Saturday, December 30, 2006

There Are Those Fat Poor People Again

I love Instapundit's take on this story..."from the 'headlines that wouldn't make sense fifty years ago' department". But I think this dances around the cold hard reality...

Bottom the US, our poor people are fat, and they probably watch too much TV too. Like I said, we don't really have poverty in the US. If the only the rest of the world had such problems, where they're poor were too fat and watched too much TV.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Time to Focus On What Is Truly Important...Football

Congratulations to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers and Coach Schiano for a big win, a great season and making the big time. Big Red has hit the big time.

Rutgers' success has been as exhilerating for Jerseyans as the Giants' ineptitude has been frustrating. Who knows if the G-men will make the playoffs or what will become of Coach Coughlin after this season. All I can say is this...Bill Belichick, John Fox and Sean Payton. All three of these men are former Giants coaches that went elsewhere while the organization clung to Dan Reeves and Jim Fassel. I see the same thing happening. I wouldn't want to see another 3 or 4 mediocre years under Couglin while, say, Tim Lewis is off breathing new life into, say, Detroit or Arizona.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

An Important (and Easy) Read

Here is my new front runner for must-read book on healthcare policy in the US today.

It is akin to this book but has alot more appeal for the average reader as opposed to the policy wonks; and, because it is written by a doctor as opposed to an economist it has more compelling stories of how healthcare policy breaks down in the real world of doctors and patients. It is a great read and a quick read. You can plow through it easily, say, in the time it takes to fly from New York to Houston and back (because I did).

Backdating Scandal to Lose Fizz?

The low-octane scandal of stock option backdating has been a fantastic source of 'corporate greed' stories for the MSM for many weeks now. The only MSMer who I can tell is trying to inject any sort of rational parsing of the story has been Holman Jenkins (here), doing his typical lonesome zig while the MSM gleefully zags. But what to do now? Now, that is, that the demigod of left coast tech nirvanaland has been caught, or appears to have been caught, doing the same slimy things that executives at Big Healthcare do? Will the story just die? Will the MSM throw Jobs in with the other corporate wrong doers and paddle his arse all the same? Or will they keep the general story rolling while conveniently ignoring any of Jobs's misdeeds if they prove to indeed be misdeeds. Hmm, decisions decisions. It stinks when the wrong guys get caught.

Who Wants Happyness?

Over the holidays I got the chance to see The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. While a data point of one instance is hardly a basis to draw conclusions, it was hard not to draw at least a provisional conclusion by the notable dearth of black people in the theatre. I would be intereted to know to what extent this movie resonated with black audiences. TPoH is a tale of a black man with a strong commitment to paternal responsibilities and an abiding faith that the American system, as it is, has a place for him. It is a tale of optimism, hard work, education, perseverance and notable lack of self-pity and deflection of one's plight onto "society." Judging solely from the showing that I attended, such a tale does not have wide appeal with black audiences. I hope this is a case where the circumstances of this one data point are not representative of larger patterns.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Best Kind of Government Spending...the Democrat Kind

Paul Krugman says it is OK to bust the budget now the the Dems are in charge. No, really, he seems to be serious. Don Luskin has it all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Baby Steps to Tyranny

Hugo Chavez is making community service mandatory in order to advance socialist goals. No doubt leftists all over will laud this move, saying that service to the poor and hungry are good things that we should all, America especially, take Venezuela's example. Well, yes, selflessly serving the poor and needy is a good thing, but that is not what is going on in Venezuela. The economy is crumbling, so people are being conscripted basically to contribute to government pet projects to address the failures of what Chavez has been trying to achieve. This is not to mention the little issue of personal freedom, to spend your time as you see fit or to define how you want to direct your own efforts at helping others.

Such an idea is the germ that can eventually grow into something like Stalin's farming collectives or Pol Pot's reordering for the agrarian utopia.

Time Mag Wants You To Know They "Get It"

While I would not classify the "You Tube Revolution/Phenomenon/Juggernaut/Whatever" as unimportant to society at large, Time magazine's Person of the Year choice is utterly banal. Sure it recognizes some interesting reordering of influence and power in society at the margins, but the "You" that received Time's adulation are mostly youngsters doing lip-syncing or dorm-room gyrations. The trend and the sociological themes that Time's editors are letting you know they "get" are small sparks that will ignite here and there and take many years to be felt deeply in society; for now it's predominantly just entertainment.

