Monday, September 28, 2009

Quotes of the day

... options trading remained hot. Jeff Yass and his Binghamton friends — Dantchik, Eric Brooks, Andrew Frost, Steven H. Bloom, and Joel Greenberg (who’d gone to law school and spent time at a firm in Washington) — formed Susquehanna in 1987. That fall, the market crashed. On October 19th — Black Monday — the Dow dipped almost 23 percent. That day, Susquehanna made several million dollars.--Robert Huber

The man who would overturn this decades-old system is an unlikely revolutionary. [Netflix CEO Reed] Hastings carries himself with a laconic modesty that contradicts an ambitious and restless mind. He has the deep tan of a dedicated snowboarder and a salt-and-pepper goatee that gives him a casual, approachable air. A quiet, hands-off leader, he sets the tone and objectives and lets his employees figure out how to execute them. His main directive is that everyone act like an adult: Netflix has no vacation policy (take as much as you need, when you need it), pay is flexible (stock or cash, your choice), and though firings are unusually common, severance checks are unusually generous. Hastings is comfortable creating his own rules for how to run a business; you don't see any management tomes in his office. In fact, he doesn't even have an office. The CEO prefers to stroll around, a ThinkPad in hand, pitching camp in an empty conference room or huddling in an engineer's cubicle to whiteboard some formula.--Daniel Roth

Politics in democracies allows powerful political interest groups to influence legislation in their favor. In that respect, the steelworkers and other unions are not doing anything differently than, for example, medical insurance companies or auto companies, try to do. But recognizing that this is the way the political process works does not mean that the effects tend to raise the general welfare of the population, as opposed to the welfare of small powerful interest groups. In this regard, note that non-governmental unions contain only about 8% of the civilian labor force. This means that the benefits they receive from flexing their political muscle under the present White House mainly hurts other workers and consumers.--Gary Becker

While Iran is larger than Israel, its population centers are so vulnerable to Israeli thermonuclear weapons that Israel already is a major "existential" threat to Iran. Moreover, provoking its Arab neighbors and Turkey into developing their nuclear capabilities, or the U.S. into offering them a nuclear umbrella targeted on Iran, could create additional threats, as well as make Iran's neighbors even more dependent on the U.S. for their security. Iran's search for nuclear-armed missiles may well unite its neighbors against it as well as create a major new nuclear threat to its survival.--Anthony Cordesman

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