Michael Hanson, Alex Nelson and Andrew Bates
The Big Picture

40 Things That Mattered This Week - 11/11/11

By, 11/14/2011

This week, a beefed-up version of our Internet tour, taking you from, well, beef to Cuba, Cuba to China and on to Thailand. After a brief stop-over in oil-rich North Dakota, it’s on to Mars. Then an inward turn delving deep into the human psyche in an effort to better understand ourselves. And finally, it’s on to scientists looking to replicate what humans seemingly don’t fully understand—the brain.
 

  1. One day, there will be an awesome Tom Clancy book about this. China Singled Out for Cyberspying.
  2. A lesson: If you don’t create free markets, folks just end up making black markets to do the things they want to do. Cuba Legalizes Sale of Private Property.
  3. New ECB President Draghi is out to make a statement early on. Central Bank Weighs in With Surprise Cut.
  4. “So why isn't Mrs. Merkel rushing forward to grab Europe's crown? The answer, of course, is history. Germans have learned two things in the last century: When they went it alone, as in two world wars, they failed miserably, and worse each time. When they shifted into pussy cat mode and chose alliance and community with the West, they flourished.” Why Germany Is Leading From Behind.
  5. Could Greece abruptly leave the euro? Sure. But an Exit Would be Mess for Athens.
  6. “North Dakota's output has grown in the last three years from a trickle to nearly 450,000 barrels a day—trailing only Texas, Alaska and California—and could double by the middle of the decade.” Riding the North Dakota Oil Boom.
  7. Auto sales are booming, defying pundits and bolstering the economy. October US Car Sales Climbed 7.5%.
  8. Just in case there was any doubt, the White House turned down a petition to legalize and regulate marijuana "in a matter similar to alcohol." Sorry, Cheech. Marijuana Petition Gets Thumbs Down.
  9. Still a minor issue (from a capital markets perspective), this one bears watching as Middle East tensions go on. UN Group Votes in Palestinian Authority.
  10. How Economists in Europe Define a Recession: “A rule of thumb, particularly in Europe, defines recession as two straight quarters of declines in gross domestic product. It usually takes a few more weeks for Europe's statistics agency to compile GDP figures than its US counterparts.”
  11. “It's tough to be an entrepreneur anywhere, but India presents special obstacles—byzantine bureaucracy, moldering roads and power grids, cultural pressures that penalize risk-taking, and corruption.” Bribes, Bureaucracy Hobble India’s New Entrepreneurs
  12. Oh good. Debit-Fee Retreat Complete.
  13. Manufacturing is far from dead, as many would have us believe. Factories Slow Pace But Orders Rise.
  14. Submerged Thailand Losing Out to Peers. “The deepening economic problems caused by Thailand's floods are raising fears the country could further lose ground against its regional peers after years of disappointing growth.”
  15. Whaaat? Really? But we thought China was so much better than the US? Many Rich Chinese Consider Leaving.
  16. Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking was a deeply imagined meditation on grieving and loss. Her new book promises more of the same: A Mother’s Love and Laments.
  17. Did we say Tom Clancy earlier? Make that James Bond. The Terrorist Threat Beneath the Waves
  18. Signs of rising standards of living globally: Meat Prices Continue Their Bull Run.
  19. For those terrified the yuan will overtake the dollar: US Firms Pose Hurdle for Yuan.
  20. “Drug makers are mounting a legal campaign to overturn longstanding US regulations prohibiting them from pitching medicines for uses not listed on the bottle.” The Free Speech Pill.
  21. Amazon continues to revolutionize print. Amazon, Now a Book Lender.
  22. If you could, would you? Cell Study Finds a Way to Slow Ravages of Age.
  23. “As long as our reach in one faculty exceeds our grasp in another, the sublime—whether in its heights or in its depths—will always be with us.” In Pursuit of the Sublime.
  24. Wanted: Worldly Philosophers. “If economists want to help create a better world, they first have to ask, and try to answer, the hard questions that can shape a new vision of capitalism’s potential.”
  25. "If you let a creature develop in a world with laws that themselves have been through some interesting selection process, then that creature will be different from one in a world with different institutions." Basic Human Nature: Can It Be Changed?
  26. Art and evolution? How Artistry Evolved.
  27. There are few things more fascinating than the music business in its heyday. The Man Behind the Music.
  28. Holy macaroni: “40% of investors in their 20s agreed with the statement: ‘I will never feel comfortable investing in the stock market.’ Folks with long time horizons should be getting the most out of their investments and can weather the volatility. The Young and the Riskless.
  29. On the vagaries, obfuscations and perversities of how unemployment is calculated: Aging Population Eases Jobless Rate.
  30. “It was his conceit that if you couldn't write, you couldn't think; and that if you couldn't think, you were unlikely to prosper in his friendship.” Buckley, If Not God, Returns to Yale
  31. The Once and Future Way to Run: “The body must be balanced on the ball of the foot, the heels being clear of the ground and the head and body being tilted very slightly forward. . . . Now, spring from the toe, bringing the knee to the level of the hip. . . . Repeat with the other leg and continue raising and lowering the legs alternately. This action is exactly that of running.” And: “Whatever your conscious fan loyalties, your brain couldn't help playing both sides, all roles. What your eyes see, your brain plays — as best it can, which is, of course, as variable as our actual playing and living.” This Is Your Brain on Sports.
  32. Look, we’re not saying all market pundits are like this, but…Quack Prophet.
  33. “Like generosity and pettiness, like love and suspiciousness, responsibility is what he calls a ‘strongly emergent’ property — a property that, though derived from biological mechanisms, is fundamentally distinct and obeys different laws, as do ice and water.” Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony.
  34. May we suggest further debt haircuts and a stiff swig of ouzo? Greece’s Financial Crisis Takes Toll on Nation’s Health.
  35. “Over the past half-century, in fact, the wages of the middle class have captured a remarkably consistent share of gross domestic product. And the most important fact that eludes protesters and progressives is that the poorest 5 percent of Americans are still richer than nearly 70 percent of the world—with a lot more opportunity to change that situation.” You Want More Equality? Support More Capitalism.
  36. No QE3 yet. FOMC: Continue with "Operation Twist," Growth Moderate.
  37. Say What? In 30-Year Race, Bonds Beat Stocks. Yep, in an exceedingly rare occurrence, bonds outpaced stocks. But to the question: What happens next? Overwhelmingly, stocks rebound hard.
  38. Did they at least get to take any comic books with them? Space Crew Returns After 'Mars' Mission to Nowhere.
  39. Think of the implications for investing and the so-called “herd mentality.” Fixed Action Patterns and Their Human Manifestations.
  40. Just. So. Cool. Scientists Create Brain-Like, Massively Parallel Computer from Molecules.

 

 

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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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