Archive for the 'Economics' Category



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.

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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.

02
Nov
08

The Medici Meltdown

The 15th century Medici banking collapse may seem more relevant in today’s financial meltdown, opposed to the 1929 collapse. Many journalist have the idea that capitalism has no historical roots–but Harvard historian, Raymond De Roover, knows better, as his paper, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank (1397-1494), highlights how modern capitalism, based on private ownership, was invented by Italian merchants and bankers. At the height of the Florentine banking empire it was the largest in Europe with branches in Geneva, Avignon, Bruges, and London as well as in Rome, Naples, Venice and Milan. As troubles at home found their way on the Medici’s doorstep, we begin to see irregularities and rash uncoordinated lending throughout European banks.  Sound familiar?

The fear of being annihilated by foreign powers, combined with the lack of transparency, allowed the ruler of the Republic to turn it into an effective tyranny. With the declared purpose of defending Florentine freedom and its way of life, Lorenzo raised taxes for the war and embezzled banking funds with the result (does this sound familiar, anyone?) of creating a huge credit crunch.

The enlightened policies of public artistic patronage like those of Cosimo and Lorenzo were a magnificent facade for their political success and survival–and ultimately for their financial failure.

Read the entire article here.

23
Oct
08

The Icelandic meltdown and dilettantism of finacial markets

So how can we calculate the absolute risk aversion in the Icelandic banking industry?—As the curvature of u(c) increases, so does one’s aversion to risk..Outside of those parameters I’m lost.

r_u(c)=-\frac{u''(c)}{u'(c)}

It’s funny because if you don’t study history you get the great opportunity of repeating it..1,000 years ago Icelanders left Scandinavia in search of freedom and a better life far away from Medieval feudal establishment. Combine this cultural risk-seeking behavior with a desire to be modern, and a neo-culture of inflation and debt, and we begin to see the very underpinnings of a financial meltdown.

The people are industrious and dynamic, and they have a tendency to take on tasks that are beyond them. The current prime minister used to be the foreign minister and he also happened to be the minister of finance – at the time when the head of the central bank, who also did a stint as foreign minster, was the prime minister, and the current finance minister was serving office as minister of fisheries.

Now things are almost back to the way they were in the 80s: the inflation rate is almost double-digit; the state controls the banks and rations currency exchange. All we need now is to re-introduce the beer-ban, and it will look as if the Icelanders want to start the process of globalisation all over again.

Read the entire article via Financial Times Deutschland.

12
Oct
08

Economics of Ethnic Dining

Tyler presents his guide on ethnic dining and covers everything from how to identify quality raw ingredients, to understanding the competitive market scope of a developed culinary environment. Something to keep in mind while patronizing neighborhood restaurants.

The best ethnic restaurants are often found in suburban strip malls, where rents are lower and the degree of feasible experimentation is greater. Small and cheap ethnic restaurants are often better than large ones.

Let’s jump ahead to rule three:

Rule 3: Order strategically. In fancy restaurants, never ask, “What should I get?” Instead, ask, “What’s best?” That allows the waiter to highlight what’s special and reveals how informed the staff is. If the waiter’s answer is “everything” — an uninformed or cowardly response — head for the door. In ethnic restaurants, in contrast, asking what’s best often gets you the most watered-down dishes, designed for gringos. Look at what teh ethnic diners are eating and order that.

Click to read Tyler’s write-up. Also, his ethnic dining guide.

04
Oct
08

The Panic of 1873

A more apt comparison to the current economic crisis, rather than the Depression of 1929. Easy credit financed a real estate boom in Europe, combined with cheap American food imports undermined global prices, ultimately sparking a mortgage crisis. Banks begin to horde money, short-term loans dried up, and day-to-day operations came to a screeching halt.

Scott Reynolds Nelson is a professor of history at the College of William and Mary. His article is here.

24
Sep
08

The bicycle solution

Rising gas prices, increasing environmental concern, and a seemingly obese nation have all contributed to increases in demand for our more humble modus operandi, the bicycle. Unlike most industries bicycle manufacturing has to an effect zero barriers of entry, and as a result maintains one of the most competitive and innovative market environments. Read the article, via Economist.

Bicycle and car production grew pretty much in tandem in the two decades beginning in 1950. But since 1970 bike production has nearly quadrupled while car production has roughly doubled.




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