An article with highly defective statistical reasoning appears in the WSJ purporting to show there is a tremendous turnover in the top 25 companies from 10 years ago to today. It is best to consider this by noting how many of the top 25 baseball players by batting average in 1999 are still there today. That's the best way to get a handle on the regression bias implicit in such studies. The following correspondence between Vic and Steve Stigler puts it in perspective:

Dear Steve,

Hope you and family well. Merry Christmas. Here's an unusal aspect of the regresson bias. Wonder to what extent this consistent with properties of random numbers and to what extent it represents a change in the level of skill or in this case price change. It would be an interesting study. I was pleased that my daughter Kira got into Columbia Engineering School on early admission and another daughter had a grandson Wilder Niederhoffer named after a Libertarian. Best, Vic

Dear Vic,

This is the same as Horace Secrist "Triumph of Mediocrity in Business" 1933, in Chapter 8 of my book Statistics on the Table.

Congrats to all your successful avoidance of and tendency towards mediocrity in your descendents!

I attach my remarks from a memorial for Rose Friedman Dec 12.

Have a happy new year! Steve

Ken Drees adds:

Market cap 10 year free market survivors: old fashioned energy (big oil), food (Walmart), and technology (human invention) lead the list and boring consumer Gillette (razor blades for everyman). Things the human race needs for survival and to thrive will always be investments that will endure.

Big government wants to bleed big oil, keep food out of banking (probably best that Walmart was denied a key to the club after all), litigate tech for the halibut. And what can be done to Gillette? Maybe the healthcare bill can attach itself to some personal care products and bleed a little off. Also, energy, food, and the stuff everyone buys is what the government tries to melt out of the inflation indexes. So what we need is what they attack and thus make more expensive to us and then they tell us that its not more expensive and to just substitute chicken for meat.

GE? what do they do other than derivatives and green initiatives which are starting to turn a little brown.

Kim Zussman replies:

From the "getting little things right but big ones wrong" department:

What were dinosaurs long at KT boundary?

Prior decade's math/science PhDs lemming into finance.

New decade definition: "lemming": The process of best/brightest young people flowing en mass to the latest promising nascent bubble.


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