Michael Hanson, Alex Nelson and Andrew Bates
Reality Check

34 Things That Mattered This Week, 10/3/11

By, 10/05/2011

In this week’s installment: 34 articles that struck us as particularly interesting, from finance and the eurozone to faster-than-light particles, with a brief stop to explore the state of boxing.

  1. Facebook’s ecosystem of “apps” appears to have created somewhere between 182,000 and 235,644 new jobs in the American economy this year—without costing the government a cent in wasteful subsidies. The Jobs (and the Intellectuals) of the Future Begin to Appear.
  2. Theatre of the mind? Philosophers and neuroscientists have said it doesn’t exist. Now, maybe it does. But that still doesn’t mean we can understand Teenage Brains.
  3. One of the true wonders of modern logistics and fulfillment, Inside Amazon's Warehouse.
  4. Racism? Sexism? Exploitation? Try the fashion industry. The Skin Trade.
  5. Benoit Mandelbrot lives! The Fractal Character of the Current Bank Run.
  6. Imagine trying to play a game of chess, but one where each individual piece had its own personality, motivations and desires about how you tried to move it. Now, imagine the whole world as a chessboard. That’s Why Economics Is Not a Real Science, instead ranking nobly among the humanities.
  7. Remember when it was the sweet science? Whatever happened to boxing anyway? The Ghost Sport.
  8. Near East, Far East, and many places in between, nations are sparring over energy assets. India Faces Standoff With China on Sea Oil.
  9. “High-frequency traders, it turns out, actually dampen volatility, while lowering trading costs to investors.” Who’s Afraid of Fast Speed Traders?
  10. Take it from a business school: “UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, which is part of a vaunted public university system statewide, wants to forgo state funding and be free to behave more like a private institution.” UCLA’s Plan to Take its B-School Private.
  11. Railroads: Cartel or Free Market Success Story? Well, pretty obviously success story—rails don’t have any great price control as a truly anti-competitive situation would. Anyway, the industry is a shade of its former self in terms of market capitalization relative to the overall stock market.
  12. “When it comes to stimulus, the unseen costs are often greater than the visible benefits.” Stimulus Slows Our Economy.
  13. Greater fairness? Flat tax mania! Flat Is the New Fair.
  14. James Altucher says: “So that you owe the banks money for 30 years or more. The banks need to borrow from your checking account at 0.5% to be able to lend right back to you at 8%. That’s how they make money and it’s one of the largest industries in the world.” The Ten Commandments of the American Religion.
  15. As epic as Sith versus Jedi, Joker versus the Batman, Lex Luthor versus Superman, Keynes, Hayek Preside at Washington Jobs Debate.
  16. “As the economic data continue to improve, investors will soon realize how attractively priced stocks are at current levels—especially compared with assets like 10-year Treasury bonds, which carried record-low yields of less than 1.7% last week.” Why Stocks Are Safer Than Uncle Sam.
  17. “Every single job an entrepreneur creates requires an investment. And at its core, investing requires confidence that despite the risks, despite the hard work that will certainly ensue, the basic rules of the game are clear and stable.” Charles Schwab says, “Every Job Requires an Entrepreneur.
  18. Explaining the Dissent on the FOMC Vote for Operation Twist:

            “’Theory is when you understand everything, but nothing works.

             ‘Practice is when everything works, but nobody understands why.

             ’At this station, theory and practice are united, so nothing works and nobody understands why.’”

  1. Carlos Slim on taxes, investment and much else.
  2. “Before the modern era, however, the federal tax system was manifestly unfair by any reasonable standard, grossly biased in favor of the well off. Ironically, attempting to fix that unfairness is what has brought us to the present moment, with a federal tax system that is grotesquely complex, often arbitrary, and corrupted by mutual back-scratching between members of Congress and influential lobbyists.” A Short History of the Income Tax.
  3. If you want to understand much about the difficulty in the mere transmission of experience, ideas and emotions, check out the latest translation of the Iliad.
  4. The EFSF (bailout facility for the eurozone) cleared its toughest hurdle as Germany's parliament approved legislation to increase its lending capacity to €440 billion ($596 billion) from around €250 billion and to make the fund more flexible. German Vote Bolsters Rescue.
  5. More perverse and unintended consequences of taxes! Benefits Tax Hits Businesses Twice.
  6. Reward failure? This isn’t kindergarten. Still, Better Ideas Through Failure is a hallmark of adaptation and progress.
  7. More onerous regulation on banks will likely only curtail activity. New Capital Rules Likely for Banks.
  8. One wonders: Will Mr. Buffett be willing to pay higher taxes on his increased investment in his own company? Buffett Spots Fresh Bargain: Shares in His Own Company.
  9. And, will wonders never cease: Congress managed to evade another fiscal deadline without too much hyperbole or fanfare. Stopgap Fix Ends Budget Impasse.
  10. Putin Return Complicates US Policy. It’s just not a great thing to be high profile in Russia and antagonistic to its leadership. Russia Ousts Finance Chief.
  11. A tentative sign of confidence, as yields remain mostly benign despite this news: European Bank Cuts Purchases of Bonds.
  12. Faster than the speed of light? Speedy Particles Put Einstein to the Test.
  13. “The Chicago school ought to be roaring back today on another of its great contributions, ‘rational expectations,’ which does so much to illuminate why government policy is failing to stimulate the economy back to life.” Chicago Economics on Trial.
  14. “Human progress waxes and wanes according to how much people connect and exchange.” From Phoenicia to Hayek to the ‘Cloud.’
  15. The melancholy Red Sox? The pitiable Tony Romo? A Tradition of Choking Under Pressure in Sports.
  16. Do we really have to make everything evolutionary? The Neuroscience of Beauty.

 

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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.

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