50 ways to leave your lover, recession edition

BEIJING (Reuters) - Fears of a prolonged recession in China have triggered a sharp increase in divorce inquiries addressed to lawyers and financial advisers, state media reported on Monday, with timing a key issue.

Wealthy spouses were keen to strike a deal while asset values were low, the China Daily quoted the director of the China Divorce Service Center, Shu Xin, as saying.

But China University of Political Science and Law professor Wu Changzhen said it may be too early to know the impact of the financial crisis on divorce rates.

"It seems the rates may have dropped since the downturn, because divorces are expensive," he was quoted as saying.

Friday Special 86

msnbc's take on the year 2008 in pictures

Testing your knowledge about the world on FreePoverty

A small but growing repository of Book Outlines

Australian repays £5 debt 39 years on

Best Road Trips in the world

by mendoza | Friday, December 26, 2008
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Friday Special 85

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million: Radio 38 years, facebook 2 years

German website on world interest rates, but still quite useful

MediaStorm innovating multimedia storytelling

Time's quote of the day

by mendoza | Friday, December 19, 2008
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Friday Special 84

Kelley Ryden photography

Another very good photo collection of pictures taken in North America

by mendoza | Friday, December 12, 2008
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The $12 million stuffed shark

Amazon.co.uk's page for the paperback is here, and here's the hardcover. The subtitle is 'The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art', and the book is a joy to read even if you don't have a few million dollars to spare and a large empty wall in your $15 million apartment. I know of no other popular book that offers such a good overview of the institutional framework and market structure of the contemporary art world, complete with authoritative lists of the top artists, works, collectors, dealers and galleries.

The economic argument of the book is admittedly not very deep (branding is important; get branded and you can sell anything at any price) and the inevitable frowning-down-on-people-paying-millions-to-put-garbage-in-their-living-rooms morality does creep into the text.

That said, the book is the best primer (and probably all you'll ever find useful or interesting to know) on contemporary art, and it is simply a fascinating read from cover to cover. Although it is strictly non-fiction, the $12 Million Stuffed Shark is gripping in a way more reminiscent of fiction; the colourful characters that come alive in its pages - the artists, buyers and dealers that create contemporary art - occupy a world of money, glamour and pop philosophy that is as interesting as anything that could be imagined.

Larry Gagosian [...] born in Los Angeles and seemingly known to everyone in the art world either as 'Larry Gaga'; or, due to his endless energy, as 'Go-go', [...] is to art dealing what George Steinbrenner was to baseball-team owning. He is famous for his silver hair, beautiful companions, and a very large home in East Hampton, New York called Toad Hall. He is one of the few dealers to get away with breaking the unwritten rule that you should not be seen to live better than your artists. [...]

With the exception of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brooklyn-born son of Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, a high school dropout with no formal art training, Gagosian has neither nurtured nor represented new artists. Basquiat made himself that exception, going to Los Angeles in 1983 where he talked his way into living and working for six months in one room of Gagosian's beach house in Venice. The great trivia aspect of that story is the identity of Basquiat's girlfriend, who lived with them; the then unknown singer Madonna.


by datacharmer | Monday, December 08, 2008
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The Economic Organisation of a POW Camp

After allowance has been made for abnormal circumstances, the social institutions, ideas and habits of groups in the outside world are to be found reflected in a Prisoner of War Camp. It is an unusual but a vital society.

One aspect of social oganization is to be found in economic activity, and this, along with other manifestations of a group existence, is to be found in any P.O.W. camp. [...]

Everyone receives a roughly equal share of essentials; it is by trade that individual preferences are given expression and comfort increased. All at some time, and most people regularly, make exchanges of one sort or another.

Although a P.O.W. camp provides a living example of a simple economy which might be used as an alternative to the Robinson Crusoe economy beloved by the textbooks, and its simplicity renders the demonstration of certain economic hypotheses both amusing and instructive, it is suggested that the principal significance is sociological. True, there is interest in observing the growth of economic institutions and customs in a brand new society, small and simple enough to prevent detail from obscuring the basic pattern and disequilibrium from obscuring the working of the system. But the essential interest lies in the universality and the spontaneity of this economic life; it came into existence not by conscious imitation but as a response to the immediate needs and circumstances. Any similarity between prison organization and outside oganization arises from similar stimuli evoking similar responses.

This is from the introduction to R.A. Radford's famous 1945 article in Economica - as beautiful a piece of scholarly work as you are likely to find, and a wonderful introduction to economics.

Friday Special 83

The soul of Italy captured in these magnificent pictures

Random live web cams from all over the world

On the love for snow: Levitation Project

Inside a Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M

The beauty of Distant Horizons

by mendoza | Friday, December 05, 2008
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These dudes rock

Just watch this video and stop worrying about the youth of today. Well done guys!

by datacharmer | Tuesday, December 02, 2008
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If you believe in Ricardian equivalence, you don't believe in recessions

The same rational, non-credit constrained individual that will save a tax rebate in anticipation of higher taxes in the future is the same rational, non-credit constrained individual that will save something extra in the good times so he can maintain his consumption level unchanged during recessions - as much a certainty in life as death and taxes.

If you believe that fiscal stimuli are pointless, then you don't believe in recessions as we know them.