Noah Smith: Noahpinion: Behavioral economics vs. behavioral finance: "Chris House has a new blog post that is pretty dismissive of behavioral economics.... I don't think Chris gives a particularly enlightening explanation of where behavioral economics is falling short (what does 'helps us much' or 'transcendent principle' even mean??... It's important to point out that 'behavioral economics' is a different thing from 'behavioral finance'.... 'Behavioral economics' means something along the lines of 'economics in which individual decision-making behavior is assumed to be subject to observable, predictable psychological biases'.... 'Behavioral finance'... began... with Robert Shiller, who showed that stock prices fluctuate more than the standard theories would suggest.... A bunch of other 'anomalies' in standard theory were soon discovered... value... momentum.... These anomalies have proven so durable that they have become standard pieces of the risk models used by every large financial institution.... Most phenomena that don't agree with classic, Gene Fama vintage efficient-markets theory have come to be labeled 'behavioral finance'.... A second strand... finance based on informational frictions.... A third strand... that deals with individual investor behavior.... A fourth strand... noise-trader bubble models.... A fifth strand... tests the usefulness of psychological biases for investing strategies.... And of course a sixth strand... is experimental finance.... The behavioral finance rebels are merging with the old establishment instead of overthrowing it. So behavioral finance is not a speculative, marginal, or incipient field. It has already won at least two Nobel prizes (Smith and Shiller), or maybe four if you want to count Stiglitz and Kahneman."
Suzanne Mettler: College, the Great Unleveler: "The G.I. Bill of Rights.... Robert Maynard Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago, worried that it would transform elite institutions into 'educational hobo jungles'. But the G.I. Bill... federal student aid... increasing state investment... transformed American higher education over the course of three decades from a bastion of privilege into a path toward the American dream. Something else began to happen around 1980. College graduation rates kept soaring for the affluent, but for those in the bottom half, a four-year degree is scarcely more attainable today than it was in the 1970s.... The demise of opportunity through higher education is, fundamentally, a political failure. Our landmark higher education policies have ceased to function effectively, and lawmakers — consumed by partisan polarization and plutocracy — have neglected to maintain and update them."
S. M. Plokhy: Yalta: The Price of Peace
Elise Viebeck: Insurers become O-Care foot soldiers: "Insurers are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in 2014 alone on television, radio and online ads aimed at boosting enrollment. The campaigns are ramping up around the country as ObamaCare’s enrollment period for 2014 enters its final month.... The insurance industry stands to gain a huge influx of new customers under the healthcare law as millions of people take advantage of federal subsidies to buy insurance, in some cases obtaining coverage for the first time. That has insurers competing to get in on the ground floor by signing up customers who could provide business for years to come."
Charles King: Crimea, the Tinderbox: "Crimea is routinely described as 'pro-Russian', given that an estimated 58 percent of the population of two million is ethnic Russian, with another 24 percent Ukrainian and 12 percent Crimean Tatar.... But the picture is even more complicated. A vital naval base run by another country, a community of patriotic military retirees, a multiethnic patchwork, a weak state and competing national mythologies--that mixture is why a Crimean conflict has long been the nightmare scenario in the former Soviet Union and now represents the gravest crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War."
Should Be Aware of:
Karen Stabiner: Loss Leaders on the Half Shell: "Oyster happy hour at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn--a selection of 15 different kinds of oysters, most of them for $1 each, with a handful at $1.25 because they had to fly in from the West Coast. Krystof Zizka, a co-owner of the restaurant, says he doesn’t make a penny on the oysters, though they are one of the reasons his three-year-old restaurant is so successful. The cheap late-afternoon oyster is to a restaurant what a liter bottle of Coca-Cola is to a supermarket: the loss leader that gets customers in the door, at which point they buy something else at full price. It’s a nationwide binge, attributable in great part to the rapid growth of oyster farms on the East and West Coasts."
