Friday, January 29, 2010

Big Ben redux

Moral: Wherein we consider that our use of Big Ben (does have some appeal: sits proudly in the skyline, wakes up now and then and bongs, towers over its architectural mates, etc.) might be too casual since it is used in reference to someone whose chief role is to keep our beans safe, provide stability, and keep bankers in control.

---

So, after a congratulatory nod, let's look to the future.

We may begin, shortly, with another moniker for Mr Bernanke who has an important role to play (actually several roles). Poor guy, as his task may be impossible, from the getgo, due to issues of fiat currency.

Let us ask? From whence comes Ben's wisdom? To what direction does he turn for guidance? Theory? These are important questions as he deals with an entity that is inherently dismal.

Ben was confirmed yesterday for his second term. Perhaps, now that he's not following another (Lord Alan), doesn't have to worry about the next time (not for a few years), is independent, and continues to want to do a good job, he'll raise the rates and listen to the little people.

Even though the Fed Reserve was set up for the bankers (fat cats, by definition?), this might be a chance for Ben to set history straight.

We are starting a new series, soon, that will look at the Fed, its place in history, bankers (can we ever get away from them?), the current situation, how we got here. We'll look at the Fed's actions over the past few years, and much more.

Thanks to Congress, we can use Ben's newly obtained position, again he did it on his own, for an analysis that is essential.

At DAVOS, it is said that sustainability is a key idea.
  • How about some attention to 'sustainability' notions for finance (meaning, keeping our beans safe)? Seems to me that the mental gymnastics needed for a 'greenish' view can lead quite readily to dropping the 'ergodic' myth behind the efficient market mania that perpetrated the current messes (ca-pital-sino, indeed). We always have real problems to resolve, yet we've allowed a couple of generations of the best-and-brightest to essentially run us off the cliff through 'un-managed' gaming.
We'll look at asset classes thoroughly, in a new light. We agree with Volcker's assertion that banking needs to be split into the utility (piggy bank) and investment (sandbox). But, we disagree with the view that risk being rewarded is the prime concern for Ben and any of us dealing with beans, not without some qualification.

Would you have wanted your mother to risk your butt (unnecessarily) when she was carrying you? Oh, that doesn't apply? We'll go into this thoroughly (philosophy of economics).

We can apply insights from Minsky (Oops and truth) and, perhaps, quantify a spectrum that is usable. In this regard Ben needs to educate himself on the need for savers to know that they will have when they need it. That is, 'risk adverse' is not stupid; the analog here is innumeracy which, again, supposedly is stupid (well, we intend to show otherwise: the numerants have muddied the waters and pilfered the till).

Okay, savers got sacked by Big Ben, continue to get sacked, and are considered unessential. That is a basic economic error, folks. We'll show this. As, risk can be managed only so far, then it needs to be avoided; so, gaming has to be cordoned off into its own sandbox. What will this look like?

My hope is that Ben's re-up vote will motivate him to lead a re-educating process in regard to things economic. Actually, jawboning about these issues is one of his roles.

Remarks:

03/23/2012 -- Ben is doing a series of four lectures on his, and the FED's, role.

01/27/2012 -- Ben will continue to sack the savers; he must love the ca-pital-sino.

01/19/2011 -- For the most, things are dire, not by necessity.

09/02/2010-- The FED just had their hoe-down.

05/14/2010 -- Oh yes, smartest guys in the economy. Thanks, big guy.

03/20/2010 -- Big Ben says that bailing out the big banks was (or is it is?) 'unconscionable' yet was this not what he did?

02/01/2010 -- NYTimes reports that AIG's shell game wasn't on the fringe. Ben said no. Wake up, big guy. Please do your second term with your eyes open to keep them stupid capitalists in line.

Modified: 03/23/2012

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Consequences vs scare tactics

Moral: Wherein we look at a situation's potential reflection on the ca-pital-sino nature of our economic playing field.

---

Toyota is having a problem that may revolve around drive by wire. Aviation has been doing 'fly by wire' for some time. But, those systems are scrutinized more than we see with the automobile.

Why is driving taken so slightly? Some concept of a right to drive (we know that is not true from the training manuals)? It's so easy: just gas, steer, brake?

As a regular pedestrian would tell us, the mechanical beasts roaming our streets are becoming more and more mindless since there seems to be a zombie behind the wheel. Too, the vehicle has taken more and more claim for rights of way. Actually, it may be that the pedestrian is deemed an unwanted intrusion, not unlike a bug on the windshield, on some idyllic mindset that is behind the bliss of texting.

Perhaps Toyota will lead the way in the discussions that are needed. We put people behind the wheel, with some type of perceived constitutional right in mind, that they are the king of the road. Oh, perhaps the auto allows the normal person to experience the CEO's state of privilege.

So, what does this have to do with the ca-pital-sino? Well, the apparatus that we've developed for the market is not unlike a vehicle. What type is it? Ah, we could use several types in a description. Buffett has already used WMD (if you need to know, think Iraq) for portions.

Some may be a little putter upon which we've piled a bunch of fat cats. No wonder it's sputtering.

Whatever the type, it can roll (ought we use careen?) along at a high rate of speed without any control. Oh, yes, Big Ben has his little knobs. Are they effective, big guy?

We need to stop the thing and put governors on it along with a bunch of improved sensors and feedback systems. Oh, what we see now with all the tubes and charts and talking heads isn't doing the job?

