Friday, April 30, 2010

Crashing in Greece

Lot of talk about Greek bankruptcy and how the Euro zones effects it.

Here is the rule I use. If Greece had its own currency, it would crash more often but less severely. In the Euro zone, adaption times are longer, so Greeks crash less often, but more severely.

The software industry is broken

Too many cooks and not enough broth. Doing something simple involves days and weeks of discovering the myriad of ways that developers define simple.

Each engineer wants to impose some new intuitions when the previous intuitions are just fine. Openoffice is plagued with the problem, as was SUN; and they have little market share. Microsoft gets it, eventually, and controls proliferation. But they charge a large price for keeping their engineers under control.

Engineers, especially the ones who consider themselves very clever, will eventually lose their jobs as software learns how to avoid their cleverness. Trying to do one simple thing becomes a task of avoiding the extra "mal-investment" created in the slightly more complex.

The business has becomes a business of sorting out the "too clever" from "the just about right"

So then one tries to register for one of the help sites, but the login is too complex and there are too many competing software help sites. The problem seems to compound exponentially. So we end up with one user, twelve software packages and 12 help web sites, leading to 144 choices for the single user. The result is that it is often easier to write qa new application from components then sort through the myriad of software applications and support on the web.

All the executives in the software business know why Microsoft won this game; two or three days of fiddling with all the developers and their variety yield $600 in costs, enough to buy the Microsoft product.

This all started by a simple effort manipulate simple data with SQL. That led to either working in dos with SQLite, or getting a small GIU for SQLite and navigating the myriad of web help trheads. After a day of navigating the web, I selected DOS. Now I do not remember any of the DOS shell commands, nor do I trust Microsoft to have presered the DOS environment!

It is like being forced back 30 years and finding the stuff that used to work no longer does, and the current stuff is written by developers who design to confuse.

But in the end.

I got it all working with SQLite, the little engine that reads big BLS prefix code files. Then SQLiteStudio does the trick. I simply need to sort through codes and get time series from BLS. Then they go into dataframe format to R, and bingo, can tell you who did what when.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where do we live?

Well, these images worked. This is population density of the USA, evidently we like to live around Washington DC and Puerto Rico.
I had to blindly cut and paste to get it all situated on the post.
HT US Census Bureau

Job growth over time and space

From the desk of the Bureau of Labor Statistics editor. Indicative of a structural change I would think.

Summarizing the pension crisis

Go here for a bleak outlook.

Key take away: Government pensions are no good after ten years or so, no matter what happens.
HT Pension Watch

Starved for data

So I have been writing macros for my open office spreadsheet that will extract data from the BLS.

Calling again for the oil dollar

The proposed image of the Oil dollar. We will call this money the Jihadi. I like money backed by constrained energy in which the amount of money in circulation is based upon oil flow of the central oil bank.

It would work for the next ten years, and force western economies to seek energy efficiency directly.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Playing with wages and price indices


Doing two things, experimenting with economic data; and looking at actual, price index adjusted wages; based on a post in Cafe Hayek

Bear with me, this is an experimental post. But I am looking at the cost of a blue collar worker in 2005 dollars, vs the CPU-U, a price index of a consumer basket of goods in 2005 dollars, and PCE, a price index based on actual consumer purchases. The actual cost of labor went up with the PCE, but not as fast as the CPU-U.

It looks like the labor cost index rose with CPI-U from 1999 to 2004, then rose with PCE.

CPI-U is a goods sellers index, it tells the merchandizer what things are selling for. PCE is a buyers index. PCE should track closer to actual purchases, but CPU-U has to equalize over time, but generally requires manual updates to the basket.

This seems to confirm some CATO work and this study. I am missing any benefit adjustments to wages here.

I added the unemployment rate so we can see slack vs tight labor supplies, and again, under tight labor we follow CPI, under loose labor we follow PCE.

The debate is always about whether some change in the relative wage distribution justifies some change in standard of living.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How wealthy owners gain from socialism

Multinational firms saddled with huge people costs are considering downsizing their permanent workforce and hiring sub-contractors on a scale never seen before - presenting an "enormous" management task for HR.

IT giant IBM told Personnel Today that the firm's global workforce of 399,000 permanent employees could reduce to 100,000 by 2017, the date by which the firm is due to complete its HR transformation programme.

Tim Ringo, head of IBM Human Capital Management, the consultancy arm of the IT conglomerate, said the firm would re-hire the workers as contractors for specific projects as and when necessary, a concept dubbed 'crowd sourcing'.

"There would be no buildings costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings," he said.

Outsourcing experts said employers from both the private and public sector were increasingly using the model as they looked to squeeze people costs post-recession

I added the italics. What is happening is that basic human services are being taken over by government, hence the corporations can relieve itself of much of its human services.

HT Mish

The California master plan for higher education

A short report found here. I read through it real quick, and the authors noted increased demand but never mentioned the idea of more efficiency from the schools. In a recession brought about by technology adaption, government agents seem awfully blind.

Comparative energy intensity

Energy/Unit GDP, various countries

The source defines energy intensity, the Y axis, as GDP per 2000 PPP Dollar.
Energy efficiency would appear to be the same thing, except for composition. Energy has to be measured over the complete production channel, as some countries specialize in some portion of production that might be energy intensive, Singapore. So it depends upon if one is talking about a compete economy, which contains most of the stages of production.

The key to having high energy intensity is that you know you can operate with highly regular fuel flows, and your value added is predictable. Singapore, being closed, specialized, and smart can operate a production step with very good energy control.

Low interest rates are good?

I am trying to follow the Economic Policy Institute working paper on Congressional deficits and interest rates. I agree that increasing government debt does not cause high interest rates. The cause of low interest rates is low growth.

Oil and money

Real minus Nominal oil prices over the years.

I am talking about the variation between the nominal and real oil price over time. My hunch here is that a measured, aggregate economy, economizes well on the most constrained five or six things. Hence, I would expect to see the unit of account vary by 20% or so around the most constrained goods. The graph shows oil dominates dollars.

In this circumstance, I might stockpile of oil, except for one thing. Oil cannot get any tighter, we are at the uncertainty limit. Oil distribution must deflate (reduce, contract) in size and volume. What remains is a shorter oil distribution stack. This is new for the post 1960 period, but not necessarily a reduction in standard of living.

