Lots of interesting reading for the weekend:

• Goldman’s O’Neill Sees Investors Missing Stock Rally on ‘Black Swan’ Fears (Bloomberg)
• Facebook’s Stealth Attack on Google Exposes Its Own Privacy Problem (Wired)
• Gloom and Doom, and How to Profit From It (Deal Book)
• The Auto Industry Bailout – Still Debated But Worth Every Penny (AOL Autos)
• Lessons From The Flash Crash (Forbes)
• The Failure of American Schools (The Atlantic)
• Richard Tofel on the Changing Business of Journalism (The Browser)
• Somali Pirates’ Rich Returns (BB Businessweek)
• Meet Edward Tufte, the graphics guru: The Information Sage (Washington Monthly)
• REM’s Michael Stipe (Interview Magazine)

What fascinating things are you reading . . . ?

Category: Financial Press, Markets

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.

22 Responses to “Weekend Reads”

  1. mitchw says:

    FALLOUT, by Collins and Frantz. On how the CIA allowed A.Q. Kahn to proliferate since the 70′s. Better/worse than fiction.

  2. formerlawyer says:

    ….you are probably fairly well-educated, and there is a better than even chance that you fancy yourself a fact-based thinker and reasonably rational. Meaning no disrespect, but that assumption is fanciful, at least when it comes to the perception of risk.


    Rethinking is a core skill?


  3. Arequipa01 says:

    H/T BeSpacific


    In particular pages 8-14 on fraud.

    This document is a product that Lexis constructs to sell to banks etc so there is an explicit bias toward financial institutions- you know, ‘victims’ of fraud. Operations like LN don’t make money printing the truth, the coin comes in on how well the preacher reads from the Good Book.

    Posting this does not express an endorsement of the text’s editorial line. It is merely submitted as evidence.

  4. formerlawyer says:

    Sorry, forgot some additional links.

    Forecasting world events is difficult. From:


    …One aim of the study is to discover whether some kinds of personality are better than others at making accurate predictions. The researchers hope to recruit a diverse panel of participants who are interested in offering predictions about events and trends in international relations, social and cultural change, business and economics, public health, and science and technology.

    To date (this is a multi-year study) ….

    [t]he big question was whether these scores would correlate with those derived from the general-knowledge version of the test. If they did, that would suggest that the cognitive tasks involved in estimating the likelihood of general knowledge statements are basically the same as the skills required to estimate the probability of future events.

    Resulted in a minimal correlation (.21) between skills as to general knowledge (as captured by the test) to predicting future events. Sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (think DARPA) the project is still open for participants, it is web based.


  5. formerlawyer says:


    Figure 4 in that report is very interesting. Over the years 2006-2010, misrepresentation in Applications has dropped from 69% to 39% while misleading valuations has grown from 16% to a high of 24% in 2009 and down again to “historic” levels. Very interesting….

  6. Uchicagoman says:

    [Google I/O 2011 After Hours Party: Jane's Addiction]

  7. MayorQuimby says:

    Just watched the Atomic Bomb movie on Netflix. Highly recommended.

  8. machinehead says:

    From the excellent Washington Monthly article about Edward Tufte:

    In his 2007 book Beautiful Evidence, Tufte introduced what he called “sparklines,” numerically dense, word-size graphics that show variation over time. They have since appeared on the financial pages of Yahoo! and the sports section of the New York Times. In November 2009, Tufte’s old bête noire, Microsoft, attempted to patent sparklines for use within the spreadsheets that will appear in the latest version of Excel.

    UFB — how could Microsoft expect to patent an idea which already had been publicly disclosed by others? The Evil Empire of Redmond is more braindead than we’d thought. Don’t any actual patent lawyers work there?

    Later in the article, Tufte delivers this thought-provoking gem:

    “Self-publishing,” Tufte told me, “allowed for an incredible, bizarre fussiness.”

    Not to mention making him rich. This is one of the first cases I’ve heard of, where being an old-school curmudgeon paid and paid well.

  9. mitchcalderwood says:

    Regarding the Atlantic article, see what John Ewing, former Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society thinks about “data driven” decision making in education


    The key take-away from this article is -

    “Test scores can be increased without increasing student learning…One can dramatically
    increase test scores while at the same time actually decreasing student learning. “Test scores” are not the same as “student achievement”.”

    more quotes:

    “Of course we should hold teachers accountable, but this does not mean we have to pretend
    that mathematical models can do something they cannot. Of course we should rid our schools of incompetent teachers, but value-added models are
    an exceedingly blunt tool for this purpose. In any case, we ought to expect more from our teachers than what value-added attempts to measure.”