Those seem to be mainly for glorification, like a NASCAR ad. How much is not under scrutiny? Can anyone tell us a reasonable number for 'value' at any point?

Just like we expect that an auto will use established roads, and follow rules, we need the same for any economic system. That the capitalism, of Adam, has morphed to a maniacal ideology is indicative that we've screwed up somewhere.

How to get back to a better basis is the question.

---

Now, on scare tactics. The markets are down today. We find ourselves confounded, since both Big Ben and the Pres spoke.

The talking voice, quoting Timmy, on the tube today said, without the bailout, the unemployment would be 25%. Ah, is that so, governor? It's 17% now anyway.

The above use of the drive by wire as a metaphor for the problems that we face with fat cats, and the financial system, is tighter than we would probably allow ourselves to see.

Yet, consequences usually fall to the small guy, such as the cannon fodder of years of old. T'aint necessary.

---

The NYTimes reviews a funny book about the financial crisis. I.O.U.

Remarks:

01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

09/28/2010 -- It nice to see the IEEE weigh in. Notice: sensors galore, drive in the loop, ...

02/08/2010 -- More expert opinion.

02/05/2010 -- Nader's opinion. Also, software and cars. And, what's the quality control? Note this from an expert's look,

02/01/2010 -- Experts on these types of things.

01/29/2010 -- Defense of Toyota.

01/29/2010 -- As said before, there is no reason to knock only Toyota in these regards (look at the long recall lists over the years - Toyota hasn't been there regularly - as well, perhaps Toyota can lead the industry in continual improvement - to more than just the bottom line and the fat cats' pockets). The dbw discussion could just broaden to cover the fact that systems are more complicated and electrically boosted. Note today's Honda recall. There is no need to go through the long list of recalls except, perhaps, to categorize and count. The basis for continuing problem will be embedded logic as its prevalence can only increase due to technology. Who knows what we'll see with the hybrids and electric cares. That's the way it goes, folks, when we deal with our artificial servants.

And, using these little quirks of designed projects as an analogy for the large scope of economics is not far off base. All the gaming that we see financially has been computationally derived from mindsets that are both morally and ethically disadvantaged. Oh, these folks are brilliant and our best and brightest? Give us a break!

01/29/2010 -- Ben was confirmed today for his second term. Perhaps, now that he's not following another, doesn't have to worry about the next time (not for a few years), is independent, and continues to want to do a good job, perhaps he'll raise the rates and listen to the little people, even though the Fed Reserve was set up for the bankers (fat cats, by definition?). This is your chance to set history straight, Ben.

We'll start a new series, soon, that will look at the Fed, its place in history, bankers (can we ever get away from them?), the current situation, how we got here (thanks, Ben, for sleeping), how Ben woke up and panicked early, and much more. Thanks, Congress, we have several years to do this analysis. Looking forward to it.

Modified: 01/22/2013

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big Ben reigns

Moral: Wherein we look at today's announcement of zero for an unlimited period.

---

Let's see, the vote was 9-1, so Big Ben has everyone in his pocket, except the Kansas City guy.

Then, the news report says that the market stabilized. What is the market, fellas? As you know, we talking a big chimera here. It cannot, and we can repeat that cannot, build our future.

How is hot air going to rebuild the backbone that has been allowed to erode away? How will the Street (and some of Chicago and others) build anything? They deal mainly with money gaming.

What will fill in the hollowed out status of the American workforce?

Big Ben probably will argue that he's not into the gaming, yet his money is in funds that are related to equities more than not. Since he pushes out bonds, where is the balance?

My dream: a financial heart that pulses while being tended by those who are not there to game, would not even consider this, and who really work for a healthy heart.

----

Afterword:

Not to descend to a problematic stance, but 'heart' was mentioned above. That metaphor would then see things with a circulatory system flavor. A question comes up: how can you introduce more blood into the system without having serious consequences? Too, if you're not interested in the health of that which flows, essentially the blood cells - money, Big guy, how can you claim to have any care for the system itself?

Look worried, and telling us about your angst at the fat cats' manipulations of the system, does not get you off the hook. You took the job, Big guy. You dropped too fast last year. Now, you're being obstinate in your little theory?

What the heck worse can you make it for Main street? Did your largess to your big bank buddies help the situation, in ways more than generating big bonuses?

Sheesh, you FED guys (Ben is only one of a team - though, he does have more talking rights, evidently - looks to be a classic example of group think), wake up from your ideological sleep.

That brings up another metaphor. There is an alimentary system. You know what it results in. Well, Big Ben, from where I stand, I see more and more being piled up with decisions like this. Also, you are the one who have to shovel the crap. Give us a break! Gosh, big guy, our future generations are in hock.

Too, Obama, what is your state of mind? Not that I expect more than rhetoric tonight. We ought to have nationalized the banks (those of the 'fat cats' that you rhetoric'ed recently) last year, had 1.5%, at least, as a basis, started to clean up the mess, slow down those who want to create gaseous situations (oh, you can do that, look what you did to private aviation), and put us on a more solid footing.

It is not too late.

Tech Ticker interviewee says that the Street is right-winged and thinks that any fiscal stimulus (unless, it's directly to them, of course) is bad. You see, one notion goes this way, if the fat cats are happy with filled pockets, there is a trickle down to the rest. Remember that argument.

Let's look at what happened, in reality. The set of those with huge pockets got small. Granted there were some medium pockets filled. But, the set of those whose pockets collapsed to nothing, or, even worse, who became indentured, grew to a very big proportion. That is trickle down.

