10 Weekend Reads

Pour yourself some strong black coffee, and settle in for our longer form weekend couch reads:

• The History of the Black-Scholes Formula (Pricenomics)
• How Rogue Techies Armed the Predator, Almost Stopped 9/11, and Accidentally Invented Remote War (Wiredsee also Inside the NSA’s hunt for hackers: The government is losing ground in the effort to hire critical cyber talent—but our most secretive agency isn’t doing too badly. (Politico)
• A Revolving Door Helps Big Banks’ Quiet Campaign to Muscle Out Fannie and Freddie (NYT).
• The search for Apple’s next big thing (Apple Insider) see also The Curious Case of the Curious Case (Daring Fireball)
• A Special Relationship: The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again (Harper’s)
• Congress’ half-trillion-dollar spending binge: Budget austerity takes a back seat as the House passes nearly $700 billion in unpaid-for tax cuts. (Politico) see also Can we stop pretending that Republicans care about the deficit now? (Plum Line)
• This Is My First Gun: A Glock 19 9mm Semi-Automatic Pistol (Ratter)
• How AT&T Execs Took Over the Red Cross and Hurt its Ability to Help People (ProPublica)
• Star Lords: ‘Star Wars’ and the monomyth of Silicon Valley (The Awl) see also A look inside the insanely successful life of Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen (Business Insider)
• The 2015 Jealousy List: The 38 Best Stories We Didn’t Write (Bloomberg)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Stephen Roach, formerly Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley, currently lecturer at Yale.


Conference Board Indices Point to Very Low Recession Risk

Source: Bespoke Investment Group





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  1. 8albert8 commented on Dec 19

    could you post the link for the history of Black Scholes? I don’t see it. thanks.


    ADMIN: Fixed

  2. machinehead commented on Dec 19

    When Politico talks about a “$680 billion spending spree,” presumably this means over a 10-year period.

    CBO projects that the fiscal deficit will run at about 2 percent of GDP for the next several years.

    Despite the silly DC habit of throwing around eye-popping numbers created by adding an extra decimal place, it’s unlikely that the omnibus bill signed into law yesterday bolsters fiscal stimulus by more than 0.2 percent annually. We’ll see, once CBO scores the new law.

    Trying to use MSM-reported numbers to do economics will only succeed in breaking your calculator.

    • RW commented on Dec 19


      MSM and politicos’ chronic abuse and misleading use of economic numbers bothered the folks at CEPR so much they developed some online calculators including a budget calculator that converts dollar amounts into (a) % of total revenues, (b) $ per capita, (c) % of discretionary spending or (d) % of total budget (toggle “advanced” calculator to see options a – c, the basic calculator just shows option d)

      I probably use that one at least once every week because corporate media typically only reports raw $ amounts (usually while clutching their pearls) but because they often get even that wrong I often check CBO or some other reliable source. I don’t even bother with that with Rep Paul Ryan’s offerings since they never add up even if you take the growth assumptions and magic asterisks seriously.

  3. Jojo commented on Dec 19

    Overdose Deaths Reached a New High in 2014
    DEC. 18, 2015

    Fatal drug overdoses reached a new high in 2014, killing nearly 50,000 Americans, more than were killed in auto accidents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twice as many Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 as in 2000.

    Most of the deaths involved heroin or prescription narcotic painkillers like OxyContin. These drugs accounted for 28,647 deaths in 2014, or 61 percent of the overdose deaths. Deaths from heroin and narcotic painkillers increased 14 percent last year, to nine per 100,000 from 7.9, according to the C.D.C.

    Men and women of all races and ethnic groups and nearly all ages were affected by drug overdoses, but the national numbers were affected mainly by increases in deaths in 14 states: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The other states had no significant increases compared with 2013. Among the five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths — West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio — two, Kentucky and West Virginia, had no significant increases from 2013.


  4. Jojo commented on Dec 19

    December 16, 2015
    Study: Climate Change Rapidly Warming World’s Lakes

    Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new NASA and National Science Foundation-funded study of more than half of the world’s freshwater supply.

