Monday, December 31, 2007

A whiter shade of pale

Happy new year, everyone.
We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well have been closed
That is Procol Harum, of course. Here we bring you the version of Sangaji: Syaharani on vocal, Oele Pattiselano guitar, Christy Smith bass, Budi Winarto sax, Mei Sheum piano, Eddie Layman drums.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good Coffee, Finally

OK, nothing beats Monmouth Coffee Shop yet, but after several weeks enduring mediocre and bad taste caffeine, today I relish to find a real good coffee at this place. And they play good jazz too, it was Miles Davis. Next time I might bring a pack of Sampoerna Mild and join that crowd in their smoking room with big table -- a rarity in this more health conscious western society.

Speaking of Monmouth Coffee, I learned that they just visited Indonesia to sample the best of Sumatra (Lintong, Mandheling, and Gayo). They really should extend the trip to Toraja, I must say. So if you happened to be in the old London at the moment, given their knowledge of properly roasting the beans, I am sure you can have oh-so-good full bodied coffee from Dairi at their place now.

Bill Easterly in his book praises globalization and trade as bringing Colombian coffee closer to his mug, via, well, Starbucks. But even if you condemn that green fairy label for spreading bad coffee and culture, you still could have way better coffee via specialties stores, using the same mechanism (namely international trade).

In trade, both who embrace urban mass culture lifestyle (that chain cafe's addicts) and coffee freaks and snobs (like me) are happy.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Questioning Krugman

Probably, this op-ed is what Aco's economist friend meant when he (or she) said about Krugman and fragmentation in trade theory. In that piece, Krugman wrote that on free trade:
"(But) for American workers the story is much less positive. In fact, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that growing U.S. trade with third world countries reduces the real wages of many and perhaps most workers in this country. And that reality makes the politics of trade very difficult."
Dani Rodrik, as expected, praises this line of argument. But Greg Mankiw and Don Boudreaux are certainly much less impressed with such protectionist flavors.

I'd rather wait more numbers, and perhaps new theory, to appear on academic paper by Krugman himself. Nonetheless, it would be small wonder for me if this early assertion were picked up by protectionists from our side to defend anti free trade stance and hence bark at the wrong tree.

Why? Because the negative impact, if it's plausible, would be borne by workers in rich countries and comes from manufactured goods trade. Indonesia is rather far from being rich country at the moment and is struggling to strive in the said manufactured goods export. The winner is us and more free trade would be even better then. Not the other way around.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

What Sjamsu's doing when not blogging?

Mostly, nowadays, he's helping the government negotiating a new FTA.

Other thing that I consider is more interesting: working on this project with his high-school friend (also Ujang's) Dave Lumenta, who's also an irregular visitor of this Cafe. (In case you don't know, Sjamsu is the only real musician of the Cafe barristers).

Here's the background story according to Sjamsu:
The idea is to replicate the repressive environment of the '80s, when TVRI programs were full of 'security and order' jargons. Thanks to Dave who already had the basic composition, and someone crazy enough to upload Anita Rahman's news clip (from the year 1982 - a.p.) in Youtobe.
Note: the TVRI news clip was about the infamous Lapangan Banteng riot. Enjoy.

Metro Jakarta Cafe (a.k.a Warkop DKI)

To my knowledge, in our cafe, AP and Pasha hold the highest authority for anything related to Warkop DKI.

Can I then request you guys a thorough Warkop DKI's OST review? Here are two teasers from YouTube: rock n' roll medley by the late Kasino Lennon and Indro Jagger of Wah Gede Banget Band in Dongkrak Antik (How do you translate this title, by the way?), and Nyanyian Kode (from god knows what film).


Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday's Coming

And it's time to look more closely into, well, sub prime mortgage crisis. Especially when Larry Summers (in pdf, but short) said that even with recent bail-out policy measures, up to one million foreclosures are expected to come in the next two years. 

That's a lot. 