Wed that with the chimera, after which Big Ben wants us to run as if it were a train to somewhere, then we have both the way and the mean to continue what trickle down started. Breaking out of the old mold will require some changes, that will be considered drastic to supposedly highly-honored beliefs.

Well, Adam would love to see the experiment. Who said that he was for the fat cats?

Remarks:


03/05/2013 -- Ben reigns, but the savers' faces are bruised from his slapping.


12/13/2012 -- Don't know how long this page will be there, Daily Ticker. But, when I looked, 69% had said 'no' (hurt rather than helped) as to whether Ben has helped.

03/23/2012 -- Ben is doing a series of four lectures on his, and the FED's, role.

01/27/2012 -- Ben will continue to sack the savers; he must love the ca-pital-sino.

11/02/2010 -- Over a year later, the message is the same, except some changes have occurred. But Big Ben continues in his ways. Of real note is that the jobless rate is high; out-housing really set up for that. Also, we need to re-look at that learned from the 'vons' guys, Ludwig and Friedrich. See Near Zero.

01/28/2010 (pm)-- Well, Ben, you got your new term settled. Think that you can pull yourself away from those best and brightest for a bit? Listen to the little guy? You need to raise the rate to, at least, 1.0 so that the saver can have some semblance of respect. Actually, we ought to have that as some type of cultural limit. Sheesh, going to zero for the fat cats! For some reason, you, and your kind, seem to gravitate toward the gaming that goes on unabated in that equity part of the house. It remains a puzzle, and mystery, how all this delusional thinking came about that we ought to have ca-pital-sino as our basis; yes, I know, most go back to Adam, but he's turning over in his grave thinking of the adulterated views pinned on his back. Well, congrats, Ben. Since you will be independent, we can expect you to wisen up? Right?

01/28/2010 (am) -- Markets down. Confounded, since Pres Obama spoke last night. But, Ben, why don't you raise rates? The thing sank despite your announcements. By now, it's almost a moral imperative.

Modified: 03/05/2013

The Corporation II

Moral: Wherein we look at the recent decision about Corporate person hood and consider the positive angles.

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It is very interesting, this new twist on Corporate person-hood. Though it may not sit well to accept this (from whence, their soul?), the big legal guys (and gals) have told us what to think, that is, what the 'legal' notion ought to be.

There may be some benefits, if we adopt the proper perspective.

We can now apply moral arguments to Corporations, which means, from our common basis as Americans, more than just mere ethics!! We, the people, have as much constitutional right as do those behemoths (and their executive pilferers - now we can tell it like it is).

Consider: Yes, Corporation, quit being a bully (you see, it applies to them not treating their employees as chattel). Oh, Corporation, did you wash behind your ears (applies to their antics of not realizing their citizen-hood's responsibilities as required of adults)? Oh, stop the tantrum, Corporation (ah, yes, now CEOs can no longer play the role of Lordly Prince, as it's unconstitutional)! Oh, Corporation, gambling again (as a friend, I need to tell you that you're addicted to filthy lucre - and power)?

We ought to love this, folks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The ideological errors of capitalism III - Shell games

Moral: Wherein we look to a drive for high gains (greed) and to lack of oversight of the best and brightest (Lordly Princes) as the basic ideological problem of capitalism whose 'casino' is best evidence that this is not the way of reasonable folks, with all due respect for Adam Smith. Too, we coin the proper descriptive term, Ca-pital-sino (the system migrates to inflationary schemes to the detriment of the people).

---

If the Street were playing its games on Main Street, with the usual setup of a card table on a busy corner, and oodles of suckers passing by, they would be arrested for public exploitation and fraudulent activity. That is, shell games are illegal, in most civic situations.

Yet, the Street (Wall, if you must ask) has been playing this type of game for years. How else the huge gains and bonuses? Too, this has been seen as progress. What?

Wait! The government has done the same thing, to wit, the Ponzi-like schemes (12/13/2011 -- do not the new players bear the burden of funding?) behind Social Security, Medicare, and more. These two, the Street (and all of its ilk) and the government (those politicos who salivate when a buck is passed beneath their nose, individually and collectively) have led us toward perdition.

We can observe that there are mechanisms in place to allow several things. First, no compunction to establish value in a meaningful way due to fiat currency. Second, in-crowd manipulations since there is no insight, or oversight, because money has allowed itself the privilege of opaqueness. Third, gigantic PR spent glorifying the best and brightest and their mathematical malfeasance. Fourth, costs are pushed to other (what else is the motive for out-housing?) pockets including the mortgaging of our own progeny (indentured servancy). Fifth, allow the glory of big-pockets to cover the reality, near-zero, folks.

The people have awakened, with Main Street showing anger. For how long? NYU's Stern wants to move away from a financial focus. What took you so long, fellas? Stiglitz notes that banking is (ought to be) more utilitarian than not. Want to step up to replace Big Ben?

The goal here is to thoroughly deconstruct that which looks so glorious from a distance and to foster a proper description of how it ought to be (imperative for the continuation of the American spirit).

---

Afterword:

Let's see, in the past week, we had several days slide of the Big Chimera. Then, there was an up day, then it started up today, and finally fizzled. Okay. What gives? Well, the Street vernacular talks 'The Market' as if there such a thing. Gosh, isn't that like saying 'The Economy' which we know does not exist?

