Friday, June 29, 2012

Blind Outrage

"Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional." - Rand Paul
"I'd say that it's like dealing with hijackers or hostage-takers -- but it's really more like dealing with children."

Quote of the Day - Deus Ex Malcontent

and People Who Say They're Moving To Canada Because Of ObamaCare

Sound Advice

"Quantum mechanics makes a dead cat bounce especially troublesome if the cat is not dead, so I use the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in times like these – it hasn’t failed me yet – but, then, I haven’t looked, lately, either."

Economic Data Has Not Been Very Good… - TBP

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dou Itashi Mashita


Whisper


60 Months

"Time is a funny thing. On one hand five years seems like an eternity. On the other hand it can go by in the blink of an eye. One need only ask a parent (or blogger)* about that one.

Five years ago the financial crisis, that still so dominates finance, politics and the economy, was still in its infancy. The true kick-off of the financial crisis, the failure of Bear Stearns wouldn’t begin until March 2008. For better or worse we will continue to live with and debate the consequences of those events for years to come.

However in another realm, that of consumer technology things have come a long way. Five years ago the Apple ($AAPL) iPhone was introduced to much acclaim."

It was five years ago today… - Abnormal Returns

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller via IMDB"

"The iPhone has destroyed at least three huge companies in the past 5 years, and has deeply wounded others. Thanks to the iPhone, Palm is toast. Research in Motion is toast. Nokia is toast. Microsoft is reeling. Formerly dominant global hardware makers like HP and Dell are reeling. The whole PC-industrial complex is reeling."

Obama vs. Romney

This morning after the gym, we were briefly discussing the polls and the bias that may, or may not be in them depending on the source and the sample.

This seems like a decent summary of all the data? Fascinating, or not, that Fox has the 'race' tied, Bloomberg has Obama at +13 for example, more here.


The odds are good, but the goods are odd

"So where were the manly men? The ones with the facial hair, the calloused hands? Where was the man who could kill dinner and cook it over a fire from the wood he’d chopped — then have his woman for dessert?

According to some women who have lived in both places, Alaska men have different priorities than Washington men.

“They’re more genuine, earnest, real, down-to-earth,” says Libby Casey, a Washington journalist in her 30s who spent 10 years in Fairbanks. “In Alaska, men value women differently: If you can wield a chain saw, if you can buck wood, if you can catch a fish. A guy’s not going to date you because you look cute; a guy’s going to date you because you have skills.”

And all the waxing, styling and primping Washington women do? Not necessary in the 49th state.

“I won hairy-leg contests in Alaska, and guys thought it was awesome,” Casey says."

Two Washington Post reporters head to Alaska to find romance - WP

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yasui

"With the Japanese materials-science company Toray Industries, Uniqlo created a stretchy fabric called Silky Dry, a name that pretty much explains how it's supposed to feel, even when the wearer is Sweaty Gross. (Uniqlo is in the process of rebranding it "Airism.") "I wear it every day," Yanai says. "It makes customers happy--and that makes me happy."

"They spent two days getting people around SoHo to try on the fleeces," he recalls. "People said, 'Incredible! Luxurious! How lightweight!' Then we asked, 'How much would you pay for it?' And they said, 'This has got to be $50 or $75.' Some even said $100. But that fleece was $19. I showed the video to Mr. Yanai, and I said, 'Here's your future.'"

"Yasui."

Person after person--28 in a row--uses the same Japanese word, which does not mean "cool." It means "cheap."

Maybe all that advertising worked too well: Uniqlo has never been cool in Japan. But in recent years, the company has added new layers to its brand story to ensure that "cheap," in the Uniqlo context, means affordable, not low quality or déclassé."

"We are not a fashion company," Yanai likes to say. "We are a technology company."

Cheap, Chic, And Made For All: How Uniqlo Plans To Take Over Casual Fashion

Nutbag

"“Seek as much transparency as possible,” he said. “If they do not understand exactly how a manager is making money, do not invest. If there is a secret process that cannot be explained, run. Go see the organization yourself, talk to the employees. The manager cannot see everyone or he could not be making money; if he has all the time in the world for you, that is a flag.”

Mr. Israel is a good salesman, even in prison. It is clear why he was able to get away with his fraud for as long as he did. He is likable; he likes to tell you about his mistakes and acts as if he has known you forever. When I first sat down to talk with him, he offered me an orange Life Saver.

About halfway through, the interview turned bizarre when Mr. Israel, on the verge of crying, announced: “I took a man’s life. I shot him twice.”

Mr. Israel recognized my skepticism. When I asked him what happened to the body, he said, “Bob made a couple of calls.”

Again, I looked at him quizzically.

“These people can do anything. They can get rid of a body,” he said. “Come on,” he added, looking at me as if I didn’t understand. “They can kill presidents.”"

