Recommended Reads, 7 October

I last did one of these round-ups 9 days ago, and in the intervening time investors destroyed the last few remaining shreds of believability in economists' credo or rationality. Not that the idea of economic rationality hadn't already imploded like the Metrodome under the weight of a December snowstorm, but come on - investors are supposed to be smart! One fund manager in California changed jobs, and markets went wild.

What I've written

US Credit Rating Reform Comes Up ShortUS legislators have proposed several reforms of the US credit rating system. Yet, incentives for credit agencies remain misaligned, while a new subprime market begins to grow.

Inversion Rules Transform Tax Reform DebateThe new US rules to discourage tax inversions are surprisingly tough, and set the table for tax reform debates in 2015.


Argentina is still in a know-down, drag-out fight over its default 10 years ago. It's so bad that they've defaulted again, and it's all thanks to a couple "vulture hedge funds" who are using home field advantage in US courts to claim massive amounts of cash from Argentina. It's not just one fund or one country, however. Many countries have dealt with similar problems and now the UN General Assembly is trying to act. (Boston Review)

Don't you wish the US had bullet trains like Japan? Well, those trains have been around for 50 years and here's the impact they've had so far. (The Atlantic)

I don't know how many times in the last three months I've heard those in finance and banking totally misunderstand the Fed. The Fed is "criminal," hatching hyperinflation, about to hike rates now , or single-handedly destroying the US economy. These are all real things that people with control of a lot of money think. For those misguided souls, here is a primer on how Fed economists think. (Bloomberg View)

Remember that famous investor who changed jobs? He changed jobs because, among other things, he hadn't done a good job for 3 years. He hadn't done a good job because he made a bad prediction about the economy. This is how bad his call was. (Brad DeLong)

On the other hand, just having some sort of wacky 'philosophy' about the economy isn't a big enough part of a fund manager's job to totally destroy him or her. It's a lot more complicated than that. (Felix Salmon)

Wow, you might say, this recommended reads post is really heavy on a bunch of boring economic stuff. Wow, I might say, you have a very different definition of boring that I do. Either way, the world is more than Bill Gross parading out to the melodies of Rob Thomas and Santana. Here's a podcast from Sound Opinions about the best guitar riffs ever, not that I agree with all of them. Please note the egregious omission of the swirling masterpiece that is "Heroes" by David Bowie and "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden.

Recommended Reads, 28 September

Wow, has it really been almost two weeks since I last did one of these? Clearly nothing interesting has been written since then. Well, except my article about investors in emerging markets. To the links, and not the kind the Americans and Europeans are vying for the Ryder Cup on!

Lots of people want to be journalists, but not many people want to pay them to do that. Conveniently, lots of corporations have cash sitting around and want people to write things that seem legitimate, but really just are fluff pieces that promote that corporation. (Financial Times)

Myanmar used to be a closed-off military dictatorship with a bunch of well-connected rich people who couldn't travel to the US or Europe because of sanctions. Now, Myanmar is an increasingly open kind-of military dictatorship with increasingly well-traveled AND well-connected rich people. Now they see all the great shopping through the world and are bringing it to Yangon. This is their story. (WSJ)

You know when you're at a really hip bar or concert and there's an older guy in the corner who is flaunting his money and the connections it bought? Then you're conflicted over whether to envy him or pity him? That is how I felt reading this article about Georgia's ex-President moving to Williamsburg to avoid corruption charges in his home county. Now he buys clocks from hipster street markets and grills with Patraeus and Sarkozy. (NY Times)

These are longer reads, so lose yourself to the narrative and just imagine Georgia's ex-President opening a pop-up couture store of Georgian goods and hiring journalists to write good things about it.