Archive for August 28th, 2017

If Trump is so bad, how come equity markets are so stable?

August 28, 2017

The superb Gulzar blog has a mid-week linkfest (previous week) in which he points to this starting thing.

The Trump administration has been mostly condoned by one and all. However, one barometer proves all this wrong. This is is the equity markets which ahs emerged as one of the key benchmarks for comparing everything. Any policy or action is usually judged in terms of stock markets. If markets are fine so is the action is the general call of things.

However, this blog does not really buy this recent stock market fascination for everything as it is quite biased and could go terribly wrong as well. Markets correct and move on but leads to all kinds of problems for people who built certain expectations based on equity market reactions earlier.

But nevertheless, it is amazing to note that despite all kinds of admonitions, the volatility in equity markets is lowest in Trump’s first 6 months compared to any other President:

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What is its working at a sprawling bitcoin mine in Inner Mongolia (China)..

August 28, 2017

Superb piece about a firm behind bitcoin mining.

The article is quite in the Coasean spirit. People often talked about markets but Coase saw that most exchanges are actually governed by firms. Which led to one of the most amazing insights of economics that it is firms which via lower transaction costs enable exchanges.

Likewise, we talk about how cryptocurrencies shall usher in a new world of decentralised digital currency and lead to better monetary markets. But we really do not look at the back-office of these cryptocurrencies and ask who is doing all this stuff?

This interesting article speaks about this Chinese firm Bitmain which provides 4% of the processing power in the global bitcoin network. It was fascinating to connection between old industry and new one. The region was first a coal bed and thus was a natural home to electricity which is needed immensely in these operations:

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How William Baumol created cultural economics in sleep!

August 28, 2017

Prof. Victor Ginsburgh of Université Libre de Bruxelles pays a tribute to Prof Baumol who just passed away. He points to this interview Alan Krueger takes of Baumol:

William Baumol is the ‘inventor’ of the cost disease, an idea that initiated the field of cultural economics. According to Blaug (2001: 123), “cultural economics or the Economics of the Arts, as it used to be called, may be said to have been created almost de novo 30 years ago by Baumol and Bowen’s (1966) book.”

Instead of defining the disease – every cultural economist should know what it says – here, according to Baumol himself, is the story of its birth:

“John D. Rockefeller III and August Heckscher of Twentieth Century Fund had decided that it was time for the United States to do something to encourage the arts. So they decided they would have a two-pronged operation. One was a panel composed of good, solid business people who could show that the arts were not a Communist homosexual plot. Then they wanted a serious study. They talked to a number of people, and then someone told them that there was this crazy economist at Princeton who was interested in art. Well, it was the wrong art. I was interested in painting and sculpture. So they called me in, and I told them how I would go about selecting somebody to study it… And then the next day they called me and said, ‘We’d like to give you those instructions.’ I said, ‘I’m terribly busy. I can’t do it.’ And they called again, and I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it on one condition. There’s a young assistant professor here, in whose work I have great confidence. If he’s willing to do it and you’ll pay him…’ And they agreed and Bill Bowen came and took over the whole thing, as you can imagine. It was such a pleasure working with him. So we started to work on it, and he laid out all the things that had to be covered, how one should go about covering them. And then we started to get all these statistics about budgets. Then one night, it was 4:00 in the morning, I suddenly woke up and said I know why those costs are going up! I got up, wrote down a few notes, and went to sleep again. That’s literally how it happened.” (Krueger 2001: 217-18).

The productive nature of sleeping seems to recur in science: a French mathematician called Andre Lichnerowicz once said that there is no difference between a mathematician who sleeps and a mathematician who works. This is very close to what Baumol’s son, Daniel, recounted about his father: “During a long trip, he would sit in the back of the car, oblivious to the world, and as we pulled in, he would announce, ‘I just finished that article’” (New York Times 2017).

Brilliant..

Though these gifts are possessed by rare few. Most of us struggle to come with any ideas despite all eyes awake…


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