Jul

19

Cambridge, MAThere is a nice exhibit at Harvard Natural History Museum on the evolution of nests. It started with twigs being spread on floor to provide warmth and shelter but has evolved so that the eggs can be stored for hundreds of years without danger from the elements or predators. One wonders what the evolution of nesting in markets is like. Does a nest provide the same shelter for prices at an incipient stage? How about the market at 700 a few months ago. Do nests start with double and triple bottoms the way the old time point and figure charts were supposed to work and then turn into much more complicated places of absorption with multiple places for prices to rest before flying into the sky? What other applications of nests are there?

The scene at Harvard shows that a butterfly in Brazil can affect things elsewhere, as multiple empty stores and for rent signs litter Mass avenue, the most populated street through the wealthiest institution in the world. One could understand why 20% of Madison avenue stores are vacant, and the goodness knows how many more are hanging on by their nails, but one is surprised to seeing the decline in wealth affecting Harvard so directly. The main question I have had about the finances of that august institution for 5 years is not when they were going to suffer the cataclysm, but how they managed to hoodwink all the smart profs there and pay their endowment managers so may tennies while they were on the upswing. Even during a year of loss of 50% they were able to justify many multiple millie bonuses. Apparently the idea of randomness and symmetry in performance never entered an overseers mind, i.e. that by randomness someone's going to throw more heads than tails, but if you pay the ones that make the more heads,( bonds last year), but don't take away from the ones that throw the more tails ( everything else), you're left with the same distribution of sub normal performance guaranteed as the fof's.

A visit to USS Constitution is always in order and one learns much about piracy and the influence of economics on the war of 1812 on the growth of the Republic from such a visit, and finds oneself revisiting all the stories about Jack Aubrey as the events and customs really happened. How Constitution was able to win all those battles with untrained volunteers compared to the professional service remains one of those mysteries of chance like the occasional rogue wave, or spike in a commodity market.

On another subject, the stories about the companies and lobbyists lining up at the Federal Reserve and Capital create the sordid impression that the main ability for an executive these days is to know how to beg. Perhaps the best training for executives is really a class in English Literature where they read the stories of Dickens and Brecht and John Gay about beggars. Perhaps a reading of Following the Equator or a visit to the old India where I understand that begging was still common and had developed into an art.


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