crops. Food shortage would not have occurred and not caused the death of people.

Unfair Trade -Adam Smith Institute, 2008

FJF

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Re: Tea and all that kind of stuff

Here is a cool blog I found that talks about Yerba mate, my favorite legal upper! The post gives those of you who are no tea aficionados or at least not on the field of mate tea, and insight on the products that are available. I guess most of them are fair trade, so if you had listened carefully to Bärchens  and Manonis presentation in Herr Straubs class you would know that all of this is just a load of bullshit (just like global warming). But maybe a good conscious improves the whole drinking experience for the devoted consumer. I shan’t judge ye!

Now back to the topic:

Yerba mate is a beverage made from the leaves and stems of a powerful rainforest tree, native to the subtropical rainforests of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.  It is consumed daily for optimum health, sustained energy and mental clarity.   The leaves of the rainforest mate tree naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and abundant antioxidants.  It is also organic, rain-forest grown, kosher and fairly traded.

If you want to read more, follow the link!

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3 Blogs in 3 Minutes: Stuff White people like

Who? -This blog is for all the people who would like to determine their degree of „whiteness” and see how their interest compares to the ones of your average white person. However you should note that this is not about people of white color per se, but rather folks who live the “white lifestyle”.

What? -As just mentioned, this blog is dedicated to the “white lifestyle”. You will get more than 150 examples of what white people like and an explanation why they like it. It includes everything from A as in “Apple” (the its-hip-to-be-square brand from California) to Z like something that white people like that starts with Z. Please refrain from taking this site too seriously, it is obviously for entertainment purposes only and there is no truth behind the blog entries. Or is there?

My personal upshot! -I find this blog highly amusing and incredibly witty! And I do have to admit: White folks are like that! There is no denial, people! You better accept it! That excludes me of course.

Examples:

Apple
Comparing people to Hitler
Hating on Corporations 

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com

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Filed under 3 Blogs in 3 Minutes!, Random interest

The economics of presence

Or why movie stars and singers decrease in value if they are too present in the media and why Angelina Jolie is overvalued.

Within the field of economics in general, I have two passions: One is for everything that is related to finance, the other is macroeconomics. This post, even though it might not seem obvious at first, is about the latter.

Today I want to talk about fame as a derivative. Imagine that the worth of fame would increase or decrease in relation to the demand for the underlying, the actor or singer, by the respective audience. Now imagine that when a studio hires a star, they pay a portion for the performance of the person but in fact the majority is being paid for derivative value, the actors fame. Hence the higher the demand for the actor, the bigger his fame and therefore the bigger the current market price of the actor.

If offer exists in the market and keeps on being existing than naturally there also has to be demand, the question is what do the consumers demand – the actors fame or his persona? This question is quite interesting and can be discussed on different layers; this blog author however believes that there is no demand for the persona but in fact only for the public image of the actor represented in his fame. Every consumer has a certain demand for other peoples fame but more importantly every consumer has a demand for the fame of a specific person (e.g. fandom). The consumption of fame can happen through various medias, it is not mandatory that fame is consumed through the key media of the famous person (for an actor – movies; for a singer – music). Now let us come to my controversial theory:

The more an actor will appear in the media for instance due to gossip that surrounds him or her, the higher will be the extent the consumer will be exposed to the actors or singers fame (his public image). That will result in a saturation of consumers demand for the celebrity, decrease of the marginal value of another unit of output of the actor which will inevitably lead to an unwillingness to spend 9 € for a movie ticket to consume the actor once more. Consumption of an actor, or rather his fame, doesn’t necessarily have to happen through movies, the more he is present in every day medias such as the internet or news, the stronger the shift in consumption from movies to the mentioned media, the weaker the sales for a movie. Why should you pay to see an actor in a movie if you can also consume him on the news, or gossip pages on the web?

Examples? Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck – during their relationship a media shift happened from their core businesses, music and acting, to gossip pages and news coverage. A result was that the need for both of them was saturated. Their careers have yet to recover. Other examples: Tom Cruise and very soon Angelina Jolie too (however her value has now become a derivative of Brad Pitts value and Brad Pitt is not going anywhere in the near future), David Beckham, Collin Farrell.

More to come very soon.

FJF

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