We got into this situation because the value of new technology continued to race ahead of the value of oil, oddly. The solution is to commercialize more of our transportation, using technology, to restore the transporaton network to a good multiple of the oil network.

Energy efficiency, USA

Improving (Dept of Energy)

Good work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What changed after World War II?

Asks Krugman. His answer: "The obvious answer is regulation"

My answer:

Between 1930 and 1970, information technology held steady because there were no obvious constraints to tackle (other than the fascist uprising) . By the 70s energy began to show constraints, and technology came into action, first with satellite broadcast creating world wide information, then with the digital wave. Information technology helped the world economy to see where energy could best be applied.

We live in an era of surplus technology. We activate the technology when constraints appear.

I go further.

WWII was actually a misdirected action by governments to the appearance of broadcast media. Radio was abused by governments before radio could be properly assimilated, government seeing radio as a means for economies of scale, as in Germany and Italy in the fascist uprising.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My picture of events

GDP, percent change YoY

I have a view that global volatility before 1970 was attacked by information technology, and the disintermediated parties traded taxes or fraud for Congressional bailouts at each step of the technology wave. We have reached the point where the remaining volatility to be attacked is our governments. Long term yields have dropped from 12% down to under 4% over the period. approximately the constant of uncertainty. Long term yields drop as we trade price flexibility for debt payments. Congress needs a bailout, government needs rebalancing.

R Project waving across the blogsphere

Someone mentioned R Project, and I looked it up. Then I noticed that so did a few others, and they begin to release R statistical results and plots on their blogs.
I am hooked.
The fun things for data nerds is to down load FRED data files into R. I use the .csv format with space delimiters. Then I load them into R, with its command:

Lot of fun, easy to make plots and statistics, highly recommended. This is information revolution in real time.

Robotic shuttle for freight

The ones we are now retiring. Refurbish them for unmaned cargo carriers.
"Use the technology, Luke"
Update computers, remove life support systems. Removing life support removes a lot of weight and we get an R cubed result on capacity.

By keeping the launch format, we get extra time to make a much lighter weight version of a shuttle. Reduce costs, easy to do. The insurgent engineeers at NASA were right, there are still economies of scale to be gained in the shuttle format. The solid rocket booster system finally worked and can be scaled down for lighter weight versions. The AirForce proved the robotics, and hopefully re-entry with their flying bomb. So, with robotics on the current shuttle, we retain the potential and reduce processing costs enormously, while retaining cargo capacity.

Then scale down the liquid fuel tank and make a lighter weight version, starting robotic to reduce costs. Robotics, in these cases greatly reduce development costs all the way around, and separate the accounting and design of manned system components.

I was a rocket scientist for seven years. I know this stuff.

Obamacare crowding out state government

NY Post:

Of 537 school budgets up for a vote in the Garden State, 315 -- a whopping 59 percent -- went down in flames Tuesday. That's more than the state's seen in decades.Why so many rejections? Because some 80 percent of those budgets sought property-tax hikes. As if Jersey isn't already a national leader in property taxes.

As if ObamaCare, the stimulus and Washington's trillion-dollar deficits hadn't sent actual taxpayers into a lather.

Homeowners, in particular, have had enough.

We have states and localities undergoing restructuring, then Pelosi saddles them with Obamacare tax hikes to make matters worse.

Toxie is dying!

NPR is on a hilarious roll.
HT Calculated Risk

A trigger to cause the Austrailan housing crash?

Bireitbart reports on the AFP article:
Australia Saturday clamped down on foreigners buying property after complaints that a rapid influx of Asian money had helped make its housing among the most expensive in the world.

The government reimposed tough rules relaxed in 2008 that say temporary residents need permission to buy homes and must sell when they leave, while foreigners investing from abroad can only buy new properties.

The rules are backed by stiff new penalties including compulsory sell orders, as well as expanded monitoring and a crackdown on real estate agents who help foreigners flout the rules

Beckworth smacks Krugman on national savings

He starts:
Paul Krugman recently claimed we should not be concerned about whether China will continue to finance U.S. budget deficits since they are being funded by U.S. private savings:

The US private sector has gone from being a huge net borrower to being a net lender; meanwhile, government borrowing has surged, but not enough to offset the private plunge. As a nation, our dependence on foreign loans is way down; the surging deficit is, in effect, being domestically financed.

When I read this claim back in March my reaction was that it makes sense but I also wondered if it were supported by the data.

Then presents the data:

His point? Congress and the Fed are in credit creation mode, printing money. What future does Krugman perceive that justifies this kind of debt? The future of 2003, which Krugman thinks can be recreated because we suffer no resource constraints, we simply suffer the hysterical fear of spending money.

How did Keynes convince so many economists of such a theory of mass psychology?

HT Bruce Wilder

Los Angeles bankruptcy watch

LA Daily News:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council have said repeatedly that, come what may, declaring Los Angeles bankrupt is not an option.

But with city leaders avoiding the tough decisions to mend L.A.'s financial health - opting instead for easy fixes that allow the city to limp along for another month or two - some are saying bankruptcy is just the ticket.

For one thing, it could lead to speedier reform of the pension system, which many economists and politicians say is necessary if the city is to prosper long term.

"I've suggested it since 2005," former Mayor Richard Riordan said. "The city, the way it is going, is unsustainable. If they don't do it this year, they are going to have to do it in the next four or five years."

Of primary concern is the city's spiraling pension obligations, which are growing astronomically at a time when city coffers are running out of cash.

"Those will be over $1 billion a year," Riordan said. "The city will not be able to afford it."

Bankruptcy would put the city's pocketbook in the court's hands, which could allow a judge to cut benefits and pensions to powerful union workers - something the mayor and council members have refused to do.

But the mayor and council members say a bankruptcy declaration would be disastrous for the city's image and its residents.

The mayor is a liar. Los Angeles will file for bankruptcy, they have no choice at this time. Sometime next month there will be no paychecks because there will be no money. The mayor is likely calling Obama on the phone daily looking for the massive bailout of all time, but once Obama dips his toe in the bailout waters again, every large town in America will be at the pork barrel.

This is no win for Pelosi. She already blew her share of taxpayer largess on the new entitlement.