Then, the uncountable talking heads and, supposedly insightful writers, all dispense their insights about why 'The Market' does this or that. Now, how many times do we have to see this to know that it's a crap shoot? Is this what we're supposed to build our future on?

Notwithstanding that near-zero says that gains in 'The Market' are suspect, we can still, and will, entertain notions about why such silliness has evolved as an epitome of the modern way. We have oodles of peoples every day (the above mentioned talkers and writers) offering their take on the matter. For all that hot air, and wasted ink, what was the contribution?

Yes, that is the question. We know that fiat currency is problematic. We know too, that gaming is not what you do with your grocery money. We know, three, that expecting someone to bail you out after you've gamed away your beans is the height of idiocy (and, generally, not allowed in polite society). We know, four, that the associated stupidities deal with leveraging and tranche-ing, to name only a couple of many. We know a whole lot of other things.

Yet, Big Ben, you seem to think that this is what we need. Wake up, guy. And, Mr President, work to have a closure of the market for a whole week. You have the power. Now, when and how to do that would be defined. During the downtime, there would be major surgery.

If you ask why? Well, why not? What has evolved is a sham on the face of the earth.

The metaphor? Open-heart surgery, of course. We would remove the heart of the beast that has been allowed to put its tentacles everywhere and put in one that is more amenable to advanced society (that is, who the heck needs John Galt?).

If you don't want to do that, nationalize the banks, at least. It's not too late. Which? Those who are deemed too big to fail.

Remarks:

03/16/2015 -- Let them eat cake.

10/16/2014 -- Silliness comes to mind.

10/15/2014 -- Today, the markets were down, again, as in, to the point where 2014 is negative in "gains" (I loathe to use that term for the ill-begotten takings). Now, of interest here is that the DOW got up above 17K hitting all sorts of new highs. The elation was continued even with a Fed head change, Ben to Janet. It was like a game, how high can we go? All bolstered by the largess of the Fed. Chimera? Cheshire multiple? Yes, all sorts of problems that are overlooked due to the power of those who run the game. Yet, the problems could be resolved via proper computation (and, by that, I do not mean algorithmic trading). ... I have to admit that I did lose the proper view what with the noise of the partying influencing the brain. But, I did not go in the rush. Nor do I bemoan the fact (as did President Clinton talking about his missing the upturn - actually, Bill, you need to talk to me about how that ca-pital-sino crowd is antithetical to what we need for a sustainable economy - okay?). Just watching was a conscious choice. And, we may have an upturn. What will be needed for that is uncertain? Is it within Janet's power to talk coo-coo, goo-goo to the addicts enough to turn around this thing? At some point, though, the underlying house-of-cards will, again, be problematic. Who will suffer? ... That enumeration is necessary.

08/04/2012 -- I can hear it: with the DOW over 13K, what are you talking about using 'chimera'? Well, look at the dire warnings, for one. Are you looking at FB as a poster boy? We'll get technical and explain the problem. Do we have a solution, at this time? Yes, essentially.

Also, the market pushers say that they need things like program trading, and whole bunch of other stuff that we'll get to. So, the idea is that we need computer-based 'gaming' in order to discover 'price' and to provide liquidity. Liquidity? Yes, like that put into the pockets of Zuck (see 7 points on FB) and his ilk after the IPO. You see, those who made money bailed when the price was high. It is estimated that if they sold now, the take would be 1/2. Notice that I didn't say return (for what? -- 'gains' obtained this way are near-zero). Whose to cheer that a few make some massive amount of bucks (well, beyond those personally involved -- even the bankers who put deals together)? This type of thing is capitalism? If so, do we really need this, folks?

12/13/2011 -- Pavlov and dogs. May seem appropriate, yet dogs eat mostly to live (that is, we're talking about Pavlov frustrating a biological imperative). We, on the other hand, do not need the ca-pital-sino (invisible hand? -- fantasy). -- On the Ponzi-ness: the basis has been spent (some see it as hand-dipping into a well-funded pot) with hopes for future funding; was that not the way? Of course, that brings up the serious issues of how do we ever obtain future payments with some certainty when so many obfuscate in order to rake off the cream (especially, those who run the system)? -- Belated nod to OWS, etc.

10/07/2011 -- Magna Carta, the celebration thereof. We need one of these for business. What would it look like?

Heard, from others, that the Wall Streeters jeer: we cannot help that we are good at what we do, find a job you lazy protesters. Oh, yes, Wall Streeters, you are good at what, exactly? Oh, yes, having defined the shell game, then you keep it running so that monies are sucked out of the pockets of the hapless.

08/13/2011 -- Banks still struggling. We could have taken them over.

05/25/2011 -- Lemons problem, dark pools, ... Oh, so much to look at!

04/03/2011 -- Tis tranche and trash.

03/17/2011 -- On the rise of the professional politician (will there ever be the citizen polico? that is, those who do not salivate when a buck is passed beneath the nose) toward robber barony. The M & Ms are apropos. As well, need to bring in Schervish's viewpoint.

01/27/2011 -- The chimera shines.

11/22/2010 -- Tranching, under the guise of securitization? Silly games.

05/25/2010 -- Who will (or can) lead out of the morass?

05/07/2010 -- Out of control, essentially, and not healthy for the backbone.

03/20/2010 -- The basic problem of capitalism is that the Made-offs are its chief representative.

02/01/2010 -- NYTimes reports that AIG's shell game wasn't on the fringe.