Dan Gillmor: Snowden made cyber-geek nightmares true. Can 'private' be normal again?: "In the nearly nine months since the Edward Snowden revelations began on this website, some of the most jaw-dropping surveillance news has involved a company called RSA.... Respected cryptographer and university professor Matt Blaze summed it up nicely: 'Everyone to RSA: Did you deliberately sell us out, or are you incompetent? RSA: We’re incompetent'.... 'TrustyCon' – short for the Trustworthy Technology Conference – came together in a hurry after Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for F-Secure, a Finnish security company, announced in January, in a public letter to RSA, that he was canceling his scheduled RSA conference talk and that his own company would skip the event entirely.... 'Our worst fears turned out to be fairly accurate', Hypponen said of what’s transpired in the security world... it’s become clear that many of the people once derided as paranoid were, if anything, understating the reality of how much we’re all being watched. Certainly, Thursday’s revelation on this website that spy services had become outright peeping toms by hijacking webcam images would have sounded ridiculous not so long ago. Alas, from betrayal rose a glimmer of hope in this insidery community – that privacy might make an everyday comeback, and maybe even sell. At TrustyCon, for example, technologists updated the audience on an important security service for whistleblowers and the journalists to whom they leak documents. This was 'SecureDrop', a project started by the late Aaron Swartz and now run by the Freedom of the Press Foundation which ensures safe communications by relying on the Tor web-anonymity system. No one says SecureDrop is perfect. But it is easy to use and robust, a vast improvement over what journalists have typically deployed."
Buce: Yurii's Realm: "I have long embraced the Heisenberg principle of nationalism: the closer you look at a nation-state, the more likely it isn’t there any more. Today’s case in point, Ukraine. Yurii Andrukhovych seems to recognize this perspective in his 1993 novel Moskovodiada, where he itemizes the titles of Olelko II, king of Ukraine, descendant (so he says) of he Riurykovychs and Dolgorukiis: 'Sovereign and Ruler of Rus-Ukraine, Great Prince of Kiev and Chernihiv, King of Galicia and Volhynia, Master of Pskov, Peremyshl and Koziatyn, Duke [Hertzog] of Dniproderzhynsk, First of May and Illich, Great Khan of Crimea and Izmail, Baron of Berdychiv, of both Bukovyna and Bessarabia, and also New Askan and Outer Kakhovka, rhe Wild Field and the Black Forest of Arkhysenior, Hetman and Protector of the Cossacks of the Don, Berdiansk and Kryvyi Rih, Tireless Shepherd of the Hutsuls and Boikos, Lord of All the People of the Ukraine, including Tatars and Pechenegs, peasant farmers [malokhokhlamy] and salo-eaters, with every Moldavian and Mankurt, on Our Pure Land, Patron and Pastor of Great and Little Slobidska Ukraine, and also Inner and Outer Timutorokan, the glorious descendant of all the ages, in a word, our proud and most eminent Monarch.'"
Wikipedia: Russo-Crimean Wars: 1571: "In May 1571, the 120,000-strong Crimean and Turkish army (80,000 Tatar, 33,000 irregular Turks and 7,000 janissaries) led by the khan of Crimea Devlet I Giray, and Big and Small Nogai hordes and troops of Circassians, bypassed the Serpukhov defensive fortifications on the river Oka, crossed the river Ugra and rounded the flank of the 6,000-man Russian army. The sentry troops of Russians were crushed by the Crimeans. Not having forces to stop the invasion, the Russian army receded to Moscow. The rural Russian population also fled to the capital. The Crimean army devastated unprotected towns and villages around Moscow, and then set fire to suburbs of the capital. Due to a strong wind, the fire quickly expanded. The townspeople, chased by a fire and refugees, rushed to northern gate of capital. At the gate and in the narrow streets, there was a crush, people "went in three lines went on heads one of another, and top pressed those who were under them". The army, having mixed up with refugees, lost order, and general prince Belsky died in a fire. Within three hours, Moscow burnt out completely. In one more day, the Crimean army, sated with its pillage, left on the Ryazan road to the steppes. Contemporaries counted up to 80,000 victims of the invasion in 1571, with 150,000 Russian taken as captives. Papal ambassador Possevin testified of the devastation: he counted in 1580 no more than 30,000 inhabitants of Moscow, although in 1520 the Moscow population was about 100,000."
- Andrew Wilson: The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation | Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World | Ukraine's Orange Revolution | Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship