Category Archives: Economics

Now I’m not typically one to question your choice of cover photo…

… but if you’ve been charged by the SEC with playing “a key role in an alleged scheme that allowed a ring of brokers, investment advisers and their clients to profit from the deaths of terminally ill patients“, then you may not want to think twice before you select one that both touts the position that enabled you to play this exact role, and effectively summarizes the nature of said scheme:

Continue reading Now I’m not typically one to question your choice of cover photo…

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Making sense of Lewis Black’s pre-election prophecy

One month before the election, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holdover correspondent Lewis Black turned up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to record a fresh segment of Back in Black. He highlighted how few Americans choose to vote and urged eligible voters to overcome personal distaste for both candidates:

Continue reading Making sense of Lewis Black’s pre-election prophecy

The Big Short taught me one thing: Michael Scott pushed the wrong kind of paper

I found The Big Short difficult to watch, not because it does a poor job both man- and womansplaining complicated financial instruments, but because whenever Steve Carell is on screen I can’t help seeing Michael Scott.

And the confusion, in this case, was not purely a figment of my imagination. Indeed, my main takeaway from the Big Short is that the big banks that caused the financial collapse were more oblivious than the World’s Best Boss himself. Don’t believe me?

Compare, The Big Short, around the one hour, nine minute mark:

Continue reading The Big Short taught me one thing: Michael Scott pushed the wrong kind of paper

I expect better from a website called *Tree*hugger

California is running out of water. Almonds take a lot of water to grow. California accounts for 80% of global almond cultivation (and 99% of U.S. production). The obvious conclusion, as the BBC put it, is that “almonds are sucking California dry“. You can tell a similar story about walnuts and pistachios, if you wanted to.

But misguided as that conclusion may be, some people have taken this set of facts as a reason to reduce their overall nut consumption — and, as usual, the internet is here to help them out. Last month, Treehugger published an article titled “5 nuts not grown in California”. It explained, “National almond, walnut and pistachio crops are very thirsty, and predominantly grown in drought-stricken California; if you’re looking for alternatives, consider these.”

Seems reasonable enough. So let’s find out: which five nuts does Treehugger have in mind (cumulative nut count in parentheses)?

Continue reading I expect better from a website called *Tree*hugger

How seriousness a candidate is Bernie Sanders, measured in Republican squirrels?

Seventy three-year old Independent Senator Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination this coming Thursday, April 30. I suppose waiting one whole day until International Workers’ Day on May 1 would have been too predictable for the socialist candidate.

But my nitpicking over the timing of Sanders’ announcement probably won’t matter at the end of the day (May Day, that is). Hillary is widely predicted to run him over in the primary. It’s easy to see from the disparity in media coverage that she is simply viewed as a much more serious candidate.

Continue reading How seriousness a candidate is Bernie Sanders, measured in Republican squirrels?

Tablet Magazine could use either a quick lesson in geometry, or free comments

Tablet Magazine’s article about Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, “The Singapore Story is the Israel Story“, was published on March 25. Here’s a thing that it says:

Continue reading Tablet Magazine could use either a quick lesson in geometry, or free comments

How anti-Semitic are New England Patriots fans?

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made headlines yesterday when he (sort of nonsensically) accused the Philadelphia Eagles of making roster decisions on the basis of race. But the idea of a racist team in the modern NFL is not so far-fetched — it’s probably just playing in Foxborough.

Suspicions were raised last year, when the Patriots’ official Twitter account shared the following:

Continue reading How anti-Semitic are New England Patriots fans?

Jon Stewart’s guest last night could use some serious perspective

Millionaire hedge fund manager Bill Browder visited Jon Stewart last night to promote his new book, Red Notice. The book describes an incident in which Browder’s Russian lawyer was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by corrupt businessmen he had testified against in Russia.

In addition to writing a book, Browder also worked to pass American legislation that would punish individuals who participated in such shameful behavior. Here’s how he described the consequences of getting on the list created by that piece of legislation:

Continue reading Jon Stewart’s guest last night could use some serious perspective

Blame the Super Bowl ticket debacle on FOX Business

FOX Business was rightly panned a few weeks ago for airing a report that Super Bowl attendance was expected to decrease this year, and that ticket prices were falling as a result. FOX blamed the lack of interest on the slate of playoff teams (at the time: New England, Indianapolis, Seattle, Green Bay) as well as on people choosing to attend Super Bowl parties instead of the actual Super Bowl.

I don’t need to rehearse all the reasons the segment’s two reporters (as well as its writers, producers, etc.) should be fed to ISIS, but in brief: Super Bowl attendance is purely a function of stadium size, and a smaller stadium likely indicates that ticket prices are expected to be higher, not that fewer people are interested in attending. (Not accidentally, the two teams that made the Super Bowl also happen to boast the highest average ticket prices in the NFL this season.)

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What Obama’s last-minute decision to visit Saudi Arabia tells us about his Presidency

Barack Obama just threw a cow’s worth of red meat to his critics (probably not the wisest thing to do in India).

A few weeks ago, his administration explained that the President could not participate in France’s Unity March on such short notice out of of security concerns. Today, he announced an imminent visit to Saudi Arabia in order to “offer his condolences on behalf of the American people”* on the death of dearly-departed King Abdullah.** It would seem there are fewer security concerns in ISIS’ backyard than in Paris; I wonder how much of Riyadh is a no-go zone.

Continue reading What Obama’s last-minute decision to visit Saudi Arabia tells us about his Presidency