Modified: 03/16/2015

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gravy train I

Moral: Wherein we start a series to look at the ideological errors of capitalism as leading to trains that are gravy (for some) and to nowhere (for most).

---

First, let's recall our common basis. Well, the reality shows just how easily duped we can be.

firstbusinessx.com had on the Lehman guy (Lawrence G. McDonald) who wrote the book about the failure of common sense. He reminded us of the 'mark to market' fiasco last year where the Congress capitulated and allowed this to be relaxed.

That is, the politicos, who ,by definition, salivate when a buck is passed beneath their noses, were enticed to do this by the financial (of all types) lobbyists. Yes, indeed. Then, we got the bubble going again, and the best-and-brightest are slobbering at the thought of their fat bonuses.

We would have been better off, folks, if we had just nationalized these people's little (actually, very large) sucking pumps and had another look at the problems.

But, no, we're faced with the 'mass weapons of financial destruction' (thanks, Warren) plus there are many vehicles whose value is not known. We also know that we bailed out the people, then they have the gall to think that we ought to applaud their mania.

The guy mentioned the 'ivory tower' status of the mucky-mucks at Lehman who ruled with an iron fist, and a set of brass knuckles. Gosh, people, we got rid of the king's rule here, with its enclave of hanger ons.

Yet, now we are to allow a new class of supposedly the 'best' rule our beans (actually, eat our beans and return only flatulence)?

Let's see, that great state of Massachusetts gave the 'old Kennedy' seat to a Republican. Not that either party has anything over the other (what? they both listen to lobbyists), yet this result does bring the attention back to our mother state.

Naisbitt's opinion about China ought to give us motivation to re-look at what went down in the 1600s in good old Mass as a means to figure out how to spread the gravy (with lumps, of course) a little better.

Naturally, Harvard (Cambridge College) will have to play heavily in the discussions.

Remarks:

01/13/2012 -- A re-look at this. 

03/16/2011 -- On the rise of the professional politician (will there ever be the citizen polico? that is, those who do not salivate when a buck is passed beneath the nose) toward robber barony. The M & Ms are apropos. As well, need to bring in Schervish's viewpoint.

02/16/2011 -- Gravy train II.

01/27/2011 -- The chimera shines.

01/19/2011 -- For the most, things are dire, not by necessity.

01/03/2011 -- Ah yes, now there are demands. The question remains: what growth other than the pockets of these types?

11/02/2010 -- Over a year later, the message is the same, except some changes have occurred. But Big Ben continues in his ways. Of real note is that the jobless rate is high; out-housing really set up for that. Also, we need to re-look at that learned from the 'vons' guys, Ludwig and Friedrich. See Near Zero.

09/28/2010 -- Capitalism is for the good of us, let's bring that forward.

01/22/2010 -- We need to balance an awareness of the soup that controls synaptic activity with the fact of the wiring aspect. The use of 'neuropeptidergic' mostly reminds those who may have perfect wiring (or think that they do) that their cognitive function is more than can be be modeled by electrical circuitry.

Modified: 01/13/2012

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The ideological errors of capitalism II - Adam Smith redux

Moral: Wherein we extend the look at capitalism and argue that reasonable people need to retake both Adam Smith and David Hume from those who have used the poor souls to found their irrational arguments (jawboning, by necessity - as capitalism fosters shell games and migrates to inflationary schemes to the detriment of the people).

---

Ah, but reasonable, and irrational, need to be heavily qualified. Hume has had an influence on many sides of arguments, which is interesting in itself. Kant, even, was influenced. Consider, that the casino capitalists, and laissez-faire people, quote Adam makes him turn over in his grave. He bemoans what the best-and-brightest and the fat cats have wrought. We need to give the guy, and his friend Hume, proper rest and honour.

So, how do we do this?

Before we get there, we need to look at how the fat cat perspective came to be. In some cases, it's a modern extension of Lords/Serfs problem. Both of these, naturally, have some sense of entitlement (it's natural). However, the Lords had the power. What you might say is that some haven't attained maturity? Is it not interesting that we can see some many bring their immaturity to the stage so as to begrief others?

Given that in the modern world, another class, namely wizards (oh, they were there before, but of lesser cardinality) can fill their pockets, to boot, does not confound the basic issue.

That an economy, cannot use 'the' economy for several reasons, is a system is obvious. Why else the leaning toward risk management? Yes, that viewpoint (blinders, ought we say?) which two years ago was saying, ah, we have it all in order, never again any downturns.

Oh? It was asked before. That questions remain. Both Hume and Smith will figure strongly, as will others, in the coming discussions.

Now, the scope of the economic system will vary. Now, for the first time, we're verging on some international variety, though there have been fairly large empires before. That is, international on a political scale.

Guess what? The past few decades have seen the emergence of super-dude companies (remember, that we've allowed them personhood) that transcend, in their minds, any political control.

Aside: China, please keep up your ways, as we need to put some of these in their places.

It's time to stop, for now. Let's say this about our friend, Adam. His study was moral philosophy. Any clue to what that is, corporate mucks? Sheesh, Business Week just described the temporary, permanent employee. Ah, so many other things of this nature to describe.

All the while, the best-and-brightest bathe in their tubs of bonus money.

Just like Japan, we stand the chance of having a generation that never gets the opportunity to make traction.

What is all this? Labor gives more value to capitalism than has been allowed. To get away from 'junk' and such, we need to revamp to allow some element of craftsmanship and to recognize that 'touch' is imperative for complicated systems.