A Con Man Who Lives Between Truth and Fiction - NYT Dealbook

Asterisk

"Several pages of cycling’s history books need to be amended, torn up or at the very least peppered with footnotes and it would be a big help if Armstrong faced the music and told the world what he knew. Imagine. No more did he, didn’t he stories, just the truth about what was going on. Truth and reconciliation? Why not? And why does it matter? It matters to all those riders whose word was ridiculed, for all those clean riders whose careers were blighted by a doping culture, that’s why. And it matters to real fans of cycling."

Armstrong: just make it stop - Biscuit Tin Media

Well written piece. Nails it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adultescence - A Nation of Wimps

"With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff. They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. “Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. In many middle-class families, children have one, two, sometimes three adults at their beck and call. This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn’t working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.

They inhabit “a broad savannah of entitlement that we’ve watered, landscaped, and hired gardeners to maintain.” She recommends letting the grasslands revert to forest: “The best way for a lot of us to show our love would be to learn to un-mother and un-father.

“Never before have parents been so (mistakenly) convinced that their every move has a ripple effect into their child’s future success.”

“French parents don’t worry that they’re going to damage their kids by frustrating them,” she writes. “To the contrary, they think their kids will be damaged if they can’t cope with frustration.”

Also key, Druckerman discovered, is just saying non. In contrast to American parents, French parents, when they say it, actually mean it. They “view learning to cope with ‘no’ as a crucial step in a child’s evolution,” Druckerman writes. “It forces them to understand that there are other people in the world, with needs as powerful as their own.”

A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every aspect of American society. Why this should be is a much larger question, one to ponder as we take out the garbage and tie our kids’ shoes.

SPOILED ROTTEN -The New Yorker

Systemic

"Watching our government in Greece since the debt crisis erupted, observing Europe’s leadership dither and adopt one calamitous policy after the other, I finally got it. It is not that the members of our elites cannot see that Europe is like a train that is derailing in slow motion, with Greece being the first carriage to leave the tracks, Ireland and Portugal following, leading to the derailment of the larger carriages that follow: Spain, Italy, France and, finally, Germany itself. No, I believe that, in the eye of their mind, they can see it. But, they are finding it impossible to coordinate their viewpoints into a sensible policy response. None of them dare speak when they enter the conference rooms in which the important decisions are reached, lest they are accused of going ‘soft’ or of having ‘lost it’. So, they stay silent while Europe is burning, hoping against hope that the fire will put itself out, while knowing, in their heart of hearts, that it will do no such thing."

And the Good Ship Greece Sails On - Yanis Varoufakis

"A systemic crisis can be overcome only systemically."

After Dark Bonus Edit

After Dark iTunes Bonus Edit from Level 1 on Vimeo.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Conflicted

"Several outspoken cyclists have commented that we should pursue the case because if you gradually clear away all the dopers you will, at some point, end up with a clean rider. It’s an idiotic assertion. What you eventually end up with is a rider who just never got tested. If every rider were tested at the end of each race or each stage of a stage race, it would be another matter, but it has been possible for riders to go weeks or more without being tested. Clear away doper upon doper from the ’90s and what you are left with is a guy you just can’t prove is clean, nor can you prove he doped. What kind of improvement is that?

The problem isn’t that Armstrong is innocent. If you’re reading this, it’s highly unlikely that you believe he’s innocent.

I’m going to assert that nothing good can be achieved. We can’t really change the results, not at this point. Armstrong will forever be remembered as the winner of seven Tours de France.

It seems unlikely that these proceedings will result in anything that pleases anyone. And that means we are left with a decision. How do we want to remember Armstrong? There are plenty of cyclists out there who despise big Tex. It seems that some of the dislike for him comes from his alpha-male demeanor. Others dislike him for simply dominating the Tour for seven years. And I suppose some are angry that he seems to have gotten away with stuff that sank other riders.

Some of the bitterness for Armstrong smacks of the “I never loved her anyway” that follows high school breakups, which is my way of insulting some of the anger directed at him as being childish.

Lance doped. He’s not gonna confess. We can’t fix the past, but we can police the present. So unless you’re prepared to see all of cycling burned down like Dresden, let’s leave it alone."

The Inevitable - RKP

Not sure.

Mortgaging the future

"The debt continues to mount up. But deflationary fears, central bank bond purchases and flight to safety from the rest of the world keeps government borrowing costs down to unprecedented lows. The trouble with this scenario is that it also implies low to zero growth over decades.

As our economic difficulties have worsened, we voters have struggled to find the appropriate scapegoat. We blame the politicians whose hard lot it is to bring public finances under control. But we also like to blame bankers and financial markets, as if their reckless lending was to blame for our reckless borrowing. We bay for tougher regulation, though not of ourselves."

