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I came across this article this morning, all about decision making and forecasting. After a couple of readings it almost qualifies as a light bulb experience for me, but in the end not quite. Nevertheless some good concepts in there no doubt: cloud-like v clock-like; foxes v hedgehogs; poker v black swans.


Anyway it may be worth a read to get up to speed in the latest fad terminology if you are finding things to be a tad quiet during the trading week.




Here is a bit I found that explains what is meant by "hedgehogs" and "foxes".



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SUE LAWLEY: I'm going to take a question from over on our left. [appropriately - nipper]


CARNE ROSS: My name is Carne Ross. Amongst other things, I'm a former British diplomat and a member of the Occupy Wall Street Working Group on Alternative Banking here in New York City. Do we have any reason to believe that a central bank would be any less vulnerable to the enormous political power of the banking industry? If one's answer to that is the scepticism that I feel about

your solution, surely we should take much more radical steps to re-appropriate what is essentially a public good - namely the means of exchange - that has in fact been appropriated by a viciously aggressive and greedy industry. In other words, change the nature of banking, make it completely different from our current conception, make it democratic, make it transparent, build cooperative

banks that are owned by its customers, completely change our model.


SUE LAWLEY: (over)ÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’â€Å¡Ãƒƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¦ Okay. Niall Ferguson?


NIALL FERGUSON: Well, the interesting thing is that we've actually tried that in the past. One of the great ambitions of the revolutionaries of the post-First World War period was to take over and entirely control the financial institutions of Russia - and indeed of any other country where these revolutions occurred. And the result was a disaster because what happened when the banking system was brought under the control of the revolution was usually, first, hyperinflation and then financial repression. I think it's extremely important to recognise that there are two threats at least to the independence of the monetary authority of the sort that I'm describing.


One we've already discussed, which is the threat from the vested interests that are supposed to be regulated, but the other I'm afraid is from the populist politicians who, some of whom at least, have endorsed the Occupy Movement.


I mean populist solutions to financial crises have been tried and have failed disastrously. That was one of the stories of the mid-20th Century. We need to learn from that history. Unfortunately I see very little evidence of knowledge of financial history in the Occupy Movement. It's exactly the same ignorance I encounter in much of the financial world alas.

Q&A at the end of Niall Ferguson: The Darwinian Economy



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What a good idea !!!!!! Although I rather think this is a bit of a wimpy way to do the job. I'm pretty sure that the problem would be solved by arming all American kids with lethal handguns for self defence . In fact EVERY American should be armed 24 hours a day, for personal protection. It should be a capital offence NOT to be carrying a loaded lethal weapon , for self defence of course !!!!!!


Lord save us.






Merry Christmas




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28000 schools in the US already employ armed guards


According to the NRA, the best way to combat drugs in sport is to give all athletes free access to drugs and may the best pharma win. 4 million members and 300 million warchest is formidable arsenal. Although this is the closest ever the US has come towards making change towards regulated gun ownership, I think there's just not enough momentum to push things through. Time to suit up and batten down until the storm blows over.

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For mine, any article that makes use of "cyber-flÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâ€Â ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢ÃƒÆ’ƒÆ’â€Å¡Ãƒƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢neur" and "infovore" has a good chance of being an interesting read (though it misses extra browny points for not also using my favorite: "information triage"). That it is about Tyler Cowen, who I suspect could also be described as a polymath, pretty much ensures that it is (imo).




I see that Prof Cowen thinks of himself primarily as a libertarian but I think most of his peers and critics would view him more as a conservative, and certainly a lot of his economics falls more in line with the conservative political movement in the US than say the traditional liberal bias that the FT and its sister publication The Economist appear to have. Nevertheless I reckon his blog is one of the best.


PS one of my great ambitions is to one day become a dedicated flÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâ€Â ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢ÃƒÆ’ƒÆ’â€Å¡Ãƒƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢neur in the physical sense, spending a good deal of my time meandering through the streets, laneways and marketplaces of various (old) cities.

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Here's a recent article about Saudi Arabia. I know nothing about the place and have no idea which of the views talked about is more realistic.


But I do know that if demographics is destiny then Saudi Arabia's destiny sucks.


Having nearly doubled in twenty years to 28 million, the Saudi population includes over eight million registered foreign residents, many of them manual laborers or domestic workers. Illegal migrants, who enter on Hajj (pilgrimage) visas, or across the porous Yemeni border, may account for two million more.


With three quarters of its own citizens now under the age of thirty, Saudi Arabia faces many of the same social problems as Egypt and Yemen. By some estimates, nearly 40 percent of Saudis between the ages of twenty and twenty-four are unemployed, and quite apart from al-Qaeda, there is a long and troubled history of directionless young men drawn to radicalism. The country suffers from a housing crisis and chronic inflation, there have been recurring bouts of domestic terrorism, and the outskirts of Riyadh and Jeddah are plagued by poverty, drugs, and street violence...


...Despite Saudi control of the largest petroleum reserves in the world, decades of rapid population growth have reduced per capita income to a fraction of that of smaller Persian Gulf neighbors. Even the people of Bahrain, a country with little oil that has roiled with unrest since early 2011, are wealthier...


...[] there are now some seven thousand princes in the ever-growing royal family, each getting some share of the mostly hidden national budget.



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Here's a great read, imo, from February this year. It seems that the reports of the demise of the US may be greatly exaggerated.




David Brookes, a conservative-ish journo who writes for the New York Times, has put together a list of his favourite articles for the year. Most of them appear to be US-centric, which seeing he is a yank writing for an American audience makes sense, but there are a couple that may have local interest.






This is another that showed promise, but I found it to be fairly patchy and selective in its argument (what is the point of spending column inches talking about Turkey or South Africa when the only elephants in the room are China and India?).



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