Ah, yes, the commentator said, the Street says that their best-and-brightest are their capital. So, they get paid well. Have similar returns ever been applied to any other resource in the past?

Remarks:

06/11/2015 -- Computers? Out of control, in more ways than one. Adam rolls over (again and again and ...).

03/16/2015 -- Let them eat cake.

12/15/2012 -- Coase, on the subject.

12/13/2011 -- Pavlov and dogs. May seem appropriate, yet dogs eat mostly to live (that is, we're talking about Pavlov frustrating a biological imperative). We, on the other hand, do not need the ca-pital-sino (invisible hand? -- fantasy).

09/21/2011 -- On Wealth.

04/20/2011 -- Simple living (see Remarks 04/15/2011 - game theory), as opposed to greediness.

03/15/2011 -- The M & Ms are apropos.

10/26/2010 -- Adam knew the failings of 'free markets' quite well.

03/20/2010 -- The basic problem of capitalism is that the Made-offs are its chief representative.

01/19/2010 -- Let's give a toast to JAL! Anyway, how do we get a new look at Adam Smith? We'll use US history. In particular, we're going to go back to Massachusetts Bay Colony and look at a few economic realities. We'll focus on several people, such as families of settlers, blowhards (like John White), and others, at first. Then, we'll expand it to other developments that were congruent in time. Note please, these things pre-date our friend Adam. ... Why do this? To honor Adam, for one. Also, Naisbitt, the futurist, is at it, again. His comparison of China with the U.S. two hundred years ago motivated me to look at his example's basis. Well, then we have to go back further than that (old planters). And, we expect to see that his paralleling example is not as well-founded as he may think. This look will be Economic History and Philosophy rolled into one.

Modified: 06/11/2015

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ill-begotten gains

Moral: Wherein we consider the gains of capitalists as more ill-begotten than otherwise (and jaw-bone a little).

---

Ill-begotten, in what sense? We'll get to that. Last time, we looked at ideological issues related to capitalism. Let's continue along one vein.

Given the concept of near-zero, we can see that gains, such as many on Wall Street and their hanger-ons have made the past year (supported by Ben's largess), do not have any rational support. These have come at the expense of the taxpayers and Main Street.

We have been hollowed out, said one author (Harold Meyerson, Wash Post). Actually, is it not more that we lost our backbone? Somehow, our best-and-brightest have been given the leeway to lead us to paths of perdition, along which most happily went. To where? To our demise, leaving China, and others, with the upper hand.

Thanks, you jerks (yes, as in the third-derivative). Okay, let's change the tone to that which is more mature.

Earlier, we said that no train was leaving the station. Of course, since then, some have continued to find what they call 'gains' via equity. Let's forget commodities, at the moment, as many of those have real substance behind them, albeit that interlopers abound across many levels who stack cards in their favor.

Charlatans have been allowed to sustain a casino that sucks us dry. Gosh, thanks, politicos. By the way, where are the term limits that we really need to get the Main streeters their chance to serve the country? Most of the politicos actually just like to salivate when a buck is passed beneath their nose.

Except, Mr Obama seems to be coming around, finally. We ought to have nationalized the banks last year, kicked out the best-and-brightest, and allowed Main streeters to have more say. We'll see how much success Mr Obama can have, since the Ayn Rand'ers seem to have ad infinitum ways to continue to muck things up.

Bonuses, from a game funded by taxpayers, many of whom have been economically enslaved this past decade, are not ill begotten?


Remarks:

07/22/2015 -- Some of these are, now, poster boys.

12/05/2013 -- If only Ben would put a shot across the bow.

01/20/2013 -- What ought to be the spirit of the thing?

12/13/2012 -- Don't know how long this page will be there, Daily Ticker. But, when I looked, 69% had said 'no' (hurt rather than helped) as to whether Ben has helped.

03/29/2012 -- Ben is doing a series of four lectures on his, and the FED's, role.

01/13/2012 -- We'll go more into why the need for the Magna Charta, this year.

10/12/2011 -- If the OWS wants specifics, there are plenty to list, such as this one. We can only resolve this with an amendment (like the 13th) for the rights of workers (folks, employment is not unlike indentured servitude in many ways) plus a Magna Carta equivalent to give the big pants (egos) something to think about. 09/20/2011 -- This will be used in our constructive effort.

05/17/2011 -- Golden sacks (leftmost mug of the rogue table), by Rolling Stone and Daily Ticker

05/09/2011 -- Savers are suckers?

04/03/2011 -- Need to look at some background. Too, tranche and trash. 04/01/2011 -- The last man wants the old days back. 02/01/2011 -- The chimera shines.

10/28/2010 -- Warning, train wreck ahead. What train, I had asked? Yes, there is already a wreck, despite the inflated market (those who lost big are still behind).

04/27/2010 -- Need to add the political set of truths, such as cat and mouse.

04/16/2010 -- Rotten to the core. Does not have to be!!

01/22/2010 -- Bankers IV. Plus, Lordly Prince.

