Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quotes of the day

High frequency traders are very sensitive to cash flow (note Trading Machines shut down pretty quickly after not finding a niche), so they aren't building palaces based on unrealistic expectations like, say, California or or NYU journalism majors.--Eric Falkenstein

... the 93% increase in JPMorgan VaR from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012 is solely due to the sudden "realization" that the world's biggest bank by derivative holdings (at just about $73 trillion) is in reality nothing but a glorified hedge fund.--Zero Hedge

[Peter] Orszag’s [compulsory voting] proposal and others like it are potentially harmful solutions to a non-problem. There is no evidence that nations with compulsory voting are, as a result, better governed than those where voting is voluntary. As Tim Cavanaugh points out, the former category includes many states such as Argentina, Lebanon, Egypt, Congo, and others that are hardly paragons of civic virtue. By contrast, one of the few democracies that has even lower turnout rates than the United States is Switzerland, which is widely considered one of the best-governed nations in the world. ... More generally, we should spend less time worrying about turnout and more about whether those who do turn out actually understand what they are voting on.--Ilya Somin

Obama campaigned as a consistent critic of the Bush administration’s understanding of executive power — and a critic with a background in constitutional law, no less. But apart from his disavowal of waterboarding (an interrogation practice the Bush White House had already abandoned), almost the entire Bush-era wartime architecture has endured: rendition is still with us, the Guantánamo detention center is still open, drone strikes have escalated dramatically, and the Obama White House has claimed the right — and, in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, followed through on it — to assassinate American citizens without trial.--Ross Douthat

I really dislike fawning Keynesians because I used to be one when I was a TA for Hyman Minsky back in college ... In contrast to the Keynesian vision of us all trying to figure out how to spend our endless vacation, there's Eric Hoffer, the enigmatic philosopher who appeared out of nowhere around 1934 in California at age 34 ... A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding, and so those unhappy with their own meaningless affairs will focus on minding other people's business. Hoffer noted one must not merely provide for those without meaning in their lives, but provide against them, because in a democracy and market economy their preferences will have power. Those who see their lives as inferior and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom, and this can cause a Republic to fall to a democracy, and ultimately a tyranny. ... In other words, Hoffer describes the essence of the Liberal desire to micromanage society into perfect equality at the expense of liberty. A coalition of intellectuals and the underclass, both of whom feel unappreciated. We haven't figured out a good outlet for these do-gooders, or a good way for those without a purpose to find life rewarding, so they continue to plague us with their plans and angst. That's a realistic vision of society, a future problem that is real yet potentially soluble.--Eric Falkenstein

Walmart often faces strong local opposition when trying to build a new store. Opponents often claim that Walmart lowers nearby housing prices. In this study we use over one million housing transactions located near 159 Walmarts that opened between 2000 and 2006 to test if the opening of a Walmart does indeed lower housing prices. Using a difference-in-differences specification, our estimates suggest that a new Walmart store actually increases housing prices by between 2 and 3 percent for houses located within 0.5 miles of the store and by 1 to 2 percent for houses located between 0.5 and 1 mile.--Devin Pope & Jaren Pope

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