Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quotes of the day

[Rogue traders] need to come to terms, personally, with what happened, with their own dishonesty. If you can't accept that you can't move on. If I had put my hand up at the end of the first year, I'd have received a slap on the wrist. By the end of the second, I'd have lost my job. By the end of the third, it had become criminal. I am a criminal, by the letter of the law, but there was no criminal intent there. You don't go into these things intending to become a criminal. You want to make money for the bank, be a good trader and get a big bonus. The criminality is always with the individual trader, but the bank, with its incompetence and negligence in controlling what is going on, is complicit. In all those cases there are strange similarities: the length of time that passes before they reveal themselves, the amount of money involved, the age of the trader.--Nick Leeson

... the “tournament” problem ... comes up in any market that’s potentially dominated by “superstars”. Athletic competitions, for example, are prone to drain more resources than they’re worth. (See previous blog posts here and here.) Major league baseball is a good thing — it entertains the fans. But if we could randomly eliminate half the players, we’d lower the quality of competition just a little, while freeing up a lot of ex-ballplayers to start businesses, drive cabs, or write sports blogs. The market fails to find that outcome. The fact that it’s so easy for markets to fail is part of why we should be so astonished, and so thankful, that they typically succeed.--Steve Landsburg

This is no market for young men.--Jeremy Grantham

Attention all you hedge fund readers: if [the Swiss] can arbitrage and convexify their guinea pig market, you’d better not bet against their currency peg.--Tyler Cowen

... unless you get rid of the tax-free status of muni bonds, Theresa Heinz-Kerry will continue to have the effective tax rate of a probationary janitor.--Megan McArdle

It appears Team Obama wants you to conclude that there is no difference between the President and Congressional Republicans on the amount of proposed deficit reduction, and that the President wants a prospective deficit reduction approach balanced between spending cuts and tax increases. Both conclusions are false. The policy changes the President is proposing are significantly less deficit reduction than that proposed by (House) Republicans, and almost all of the President’s new proposed deficit reduction comes from tax increases. To put the second point in schoolyard terms, President Obama is in effect saying to Republicans, “We did it all your way (spending cuts) the last two times, so this time we should do it almost all my way (tax increases). That’s balanced.” It’s a legitimate liberal policy position to propose new net deficit reduction of about $1.4 T over the next ten years, almost all of which comes from tax increases on the rich. That is the President’s policy. I think it’s terrible policy, but that’s a judgment for the Congress and ultimately for American voters to make. Team Obama knows they will lose the public debate if they actually say that, so they are helping you to draw mistaken conclusions about what they are actually proposing. They are instead pretending to propose $4T of deficit reduction over the next ten years, balanced between “real, serious spending cuts” and tax increases. That is a fundamentally dishonest presentation of the policies the President is actually proposing.--Keith Hennessey

You can get a sweet deal if you are the customer who gets marginal cost pricing. Medicare does this--reimburses hospitals at above their marginal cost, but below their average cost, so that private insurers have to pick up most of the hospital overhead. European countries do this with prescription drugs: reimburse above the marginal cost of producing the pills, but below the total cost of developing the pills, so that the US has to pick up most of the tab for drug development. The problem is that as voters and as customers, we often get the notion that this can be extrapolated to everyone. So liberal policy wonks want to save money by putting everyone on Medicare, or some equivalent program that uses the government's monopsony pricing power to get lower prices for everyone; thrifty customers think that everyone should drop cable and just pay $14.95 for streaming plus DVDs.--Megan McArdle

... the President’s definition of “shared sacrifice” exempts the largest entitlement spending program (Social Security), his biggest legislative achievement (the new health entitlement created two years ago), and tax increases for more than 99% of the population. That is an odd definition of “shared.”--Keith Hennessey

I never put on a pair of gloves again [after the Leonard fight]. Never had one gym workout. If you get that taste in your mouth, it never goes away.--Marvin Hagler

Marvin [Hagler] was more a traditionalist and a purist. The money was great, but he didn't fight for the money. For Marvin, the belts came first, the history came first, the legacy came first. He was a boxer-businessman. [Sugar] Ray [Leonard] was a businessman-boxer.--Seth Abraham

On This Day. 1862: President Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, setting a date for the freedom of 3 million slaves.--WestWingReport

I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.--Warren Buffett

"I thought they did a great job with the movie.  Let's be honest: Did I think they could make a movie out of 'Moneyball?' No. Never. I even told the studio that. And when they did make it, I thought it would suck.--Michael Lewis

The movie did not suck, not at all, that's the wrong word and that's a story for tomorrow. The story for today is how we even got here. It is about a man who is not really in the movie. No actor plays him. He's mentioned in the movie here and there, but only for a a few seconds. Still, without him, there is no Moneyball. There is no Sabermetrics, at least not under that name. Certainly people would still be looking for objective knowledge in baseball -- people were looking long before Bill James and they will look long after.  But without the life's work of Bill James, they sure as heck would not have made a movie out of it.--Joe Posnanski

Before a decade’s worth of steroid revelations made their glowing press coverage seem like an exercise in self-deception, people liked to say that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa “saved baseball” in 1998 — that their extraordinary home run surge revived fan enthusiasm and restored America’s interest in the sport after the ugliness of the World Series-canceling 1994 strike. Maybe that was true for others. For me, the player who saved baseball was Tim Wakefield.--Ross Douthat
Photo links here and here.

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