01/19/2010 -- Gosh, Ben, why did you have to sack the savers? Oh, I know, the banks (and their supposed best-and-brightest) mean more to you than do we, the lowly citizens and taxpayers. Have you considered our lot? I go into the bank (it's a big one whose big guy is on the list of rogues -your friends?) to see what they will give me for some money. Oh! Less than 1%. Who would have thunk it, Ben? Look, at the same time, they've made oodles and are looking to payout big bucks to their workers. What? Ought not some of that go to account holders? Others say to pay the shareholders. Well, that is a balance that your position is supposed to help. From the looks of it, your bias is toward those who want the train to nowhere. From where I sit, your stance is not only one-sided, it's actually counter to the benefit of those who are dependent upon your actions (the larger group (cardinality), big guy, not those (larger in the fat cat sense) of the ilk who think that their money gaming is the essence of reality). Solution? Look at the problem of fiat money, argue for your position to be modified, then work for some realness behind things that are valued by what is called 'money' (many meanings, I know).

01/17/2010 -- Simon Johnson has it right.

Modified: 07/22/2015

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The ideological errors of capitalism I - Casino

Moral: Wherein we use the time of the New Year, and the promise of change that is in the air - no matter how slow coming, to consider why capitalism descended to a messy casino in the late 20th and early 21st centuries (and unconscionably exploited Adam Smith and fostered shell games and migrated to inflationary schemes to the detriment of the people).

---

The 'Great Thinker' (yeah, Minnesota) contest has a theme this year (Do the wealthy have an obligation to to help the poor?) that motivates a few items which can relate to things economic. One of these is a question: is there a study called philosophy of economics (see it in this course list?)?

Of course, we have those who ponder philosophic issues, use the jargon, and such. There is no organized framework, such as one finds with the philosophies of mathematics and science (oh, Economics is subsumed under that?).

Well, the following discussion, using the 'Great Thinker' question, consists of bullets with topics about the subject. Too, an association with 'capitalistic' ways will be prominent. Each of these bullets will be expanded, in time.
  • Wealthy? - well, definitions include having an abundance, usually. So, consider any type of system, in which there are agents participating in whatever and however that they do so; there can be an accumulation of things by some or all. Easy enough, though the possible systems are uncountable. An easy example would be a game, which is a notion that any human would be familiar with, and making points in the game. Of the set of those in the system, some will gather more than others. Of those on the lessor side, some threshold would determine poorness (next bullet). Yet, one could imagine, with many agents in a system, a range of point accumulations would be the result (Aside: here we could go into a discussion about why any distribution would be more likely Gaussian-ish than uniform-ish). Wealth, in one context, would imply a collection with greater cardinality than that of most of the others. Now, since we're talking things economic, collections of money (or things valued in money) are how points can be counted. We've heard that $1,000,000 is not considered much nowadays (we're limiting this, right now, to the US - also, we can avoid inflation like that being experienced in Zimbabwe). So the $1M is not extreme abundance, though that amount has been attained by only a small percentage of the population. Now, in the sense of capitalism, those on the capital side have generally had the greatest accumulation. Of interest here is that investment has evolved in ways to allow 'capitalistic' gains by anyone, namely through markets. Yet, recent events show that gaming of the system is probably more prominent than any level playing field. Who really knows? That we cannot answer that question is the key to the issues.
  • Poor? -- well, definitions here are the opposite of wealthy and include lack, usually. Again, 'poor' has many connotations, but we'll continue with the economic theme (started last bullet). The poor are everywhere and are of a set whose cardinality far outweighs those who are wealthy. Forgetting, for now, issues of how can that be in 2010, let's limit our view to the US, as those in poverty range are many. Given that the theme is capitalism, how can this be? Well, we mentioned investors as one of the agents. We need to add labor to the mix. Then, we have the consumer (the sink) as the other agent class which can be of wealth or of the poor. In some ideological views, labor is mere commodity (perhaps, even as chattel - of the corporation - the corporation with person-hood, folks) which can denigrate labor in ways that add to poverty. We see that with globalization, the new colonialism (Aside: here we could go into discussions about the motives of positions in the minimum wage debates but will not, for now - Ford's adage about car buyers still stands).
  • Help? -- well, definitions would include things like assistance. We can look at the volunteerism movement, for an example. Here, we have seen both corporate and individual contributions in a wide variety of ways. However, that said, we can note that very seldom has the corporate world provided help, to a need that was thought reasonable by the poorer (read labor) from any moral framework (next bullet). In fact, many maneuvers for not extending 'help' are couched in legal (next bullet) or social (next bullet) terms. That Unions came to be is sufficient evidence (Aside: we could go into labor history and talk issues related to unionization - for now, just note that these can be identified and discussed, later). What other ways are there to discuss help? Very many. That alms, as a concept, is found everywhere (as is the golden rule) tells a lot about how the question ought to be answered, even to the point of the ultimate honor. (Said it before, the best and brightest of finance ought to consider that the Marines, and others, have greater - immeasurably- honor).
  • Obligation? -- well, definitions stress social or legal or moral (interesting order) requirements. If we take moral first, we can get the philosophical issues out of the way by saying that 'big' T, though important, need not come first in the discussion. Ethics (Aside: we will forgo the urge to go on, at length, at how this topic seems to be a talk, and not walk, thing in modern business, for some reason, unfortunately) would be a proper beginning. Though, at some point, we may actually have the culture, that is, the social obligation could come to the fore. Some (see Posner) seem to think that the legal apparatus can lead to better ways. But, no amount of legality can cover the gray areas. Even social norms cannot help here, except in certain circumstances and limited situations.
  • Are the wealthy obligated to help the poor? -- well, given the above bullets, we can get to the question. One way to answer would be to stress the system aspect. As any chain's strength is determined by its weakest link, so too is the system heavily influenced by its least member. 'least' has several possible connotations. The system view implies one answer which would be yes. Actually, this is the social (prior bullet) sense, somewhat. That is, if those who hold the 'wealth' position in the system want it to continue, they ought to help those at the poor end. Now, mind you, we have not talked what type of help, yet. But, given our theme of capitalism's little quirks, globalization, and its very possibility, has confounded the issues. From the legal sense, our first principles would be based upon the notion of a bill of rights. Taking the western culture, if John of England could restrain his royal self, those at the top of the corporate structure, CEOs and others of the ilk, could very well get their heads into a better space. Now, about the moral, we'll address that when the larger picture is covered. Mind you, the answer is 'yes' from any aspect, yet there are plenty of conditions that would say no. For example, Made-off being poor in several important properties required for an adult, ought not expect help (Aside: the whole notion of self-help, and the lessons out of Emerson, comes to the fore here -- what actually was Bernie's motivation?).
For some reason, a question that is well-framed, and timely, has power. Is it not a truism that the first step in solving a problem is knowing what questions to ask?

Examples: why does the head of BofA (and the others) think he is so special? Why do those manipulating (such as golden sacks) the system expect that we would not wise up to their machinations? Why do we even need the financial gamers (Quants, advisors, ...)? Can we learn that undecidable means we are responsible for our future?

Oh, too, too, many. Expect more later.

(Aside: awareness of casino capitalism is not sufficient reason for having aspersions cast: Wait, it's still too early for any Marx-laden label.)

Remarks:

09/21/2011 -- On Wealth and the CEO MVP.

05/25/2011 -- Lemons problem, dark pools, ... Oh, so much to look at!

03/15/2011 -- The M & Ms are apropos.

01/27/2011 -- The chimera shines.

11/22/2010 -- Tranching, under the guise of securitization? Silly games.

04/27/2010 -- Need to add the political set of truths, such as cat and mouse.

03/20/2010 -- The basic problem of capitalism is that the Made-offs are its chief representative.

Modified: 09/21/2011

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Money and value

Moral: Wherein we consider some of the consequences of using fiat money.

--- Foreword:

These consequences are strange, indeed. But, first, why is our money fiat? Well, consider that we have a system that is based on hot-air; that is, it looks to one guy's words as having meaning whose value considered by some as coming from an oracle. Talk about irrationality. So, what we see is that this gab standard leads to strangeness, a mindless form of gaming.

And, the notion of casino capitalism came about to depict the current state of affairs where daily a lot of energy, and money, goes into playing the 'market' game, for the most part for no real consequence, except the visceral reactions of the participants, whether as a winner or loser. We know that there are winners and losers since near zero is the actual situational outcome, folks.

--- Word:

Since we're after the year's cusp, let's look at three stories, of the past year.
  • Mr. Woods allows us some data to consider. It is reported that shareholders of his sponsors have lost $12B (thereabouts) in the past month or so.
  • Marilyn and Investopedia, and probably others, tried to explain to people where the value went that was absent from the markets, as they are defined currently, at the bottom which was the March, 2009 timeframe. Ah, it vanished, they claim. Well, if they are right, the hot air came back quickly.
  • The AP reports that 150 (thereabouts) schemes (Made-off type) were uncovered in 2009 which is about four times the usual. Ah, why are these so easy to pull off?
Taking the first and second stories, we have to know that there is value behind those trades. That $12B did not disappear but went over to over assets. How does that movement, with those few (comparatively, that is, not across the board), differ from other downturns?

One thing missing is any type of accounting that would tie trades to something real which is due to the nature of the system. That is problems of a systemic nature.

We'll be going into this further later.

Now, that third story tells us about schemes which only reflect the large problems of the financial system (happy talking and its ilk).

Only part of the problem can be attributed to options, and similar, trading (CBOE can be partly justified), as there can be a basis determined for some speculation. That is, the type related to the originator of a commodity (the producer) has real value (as long as it isn't done by a jerk).

Also, some of the problem can be attributed to people who want the quick bucks, the greedy and the perpetual marks. But, just as we saw with the old guy, now in jail, it is more than that. As, computation, and accounting, allow these easy manipulations which ought to tell us something.

One thing to consider is Markov's contribution, though he is not to blame. Andrey showed us how we can ditch the past. That is, we can apply a pseudo-Now framework, yet it's not Zen. Andrey didn't show us that we can ignore value (especially the inherent and intrinsic (traditional connotations, mostly) as only that which someone will pay.

We'll go into this further, too. It's nice that the Quants ran after their attempt at taming stochastic (or supposed) entities. As said earlier: That the quants have run off after their stochastic taming attempts we'll be looking at further. That CAE folks have broken the rules of map/territory differentiation is another variation of mis-handling of that which this sequence denotes.

--- Afterword:

Error'd ways can be found on all sides as we'll continue to see. Who is without error?

Actually, we mainly, it seems, can just minimize pain since these issues rest on an undecidable foundation which means that the best that we can due is be quasi-empirical.

But, that is no excuse to allow the 'fat cats' and 'greedy' of each generation to run rampant over the innumerant, the sickly, and the frail.

Remarks:

01/26/2013 -- Updated stale pointers. Too, the subject is still of interest.

02/01/2011 -- The chimera shines.

05/03/2010 -- NYT article on the subject. Paper on wealth and savings.

01/06/2010 -- Poor Ben, getting grief and criticism.

Modified: 01/26/2013