Reith Lecture: 'We’re mortgaging the future of the younger generation'

Spawn



Slow-Mo Le Mans

Friday, June 22, 2012

Debt Head

"In his 36 years spent negotiating on behalf of financially challenged countries, patterns have emerged. “The first thing I’ve learned is the period of denial is almost always too long,” he says. “They almost always hope that something will happen that will make this go away, they will discover oil under the presidential palace or something. By the time they get around to admitting that they need to restructure their debt, they have done irremediable damage.”

Buchheit has been referred to as a “guru” and “the philosopher king of sovereign debt.”"

Debt Head - NY Mag

What next?

"In addition to the deteriorating economic conditions, cracks have also started to develop in the corporate earnings picture, which has been the major strong point for the market over the last three years."

"The European sovereign debt crisis will also be a continuing story in the period ahead, and has the potential to be a "Lehman" type situation. The markets will not give the EU the time it needs for any permanent solution such as full political integration, and anything else will just have the effect of papering things over. A significant bailout of Spain and Italy will require huge amounts of funds that only Germany can possibly provide, and it is understandable why Germany would be unwilling to place itself in financial and economic jeopardy."

"In the midst of the U.S. economic slowdown, the ability of the Fed to do much more is doubtful."

"In the face of the current economic and financial situation, it is notable that the stock market rally that started in October topped at 1422 (S&P 500) on April 2nd. After dropping 11%, the subsequent oversold bounce retraced 62% of the decline, and has now turned down once again, re-confirming the downtrend. In our view the April 2nd peak marked the top of the entire three-year rally dating back to March 2009, and a new cyclical decline has begun."

The Fed Is Shooting Blanks - Comstock Partners via Pragmatic Capitalism

I need your word

"Client: Okay, so this is one of those deviously simple ideas, but I need help making it happen.

Me: Let’s hear it.

Client: I’m surprised no one’s thought of it. I need your word you’re not going to just walk away from this conversation and use it.

Me: You have my word.

Client: Double-sided PDFs."

via Clients from Hell

“MIRAI NIHON (the future of Japan)”

"We designed a house called "MIRAI NIHON" where technology and nature coexist with people and enable a 100% off-grid life. To make this happen, we collaborated with more than 20 companies to provide new technologies and inventions that bring the concept to life, and that have not yet been commercialized. Then we 'launched' the house as a product, making it available for sale."







www.tbwahakuhodo.co.jp/mirainihon/

MS MR



Download "Hurricane" for free at msmrsounds.com/ and the following is a 'mixtape' done by the band.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Faraging

Pineapple Island

"Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has reached a deal to buy 98 percent of the island of Lanai from its current owner, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday."

Oracle’s Ellison to Buy Most of Hawaiian Island, Governor Says - NYT

A man who knows what to do with his money.

Wolf in Wolf's Clothing

“I really liked the idea of an all-wheel-drive RSR for the street,” he says. “I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’ ”

Champion Motorsport Porsche 911 Turbo RSR - Car and Driver

The Eatery

"We found that for every hour of the day people eat worse," he says. "That's very actionable: if you decide between lunch at 12 or 2, at 2 you'll eat four percent worse."

App Shows Promise for Hacking Eating Behaviour - Technology Review

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Edifice complex

"We certainly weren't the first on this idea," Chanos tells me at his offices in April of 2011 about the biggest short position of his life: The People's Republic of China.

"There were empty cities, such as Ordos, and lonely malls, such as the New South China Mall. News reports showed new buildings toppling from shoddy construction. It was the latest chapter in China's history of credit-fueled booms and busts. China was "letting a thousand Dubais bloom," he quipped. "Go to Dubai and see what happened. It was... what I call the 'Edifice complex.'"

"Given the lack of transparency and inadequate, if nonexistent, corporate governance, it's hard to determine the enormity of the debt and the likelihood of its repayment.'

"The question, now, is how is China going to manage its way through it," he says. "The excesses that we saw a year and a half ago have only built up since then."

"Although one economist estimated that 64-million apartments are empty, "what we do know is that if you drive by all kinds of tier one, tier two, and tier three cities at night in developments that are completely sold out, most of the buildings are dark at night, so there are a lot of empty apartment buildings in China. We just don't know how many," says Chanos."

Hedge Fund Manager James Chanos on His Big Short Position in China - HuffPo

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just the facts

"Nobody uses the word lie anymore. Suddenly, everything is 'a difference of opinion.' If the entire House Republican caucus were to walk onto the floor one day and say 'The Earth is flat,' the headline on the New York Times the next day would read 'Democrats and Republicans Can’t Agree on Shape of Earth.' I don’t believe the truth always lies in the middle. I don’t believe there are two sides to every argument. I think the facts are the center. And watching the news abandon the facts in favor of 'fairness' is what’s troubling to me..."

