Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Internet stocks plunge on FED comment

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Internet stocks plunged on average more than 50% yesterday. This is the biggest single day loss of a sector on record. The decline started during a speech of FED Governor Rasser at the University of Michigan where he was talking about policy options in fighting deflation.

Rasser gave a detailed account of the instruments used by the FED in recent years to fight deflation. He first defended the FED’s view that the huge asset purchase programs that have been running for years now are essential for keeping prices from declining.

He also discussed the positive impact of the taxes introduced on natural gas and oil. An analysis conducted by his staff suggests that the deflationary forces introduced by cheap shale gas and oil have been neutralized by the introduction of the tax on the US natural gas production.

He went on to present another study by his staff that shows how secondary market platforms for consumer goods on the internet constrain producers to increase their prices. Internet stocks started their decline when Rasser suggested that the government consider putting substantial transaction taxes on consumer to consumer transactions on the internet.

Unskilled and aware

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The solution to one of the biggest puzzles of the last decades has at the same time resulted in the uncovering of one of the biggest medical scandals in history. Over the last 15 years or so psychologists have been wondering about the sharp increase in suicides in the southwestern part of the country. The first report of a statistically significant increase in suicide rates is generally attributed to Hoffmann and Meyer’s article in the Psychology Quarterly 16 years ago. Since then myriads of psychologists have attempted to find explanations for this phenomenon.

Ironically the solution to the puzzle was not found by psychologists but by the young molecular biologist John Grubner. While working on his PhD thesis Grubner came across early but neglected research of Dr. Mark Benniger. During his early career as an academic Dr. Benninger was researching the factors that are responsible for the difference in risk appetite among individuals in sports or business. Dr. Benninger had hypothesized that it is a particular gene which modulates risk appetite and that lower activity of the gene leads to more risk seeking behavior by individuals.

The general perception was that Dr. Benninger never completed his work. It was assumed that as he started to help building the nations system of Centers for Prenatal Diagnostics and Treatment (CPDT) he simply lacked the time to continue his research. John Grubner’s intuition told him differently. And so Mr. Grubner applied for a postdoc at the Southwestern CPDT where Dr. Benniger was the director until his recent dismissal. Instead of devoting his time at the Southwestern CPDT to research, though, Mr. Grubner used the time to hack Dr. Benninger’s personal files.

What he found was as much shocking as it was a surprise even to him. It was true that Dr. Benninger has not been able to link risk taking by entrepreneurs to genetic activity. But he did discover a gene which was responsible for controlling ones sense of reality. It is a well known fact that people on average rate there skills above average independently of their true skills which leads to the interesting phenomenon that poor performers grossly overestimate their abilities while very skilled individuals tend to rate their abilities too low. Dr. Benninger was able to show that it was a specific gene that causes the brain to structure in such a way that outside feedback on ones effective performance has almost no impact on ones self image.

Among Dr. Benninger’s files Mr. Grubner found several documents referring to cases where research contracts had been awarded to overconfident scientists with inferior research projects. His personal notes also revealed that he considered this cognitive bias a flaw in human evolution and that he thought that the world would be better off if people would more realistically assess their own abilities. During the early days of the CPDT project the oversight was fairly weak. Dr. Benninger used this period to include into the approved treatments of genetic diseases a treatment leading to the deactivation of the gene responsible for the optimistic bias.

To link the increase in the suicide rate to the genetic modifications introduced at Southwestern CPDT was then comparably simple. And once this discovery reached the public it hit like a bomb. Understandably it caused huge uproar amongst individuals potentially affected by Dr. Benningers treatment against their will. The dismissal of Dr. Benninger did little to calm the public mood. More and more the case now seems to escalate into a general public discussion about terminating government monopoly on reproductive medicine.

The Asshole Curve

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Asshole CurveThere are numerous concepts out there claiming they would help guiding you to success. However, there is only one concept you’ll truly have to master. And that is navigating along the asshole-curve. The concept is quite simple. A certain level of success, say S1, can be achieved by combining different levels of skill and asshole-ness and all combinations of skill and asshole-ness leading to the same level of success form an iso-success curve. So let’s assume John is able to achieve success level S1 with a certain level of skill K1 and a certain level of asshole-ness A1. Now suppose you are only able to operate at skill level K2, lower than K1. To achieve the same level of success you will have to be a slightly bigger asshole than John. Of course this statement is fairly conceptual. In practice there are many ways how you can be a bigger asshole. You can share less knowledge with your colleagues, you can openly expose errors of your colleagues, but finally it is left up to you what asshole strategy suits you most. By increasing your asshole-ness you can even achieve higher levels of success than John. You’ll have to be careful, though, because if you are too big of an asshole you will eventually hit lower level success curve again. The mechanism behind this phenomenon is fairly simple, too. If you are too big of an asshole you will be recognized as such by your colleagues and they will start to cut you off from their network and support. So what you should learn from this is that for every level of skill there is a corresponding level of asshole-ness which maximizes your success. And so the key to success is mainly to find the optimal level of asshole-ness given your skills. We also refer to it as mastering the asshole curve.