But I don't get Moody:
NEW YORK, Apr 7, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded to Aa3, from Aa2, our rating on the City of Los Angeles' general obligation bonds. At this time we have also downgraded each of our ratings on the city's general fund obligations by one notch, resulting in ratings ranging from A1 to A3 depending on the specific security pledge. The downgrade primarily reflects the continued erosion of the city's historically better-than-average willingness and ability to quickly rebalance its budget mid-year. This is a particularly important rating factor for Los Angeles since its balance sheet has typically been relatively weak for the rating level.
What is an aa3?

Aa1, Aa2, Aa3
Moody judges obligations rated Aa to be high quality, with "very low credit risk",[7] but "their susceptibility to long-term risks appears somewhat greater".[8]
I am a little confused. How does 'unable to pay city employees' translate into "very low credit risk"

Moody is nuts.

Anyway, the three major California cities will go belly up:

San Diego - Calling what is to come dire and sobering, San Diego city leaders announced that the City faces a budget deficit next year of $179 million.

"The last budget process was tough, this one is going to be even tougher. There's no question," said Kevin Faulconer, chair of the city's budget committee. "With a huge increase in pension payments and a decline in revenues, the city is going to have to make some tough choices."

In the last 15 months, city leaders have trimmed $175 million from the budget. With no where else to cut, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders says core city services - fire and police - will not be immune from the budget ax.

"All I can tell you is we're not taking anything off the table," said Sanders. "And that's why I mentioned police and fire, they make up about 55% of the city's budget. So they're going to be having to help out just like everyone else."

Other cities around the state and the nation are facing the same budget shortfalls. In a fact sheet, Mayor Sanders listed several other cities facing major budget challenges. The city of San Jose is looking at a deficit of $169 million, Los Angeles $403 million and San Francisco, $750 million. The president of San Diego Police Officer's Association understands that much of the problem is recession driven, but he says cutting a core service like police means safety may suffer.

Here is the list of the 15 most bankrupt cities. NYC tops the list on a per capita basis, even worse than Los Angeles.

Steal a picture of Mohammed Day

Unless you draw better than I. I still await my belt bomber, we can have tea before the explosion.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Peso problem and precision investing

The peso problem refers to a situation in the 70s in which Mexican interest rates were higher than the US rates, though the Mexican peso was fixed to the US dollar. The term has appeared in a number of economic blog posts. Uncle Milt would say that the higher interest rate was the price of potential default, and that over time investors forgot about this problem.

In QM theory we have a different take. The problem arises from term mis matches in the yield curve, the Mexican yield curve having less precision than the yield curve of the large US economy. So, the finite number of active terms along both yield curves did not match. Though the Mexican yield curve had a nominal one year term point, for example, the actuall active shortest term would likely be closer to 1.5 years. The Mexican economy being smaller is acting like a four bit computer, the US curve acting like a five bit, and the weighting on the bits do not match. The result was that Mexican bankers try to attract funds by creating an artificial term, and a form of Kelly betting must take place.

The result is a form pof Austrian mal investment. The proper way to execute a maximum entropy trade like this is to over lay the Mexican yield curve over the US yield curve, and try to borrow from one and lend to the other so as to make the two curves independently closer to maximum entropy. But with finite terms, the investor has to mix and match.

More details later, gotta go.

A facility for testing Robocars

Traffic Technology
A milestone was marked this month with the completion of the road network that will form the basis of innovITS ADVANCE – the world’s first purpose-built facility for the development, testing and validation of ITS products and services.
The new facility is the result of collaboration between innovITS, MIRA and TRL, and is being constructed at the Nuneaton headquarters site of MIRA in the UK. When fully commissioned with its private GSM mobile communications and WiFi networks, this complex system of roads and junctions, which includes multi-lane highways and intersections, will become in effect a virtual city in which automakers, telecoms companies and highway operators will be able to develop, test and validate the next generation of ITS innovations.

Harrisburg, PA moment of default

This blog has details:

How bad is Harrisburg’s PA financial crisis? Consider this: The city’s financial rating has dropped twice since October, and currently sits at junk bond status, but that’s not the worst part. The city may not be able to meet payroll in two weeks and will very likely default on just over $2 million in debt payments due March 1. Even that’s not the worst part.

This year, the city owes an additional $66.7 million in debt payments — more than the entire annual city budget. Much of the problem stems from the Harrisburg Authority’s $288 million in incinerator debt, which Harrisburg has guaranteed. The crisis has already drawn national attention from CNN, Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal.

Mayor Linda Thompson’s $65 million budget proposal called for raising property taxes by 20 percent and water bills by 40 percent, but it did not include any concrete plan to deal with the staggering debt payments due this year. That drew sharp criticism from some members of the public, as well as City Controller Dan Miller. Miller is pushing for the city to look into municipal bankruptcy as a possible solution.
Why do mayors hold on to denial until, literally, the last second? The mayor of Los Angeles does the same.


Japanese Yen dollar exchange rate
Kling says Japan can tolerate such a deflation because its lenders are internal citizens willing to take a loss on Japanese bonds. The MadHedge Fund trader says Japan will deflate to support exports, no matter what.

With a debt/gdp ratio of 200%, the losses absorbed by Japanese bond investors are rising rapidly, and at some point Japanese bond investors will go on strike.

The yield on Japan's 10-year bond was unchanged at 1.315 percent. But the chart above shows that five year volatility in the Yen is close to 50%. The only way to tolerate that kind of volatility is to reduce import dependence for the domestic saver; but continued contraction of domestic consumption cannot go on forever. Either the aging population goes back to work, or Japan goes to default.

More bad news for Obamacare

USA Today:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama's health care overhaul law will increase the nation's health care tab instead of bringing costs down, government economic forecasters concluded Thursday in a sobering assessment of the sweeping legislation.

A report by economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department said the health care remake will achieve Obama's aim of expanding health insurance — adding 34 million Americans to the coverage rolls.

This is not a surprise. The surprise was that advocates of Obamacare thought they could lie their way through this.

Meg Whitman will trounce Jerry Brown Shirt

LA Times:
Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman on Thursday proposed a major restructuring of state worker pensions that she said would dramatically lessen the billions of dollars that cash-strapped California would be required to pay out in future years.
Jerry sold his soul to the Union Thugs and over this election, Meg will hit that pitch out of the park, time and time again.

