Daily Archives: 03/08/2013

Historical Echoes: Neither a Lender nor a Borrower Be, or When the Bard Met the Fed


Mary Tao

The Federal Reserve in secret conclave ponders
Means to cure the nation’s cloudy state o’ercast
By stormy speculation. To-morrow morning’s news proclaims
The fury of their warning. Such dismal stuff will shake
The Wall Street world to marrow of its gambling bones;

These lines come from a 1929 play, Shakespeare on Wall Street, a mash-up of famous Shakespearean characters from various plays set to the story of the stock market crisis just then in motion. Written by a Harvard Law professor, Edward Henry Warren, the play features Shakespeare as a New York investor and his three sons—Hamlet, the bond salesman; Macbeth, a timid investor; and Falstaff, an anti-prohibitionist. The opening act parallels Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but with a twist: the three witches meet up in New Jersey. When Macbeth encounters the witches, he is willing to offer them as much as a golden eagle for their investment tips. A few scenes later, Polonius mentions that Macbeth has asked him to contact the Fed for assistance.
     The Bard has been a source of inspiration to many at the Federal Reserve; Shakespearean lines pop up in various speeches and papers. During a January 2012 speech, Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Raskin quoted Shakespeare in emphasizing the importance of regulatory enforcement. Richard Fisher, the Harvard-educated president of the Dallas Fed, mentioned lines from Henry IV in a speech on monetary policy. A few years earlier, then-Governor Kevin Warsh opened his speech with a short Shakespearean soundbite. Chairman Ben Bernanke paraphrased the Bard in a commencement speech he gave at MIT. It’s also possible that Governor Elizabeth Duke may have had a Shakespearean role or two at the Playmaker Theater while earning a degree in dramatic art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
     A Minneapolis Fed author quoted from All’s Well That Ends Well to open an article about the 2011 floods that affected the Dakotas and Montana. And at least two Fed papers have had a Shakespeare-inspired title or theme.
     How many others can you find? To look for your favorite quotation from Shakespeare (or any phrase of interest) appearing in other Fed publications, you can use this search tool.
     And in case you still doubt the applicability of Shakespeare to economic and financial issues, find out what happens when the doleful poet meets the dismal economist.
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.

Mary Tao is a research librarian in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Historical Echoes: Neither a Lender nor a Borrower Be, or When the Bard Met the Fed
Blog Author
Fri, 08 Feb 2013 12:00:00 GMT


Krugman Vs. Krugman Again

When you listen to this I think you hear from Krugman: We’re in a difficult situation because in the past, we didn’t care about the long-run and the need to push down the debt to gdp ratio. What we need to do now is run big deficits and let the long-run worry about itself. BUT ISN’T THAT WHAT WAS DONE IN THE PAST THAT COMPLICATES OUR CURRENT SITUATION?

First time Ive seen a libertarian make a point of this w.r.t. Paul’s filibuster


It’s always amazed me how preoccupied people are with Americans during these drone debates. Over two years ago I asked “who cares if al Awlaki was a citizen?”
Robert Higgs makes the same point on facebook:

“The discussion related to Sen. Rand Paul’s recent filibuster seems in nearly every case to be premised on a misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution, the ostensible basis for any powers the president or his subordinates may lawfully exercise. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This provision obviously prohibits the president or anyone else in the government from peremptorily killing anyone without due process of law. Note that this part of the Bill of Rights, like all of the others, does not apply only to U.S. citizens or, as Sen. Paul and others repeatedly put it, to “American citizens on U.S. soil.” The Bill of Rights constrains the government across the board and provides areas in which all persons subject to its authority are to have freedom of action — or, at least, it purports to do so. Nothing in these provisions restricts them to U.S. citizens.”

Whatever you think “due process” defensibly means when it comes to dealing with an enemy combatant (I don’t think it means bringing them in front of a court – it never has meant that unless of course hostilities are over, in which case they’re not a combatant anymore), you need to apply these principles to citizens and non-citizens alike. No special priveleges for Americans. We believe due process is a human right.
This constant reference to Americans and al-Awlaki is more emotional/national appeal than argument.


This is what I wrote two years ago:
Who cares if al-Awlaki was an American?
He was a person.
And in my government class, we were taught that the use of the word “person” in the Constitution was deliberate. The fifth amendment refers to “persons”. Other portions refer to “citizens”. I don’t understand the contrast between the killing of al-Awlaki and the killing of bin Laden and it’s disconcerting to me that people think rights like due process only matter for citizens. That should be disconcerting for you too.
Due process is of course dependent on circumstance. Due process on the battlefield is different from due process regarding prisoners of war. Due process for a criminal pointing a gun at a cop is different from due process for a criminal in hand-cuffs. Who the hell cares about “citizenship”. Due process is a right that attaches to persons.
I don’t personally know the ins and outs of combatants vs. soldiers, etc. But I do know one thing – I don’t see this killing of al-Awlaki as any different from the killing of bin Laden. But I’m bothered by the fact that (1.) some people seem to think that non-citizens somehow ought to be treated differently when it comes to the rights of persons, and that seems dangerous, (2.) people are talking about totalitarianism with regards to this, which to me trivializes totalitarianism, and (3.) that people still talk as if radical Islamic terrorism is a criminal issue is really baffling to me.”

First time I’ve seen a libertarian make a point of this w.r.t. Paul’s filibuster
Fri, 08 Mar 2013 18:21:00 GMT