Security and Exchange Commission employees are required to sell any stock they own in a company when beginning an investigation into that company. Since such an investigation can only lead to bad or neutral results for the company in question, the requirement to sell naturally leads to employees making a boatload of money.
Here is an investment strategy for you:
Buy all the stocks in the S&P 500 index, weighted by market cap.
Any time the Securities and Exchange Commission opens an investigation into one of those companies, sell its stock.1
That's it! I feel like that would be a good strategy, right? All the benefits of indexing, plus you get to occasionally trade on inside information. Oh, right, for this strategy to work, obviously, you'd need to know about SEC investigations as soon as they start; you can't just wait until the investigations are public.
So I guess the downside of this strategy is that, to use it, you need to work at the SEC. The upside, though, is that if you work at the SEC, this strategy is totally fine!
More than "totally fine", this investment strategy is basically required.
It's obvious that SEC employees should not be allowed to own individual stocks, and I'm quite surprised to find out that isn't the case. Government regulators should in general be prohibited from benefiting from their insider knowledge.
This story by Dan Balz and Scott Clement about some midterm election poll results makes several errors in discussing some results as causes rather than effects. I believe this confusion of cause and effect is a result of the tendency for political reporters to view elections as sporting events, but a historical voting trend is very different from a batting average.
The first example is in the second paragraph:
Midterm elections generally favor the party that does not hold the White House, which gives the GOP a head start this year.
It is true that the party that doesn't hold the White House generally does better in midterm elections, especially if the President is in his second term. However, this historical fact doesn't "give the GOP a head start". The GOP's projected advantage lines up with this historical trend, but isn't caused by it. Both the historical trend and the GOP's projected advantage in 2014 are effects with common causes: inevitable dissatisfaction with whoever has been running the country recently.
In the next example, I will bold the confusion:
The poll shows broad dissatisfaction with Washington politicians. Just 22 percent say they are inclined to reelect their representatives in Congress. Almost seven in 10 Americans (68 percent) say they are inclined to look around for someone new this fall, the highest percentage recorded in a Post-ABC poll.
That does not mean the fall elections will mean defeat for significant numbers of House members, given the high reelection rates for incumbents and the polarized voting patterns of recent years.
As in the first example, high reelection rates for incumbents is a historical trend that is likely to continue in 2014, but the trend doesn't cause itself. The trend is an effect of "polarized voting patterns" as well as the human tendency to stick with "the devil you know".
With President Obama and Congress at loggerheads on major issues and little prospect for legislative action on major initiatives, the president's approval ratings have shown little change since earlier this year.
Here, it's not entirely clear if the authors are implying a cause-and-effect, or which way it's going. By my observation, it appears that the more President Obama "achieves" the less popular he becomes. That lowered popularity is partly the cause of the lack of legislative action, not the effect of it. If Obama were widely popular, he would have more success pressuring Congress.
All but about two-dozen House districts are occupied by someone from the same party as the presidential candidate who carried the district in 2012, which makes it harder for the opposing party to pick them off.
The fact that all but two-dozen House districts voted for a Presidential candidate of the same party as the Representative they elected doesn't "make" it harder to pick the Representative off. That the prior election and the upcoming election are likely to have similar outcomes is an effect of the voting preferences of the district.
Historical voting patterns are not like batting averages, and trends do not self-perpetuate in a causal fashion. Voting instances are reflections of underlying beliefs at a point in time.
A great run-down of how app stores have changed software, and mostly for the better. I agree with the author's conclusions as well.
You know you're a good parent when Homer Simpson makes a Spaceballs reference and your daughter gets it.
Waltern Russell Mead concisely explains the nuclear angle to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. By failing to protect Ukraine's borders, America reinforces yet again the value to every country to be able to guarantee it's own security with nuclear weapons. That's a huge failure.
Here's the rub. When Ukraine escaped from the Soviet Union in 1990, Soviet nukes from the Cold War were still stationed on Ukrainian territory. After a lot of negotiation, Ukraine agreed to return those nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for what (perhaps naively) its leaders at the time thought would be solid security guarantees from the United States and the United Kingdom. The "Budapest Memorandum" as this agreement is called, does not in fact require the United States to do very much. We can leave Ukraine twisting in the wind without breaking our limited formal obligations under the pact.
