Archive for November, 2013

The Joys of Rambling

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

I take great joy in incoherent rambling. I find the sound of my own voice, even when just in my own head, to be pleasant. I think this is because there is a form of thinking that can only happen when you are writing for yourself, and if you have any kind of intellectual personality then what you write for yourself would be unintelligible to others just because you have a unique background of assumptions and private knowledge which other people don’t have.

Only writing for the consumption of others can be very stifling on actual thought. There is writing that, while it makes for good public consumption, if you wrote that way when writing for yourself then you are a sadly shallow individual. Never forget that marketing and self-promotion goes into public writing – don’t drink your own kool-aid.


Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Weasel words are equivocating phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.

Hearing people say “It depends” angers me. It angers me because those are weasel words.

Balance of Payment

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

A cheaper currency makes it easier to sell one’s goods abroad. A government can make a currency cheaper by buying foreign-denominated assets. For example, China puts downward pressure on the CNY/USD by buying USD-denominated bonds. If we were to think of the (current account) surplus and deficit countries as two companies, what’s happening is akin to seller financing – the seller is lending the buyer money with which to buy goods.

How can selling something cheaply be considered bad for the buyer? Anti-competitive dumping comes to mind – this is where a company sells cheaply in order to drive out the competition and subsequently raise prices. It’s the path-dependence that makes this a difficult situation to evaluate.

There are many catch-22s in economics. Without producers, there can’t be consumers, and without consumers, there can’t be producers.

  • China wants to produce, but waiting for the virtuous cycle of increasing sophistication in productivity and consumer appetites to kick in is too slow.
  • China is a relatively centralized economy, so the state had the option of directly buying products from businesses to boost growth. However, that would result is a lot of waste, as the state doesn’t know what goods people actually want in the future, and would cause the wrong producers to develop.
  • Instead, China pays American consumers to buy goods from Chinese producers. This exerts competitive selectivity while avoiding the problem of having to develop a domestic consumer.

Conclusion: China pays for quality assurance services, forcing its people to compete to sell to foreigners for artificially low prices.

The pride behind words

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Mental state is a global thing. Work and play can’t be cleanly separated, and the mindset in one realm leaks into the other.

It is important to talk with yourself, and it can be difficult to switch between talking with yourself and talking with other people, not the least because motivations and capabilities can be quite idiosyncratic. Talking to people different in want and ability requires both sides to drop to the lowest common denominator of common topics and interests – hence small talk. I don’t enjoy small talk, but big talk is difficult when the room is diverse. Worst is when small talk masquerades as big talk, and all you get is buzzword slinging without much the way of insight being exchanged.

Ben Cashnocha said all this better