Churn baby churn

Too big to fail, too big to jail and the revolving door from Wall Street to the Office of Attorney General and back to Wall Street. Folks, your Grandpa’s Democrats wouldn’t recognize the new ones or if he did he’d swear they are Republicans. Below is a must read.

Slabbed was and remains an early innovator on this topic:

Thank God for Arizona Part 3: Blaming the surge in drug violence on the Mexicans. God damn the pusher man (and his U.S. banker).

The ultimate solution is to legalize Marijuana in the US. That one action would kneecap the drug cartels and their crooked bankers. We’d also save money not jailing Cheech and Chong (or the local equivalent in your area). Speaking of that:

Next up is the implosion of Prestige Title circa 2009 as its topical to the Bay Audit Presentation post: Continue reading “Churn baby churn”

Never assume until the fat lady sings: A Few Highfalutin Concepts to Remember

Long ago I disclosed that I dabbled in game theory from time to time. An application of those broad concepts are found in Public Choice Theory. Here is a salient snippet:

Public choice theory is often used to explain how political decision-making results in outcomes that conflict with the preferences of the general public. For example, many advocacy group and pork barrel projects are not the desire of the overall democracy. However, it makes sense for politicians to support these projects. It may make them feel powerful and important. It can also benefit them financially by opening the door to future wealth as lobbyists. The project may be of interest to the politician’s local constituency, increasing district votes or campaign contributions. The politician pays little or no cost to gain these benefits, as he is spending public money. Special-interest lobbyists are also behaving rationally. They can gain government favors worth millions or billions for relatively small investments. They face a risk of losing out to their competitors if they don’t seek these favors. The taxpayer is also behaving rationally. The cost of defeating any one government give-away is very high, while the benefits to the individual taxpayer are very small. Each citizen pays only a few pennies or a few dollars for any given government favor, while the costs of ending that favor would be many times higher. Everyone involved has rational incentives to do exactly what they’re doing, even though the desire of the general constituency is opposite. Costs are diffused, while benefits are concentrated. The voices of vocal minorities with much to gain are heard over those of indifferent majorities with little to individually lose.

While good government tends to be a pure public good for the mass of voters, there may be many advocacy groups that have strong incentives for lobbying the government to implement specific policies that would benefit them, potentially at the expense of the general public. For example, lobbying by the sugar manufacturers might result in an inefficient subsidy for the production of sugar, either direct or by protectionist measures. The costs of such inefficient policies are dispersed over all citizens, and therefore unnoticeable to each individual. On the other hand, the benefits are shared by a small special-interest group with a strong incentive to perpetuate the policy by further lobbying. Due to rational ignorance, the vast majority of voters will be unaware of the effort; in fact, although voters may be aware of special-interest lobbying efforts, this may merely select for policies which are even harder to evaluate by the general public, rather than improving their overall efficiency. Even if the public were able to evaluate policy proposals effectively, they would find it infeasible to engage in collective action in order to defend their diffuse interest. Therefore, theorists expect that numerous special interests will be able to successfully lobby for various inefficient policies. In public choice theory, such scenarios of inefficient government policies are referred to as government failure — a term akin to market failure from earlier theoretical welfare economics.

Rational Ignorance? Politicians have depended upon it since the dawn of civilized society.  All of the above applies all the way down to your local government. So does the concept of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs.  And all are currently on display here in the Bay in fact.

A long time ago on a message board far far away…..

Many years ago, I found a newspaper forum on subject matter that interested me and I needed to discern the lay of the land quickly. Part of discerning every cyber landscape on a typical newspaper forum is to figure out which inhabitants are bat shit crazy so I put up a post along the lines of………….

Ronald Reagan gutted the nations mental health hospital system when he was President. Unfortunately, many of those poor sick people ended up in jail while others ended up here. Discuss.

Sure enough every loon that was lurking the board chimed in on the topic, imparting the information I needed in the process.  Sometimes I drop a depth charge (as such posts are known on the finance boards) by accident and the feedback I get via sonar reminds me of that old post.  Yesterday had such an accidental release and frankly what I heard back via the ol’ sonar tickled me to no end.

Slabbed lifers remember the old website had an about page and other material that disclosed certain things about your moderator Sop, two of which were that I was a devotee of Behavioral Finance/economics and not in an abstract way either.  Along those same lines I also have an interest in Game Theory and it is through that prism that I filtered information about the public companies which I blogged upon.  What I learned on the finance blogs impacts what you see here on Slabbed today.

In any event lets drop some depth charges today as I welcome all to my laboratory. ~ sop