10 Monday AM Reads

Welcome back to the workweek. Start it off right with our artisanal morning train reads:

• Thoughts on Hedge Funds (A Wealth of Common Sensesee also Most Hedge Funds had a Terrible September (Eqira)
• Bernanke: How the Fed Saved the Economy (WSJsee also Bank execs should have gone to jail for causing Great Recession (USAT)
• Google’s driverless car drivers ride a career less traveled (Seattle Pisee also Self-Driving Cars Could Save 300,000 Lives Per Decade in America (The Atlantic)
• Can You See the Future? Probably Better Than Professional Forecasters (MoneyBeat)
• Wonks for Hire: Elizabeth Warren challenged a think tank over iffy, industry-backed research. There’s a lot more where that came from. (Slatesee also A Fiduciary Critic, Representing Whose Interest? (Bloomberg View)

Continues here



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Discussions found on the web:
  1. VennData commented on Oct 5

    Bernanke schooling Joe Kernan on CNBC today.

    “Do you really believe that?

    No wonder Kernan hates academics. He can’t put his talking points over on them.

  2. VennData commented on Oct 5

    McCarthy’s gaffe.

    “…But that dynamic began to shift, particularly following McCarthy’s gaffe last week suggesting that the purpose of a special House committee investigating the deadly attacks in 2012 of the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, was to drive down Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers. Clinton, secretary of state at that time, is now the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president…”


    Ridiculous. A gaffe is when Jeb Bush reveals his true feelings and says “Stuff happens” after a college shooting.

    The GOP investigation obsession with no facts is a fact. Anyone who doesn’t understand it is a sucker and needs to stop what they are doing and educate themselves on how craven Republicans are.

  3. VennData commented on Oct 5

    CIrcus clowns, Robert Litan and Hal Singer who claimed to have concocted a “study” that “proves” fiduciary standards are “bad” are done.


    Credibility ruining nonsense (for industry cash) may get them a 30-minute talk show on Fox, but no one with a brain will take Litan and Singer seriously ever again.

    Time to start driving Uber, boys. Oh, and make sure you give stock tips while you’re, I’ll be listening from the back seat to know to go the other direction.

    Nice Work Senator Warren. Please, PLEASE ring up up more of these assholes and ruin them.

    • VennData commented on Oct 5

      Teams of highly-paid specialists will drop in and will get around to Congressional Republicans who will blaming the EPA, environmental standards, Liberals, and the 47%.


    • wally commented on Oct 5

      Like everyone up and down the ladder was not fully aware that one of the company’s fundamental products could not meet legal standards – and by up to a factor of 40. A product fundamental to the company’s future that teams of engineers, programmers, and testers spent years developing – in complete secrecy from company management???

    • Iamthe50percent commented on Oct 5

      Well, actually, it did meet the legal standard – meeting the required test. No cheating, the tested vehicle behaved like every one of the production vehicles. The VW programmers just found a hole in the test standards and programmed the vehicle to exploit it. It’s reproducible so it wasn’t cheating. Not very nice, but not cheating like reporting false data or using a non-production control system.

  4. MarkKlose commented on Oct 5

    On CNBC this morning, Bernanke stated unequivocally that the WSJ headline on his OpEd was not his and totally misrepresented the central theme of the piece. He was clearly embarrassed by it.

  5. RW commented on Oct 5

    Overthinking the book/movie perhaps but not the bigger picture.

    ‘The Martian’ isn’t just a great movie. It’s an important movie
    …there’s an important message in “The Martian” that we need to apply to our politics: You can’t solve problems without facts.

    If Watney survived (you’ll have to find out for yourself), he did so by applying scientific knowledge about how things work. The analogy for public policy is that denying climate change or trying 50-plus times to repeal Obamacare or refusing to take any action on gun control are not just the actions of dysfunctional ideologues or bought-and-paid-for politicians. They are existential threats, just as dangerous to us as not applying hard science to his problem would have been for Watney. ….

    NB: Loved the book, plan to see the movie.

    • rd commented on Oct 5

      I saw the movie. It is excellent on many fronts. The importance of the science and engineering to execute the hopeful outcome was front and center. Thinking “happy thoughts” was necessary to create the “can-do” mind set, but then they had to get down to work to actually solve the problem with creative thinking, solid science and good execution instead of just hope and prayer. Minor miscalculations emerge and cause a whole new set of problems that need to be addressed in a step-by-step fashion.

