Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There is No Great Stagnation: Jewelry from Cat Fur Edition

From Wired:
Davis has spent a while perfecting the technique of making perfect fur spheres. She starts by taking a small handful of fluff, which she molds into a starter ball. To this she adds more fluff around the edges and then rolls it between her palms quickly until the strands of hair start to felt into tight, solid ball forms. She then stashes the balls until there are enough to make a necklace — which can take between two and three months.
Photo gallery here.

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.

+/-

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Juicing The Mitchell: Ohio Governor on Cavs for Mavs

Could have just as easily been under the "Not from the Onion" meme:
(CNN) – In a declaration laden with veiled jabs at NBA all star LeBron James, Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday declared the Dallas Mavericks honorary Ohioans.

[...]

"Whereas, NBA Finals [MVP] Dirk Nowitzki chose to re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2010, forgoing free agency and keeping his talents in Dallas, remaining loyal to the team, city and fans for whom he played his entire career," the declaration reads in part.
The governor's humorous choice of words throughout the declaration demonstrate the time and effort put into the work, earning our endorsement in the JTM series.

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.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Fat Cat Demand

Story:
An Ohio animal shelter is offering a big discount on its fat cats in an effort to attract owners who will give them a healthy lifestyle, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday. The Capital Area Humane Society in Hilliard, Ohio, is offering its plus-sized cats for $15 apiece or two for $20, The Dispatch reported. That is a huge discount from the shelter's regular adoption price of $70 per adult cat.

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.

Tax Credit Arbitrage

Part of the deadweight loss of the Volt tax credit is shipping the cars between dealers and the "sticker" cost of changing the labels. Courtesy TaxProf:
The National Legal and Policy Center reports (here and here) that GM dealers are claiming the $7,500 tax credit intended for consumer purchases of Chevy Volts by engaging in dealer-to-dealer trades of the cars and then selling them to the public as "used" cars.
Presumably, this implies the value of the "new" label is less than the value of the tax credit for the dealers, otherwise there would seem to be no incidence effect.