Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Short Selling

Ryan Avent rightfully vivisects "Steven Pearlstein on William Ackman and unfairness of short selling."

Also, as regular readers will know, FLG hates the word fair. It's a therapeutic word for those who invoke it, but ultimately is nothing more than whining more fit for a schoolyard than adult political and policy dialogue.

FLG snorted when he found this in the comments:
Your mistake is in treating Steven Pearlstein as a serious voice on matters of economics and business.

Although, FLG must say that it lacks the panache of his own description of Pearlstein:
Steven Pearlstein is a great economic columnist in comparison to a goat with late stage syphilis. Sure, he won a Pulitzer, but that's just because everybody at the Post gets one sooner or later and it was his turn.

1 comment:

nadezhda said...

I've just seen your lengthy response to my comments over at the League. You merit more thought than I'm prepared for at 4:00 AM. So I'll try to get back to you tomorrow.

In the meantime, may I endorse somewhere north of 1000% your sentiments: "FLG hates the word fair. It's a therapeutic word for those who invoke it." Amen!

That's not to suggest that notions like "equity" or "legitimacy" aren't critical notions that need to be addressed in political economy analysis. Adam Smith wrote an entire volume on the Moral Sentiments that was an essential companion to Wealth of Nations.

The problem is that although "fair" often is pointing to something that may be important, who knows what?! What is or isn't "fair" and why, other than the speaker/writer is unhappy or uncomfortable?

Let's use terms like "equity" or "legitimacy", which force the speaker/writer to articulate norms or goals with some specificity, so we can assess whether proposed actions do or don't support those norms or goals. More specific language also allows us to evaluate arguments as to why particular norms or goals ought to be a high priority.

However, within your thinking about "politics versus economics", never forget that widely-shared sentiments of "unfairness" -- no matter how ill-defined or or unmerited -- can swamp all other factors.

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