Sunday, April 20, 2014


Had a little trouble with my computer at work the other day.

I don't know what the problem was. I mean, I didn't go in and reverse-engineer the code and figure it all out. But I do know what was different.

The only thing that was different is that XP is no longer "supported".

What happened is, I left my computer on when I left work on Tuesday, so that the "Microsoft Security Essentials" could do its weekly virus scan Tuesday night. That wasn't different -- I do it every week. But when I got to work on Wednesday morning and turned on the screens, there was an error message:

MsMpEng.Exe -- Application Error

The instruction at "0x5a4d684d" referenced memory at "0x00000000". The memory could not be "read".

Click on OK to Terminate the program.
Click on CANCEL to debug the program.

And there was another message hiding under that one, that I found when I clicked OK to the first message:

AntiMalware Service Executable has encountered a problem and needs to close.

That all doesn't mean a whole lot to me. But the part that said it tried to "reference memory at 0x00000000" -- that means something. The ox (the first two characters of the number, zero and the X) means it is a hexadecimal number (base 16) but the big piece of info in that number is that everything after the ox is zeros. The instruction at some memory location tried to reference the memory location zero. I've seen that error before. Something wasn't properly initialized. That's why the value is zero.

And the thing was slow as hell. Took 8 or 10 minutes for Windows XP to boot up, and as long again for AutoCAD to load up and open a small drawing. I dicked around with it till my supervisor came in. Do anything without being authorized first, and you're liable to be accused of causing the problem you're trying to fix.

When my supervisor came in I laid out the problem for him. He said: try the System Restore -- a good idea; I had not thought of that -- and then uninstall the Microsoft Security Essentials. I liked that plan, and (to make a long story short) it worked. And I'm more convinced than ever that the problem was created by XP support shutting down. They left a dangling end there, and when I tried to use the scan, the problem showed up.

But that's what I think. My supervisor thought it was probably the hard drive going bad. He's told me lots of stories over the years, where a failing hard drive was always the problem. But he didn't read the error messages I got.

What I'm thinking is that, when you have a complex system like a computer, it is sometimes difficult to pin down the cause of a problem. And if you are quick to turn to the internet for an answer, you may find the most popular answer rather than the most accurate one.

What I'm thinking is, when you have a complex system like the economy, it is sometimes difficult to pin down the cause of a problem. And if you are quick to turn to an authority for an answer, you may find the most popular answer rather than the most accurate one.


Gene Hayward said...

Hey, Art.

Could you post me a link to a blog entry you made in the past as to why you dislike (Hate?? haha!) the specific phrase "Too much money chasing too few goods". I seem to remember reading it at one time or another but cannot find it on your blog.

I want to use it as a teaching moment. Thanks.

The Arthurian said...


The Arthurian said...

Wow. My first reaction was to draw a blank. But I did a search for the phrase and came up with a few links and a few thoughts:

"Too much money chasing too few goods" is ONE WAY to have inflation -- the Demand-Pull way. Restricting money growth is one way to undermine that kind of inflation. Letting prices go up is another (because it uses up the extra money).

But I don't think our inflation is Demand-Pull... Not since the early 1960s. Our inflation is Cost-Push, driven by growing financial costs. The problem of growing costs is not solved by restricting the growth of money.

If the problem was rising wages or rising profits, the money would still be received as income in the productive (non-financial) sector, and anyone getting a piece of the action would see conditions improving.

But when the problem is rising financial costs, the payment is received as income to the financial sector, where it tends to remain. The money does not come back into circulation, so aggregate demand is gradually undermined. Or if the money does come back into circulation, it often comes at the cost of interest -- in other words, it increases those financial costs. Sure, some of the income to finance is withdrawn and spent into circulation; but that defeats the whole purpose of saving.


This one might be useful:

on the cause of inflation, and the difference between money and credit.


More on the difference between cost-push and demand-pull. The "Mitchell" that I quote in this post is the same Bill Mitchell of my blog subtitle, who "sees raising taxes as the right way to reduce inflation."

That's a way to reduce demand-pull inflation, not cost-push inflation.


This one:

Wesley changed my life.


Contains a graph showing inflation as demand-pull until about 1960, and cost-push thereafter.... showing "too much money chasing too few goods" as the cause of inflation until about 1960, and finance as the cause of cost-push inflation since that time.

If there is one post that sums up my thinking, this is it.


Maybe this next one is what you were thinking of. I wrote:
Yes, we have inflation because of the quantity of money. But there are reasons we have an inflationary quantity of money. Reasons that developed after Milton Friedman had formulated his ideas and written his 1963 book with Anna Schwartz. Reasons Friedman and Schwartz never understood.

Bill Mitchell again, in that one.


Well, that's got my head spinning...

Hope it's useful.

Happy Easter, Gene.
PS, Glad you're still posting.

Gene Hayward said...

Thank you for these links and comments. Very helpful.

The embedded financial costs you speak of is something I am going to insert into my lessons from now on. Usually we just use a spike in a key commodity price (Primarily oil) or labor costs to demonstrate cost push inflation.

I might hang in with the blogging a bit longer but with modifications.

Thanks again!