Like I pointed out, I thought the choice was obvious. Giving $40 billion to charity is no small thing, and it is not just the number on the check. Buffett basically gave away everything, his entire life's work for benefits that will be diffuse and hard to trace back to him. If his money cures some dread disease that afflicts the Third World or expands food production in nations that are currently starving, they won't name the results after him. This was giving on an enormous scale, with total selflessness for the deepest human problems, but 'You' with your dorm room reprise of Flock of Seagulls' "I ran" wowed the editors of Time.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just Right

Goldilocks baby...Goldilocks.

With apologies to Kudlow.

Horse Gone? Better Close Barn Door.


On Iran

The Powerline guys have taken my idea and refined it quite a bit. I like the end result.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

EU Regulators REACHing for Straws

While I'm on the theme of government caused inflation (see here), the European parliament is in overdrive passing laws that will drive up the cost of living for its citizens. Among the several laws passed recently, a sweeping chemical industry regulation, called "REACH", is the most remarkable. It will basically require chemical companies to register and recertify with the government nearly every chemical used in any way on the continent. The compliance costs will be enormous and these costs will find their way into the price of goods, untold numbers of everyday goods really. I am sympathetic to the theoretical argument that these costs are not without benefits, that there will be some health benefit and value accruing to society. I am however firmly convinced that the net result will be a dead weight loss to Europe's economies and standard of living. Governments have atrocious records in cost benefit analysis and nearly anyways impose huge costs for dubious, fleeting and sometimes non-existent benefits. What's worse is that European lawmakers are 1) arrogant enough to think that their little plan is appropriate for the rest of the world and 2) stupid enough to think that others will follow suit. Most developing countries place a higher value on economic development than on environmental protection. Those that have some concern for environmental stewardship make an effort to address severe environmental malfeasance but otherwise ignore dubious environmental initiatives that will hold back development. Either way, rapidly developing countries will see this as an opportunity to attract chemical industry capital and jobs at the expense of Europe. I'm betting that China and India laugh at this and get more aggressive at developing their chemical sectors. Stay tuned.

Reade Seligman Meet Ray Donovan

Although Mike Nifong will persist in his prosecutorial malfeasance for which he should be disbarred, Reade Seligman should publicly reprise the famous quote by fellow New Jerseyan Ray Donovan...

"Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Protectionism and Nannyism in the Big Apple

This past spring and summer New York City saw an explosion of pedicabs, those little, two-seater fiberglass boxes powered by carbohydrate fuel. It was a little strange for New Yorkers to get used to, pedicabs are something you would expect to see in places that weren't the capital of global capitalism, but there they were. The growth of pedicabs has been spawned by the outrageous escalation of prices for old-fashioned, hydrocarbon-powered automobile taxicabs. Prices for yellow taxis have risen so far so fast that many NYCers and tourists have been craving an alternative. Pedicabs have moved in to grab a big chunk of their business and the boom has been unmistakable. Now though, the yellow taxi cartel is starting to feel the pain and is enlisting the politicians for a little good old fashioned protectionism. Of course the protectionist racket has to be dressed up as concern for public safety in order to pass the laugh test. So, although pedicabs are perfectly safe, and quite frankly downright preferrable to some of the potentially nightmarish rides one can get in a traditional NYC taxi, our betters in city government are moving to suffocate pedicabs in the crib with regualtion in the name of the public good. They are seeking to impose costs on the pedicab industry through licensing, insurance and safety regulations although no evidence exists that such moves are required. Politicians are quick to point out what dangers could happen with pedicabs and conveniently omit any mention that several people are killed every year due to reckless and/or negligent operation of a TLC approved city taxicab. This is protectionism through and through and the inflation in the cost of living is a direct result of government intervention. Yet another example how government and rent-seeking unions conspire to keep our cost of living higher and standard of living lower.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Rough Vision of Better Healthcare Insurance

