Assorted links

by on May 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. More from Ryan Avent on liquidity leaks.

2. Why many Germans wish to keep their small denomination coins.

3. Applied lessons from the Joplin tornado, and the same authors on the lessons from Soviet sports and chess dominance.

4. Quick quiz: did this help Spain or hurt Spain?

5. Norbert Wiener’s lost essay on the age of the robots.

6. SAP pledges to hire 1% autistics (I predict they are already there).

7. Party planning question for a Russian woman.

mb May 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

SAP is definitely there, where I work we have the eye contact/asperger test for interviewees, if the person makes too much eye contact – he probably is not very technically adept. Always in good fun, but it comes up after every interview. Nearly every technical applicant passes – easily.

KC May 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm

“This week SAP announced that one percent of its workforce will eventually be adults diagnosed with a form of autism.”

Presumably, they’ll just diagnose their current workforce and find that one percent there.

prior_approval May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Previously, SAP was exceedingly strict in the number of Ph.Ds that had to be employed with any partner that sold SAP products – at least in the experience of the company I work at (the truth wasn’t stretched too far to become a Systemhaus). And that percentage was much higher than 1%.

Interesting change in emphasis, though the cynic in me wouldn’t be surprised if SAP continues to insist on Ph.Ds, while an announcement of 600 (the local news number – Walldorf is just down the autobahn) new hires means that the same percentage as in the past concerning Ph.Ds is applied.

‘I predict they are already there’

Maybe – but that is only a bet on the odds. Not a single person that I have known that has worked for SAP (including those working as programmers, Berater, testers, translators, country specialists, or a founder) could be described as autistic in my personal experience. Admittedly, that group probably only number is less than 50 or so, since the early 90s – leaving plenty of room for a one in eighty-eight employee to slide by unnoticed.

Alexei Sadeski May 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

The first comment on the Russian Immigrant Party post is hilarious.

Brian Donohue May 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm

re# 7. $50K sounds about right. Multiply by family members. Maybe double it if you’re high income.

Welcome to America!

Jens Fiederer May 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Obviously, this helps Spain, since it means more government money will be spent…so unless you assume a multiplier smaller than one (which nobody takes seriously) it is bound to grow the economy.

It’s not as though even perfectly functioning submarines would be all that useful.

Maurice de Sully May 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

– it is bound to grow the economy.–

It is bound to grow the economy or it is bound to increase proxy we use to gauge economic growth? Do you believe there is a distinction?

Moreover, if the referenced spending grows the economy in a positive way, is the bigger problem that they only built 4, and not 400? Should all of Europe engage in a massive defense build up to grow their respective economies? If that would work for Europe (or selected nations in Europe) why didn’t it work for the USSR? Should that government have spent more money on defense to better encourage economic growth?

prior_approval May 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Sad to see how far a proud Spanish tradition has sunk –

‘Isaac Peral is often considered the inventor of the submarine. This is not because his was the first submergible vessel, but because his was the first submarine to be electrically powered, and to incorporate underwater torpedo-firing facilities. In this sense he might be better called the “father of the modern submarine”.’

http://www.murciatoday.com/cartagena-history-of-the-isaac-peral-submarine_6471-a.html

His submarine is from 1888, it should be noted.

gwern May 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

#4: I wish the authors would fix all the typos in their article, like:

> Scott Shane highlights the paradox that despite being the largest producer of shoes in the world in the late 1980s, the Soviet Union still had huge lines for shows due to the failure of producers to produce shows that were comfortable and stylish (1995, 75-8)

I imagine Soviet shows were indeed less stylish than American shows, but that this is not what Shane means…

Andrew' May 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm

4. They should fill them with gold.

Mark Thorson May 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

When I lived in Germany in the early to mid-1960’s, there were still a few Reichpfennigs in circulation. They were not common, and I never saw one with a denomination larger than 1 Reichpfennig. The Reichmarks had long since been replaced, but I suppose it was not thought worthwhile to go after the lowest denomination coins. By the time I got them, these steel coins were terribly corroded — you could barely make out the little swastika below the eagle.

Anon. May 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Why does the government have to pay extra for the design company’s screw up? Surely the contract has to specify that the vessel must be seaworthy?

Nick_L May 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

#4 Since this is so obviously a sunk cost (sorry), Spain should just sell them to someone like Canada (they are after all new submarines), and then start from scratch again. Actually, I’m surprised the EU bureaucracy doesn’t have a standard template for building a submarine, after all the Germans have some experience with this and are still building some interesting stuff.

Maurice de Sully May 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

– I’m surprised the EU bureaucracy doesn’t have a standard template for building a submarine —

I haven’t looked in to it- so this is just a guess- but I imagine a large part of the idea for this spending (whether so stated or not) was to create a vessel that aspired to change that “template” such that the company building these subs could then build additional subs of this new type for other EU (and perhaps non EU) countries.

That type of thinking- or “thinking” if you will- is fairly common is defense funding all over the world.

