Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Quotes of the day

We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst, and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and the cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another, but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.--Theodore Roosevelt

95% of individual traders lose money over ANY 10-year period.--Joe Fahmy

I am the 5%.--Cav

Majority of the money management industry believes through better study of the facts, the investor can beat the markets. Wisdom of Crowds disputes this generally held notion. The edge does not lie in superior information/higher intelligence alone. The game is won or lost elsewhere. Just ask Tebow’s critics.--Vedant Mimani

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.—Western Union internal memo, 1876.

... the ranks of police officers have fallen by less than 1% after rising by 9% since 2000 alone. That, and the fact that America is a far safer place today than 10 or 20 years ago, suggests that Vice President Biden's claim that "the result [of police layoffs] has been—and it's not unique—murder rates are up, robberies are up, rapes are up," is simply, as the Washington Post observed, "absurd."
It's important to keep the long rise in local government employment in mind amid the debate over sending more federal aid to cities and states. Steadily increasing municipal-government payrolls, combined with sharply higher employment costs—including rich pension benefits and soaring health-care outlays—have made many local budgets unsustainable. The National Governors Association recognized as much last year when it issued a report predicting a long period of fiscal "austerity" that local governments must solve in part by better controlling personnel costs.
That almost certainly means that more layoffs are coming. But hyperbolic talk aside, local governments are well-staffed by historical standards and have the troops to do the job at hand.--Steven Malanga

We can agree at the injustice of transferring money from moderate-income pensioners to wealthy bondholders. But I think the even more important question is what makes the average Joe better off. And it's not clear to me that "stiffing the creditors" is the right answer.
For starters, some of those creditors--maybe a lot of those creditors, depending on the country--are insurance companies and pension funds that serve the aforementioned Average Joes. But leave that aside. Europe is not, at least as I understand it, making the creditors whole because of their abiding love for foreign holders of European sovereign debt. They're stepping in and guaranteeing this debt in order to prevent a run on their banks and their bond markets.
Runs on financial markets, as far as I can tell, do not righteously limit their damage to rich jerks who didn't need the money anyway. In fact, the people who suffer the worst from a rapid contraction of the credit markets are the poor. They're the ones who actually end up hungry and on the street when companies start failing and they can't get jobs.--Megan McArdle

To backtrack a couple thousand years, the general assumption regarding the fall of Rome is that the contemporary leadership was characterized by the same kind of ignorant as POTUS. The historical record, however, clearly displays that the intelligentsia of the time was well aware of Rome’s failings, they just couldn’t figure out a way to fix them. Pointedly, the corruption of the Senate and political control by wealthy elite paved the way for the dissolution of democracy and the onset of empire. They were not ignorant, contrary to popular belief, just overrun by socioeconomic trends too powerful to harness.
Returning to modernity, it is clear from McArdle’s post that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was, with the spin-off strategy, attempting to address very real structural issues within his firm. The plan clearly ended up as an online Bay of Pigs, but the drivers behind it are completely explicable with a modicum of research. I would argue that the behavior of politicians is similarly intelligible, with electoral money-raising, pandering to constituents and poll-watching replacing rising digital streaming rights as major motivational culprits.
Labeling corporate or political celebrities “idiots” is to some extent to self-identify as part of the problem. Getting rid of these “idiots” will solve nothing, except to provide new vessels for sneering, self-congratulatory scorn. Focusing on the forces that makes these people appear to be morons, and widely publicizing these drivers to the point where they enter the general consciousness, actually provides an avenue for progress.--Interloper

Local McDonald's employees tell SF Weekly the company has devised a solution that appears to comply with San Francisco's "Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance" that could actually make the company more money -- and necessitate toy-happy youngsters to buy more Happy Meals.--Joe Eskenazi
Photo links here and here.

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