Bloomberg: — An Economics Heathen Wins the Economics Nobel

Given how many psychologists and economists have already won the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences 1 — Daniel Kahneman (2002), Robert Shiller, Eugene Fama (2013) 2 — it seems contradictory to suggest that the Nobel Committee is finally recognizing the impact of behavioral psychology on economic decision-making by handing its 2017 award to Richard H. Thaler.

Counterintuitive as that history may make this proposal, it is consistent with the history of the Nobel Prize. It is, after all, funded by money made in dynamite. If any group wants its legacy to be that organizations, governments and companies need to pay more attention to how humans operate in the real world, it’s this one.

Officially, the Riksbank prize was for Thaler’s work on “the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, [showing] how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes.”

Unofficially, Thaler, perhaps more than anyone else, is best described as the father of behavioral economics. The repercussions of his work in helping organizations better understand human behaviors — and why traditional economics has failed so badly at this — are hard to overstate.

RTFA. Go read Thaler. If you’re anywhere near Dartmouth, try to find where Professor Danny Blanchflower is drinking tonight!

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

America is a Gun

❝ England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.

❝ Brazil is football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.

❝ Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.

❝ Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.”

Brian Bilston

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Distant India in a Distant Time


Muslim refugees on a train from Delhi to Lahore, 1947 — Click to enlarge

Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known. He first visited India in the fall of 1947. One of only two Western photographers granted access to Gandhi, Cartier-Bresson shot a series of portraits of the ailing leader the week before he was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu chauvinist, in January 1948. Cartier-Bresson then covered Gandhi’s funeral and the national mourning that followed.

First published in Life magazine, these photos brought Cartier-Bresson worldwide recognition. They were also widely reproduced in India, and are today so familiar there that his authorship is usually forgotten. The same is true of many quieter, more tableaux-like photos he took on subsequent visits in 1950, 1966, and 1980. In “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” the Rubin Museum brings together selections from each of these trips.

Whether the Rubin Museum is an easy trip – or not likely – this article is worth the read. History comes alive. The photographer’s eye is well understood. We learn, we learn more.

There’s a Secret Collection at an Army Base in Kansas

❝ Located on the outskirts of Kansas City and home to 2,500 soldiers, Fort Leavenworth houses a 4,000-piece art collection, and almost no one knows it exists. The United States Army never meant to hide the collection, but also never meant to amass it.

Now, thanks to a local art gallery owner, portions of the collection have been on public display and the collection has a name: “Art of War, Gifts of Peace.”

❝ This year, 119 students from 91 nations will spend almost a year in the accredited master’s-level courses to earn a Master of Military Art and Science. They also have the option of earning one of 12 other degrees by taking additional courses at a nearby university. Officers in foreign armies with the rank equivalent of a U.S. Army major are eligible to apply within their respective countries; the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense choose which nations may send students…

❝ Over the years, several, if not most of the esteemed officers presented something to the college upon graduating — but most of the items disappeared into storage. A select few adorned private offices and hallways, until they became part of the furniture, common objects no one gave much thought to.

Intricately carved ivory sailboats, gold-plated swords, and hand-worked pewter vases silently joined jewelry, bronze statues, and detailed ebony masks in the storage room. Regardless of the material or value, LaMoe says his obligation as a government employee is to accept the gifts and ensure that they are catalogued and stored properly. Nothing more.

So, the gift collection has grown in the darkness of the storage room for decades.

RTFA. Cataloging the collection must be a journey of delight and intrigue.

American Essay Journalism — Donald Trump Is the First White President

❝ It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness — that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

…..

❝ The first white president in American history is also the most dangerous president—and he is made more dangerous still by the fact that those charged with analyzing him cannot name his essential nature, because they too are implicated in it.

One of the best pieces of the type I have read in months. There are many paragraphs which sound like they need criticism at their entry – and complete themselves with insight.

A worthwhile read, my friends.

Guillermo del Toro Film Wins Venice Film Festival’s Gold Lion

❝ Famed Latin American director Guillermo del Toro has made history by becoming the first Mexican filmmaker to win a Gold Lion for his latest work “The Shape of Water.”

The award was announced at the close of Venice Film Festival’s ten-day program where 21 international films competed for the prize…

❝ The Shape of Water is set in the Cold-War era and combines the genres of fairytale, thriller, and romance.

The protagonist, Elisa, is a mute woman who cleans at a secret government laboratory where she discovers their top secret — a South American scaled creature with whom she starts an unlikely friendship.

The film is due to be released by Fox Searchlight on December 8.

And only a few episodes of THE STRAIN left on US television.

Just like New Orleans after Katrina – it will take undocumented workers to rebuild Houston


Rebuilding New Orleans after KatrinaMario Tama/Getty

❝ As the waters recede, Houston families and insurance agents are surveying the damage to the city: water-logged homes, ruined appliances, sagging roofs, and streets littered with debris.

Now the city faces this question: Who is going to rebuild the nation’s fourth-largest city as construction companies nationwide struggle to find workers?

❝ Unauthorized immigrants were crucial to rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And they are likely to be desperately needed as Texas rebuilds to clean streets, demolish buildings, and reconstruct homes and offices.

But it’s a hostile time to be undocumented in Texas. Even beyond the Trump administration’s harsh rhetoric and actions on immigration, Texas leaders are engaged in a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants, passing a slew of laws to make it harder for them to live and work in the state. In such an environment, these laborers might not stick around for the work that will be needed…

❝ After Hurricane Katrina…Undocumented laborers — mostly from Mexico and Central America — did the dirtiest jobs in rebuilding the city, making an average of about $10 an hour. They started by sweeping streets and removing moldy debris from buildings. They cleaned out rotting food from refrigerators. They put FEMA tarps on homes. They ended up removing more than 38 million cubic yards of trash and debris from the city. When reconstruction began, they were the ones installing new roofs and sheet rock on buildings….

❝ …Study showed that American workers did more skilled work, such as the electrical and plumbing jobs. Undocumented immigrants were more likely to do more dangerous, labor-intensive work, such as laying roofs, painting homes and installing sheet rock.

Unlike Texas, Louisiana didn’t have a large number of Latino immigrants, which meant that many laborers moved to the area specifically to find work. Many ended up staying in Louisiana and starting families, even though immigration agents routinely raided their homes and businesses…

❝ So far, the Trump administration has said nothing about potential labor shortages in Houston, or any actions he might take to make it easier to rebuild the city. And based on his current anti-immigrant policies, it’s unlikely that undocumented workers will get any of attention from the federal government.

I doubt the Texas legislature is any smarter than our fake president. After all, most of them live someplace that didn’t get ruined by Harvey. Most of them fit the bill for whites-only bigots, upper middle class to upper crust incomes, who really don’t give a damn about a mostly working class population.

Houston might take twice as long as Katrina to get on its feet – excepting the immediate areas around unhealthy if not toxic industries needing workers nearby to feed corporate profits.