If President Obama does this, however, and Ukraine ends up losing chunks of territory to Russia, it is pretty much the end of a rational case for non-proliferation in many countries around the world. If Ukraine still had its nukes, it would probably still have Crimea. It gave up its nukes, got worthless paper guarantees, and also got an invasion from a more powerful and nuclear neighbor.
The choice here could not be more stark. Keep your nukes and keep your land. Give up your nukes and get raped. This will be the second time that Obama administration policy has taught the rest of the world that nuclear weapons are important things to have. The Great Loon of Libya gave up his nuclear program and the west, as other leaders see it, came in and wasted him.
I've been watching the uncontested annexation of Crimea by Russia over the past several days with astonishment. President Obama, America, and the rest of the world have basically shrugged the whole thing off. Obviously everyone is "deeply concerned", but apparently no one is going to actually do anything.
Obama expressed "deep concern" over Russia's moves, suggested Putin's troops leave and warned the occupation "would negatively impact Russia's standing in the international community." ...
Of course, it would be ridiculous to suggest Obama's passivity toward Putin is connected to the American's overheard promise of post-election "flexibility" to Putin's predecessor back in 2012. So, we won't.
Here's how Col. Putin responded to Obama's words of warning: He sent more Russian troops into Crimea.
Mead points out that Putin will probably keep Crimea and steal whatever aid the West gives to Ukraine.
Now Putin seems to be seizing the most important military assets Russia holds in the country and can reasonably hope to increase Russia's influence throughout the country as a weak government struggles with intractable problems. Meanwhile, he is probably licking his chops over the unpalatable choices Western statesmen now face. If the West doesn't ship billions of dollars to Ukraine, the current government will fail and national unity will fray. If the West comes across with the dough, Putin has a number possibilities for working the situation to his benefit. He can, for example, raise the natural gas price to a Ukraine flush with Western aid dollars, or demand repayment of Ukraine's existing debts to Moscow, transferring Western aid money into Russian pockets.
Maybe the calculation is that Russia is in a demographic death spiral anyway, so what's the point of fighting over territory that is full of people who seem to want to be a part of Russia.
It seems that Obama's calcuation in international crises is always to do nothing. Syria, Iran, Crimea, Snowden, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq.... It's hard to see how "do nothing" is always in the interests of the world's Superpower.
Scenes of this full McBain movie are scattered throughout The Simpsons series.
I love buying used books from Amazon for $0.01 each. Sure, most sellers charge $3.99 for shipping, but I can easily find 10 books from the same seller and combine the shipping costs. Here are the books and series that are currently in my cart:
I don't know the ins and outs of the Arizona religious freedom bill that Republican Governor Jan Brewer is considering now. However, I'd like to comment on the issue in a very broad sense.
People have a right to choose who they associate with. The government should only be able to force or prohibit associations when that is the least restrictive method for satisfying a compelling public interest. (And I'd define "compelling public interest" very narrowly, likely limited to life-or-death situations.) As a consequence of this right of association, people are free to discriminate in their personal lives for or against whomever they want. Unjust discrimination is immoral, but not everything that is immoral should be illegal. Business owners have a right to grant or deny service to whomever they choose; employees have a right to grant or deny services to whomever they choose; and owners can fire employees whose choices conflict with their own.
People also have a right to choose and exercise their religious beliefs, but in the context of business service I think this right is largely subsumed by the right of association. A person's religious beliefs will be one factor he uses to choose his associations, but he is free to choose his associations based on any criteria he prefers.
(Note: the government does not have a right of association and cannot be allowed to discriminate unjustly. The government is a representative of all the people, and does not have the right to treat one person different from another without a compelling reason.)
Will the 3,280 foot Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia ever get built? Who cares! I can tell you that even if it does, it won't still be standing in a millennium. I think the Egyptian Pharaohs had the right idea with their pyramids. Nothing is as stable as a huge pile of rocks.