-- Aaron Sorkin in New York Magazine Online's "Vulture" section

via Deus Ex Malcontent

Typhoon Tracker



Alma Flamenca

Living Without Money



Whilst I applaud the ideal, it is interesting that you can go to the website and BUY the DVD or simple donate MONEY to the cause.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Aftermath

"The election in Greece was THE story on Sunday. New Democracy received the largest percentage of the vote - around 30% - and they still need to form a coalition government. There is no way they can meet the terms of the memorandum - so even if a government is formed, this will blow up again without further concessions. Meanwhile the Greek economy is collapsing and the unemployment rate is at record levels."

Sunday Night: Asian Stocks and US Futures Up - Calculated Risk

"So what does this mean? In the very short term, it likely means Greece won’t be leaving the euro zone. New Democracy’s leader, Antonis Samaras, basically wants to abide by the terms of the country’s bailout agreement with the rest of Europe. Greece will continue to stick with its austerity program — spending cuts, tax hikes, paring back public-sector jobs. And in return, the “troika” (the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the IMF) will keep sending Greece billions of euros to run its day-to-day operations.

Sunday’s New Democracy win may mean that Greece remains in the euro zone for now. But unless someone can figure out how to put Greece on a more sustainable path — and most of the ideas for sustainability seem to involve “free money from Germany and other rich countries” — then a Greek exit from the euro is still a looming possibility down the road."

Greek elections: Status quo prevails, but crisis is far from over - Wonkblog

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Ethics of Debt

"The more bail-outs there are, the worse things will get. By bailing out Greece, policy-makers imposed larger losses on Spanish, French and other holders of Greek debt. By bailing out Spain, policy-makers will make Spanish bonds worth less with the consequence of imposing larger losses on Portuguese, Italian and French bondholders. At the same time the French and Italian governments are theoretically liable for a portion of the Spanish bail-out. That makes France and Italy less creditworthy in two ways – their banks are more bust and their sovereigns are more stretched. Now there is pressure to bail-out Italy in turn. How can the French and Germans not bail-out Italy if they've bailed out Spain? But by bailing out Italy they will increase the cost of any Italian default and thus make such a default more likely.

Not bailing out countries was never a threat to the euro. Most analysis, from the beginning, had this precisely the wrong way around."

The more eurozone bailouts there are, the worse it will get - Telegraph

Lance

"The odd thing is that with each succeeding battle against assorted doping agencies, federal investigators, judicial authorities, and former teammates who've "turned" and talked to the media, his stock retort of "vendetta" actually starts to sound less hollow. There is almost the weird effect of his gaining credibility, the longer this all goes on."

Lance Armstrong and USADA's doping charges - Matt Seaton

"Lance Armstrong is incredible. A flawed hero. A bastard. A scumbag. But what intensity! What an incredible fire rages inside that man. We will never know that determination. That pain. That will.

He has made the world a more fascinating place. God knows I have my issues with him. But I still love Lance The Racer."

LANCE ARMSTRONG - I STILL LOVE LANCE THE RACER - Vulpine.cc

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

"A side mirror that eliminates the dangerous “blind spot” for drivers has now received a U.S. patent.

It's not hard to make a curved mirror that gives a wider field of view – no blind spot – but at the cost of visual distortion and making objects appear smaller and farther away.

Hicks’s driver’s side mirror has a field of view of about 45 degrees, compared to 15 to 17 degrees of view in a flat driver’s side mirror. Unlike in simple curved mirrors that can squash the perceived shape of objects and make straight lines appear curved, in Hicks’s mirror the visual distortions of shapes and straight lines are barely detectable.

n the United States, regulations dictate that cars coming off of the assembly line must have a flat mirror on the driver’s side. Curved mirrors are allowed for cars’ passenger-side mirrors only if they include the phrase “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

Because of these regulations, Hicks’s mirrors will not be installed on new cars sold in the U.S. any time soon. The mirror may be manufactured and sold as an aftermarket product that drivers and mechanics can install on cars after purchase."

Driving without a Blind Spot May Be Closer Than It Appears - Drexel Now

Grexiting a Spailout

"Why do financial journalists make up words like “Spailout” and “Grexit?”

Because they are bored, miserable creatures."

The Absolute Moron’s Guide to the Euro Debt Crisis - Part I

The Absolute Moron’s Guide to the Euro Crisis — Part II

Captain Obvious

"SocGen's Albert Edwards notes the lesson from Japan was that:

...overly focusing on the banks as "the problem" is misguided and until or unless deeply deflationary policies are altered, the Spanish banks will be back for another bailout before too long."


SocGen's Albert Edwards On Spain: "A Bailout Will Solve Nothing" - ZH

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

747-400

"Ten-year-old passenger 747-400s are worth a record low $36 million, about 10 percent less than similar aged planes last year, according to Ascend Worldwide Ltd., amid high fuel costs and a cargo slump that has damped interest in converting aircraft into freighters. Forty-eight of the 404 humpbacked passenger 747-400s worldwide have also been placed in storage, according to the London-based aviation consultancy, as the once “Queen of the Skies” is shunned for 777s and Airbus SAS A380s.

