Saturday assorted links


So Skopje will kowrow before Athens again. Agin, the morally (and economically) bankrupted Greek regime bullies its neighbours with total impunity.

"Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who will make the final decision on the statues’ removal, has already spoken in favour of renaming Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport in a bid to calm tensions with Athens."

Rename it Neville Chamberlain Airport, stupid!

+1. The Greeks whine about being 'bullied' by Germany and their other creditors and yet feel no compunction in bullying others. The financial screws on Greece ought to be tightened a bit more.

I say it is time to crush Greece as an examplefor all the other bullies. Make it a bigger Melos.Let the crows have a Christmas feast

#6 - While as a Greek I don't really care what they call FYROM (Macedonia), I found it amusing that on a jar of macadamia nut butter there was, about 20 years ago, a slogan in Greek that said "Macedonia is not a country!". I was thinking "Macedonia is not a nut!" like the French slogan "This is not a pipe!" for you with artistic rather than autistic leanings.

But in the article this was interesting: "When Skopje 2014 was initially announced in 2010, the former government claimed it would cost approximately 80 million euros. The estimated cost was ultimately closer to 700 million euros" - so if you know the Balkans, you can see what happened (padding, to pay off the officials in bribes, equal to 700-80 = 620 M euros in potential bribes). Same thing happens in the Philippines with road projects, in Greece with public construction, and even in the USA with "minority favored contracts".

Bonus trivia: TC liked the Skopje Stalinist statues when he visited as I recall. There is a certain charm in "bigger is better" type art, which is popular not just in former communist countries but in Asia and pretty much everywhere outside the Developed world. The Danish "den lille Havfrue" statute, very popular (albeit vandalized repeatedly), is the rule-exception in public art.

"Ceci n'est pas une pipe" is not a French slogan but a text in the painting "La trahison des images" by the Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte.

1, Clearly, taking a their cut in dollars is preferable to any alternative. Which, to be honest, is not really a surprise - after all, when trading euros, it isn't as if an American exchange's cut is done in euros, right?

LOL prior doesn't understand how futures contracts work. Hint: There is no 'cut'. I'll let you look up what 'settlement' means

So, the CME is doing this completely for free, as a public service? Perhaps you are unaware of how a bourse operates - someone is paying the CME for using their services, though perhaps fee is better in that case than cut.

You are absolutely right about the settlement part, of course. Future contracts can be settled in whatever fashion the bourse/future contract stipulates, and the CME is apparently stipulating dollar only settlement.

Such institutions as the following example (assuming it comes to pass of course), are extremely likely to only take their cut in dollars - 'JPMorgan Chase & Co. has offered its institutional trading customers access to the bitcoin futures contract through its futures brokerage' Or their fee, if you prefer.

And here I was, thinking the most cogent criticism of the example would involve the fact that actually, pretty much any currency is exchangeable with any other, so using dollars and euros would be irrelevant from a global perspective. Brokerages in Wall Street, Tokyo, the City, Frankfurt - they don't really care what currency you use, apart from needing to pay their local rent, local employees, and taxes in the local currency. In this case, JPMorgan Chase & Co. probably already takes dollars, yen, euros etc. from institutional investors, it is merely a matter of bookkeeping.

The only way to fill out the 1099-x is in dollars, the only llegal tender for tax purposes.

And the exchange/broker intermediary needs to pay taxes and pay people paying taxes, so their fee will be in dollars, the only way to pay taxes in the US.

US dollars only have value because they must be used to pay taxes.

If Congress switched to requiring taxes be paid in gold, silver, or Euros or Yen, dollars would cease to have stable value, unless the Fed/Treasury freely exchanged dollars and gold at fixed terms.

"Other varieties of capitalism were ... infeasible for Britain given its history." Oh balls: determinism of the silliest sort.

You'll find a lot of the same determinism in my "The Causes of Industrial Disorder" (Routledge, original ed.1983; new edition forthcoming in 2018). Forgive the plug, but I think the book (my PhD thesis) brings vividly to life, at the shop floor level, Nicholas Craft's contention that the "policy framework which inhibited productivity growth was to a considerable extent the result of a perceived political imperative to appease organized labour in an attempt to achieve very low unemployment through wage restraint."

