Somewhere else, part 175

(Halloween Tree, by Glen Brogan)

Some posts and articles worth reading, here and there

A bank’s earnings are a quantum event; they are entirely probabilistic, and the answer you get depends on who’s doing the observing. You make some guesses with some degree of statistical likelihood, and then you apply one of a half-dozen accounting regimes to the guesses, and you get a number, and then you’re like, ooh, look at this number, it’s so numeric.

The love seat and sofa that Jamie Abbott can’t quite afford ended up in her double-wide trailer because of the day earlier this year when she and her family walked into a new store called Buddy’s. Abbott had no access to credit, no bank account and little cash, but here was a place that catered to exactly those kinds of customers. Anything could be hers. The possibilities — and the prices — were dizzying. At Buddy’s, a used 32-gigabyte, early model iPad costs $1,439.28, paid over 72 weeks. An Acer laptop: $1,943.28, in 72 weekly installments. A Maytag washer and dryer: $1,999 over 100 weeks. Abbott wanted a love seat-sofa combo, and she knew it might rip her budget. But this, she figured, was the cost of being out of options. “You don’t get something like that just to put more burden on yourself,” Abbott said.

The leading normative theory in economics – expected utility theory – postulates that individuals should evaluate the options they face based only on these choices’ qualities. The decision to sell a stock, for example, should be based only on the stock’s current price and expectations about the future – not on its historical prices. For many, however, selling a stock for €1,800 that just a few weeks ago was trading at €2,000 feels like a loss, and they are reluctant to realise this loss by selling the stock. People tend not to evaluate their current situation based solely on its own qualities. There is ample evidence that our willingness to take risks is influenced by prior gains and losses (Grinblatt and Keloharju 2000, Weber and Camerer 1998, Gneezy and Potters 1997, Haigh and List 2005). The leading theoretical model that explains such behaviour is Kahneman and Tversky’s prospect theory (1979). At the heart of prospect theory stand the assumptions that we:

Evaluate outcomes relative to a reference point (prior expectations, our status quo, etc.), and that everything above is a gain, everything below is a loss; ;

Dislike losses more than we appreciate gains of equal size; and ;

Dislike losses so much that it makes us willing to take greater risk to avoid them.

et un peu de lecture en français

Le dossier du CIR est très lourd. Créé par la gauche en 1983, ce dispositif fiscal visait à encourager les dépenses de recherche et développement privées – de l’industrie surtout – en les récompensant par un remboursement d’impôt. Les premières années, il fut assis sur l’augmentation de ces dépenses et visait exclusivement les PME. Puis, par dérives successives, il va être calculé de plus en plus sur le volume des dépenses, et déplafonné au profit des grands groupes. En 2008, brusquement, Nicolas Sarkozy et Valérie Pécresse ouvrent les vannes en grand. Résultat ? En dix ans, son coût explose de 0,5 milliard à près de 6 milliards en 2014, selon la Cour des comptes. Près du double du budget du CNRS !

Comment expliquer que certains pays étrangers servent si volontiers de modèles à la presse française (Allemagne, Royaume-Uni, Irlande) alors que d’autres sont systématiquement ignorés (pays progressistes d’Amérique latine) ? Comment justifier que, dans les revues de presse diffusées par les grandes radios nationales, ce soit toujours les mêmes journaux qui se trouvent mis à l’honneur ? Et les mêmes écartés ? Dans son documentaire, Opération Correa, Pierre Carles (1) pose ces questions, faussement naïves, aux journalistes qui déterminent la hiérarchie de l’information. Parfois désopilantes, leurs réponses sont toujours éclairantes, comme ce cri du cœur d’Ivan Levaï justifiant l’absence de références exigeantes dans sa revue de presse par la paresse supposée des auditeurs : « On ne fait pas boire l’âne qui n’a pas soif »…

Did I miss something interesting?


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