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Showing posts from March, 2009

Free markets: if this is not the bottom, can we still be positive?

As bad as the news is, should we be optimistic about the future? Yes. When we read about massive job losses, and individual companies deciding to lay off thousands, should we be confident in the future? Yes. Why would I say such a thing? Four reasons:

1. Cut fast and cut deep. The worse thing any company can do in an economic downturn is ignore and put off what must be done. We should hope that the cuts announced are overly aggressive, and that they will not all be needed. We should want the biggest possible cuts to insure that they are not only realistic, but overly pessimistic. Trust me; the investment markets want realism and clarity. Honesty that sales will decline will be better received than false optimism in forecasts. By over-doing it, favorable comparisons of sales, and operations and profits will come sooner, thereafter leading to more employment, investment and growth.

2. Inventories are not a problem. This thing started in 2007. Even the automotive m…

Free markets? Part 2

My friends, we are indeed in a severe recession. But should we call into question all of our beliefs in capitalism? No. The issue we face is one of financial market collapse. The collapse was not caused by the complex but rather by the simple. Many pundits will talk about the “CDO with ABS,” and yes, there was excessive financial engineering. But the real root cause of our troubles rests with institutions which lent money poorly. In my last blog post, I discussed my own observations as a young MBA graduating with a degree in finance from Wharton. We believed we should use advanced mathematics and some of the new learning’s from physics to “measure and eliminate risk.”” As the Financial Times recently noted, we thought we could “complete the markets.”

What would be an example of the “slicing and dicing” of traditional investment vehicles? I have discussed the dismemberment of bonds. The other interesting case study is mortgages. Perhaps it is now self-evident, but for my par…

Free markets? Part 1

I want to connect two seemingly unrelated intellectual points: evolutionism and Nobel Prizes in financial economics. What do they have in common? They both are founded on a belief in reason; a belief that math and science can explain everything.

Let’s start with evolutionism.

In Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Daniel Dennett takes a philosophical and mathematical journey. This book is not for the faint of heart, but contains a couple of really challenging ideas as they pertain to faith and evolution. To begin, Dennett’s epistemology is Charles Darwin. This is the rail that his train runs upon. Darwin’s theory of natural selection posits that organic life is continually interacting with its environment and adapting to survive. To prove that humans evolved through this process, Dennett makes the following argument:
Life is a near infinite mathematical game of chance. Just as it is possible to produce a winner of a contest to correctly “call heads or tails” 1,000 times, the Homo sapiens is indeed …

Where do blogs fit in the history of social media?

In my opinion, blogging is the first and one of the earliest forms of social media. Blogging is the first phase of “the wisdom of the crowd.”

As I have written before, the first websites were brochure-ware, controlled by Webmasters. After the “Dot Com” bubble burst, the web came back much improved. Some people call it Web 2.0, and some dispute whether it improved that much, but it certainly enabled anyone to participate, and to publish. Participation came with bulletin boards and forums, and participation came with blogs. Blogs let anyone sign up and start publishing. Of course for most blogs, no one knew they existed and did not read them (like mine). But even at their best, blogs are a form of “one to many” publication. Some blogs have "comments" but they are hard to use, hard to follow. They read like the dead sea scrolls...literally.

With Facebook or MySpace, you see the next evolution. Anyone can publish themselves, and others can comment or post or share photos…