Browser Daily Newsletter 1188

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

The Financial Crisis: Why No Top-Level Prosecutions?

Jed Rakoff | New York Review Of Books | 16th December 2013

Senior sitting US judge calls out the Department of Justice. Official investigations into the 2008 crash make repeated reference to "fraud". Signs of fraud are everywhere. So why has no top-level financial executive been prosecuted (and probably never will be, given the five-year statute of limitations)? One main reason is that prosecutors find it easier to go after companies than individuals. But that is a "failure of justice"

The Rhyme Of History: Lessons Of The Great War

Margaret MacMillan | Brookings | 16th December 2013

Essay on the worrying parallels between the world before the 1914-18 Great War, and the world today — two eras of new technology, of migration and of globalisation, of nationalism and radicalism. As 1914 approached, a nervous England jostled with a rising Germany. As 2014 approaches, America spars clumsily with a rising China. Then, the Balkans was a tinderbox. Today it is the Middle East

David Walsh’s Wisdom Beats The Odds

Christopher Joye | Financial Review | 14th December 2013

Walsh may well be the world's successful gambler; he built a modern art museum in his native Tasmania with part of his wealth. This short interview is interesting throughout. "The key is that the public odds must be included in your model. The best models are not predictive models per se, but perturbation models that start with the assumption that the public is right and then work out what small errors they might make"

Q&A: What Happened To Kim Jong Un’s Uncle?

Isaac Chotiner | The New Republic | 17th December 2013

Interview. North Korean expert B.R. Myers says that Kim Jong Un's execution of an uncle, Jang Song-thaek, follows a family tradition: Kim Il Sung purged a brother; Kim Jong Il purged a son, though without killing him. But Kim Jong Un has acted clumsily. Purges used to be kept secret, to preserve the myth of party unity. "North Koreans will wonder why all this had to be shown to a hostile outside world"

On Secular Stagnation

Larry Summers | Reuters | 16th December 2013

US recovery since 2008 has been weak despite record-low interest rates. Even pre-crash growth relied heavily on bubbles. America is moving into a long period of stagnation marked by reduced consumption, reduced investment, risk aversion. "The presumption that runs through most policy discussion — that normal economic and policy conditions will return at some point — cannot be maintained"

Conflict In The East China Sea: Home Board Game Edition

James Fearon | Washington Post | 16th December 2013

Simple instructions for modelling the likelihood of war in the East China Sea, in the form of what Thomas Schelling called a “competition in risk-taking”. You need two people and a spinner. "This game is a weird type of auction — the players bid for the prize in probabilities of the bad outcome, and the prize goes to the highest bidder, but both players pay the loser’s bid (the risk of disaster)"

Video of the day:  Bob Dylan On CBC In 1964

Thought for the day:

"The basic activity of science is confronting ignorance, and often producing more of it" — Stuart Firestein

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