Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Line of the Day: China

China has no fewer than 428 think tanks involved in policy formulation—a number second only to the United States.

That's from a bit on China's foreign policy in the Boston Globe.

Math in Sports

Here's a bit from Bill Simmons' new writing project (the piece is not by him). It feels familiar. Some thoughts:

1. I've never understood sabermetrics to be about "solving" sports. It's a tool to gain an edge on some margin by which you generate for yourself an information advantage. Sports and management decisions are not solvable; find an edge, exploit it.

2. Sabermetrics developed with baseball; it's evolution into basketball and football seems to overlook the nature of separability in the baseball production function (and the lack thereof in the production functions for basketball and football). I'm not sure that this is completely intractable but it's a hurdle, and not an insignificant one. "Finding the right metrics" in basketball and football doesn't get at the root issue.

3. Since we're here-- here's the trailer for Moneyball. Jonah Hill playing Paul DePodesta (I understand he's a composite of individuals, but nonetheless) has to be one of the most surprising movie castings in recent memory, though the more I consider it, I think it may work out well. And is it mandatory that Kevin Costner be cast in any and all movies concerning baseball?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blockquoting Whom?

Can you guess which Nobel Laureate recently penned...errr typed...these words?
The trick, always, is not to take your equilibrium stories too seriously, to understand that they’re aids to insight, not Truths; given that, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with using equilibrium analysis.
If the hint didn't give it away, follow the link or check below the fold.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Q & A

Here's a Q & A I did concerning the gambling work I've been doing and will be doing.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A few betting market notes...

Here's a fantastic story-- in 2003, a Mr. Nick Newlife put £1,520 at 66-to-1 odds that Roger Federer would win seven Wimbledon titles. (He currently stands at 6.) Unfortunately, in 2009, our bettor passed away...yet made the appropriate arrangements for his bet to be claimed should it pay off. Should Federer get his seventh, Oxfam benefits to the tune of £101,840.

Also-- here's a brief summary of our latest work on MLB betting markets.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

On Hayek's Proposal

My colleague Nick Snow asks, "What's so funny about peace, love, and a free market in money?" He uncovers this 1977 WSJ article, where Hayek presents his Denationalisation of Money proposal to a wider audience.

I have written critically on Hayek's proposal. Nicolas Cachanosky provides a summary of my paper.

Before asking whether there is something funny about a free market in money, a distinction should be made between inside and outside money. Under free banking, private banks provide inside money (banknotes and demand deposits) redeemable for the prevailing outside money (gold and/or silver, historically). Under central banking, private banks provide inside money (demand deposits) redeemable for the prevailing outside money (Federal Reserve notes).

After making this distinction, it is possible to see what is so funny about Hayek’s proposal. He wants private issuers to provide outside money. He wants the monetary system to work without the very constraint that made episodes of free banking successful: a contractual obligation to redeem notes for some scarce commodity. That, I believe, is laughable.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Future Monetary System of Zimbabwe

I blogged recently about Zimbabwe's now defunct 100-trillion-dollar note. Currently, citizens of Zimbabwe are free to use US Dollars and South African Rand for their transactions. Since inflationary finance and seigniorage are often key political tools in developing countries, one should not be surprised if Zim notes make a return in the near future. New Zimbabwe reports:
Finance minister Tendai Biti says the country needs at least six months import cover and a sustainable track-record of economic growth, inflation stability and above 60 percent capacity utilisation in industry before the Zim dollar can be brought back into circulation.

However central bank chief, Dr Gideon Gono said the country should consider adopting a gold-backed currency.“There is a need for us to begin thinking seriously and urgently about introducing a Gold-backed Zimbabwe currency which will not only stable but internationally acceptable,” he said in an interview with state media.
Whether Zimbabwe will adopt a commodity-backed system remains to be seen. I think it is highly unlikely. But it is encouraging to see that option on the table.