Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

Dr. Roget’s autobiography

Peter Mark Roget began compiling world list at the age of eight. Estranged from other children, Dr. Roget found great comfort in solitude compiling word list and associations.  Ironically that what helped Dr Roget avoid emotion became the tool of others struggling to express it. Essayist, Lesely Chamberlain, argues that Dr. Roget’s magnum opus isn’t the bible of objectivity, but rather one that is quite autobiographical in form.

See for instance, the record number of paragraphs of sub-lists under the heading “Disorder.” Roget was a Freudian case half a century before Freud, and one might deconstruct his real magnum opus as a secret autobiography, to be matched alongside the recorded life.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

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27
Nov
08

So what if…

27
Nov
08

Paradox of thrift

Barely a year ago cash was considered dangerous to accumulate: investors urging board members for returns in dividends or reinvestment. We have thus seen a reversal of public opinion in recent months as companies are off in a mad scramble for any available operating cash.

No longer. For many big American companies, the day of reckoning came two months ago when the deepening financial crisis brought about the abrupt closure of the overnight commercial-paper market. This briefly sent even the most solid companies into a desperate scramble to find money to meet such basic obligations as paying their staff. Since then, the guiding principle for managers everywhere has been to gather up whatever cash they can find, and then do their damnedest to keep as much of it as possible for as long as possible.

This cash squeeze is a huge problem for the world economy, because as firms cut discretionary spending wherever they can, the result is likely to be a corporate version of what John Maynard Keynes called the “paradox of thrift”. Every firm does what is prudent for itself, but by cutting its spending it slows down the economy still further and thus hurts everybody, including itself. This will only reinforce the need for expansionary monetary and fiscal policy (see article) to boost demand; and also for more direct support in credit markets, such as the Federal Reserve’s prop for the commercial-paper market (already tapped by some large American firms).

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Read the article in its entirety via Economist.

25
Nov
08

Campus Peter Three-Transitions

25
Nov
08

Ancestors Go Green

In Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a sun-bleached working class town outside Barcelona, residents have placed 462 solar panels atop mausoleums. This creates enough power for roughly 60 homes annually.

“The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors, whatever your religion may be, is to generate clean energy for new generations. That is our leitmotif,” said Esteve Serret, director Conste-Live Energy.

The cemetery hold the remains of about 57,000 people and the solar panels cover less than 5 percent of the total surface area. They cost 720,000 euros ($900,000) to install and each year will keep about 62 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Serret said.

Read the entire artlicle here.

23
Nov
08

The Buccaneer Stops Here

Headlines (hat tip Justin):
*SOMALI PIRATES APPLY TO BECOME BANK TO ACCESS TARP
*PAULSON: TARP PIRATE EQUITY IS AN `INVESTMENT,’ WILL PAY OFF
*KASHKARI SAYS `SOMALI PIRATES ARE ‘FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND’ ‘
*Moody’s upgrade Somali Pirates to AAA
*HUD SAYS SOMALI DHOW FORECLOSURE PROGRAM HAD `VERY LOW’ PARTICIPATION
*SOMALI PIRATES IN DISCUSSION TO ACQUIRE CITIBANK
*FED OFFICIALS: AGGRESSIVE EASING WOULD CUT SOMALI PIRATE RISK
*FED AGREED OCT. 29 TO TAKE `WHATEVER STEPS’ NEEDED FOR SOMALI PIRATES

Our romantic vision of pirates, and I’m not talking Jonny Depp here, seems to make great humor amongst news pundits.

Watch the Daily Show clip, via Calculated Risk.

22
Nov
08

Wealth Report

It’s nice to see that even in these tough economic times even the upper-crust playboys are having to scale back their activities.

According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons.

It makes me wonder if I’m doing enough in curtailing my unnecessary expenditures?

Women were far more generous to their paramours in the face of financial crises. Less than 20% planned to lower allowances, gifts and perks, while more than half planned to raise them.

The survey doesn’t mean to suggest that all, most or even a large minority of rich men and women have affairs. It simply is a snapshot of a certain sample at a certain time. Yet it suggests that in a time of financial crisis, it is better to be a kept man than a compensated woman.

Read the entire report via WSJ.




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