Sunday, May 12, 2002

Life and Blog Update

As some of you know, I have been threatening to move to New York for a few months now. Well, it turns out these were not idle threats. A new job and life will soon begin for me in the big city.

The last few weeks have been filled with negotiations, apartment searches and the like. So, as some of you may have noticed, I have been neglecting my blog. And given the nature of my new job, it is probably not wise for me to blog quite so publicly any more.

It is my hope to begin blogging again under a psuedonym once my life settles down in the next month or so. I will let some of you know when I start up again.

I do hope to maintain contact with the New York blogging community and I am already looking forward to the next NYC blog bash. In fact, I have some fun ideas for the next blog fest (which I will share with Asparagirl, Orchid and Lane McFadden at some point).

Saturday, April 27, 2002

New Blog in Town

Any blog whose very first post links to me has got to be good!

Check out Just One Minute. Are bloggers cat people or dog people? Go and see what the Minuteman thinks.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

The IPO Game Debate Rages On!

Mindles Dreck and I have been having on ongoing debate on whether a theoretical IPO game is a good or a bad one for a player to play. To understand the game, read this, and my comments.

Mindles latest reply including the results of a simulation are here. I commented:

I will definitely play around with the spreadsheet.

By the way, I hope you don't take my debate as a sign that I do not enjoy your site. I do very much enjoy it and think very highly of your thoughts.

In the spirit of good fun, I continue to argue that you haven't really addressed my arbitrage argument. I still say I could sell off this exposure for more than $10,000.

To say that some game has a positive expectation, and yet is a foolish game to play due to the skewed distribution of results is to implicitly argue (I think) for a diminishing marginal utility of money/risk averse set of beliefs. But, to be somewhat redundant, people empirically are risk seeking when dealing with small sums of money.

We may both be right in a sense. People may be fools to play this game (perhaps you might even convince me of that), but as you concede it would be less foolish than playing the lottery and therefore it is a possible arbitrage opportunity.

Incidentally, it also seems implicit from your argument that if the house has a limit to how large a loss they can sustain, say $10,000,000, it makes more sense for a person to play. An interesting result...

But taking a closer look at the results, I think I am understating my case! The original Paulos game was for one year. In Mindles' simulation he says: After 50 weeks, 97 players are out, but one of the remaining 3 has a balance of $41 million (gulp). .

Calling 50 weeks a "year" (he didn't give results specifically for week 52), this simulation would have given (at least) a 41 to 1 return for my side!

Ok, no gloating. Mindles does make a valuable point. And if one was not allowed to sell off any of one's exposure, it is less clear to me after seeing the simulation results that it would be a good idea for most investors. Still, I would play.

Update: Tom Maguire says we are all right! (scroll down to read his comment).

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Massachusetts Libertarians file suit against the Campaign Finance legislation

Carla Howell and Michael Cloud released the following statement yesterday:

Yesterday, we filed a Federal lawsuit to strike down Federal Campaign Finance Laws. We are plaintiffs in an extraordinary lawsuit which will probably be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

We are challenging the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. This is the consolidated McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill recently passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Our lawsuit also challenges the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which established the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and its regulations.

If our case is successful, government power will be pushed back and individual freedom will be advanced.

If our case is successful, Big Government will be weakened and the Constitution will be strengthened.

Thank you for your support. We hope you are as pleased as we are about this extraordinary opportunity.

To receive their periodic email updates:
To SUBSCRIBE, mail to: (no
message or subject is needed)

The current email also explains why the media has been such a big supporter of campaign finance reform legislation--they benefit greatly from it. This is a point that has been made on several occasions by Instapundit and others.

Go subscribe!

