Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thinking about… inflammations and infections

In school I was told that there are two basic types of acute disease – one caused by “bacteria” or “germs” and the other caused by “viruses”. Against the first sort, antibiotics are supposed to be the tool of choice. Against the second there seemed to be no clear answers. In retrospect, I have had to conclude that my secondary school biology knowledge has turned out to be pretty spotty. At this point, with respect to the microscopic world, all I feel confident declaring is that I feel sure I don’t know what’s going on.

Nonetheless, my real-life experience has tended to lend some support to the idea that there could well be two distinct categories of acute disease – whatever those are. For lack of any better words I’ll call them infections and inflammations. Continue reading

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Sandbox Thinking – Economics of Tribute

Trade is not the only scenario which involves transfers of goods and services. What about tribute? Or slavery? What happens if the exchange is not a form of trade, but rather something different? What happens if Group T (tributaries) provides all manner of goods and services to Group E (empire) without asking anything in return? Continue reading

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Derivatives vs the Printing Presses

What if Zimbabwe and Weimar had had derivatives, allowing those in-the-loop to short their own rapidly inflating currencies? Continue reading

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The Bubble Economics of Crime

An intriguing side benefit of all the money printing has been a decided shift in focus to white-collar crime. Bicycles and umbrellas are now safe! Continue reading

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Iron Rice Bowls In Demand

The “entrance exams” for government jobs are packed. Private sector industry is actually losing highly paid skilled staff to government. Once again for the first time in living memory. It seems that given the choice between perceived security without meaning and meaning without perceived security, in many circles meaning doesn’t fare too well. Continue reading

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Shearing the sheep

In Chinese this is called “剪羊毛” – shearing sheep wool. A type of semi-regular asset redistribution from those out-of-the-loop to those in-the-loop. The middle classes were getting far too rich anyway, right? Nothing like a good trimming to get them running fast again. Continue reading

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Asset Price Distortions & Human Resource Allocation

When I can earn the equivalent of ten years of widget making income in a few months of speculation, why should I bother learning to become a better widget-maker? In fact, why should I even bother making widgets at all? Translating that into today’s 2010 devaluation scenario, if one company CFO can “make” more via financial market position hedging than hundreds of company staff struggling to keep the company in the black by doing “real work”, is the CFO not duty-bound to do so? Continue reading

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