Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Because “this time is different!”

In lieu of any original thoughts here, I am quoting Hussman en bloc:
Look. The models that central bankers use are not somehow classified or hidden from the economics profession, nor has the discipline been deprived of the ability to examine the often weak empirical evidence behind them (see for example Failed Transmission: On the Futility of Activist Fed Policy and How To Wind Down a $4 Trillion Balance Sheet). Central banks possess no concealed, mysterious knowledge that is somehow obscure to mortals. If anything, one might question whether some FOMC governors have ever carefully examined historical data at all, given that many of their propositions can be refuted by even the most basic scatterplot. Among the most persistent misconceptions are 1) that unemployment is closely related to inflation in general prices, when the true relationship is with real wage inflation; 2) that activist policy deviations, away from levels that can be systematically determined using available non-monetary data, have any economically meaningful correlation at all with subsequent economic improvements; 3) that “wealth” is embodied in the paper price of a security rather than the stream of future cash flows that are actually generated and delivered to investors over time as the result of productive activities, and; 4) that episodes of yield-seeking speculation, and the systemic collapses that follow, can be dismissed as the result of outside forces, for which the Fed bears no responsibility.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review: On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood

On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood On Spec: A Novel of Young Hollywood by Richard Rushfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Mistakes were made" is seen at least twice in the text, an echo of the Reagan era. And one wonders about the myriad typos -- are they deliberate malapropisms of the characters, or not? Some are, such as "dias" for "dais" and "viola" for "voila" -- and to great comedic effect. Others just seem like oversights, "there" as "here" and so on.

But this is only to point out how deliciously fun the play of language is, no avant ways needed. The characters' mis-speech, if you will, with the ample sampling of late-'90s American slang, is delivered and enjoyed. In that, the book is well-written without being "well-written", do you know what I mean? No labored carving of sentences et maximes to please Flaubert fans here.

In short, a hilarious story structured in the journal entries, and one series of Dictaphone tirades, of the ensemble. More entertaining than most Hollywood products.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Random 4

    There was an Old Man of Apulia,
may be gathered from the poem “Substance, Shadow, and Spirit” (p. 73),
especially such as wrought miracles, by the odious name of sorcerers
summâ non eruditionis modò gratiâ, sed etiam jucunditatis; cum
   And the cushion in the chair.
try to gain the shore by climbing up the log abutment to the bridge.
Else, let mappedValue be nextValue.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Amusing Trial in which a Yankee Lawyer
Cratylus admits that pictures may give a true or false representation,
a passive and involuntary process; and if I were obliged, not to define poetry, but to name the class
phrase Project Gutenberg appears, or with which the phrase Project
lazy lists

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A virtual world

Liberal democracy, so beloved of American neoconservatives that they are prepared to lay about like MacDuff to spread it to every tribal society on earth, is in fact neither truly democratic nor particularly liberal. As it presupposes the ad infinitum expansion of a centralized state’s ability to acquire ever-growing power over the individual, it is not liberal in any other than the virtual sense of the word. And as the state has dictatorial power (in spite of putting people through the charade of virtual elections every few years to make them believe they govern themselves), it is not democratic. In other words, ‘liberal democracy’ has become nothing but a mendacious slogan of a virtual world.

--Alexander Boot, The Crisis Behind Our Crisis

Friday, January 6, 2017

Review: Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization

Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hancock's background as a journalist shines through again (I also read his 'Sign and Seal' some twenty years ago) -- he gives a good account, in a straightforward style, marshaling facts as he sees them, and deviating into speculation as he feels justified to do. I was a bit apprehensive that this would be too tendentious for my taste these days, which craves rigor, but I was pleased that he did not go far off the rails, so to speak. He does not plod. He is passionate about his leads, and follows them to Peru, Indonesia, Turkey, et al., while maintaining a good awareness of what is plausible and what is not. There are some inconsistencies, e.g., calling one area of stratification impeccable while discounting another as too marred by human activity, when the stasis of either site could well have been disturbed, given the age. In any case, this does not detract overall from the fun of the intellectual adventure that he pursues and presents.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Black Swans, Yellow Gold

"An ounce of gold cost $271 in 2001. Ten years later it reached $1,896—an increase of almost 700 percent. On the way, it passed through some of the stormiest periods of recent history, when banks collapsed and currencies shivered. The gold price fed on these calamities. In a way, it came to stand for them: it was the re-discovered idol at a time when other gods were falling in a heap of subprime mortgages and credit default swaps and derivative products too complicated to even understand. Against these, gold shone with the placid certainty of received tradition. Honored through the ages, the standard of wealth, the original money, the safe haven. The value of gold was axiomatic. This view depends on a concept of gold as unchanging and unchanged—nature's hard asset." - Matthew Hart, Vanity Fair, November, 2013

Cited by Michael J. Kosares in Black Swans, Yellow Gold

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant

The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant by Graham Hancock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book over twenty years ago and while I cannot recall the details, I still remember how compelling of a story it was. I write now because lately I watched a video of Graham Hancock and recalled that I could hardly stop reading this book. Interestingly, it's now the #1 best-seller on Amazon in the Books > Travel > Africa > Ethiopia & Djibouti category.

Thankfully Joe Rogan is a fan of Hancock's work and has interviewed him several times. Here's his latest:

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