Saturday, November 29, 2008

... And They Come Out of the Woodwork

Some false flag conspiracy talking points about the Mumbai attacks that are doing the rounds:
  1. Hemant Karkare was killed because he was close to exposing the truth about the involvement of the establishment in the Malegaon blast.

  2. One of the pictures of the terrorists shows him wearing a red thread on his right arm, so the whole thing is a right wing Hindu conspiracy.

  3. Some of the terrorists were seen ordering liquor (gasp!), so again it's an indication that it's a right wing Hindu conspiracy.

  4. All the Jewish/Israeli hostages at Nariman House escaped (factually incorrect).

  5. To top it all: India had a hand in 9/11

  6. Update: The hits keep coming: India, with its large foreign exchange reserves, is pressuring the United States into doing its bidding (whatever that is)
I used to have a lot of respect for and Rigorous Intuition, but some of the posts there have left me shaking my head in disgust. There are questions still to be answered, no doubt, but it doesn't behoove folks calling themselves rigorous to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in and start mouthing off (BTW, the tone of certain comments in the Mumbai attacks thread at RI border on the antisemitic).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jargon, Jargon Everywhere

Fund Manager Speak:
The macro headwinds for equities are strong with the Reserve Bank of India, in their first quarter review of the annual monetary policy for 2008-09, lowering the growth forecast for the financial year 2008-09 by half a percentage point from 8.5% to 8%.
Bad time for equities -- RBI has forecast that this year's growth will be 8% and not 8.5% as previously thought [*].
Fund Manager Speak:
The investment objective of the scheme is to generate capital appreciation from a diversified portfolio of equity and equity related securities.
This scheme hopes to make money by buying shares low and selling them high; we are also not putting all our eggs in one basket.
[*] Note the use of the word 'strong' in a negative context; one can almost be mistaken into thinking that some good news is being delivered.

Joel on Friedman

Probably the most succinct, yet devastating critique of Thomas Friedman I've seen, Matt Taibbi notwithstanding:
... Thomas Friedman, who, it seems, cannot go a whole week without inventing a new fruit-based metaphor explaining everything about the entire modern world, all based on some random gibberish he misunderstood from a taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Steps to Build and Run SUIF in Linux

  1. Install these packages:

    * bison
    * flex
    * graphviz
    * gcc-2.95
    * tcl8.4
    * tcl8.4-dev
    * tk8.4
    * tk-8.4-dev

  2. Extract the contents of basesuif-2.2.0-4.tar.gz to a directory of your choice

  3. export NCIHOME=<above directory>

  4. cd $NCIHOME

  5. /bin/sh ./install --with-CC=/usr/bin/gcc-2.95 --with-CXX=/usr/bin/g++-2.95 \
    --with-CXXLINK=/usr/bin/g++-2.95 --with-TCL_INCLDIRS=-I/usr/include/tcl8.4 \

  6. make setup

  7. make

  8. .

  9. make test
To install other packages (I used these steps to build dataflow, suifbrowser and tclsuif):
  1. Extract the .tar.gz file to $NCIHOME

  2. Edit each package's makefile and:

    * Change occurrences of '-ltcl8.0' and '-ltk8.0' to '-ltcl8.4' and '-ltk8.4' respectively.
    * Add -DUSE_NON_CONST to the CXXFLAGS environment variable

  3. navigate to the package's directory and type 'make'
To run the SUIF binaries, set the following environment variables: LD_LIBRARY_PATH ($NCIHOME/solib) and VISUAL_TCL ($NCIHOME/suif/suif2b/suifbrowser/visual_tcl_lib/).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Global Financial Crisis

Some random thoughts on the global financial crisis:
  1. People keep calling it a liquidity problem, while it's actually a solvency problem. But in a world of fractional reserve banking and insane leveraging, there's not that much difference between the two, I guess.

  2. Fractional reserve banking may be the root cause of all the evils by causing unchecked expansion of credit and money supply, but would a world where all the currencies are backed by gold be capable of sustaining the prosperity of everybody (or even lifting more people out of poverty), when considering the rapid rise in the world population in the last hundred or so years?

  3. I was impressed enough with the tenets of Austrian economics -- due in no small measure to reading Mike Shedlock's blog -- to go out and buy Economics in One Lesson. While the arguments against government meddling for short term gains are impeccable in theory, one wonders whether it is possible to apply the theory to the real world without causing misery to large segments of the population. Consider this argument against minimum wages:
    When such consequences are pointed out, there are those who reply: "Very well; if it is true that the X industry cannot exist except by paying starvation wages, then it will be just as well if the minimum wage puts it out of existence altogether." But this brave pronouncement overlooks the realities. It overlooks, first of all, that consumers will suffer the loss of this product. It forgets, in the second place, that it is merely condemning the people who worked in that industry to unemployment. And it ignores, finally, that bad as were the wages paid in the X industry, they were the best among all the alternatives that seemed open to the workers in that industry; otherwise the workers would have gone into another. If, therefore, the X industry is driven out of existence by a minimum wage law, then the workers previously employed in that industry would be forced to turn to alternative courses that seemed less attractive to them in the first place.
    In reality, how easy is it for someone to change their career midway through? Unless the assumption is that since it's a minimum wage job we are talking about, one does not need significant retraining for a new career. Also, people sometimes don't want to relocate in favour of a higher paying job, and are forced to put up with lower wages.

  4. One keeps reading about the next round of CDS auctions being the ticking bomb that is going to blow us all sky high, but these D-days seem to come and go without much ado.

Drowning in Oil

From Caroline Baum:
All speculative bubbles have a kernel of truth behind them to justify their existence. This time around it was China and India. These emerging Asian giants were gobbling up all the commodities the world could produce to fuel their rapid industrialization.

It wasn't that the story was untrue; it was old. Growing global demand probably was the reason for the gradual rise in oil prices from $20 a barrel to $40 earlier in the decade, and even to $60 by mid-2005.

It was the moon shot to $147 that took on a life, and a litany, of its own. Emerging nations didn't start gobbling up crude, coal and copper all of a sudden in the middle of 2007.
That sure rings a bell.