When I discuss what I think health insurance in the US should look like - as close to term life insurance as possible maybe with some tweaks - I often use prostate cancer as an example. Prostate cancer is about as easily quantifiable as a serious disease gets. We know what percentage of men will get prostate cancer. We know how much each treatment option costs and based on history we can forecast what future treatment may cost. We know what percentage of men will choose what form of treatment and we know the success rates of each form of treatment. Given all this, it would be a breeze for actuarial science to quantify the risks of prostate cancer making this disease as insurable as one's car, life or home, so insurance companies could price prostate cancer insurance easily. I'm not an actuary but it is easy to surmise that a man in his thirites should be able to buy insurance for prostate cancer for about the price of a daily cup of coffee or less. "Term Prostate Cancer Insurance" could be quite a compelling product for many men to purchase (especially for poorer and/or minority men who would benefit from sharing in the risk pooling with rich and/or white men, who disproportionately survive prostate cancer). This particular risk could be bundled with other typical male health risks into a more comprehensive "term health insurance" package that could be even more compelling. You could even have a gender neutral insurance bundle (but why would women want to pay to insure men for prostate cancer or men want to pay to insure for women for breast cancer?).

I bring all this up because the other day the WSJ had a powerful story about a young woman who suffered from Lupus and couldn't get health insurance. Like clockwork the Letters to the Editor section of today's WSJ contained letters decrying this situation as clear evidence that we need to have nationalized health insurance. The letters arguing for such offer no logical argument but rest solely on the emotional appeal of this one woman's ordeal. More to the point, they assume that if insurance didn't cover Nikki Smith today it will never cover the likes of Nikki Smith. I disagree and the prostate cancer example is why. I could use Lupus as a stand in for prostate cancer to argue the same point. 90% of Lupus suffers are women and we know quite well the odds of women contracting Lupus. It's about 1 in 1000 for white women and 1 in 250 for black women. Let's keep it simple and assume that these are the only two demographics in the US, then 1 in 675 women will get Lupus on a weighted average basis based on population makeup. This number is across many birth cohorts, let's say over 30 birth year cohorts. So in any given year, of the roughly 2.2 million female births, roughly 3200 will get Lupus in their lifetime. If it costs $1 million to treat each case of Lupus that is roughly $25,000 per year over a 40 year adulthood. Given that treatment won't start for many years the present value at birth of the future liability of each of those 3200 future Lupus sufferers is much less, more likely $40,000 rather than the $1 million. If you shared that future risk across the entire birth cohort of 2.2 million female births, that translates to roughly $58 per female. In other words, if every parent of a baby girl born in 2006 chipped in $58, none of those little girls would lack coverage for Lupus in her lifetime. Think about that...$58 to know that if you ever get Lupus, you are covered. That is an absolute paltry sum and that is the kind of actuarial calculation that would bring us greater coverage in a deregulated health insurance market. In the same way that men could get male-specific prostate cancer coverage, women could get Lupus coverage that would disperse the high cost and skewed incidence across a wide risk pool. The result would be an astonishing level of affordability and the effective elimination of undo burdens on certain demographic groups - the cost subsidy to the relatively highly likely Lupus sufferers (black women) from the comparatively unlikely (white women) would be driven to infinitessimally low levels as the risk pool grows larger. If this can be done with Lupus, it can likely be done with the 5 biggest health risks that women face. Does anybody doubt for a moment that women wouldn't be advised to learn about and purchase such a product in same way that women are encouraged to undertake all manner of empowering steps in their lives today via the infinite channels that market anything and eveything to women these days ? Does anybody doubt that parents wouldn't be marketed such a policy when their children are born? Would you pay $58 now, or $5 a year for 10 years for that matter, to know that come hell or high water your newborn daughter will never have to worry about paying for treatment if she develops Lupus? I sure would. We could have this if it weren't for our current, highly regulated healthcare insurance system.

My larger point is that when you combine the actuarial sophistication of the insurance industry and the marketing prowess of our service-based economy, you can imagine the profusion of healthcare insurance products that would sprout up to address both specific and general healthcare risks that people face. My feeling is that some people will still bristle at this notion because it offends their absolutist egalitarian sensibilities - after all there is no getting around the fact that some people will simply be higher risk than others. Such absolutists would deny the rest of us a profusion of affordable options that meet our individual needs rather than tolerate the recognition that there are these differences among people. Right now we have a poor healthcare system, but there are still people who would let the perfect stand in the way of the good.

Previous healthcare posts here and here and here.

UPDATE: I forgot too.

Who Knew

I thought nobody went to the opera anymore, but it turns out that very discerning and demanding people, and/or very rude people, still go to the opera. Check out this and this.

I'm Flattered

Now, where do you suppose they got the title for this post??? I'll take it as a compliment, I guess.

