Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I spent a lot of time writing meaningless documents that will never be read in the hope that those documents would help Morgan Stanley comply with SOX. Maybe they will and maybe they won't. Maybe there were some wasted fees on accountants, lawyers and internal paper pushers. But it cannot be said that this would hurt competitiveness. It might make a thoughtful person rethink business practices. It is Wall Street whining about globalization which it normally praises in other industries.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Foreign Aid

A bit dated now, but an good review of recent books on foreign aid. And some of the ensuing debates.

Income Inequality

There are lots s comments about income inequality and CEO pay. But what really matters, income or happiness. And why look at only the US? Why not the world?.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima

I hope I will see the day when a film is made about the invasion of Iraq from the side of the resistance. It will mean that there is a lasting peace where each side can challenge the stereotypes of war. World War II was truly a "War Without Mercy". The Japanese Kamikaze are the modern ancestors of the suicide bombers. Only after 50 years are Americans ready to acknowledge that this was nobly dying for their country. Letters from Iwo Jima
pounds the message home that cruelty and also humanity are not linked only to the winning or the American side.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eat the Rich

It often takes an outsider to distill the essence of something. P.J. O'Rourke on one page in Eat the Rich gives all the advice that the west ought to ever give on development. The secret to getting ahead is hard work, education, responsibility, rule of law, property rights and democratic government.

The way he gets there is a world tour of Wall Street (Good Capitalism), Albania (Bad Capitalism), Cuba (Bad Socialism), Sweden (Good Socialism), Russia (How not to reform an Economy), Tanzania (How to make Nothing from Everything), Hong Kong (How to make Everything from Nothing) and Shanghai (the worst of both Worlds). I am not sure if he would re write the chapter on Shanghai.


This is quite a simple story of the quest and the transition from boy to man. Man loves animal. Animal loves man. But be careful when making movies from children's books. They remember every detail and hate deviations.


Kurosawa's Rashomon can be viewed any number of times with a fresh perspective. This was my first. I guess that I never really understood all those references. Three different people see the same event, proving that there are at least three stories of what really happens, yours mine and what really happens. Even although only one day has past, each seeing the event from their own perspective describes it quite differently. All agree that the husband was tied up and died, but do not agree on who killed him.The thief Tajomaru describes how he planned to rape the wife, but she gave into him. She begs him to duel with the husband to cure her shame of knowing two men. He recounts his heroic fight with the noble, resulting in a dignified death. The women runs away.
The wife sees herself as raped by the thief and abandoned by the husband. The husband wants no part of her and looks at her with cold eyes. She faints and wakes up to find him dead.
The husband sees a betraying wife and a noble suicide
But the third party only sees betrayal and mistrust on all sides. The fight was a cowardly one and death ignoble. The end tries to deliver some kind of upbeat message, but it is too late to salvage the low view of man.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The New Year Social Legislation

Two of the most important domestic legislations of the new year are California health insurance and the minimum wage. While action, any action was needed to open debate on the problem, politics triumphed efficiency in both cases. The poor would be better targeted by the earned income tax credit and the health plan might increase ineffiency. Of course in some simple models raising the minimum wage would work, but America is not at all like American Samoa.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I will not have an obituary as well written as this one.

The Law of Large Numbers

Whether Japan in the 80's, internet in the 90's or China in the 00's, growth does not continue on a straight line path. The law of large numbers or reversion to the mean take over. Heathcare costs which some predicted to grow as large as the entire economy are now growing as fast as the economy as a whole.

The Visual Display of Data

A great periodic table of the various ways to display data.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Not a Puzzle

An honest appraisal of the problems of the city from Baltimore and from Oprah.

Puzzle or a Mystery

I do not claim to understand Malcom Gladwell and found it hard to get through blink. There are a lot of semantics about the question of Enron's guilt. But certainly they fooled primarily people who wanted to be fooled. One of our company offsites was devoted to the subject of how to be more like Enron.

Glad I applied in 1979

Competition is much tougher in high school and once you get to college.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

China's New Artist Class

The new artist class is china is way more than middle class. They are branching out into real estate and development.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And on another note.

Too much reading about the issues of Iraq distract from the point that wars and violence are on the decline.

The Middle Class Squeeze.

Many economists including Steven Roach and Larry Summers are pointing out that there could be backlash against globalization as labor continues to suffer at the expense of the holders of capital. Recent papers and surveys support this view. Maybe a bit surprisingly Wal-Mart actually fired the first salvo of the New Year by introducing its new work schedule. Oh, and Wal-Mart's stock was up 3% against a 1% rise in the market.

It is important to Remember History

Amidst all of the pageantry of an ex-president's funeral, the real impact and meaning of his term is forgotten. What was so heroic about the Nixon pardon? What was so great about the staff of Ford?