Where is Florina and her acknowledgement of California bankruptcy? She should bring up the theme again and again. States can go into federal receivership, and California should strongly consider that possibility since Congressional mandates are a large part of the budget collapse. Like Whitman, Florina could send that message again and again, taking swipes at Boxer for the same innumeracy that Jerry Brown suffers from.

I cannot think of two candidates, Brown and Boxer, two twins most responsible for the economic collapse.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Modernize with technology


LOS ANGELES – The nation's largest court system is in the midst of a painful budget crisis that has shut down courtrooms and disrupted everything from divorce and custody proceedings to traffic ticket disputes.

The Los Angeles court system has already closed 17 courtrooms and another 50 will be shut down come September unless something is done to find more money. The judge who presides over the system predicts chaos and an unprecedented logjam of civil and family law cases in the worst-case scenario.

Legal goods are lightweight, easy to gain efficiencies by adopting technology. The courts are too expensive because they rely too much on status definitions, and less on information transfer. Judges are wed to antiquated courtrooms like teachers wed to antiquated classrooms.

Keep firing judges and clerks until they start to get the picture.

The graph of default

Greek debt spreads over time

Courtesy of Financial Times.

Yes, back to the same inflationary trend

Which inflation index to look at? These are the producer price index, all commodities; and consumer urban index, all goods. If we are looking at long term trends, then look, these go then years back. I see both on the same upward trajectory, minus the one time loss of the recession. I see the same trend that started the last rate hike cycles.

So why does no one else see inflation? Most economists think we will recover the lost growth during the recession. I think that is lost money.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More stimulus

Charting quarter to quarter changes in GDP vs Federal spending, and hand waving cause and effect.

The blue line is percent change in Congressional spending, the red line changes in GDP. Yes the two seem highly correlated, initially, with the rise in Congressional spending at the 40th quarter. Watch GDP in the next release as Congressional spending reasonably steady at the elevated rate. If GDP holds, Dean Baker doesn't cause more unemployment, if GDP starts to trend down a bit, then Dean Baker is causing unemployment. Note: There is a lag between Congressional spending and GDP.

Is Dean Baker throwing us out of work?

He notes that a multiplier greater than one will mean deficit reduction unemploys workers. So, what if we find out the multiplier is less than one, will Dean become a deficit hawk?

A test of the Uncertainty Constant

From WJS:
Last year the Federal Reserve pushed the nation’s biggest banks to beef up their capital levels to ensure that they could escape a worsening crisis with common equity of at least 4% of their total assets. Today, the Fed put out financial statements on itself and revealed that its own capital level is below that stress-test level.At the end of 2009 the Fed had $51.3 billion in total capital on $2.3 trillion of assets, for a capital ratio of 2.3%
My theory says that this reserve ratio is below the comfort zone and the Fed will raise rates rather suddenly, soon. They are, at the moment, hearing anxiety among the big investment banks; 2.3% is too little inventory for any bank to bet on for any length of period.

Obamacare vs Medical Industry, part 2

Congress is starting another round in the endless battle they over medical costs.

Sorry, all tapped out.

Pension Pulse points up to latest shakedown by the California unions:
As CalPERS phases in a big rate hike for employers to cover historic investment losses, a second increase is likely to be added because a new study found that workers are living longer, earning more pay and retiring earlier.
CalPers wants local taxpayers to cough up another 40%

How soon before Treasury goes bust?

Look back at my Spreads Over Time post, and the timing of the bust if fairly clear. Each time Treasury gets a spread, the debt cost goes up. What happens is the Federal delivery of checks to citizens goes into overdrive at the short end and has to be made up by larger promises of payments over longer time periods. This is the cost of operating the government supply chain out of entropy; a one time loss equal to the loss of entropy over the spread period.

After a bailout spread, the yields tighten up sooner at a lower overall yield, a classic debt/deflation cycle. The average yield at the top has been dropping from7 to 6 to 5, and will likely be 4% at the height of the recovery. Unfortunately, the human constant of Uncertainty is about 4%. To get a measure of the tolerable uncertainty band look at oil prices which are the most constrained input. They are varying over a 4.5% band since a month ago. We cannot get more accurate than that.

What happens when Congress cannot work the government supply chain with inventory variances at 4%? We get a federal deflation, a partial default. I predict the partial default should occur in 2015, five years from now and right at the steepest point of the current Treasury curve.

Where is my belt bomber?

South Park producers are promised a Sunni belt bomber for insulting Mohammed, but I insult the dead child molester all the time, yet I never get threatened?

Mitch McConnell awarded Giant Liar

By PoliFact regarding his nonsense on liquidation rules proposed in financial reform.
It is actually worse, Mitch is a Big Communist, aiming for continuing Communist subsidies of big banking.

NJ citizens win a victory over public union thugs

Read it for yourself.

Financial Illusion from Martin Wolf

Which Yglesias buys, hook, line and sinker:
Another is that, as happened in the US in the 1930s, the collapse of many small and undiversified banks can be highly destructive.
So I ask Martin, if, in the 1930s, the population decided it was time to resettle themselves so as to obey Zipf's Law, for example, then how would the population do such a thing without closing down the small banks in their small towns? What if citizens had technology and incentives to keep this potential move a secret from local bankers?

Zipf's law and entropy

Are they are related?
Zipf’s Law is named after the linguist George Kingsley Zipf, who discovered the law when studying the distribution of words: the second most common word in a text typically shows up one-half as often as the most commonly used word. The law has been observed in many other contexts, including firm sizes and income distribution, which follows the closely-connected Pareto Distribution.
That description is a Huffman encoder for language. Normally a Huffman encoder minimizes the symbol error in delivering a multi-symbol message by coding them by length and frequency. When the symbol error (SNR) is equal across all the coded messages, then the SNR equals the channel capacity. However, when the SNR is given, biologically determined, and the length and frequency are selected over time to match the fixed error term. A channel is created to match the given error.

This is related to the uncertainty constant. If we are limited to decoding eight bit symbols in everyday language, then the optimum distribution of lengths and frequency for language will follow the xlog(x) rule, where x is the frequency of the thing said.