An Australian sports journalist says US athletes are treated like cattle

As a sports journalist and anchor for SBS television in Australia, I have been amazed, year after year, at the prehistoric "man as trade-able labour" stance of the NBA teams, players and big wigs towards each year's draft. On the other side of the earth we take a great deal of interest in the queerness of this ancient ritual. It is odd, and I believe, rather insulting to the free choice and will of these otherwise exemplary examples of the potential excellence of the human species, that anyone, let alone the players themselves, would buy into being "traded". A bovine creature at a regional stock auction would receive only a little less respect for the particular grazing pasture in which they'd prefer to spend their pre-abatoir days.
So, many thanks for investigating this archaic, sacrificial rite. I will stay tuned for your no-doubt, incisive and insightful suggestions for an alternative.
Kind Regards,
Miss Mieke Buchan

The best alternative that I know of is the European football leagues in which players sign initially with any team they choose (though sometimes at a young age, the merits of which are argued here and here). And, in the wake of the Bosman ruling, they have significant control over who they play for throughout their career. This seems like much more "humane" treatment. I am anxious to hear, Mieke, how the system works in Australia--say, for example, in the Aussie Rules Football League.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Player rights in European Football (Soccer) explained by David Richardson

Players gained more control over their careers following the "Bosman Ruling", explained below:

Prior to the Bosman ruling, things worked as follows, in England (not the UK). A player signed a contract for a team, who are registered with the FA (Football Association). Football teams of all standards are registered with the FA, from the top flight to village teams. Once a player signs a contract with an FA registered team, the FA registration for that player, belonged to that team.

If the team did not want the player any more (for whatever reason) then a transfer fee was agreed between the team that wanted to get rid of the player, and the team that wanted to gain him. This transfer fee was to pay for the players' FA registration. The transfer fee was applicable even if the player was out of contract with his current team.

On the face of it, this appears to fit the description of a restrictive trade practice, but...

If the player wishes to leave his current team (particularly if his employment contract is finished) then he requests to be transfer listed (ie. available to other teams). Any other team that wants his services now has to agree a transfer fee with his existing team. Importantly, if no agreement is reached then, as long as the player wants to go to the new team, then the amount of the transfer fee is sent to arbitration, and the player *must* be allowed to move.

Whilst not perfect, this situation is much better than the draft (from the point of view of not allowing restrictive working practices).

However, the final part of the formula did not hold true in Belgium. Jean-Marc Bosman, a belgian midfielder (I believe) had finished his employment contract with his team, and wanted to move. However, the team that he wanted to leave could not agree terms with the team he wanted to move to. With no enforcement of arbitration, as in the english system, Bosman was stuck, and not allowed to leave his club. Similarly, he would not sign a contract with his existing club.

He therefore took the case to court, easily proving restraint of trade. As belgium is a part of the EU (European Union), all football (and other sports) leagues within the EU were forced to apply the Bosman rule, which is that a player may leave his existing club when his contract expires, with no transfer fee payable. However, if a player is under contract, but requests to leave, he must be transfer listed as explained above.

This is still not an ideal situation, but the players (and the players union) are a lot happier with it. The only real effect within English football has been to allow free transfers, and the idea of trading players a year before their contracts are up in order to gain some money from their investment.

Economics 101

Speaking of Jane Galt, go read her latest in a series of posts explaining economics concepts in fun and easy to understand ways! This time, two big ones: Nash Equilibrium and Coase Theorem.

China's economic statistics

The ever insightful Jane Galt highlights a story concerning the possibility that China has been fudging its economics numbers to show much higher economic growth than is actually occurring.

I think it is quite likely (nearly certain?) that this is indeed the case.

Motive: By reporting high economic growth numbers, China gives the impression to companies and investors throughout the world that they are the next great market and that they would be foolish to miss out on investment opportunities in their country. The high economic growth numbers reported may actually increase economic growth! It is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy. Certainly the "China's economy will be bigger than the U.S. in....", meme has been one that one who follows economics has heard many times. There are very real costs to the Chinese economy if this idea starts to be questioned.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Possible NBA draft collusion?

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks something fishy might happen in the upcoming draft of potential Chinese superstar Yao Ming. Thanks to Colman Lynch for sending me this story.

A light-hearted but informative look at Canadian Immigration policies by Steve Sailer

A light-hearted but informative look at Canadian Immigration policies
by Steve Sailer

Please note: Scroll down the page slightly to the beginning of the UPI story. Canada has a formula to determine immigration eligibility.