Hello, Viewfinders. Here are your afternoon links to cool stuff I've been reading today.
A dose of American optimism
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal rightly sees the latest U.S. haul of Nobel Prizes as a sign of greatness: "The secret of America's Nobel sauce isn't hard to understand: an immigration culture that welcomed everyone from Ronald Coase (from the U.K.) to Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (from India) to Martin Kaplus (from Nazi-era Austria) to Elizabeth Blackburn (from Australia). A mostly private, highly competitive, lavishly endowed university system, juiced by federal funding for fundamental research. A culture of individualism and an ingrained respect for against-the-grain thinking. The government shutdown is unfortunate; a default would be a disaster. But anyone who thinks America's best days are behind us should take a close look at the latest Nobel haul. It says something that we take it for granted."
Here are two good roundups on Robert Shiller, the Nobel-winning Yale economics professor. The first comes from David Leonhardt of the New York Times, who strung together excerpts from his articles about Shiller over the years. The second link takes you to a collection of Shiller's commentaries for Project Syndicate.
No sign oftapering anytime soon
Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, says even he (the Fed's most noted hawk) couldn't make a case for reducing bond purchases at a time like now. "This is just too tender a moment," he said in an interview with Reuters, referring to the debt showdown in Congress.
If folks have it, they will sell it, especially when times are tough
From Victoria Stilwell of Bloomberg News: "Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans." But not kidneys. It's still illegal in the U.S. to buy or sell those. Here's a sad Google stat: "In all but two quarters since the beginning of 2011, `hair,' `eggs,' or `kidney' have been among the top four autofill results for the Google search query, `I want to sell my...,' according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-based ConvergEx Group, which provides brokerage and trading-related services for institutional investors."
And just in case you thought you were having a bad day
At least you're not this guy. The Seattle Times has a story about a psychologist from Gig Harbor, Washington, whose license was recently suspended. The state found he compromised the health information of 652 clients when he left his personal laptop with a prostitute, who pawned it.
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Jonathan Weil at email@example.com