In the same way, cities will organize themselves into a Huffman encoding machine for transaction size and transaction rates in intercity trade.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jerry Brown and his Public Sector Fascists

They will get treacherous before it is settled:
According to the blog that broke the story, Watch Sonoma County, “North Bay firefighters launched a boycott of a Napa Valley winery this weekend after its owner criticized their wages and benefits in a letter published in the St. Helena Star.” But more than a boycott was launched, as the winery owner has received veiled threats online from some public safety employees, potentially refusing to fight a fire at his home or winery, or save him from choking in a restaurant.

Spreads over time


Federal Surplus

Plots of one , five, ten, 20 and 30 year Treasury yields. Missing rates for 20 yr and 30 yr have been interpolated. Debt rises when spreads are high because the Fed increases the spread during downturns, and Congress runs a deficit. Notice that this cycle is deeper as total yields go lower.

The process starts with the tech revolution in 1990. We are successively forcing the central government to deal with the new productivity, which Congress fails to do. The real economy comes up against constraints imposed ny central government, central government fails to deal with, forcing long term debt up.

BDI peaking
by Ashraflaidi

Technology News

Intelligent headlight saves insurance fees.
Metropolitan Traffic Monitor
Bus Convention, Ohio May 2

EMTRAC'sJim Jarzab from the Austrailian Urban Transit Convention:

"Advances in electronic data storage and information-processing speeds have allowed for transit operators in virtual rights-of-way using advanced vehicle location and identification (AVL/AVI), as well as sophisticated traffic control software, to replicate the safety and functionality of exclusive rights-of-way without the physical structures and resulting adverse community impacts. Sometimes called 'rapid bus', these BRT applications greatly expand the effective range of faster bus operations with enhanced schedule adherence, giving the traveling public better service with minimal investment in additional land or other infrastructure.
New buses, improved energy efficiency:
Manufactured by New Flyer at its plant in Winnipeg, these buses feature clean hybrid diesel-electric technology and boast a 10- to 15-per-cent fuel reduction compared to conventional diesel vehicles

This is the compounding effects of technology in transportation, save energy in infrastructure and operations.

All aboard BRT in Oakland:
In a unanimous show of support, the City of Oakland's Oakland City Council Public Works Committee voted to support the AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
Next step, sell high speed transportation rights to private and public ventures; push technology into semi-automated, high speed BRT.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More yield curve

My proxy for an aggregate bankers yield curve

Consider log(Yi) dYi. which grows faster on the steep slope. It is this in each of, less than four or five terms, inversed from traditional form. The aggregate attempts to equalize, that value among the finite terms. When the value is measured to a constant accuracy, the channel is treated in real time. It appears in reality as a minimum entropy physical network with primary function of delivering paychecks, and its maximum bandwidth (paychecks per quarter) is limited.

But also the curve has to be within one SNR of a minimum variance spectrum to avoid cycles. Cycle? For example, periodically overbuilding a retirement community, which could happen when the AARP and their Social Security checks meet-up.

So dual constraints. The first wants the economy to economize on the number of stages in the network, its rank. The second wants to minimize inventory variance at each node.

How would I interpret this as government policy?
Congress makes very large, and rare generational promises, but operates thinly in the short term.

Demand dysfunction is a form of mass hysteria?

Mass hysteria typically begins when an individual becomes ill or hysterical during a period of stress.[4] After this initial individual shows symptoms, others begin to manifest similar symptoms, typically nausea, muscle weakness, fits or headache.[5]

The features of mass hysteria include no plausible cause found, ambiguous symptoms, rapid escalation of cases - often spread by line of sight - and rapid remission of symptoms. Demographically, cases are higher in females and those with greater use of medical services. Other factors that contribute to the severity of the symptoms and spread are protective clothing worn by emergency services and mistaken or misleading investigations.

A variation is penis panic, otherwise known as the Hank Paulson Syndrome:
Episodes of epidemics occurred in the endemic nations. In a different cultural setting, mass hysteria of genital-shrinkage have been reported in African nations.
Cases of mass panic generally involve 20-30 people, and they seldom last long. How many bankers did we have with acute anxiety in the fourth quarter 2008?

We may suffer castration anxiety among the old white males who run central banking, but I doubt it was the Whodunnit of the crash.

Is Jerry Brown getting senile?

With the state mired in recession and perpetual budget deficits, Brown said all three leading candidates owe it to voters to stake out their positions and debate in public. He says California faces an "extraordinary crisis."
Jerry Brown's stated position is clear, he caused the problem. Jerry Brown promised public sector unions endless pension payments that taxpayers never could afford, nor did taxpayers have any intention to pay them, nor did taxpayers want this obligation.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Is the Iceland volcano part of the glacial cycle?

Following up on this article.

The problem here is that at the height of the ice age, that region is covered in ice and the plates severely depressed by a ten to a hundred of feet. As the ice melts, the pressure release and the volcanoes burst. The subsequent global soot would cause cooling,. This theory explains a lot, actually though I am not ready to believe it.

And this:

OSLO - A thaw of ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, research suggests.

While that's not the case with Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier, which is too small and too light to affect local geology, other volcanoes on the island nation are seen as vulnerable.

"Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades," said Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a vulcanologist at the University of Iceland.

At high pressures such as under an ice cap, they reckon that rocks cannot expand to turn into liquid magma even if they are hot enough. "As the ice melts the rock can melt because the pressure decreases," Pagli said.

The chart above is the glaciaL cycle. The problem has always been explaining the sudden shift beck to an ice age. Theories considered are the sudden release of water, a sudden freeze over and albedo effect (sun reflection, or asteroids. The asteroid theory is interest because it includes a layer of soot. Anyway, volcanoes have now become a strong suspect, and the probability of a reversion to an ice age must be higher in our calculations.

One more from Iceland:

Katla volcano, located near the southern end of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjökull icecap.

The subglacial dominantly basaltic volcano is one of Iceland's most active and is a frequent producer of damaging jökulhlaups, or glacier-outburst floods. A large 9 x 14 km subglacial caldera with a long axis in a NW-SE direction is up to 750 m deep. Its high point reaches 1380 m, and three major outlet glaciers have breached its rim.

