Good Saturday morning. Its a glorious day in the NorthEast, but before you head out, check out the longer form writings I’ve saved for the weekend. Draw a cup of Joe, find your favorite reading chair, and have at these deep dives:

• Slaves to the Algorithm (Intelligent Life)
Kodak’s Problem Child: How the blue-chip company was bankrupted by one of its own innovations (Medium)
• Laughter and the Brain (The American Scholar)
• Are Coders Worth It? (aeon) see also Letter To A Young Programmer Considering A Startup (Alex Payne)
• Stiglitz: Japan Is a Model, Not a Cautionary Tale (Opinionator)
• Government Loansharking: the Student-Debt Crisis (Boston Review)
Physics’s pangolin: Resolving the stubborn paradoxes of their field (aeon)
• Behind Kanye’s Mask (NYT)
• When The Beautiful Game Turns Ugly (ESPN)
• After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet (Washington Post)

What are you doing this weekend?


Key ETF Performance (%)
Source: Bespoke

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.

12 Responses to “10 Weekend Reads”

  1. judabomber says:


    Just got around to watching the Mauldin Econ links you had on your blog earlier this week…was struck by the discussion on the impact of technology and overall employment in the future. If robots are doing more and more of the jobs, what are some folks left to do? Well, was reading something else about the duel between labor and capital and was stuck by the following passage:

    Back in the American car industry’s tail-finned Fifties, Henry Ford II took Walter Reuther, the leader of the auto workers union to see his latest plant in Detroit. It was just after the UAW had gained another big rise in pay and benefits for its members so Ford may have wanted to make a point. The plant contained the first primitive prerobots replacing workers in some jobs and Ford asked Reuther a question. Pointing at the machines he said: “Tell me Walter, how are you going to get them to join your union?” “I don’t know, Henry”, Reuther replied. “How are you going to get them to buy your cars?”

    That exchange illustrated the basic bargain at the heart of the post-war economic consensus. Workers in factories and offices were well paid and they needed to be for the economic system’s health. For without demand supply is useless and in a mass production economy that means the demand has to come from the mass of the population. And for the mass of the population to buy things they have to have the lion’s share of the countries income. That was truer in the 1950′s than ever before in history and US consumers responded by buying everything America could make and becoming the consumer of last resort for the rest of the world as well.

    • Things that are harder to automate — artistic, design-based, entrepreneurial

      • Crocodile Chuck says:


        We can’t all be digital marketing managers and web masters.

      • bear_in_mind says:

        Hmmmm… entrepreneurial? Makes me think of a passage from an early-70′s pop song you’ll no doubt recognize: “Freedom? Oh freedom, well, that’s just some people talking, your prison is walking through this world all alone.”

        No, all joking aside, automation without a big picture vision, like we saw in industrialists such as Henry Ford, who understood the crucial link between increasing worker’s wages = increasing sales & profits, is crucially absent in today’s “race to the bottom” corporate labor ethos.

        At the current trajectory, there’s very little that can’t, and won’t, be automated in the next 20 to 50 years. Eight-hour shifts are SO 20th century. As long as there’s sufficient electricity, CPU-cycles and humans to repair parts the that fail, machines can work 24/7/365 indefinitely.

        Hospitals are delpoying automated prescription medication dispensors, researchers are toying with “empathic” robots to interact with children and the elderly (in lieu of expensive humans), and one could well argue that the legal and political professions would benefit greatly with the deployment of machines to make rational decisions, free of lobbyists and emotions.

    • rd says:

      Until the printing press was invented, knowledge was passed down from person to person or in a few hand-made transcriptions that could migrate from place to place and over time. Progress was slow. It took a thousand years to go from the roman arch to the gothic arch. The Romans invented cement; that knowledge was lost when Rome fell and is being reinvented over the past 200 years. The Byzantine Empire had a horrific weapon that allowed them to rule the seas around their empire, Greek fire, but people today don’t know what it actually was.

      The Guttenberg printing press meant that knowledge could become widespread and progress accelerated. The ability for religion and kings to rule beliefs and stifle progress began to collapse by the 1700s. By the mid 1800s, the Industrial Revolution had begun and worldwide the societal requirement for 95% of the population to be impoverished serfs tilling the land began to disappear for the first time.

      Prior to the 1700s, the cycles were just largely which new king was able to operate financially and militarily better than the neighboring ones, and the cycles were just different waves of armies sloshing back and forth across physical boundaries. The serfs stayed in the same place and just got new lords periodically.

      However, since the mid-1800s, we have been in a continuous cycle of technical disruption and adaptation which is different. The same question of balancing supply and demand keeps being answered in a different way. Ultimately, the biggest single driver of progress has been the ability of society to reform itself around new leadership and ideas. Different people become rich while the previous super-rich now become bankrupt or merely comfortable unless their families were able to adapt and remain in the leadership role. For progress to continue and people’s lot improve overall, Schumpeter’s creative destruction must be able to continue.

      Its not accidetnal that the major financial crises over the past 150 years have cumlinated in leadership of new technologies, workforces, and workplaces. The financial crises occur as the massive bets on the old ways get taken to exgtremes and collapse under their own weight. Rolling crieses occurred in the late 1800s as the Industrial Revolution and modern transportation really took hold. The extreme wealth inequality in the 1920s led to trade unions dominating after the Great Depression. The computer and globalized work force revolution was just hitting Main Street after the 1970s stagflation,

      The chickens of the computer revolution and the globalized work force came home to roost in the 2000s. It is being re-ordered and we will see what comes out of it a decade from now. We are in the late middle game now and the end game should start soon. It will be interesting to see who in the top few percent survive intact and who fall by the wayside as the attempts to lock in the status quo fail in the end game. However, I think the median person will start to see improvements again a few years from now and those improvements should continue for another two to three decades until the cycle repeats itself.

