easterlin

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    The Economics of Happiness The vast economic growth in the rich nations since the Second World War has failed to make people any happier. Is it time to rethink how we measure economies? A conversation with Prof. Richard Easterlin, a leading scholar in happiness economics.

    Factory farming is a brutal endeavor.  In this environment, chickens (and other animals) are given a variety of feeds and chemicals (stimuli) designed to make them grow as big as possible as fast as possible and hence maximize output.  In truth, factory farms probably will output more product than their organic counterparts, but in the process the animals are kept in horrendous conditions where the combination of feeds and supplements bloats them so fast, that often their growth outpaces their body’s ability to cope resulting in broken bones. We may squirm at this example; but it’s precisely what the macro-level policies around economic development (particularly in the rich nations) have been designed to do.  The post-war era(s) created a world in need of growth; and in some cases, growth at any cost.   A significant piece of research highlights what is now known as the Easterlin Paradox, which shows that the vast economic growth in the rich nations since the second world war has failed to make people any happier.   A study ...

Featured Post


The Skorina Report: Another try at herding Gotham’s five-headed fund

Guest columnist Charles Skorina looks at the five-headed NYC pension system with its new leader, Scott Evans.

By Charles Skorina In July, Scott Evans reported for duty as Chief Investment Officer in New York City's Bureau of Asset Management, where he'll manage $160 billion in employee pension funds. Traditionally the city's CIO is replaced when the political wheel turns, which it did last fall. Retiring Mayor Michael Bloomberg was succeeded by William De Blasio; and Comptroller John Liu, the independently-elected custodian of the city's pension funds, was replaced by Scott Stringer. Mr. Stringer beat back a last-minute primary challenge from disgraced ...


One Ordinary Week in the Life of Climate Change


We thought it would be instructive to share with you links and the odd quote from recent press reports on the subject of climate change.  As a professional investor,  you no doubt want to be ahead of trends in the investment world.   Investment opportunities arise when there is a divergence of opinion, as is uniquely the case in the United States (unlike the other nations on Earth) on the subject of climate change.  The headlines of a few days tell ...

Guest Posts


The Skorina Report: Another try at herding Gotham’s five-headed fund
Guest columnist Charles Skorina looks at the five-headed NYC pension system with its new leader, Scott Evans.

By Charles Skorina In July, Scott Evans reported for duty as Chief Investment Officer in New York City's Bureau of Asset Management, where he'll manage $160 billion in employee pension funds. Traditionally the city's CIO is replaced when the political wheel turns, which it did last fall. Retiring Mayor Michael Bloomberg was succeeded by William De Blasio; and Comptroller John Liu, the independently-elected custodian of the city's pension funds, was replaced by Scott Stringer. Mr. Stringer beat back a last-minute primary challenge from disgraced ...


Timely Research

The Top 0.004%: The Wealth-X Report
A report focuses on the life and spending habits of the 211,275 wealthiest individuals on the planet, and their network of family and friends.

Wealth-X has released its World Ultra Wealth Report 2014, noting that though the world’s Ultra High Net Worth population as defined here includes only 211,275 individuals, or 0.004% of the adult population, it controls 13% of the world’s wealth. The report then engages in what seems an instance of literary understatement: the UHNW folks have “a large degree of influence, whether on global equity markets or specific industries.” Quite If one includes the networks of family and friends who surround those 211,275 individuals, the ranks of those with “access” to wealth at ...

Private Equity

Business Development Companies: The Basics
Guest columnist Andrew Smith, CAIA, traces the history of Business Development Companies.

By Andrew Smith, CAIA The public consensus on Business Development Companies (BDCs) is that they are “the new business bank,” filling the middle-market financing gap left by the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent banking regulations in the following years. While this is true, it is an oversimplification of the BDC business model. BDCs are a form of Private Equity Fund; however unlike traditional Private Equity Limited Partnerships (Private Structure Private Equity Funds), they are publicly traded providing investors the liquidity offered from being listed on the public stock exchanges. Further, BDCs ...

