Stormy Weather?

By |2014-09-09T10:45:59-04:00November 13th, 2012|Global Market Update|

What does Sandy mean for investors? Hurricane Sandy reeked devastation all along the East Coast. It’s impossible to see the destruction along the New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut shore and not be moved. Homes reduced to rubble; businesses flattened—it’s reasonable to wonder whether some investors might be hurt by the physical damage that the storm wrought. The most natural concern would be municipal bonds. For years analysts have warned about their credit quality, and New Jersey has been especially troubled, with accounting issues [...]

Un-Lockeing the Morality of Markets

By |2014-09-12T10:24:45-04:00November 12th, 2012|Global Market Update|

John Locke is usually remembered as a source for the Declaration of Independence. But in a small pamphlet written in 1660 he also displays a keen sense of economic justice. In 17th-century Europe the price of wheat would vary by town. What was available in one city might be scarce in another. Locke noted two towns—one where the price was five shillings a bushel, and another where the price was 20 shillings, where there practically a famine. If it costs me the same to [...]

Good Beginnings

By |2017-07-17T12:34:44-04:00November 9th, 2012|Global Market Update|

How do you start your day? Checking email? Catching up on office gossip? A leading business magazine asked several successful entrepreneurs what they do when they first get to their desks. The most surprising answer has to do with email. Many of them put off checking their email until 10 am, or even later. It’s a way to take charge of the day. If you let email decide what you do and when you do it, you end up feeling pushed around and unfocused. [...]

Storms Both Physical and Financial

By |2014-09-09T10:43:39-04:00November 8th, 2012|Global Market Update|

A winter storm is hitting the northeast less than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy crashed into the New Jersey. And it made me think of the new banking regulations. The early winter storm now afflicting the east coast seems especially cruel. People still waiting for power have to shovel snow and then go into their cold houses. And it will severely hinder efforts to recover from Sandy. Utility trucks can’t fix downed lines if they’re sliding into the ditch themselves. And while winter storms [...]

Running in Place

By |2017-07-17T12:34:45-04:00November 7th, 2012|Global Market Update|

Now what? After all the politicking and polling and speechifying and caucusing, our national political scene returns to the status quo ante. President Obama is reelected, the House remains Republican, and the Senate remains Democratic. The President won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College count, and even if his election wasn’t the wave that it was in 2008, it was convincing. So what has changed? For one thing, it’s clear that President Obama now “owns” the economy. In 2009 he took [...]

The Paradox of Voting

By |2017-07-17T12:34:45-04:00November 6th, 2012|Global Market Update|

Why do people bother to vote? It’s a fair question. After all, the chances of one vote affecting a national election are infinitesimally small. Some years, in a small, swing-state like New Hampshire, those chances inflate from infinitesimally to microscopically small. But still, any rational observer would have to conclude that Election Day is a exercise in the triumph of the irrational—a sort of mass-delusion in which we willingly deceive ourselves into believing that We Can Make a Difference. Because we also know that [...]

The MOOC Revolution

By |2014-09-09T10:35:14-04:00November 4th, 2012|Global Market Update|

What's a MOOC? A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. There are hundreds of them available, from Archeology to Biostatistics to Zoology. Twenty or thirty elite institutions offer them now, from MIT to Johns Hopkins to UC Berkeley. They’re free of charge, and if you have Internet access you can study just about anything. It's one more example of how Information Technology is revolutionizing our world. And the revolution can't come too soon. A four-year residential undergraduate degree costs about $100 thousand per [...]

Bring Back the Muppets!

By |2014-09-09T10:33:44-04:00November 2nd, 2012|Global Market Update|

Use the Force, George. When Disney announced they were buying Star Wars from George Lukas, my first thought was, good, now we’ll know what happens. Back in 1980, after the success of the original film—and before any further films had been released—Lucas revealed that he originally had nine films in mind: a central trilogy, a prequel trilogy, and a successor trilogy—in effect, a nine-part saga. Some 20 people had seen all the plot summaries, with 10-page outlines of each. But they weren’t talking. Once [...]

One Year Later …

By |2014-09-09T11:22:26-04:00November 1st, 2012|Global Market Update|

Remember MF Global? A year ago, in a flurry of transfers, security sales, and overdrafts, the brokerage firm MF Global filed for bankruptcy. When the firm collapsed, they left a $1.6 billion hole—funds that were owed to customers, $360 million of which are still missing. While the bankruptcy trustee thinks he may be able to make customers whole, that money will have to come from other creditors. Over the past year, no organization has been sued, no cash has been clawed back, and no [...]