If I had a few billion dollars to waste, I'd build a pyramid several times larger than the Great Pyramid and designed to last forever. I'd put it someplace geologically stable and high above sea level. Let's see who's laughing in 10,000 years! Me.
Drudge announces that Ukrainian opposition forces have siezed the capitol and that the president of Ukraine has fled. It's unlikely that Putin in Russia is going to stand for Ukraine as a whole drawing closer to the West, so we might be witnessing the beginning of our generation's major European war.
Ukraine's opposition has asserted its authority over Kiev and parliament in a day of fast-paced events.
MPs have replace the parliamentary speaker and attorney general, appointed a new pro-opposition interior minister and voted to free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
Police appear to have abandoned their posts across the capital.
Protesters in Kiev have walked unchallenged into the president's official and residential buildings.
Mark Steyn continues to fight the good fight for freedom of speech and points out that America's court system has become a medieval trial by ordeal. Even if/when Steyn and Dinesh D'Souza are eventually exonerated they will have spent huge quantities of time and money, and their voices will have been squelched. These trials should be dismissed immediately.
I know nothing about law except what I learned as a schoolboy. For example, way back in 1166, the Assize of Clarendon began what we now understand as the right to trial by jury, which was generally welcomed as an improvement over trial by combat or trial by ordeal. But it's only better if it's the right to a speedy trial. Otherwise, as in the sclerotic and diseased system prevailing here, trial by jury is itself deformed into trial by ordeal. In a speedy-trial system, a litigant has to be very sure that he wants to go to court. But, in America today, an abusive litigant funded by others - as Mann is - well knows that he can simply file a suit and drag things out, taking his opponents out of the public square for years on end - just as Obama plans to do with D'Souza. If the DC Superior Court and whatever dump of a New York courthouse D'Souza winds up in offered the same express service as Henry II did with the Assize of Clarendon, that would be one thing. But, as it is, in America the very justice system itself has become tyrannous. That's its appeal to Mann, and to Obama.
One of the most unique and fascinating experiments I've seen in a long time! A Pokemon game controlled by inputs gathered from a stream of chat messages. As you can imagine, it's quite chaotic.
This climb up a radio antenna isn't quite as high, but it feels much more exposed.
I'd love to do something like this, but I'm not crazy enough.
This is a big deal! Maybe it's time to move back to California? Ninth Circuit holds that California's gun carry prohibition is unconstitutional.
So holds today's Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1 vote). The court concludes that California's broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns -- with no "shall-issue" licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a "good cause" regime under which no license need be given -- "impermissibly infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense." The Ninth Circuit thus joins the Seventh Circuit, and disagrees with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. (State courts are also split on the subject.)
The "average" husband and wife work roughly the same number of hours each week (paid + unpaid), but since it still doesn't "feel" fair to the average wife, the average husband should do more. Or should the average wife somehow adjust her feelings to reality?
It's important to remember that fairness isn't just about absolute equality. It's about the perception of equality. Women may work fewer paid hours than men, but because they devote nearly twice as much time to family care (housework, child care, shopping), it doesn't look to women like their husbands are sharing the load evenly when they're all home together. It looks instead like their husbands are watching "SportsCenter."
It's hard to overstate how stressful these perceived imbalances can be. At one point, the UCLA researchers took saliva samples from most of the subjects of their study to measure levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. They found that while leisure time went a long way toward relaxing fathers, it did far less to subdue anxiety in mothers. So what, you may ask, did calm the mothers?
Simple: Seeing their husbands make a bigger effort to reduce the pandemonium in the house.
I wonder if the working time includes time sinks like commuting?
The best part about this "build a secret compartment in you keyboard" post is the comment section, wherein people mock the idea of destroying your numpad just to hide some crap.
Louis CK uses "of course, but maybe" for comic effect, but this is an amazing technique for influencing people. "Of course we can't do X, obviously. Of course. But maybe it would work! Just imagine."
James Altucher describes the laws of reciprocity and commitment bias in the video, and that's a great examination of the foundation, but presentation is everything.
(HT: James Altucher.)