Archive for June 16th, 2017

The race for Fed chairperson heating up…

June 16, 2017

From a survey of Bloomberg economists:

The person most likely to be Federal Reserve chair when Janet Yellen’s term expires in February is… Janet Yellen, according to a Bloomberg poll of Fed watchers. Her nomination comes with two big caveats, however: It’s seen as possible, not probable, and the competition is close behind.

The June 5 to June 8 survey asked economists to rank the three most likely candidates for the central-bank post. Yellen came in first in the poll, though her score was less than a third of the maximum possible. Four other candidates—Kevin Warsh, John Taylor, Glenn Hubbard and Gary Cohn—were bunched together after her.


Did 2008 US financial crisis (which became global crisis later) happen due to lack of financial regulation?

June 16, 2017

This post by Thaya Brook Knight points to this 150-page report from US Treasury on US financial system.

It picks the section on US Financial Regulation Structure:


How USSR continues to live in several of its old haunts in Kolkata..

June 16, 2017

Anuradha Sengupta writes an article from the City of Joy:

A recent thread on my Facebook timeline generated much mirth about the irony of the location of the American consulate in Kolkata. As the post mentions, Harrington Street was changed to Ho Chi Minh Sarani. As a result, all official communication from the American Consulate, including the Consul’s personal calling card, carries the name of one of American imperialism’s vanquishers.

Kolkata — where, once upon a time, if you threw a stone in middle-class paaras (neighbourhoods) you were likely to hit a kid named Gogol, or Stalin, or Lenin — has had an enduring affair with Soviet Russia. Traces of Soviet era still linger in the city. Many an adda at roadside chai shacks still centres around the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose and his possible exile in the erstwhile USSR after World War II. And people still address each other as ‘comrades’. In the old potter area of Kumartuli, you will find artisans crafting statues of Russian leaders, and strewn around the city are plaques in their honour and streets named after them. The best reminder lies beneath its crowded roads — the Soviet-designed Metro line. Kolkata was the first Indian city to get rapid-transit (metro) lines, way back in 1971, for which Soviet specialists (and engineers from the erstwhile East Germany) prepared a master plan

For a flashback to Soviet Russia days, head to Gorky Sadan. In a busy part of south Kolkata, in the pale light of fluorescent tubelights, a group of children are bent intently over chessboards, plotting and analysing complex positions and strategies worthy of Garry Kasparov. Their parents (mostly mothers) wait outside with tiffin boxes of snacks. This is the Alekhine Chess Club, named after the former world champion Alexander Alekhine and established under the then Soviet Consulate General in 1976. The club’s international masters include Sankar Roy, Saptarshi Roy Chowdhury, Arghyadip Das, Nisha Mohta and Samak Palit. “Chess is very popular in Kolkata; it is considered to be a vehicle for mental improvement,” says Gautam Ghosh, programme officer of Gorky Sadan, otherwise known as the Russian Cultural Centre of Kolkata. A statue of Maxim Gorky, adorned with rajnigandha flowers, greets you in the foyer. An exhibition hall displays photographs of Siberian landscapes shot by Russian artists. “Capitalism and other Americanisms may be taking over other cities, but many in Kolkata (and India) are still attracted to the ideologies of Soviet Russia,” says Ghosh, who also runs the Eisenstein Cine Club, a venue favoured by Satyajit Ray for previews of his films.


Is Nadal just a clay court specialist?

June 16, 2017

Interesting analysis in Economist:


According to Elo ratings—an algorithm that evaluates players based on their performances and the quality of their opponents, and can be limited to matches played on a single surface—the gap between Mr Nadal’s clay-court and hard-court performances is about twice as large as Mr Federer’s.

In 2009, just before that year’s French Open, Mr Nadal recorded the highest-ever clay-court Elo score, at 2,543. That exceeded his hard-court Elo mark at the time by 273 points—a differential as big as the chasm between the current world number one by Elo, Novak Djokovic, and Alexander Zverev, ranked tenth. It suggests that the clay-court version of Mr Nadal at his best would beat the hard-court form of the same player 83% of the time.

 Mr Nadal’s penchant for clay has remained nearly as strong for most of his career: the gap between his clay- and hard-court Elo scores briefly dipped below 200 points in 2014, but has rebounded to 267 points today. His career-average surface preference is more extreme than that of any other player currently ranked in the top 50. Where you place Mr Nadal in the overall pantheon of tennis greats depends largely on whether you think he should be rewarded or penalised for deriving such a disproportionate share of his value from just one of the sport’s three environments.

By contrast, surfaces have had a much smaller impact on Mr Federer’s game. His Elo scores on hard courts have usually been less than 150 points higher than his marks on clay. And after he won the 2009 French Open—one of only three times since 2005 that the trophy did not go to Mr Nadal— Mr Federer’s clay rating actually surpassed his hard-court number. Of course, that did not make him a better clay-court player than Mr Nadal: the Spaniard’s clay-court Elo mark was still over 200 points higher than Mr Federer’s, implying that Mr Nadal would have a 77% chance of winning a match between them on clay at that point. But it does show that Mr Federer was a more well-rounded player.

It would be unfair to dismiss Mr Nadal as a one-trick clay pony. In the past, single-surface specialists went to great lengths to maximise the share of their matches played on their preferred court type. Guillermo Vilas, the previous record-holder for most titles on clay, played a whopping 60% of his career on that surface. Today, however, scheduling is more rigid: three of the four grand-slam tournaments are played on hard or grass courts, as are six of the nine events in the second tier of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour, the Masters 1000 series. And Mr Nadal cannot be accused of selectively skipping events to pad his win rate. Clay-court events represent just a third of his total.

Given the strong comeback, the Spaniard could prove all wrong in few years..

Now that Mr Nadal is over 30, it is tempting to assume that his days of contending for titles in non-clay events are over. However, his hard-court Elo score still ranks fourth in the world, behind Mr Djokovic, Mr Federer and Andy Murray, the defending Wimbledon champion. And although grass-specific ratings are less reliable, because relatively few events are played on turf, Mr Nadal did go on to win Wimbledon in each of the past two years that he claimed victory at Roland Garros without dropping a set. The clay-court master may not have to wait until next spring to improve his case to be considered the greatest of all time—on any surface.

There was this recent piece on oligarchy in Men’s tennis. With Federer and Nadal both winning this year’s first two Grand Slams, the case for oligarchy has only strengthened.