Although most historical eruptions have taken place from fissures inside the caldera, the Eldgjá fissure system, which extends about 60 km to the NE from the current ice margin towards Grímsvötn volcano, has been the source of major Holocene eruptions. An eruption from the Eldgjá fissure system about 934 AD produced a voluminous lava flow of about 18 cu km, one of the world's largest known Holocene lava flows. Katla has been the source of frequent subglacial basaltic explosive eruptions that have been among the largest tephra-producers in Iceland during historical time and has produced dacitic explosive eruptions during the Holocene.

How does Romer get a multiplier from this action?

Obama abandoning free labor:

Barely 15 percent of all construction-industry workers in the United States are union members, while the remaining 85 percent are nonunion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. So why has President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 directing federal agencies taking bids for government construction projects to accept only those from contractors who agree in advance to a project labor agreement that requires a union work force? Obama's new order applies to all federal construction projects with price tags of $25 million or more, and it means all such contracts will only be awarded to companies with unionized work forces
Like Jerry Brown, Obama is becoming a bankrupt politician.

Sarah Palin: Big Government Conservative

My Way quotes her:
"I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower," the former Alaska governor said. "I don't understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful."
Translation: Debt based expansion of central government at the expense of small efficient communities. Massive inefficiencies in the defense industry. Inappropriate trade policies that restrict exports, misallocation of investment, massive subsidies to foreign governments as we cover their own policing functions. Continued bankruptcy of local communities, inappropriate national policies that distort local economies.

Same old Communist crap.

Suggestion. Clinton tax policy, Obama foreign policy, Hoover economic policy. Rationalize central government, be swift to tackle foreign problems early, freedom for local communities, get back to the transportation technology, and free the system from future definite, central policy.

How small communities can be rich in a depression

If you are a small gated community, then your community can overcome the recession, reduces household costs, solve global warming, defeat the public sector unions and become rich. Here is my multi-step plan.

1) Incorporate as a town
Getting out of any city contracts that are unsustainable
2) Form you own school board.
Moving to a combination on line education with irregular teacher meetings. Reduces the class room investment by 70%, reduces teacher costs by 60%.
3) Adopt Deliverbots
Contract with UPS to deliver all goods automatically from an Amazon warehouse just outside the gates. Purchase all household items on line. This reduces energy costs of delivery by 60% It allows you to keep household inventories minimal, 20% savings.
4) Adopt the Taxibots
Used for personal movement within the gated community. Reduces insurance costs by 50%, reduces capital costs of commute by 40%, reduces the last mile commute costs by 30%
5) Use Policebot
Available for real time security and surveillance. Reduces police costs by 70%

Keep regular, personal cars parked outside the gate, and use them when traveling among older technology streets.

Recasting the yield curve again.

Treasury Yield Curve

Now we know why we have to recast the yield chart into standard frequency and yield coordinates, we need standard form to use Shannon Theory. In the last post, I posited that the finite stages of production try to share bandwidth in equal amounts along the curve, bandwidth being measured in frequency because we are mainly concerned with the Quant rate at which, say a diary network, can deliver quarts of milk. Hence we need frequency on the X axis.

The curve above is the yield curve for quantities of Congressional goods, but for approximation we take it as the yield curve for quantities of aggregate debt. The frequencies from 2 to 4 represent the Fed's share of the curve in its current deflated state. There are two or three other distinct stages represented, the economy has done this on purpose. The amount of bandwidth that equalizes the stages is yield times delta(f), which in Fourier terms is integral of log(f(x) )* x taken over the lower and upper limits of each stage.

You see, in this form we can use all the existing channel theories.The theory also relies on one important assumption, the noise in the channel for any economic distribution is fixed, in our brains. We create Shannon channels that match a constant "comfort zone" in our brains.

Leverage cycle and QM Theory

QM Theory utilizes to simplifications that allow us to get at a theory of leverage. Production systems are multi-stage entropy encoders (or Huffman encoders) that seek to equalize inventory variances at each stage of production from wholesale to retail.

There are two states for the production network, the deflated state an N stage system, the inflated state an N+1 stage system. Each stage at the inflated state has smaller inventory and more precise sales rates. Hence, each stage of production holds a smaller proportion of the total yield curve for that good, measured in units of good quanta. The shape of the yield curve is constant at equilibrium, as measured in units of the good.

If N is 5, sales precision is 2**5. (a five bit calculator) . In stage two, precision is 6**2, or 64 (a six bit calculator) . In both cases the yield curve shape is constant, the stages hold a smaller proportion of the yield curve in the inflated state. If the production system is milk; the basic quanta is the quart of milk in the deflated state, and the pint of milk in the inflated state.

However, when the yield curve is measured in terms of money rather than good. That is, dairy production moves from measurement of yield in terms of units of milk to units of dollars problems arise because of the utility of money. Money adapts much faster than milk production.

Adjustment of milk production is a Ramsey search, each stage seeking to change the transaction rate and transaction volume, in order to optimize its share of the yield curve. This can take years, but money adapts to the current state of production within months. Hence, money will equilibriate about an unequilbriated diary system.


Small stores may see low inventory volatility in selling milk by the gallon. Hence, they try to inflate began selling it by the pint in various flavors, seeking to increase the transaction rate, and decrease the transaction volumes. The household normally modifies milk by the pints, adding condiments to the consumers liking. The retail stores want to commercialize that function, moving it from the household to a intermediate firm. This in effect is an attempt to make dairy delivery more precise, adding a stage of production. The yield curve of dairy production should adapt such that from the household to the wholesale production, the share of the yield curve becomes less, the whole system operates at the higher inventory variance. The intent is to increase the delivery rate (bit rate in Shannon terms) by reducing the quant measured from the quart to the pint.

This appears to be successful, and money increases the value of inventory in the small store, before the entire milk system has equilibriated. The shift in the bankers yield curve relative to the dairy yield curve causes wholesale inventories to drop in value. Hence the money illusion. Money signals are faster than dairy signals so the Ramsey search process is distorted, it tends to overshoot the adjustment process in real goods.

Real goods are heavy, money is lightweight. Solution? Perform maximum entropy analysis of the entire production chain of a real good, in units of the good, before one talks to the banker. This is what Walmart does.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Romer claims a demand problem?

