Assorted Links (5/20/2014)

Here is a list of articles that I have been reading, videos that I have been watching, and podcasts that I have been listening to lately:

Polls Say: Democrats Risk a Midterm Beating Over Obamacare

George Will – What LBJ Wrought

Quoting from this article, “In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing “just about always or most of the time”; today, 19 percent do.” (source: Pew Research)

Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis

I will resist the temptation to utter the (vastly overused phrase), “The science is settled”…

Podcast: Tech entrepreneur Marc Andreesen on Bitcoin as well as the future of the world order

Don’t Silence Graduation Speakers

Net Neutrality Nonsense

Quoting from this article, “Living in constant fear of hypothetical worst-case scenarios—and premising public policy upon them—means that best-case scenarios will never come about.”

Beware the City Dolls

Advice for graduates from AEI President Arthur Brooks…

Language and Morality: Gained in translation

“A report published last month found that when moral dilemmas are posed in a foreign language, people become more coolly utilitarian.”

My Commencement Speech to Rutgers’ Geniuses: Go Forth and Fail

“Greetings, Class of 2014. So Condoleezza Rice was too offensive for you. Just wait until Monday morning. Did you learn how to spell KFC?”

Wealth Effect: How Summer Can Change Your Future

Video: Glenn Reynolds on the Future of Higher Education & How Kids are Getting Wise to Student Loan Debt

Flags of Inconvenience

Today’s #Dailychart is our new measure of corporate nationality. This week the French government extended its powers to block foreign takeovers in “strategic” industries, following an offer for parts of Alstom by America’s General Electric. But just how French is Alstom? We have calculated the “domestic density” of selected companies…”

Angling to Be the MasterCard of Bitcoin

Andy Kessler makes sense of bitcoin in particular and financial services in general…

Podcast: The Three Hardest Words

Freakonomics on the importance of admitting that you don’t know when in fact you do not know!

This week’s Initiative on Global Markets (IGM) Economic Experts Panel statements

This week’s IGM Economic Experts Panel statements:

  1. Employers that discriminate in hiring will be at a competitive disadvantage, if their customers do not care about their mix of employees, compared with firms that do not discriminate.
  2. Rising market wages are an important reason — over and above any changes in medical technology, social norms or preferences — why family sizes have fallen over the past century in rich countries.

See for poll results!

Suggested books and readings on finance and risk management

In my opinion, the following 3 books are particularly worthwhile for students who are interested in learning more about finance and risk management:

  1. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, by Peter L. Bernstein.
  2. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing, by Burton G. Malkiel.
  3. Stocks for the Long Run : The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns and Long-Term Investment Strategies, by Jeremy J. Siegel.

Philosophically, these books present what I would consider to be an “orthodox” perspective; i.e., they fit well with the so-called rational choice, efficient markets view of the world which is prevalent in most departments of finance and economics. For some “heterodox” alternatives, I like (but am nevertheless highly critical of) both of Nicholas Taleb’s books:

  1. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (read this first).
  2. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (the sequel to “Fooled by Randomness”).

Finally, I would be remiss to not also include two other favorites which are not books on finance or economics; rather they deal with the history and philosophy of applied mathematics. These books include:

  1. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos.
  2. A Brief History of Infinity, by Brian Clegg.