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Nothing to Do With Anything

BOSTON -- "Your badge?"

I was in no mood for this.

I was out late.

I was up early.

I was so in no mood for this.


"Sir? May I please see your badge?"

I shot back.

"What the hell kind of pathetic moron tries to sneak into these things?"

She was from someplace that fashion just hasn't ever been able to penetrate -- Nashville, probably. Her skirt was new, but it was an Eek!-I'm-going-to-the-city purchase. The collective product of



Ally McBeal

, conversations with a sister who thought she knew style (but didn't). It was an uneducated guess as to natural -- as to what would make her look like she belonged. It was a stab at fitting in.

And it was failing miserably.

I think I saw the beginning of a tear.

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Honestly. I thought the waterworks were coming.


I dumped all of my materials. I opened my jacket.

American Economic Association Annual Meetings

James Padinha

And away we go.

Friday Morning. Interior.

I wanted to hit

Valuation of Mortality Risk Reductions

-- "What Are Older People Willing to Pay to Reduce Their Risk of Dying?" sounded pretty cool -- but I was preoccupied with the employment numbers.

I wanted to hit

International Asset Pricing

-- "The Relevance of Currency Risk in the EMU" and "EMU and European Stock Market Integration" both sounded good -- but then I saw that one of the presenters was from Duke.

Nothing to do with anything to do with



Sister Christian

) for me.

Friday Afternoon. Interior.

My session day therefore began with the lunch at which

Bank of England

Deputy Governor Mervyn King spoke.

I arrived late to one horrific sight: A sea of nerds lowering their heads to chowda.

Not bringing the soup to their holes, mind you, but rather bringing their white-speckled faces to the food.

I decided it was better to forego lunch and sit toward the side of the room, along the wall. Besides, this way I was not too far from


, and watching him negotiate a particularly big clam was much more interesting than any of the conversations I heard going on at the tables near me.

The title of the speech was "Monetary Policy: Theory


Practice" (italics his). And King said some pretty cool things.

He said that central bankers ought to be boring. Like referees.

Their success ought to be judged on how little their actions impact the outcome of the match.

He said that monetary-policy rules force policymakers to ask themselves important questions.

Why are rates where they are? And is that pretty much where they ought to be?

He said that sure, rules present their own set of problems -- Will we not need a rule to determine when we ought to replace an existing rule with a new and better one? -- but he emphasized that they're meant to


discussion, not to


it (italics his).

At this point a cell phone rang. A woman from the University of Pittsburgh answered it, began yelling "Hello?" into it (repeatedly), rose from her chair, and proceeded to rush from the room. The first thing that came to mind? Vibrate. The second? There better be a pretty big f______ emergency back in Pennsylvania.

He said that economic forecasts are probability distributions, not point estimates. He said the practice of awarding prizes for the best point estimates was not at all unlike giving the

Fields Medal

to the mo-ron who wins the national lottery.

And my oh my did we all have a good chuckle at that one.

Two particularly tickled souls couldn't help spitting up their chowda.

He said he was fortunate enough to have dined with


at about the time he became a central banker. He said he asked for advice.

"One word," said Paul. "Mystique."

He said something about demand -- de-


, rather (italics his) -- but I got re-pissed thinking back on that phone call and forgot to write it down.

He said that yeah, policymakers would inevitably continue to mess up, but he reckons that the learning process means that at least they'll avoid the worst mistakes they've made.

This didn't sit well. A very bad thing is less likely to happen in the future because equally bad things have already happened in the past?

The guy who's thrice been struck by lightning would probably disagree.

And 10 large says he still ain't at all comfortable swinging irons out in the rain.

Side Dish

Food to the face, folks. Not the other way round.

You want more of this?

No. It is not what I am paying for.

Yes. Nice to leave data and the Fed now and again.