I have only heard the WSJ summary of her speech, but doesn't she still need to name a cause, like Animal Spirits? Calling this economy a demand problem simply states nothing in particular. Besides, currently consumer demand and supply are closely matched, so if something was wrong with the matching between the two, that something has gone away.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More transportation news

Cost cutting plans may see Golden Gate Bridge go completely electronic

Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco are considering plans to replace all the human toll-takers with electronic toll collection points, making the bridge the state’s first all-automatic toll crossing.
Municipal workers better get with the program.

This one I have been waiting for:

With motorists circling the block to find elusive downtown parking spots, aldermen are proposing a “dynamic” solution.

It’s called “dynamic parking.” And it’s one of several ideas that East Rock Aldermen Justin Elicker said he hopes a new city working group on parking will consider.

Dynamic parking, invented by parking guru Donald Shoup, refers to a system in which parking fees rise and fall according to demand. For instance, during the busiest part of the day downtown, it might cost $2 to park for an hour. When there are fewer cars around, it might be only $1.

Though I have no idea how a guru invents the obvious. The next step is to dial in to the service from the cell phone so the driver is directed to available parking.

It is violence from public sector unions I fear

Says Bubba:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton warned of a slippery slope from angry anti-government rhetoric to violence like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, saying "the words we use really do matter."

The two-term Democratic president insisted he wasn't trying to restrict free speech, but in remarks Friday he said incendiary language can be taken the wrong way by some Americans. He drew parallels to words demonizing the government before Oklahoma City.

On the contrary, it is the public sector unions I fear when they find out that Jerry Brown's promise of endless pensions is not to be fulfilled. They send in the sheriff when taxpayers are unable to pay those monthly checks to the socialist sector.

Students escape antiquated classrooms a week earlier

Getting away from classrooms and other antiquated education systems:

The state's budget crisis is putting so much pressure on public school districts that some are being forced to trim the school year before school gets out this year.

Last month, based on a California Watch Survey, I wrote about proposals in the majority of California's 30 largest school districts to shorten the coming school year by granting teachers unpaid furlough days.

But on Tuesday, the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state's largest school district by far, voted to shorten the current school year by a week before summer vacation begins in June. That means the number of days students will be in the classroom will drop from last year's level of 180 days to 175 days this year.

A great opportunity to replace the classroom with technology for individual studies. Rather than cut the school year for a week, lets simply cut the classroom education for four weeks out of the year, stagger some classes, and move many others to on line personal study. By letting students stagger their school year based on grade level or course demand, the schools can split more time between supervised classrooms and unsupervised on line study. Total costs go down and total learning goes up.

Not fast enough though, as California will likely print up some funny money this year:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California - with its state worker furloughs and IOUs - became the poster child of the budget crisis gripping statehouses across the country last year.

Unless Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers learn to get along, the state is likely to face more of the same this year.

California already is more than $6 billion short of the revenue it needs. The gap is projected to grow by nearly $14 billion in the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

Lawmakers are expected to begin tackling the deficit as early as this week, but acknowledge they won't deal with the most difficult decisions until later.

David Blair, a municipal bond analyst at PIMCO investment firm, says that will only make investors worry. He says IOUs could return this summer.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Three reasons Tea Partiers are wrong on taxes

1) Tax cuts boost government spending.
Supply and demand, government appears cheaper than it really is under low tax regimes, hence people buy more of it
2) Tax increases help growth, especially when they decrease government spending.
Tax hikes raise the price of government such that Congress and the administration are forced to get more bang for the buck. Progressive tax increases are especially useful as they make it more painful for firms to shift expenses onto government. We get less government under higher taxes.
3) Tax rates are reaching wonderful levels where higher rates bring in less money.
We want to make government painful and barely affordable such that government productivity continuously improves.

Flat taxes make the most sense for local governments that deliver retail services. At that level, flat taxes appear more as a fee for service and consumers of government watch their tax dollar. At the federal level,the average consumer has no method to manage a profligate Congress, and when the super wealthy have low taxes, they tend to rely on government to absorb much of the labor costs making continuous federal government expansion likely.

Let me make the reductio ad absurdum argument. If federal taxes were 100% how much federal government would we have? See my point.

Debt Worries Shift to Portugal, Spurred by Rising Bond Rates


Absolutely, when bad debt is holding us down, the best investment opportunities are to find the bad debt and kill it.

Communist takeover of Tea Party

Communist infiltrators in the Tea Party plan major expansion of federal spending with single rate tax code. Libertarians everywhere need to be alerted.

Embedded in the economic law of supply and demand, Tea Party organizers revealed a plan to lower the cost of the federal government and expand government spending beyond even Obama's fantasy.

This was a sell out to the Republican Communist Party, earning permanent dismay among libertarians everywhere. I am preparing my secret list of over five hundred secret communist Republicans.

I also notice that Republican Mitch McConnell plans to continue the communist welfare support for failed banks.

Federal progressive tax rates are designed to keep the Federal government small.

Two idiots: Charlie Crist, Jerry Brown

After weeks of protest and a deluge of messages, Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday vetoed a bill that would link teacher pay to student test scores and wipe out tenure for new teachers.

“I know in my heart it’s the right thing to do,” Crist said of his veto.

His decision, announced shortly after noon in a Capitol news conference, came as little surprise. Although Crist initially voiced support for the bill, he had distanced himself over the past week as protests mounted. …

“I’m disappointed that after sending his top policy staffer to the House Committee to testify in support of the proposal, Gov. Crist would change his mind and now veto the bill,” House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, said in a statement.

Both of them selling out, let their names forever be linked

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tight and loose money

The yield curve recast as frequency rather than period

I don't use the terms "tight and loose", because the do not always correspond to interest rate cycles. Sometimes the Fed may be into an interest rate hike regime, but still trying to be loose, it is just that the longer end of the curve is looser.

One way to get at loose or tight is to look at the shape of the curve to see if the Fed is keeping the short end "kinked" down from the rest of the curve(loose) , or whether the Fed has the short end kinked up (tight).

Another reason I don't like the terms is that often the Fed is often trying to tighten, but is invariably late in its rate hike schedule, (and visa versa), so one does not know whether the Fed is trying to be slightly loose, or simply out gunned by the bond dealers.

So, why have I recast the yield curve above in the new format?