Ben Bernanke also gave his insight. If you're the one to decide, would it be a bail out, or not?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Problem #1: Microeconomics Exam

In today's Jakarta Post op-ed, Professor Rokhmin Dahuri wrote that capitalism depletes natural resource and precedes global warming. Discuss the flaw, if any, in his argument.

Hint: Use your knowledge of Demsetz's Theory of Property Right,or Coase Theorem (in pdf), or Tragedy of the Commons. No math needed.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Ballad of John and Yoko ... and Krugman

I, too, never blamed Yoko for The Beatles breakup. According to The Asahi Shimbun, this documentary does not follow the conventional wisdom (or unwisdom?) that Yoko was the evil person behind the Fab Four quarrels. What if it's all John's fault? What if it's the group's itself? Of course this documentary does not just focus on that one issue. Reading the article, I would expect to see "good, old-school storytelling", "big zeitgeist tapestry" (of Lennon's life), some never-seen-before Beatles' footages, and of course, John's "truly, even geeky, love" to Yoko. Must be interesting. Except that I .. don't have the time (or more precisely, I just missed the showtime). I was actually planning to see it at Toho Cinemas tonite (where else can we see non-dubbed foreign movies here in Tokyo?).

Alas, we all are exhausted. After two long days of discussing papers, we thought we deserved a decent dinner. So there we were, eating and chatting. The thing is, you would forget the time when you talk about new, interesting books. And this time, it was Krugman's newest one. An economist who had finished reading it briefed us about the book. He said Krugman calls for raising U.S. minimum wage. Now that's interesting. Another guy responded, saying that Krugman's idea was a reflection of fragmentation in otherwise strongly established trade theory. Ouch.

I'll see the documentary later. And I'll grab that book in Narita tomorrow.

Picture © 2006 Lions Gate Films Inc.

(Anti) Competition Chicken Noodle

Suppose you are a chicken noodle addict and chicken noodle is, well, chicken noodle. They are similar product.

Case #1: There are two chicken noodle sellers in your area, Rizal and AP. Each shares half of total sales, or market share.

OK, it seems like a fair competition.

Case #2: Still in your area, but now there are five sellers, --Rizal, AP, Aco, Ujang, and Sjamsu. Rizal's market share is 96 percent, each of remaining seller shares 1 percent of total market sales.

Are you gonna sue me for anti-competition behavior based on such market share indication?

Recall: what matters is how many chicken noodle sellers that an addict like me you now has (five), not the number of sellers in a whole market, nor its market share.

Case #3: Now, Rizal, AP, Aco, Ujang, and Sjamsu decide to set a chicken noodle cartel.

Does the competition vanish? No, they just shift it from the streets in your neighborhood to a table at cafe salemba where they usually meet up.

Case #4: Rizal is spying your house. He wants to steal your BMW. 

It's politics. Economics has no answer. 

Friday, December 07, 2007

On Being Jakarta's Number One

For any Jakarta's Governor, perhaps, the most relevant and politically sensitive issue is the traffic jam. If he/she can get rid of it, he/she will be remembered, and if allowed by law, reelected for the next term.

Now, if the higher authority decides to increase the gasoline price without his/her consent, should he/she curse the the policy or, silently, praise it?  

If I were he/she, I would do the latter. Higher gasoline price reduces the use of private cars, hence less traffic jam. And when my people get mad because of the price hike, I would shrug my shoulder, and point out that it wasn't I but those guys who did it.

And I don't get why the current Governor does the other way around?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Where is the Market?

OK, I need your help. I fail to understand this:
"Philosophically, what I imagine as Indonesian version of Social Market Economy is to put the Family (?) (my note: does he mean Household?) as the dominant element in development paradigm, along with the State. European welfare states, so far, marginalize the Family, along with Market; and set the State as dominant role. On the other hand, neo liberal states, such as the US, assume the Market as the dominant role, while the State and Family marginal."
--liberal translation of an op-ed "Kaum Muda" in Kompas, December 4, 2007.

If he says that it is the Family and the State that matters, why he uses the term Social Market Economy? Where is the Market?
And on his assertion on European and US economy, I don't know what to say. Really.