    Using more than 25 years of satellite temperature data and ground measurements of 235 lakes on six continents, this study — the largest of its kind — found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. The scientists say this is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects.


  5. Jojo commented on Dec 19

    Facebook offers workers $10K to cut the commute
    Silicon Valley giant wants workers to leave San Francisco for suburbs near its campus triggering gentrification fears

    December 18, 2015 1:15AM ET

    Facebook is offering employees at its Silicon Valley headquarters at least $10,000 to move closer to the office, a reflection of the challenges many tech companies face in the increasingly expensive and congested San Francisco Bay area.

    To qualify for the payment, which the social networking firm started offering in the last 12 months, according to current and former Facebook workers, employees must buy or rent a home within 10 miles of the Facebook campus at One Hacker Way, a desolate strip of road overlooking a marsh about 30 miles south of San Francisco.

    Some Facebook employees with families could earn a one-time payment of $15,000 or more for housing costs.

    While that sounds hefty, the average home price in Menlo Park, where Facebook is located, is $1,950,000, according to the online real estate company, Trulia.com, and the average rental is $3,600 a month [1 bedroom apartment?]. And some workers remember a time when Facebook offered a few hundred dollars for employees who lived within a few blocks of its old offices in Palo Alto. Landlords in the area quickly raised rents to match, they say.



  6. Jojo commented on Dec 19

    Canadians are selling cans of fresh air to China
    Kalyeena Makortoff | @kalyeena
    Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015

    Canada may be struggling with low oil prices, but China’s latest environmental crisis is proving to be a lucrative opportunity for another of its natural resources — Rocky Mountain air.

    Alberta-based Vitality Air has been cashing in on Beijing’s worsening air quality problems, selling aluminum cans of “fresh clean air and oxygen” from the picturesque Rocky Mountains for around $10 to $20 each.

    Vitality Air’s China representative Harrison Wang said told MailOnline that they sold out almost instantly after marketing the product on China’s e-commerce website Taobao. They’ll be sending another 700 bottles to China in the coming weeks, topping their first 500-bottle shipment.

    “We have sold everything, and we now have a bunch of customers and people wanting to be our distributors,” Harrison said.



  7. ilsm commented on Dec 19

    Sure the US is being “taken in” by supporting the supposedly less radical Islamist terrorists. It help to do away the protectors of Shiite minorities outside Iran.

    Iran who has done almost nothing to US interests outside of scaring ARAMCO since 1979 when it deposed the CIA’s ruthless thugs smothering Tehran.

    While US media misleaders point out that ISIS and its Sunni supports in Anbar are being beaten by “deadly Shiite militias”.

    It is only good for the US to support less radical Sunni terrorists!

    As in every quagmire since 1953 and a few before, the US is on the wrong side, spending huge sums that yield nothing but immoral failure and bankruptcy.

  8. VennData commented on Dec 19

    Google designer Kristen Beck interview on Chromecast and being one of Google’s ‘albino deer’

    “…She’s not exaggerating on her rarity: Of Google’s ~57,000 employees, fewer than 30 hold industrial design positions…”


    If my cable company would take a sliver of the money they throw at put-out-to-pasture lobbyists demanding and end to Net Neutrality on ONE DESIGN ENGINEER to COMPLETELY REDO THEIR USER EXPERIENCE the universe would be a better place.

    • Jojo commented on Dec 19

      I agree but why bother, there is no or hardly no competition to worry about. Where you going to go?

  9. constantnormal commented on Dec 20

    Apple needs to pry loose Jonny Ive’s hand from the design tiller and put him out to pasture, as he is destroying the fine usability developed over many years with mysterious disappearing UI elements, unreadable thin fonts, and a general disregard for usability in favor of his perception of beauty.

    How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name — FastCompany | Design

    Apple should not destroy the best thing they had going for them in exchange for their search for the Next Big Thing … the two CAN co-exist. If not, then a rejuvenated post-Balmer Microsoft has the talent and direction to take back what Apple is foolishly abandoning.

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