The decline in prices contributed to Singapore Airlines Ltd. (SIA) having a surprise loss in the quarter ended March after the sale of the carrier’s last 747-400 raised less than it expected. Japan Airlines Co. has also stopped using the planes, and operators including Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293), Korean Air Lines Co. and Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) are following suit to help counter fuel prices that have jumped about 30 percent in two years.

The first four-engine 747-400 was delivered to Northwest Airlines in 1989. The standard version can fly as far as 7,260 nautical miles (13,450 kilometers), carrying 416 passengers in three classes, according to Boeing’s website. The Chicago-based planemaker delivered the last of 694 -400s in 2009. The original 747 was developed in the 1960s."

Boeing 747 Prices Tumble As Higher Fuel Costs End 23-Year Reign - Bloomberg

And regarding Southwest continued profitability whilst its competitors struggle.. it's all about keeping it simple. Unsurprisingly. Think Apple in comparison to Sony.

"While other airline fleets can employ 10 or more types of aircraft, Southwest uses just one, the Boeing 737.

“We only need to train our mechanics on one type of airplane. We only need extra parts inventory for that one type of airplane. If we have to swap a plane out at the last minute for maintenance, the fleet is totally interchangeable—all our on-board crews and ground crews are already familiar with it. And there are no challenges in how and where we can park our planes on the ground, since they’re all the same shape and size.”

Southwest also doesn’t assign seat numbers. Which means that if a plane is swapped out, and a new one’s brought in with a different seat configuration (even within the world of 737s, there can be some variations), there’s no need to adjust the entire seating arrangement and issue new boarding passes.

Most other airlines charge to check bags these days. Southwest has resisted the trend. Yes, this “bags fly free” policy is good marketing. But it also has operations benefits: “When you charge people to check bags they try to carry more on, sometimes more than can fit in the overhead bins,” says Wahlenmeier. “That results in more bags being checked at the gate, right before departure. And that wastes time.”

Hubs lead to backups, Southwest’s flights are generally point-to-point. The plane lands, goes through turnaround, and often heads right back where it came from.

The Southwest Secret - Slate

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nine point five years to go

"Nothing has been argued about more, or more vociferously, than child-rearing methods. As though such a thing existed. One might as well talk about wolf-watching methods. They do it to you, you don't do it to them.

The real truth about teenage or adolescent kids is simple though, and I will announce it here. The one thing that is written into the human genome is that exactly at the age of 13, your child - in a minute - and no matter how close or sympathetic the two of you have been before, will discover that you are now the most embarrassing, ridiculous and annoying person on the planet. This is a universal truth.

We are ridiculous because we actually think that our super-cool youth is still going on."

A Point of View: Embarrassing parents and the teenage truth - BBC

Spendy

"Tokyo advanced past the Angolan capital Luanda to become the world’s most expensive city for expatriates of 214 ranked by Mercer, while Moscow remains the most costly place to live in Europe." Bloomberg

Using Petrol to Put out a Fire.

"Call it what you like, but this is a bailout, the first (and only for banks), but most likely not the last for Spain," said Oliver Burrows of Rabobank Credit Research, who pointed to the amount of government debt held by Spanish banks. "We suspect that inevitably the Spanish government will have to seek its own bailout."

Hurried Spanish banking bailout fails to calm market nerves - Guardian

Monday, June 11, 2012

WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!



"The zipline has a vertical drop of almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) and a distance of almost 6,000 feet (1.8 kilometers). It was just finished on Sarangkot, near the city of Pokhara, Nepal."

Obey

Peak Fax

"Japanese still fax party invitations, bank documents and shopping orders. Business people call the fax a required communication tool, used for vital messages, often in place of e-mail. In the early hours of last year’s nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, operators informed the government of an emergency seawater injection by dialing up Tokyo and sending a fax.

Japan’s continued fax devotion may be an endearing quirk, what with the country’s reputation as a high-tech playland, all bright lights and flawless trains and chirping micro-devices. But it may also represent a deeper sign of the nation’s inability to change and to accommodate global standards, even as it cedes economic ground to Asian rivals such as China and South Korea."

In Japan, fax machines remain important because of language and culture - WSJ via MR

Manipulate to Accumulate

"How bad will things get?

The potential exists for a broad-based nationalization of the credit system, capital controls and dramatic restrictions on financial markets. Some might even be closed for some time.

We are witnessing the biggest financial-market manipulation of all time. The authorities have intervened more and more, and thereby created this monster. They might change the rules when the game goes against their own interests."

via The Reformed Broker and Barron's

New Frontiers



"In another era, anti-drilling activists would have been out at sea, stringing banners from Shell’s drilling rigs and swooping in their boats among the Shell vessels poised to steam out of Seattle toward the Arctic. But this is the age of new media, when a video is worth a thousand ships."

Via Oil Change

Amazonian



Maffs

"Seems like Spain is saved. It only took $150 billion.

