Streetwise Professor

April 24, 2010

The Big Country

Filed under: Economics — The Professor @ 9:18 pm

Talk about cultural vertigo.  Thursday night: reception with derivatives dealers in the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.  Friday night: A Texas A&M ritual “ring dunk” and Bar-B-Q in College Station.  Hard to imagine two more different social occasions, but both were very enjoyable in their very different ways.

And here’s an interesting contrast in perspectives on the same issue from those different parts of the country.  In San Francisco, CDOs were of course a not uncommon subject of conversation and comment.  In College Station, I was talking with my daughter Renee’s best friend’s father, Roy, a cattle rancher from Elmendorf, Texas.  The subject turned to real estate.  Roy mentioned a housing development near San Antonio that was largely vacant: the banks that financed the houses, “didn’t keep any skin in the game, but sent all the money up north.” That’s going to be my new catch phrase for structured finance: “Sending all the money up north.”  Too true.

It is, as the Talking Heads sang, The Big Country, and a source of endless fascination to explore it.  It is especially fascinating to have such a juxtaposition of experiences.

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  1. Big Country was a hit single in the 80s by the Scottish rock band ‘Big Country’ – chart topper in 1983.

    Comment by Mr. X — April 26, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  2. Yes, I know that. But it was also a Talking Heads song from More Songs About Buildings and Food, from ’78. (Same album as their hit “Take Me to the River,” a cover of an Al Green song.) Click the first link on the Google page linked above and you can listen to it. And the Talking Heads song is much better, IMO. More to the point, it is precisely about the divide between what would now be called Red States and Blue States, though those terms were not current then. (As I recall, moreover, the back cover of MSABAF had a US map on the back.) And that’s basically what my post is about.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 26, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  3. It’s always nice to see a Talking Heads reference on an economics blog.

    Comment by TRex — April 26, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  4. We aim to please! And how’s this pop music reference:

    “I drunk myself blind to the sound of old TRex.”

    Name that tune!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 26, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  5. “Big Country” was also the nickname of Bryant Reeves, a seven foot center. He led OK State to the Final Four in ’95, and was the inaugural draft pick of the Vancouver Grizzlies. He had an indifferent pro career: decent start, but soon “Big Country” became more like “Fat Country” and he had to retire after 5 or 6 seasons due to injuries.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 26, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

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