Quite a few interesting reads, in what is otherwise expected to be an light week:

• Economic Improvement two-fer:

-Labor Data Show Surge in Hiring of Temp Workers (NYT)
-Treasury Yield Curve Steepens to Record Amid Growth Outlook (Bloomberg)

Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school (TNR)

Fed’s approach to regulation left banks exposed to crisis (Washington Post)

Dollar Strength Seen in Stocks 1st Since Lehman Died (Bloomberg)

Down-Payment Standards Eased (WSJ)

Year’s best business books to make sense of financial crisis (USA Today)

DNA Shifts Timeline for Mammoths’ Exit (Science Times)

I killed myself on Facebook, and lived to tell the tale (The Punch)

Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2009 (Discovery)


What are you reading?

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

20 Responses to “Monday Afternoon Readings”

  1. Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school (TNR)

    we owe a great debt to Hartford, et al.. or, so they’d have us imagine.
    ~~
    Lysenkoism and high-demand cults
    The most important idea of this paper is that Lysenkoism has a lot of common ground with so called high demand cults and can be classified as such. A group does not have to be religious to be cultic in behavior. High demand groups can be commercial (companies), political and technological. Be aware, especially if you are a bright, intelligent and idealistic person. The most likely person to be caught up in this type of behavioral system is the one who says “I won’t get caught. It will never happen to me. I am too intelligent for that sort of thing.”

    Actually university grounds proved to be the most fertile environment for cults. Robert Lifton described several of them in his book “Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism:” Here are some techniques adapted to the context of Lysenkoism:

    Charismatic Leadership: Claiming special knowledge and demanding unquestioning obedience with power and privilege. Leadership may consist of one individual or a small group of core leaders.

    Media control: Existence of special media and manipulation by the use of coercive persuasion. Control of the group environment and communication.

    Presence of Sacred Truth which is the absolute truth. It is sacred — beyond questioning. There is a reverence demanded for the leadership. They have all the answers. Only to them is given the revelation of “truth”.

    Deception: Recruiting and fundraising with hidden objectives and without full disclosure of aims and techniques; use of “front groups.”

    Exclusivity: Secretiveness or vagueness by followers regarding activities and beliefs.

    http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/lysenkoism.shtml#Lysenkoism%20and%20high-demand%20cults

  2. larry says:

    Reading the comments on the The New Republic article: “Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school” . Guess what schools and line of work the dissenting commentators are from?

    On a lighter note, Winter Gardening questions answered on the Leonard Lopate show – http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/12/verizon-350-etfs-theyre-a-good-thing.ars

  3. farmera1 says:

    Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school (TNR)

    Wow, I feel a real need to comment on this subject. The article is dead nuts on. With a technical background (BS in Chemistry and a MBA), and 30+ years in US manufacturing, and a certification in Quality Engineering, I feel highly qualified to comment.

    US management manages the numbers (aka short term costs). End of story. This quarters numbers is what matters (Management by Objective says it all), the product, people, long term relationships be dammed. We’re talking bonus money here. Let’s get serious. Sounds a lot like the dudes that managed Lehman, Bear Sterns etc into the ground doesn’t it. Yes it does.

    I remember clearly sitting in an MBA marketing class, where the message was it is the perceived value that matters. What I heard was sell them anything, but sell with BS, ads, lies, and general fluff. Doesn’t matter what the product is but sell. Then the accounting classes emphasized “cost control” as an end unto itself. The whole objective was as far as I could see was to manipulate things and people to maximize short term profits. No mention of quality, long term market share or the long term health of the company. No sirree. Just control costs and sell the hell out of things, that was my take-away from the MBA program.

    It isn’t surprising to me that the US can’t make anything. Upper Management doesn’t care about making things, they care about managing numbers and their bonus (funny how all people react to incentives). Now that is too harsh and they certainly wouldn’t admit to it, but actions always speak louder than words. And as always a generalization like my comments is well too general, but I saw enough to conclude it is the dominate type of thinking in US manufacturing.

    So I don’t see manufacturing coming back to the US. US workers are very capable of making high quality auto, motors etc. with the right leadership but not under US style management. It’s just another cultural thing that will be hard/impossible to fix. Sad but true.

    Just another reason to be very skeptical of any long term rebirth of the US.

  4. torrie-amos says:

    i’m with farm, for twenty years i fought the fight, no one cared about doing there best or being there best, or providing the best possible, or above and beyond per the commitment, it was all about managing the numbers and spouting total bullshit on new paradigms, some matrix bs, this or that next thing, not one action in reference to being the best, now of course you got apple and google, and others that somehow believe it

    after 20 years i grew disgusted with corporate flim flam, sad part was we had the people to be the best, and a core that desired to be the best, yet, no one up top really cared, and if you went into management and drank the kool aid you were taken care of, if you went there and tried to do something significant, well bye bye bye

  5. Greg0658 says:

    via “Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school (TNR)” .. “at a big industrial company, the infrastructure to teach him didn’t really exist”

    seems it’s the fav story for the moment … my take as a past builder (remodeler) of factories .. I’d be willing to bet that universities can’t keep up with what is happening in this technological leaps and bounds world we have been in since Area 51 started discovering what’s inside those alien space crafts … GHWB thought he could manage things … ha

    seriously .. imo there is much top secret R&D in the corps & schools are powerless but to provide a base

  6. bsneath says:

    • Why can’t Americans make things?

    My theory always has been the defense industry. If you graduate from MIT, Stanford, etc. where are you going to go, GM or Northrop Grumman? Also high tech and finance take the best. Our manufacturers wind up with run of the mill engineers but not the brilliant ones who are game changers.

  7. bsneath says:

    Is there anything Goldman Sachs can’t do to screw the taxpayer?

    Taxpayers Help Goldman Reach Height of Profit in New Skyscraper

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aaLwI2SKYQJg

  8. formerlawyer says:

    As to the Wall Street Journal Article:

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2009/12/21/flaherty-mortgages-.html

    Ottawa is contemplating raising downpayment requirements and limiting amortization periods.

  9. hgordon says:

    Americans can make things – look at the Apollo space program, Route 128 and Silicon Valley.

    This country (and others) are in a period of significant long-term transition with lots of challenges – the end of cheap oil, the rise of global competition, a disfunctional finance industry and an essentially corrupt power structure. We haven’t lost the ability to innovate or to rise to challenges – it may take a generation to sort this all out, but it’s not beyond imagination to see a time where the right incentives and efforts line up in a positive way.

  10. bsneath says:

    willid3 Says:
    December 21st, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    lost middle class?

    Good article. I recall reading an article about 20 years ago that stated that young Muslim males were at risk of turning into terrorists because their job situation was hopeless. I am wondering what our children will turn to with their hopelessness in the new no middle class, jobless society.

  11. hgordon says:

    I meant “dysfunctional”, not disfunctional. Sorry …

  12. DiggidyDan says:

    damn you willid for making me cringe. . . I would like to add: “throwing someone under the bus” (which is pretty much jargon for me getting fucked) and the worst of all “It is what it is” (a total copout which pretty much exists to explain why i just got thrown under the bus–loosely translates to “I have all the money and power and i’m going to fuck you when and how i please, and you can’t do anything about it”).

  13. willid3 says:

    i was starting to think that the business jargon was the real source of our problems in manufacturing and finance.

  14. Thought provoking article:

    Just keep in mind that he is a capitalist and you should do all right

    Will Sovereign Debt Defaults Bring the End of Socialism?

  15. franklin420d says:

    I am Just Checking This Out To See

    If it works