Britain basically honoured it debt after WW2 unlike Germany which was granted relief under the London agreement of 1953. In the UK Debt to GDP ratio by the end of the second world war was more than 250%. This, and the policy of keeping the pound USD ratio stable, and keeping too big armed forces, resulted in severe fiscal strain on the UK compared with Gemany, so it was no wonder there was less to invest in productivity enhancements.

#3 This isn't just a post-war British story. Britain completely failed to become a leader in any of the industries of the later part of the industrial revolution: automobiles, electrical equipment, chemicals.

Why strive in Chemistry? The Germans had developed, patented, and produced all the pigments. And those patents didn't expire until....1914.

Per Angus Maddison, per capita output in Germany and France did not surpass that of Great Britain until 1970 and no one of the three has been securely ahead of the other since.

It's absurd and shameful that Macedonia claims the ancient Kingdom of Macedon or Alexander. The ancient Kingdom of Macedon is in northern modern Greece. Modern Macedonia corresponds to ancient Paeonia and Illyria, both regions Alexander's father Philip II subdued.

They really are just a landlocked Balkan country, as irrelevant today as they were 2300 years ago.

Oh, Bad! You didn't refer to the land-locked balkan country as the Nation known to some(fascists) as Macedonia.

Do you know who else Philip of Macedon subdued?

Most of Greece, including the capital Athens.

The place could use another round of subjugation. Trouble is, their officer corps is more likely to produce a Peron than a Pinochet.

Yeah but the Kingdom of Macedon is located in modern Greece. End of story. Macedon is making things up for tourist monies.

I am not sure there is logic underlying these statues removal in Macedonia except just Macedonia bowing to stronger and touchy neighbors. You have the right to claim the tutelage of any historical figure you wish, no matter if he has any geographical, ethnical or historical connection with you. Many statues of Greek and Latin philosophers and scientists decorates American cities, and their name is often engraved on public buildings such as libraries.

Besides Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, so if they want to honor her, I really do not see who could object. True, she was ethnically Albanese, not Slav, but do you have to have a 100% score of ethnic purity to get a statue? Speaking of ethnicity, we still do not know for sure who were the Macedonians of the time of Alexander. Surely Indo-Europeans, but probably not Greek or at least speaking a very aberrant greek dialect.

The bit the Greeks are touchy about isn't the tutelage of historical figures, but the present-day territorial claims such tutelage implies.

The 'territorial claims' are in their head only. They're pissing in someone else's cornflakes because they can.

You need to read some Christopher Hitchens on the sainted Mother Teresa. How about "the suffering of mankind is a joy unto God."

You need to read some Christopher Hitchens on the sainted Mother Teresa

A bottle of ipecac is cheaper in terms of time and likely money.

@AthEist: Oh, I read it. And I kind of agree with Hitchens (though less so on his book "God is nor great", really simplistic), whom we are sorely missing. This is why I said "if they want to honor her".

How do you think the British would respond if Norway decided to call itself Scotland and claim Scottish historical figures as their own? Now imagine the only things Britain had to brag about occurred 2000 years ago. The Greeks are acting pretty triggered but the Macedonians started it with their ahistorical nonsense.

They'd have themselves a good laugh and then go on with their lives.

Tunisia claims Saint Augustine and the occasional Roman Emperor. More interestingly the Turks are demanding Germany give them the Pergamon Altar back because it is "Turkish". As are the Hittites apparently. But the Greeks don't care about that. Some neighbors are too big to bully I guess.

More relevant to our resident Russian troll, Putin is now claiming Kiev as a Russian city and he has put up a statue to Saint Vladimir just outside the Kremlin.

Yes, there are countless examples of people taking a historical or mythical personage of an other people, appropriating that personage and building upon him a foundational myth. Two outstanding examples:

1. The Romans used the mythical trojan Enee of the Greek greatest epics, and make of him their ultimate ancestor, adding one mythical layer on the myth on Romulus.

2. The Arabs, at some point of history close to their adoption of monotheism, decided that Abraham, the mythical ancestor/patriarch of the Hebrew people, was also their ancestor by means of his first-born son Ismael.

I guess that what we call now "cultural appropriation". The only correct answer when you're "victim" of it, I think, is to accept it with a smile.

I want Abraham returned forthwith.

1. The Bitcoin futures contract on the CME will have cash settlement, not Bitcoin settlement. What should you infer from that?