Michael Lewis on Capitalism's Worsening Coach Class

I have been pounding on the Sarbanes-Oxley disaster from the first days of this blog (i.e. here and here and, my favorite, here). My contention has been that Sarbox achieves the opposite of what it was intended to achieve, basically it screws the little guy rather than protects him. At first it would seem that SARBOX was only driving small companies from the public markets, but then very large companies started to get taken out, and now there are rumors that even the most humongous companies are candidates for escape from the public markets. Inarguably, Private Equity is ascendent and you get the sense that these guys are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of all the suckers and it was all brought to them by the US Congress. How much sweeter can it get? Well, esteemed author and financial industry commentator Michael Lewis has more than gotten that sense. In this article, Lewis says we've gone beyond the First Class/Coach Class dichotomy of capital markets to the point where we now have essentially two markets. Read the whole thing. The Hong Kong and London stock markets aren't the only ones thanking Mr. Sarbanes and Mr. Oxley.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Eminent Domain Disaster in New Jersey

The New Jersey Supreme Court has just handed down a dreadful decision that will exacerbate the already out of control, and truly execrable abuse of eminent domain powers. Proponents will hide behind the notion that "open space" is a compelling public interest for government to seize our property, but this, while a good concept in theory, is just as amorphous a concept as economic development and similarly open to abuse by those in power. Who defines "open space" and who decides which spaces should be open? How do we measure the value or even the desire for "open space"? These are good questions that won't be asked while properties are seized from individuals based on political influence, corruption and strong arm tactics of zealous groups that may not reflect the true desires of those who will bare the consequences. What is additionally disturbing about this decision is that "open space" is the opposite of economic development, so now the government is free to take our property for any reason on a broad continuum - because it wants to develop or wants not to develop.

This ruling is a severe assault on our personal liberty, one in a long line emanating from our courts.

Seton Hall Law School Says It's Not Blackmail If They Deserve It and We Need It

I was astonished by this letter to the editor by the Dean of Seton Hall Law School. In response to the suggestion that Bristol-Myers Squibb was essentially blackmailed into endowing a professorship at Seton Hall Law by an alumnus who is a federal prosecutor, the Dean basically says, 'it isn't wrong because they deserved it.' Here is the Dean in his own words:

"Is that really abusive? At Seton Hall, we believe that had Prof. Epstein investigated more closely he would have paused before declaring that this is the "most striking evidence of the abuse of power." Recent scandals make it clear that far too many corporations have lost their ethical compass. Prof. Epstein would argue that only humans are capable of such a thing. I disagree. The wrong corporate culture can become a breeding ground for unethical, and criminal behavior. Mr. Christie recognized, and BMS and its attorneys agreed, that in order to ensure that such problems would not arise again, an academic partner should be found that could engage the executive leadership of BMS in discussions of best practices and that could offer scholarship examining the difficult and ever-evolving ethical dilemmas of the corporate world."

Got that? Corporations are obviously corrupt and they need academia to save them, and they need to pay us to do it.

Truth is, academe, Seton Hall in particular, has to get their money from somewhere now that all the corporate crooks are in jail.

One Last Boneheaded Political Move Before We Go

This article says that the outgoing Republican majority in the Great Sausage Factory is putting the onus on the incoming Democratic majority to deal with pork-laden spending bills. Apparently this will "challenge Democrats' commitment to cut political pork."

Are you kidding me? What "commitment to cut political pork"? The Democrats are not so committed and have never been so committed. I don't care if some Democrat somewhere said it, it ain't true, it's a lie. Just because we now know the Republicans, taken as a whole, were lying about their commitment to cut political pork, doesn't change the fact that there is no, and never has been, any institutional desire to cut any type of government spending (except defense spending, which is never actually cut but merely redirected) from the Democratic Party. There is at least a marginally visible battle within the Republican Party between true believers in spending restraint, those that pay lip-service to such, and those who are openly disdainful of the idea. No such battle is remotely detectable within the Democratic Party.

The fact that Republicans think they are checkmating the Dems is astonishingly stupid. The Dems will pass all the pork and say that this is "bipartisan legislation" that they worked on with the outgoing congress, because, 'ya know, they are not sore winners and interested in repudiating 'the good work of our colleagues.' The Repubs should have handed the Dems some spending bills that gutted spending for everything across the board and made them have to come back in January and load up the bills again in front of the public. Once again, the Republicans have shown that they suck at this sort of political chess.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Using One's Comparative Advantage

Well, if she's got her mother's uncanny flair for trading, say, cattle futures, it would seem she's made the right career choice.

