Deferred Consumption

I recently subscribed to a number of podcasts in an effort to drown out the unbearable background noise in the Fishkill office: Fox News. One of them was a program from WNYC and Public Radio International, The Takeaway. They’re running a series on debt. On November 17th (podcast, November 21, but hey) they interviewed Ronald Wilcox on the why Americans don’t save, and how we got to this predicament. The general explanation is that we’re optimists, and optimists, because they think tomorrow will be better, tend to live for today.

Savings is a somewhat interesting topic currently because we’re on the downturn of an business cycle because of a collapse in aggregate spending (because the cheap money has become more dear). So there was some discussion in the interview of whether or not saving helps or harms the economy. It was granted that in the short-term saving hurts, while in the long-term saving helps. That is, saving, or deferred consumption, reduces aggregate demand and thus causes an excess of supply, an excess of labor, and contraction in industry as workers are laid-off and factories closed in order to remove the excess, thus causing a decrease in aggregate demand which causes …. and so on.

Today there’s a story on a reduction in the amount of debt we hold: Saving Too Much (for once)?

(The take-away? The Takeaway needs transcripts.)

Full vs. Abbreviated Feeds

It has been some matter of argument in what passes for the blogosphere for some time whether or not full-content feeds are better than partial-content. Some of this discussion was driven by the default behavior of competing publishing tools, but recently it seems to be in context of making money from one’s writings. This whole discussion seems rather pointless to me, mainly because some of those arguing don’t seem to pay attention to their own reading patterns, but pointless discussions are the raison d’ĂȘtre of blogs. Two that I read are abbreviated, containing only partial content, and terminated usually in the middle of a sentence. They are Freakonomics and the Legal History Blog.

Freakonomics often has interesting stuff. However, the cost to me, in time, of clicking through to the full page prevents me from reading it unless the lede grabs me by the throat and drags me over. Once there, navigation between posts is poor, so one must either return to the naggregator or to the top of their site. I usually just leave.

The Legal History Blog always has interesting stuff. What they post, however, are links to recent papers in the field. This falls into the category of “stuff to print and read later.” Because of the truncated posts, it’s difficult to skim through and mark those I’d like to read later. Instead, I ignore it until I have the time. And since I don’t have the time, I may never read it again.