Not $120 billion or $99 billion.

Countless Deloitte and Touche people have been locked down with Moody’s and Goldman people to figure out the number. Presto. Solved. Phew.

Math was easy to me until Calculus entered the curriculum. At that point everything started sounding made up. Same with investing. As soon as it starts sounding like Calculus…you are getting f@#ked.

Today, mood trumps math by a breathtaking margin in finance and markets."

Mood Over Math…How to Profit In a Connected World - Howard Linzon

Feel the same about MathS. It was in a lecture for Theoretical Mathematics, towards the end of the first year at University when it all rapidly became gobbledegook. Approximating functions with the Taylor Series is when it all went a tad awry.

"a Taylor series is a representation of a function as an infinite sum of terms that are calculated from the values of the function's derivatives at a single point. It is common practice to approximate a function by using a finite number of terms of its Taylor series. Taylor's theorem gives quantitative estimates on the error in this approximation."

Got that?

In the hands of a child

Via
"Sarrazin: When € is like many things: something that is meaningful in itself, can also be dangerous. The euro is like a knife in the hands of a child. Many did not understand what it means to have a common currency. The advantages of the euro, such as favorable interest rates have squandered almost all of the participating countries through a mistaken policy. The consequences can be seen now."

"In Spain we must be extremely careful" - Handelsblatt

Friday, June 08, 2012

Hollowing Out

"Japan is already uncompetitive in a range of products, from tumble-dryers to DVD players. But optimists argue that it is carving out niches in higher-tech materials, chemicals and components that are then assembled into consumer goods elsewhere. In other words, it is moving up the value chain just as it has always been advised to do. After so many years of trade surpluses, it is disconcerting to lurch into deficit as exports slow and imports—especially of energy—surge. But one reason the yen remains strong is that the current account remains healthily in surplus. That is thanks in large part to flows of income from investments overseas. Hollowing out—shipping jobs overseas, and sending profits home—does have its compensations."

The hollow men - Banyan

How mosquitos fly in the rain



First bite of the year last night.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Roads to survival

"So you’d like to save the euro zone from total annihilation, would you? Then it might be worth taking a stroll through this new report (pdf) from the analysts at ING, who outline six possible endgames for the euro zone.

ING takes us through six scenarios, options ranging from “Austeria” (austerity!) to “Krugmania” (this is, we can only assume, Paul Krugman’s dream scenario). Here’s the graph, with an explanation for each scenario below:


Austeria: Europe sticks to its fiscal targets, with every country trying to get its debt-to-GDP ratio down to 60 percent. Countries like Spain and Italy focus on “labor market reforms” — for instance, making it easier to fire workers. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the current course. And as seen in the graph above, ING’s not too sanguine about the ability of this strategy to work. Growth suffers miserably and countries like Greece could start defaulting.

Draghia: In this scenario, the central bank starts boosting the economy with interest-rate cuts and quantitative easing — a move that, ING suggests, could plausibly boost Europe’s growth by as much as 0.25 percentage points per year. Meanwhile, Europe moves forward with some sort of “banking union” where deposits are guaranteed by the entire zone and banks are supervised more thoroughly. The hope is that this would stop the bank runs that are plaguing countries like Spain and Greece.
The trouble with this option? There’d still be austerity, which means, ING notes, that “doubts about fiscal sustainability of the periphery, while less intense than in Austeria, would linger.” On the plus side, German officials have sounded receptive to elements of this approach.

Bondia: In this option, Europe moves toward some sort of common “eurobond,” so that rather than having each country borrow individually, all the countries pool their resources to borrow money together. This would ease pressure on the troubled countries. On the other hand, ING notes, this option would make further central-bank action unlikely, so the growth impact might be “relatively modest.”

Europhilia: This option could potentially be combined with Draghia and Bondia. Once the euro zone has a “banking union” and common bonds, the next step is to move to fiscal transfers. Basically, core countries like France and Germany would send money to struggling periphery countries like Portugal and Spain, paid for by borrowing. ING estimates that if the core countries provide a stimulus worth 1 percent of their GDP to the rest of Europe, that would boost growth in the periphery by 1 to 2 percentage points.
ING seems to be sanguine about this approach. “It would be seen as more sustainable than a mere funding union, and focus the markets’ attention on the fiscal and economic health of the Eurozone as a whole.” Of course, a lot depends on whether countries like Germany and France actually want to send that much money to countries like Spain and Italy.

Inflationia: This is a more radical version of Draghia, which involves the European Central Bank engaging in very aggressive monetary easing and boosting inflation. This approach could help periphery countries like Spain inflate their debts away. The euro would be devalued significantly, making Europe’s exports more competitive and boosting growth. That could solve a lot of problems.
On the other hand, ING says, there are some risks in this approach. Since core countries would be more likely to take advantage of the drop in the euro by boosting exports, this approach “could raise the risk of increasing intra-Eurozone imbalances.” Also, if the euro plummets too far, there’s the possibility that other countries could retaliate with protectionism measures.*

Krugmania: This scenario is a mix of lots of fiscal stimulus — focused on public investment — along with a more tolerant attitude by the central bank toward inflation, as well as a commitment by Europe to rein in its debts over the longer term. The drawback, ING notes, is that there’s “little sign of acceptance” of this scenario.