Because most of the theorems of frequency analysis are cast as a frequency spectrum. Hence, the three month term become 4 terms/year, the rate at which someone can make and pay off two consecutive two year terms. One tenth of a ten year term is managed in one year, and so on. The first thing to notice is that the very long string from 2 terms/year to 4 terms per year is the area that the Fed deals with, a long string. The second thing to notice is that the curve seems smoother, and more Normal shaped, something we cannot see in the standard form. Finally, look at the zero term. That is the yield on property if one pays for it over an infinite period, basically its rent.

One more thing, 3/4 of the yield spectrum is missing, held as internal information.

That is all for now.

How's the Oregon pension crisis doing?

Not to good, but local agencies are on the case:

SALEM (AP) — There’s another budget crisis brewing in Oregon.

It’s still a year and a half away, but when it hits, it will affect every level of government in the state.

The crisis will come in the form of huge increases in the amount of money that employers must pay into the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. PERS has to increase the contributions to make up for investment losses that occurred during the stock market free-fall of 2008.

“The market downturn dug a huge hole in PERS that needs to be made up,” said Brenda Wilson, the city of Eugene’s intergovernmental relations manager and PERS consultant to the Oregon League of Cities. “Even though there were positive earnings last year, the hole is bigger than that. Not every single employer will see a rate increase, but the vast majority of them will.”

The increase will cost Oregon governments participating in PERS a total of more than $1 billion in additional employer pension contributions, according to information provided by PERS after public-records requests from the Statesman Journal. To cover that expense, cuts to classrooms, parks, libraries and myriad other community services will have to be considered. Some local governments might lay off workers.

Obama fends off Socialist Astronauts with $6 billion bribe

On the ABC News site somewhere:
As evidence of his administration's commitment to space exploration, Obama touted a $6 billion boost for NASA despite the current recession and federal budget freeze on other major government agencies.
Violates his own freeze on spending, as usual

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A dandy chart

E Commerce sales, not seasonally adjusted. This chart hardly notices the recession.

Stimulus and multipliers again

The two charts are a near up to date as I can get. Looking at the far right points, I can't tell yet if the stimulus multiplier is dropping or rising. The far left points are faked, sorry, it was a simple kludge.

Fed rate hikes; then and now


The inflation rate (CPI-U) when the Fed started its last rate hike cycle in July 2004.


The current sequence of CPI-U in 2010.

Checking my Universal Economic Calculator, I can see that the Treasury yield curve had the same shape then as now, and that the S&P 500 was on the same trajectory then as now.

During the last rate hike cycle, the S&P went up another 40% during the inflation run up. Real oil prices (which were tracking nominal prices) were at $40 then, and peaked at $140 before the crash.

Oil is $85 today, but oil is more constrained and there is a closer track between nominal and real price.

This time Things are Different! Really? Dunno, let us see how the central bank and the economy react this time. Given the recent crash, the economy is likely much more diligent today and more likely to cool down all by itself. I suspect the economy is pacing itself according to oil price.

Another driverless car from Toyota with cussing passengers

More anchor babies

ABC News has the story on birth tourism.

I like black markets

The Economist reports:
[A] vigorous and growing underground (black) economy makes a big difference. The tax inspectors’ union, Gestha, believes that it accounts for more than 23% of GDP and that it grew by 0.7% last year when recorded GDP shrank by 3.1%. The black economy is especially attractive to those still receiving unemployment benefits based on previous earnings. They are often reluctant to go back into formal work until the two-year payment period is over.
Black markets, lovely things, they provide income without the hassle of government bureaucrats.

Inventory to sales

Inventories continue to drop implying distribution is highly leveraged with respect to sales. Businesses are not very confident and continue to operate very lean. I consider this good news in that business is not likely to get caught in another downturn. The huge jump in inventories during the crash shows how unprepared business was for the demand collapse, it was very sudden.

Two views on LA's bankruptcy

LA Times. The current Mayor pretends is it not happening, the previous mayor says it is a good thing:

Former mayor Richard Riordan has been roiling the civic waters by arguing that the surest -- and perhaps the only -- way out of Los Angeles' fiscal crisis is a declaration of municipal bankruptcy, which he believes ought to come sooner rather than later.

In a conversation with The Times over the weekend, Riordan argued that bankruptcy may be the only way to attack the structural problem gnawing the heart out of the city budget: unsustainable public employee pension costs. Currently, Riordan says, the city is struggling to meet its pension obligations, and that's assuming it will receive 8% annually on the money invested on retirees' behalf. In fact, the average return over the past decade has been just 4%. Over the next few years, L.A. may be looking at $1.5 billion in pension obligations it can't meet. "We need some adults to come alive in the city and to talk through how to meet that liability," he said. "If that doesn't happen, we shouldn't rule out bankruptcy."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's chief of staff, Jeff Carr, says categorically that "this mayor has made it clear that we are not going to declare bankruptcy." Moreover, while federal law lets bankruptcy judges reduce negotiated pension and health benefits in the private sector, it forbids changes in public employees' agreements.
I agree with the former mayor, the current mayor and his staff are full of crap. LA is currently bankrupt in every sense except they have not filed paperwork.

Socialist astronauts

ABC News:
In a letter to President Obama, former Apollo commanders Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan called "devastating" the president's cancellation of the "Constellation" program, which they describe as a blueprint to "meet our existing commitments, return to our exploration roots, return to the moon, and prepare to venture further outward to the asteroids and to Mars."
Yet another public sector union demanding more tax payer money.

Yes to nurse practicioners

From AP:

CHICAGO — A nurse may soon be your doctor. With a looming shortage of primary care doctors, 28 states are considering expanding the authority of nurse practitioners. These nurses with advanced degrees want the right to practice without a doctor's watchful eye and to prescribe narcotics. And if they hold a doctorate, they want to be called "Doctor."

For years, nurse practitioners have been playing a bigger role in the nation's health care, especially in regions with few doctors. With 32 million more Americans gaining health insurance within a few years, the health care overhaul is putting more money into nurse-managed clinics.

Those newly insured patients will be looking for doctors and may find nurses instead.

The medical establishment is fighting to protect turf. In some statehouses, doctors have shown up in white coats to testify against nurse practitioner bills. The American Medical Association, which supported the national health care overhaul, says a doctor shortage is no reason to put nurses in charge and endanger patients.