Should we put millions into the hands of giggling high school geeks writing web wallets? It is a major security breach. Matt Levine gets this right. Blockchain does not protect our digital wallet.

Intel (SGX) has the solution, and Microsoft incorporated the solution (COCO) into a cloud package. We can secure your keys down to the microprocessor instruction level, and further, down to the foundry level in the fab process.

And Matt Levine strongly hints at the solution, as did a previous poster on blockchain scaling. The Intel and Microsoft technologies allow smaller consortia to secure the digital accounting system without block chain and with much faster clearing.

Blockchain is an important part of the sandbox concept, but it is not a critical part of it. We still need ringed fence, digital cash that is internally watermarked for self-protection, counterfeit proof.

Sure, we can have keys that are hard to steal.... in exchange of increasing the risk of total loss. Lose your secret key to fire, a flood, or just hardware failure, and lose your assets forever. There are purely digital secrets out in business with no recovery and no side channels, but the right way to handle them involves Samir Secret Sharing, which is nonsense for individuals.

I suspect the Great Digital Future involves zero block chains, sensible encryption, and identity signals that are extremely difficult to fake, tied to social networks, skills and geography.


So long as you arent a criminal or a libertardian LARPer, put your money in a bank.

You should infer that traders prefer dollars to bitcoin, hence there will be vastly more activity if settlement is in dollars.

You don't settle pork belly contracts in pork bellies for the same reason.

There is nothing mysterious or abstruse going on.

> You don’t settle pork belly contracts in pork bellies for the same reason.

You settled pork belly contracts with 40,000 pounds of inspected frozen pork bellies with a producer certificate within 15 days for many decades.


> Of course the buyer shouldn’t insure it.


Good money after bad.

The Brazilian Real and Russian Rouble are also cash-settled. What should you infer from that?

No, they are not. The Brazilian real is as strong as the fundamentals of Brazil's economy, and they are strong. President Temer's reforms are working. It is a new Brazil now, free from the populist mistakes of Mrs. Rousseff (whois ctually from Bulgarian stock).

Winter's coming on in Ohio, Thago. Better get your Brazilian ass down to the Equator

And yet, Brazilian days are getting warmer and warmer.

"The Brazilian real also is traded on all twelve calendar months but is not physically delivered — it is cash-settled. The Russian ruble is also cash-settled."

5: No, but the New York Times would be inclined to write about it as a harbinger of progress.

2. More made-up numbers with multiple interpretations both proving and negating the postulate. The Economist is the magazine subscription of choice for the waiting rooms of pricey barber shops rather than dentist offices.

Macedonia's problem is that they are located adjacent to a**hole central on the European continent.

1. Cash settlement is a good idea. Custody of bitcoin is tough, risky and time consuming. The only risk is that, since the settlement is conducted on a snapshot basis, underhanded counterparties could temporarily move the market for 30 seconds to give themselves a quick advantage in the derivatives pricing. This is especially problematic because cryptocurrency markets have relatively thin market depth, so a well-funded adversary could easily move the markets with a relatively nominal amount of capital compared to what they could make from the futures contract.

> Custody of bitcoin is tough, risky and time consuming.

There is no requirement to take custody, though. Those holding contracts-to-receive can offset them by purchasing contracts-to-deliver.

Interesting you put Leonardo in quotes regarding Salvator Mundi. There seem to be some real doubts regarding its authenticity, despite a 2008 ruling by a group of experts that it is the real thing. The big problem is there is simply no historical record of it being painted by him, indeed, there seems to be no clear history of where it was or who owned it prior to the 1950s when it was bought for $10,000 in New Orleans. Besides that, apparently it has been painted over several times.

Obviously quite a few things about it make it look real, or this 2008 ruling would not have been made. But there have been some very skillful forgeries done previously, and the art of forgery and the technical knowledge and skills to pull it off have become quite advanced and were so already by the 1950s.

At least one stylistic oddity is the outfit worn in the painting. This is brighter than any seen in any other Lenonardo painting, and the prominence of blue is odd, given that color is associated with the Virgin Mary, although in The Last Supper, Christ is wearing a blue cloth over his shoulder. But this is also quite an elaborate costume, aside from being mostly blue and quite bright. There really is nothing like it in any of his other paintings, although, of course, the number of those is quite small.

Trump has kept his promise to revive American manufacturing, mining, and the like,

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