All told, the report suggests, these options run from politically plausible but ineffective (i.e., Austeria) to effective but politically unrealistic (i.e., Krugmania). “Roads to survival do exist,” ING notes. Whether Europe actually takes any of those roads, however, is really up to the policymakers in charge."

From Krugmania to Draghia: Five ways to save the euro zone - Wonkblog

It's a Gas



"14-16 years of petroleum supply demand growth has vanished." - Mish

Gasoline is of course widely used as a fuel source for internal combustion engines, such as those found in cars, boats, and heavy and light equipment. In addition, gasoline was also widely sold as a grease remover, due to its solvent properties. Gasoline is also commonly used in kitchen appliances and even for gas-driven lamps.

Petroleum is not typically used in its raw form and is instead brought to an oil refinery where it is processed into any one of many different products. Depending on the desired end product, a number of other substances and chemicals may be added to the petroleum as well. Among the products made from petroleum are liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, methane, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and of course gasoline.

Gasoline vs. Petroleum - recomparison.com

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dinner

Britain's Gastronomic Horrors

"Shite Food was started as an antidote to the middle class ‘food porn’ programmes on television. Tired of seeing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nigella Lawson spunk the average persons food budget for the week on one meal, I thought it was time for a dose of reality. Britain’s cuisine has supposedly improved immeasurably since the 70′s but, lurking behind the ‘Finest’ and ‘Taste the Difference’ ranges in our supermarkets are some true culinary horrors. We want to highlight the supermarkets who market poor quality, nutritionally dubious, crappy food to those on low incomes to make a quick quid.

With my rant out of the way, I have to say that I’m fascinated and intrigued by the worst the supermarkets have to offer. As a food lover, I want to experience as many taste sensations as possible. From frozen Donner Kebabs to fusion food like Chicken Tikka Lasagne, to microwaveable Chips in curry sauce, Shite Food aims to bring you the food reviews you just don’t get from AA Gill or The Observer’s colour supplement, for your reading pleasure."

Vibram


I have them. I likey. Injinji socks are great too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Amazon Effect

"Bezos understood two things. One was the way the Internet made it possible to banish geography, enabling anyone with an Internet connection and a computer to browse a seemingly limitless universe of goods with a precision never previously known and then buy them directly from the comfort of their homes. The second was how the Internet allowed merchants to gather vast amounts of personal information on individual customers.

The Internet permitted a kind of bespoke selling. James Marcus, who was hired by Bezos in 1996 and would work at Amazon for five years, later published a revealing memoir of his time as Employee #55. He recalls Bezos insisting that the Internet, with “its bottomless capacity for data collection,” would “allow you to sort through entire populations with a fine-tooth comb. Affinity would call out to affinity: your likes and dislikes—from Beethoven to barbecue sauce, shampoo to shoe polish to Laverne & Shirley—were as distinctive as your DNA, and would make it a snap to match you up with your 9,999 cousins.” This prospect, Marcus felt, “was either a utopian daydream or a targeted-marketing nightmare.”"

The Amazon Effect - The Nation

Interesting throughout.

When does the e-book business have a rental option? Will it be a game-changer?

The 'targeted-marketing' or bespoke selling possible from data collection reinforces that web-advertising is over rated.

Once Upon A Time...

"A few days ago the Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, had the audacity to suggest that instead of resisting the neo-liberal austerity measures prescribed by her organization, in agreement with the EU and the European Central Bank, Greek citizens should focus on paying their taxes. Lagarde did not stop there. She later went on to add that she had more sympathy for ‘little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education’ than for the tax-avoiding Greeks.

Lagarde has resorted to the most insulting national stereotypes to dismiss the authentic suffering of the Greek people. Perhaps in her surreal world full of pink unicorns and fairies where everything – well, everything but Niger’s little kids— is perfect, the austerity measures imposed upon the Greeks are nothing but a blessing. Perhaps Lagarde believes that a nation that in her twisted understanding of the Euro crisis failed to control its budget and debts deserves to be punished. Who knows, perhaps she actually thinks that Greeks never paid taxes and that even now they don’t.

The reality, the harsh reality away from Lagarde’s fairy tales, is that taxes in Greece have increased tenfold over the past two years. And this has been accompanied by an evisceration of state services. At the moment even having access to basic prescription drugs is difficult — a situation that is likely to get worse in coming months since Greece has not been able to make payments to some major medical companies that supply the country’s drugs for the past 14 months. At the same time, electricity, water, and VAT bills have gone up significantly, while income tax has rocketed.