  2. CSF says:

    Japan’s cautionary tale is that developed nations should undertake reforms before they grow old and hit 240% debt-to-GDP. Abenomics may be too late to save Japan without painful adjustments to standards of living, regardless of their life expectancy or GINI coefficient.

    Japan is a model in its willingness to discuss structural reforms, and we should consider our own: building a 21st century infrastructure, for example. Yet here Japan warrants caution, too. After all, if high speed trains guaranteed growth, Japan would be growing at 10%. The most important reforms, judging from the Japanese experience, are those that break up the economic stasis created by crony capitalism and corporate welfare. We would be well advised to reform the tax code, end TBTF, curb the lobbyists, etc, etc.

  3. RW says:

    Your Hidden Censor: What Your Mind Will Not Let You See

    Is it really possible that we are constantly failing to notice things right in front of us? Is there some mysterious force screening what we see and what remains hidden? …the answer is yes, we are constantly overlooking much of the world around us and no, there is nothing mysterious about it. The key is to realize that this is just what attention is: selectivity. For a brain with finite computing power, zooming in to focus on one thing always means picking up less information about everything else.

    NB: This is probably only one aspect of perceptual screening out: As we mature the brain learns to ignore more than they things we aren’t paying attention because we are also learning to live and learning to think; e.g., children see everything but they are less able to organize and label what they see and our most original thinkers have very likely retained some aspect of this.

    “An idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize means to think.” –Georg Hegel

    “We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.” –Albert Camus

  4. Jojo says:

    Here’s a cool example of a real niche market. :)
    Prosthetic Fingers Help Reform Japan’s Feared Yakuza Gangsters
    Ex-Japanese Gangsters Turn to Prosthetics for Normal Life

    By AKIKO FUJITA (@akikofujita)
    TOKYO June 7, 2013

    Shintaro Hayashi never expected his job to lead him to the underworld.

    The prosthetics maker built a career making silicone body parts for patients with breast cancer, or legs and arms for those injured in serious accidents.

    But a decade ago, he started to notice a change in the clientele at his Tokyo-based company, Aiwa Gishi.

    “I started to see a gradual increase in people who were asking for prosthetic pinkies,” Hayashi, 39, said. “They weren’t the standard small, medium or large, but custom-made pinkies.”

    In Japan, a stunted pinkie signifies membership in the yakuza, or Japanese mafia. In a ritual known as “yubitsume,” yakuza members are required to chop off their own digits to atone for serious offenses. The left pinkie is usually the first to go, though repeated offenses call for further severing. As a result, those who get out, have a hard time finding work because of the stigma attached to those missing fingers.

    That’s where Hayashi comes in.

  5. VennData says:

    Moderate cleric Rohani to be Iran’s next president: minister

    ​Moderate in the sense that menstruating wome​n are only banished for three days rather than an entire week. Oh what a breath of fresh air.

    I hope the NSA just leaves these secular humanists alone.

  6. rd says:

    The WSJ has an interesting story looking at the details of tracking people through their phones and computers:

    However, the story doesn’t appear to appreciate the irony of a Murdoch-owned publication discussing phone and computer data trails given the Murdoch Empire personal device hacking scandals.

  7. Jojo says:

    You Did Finish That Article!
    Well, some of you, anyway.

    By Farhad Manjoo | Posted Friday, June 14, 2013

    Last week I challenged readers to get to the end of my column. OK, right, I do that every week, but this time the challenge was explicit. The Web traffic-analysis firm Chartbeat had provided me with stats showing that most people don’t scroll all the way through online articles. At Slate, 38 percent of readers who land on a page immediately bounce away, and 5 percent of those who are left never scroll at all. Most others give up in the middle. The median scroll length at Slate is about halfway through an article, and across the Web it’s just slightly more. Most of the people who are reading this sentence are getting ready to press the Back button. (You guys suck.)

    But it’s not just that people aren’t reading the whole thing; they also seem to be sharing articles they haven’t fully read. Chartbeat–whose software can measure where on the page your browser is pointed on a second-by-second basis–shows that there’s little relationship between scrolling and tweeting. Articles that generate a lot of scrolling down the page don’t necessarily generate many tweets, while much-tweeted articles aren’t necessarily much-read. If someone is telling you to read something, beware: There’s a good chance he hasn’t read it himself.

    My column carried the headline “You Won’t Finish This Article.” So, did you finish? Why or why not? If you didn’t, was it because the piece (like most Slate pieces) was split up into multiple pages? And does it matter that you didn’t finish–is it a big deal that people aren’t reading to the end?

  8. Joe Friday says:

    Government Loansharking: the Student-Debt Crisis

    The only people I’ve seen make this argument are either shills for the private-sector banks that lost their price-gouging profits or people who have no comprehension of the topic.

    * Of course wrestling student loans from the private-sector banks saves students TONS of money.

    * ANYONE who charges any amount of interest will make a “profit”.

    * If people think the federal government should offer zero-interest student loans, GREAT, but that’s an entirely different argument.