Real Estate

Is Private Real Estate Actually Less Volatile than Public Real Estate?
Guest columnist Brad Case, Ph.D., CFA, CAIA, examines the differences between private and public real estate investments.

By Brad Case, Ph.D., CFA, CAIAThere are three reasons why people have made the mistake of thinking that private real estate is less volatile. (1)    Comparing unlevered private returns to levered public returns: The most commonly used measures of private real estate are the NCREIF Property Index (NPI) and the NCREIF ODCE; the NPI measures unlevered returns on institutional core property investments even if the investments were made with leverage, while the ODCE measures returns from open-end diversified core private equity real estate funds, which typically use leverage in the range ...

Forex

Extra! Extra! Central Banking the Disease It Affects to Cure
The release of Lord Grabiner's report provides evidence going well beyond the conclusions that Grabiner himself is willing to draw, and shows a central bank acting as a wink-and-nod clearing house.

At the behest of the Bank of England, Anthony [Lord] Grabiner has studied whether, between 2005 and 2013, any B of E official engaged in (or knew of and winked at) any improper behavior in the forex market between 2005 and 2013. Shares of a $5.3 Trillion Market The release of the resulting paper serves as counterpoint to the heavy fines issued by U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, Switzerland’s FINMA, and two U.S. agencies, against the private banks alleged to have manipulated foreign exchange rates. The above graph, adapted from one posted on the ...

Legislation/Court rulings

Capital Markets, Derivatives and the Law
Alan Rechtschaffen quotes two definitions of "moral hazard" in this book. The first, from Ben Bernanke, seems to get the book off to a rather awkward start. The second, from Zachary Gubler much later on, represents something of a recovery.

Evolution After Crisis By Alan N. Rechtschaffen 496 pages Oxford University Press Early on in his new book, Alan Rechtschaffen makes the standard observation that although the provision/creation by a central bank of liquidity in times of crisis can get the system through the darkest days, it does raise the issue of moral hazard. He then illustrates that point with a long quotation from Ben Bernanke, delivered at a conference sponsored by the FRB of Atlanta in May 2008: just ...

Alpha Strategies

Mergers in Theory and Practice: Synchronicity and Synergy
According to a new report from Intralinks and Cass Business School, M&A activity is a critical component in how successful companies innovate and enhance shareholder value. Actavis' latest coup, rescuing Allergan from the clutches of Valeant and Pershing Square, may make the report's authors' point more vividly than their dry numbers can.

Intralinks, in collaboration with the M&A Research Centre at Cass Business School, has produced the first part of a projected two-part report on the last twenty years in the history of the corporate M&A world. Part I focuses on “the drivers of shareholder value creation” from M&A activity. Part II, projected for early next year, will look at the M&A strategies “of an elite group of M&A active corporate performers” seeking common attributes and behavior patterns. Among ...

Technology

Big Data and Other Trends to Influence Hedge Funds in 2015
Big Data makes possible new ranges of inferences, and gives value to new skill sets. There will continue to be plenty of roles for human beings in recognizing the shadows cast by the intense light emitted by new technologies.

At a gathering at the Andaz Hotel in New York, October 22, a number of the alternative investment industry’s best and brightest discussed the new drivers of growth. The event, sponsored by Gravitas, turned on four themes: Big Data; Branding; Cybersecurity; and Innovation. I’d like to focus on just one of those points, the first of them, for further discussion here. So: what is Big Data and why might it be one of the major Drivers of ...

Virtual currencies

Bitcoin: Three Bits of News on a Microcosm
A bitcoin-mining fire, a survey of small and medium businesses and their levels of preparedness for bitcoin customers, and a new criminal accusation against an alleged ponzi scheme: all conribute to the sense that bitcoin is a microcosm of the whole financial world, good and bad.

For those who believe that bitcoin, or some virtual currency akin to bitcoin, represents the future of human money, the latest news is … well, ambivalent. Although bitcoins themselves are intangible – they are strings of 1s and 0s – the bitcoin market has and requires the support of a large and quite tangible infrastructure, that is, “mines.” Bitcoins are “mined” as computers solve complex mathematical problems, adding to the crypto money supply. Fire in Thailand Last month, ...