Good morning. Here are my favorite long form articles from this week:

• 5 Slumps That Shaped Modern Finance (Economist)
• Clean Coal Is the Future (Wired)
• The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs (Pacific Standard)
• Greed Is Good: A 300-Year History of a Dangerous Idea (The Atlantic)
• Krugman: Why We’re in a New Gilded Age (New York Review of Books)
• How to Buy Warhol, Degas and Renoir on the Cheap (WSJ)
• Herbalife: How lobbying dollars prop up pyramid schemes (The Verge)
• The Invention of the Slurpee (Priceonomics)
• The Crossroads of Should and Must (Medium)
• The Cube: A surprisingly sprightly history of the glum designs behind the world of modern work (Book Forum)

Whats up for the weekend?
 

Teen Survey On Device Ownership

Source: Asymco

 

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.

13 Responses to “10 Weekend Reads”

  1. rd says:

    The US Treasury has figured out an alternate source of the money that they could have gotten from the banks’ executives for their misdeeds. The farm bill a coupleof years ago lifted the 10 year statute of limitations on debts owed to Uncle Sam, so they are now grabbing tax refunds from people whose parents thatt Social Security thinks received too many benefits but have since died. Social Security and the IRS just go under the working assumption that the kids must have received some benefit from that and so can grab the tax refunds without explanation.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/social-security-treasury-target-hundreds-of-thousands-of-taxpayers-for-parents-old-debts/2014/04/10/74ac8eae-bf4d-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html

    Another good reason not to structure your finances to get a tax refund.

  2. romerjt says:

    Could it have been that I was reading Flashboys to get back to sleep in the middle of the night? Stunned by the complexity that buying and selling stock had become and the bizarre arrest of Sergey Aleynikov by Goldman Sacs’ representative in the Federal government; an idea from Taleb jolted me – “Fragile”, this whole thing has become incredibly Antifragile like in the Flashcrash that no one could explain and then the music from Jaws . . . “Oh Dear”!

    Found this – from Taleb “The worst problem of modernity lies in the malignant transfer of fragility and antifragility from one part to the other, with one getting the benefits, the other one (unwittingly) getting the harm, with such transfer facilitated by the growing wedge between the ethical and the legal.”

  3. RW says:

    U.K. Conservatives Redefine Success Downward

    …we find George Osborne, the U.K. finance minister, boasting in the WSJ about his country’s economic performance now that its economy is finally beginning to grow again.

    …The U.K. performance would not be the sort of thing that you would generally boast about, but given the affirmative action policies for conservatives at the WSJ and elsewhere in the media, apparently Osborne expects to get away with it.

  4. Stock Soup says:

    Chromophobia

    Ever wonder why heaven is always black and white in the movies, or modern high end homes are white and devoid of primary colors? If you like art, get a grip on western assumptions that vivid colors are somehow low, or primitive.

  5. RW says:

    Understanding the difference between stocks and flows can help your investing analysis if for no other reasons than (a) it might help you understand why daily price fluctuations are rarely if ever related to recent macroeconomic news and (b) why personal experience in the markets offers little insight into long-term macroeconomic policy; in fact it can be downright misleading.

    Stocks, Flows, and Pimco

    … asset purchases matter because over time they change the stocks of assets available : by buying long term federal debt, the Fed takes some of that debt off the market, and hence drives up the price of what’s left, reducing interest rates. The flow – the rate of purchases – matters only to the extent that it affects expected returns.

    On this view, the fact that the Fed is currently buying some large fraction of debt issuance is irrelevant; interest rates are determined by the willingness at the margin of private investors to hold the existing stock of debt, regardless. …

    Wall Street, The City, And Austerity

    … If you were listening to the deficit worriers from late 2009 right through until the summer of 2011, they were constantly asking “Who’s going to buy all those bonds we’re issuing?” And they kept arguing that while yes, someone was buying them now, those purchases will dry up any day now.

    …this was the wrong question: Asset prices mainly reflect the willingness of people to hold the stock of assets out there, not the flow of new assets being created, so that obsessing over who happened to be buying the flow today was wrong and created a false sense of fragility.