(HT: Instapundit)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Smart Marketing on the Diesel Front

Volkswagon and Daimler are combining to promote Mercedes's proprietary clean diesel branding moniker - Bluetec - as a multi-manufacturer approach to promoting clean diesel technology. This is a good move. Kudos to the volks at these companies and here hoping that Bluetec becomes the "Intel Inside" of the auto industry.

Boeing Bags An Order from the Heart of Airbus Country

Due to its recent production troubles on the A380, Airbus has lost orders to Boeing. Most notable was the Fedex cancellation of A380 orders in favor of Boeing's 777. The triple 7 is not Boeing's direct competitive offering to the A380, it's intended new version of the 747, the 747-8, is. If the A380 is Coke, the 747-8 is Pepsi, so what Fedex said essentially is 'we want cola, but we're so thirsty we'll take the Snapple instead.' This left intact the skepticism that Boeing could make a go of it selling their cola, the 747-8. That skepticism abated when Korean Air ponied up for some Pepsi, and now it has really ended with the latest announcement that Lufthansa wants the 747-8 too. Yes, Lufthansa...the German airline...from Germany...Airbus country through and through, where the government owns and funds Airbus. While this isn't as crushing a blow as I suggest because Lufthansa has flown the 747 for years and is quite familiar and entrenched with this aircraft and Boeing planes in general, the negative symbolism of this order exceeds its actual marketshare/economic meaning by orders of magnitude.

All previous Boeing vs. Airbus posts: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

Newest Club On the Block - "Tax Free ULSD"

Amity Shlaes on the Mankiw-inspired Pigou Club boomlet. I think she comes to the right conclusion. I'll stick with Milton Friedman on this one, "I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible." In fact, if anything we should be cutting taxes on the fuels and technologies that burn cleaner. We have just embarked on the era of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel but the uptake of diesel vehicles in the consumer market remains an open question. We should make ULSD fuel free of all taxes. Consumers would flock to vehicles with this more efficient and cleaner technology. Maybe we should have a "Tax Free ULSD Club." Yeah, that's the ticket. (In fact we should be doing the same thing for hybrid vehicles, reduce taxes on them. Consumers would have incentives to use the cleanest technology and politicians would be deprived of gobs of new tax revenue to spend unwisely as they are programmed to do.) So, Join the Club!

UPDATE: Mankiw says Shlaes gives a fair treatment. Let's have Shlaes be on Romney's team too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Move to France, Escape Mike Bloomberg's New YorKKK City

Worst Mayor Ever!! Stop Bloomberg and His Nutritionist Cabal!!

New tourist slogan: "Come to New York City, where you can have unlimited, anonymous, unprotected, gay sex in any of our numerous health clubs, but where you can't have a potato fried in oil." Nah, too wordy.

OK, enough of that silliness. It's official, New York City has banned trans fats.

NYC prides itself on being a "liberal" place. And it indeed is, as "liberal" now means "in favor of selectively denying free people access to certain things based on the opinions of a small, elite minority." Say it all together now, "we are going to take things from you for the common good."

Common Newark You Say

Time to check in on the mayoralty of Cory Booker inNewark, NJ. Check this out - Booker wants to sell city-owned land for the market price as opposed to giving it away at cut-rate prices to City Hall's cronies. What a concept.

Background here.

Invented Here, but Not Employed Here

Matthew Lynn of Bloomberg makes a fairly persuasive case for divorce between England and Scotland. If you know even the bare minimum of history, you would think that the Scots would jump at the chance (and oddly, "Braveheart" has been on TV, it seems, every night recently), but Lynn suggests that suckling at the big government teet for so long has calmed the passionate yearning for independence in the Scots. He also points out that despite being great entrepreneurs, as one would expect in the land of Adam Smith, the Scots would not seem to want a society hewing to Smithian philosophy. We've seen this sort of rejection of a country's great thinkers before.

UPDATE: The WSJ today takes up the idea in Scot Free. I like this not-quite-euphemistic, but nonetheless delicate formulation..."The Scots, once notorious for their financial parsimony..." Yes, the Scots are cheap.

Mankiw Doesn't Believe in Unicorns Either

Greg Mankiw muses over the question of whether libertarians can find an affinity with the new Democratic Party. I mused about this very same thing a while back.

