1. Claims about pho.
1. Claims about pho.
Following up on my earlier post on Syria, Alexander Burns sends me this very interesting email:
Dear Professor Cowen,
Thanks for your reply tweet regarding your Marginal Revolution post on modelling Syria / Islamic State. I enjoy your books and blog.
I’m writing a thesis at Australia’s Monash University that synthesises Jack Snyder’s work on strategic culture / strategic subcultures with Martha Crenshaw and Jacob Shapiro’s work on terrorist organisations. Two recent presentations:
1. Mid-Candidature Review Panel slides: http://www.alexburns.net/Files/MCR.pptx
2. Monash SPS Symposium Presentation on Islamic State: https://t.co/Ju11zvFBSP
Several weeks ago I discussed Islamic State with my Mid-Candidature Review panel whilst also reading Gary Antonacci’s Dual Momentum Investing and the Dan Zanger interview in Mark Minervini’s Momentum Masters interviews book. It struck me that Islamic State were like momentum traders for several reasons:
(1) Islamic State have grown rapidly in foreign mujahideen; control of parts of northern Iraq and Syria; and have grown in power projection capabilities. This dynamic is very much like successful momentum traders have worked in a financial markets context using Jesse Livermore’s trend-following approach, William O’Neil’s CANSLIM system, or Paul Tudor Jones II’s speculative activity in Eurodollar and foreign exchange markets.
(2) Islamic State have to-date survived aerial bombardments and have exploited a range of weaknesses in their enemies (e.g. jihadist beheading videos as psychological warfare against the Iraqi Army; Turkey’s borders with Iraq and Syria; and alliance manoeuvers around the Assad regime and the Syrian civil war).
(3) Events like the capture of Mosul, Iraq; combat experience in the Syrian civil war; involvement in oil black markets; and the proclamation on 29th June 2014 of a worldwide caliphate have momentum-like qualities, particularly in terms of creating the psychological climate for nation-building.
(4) Islamic State has outperformed their peer jihadist groups in their growth and ideological impact.
(5) Islamic State’s use of social media to amplify ideological propaganda is more hypermodern and sophisticated than other terrorist groups.
(6) Their rapid growth has led to spillover effects such as the refugee crisis in Europe.
(7) The Western media’s concerns about Islamic State — and their cultural impact — feel like the 1998-2000 part of the 1995-2000 dotcom speculative bubble, albeit in a counterterrorism context.
(8) Your perspective on Islamic State as hypermodern may also be relevant to the proto-Marxist work on accelerationism and postcapitalism (Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future; Steven Shaviro’s No Speed Limit; and Benjamin Noys’ Malign Velocities): contemporary terrorist groups operate in a different political / technological / ‘average is over’ context.
With his permission I reproduced the email as is, though added in a few extra paragraph breaks for ease of reading.
4. “If Pleistocene megafauna — mastodons, mammoths, giant sloths and others — had not become extinct, humans might not be eating pumpkin pie and squash for the holidays, according to an international team of anthropologists.”
6. Why Turkey shot down the plane and who will be the biggest losers (good, analytical piece, NYT).
I can’t say I understand this FT article so well, but I suppose that is the point. Which are two groups/persons implicated in buying oil from ISIS, or otherwise enabling such trades to take place?
First, Syria. Or is that “Syria.”
Second, the head of the world chess federation, namely Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: “he is best known for his belief in aliens — he has repeatedly recounted an instance when he was abducted in 1997 by “people in yellow spacesuits”.” And this:
Mr Ilyumzhinov has a diverse business empire, stretching from sugar to banking, and a network of contacts to match. He regularly meets the Dalai Lama, and he played chess with Libyan president Muammer Gaddafi shortly before his overthrow.
2. The world’s largest cloning factory, guess where? Yesterday my paper copy of the FT printed on its front page the pun “Factory to turn out 1m cows a year as China raises steaks in cloning research,” though I cannot find it on-line. And “Biologists induce flatworms to grow heads and brains of other species.”
Greg Ip presented his new book Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe at Mercatus/GMU, with an emphasis on financial crises and a bit on forest fires too. I was the moderator, and the commentators were Alex J. Pollock and Jared Bernstein.
10. Check Barry Weingast’s Facebook page, I believe the post on Doug is open.
If there are new good links on North, I’ll addend them tomorrow morning, so check back if you are interested. He was a frequent visitor at George Mason and also at Mercatus, so many of us will miss him very much.
2. South Korean zombie companies? And good WSJ survey piece on premature deindustrialization., and the Dani Rodrik paper again, revised (pdf).
3. How agriculture shaped human DNA (NYT)
5. Anne-Marie Slaughter on the Wilson School renaming controversy (not my views, by the way, but she has run the Wilson School and worth reading how she sees the world).
1. Liquidity premium > carrying costs, all of a sudden.
2. Debt to gdg ratios, and the distribution of how they change (China fact of the day).
5. “Lord’s Prayer advert banned before ‘Star Wars’…In a snub to the Church of England, an advert that was planned to coincide with the new film “The Force Awakens,” has been rejected by most UK cinemas due to fears it could be offensive.” I call that one Ross Douthat bait…
1. Is the last known antibiotic beginning to fail? (speculative)
6. How breweries survived the age of Prohibition (pdf, job market paper from UCLA).
7. Why recent productivity growth is taking a scary form, shedding inputs rather than increasing outputs.
2. “Arguably the least appreciated resource for Islamic State is its fertile farms.” (noisy video at that link, sorry, but the content is interesting)
4. Who says education is just signaling? Only bird brains?
5. “Some teams are accusing other teams of cheating, but there’s no cheating because there’s no rules,” (the culture that is curling).
UnitedHealth may exit the provision of ACA plans:
The nation’s largest health insurance provider, UnitedHealth Group, dealt a blow to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday when it warned it may stop offering coverage to individuals through public exchanges after taking a big hit to the bottom line from disappointing enrollment and the law’s unexpected effects.
The insurer’s withdrawal from the Obamacare exchanges would force some 540,000 Americans to find coverage from another provider.
UnitedHealth (UNH) downgraded its earnings forecast, bemoaning low growth projections for Obamacare enrollment and blaming the federal health care law for giving individuals too much flexibility to change plans.
People who purchase insurance through the public exchanges are typically heavy users of their plans, draining insurers’ profits, analysts say.
In a sharp reversal of its previously optimistic projections, UnitedHealth suspended marketing of its Obamacare exchange plans for 2016 — which the company has already committed to offer — to limit its exposure to additional losses.
“We see no data pointing to improvement” in the financial performance of public-exchange plans, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said on a conference call, though he added that “we remain hopeful” the market will recover.
The move comes amid indications that insurers are absorbing steeper costs than they expected from plans offered to individuals through the public exchanges, which are purchased online.
The average premium for medium-benefit plans offered to 40-year-old non-smokers is set to rise 10.1% in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
…Even though UnitedHealth wasn’t a major player yet on the ACA exchanges, the fact that it priced plans conservatively and entered cautiously made its statements more significant, said Katherine Hempstead, who heads the insurance coverage team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“If they can’t make money on the exchanges, it seems it would be hard for anyone,” Hempstead said.
But that is not all the news. There is also:
and my own Obamacare not as egalitarian as it appears
All five are from the NYT, the first three being from the last two or three days, the other two from last week. They are not articles from The Weekly Standard…
To put it bluntly, I don’t think the mandate part of the bill is working. These are mostly problems which decay and get worse, not problems which self-correct.