As for her concern about Niger’s children — Maybe she could listen to her own advice to the Greeks about paying their taxes? After all, she has a tax-free salary of 298,926 pounds a year. Maybe that would not solve much, but it would at least allow her to lead by example. I am no economist, but I guess that a figure of at least 30,000 pounds a year could well sort out the education of a few of those kids in Niger, who she always has ‘in her mind’."

Christine Lagarde’s fairytale world - The Independent

Don’t Eat Fortune’s Cookie

"When I handed it in I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: to write senior theses. Or, to put it differently: to write books.

Then I went to my thesis defense. It was just a few yards from here, in McCormick Hall. I listened and waited for Professor Childs to say how well written my thesis was. He didn’t. And so after about 45 minutes I finally said, “So. What did you think of the writing?”

“Put it this way” he said. “Never try to make a living at it.”

Now I had something to write about: Salomon Brothers. Wall Street had become so unhinged that it was paying recent Princeton graduates who knew nothing about money small fortunes to pretend to be experts about money. I’d stumbled into my next senior thesis.

I called up my father. I told him I was going to quit this job that now promised me millions of dollars to write a book for an advance of 40 grand. There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “You might just want to think about that,” he said.

“Why?”

“Stay at Salomon Brothers 10 years, make your fortune, and then write your books,” he said.

I didn’t need to think about it. I knew what intellectual passion felt like — because I’d felt it here, at Princeton — and I wanted to feel it again. I was 26 years old. Had I waited until I was 36, I would never have done it. I would have forgotten the feeling.

My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either."

Michael Lewis — Don’t Eat Fortune’s Cookie

I can has propelluz?


"Bart Jansen had his cat Orville (after the Wright brother) taxidermied and turned into a flying quadrocopter after it was hit by a car."

Weirdo Turns His Taxidermied Cat Into A Quadrocopter - Geekologie

Monday, June 04, 2012

Time may not heal it

"These Very Serious People present economics as a morality play, in which debt is a sin, and we have all sinned, so now we must all pay the price by tightening our belts together. They tell us the crisis will take a long time to resolve, and must inevitably be painful. All of this, according to Krugman, is the opposite of the truth. Austerity is a self-imposed collective punishment that is not just unnecessary, but won't work. We know what would work – but for complex political and historical reasons that his book explores, we have chosen to forget. "Ending this depression," he writes, "should be, could be, almost incredibly easy. So why aren't we doing it?"

Krugman offers the example of a babysitting co-op, or circle, in which parents are issued with vouchers they can exchange for babysitting hours. If all of the parents simultaneously decide to save their vouchers, the system will grind to a halt. "My spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If both of us try to slash our spending at the same time, then we are also slashing our incomes, so we don't actually end up saving more." We could issue more vouchers to everyone, to make them feel "richer" and encourage them to spend – which would be the circle's equivalent of quantitative easing. But if everyone is determined to save, the parents will hold on to the extra vouchers, and the circle still won't work. This is what's called a liquidity trap, "and it's essentially where we are now".

The same principles apply to the "paradox of deleverage". Debt in itself is not a terrible thing, he says. "Debt is one person's liability, but another person's asset. So it doesn't impoverish us necessarily. The real danger with debt is what happens if lots of people decide, or are forced, to pay it off at the same time. High debt levels make us vulnerable to a crisis – and this is when you get the self-destructive spiral of debt deflation. If both of us are trying to pay down our debt at the same time, we end up with lower incomes, so the ratio of our debt to our income goes up."

Crucially, Krugman continues, "what's true for an individual is not true for society as a whole". The analogy between a household budget and a national economy is "seductive, because it's very easy for people to relate to", and it makes some sense when we're not in the grip of a macro-economic crisis. "But when we are, then individually rational behaviour adds up to a collectively disastrous result. It ends up that each individual trying to improve his or her position has the collective effect of making everybody worse off. And that's the story of our times.""

Paul Krugman: 'I'm sick of being Cassandra. I'd like to win for once' - Guardian

I think he might be onto something, but IMHO we have to reduce the debt burden and the problem is that the desire to do that in 'good' times is insignificant.

Friday, June 01, 2012

SODA IS SHIT

"The second New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's plan to ban large sodas was announced, you knew that people would use it to declare that America has become a Commu-fascist labor prison. The Atlantic called it classist. Comedy Central's political blog (they have one!) called it ridiculous. Forbes called Bloomberg a Republican Socialist. And Bernie Goldberg basically declared that the ban was a gateway law that will one day lead to the government stealing your kids in the middle of the night and harvest their organs to give to illegal immigrants.

In this country, you are FREE to vote for a little nannying if you like. Now go buy a cold can of Dr. Pepper and jam it up your butt."

Quit Complaining About Mayor Bloomberg’s Soda Ban, Fatsos - Gawker