Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Easter Island - people or rats?

Easter Island 

"Jared Diamond drew heavily on Flenley’s work for his assertion in Collapse, his influential 2005 book, that ancient Easter Islanders committed unintentional ecocide."
When the wood was gone and civil war began, the islanders began toppling the moai. By the 19th century none were standing. Easter Island’s landscape acquired the aura of tragedy that, in the eyes of Diamond and many others, it retains today.

'via Blog this'

Andrew Gelman on political statistics

Andrew Gelman on How Americans Vote | FiveBooks | The Browser: "The idea is that these people know enough about us so that they can manipulate our vote. Realistically, political consultants nowadays know a lot about us, and they do try to convince us. There are two kinds of people they follow. One is people where they know who they’re going to vote for, but they’re not sure that they’re going to vote. The other is people who are very likely to vote, but you don’t know which way they’re going to vote. The first type of person they try to mobilise just to turn out and vote, and the second kind of person they try to persuade. They’re pretty good at knowing who people are. In fact, at this point, a lot of this is just a question of resources. To the extent they have resources they will go out to people and call you on the phone. If they think you’re already likely to vote for a certain candidate, they’ll try to find somebody to knock on your door and convince you that it’s an important election and it’s worth voting for. In some sense it’s not as mysterious or conspiratorial as it’s made out to be in that book."

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Greece’s ailing economy grinds to a halt -

The looks at the effect that a lack of credit is having on the Greek economy.

"But after thinking it over, Yannis Stamos, the company’s co-founder, turned the customer away. Filling the order would have meant reaching into Medical Service’s own pockets to cover the €35,000 cost of such a machine, since Greek banks have stopped lending and the company’s German suppliers now demand pre-payment in cash."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Bond market liquidity discusses the lack of liquidity in the corporate bond market.  A combination of risk-aversion, Volcker rule and capital costs seem to have combined to encourage banks to hold less inventory.  

 "Data from the Federal Reserve on Thursday showed corporate bond holdings among the largest dealers fell last week to $45bn. These inventories reached highs of more than $200bn in 2007 before falling to $90bn a year ago.
Asset managers are concerned that reduced liquidity will make it harder to move in and out of large positions, particularly at times of market stress.
“The buyside is looking for an answer on how to fix this,” said one of the dealer participants."'
Declining liquidity makes the market more of one where deals are worked over time and ultimately increases the cost of borrowing as final investors know that there is limited possibility of a swift sale.