    “Inflation. Test scores can be increased without increasing student learning. This assertion has been convincingly demonstrated, but it is widely ignored by many in the education establishment [Koretz 2008, chap. 10]. In fact, the assertion should not be surprising. Every teacher knows that providing strategies for test-taking can improve student performance and that narrowing the curriculum to conform precisely to the test (“teaching to the test”) can have an even greater effect. The evidence shows that these effects can be substantial: One can dramatically increase test scores while at the same time actually decreasing student learning. “Test scores” are not the same as “student achievement”.

    This last problem plays a larger role as the stakes increase. This is often referred to as Campbell’s Law: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to measure” [Campbell 1976]. In its simplest form, this can mean that high-stakes tests are likely to induce some people (students, teachers, or administrators) to cheat…and they do [Gabriel 2010]. But the more common consequence of Campbell’s Law is a distortion of the education experience, ignoring things that are not tested (for example, student engagement and attitude) and concentrating on precisely those things that are.”

  10. re: http://www.bespacific.com/

    People miss much when they miss her site..

    also, if they choose, they can “Sign up for e-mail version of beSpacific.” ..

    and, here, http://www.llrx.com/ , a related site, one can find ‘more focused’ Topics..

    including, ones, like..

  11. dguillor says:

    Regarding the Atlantic article: I do not believe that lack of education is what is causing our unemployment problems. The more important culprits are: Massive malinvestments caused by the credit bubble, limits to the efficacy of supply side economics and global labor arbitrage. I have a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from a top school and worked for a successful company, HP, for most of my career. When we heard them trot out the red herring of lack of skilled workers we knew that they really meant was that it was hard to find coolies with masters degrees in America. For most jobs creativity is much more important than academic training. We should recognize this claim for what it is, a wil goose chase.

  12. clauddelee says:

    The best read I found this week is: Rolling Stone’s “The People vs. Goldman Sachs”


  13. Mike in Nola says:

    From ZH: How the ratings agencies continue to get away with murder:

    MitchW: truth is generally stranger than fiction. What really happens it too bizarre to make up. I remember reading The Ultra Secret when when it was first releasing in the 1970′s and thinking “boy is this crazy.” But it was true.

  14. mathman says:

    Norwegian Institute for Air Research: Radiation Forecasts on the ‘Zardoz’ Subdomain

    You might want to check this out, especially since we don’t hear much from Japan since the
    Fukushima disaster.


  15. Cancale says:

    Interesting that Jim O’Neill of GSAM says “not every little problem will lead to a black swan.” Naturally, he’d like more people to put up money so GSAM’s assets under management grow. And this, after what Goldman’s done to the world economy.

  16. rktbrkr says:

    World Bank Head caught with his pants down!

    Lets see – he was arrested for a sex assault while fleeing the country on a Sunday night. Anybody think he will spend the night in jail waiting for arraignment or will he be held at a private room while a judge is pulled from his country club supper to release him?

    Lets watch his treatment compared to the railroading Julian Assange has been treated to, it’s the singer not the song!

  17. beaufou,

    just remember, the IMF wants to do to the U.S., what Strauss-Kahn wanted to do, “allegedly”, to that Maid..

    (nice ‘Clouds’–on the left-hand side)

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/allegedly (note to Self..3(III) l’s in ‘allegedly’)

    also, anyone else notice that, a la Greenspan, DSK is married to to ‘prominent’ “Newscaster” (?)


  18. mathman says:

    Piggy-backing on the New York action, there’s a class action lawsuit against the cheap-ass owners of the high-end concessions in Yankee stadium. Check it out:


    Not too obvious when Goldman Sachs gets involved in things.

  19. patfla says:

    Started Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon this weekend:


    GR was hilarious and I expect M&D to be the same. Viz.

    Mason & Dixon are on a British frigate that’s to take them first to the South Atlantic to observe the transit of Venus and then to the Colonies where they’ll do further surveying.

    Sailing ship crew member approaches the captain with a problem:

    “Excuse me Captain, problem with the Euphroes again.”
    “Get O’Brian up here, then, if it’s about Euphroes, he’s the one to see.”
    “Hey t’en Pat. Scribblin’ again are ye? More Sea Stories?” Not only does O’Brian know all there is to know and more ‘pon the Topick of Euphroes, and Rigging even more obscure,

  20. mathman says:

    Hey patfla: Mason & Dixon is a great book, really enjoyable. i just started Inherent Vice yesterday (a quick read for Pynchon). Against The Day was awesome! Too many topics to begin to describe the book, but fantastic at holding your attention for hours. By the time i reached the end of that one i wished he had written another 300 pages!