      Like Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13”, they focused on the drama of the problem and the people trying their best to solve it without superimposing all sorts of extraneous love interests, conspiracies, etc. the way most movies do. It followed a much more “real-life” script than the typical Hollywood blockbuster.

      BTW – as an engineer, I have often been accused of being a “negative thinker” for pointing out the numerous roadblocks to getting something accomplished. My response is always “I’ve had my happy thought – I think we can do this, now we just have to figure out all the things that could prevent it from happening and solve them.” After the project is successfully completed, the usual response from executives is that it couldn’t have been very difficult because not many problems arose during the execution as they fail to understand the benefits of understanding the science and planning the work in advance instead of just reacting to problems.

  6. VennData commented on Oct 5

    Alabama going to drop in the polls?

    “…​Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That’s Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed. Closed. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting…”


    Nice Job Supreme Court letting these right wing Clowns do whatever they want. States Rights!

    Republicans, are tax cuts for the rich THIS important to you?

    • VennData commented on Oct 5

      Maybe if you stopped giving away tax incentives to foreign car companies?

      Or paid union wages?

      Or educated your children?

    • intlacct commented on Oct 6

      The Right is incensed about infinitesimal, totally prosecutable voter identity fraud. What is more criminal in our democracy than denying the right to vote to a large swath of people?

  7. VennData commented on Oct 5

    Obama’s giveaway to foreigners in his anti-regular guy TPP is KILLING the stock market today.

  8. Jojo commented on Oct 5

    “Self-Driving Cars Could Save 300,000 Lives Per Decade in America”
    Unintended consequence – Since these people did not die, the people who took their jobs are still unemployed. Oops.

  9. rd commented on Oct 5

    I am baffled by this piece.

    Don’t economists understand demographics? We have a huge demographic bulge moving into retirement. They realized that they have under-saved for retirement to date and therefore are saving their butts off (putting money into banks and investments or paying off debt). Traditional financial advice says that you should increase your bond holdings as you get older, so why would it be a surprise that people are actually doing what is recommended?

    Meanwhile, they are hearing the bleating of lots of wealthy politicians about how Social Security should be eliminated or greatly reduced. Since Social Security is their only remaining “pension”, their financial security in retirement is under direct assault by the wealthy and the political classes.

    Given the demographics, financial recommendations to increase high quality bond allocations in portfolios, and a political onslaught on their safety net in retirement, why would it come as a surprise that many people, especially Baby Boomers, have significantly increased their savings rate? That is what we have done in our household since our kids finished up college. It would be irrational for us to increase our spending while leaving retirement savings and debt reduction underfunded.

  10. howardoark commented on Oct 5

    I haven’t seen anyone calling for cutting SS lately. But this is going to have to be addressed:

    Social Security’s total expenditures have exceeded non-interest income of its combined trust funds since 2010, and the Trustees estimate that Social Security cost will exceed non-interest income throughout the 75-year projection period. The Trustees project that this annual cash-flow deficit will average about $76 billion between 2015 and 2018 before rising steeply as income growth slows to its sustainable trend rate after the economic recovery is complete while the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers.


    It’s actually worse than $76 billion/yr – note the expression “non-interest income”. The SS actuaries know that everything that isn’t covered by withholding from worker paychecks has to come from the general fund (so the actual shortfall plus redemption of t-bills). Congress can paper over the $76 billion/yr (thank you foreigners) but the “rising steeply” bit should trouble everyone. I’ve heard many frantic cries in the dark that SS isn’t bankrupt because, wait for it, “there’s a trust fund”. Well around 2020 someone is going to have to figure out where the money to fund that trust fund is going to come from and laying it on the Millennials isn’t likely to work.

    • MidlifeNocrisis commented on Oct 5

      Social Security isn’t going “bankrupt” because we live in a country with it’s own fiat, sovereign currency, which can be created out of thin air. The process works great as long as inflation is muted.

  11. RW commented on Oct 6

    Most commentary has, quite appropriately, focused on the inherent (and ironic) conflict of interest and palpable bias in the Litan & Singer study but it’s worth emphasizing too that the study was just flat-out badly done research.

    It Isn’t the Money, It’s the Economics

    …what is most shocking… is just how poor the quality of the analysis is…. Litan and Singer’s argument hinges on… 1) that industry will follow through on its threats to stop serving smaller accounts if the rule is adopted and 2) that investors will lose access to important benefits… as a result of losing access to human advisors. The first… is based on a fundamental error….

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