    Events have largely confirmed the stock view. But why would finance people have leaned toward a flow view? One answer, I think, is that while demands for stocks are the big story, day-by-day movements in asset prices — movements that are usually just a fraction of a percent — do often reflect the order flow. And here’s the thing: while those day-to-day fluctuations aren’t important for economic policy, they’re all-important for traders …

  6. hue says:

    Brown Box (Radiolab) You order some stuff on the Internet and it shows up three hours later. How could all the things that need to happen to make that happen happen so fast? See Also I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave (Mojo)
    My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine. This story BR posted before, same reporter as in podcast.

    The Money Paradox (TED Radio Hour) How does money motivate, trick, satisfy and disappoint us? The monopoly game experiment is very interesting for our times.

    Guitars are for the birds (Slate)

  7. VennData says:

    Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won

    “…The law has won its survival. The Obama administration can exhale. Personnel changes can be made. A new team … can be brought in to continue to improve the law. And Sebelius can leave with her head held high. She can leave with the law she helped build looking, shockingly, like a success…”

    http://www.vox.com/2014/4/10/5602670/kathleen-sebelius-is-resigning-because-obamacare-has-won

    With the Pope going after the venality of the GOP…

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/23/pope-francis-war-on-aspiration/

    …IMHO, the midterms are totally up-in-the-air.

  8. “‘Unless Congress acts — and acts very soon — many plans will fail, more than one million people will lose their pensions, and thousands of small businesses will be handed bills they can’t pay,’ said Joshua Gotbaum, executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal insurer that pays benefits to people whose company pension plans fail.”

    Thought Secure, Pooled Pensions Teeter and Fall

    http://goo.gl/uR1vWD

  9. Jojo says:

    Bloomberg Businessweek
    An Immodest Proposal: A Global Tax on the Superrich
    By Peter Coy April 10, 2014

    Bill Gates washes his own dishes, as we learned this year from his Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, but he’s certainly not trying to save money. The world’s richest person is doing everything in his power to decrease his fortune. He stopped working for a living. He sold most of his stake in Microsoft (MSFT). And he’s poured $28 billion so far into the family foundation, which is fighting AIDS, polio, tuberculosis, and hunger. Despite all that, Gates’s pile keeps getting higher. His wealth as of April 8 totaled $79 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s up $16 billion in just the past two years.

    Gates is just the most extreme example of the polarization of wealth in the U.S. The top hundredth of 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers–that’s 16,000 people–have a combined net worth of $6 trillion. That’s as much as the bottom two-thirds of the population. Meanwhile, a quarter of American families say they have no money in a checking or savings account to cover an emergency, according to Bankrate.com.

    The growth of inequality can sometimes feel as inexorable as the subterranean shifting of tectonic plates. It may be driven by powerful forces, but ultimately it’s a choice, not a fact of nature. What allows Gates to keep getting richer in spite of himself is a web of human-designed institutions and practices, from the tax system to patent law. So the question is not whether society can reduce inequality, but whether it wants to. If the answer to that is yes, the next question is how.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-10/thomas-pikettys-global-tax-on-capital-may-not-be-a-crazy-idea

  10. Jojo says:

    Bloomberg Businessweek
    Web Comic: Why Americans Pay Taxes So Faithfully
    By Richard Rubin and Dorothy Gambrell April 10, 2014

    In preparation for Tax Day, writer Richard Rubin and graphic artist Dorothy Gambrell examine Americans’ overwhelming compliance with the law.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-10/why-americans-pay-taxes-so-faithfully-a-web-comic

  11. Willy2 says:

    Jesse’s Café Americain posted an excellent video with a speech/lecture Elizabeth Warren gave in 2007. Warren crunches the numbers of how the spending pattern of the average americain family have shifted in the timeframe from 1970 up to say 2003.

    The excellent video deserves a separate blogpost here on the Big Picture, IMO. The video is worth looking at literally every minute.
    http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.nl/2014/04/liz-warren-predicts-collapse-of-middle.html

    The lecture of Mrs. Warren makes the contention of Mr. John Williams (www.shadowstats.com) more convincing.

    • Willy2 says:

      I think Warren should read the work of Harry S. Dent for a better understanding of why all this happened.