Now Batting for Pedro Borbon's First Reader Poll !!!!

In olden days, when you sent a complete doofus to be the ambassador to somewhere, the somewhereans took offense. They would think, "are we not worthy that you would send so obviously an inferior laison?" Although I don't think the folks at Turtle Bay would know the difference, I think we should revive the practice. So who to send? Here is a nice bipartisan list:

a) Joe Biden
b) Michael "Brownie" Brown
c) George Pataki
d) Lincoln Chafee
e) George Mitchell ("Let me just put down this merchandising plan for the Disney Store and starting reading up on this Lebanon thing...")
f) John Kerry ("If your smart and you study, you might wind up at the UN sitting next to the Foreign Minister of of Tanzania who has some girls lined up for later tonight!"

I will reveal my vote shortly!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Capitalism Has Its Elitists Too

The Pink Foreign Business Newspaper offers what I feel is a measured, yet typical, critique of the recent analysis by the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation (background here). While the critique makes some reasonable points, i.e. don't let London grabbing the Rosneft deal throw us into a panic, and the tone is measured in its reaction, the subtle signals are there. To wit, this is not a good faith effort to analyze what is legitimately seen as a loss of US competitiveness, it is a Bush administration scheme, a "misplaced juggernaut" (after all, as all right-thinking people know, what isn't misplaced or juggernautic about anything the Bush administration does?) to "revitalize" something gone awry. More on point is the title reference to "race to the bottom." This is the left's code for anything moving in the direction of laissez-faire. In their view, rolling back regulation, no matter how restrictive, worthless or misguided in the first place, is an affront to the proper order, an abandonment of some mythical "little man" to the depredations of plutocratic others. This commentary sums up precisely the complete editorial viewpoint of this pink foregin newspaper; they are grudgingly for capitalism - proper, neat, polite, tamed and domesticated capitalism. They are all for the type of capitalism that won't step on toes or raise hackles at dinner parties or keep them from holidaying with the best people. In essence they are for a not quite static, but...the best word is "undynamic," capitalism, as opposed to dynamic capitalism. In other words, they are capitalists that sneer at true capitalism. Elitists would be another way to describe it.

BoNY & Mellon Merger...

Merger mania has been good for stocks lately. I should also call this "buyout mania" as it is driven just as much if not more by buyouts from private equity money. Six or half dozen. Anywho, I have been a bull for awhile through the thick and thin of MSM angst and merger mania has been a pillar that has anchored me, after all, these incredibly smart and highly paid folks at the world's best private equity shops can't be totally out to lunch when they pay 30% premiums to take out these perfectly normally performing companies, right? Well, this gives me pause. Both of these companies' stocks have done nothing for years (since their last courtship dance in 1998) and the article hints that there may be a bit corporate egoism involved here. To be fair, Renyi had only just ascended to the CEO job of a company, BoNY, that was known for its long-standing, stolid, grey-haired management. To make a takeover bid so early was a little presumptuous by old line banking standards. Still, it is hard to completely dismiss the notion that this was a battle for pride rather than a cold and hard calculation of shareholders' best interests. Optimists will cotton on to the fact that since both stocks were stuck in the mud for ages, that embracing anything different than the status quo is a step forward. I love optimists, but that is a pretty thin reed. Merger mania might be getting into the silly part of the cycle, which means that investors should be wary...not necessarily bearish, but wary.

As a counter-point, here is the always perceptive Lex's take...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Harass Iran Back

Iran is at war with us. Are we at war with them? Let's send some Special Ops guys into Iran. Let's make it so that a few weapons smuggling caravans headed for Iraq wind up smoldering somewhere on the Iraq-Iran border and said smugglers wind up dead.

Boeing vs. Airbus Rivalry Upped

Lately it has looked, by all accounts, that Boeing was standing over Airbus like Muhammad Ali over Sonny Liston, but, if you have a subscription to a certain pink, foreign newspaper (or you can go here), it looks like the greatest business rivalry on earth is back on. With that said, fixing the problems with the A380 while simultaneously launching the A350 will be an enormous challenge. It would be mind-bogglingly difficult for even the most efficient and capable profit-seeking enterprise, but it will be that much harder for a hybrid enterprise like Airbus, where private, profit-seeking incentives are assaulted by political aims and the desire for patroange. It will be interesting to see if, in this alt-history tale, Sonny Liston has any fight left in him or whether he will get up only to fall back to the mat again.