Mark May 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I was wondering why TC spent 90% of the post on PK and only referred to RA at the end. It was b/c RA owned him ;)

prior_approval May 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

‘Actually, I’m surprised the EU bureaucracy doesn’t have a standard template for building a submarine’

Considering that the EU includes officially neutral (or declared so – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrality_(international_relations) ) Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Sweden and Austria, it is not suprising that the EU is not a replacement for NATO, which includes such non-EU members as the U.S. and Turkey. And yet, an explicit self-defense treaty organization does not have such a thing, so why should the EU?

To put it differently – ‘I’m suprised the NAFTA bureaucracy doesn’t have a standard template for building a submarine’ would not likely be considered a very insightful observation.

Nick_L May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Prior, I believe you’ve just torpedoed my (mostly) ironic comment.

Brian Donohue May 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

from #1: “So the Germans have a moral obligation, given their deep commitment to the euro project and their ability to reduce net suffering in the euro area, to accept higher inflation.”

Really? Have all parties in the euro project agreed to it’s irreversibility and lived up to their promises? As far as the ability to reduce net suffering, this is a high bar that I think most or all of us fail (c/f Pete Singer.)

The real moral argument, AFAICT, is that the Germans stoked debt-fueled Mediterranean consumption to achieve good old-fashioned mercantilist objectives.

Jan May 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

#7) Maybe Greenspun should just slap his friend in the face, since he obviously thinks she is a fool for taking US citizenship. Maybe he should also buy himself a pacifier.

Brian Donohue May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Let me guess- in your view, the correct answer is $0, or ‘kick the can’.

Urso May 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The answer is “it’s a stupid question because you’re only looking at one side of the ledger.” Apple has $38 billion in current liabilities, mostly long-term debt. Do Apple shareholders hold pity parties over the portion of that debt that is theirs? Or make whiny blog posts about it?

I don’t know how to quantify the benefits of US citizenship, but it’s pretty clearly greater than whatever her “share” of the debt is. Otherwise she’d stay in Russia, which Greenspun seems to believe is some Galtian paradise, what with its mere 13% tax rates.

Brian Donohue May 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

“Do Apple shareholders hold pity parties over the portion of that debt that is theirs?”

I don’t know, but they can calculate the number to whatever degree of precision they like. And they can go over to the other side of the ledger and look at Apple’s assets and make a reasoned guess as to the value of their shares.

This whole “pay no attention to the $17 trillion behind the curtain” mentality- very ostrich-like.

j r May 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

We have had this discussion before, but there is whole lot of space between ignoring the national debt and assuming it as an outstanding liability on household balance sheets. Doing the former seems to be much more about signaling your objections than an honest economic or financial move.

Brian Donohue May 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Really? Seems kinda binary to me. You’re gonna stiff the next generation or you ain’t.

GiT May 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Let’s take a high-side guess that 10% of fed spending goes to debt servicing on average. So 10% of whatever one’s lifetime tax receipts are go to debt service. Make whatever predictions one wants to about future tax rates and future debt service by looking at and forecasting debt repayment as a % of GDP. Make whatever predictions one wants about your lifetime tax burden based on prognistications about tax policy and your own income as a US citizen. This really isn’t very hard to figure out in principle.

Whether payments on debt are compensated for by received benefits is an entirely different question (one which the person already answered by moving to the US, not Monaco, and not staying in Russia). However bad American taxes are, apparently they were better than the other possible arrangements Greenspun envies so much that he never actually pursues them.

Careless May 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

It wouldn’t take a terribly high interest rate to send that “10%” over 50%, GIT. This is not difficult math.

anon May 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm

@Jan provides another data point that the commentary at MR is in decline.

Andrew' May 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

“We need Germany’s economy to get hot enough in order to create inflation”

Can we please get all the NGDP people and the aggregate demand people in a room and let them hash it out. It will be hours before they realize they are in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean.

Ronald Brak May 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

2. I don’t know why the Euro was set so low when it was introduced. If it had been $4.70 US or instead of $1.17 US then one Euro cent coins would still be worth something and we all would have been spared the pointless wailing that resulted back when it fell below parity with the US dollar. Not that getting rid of small denomination coins is in any way a real problemAustralia got rid of one and two cent coins and we survived. (Actucally there is evidence that getting rid of them will create a commodity boom. Not good evidence, though.)

Dave May 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Before they were so good at bailing out countries, the Germans were quite good at making subs. Maybe the Spanish should ask?

Or maybe they could contact Fred DeLuca.

Ronald Brak May 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

4. It’s bad because they could have spent their time and effort building something useful. Reducing Spain’s fossil fuel use further would have been useful or even just giving $14.40 to every Spaniard to do with as they wished would have been better given the lack of enemy fleets to sink.

Floccina May 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

The USSR was only able to do well in unpopular sports which is a much easier problem. They did not even ever dominate hockey or soccer. They had a much larger population than Canada and yet they did not dominate Canada in hockey.

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