Stability is destabilising (BBC 4 Radio)

Why Minsky Matters. “Hy was a big thinker… And today everything has got so technical and so mathematical you have little thinkers…We need more big thinkers who are willing to buck the consensus”. (Laurence Meyer). The epitaph for economics: small thinkers unable to explain the world.

Minsky’s point being that finance introduces instability in the overall economy, while the consensus was that finance was merely the plumbing of the real economy, and has no effect on it.

Big data, small ideas? (FT)

Big data: are we making a big mistake? (FT)

Causation vs correlation. Big data still follows the basics of statistical analysis. Sample error, sample bias.

“nobody wants ‘data’. What they want are the answers.
Big Data’s four articles of faith debunked:

  • “Uncanny accuracy is easy to overrate if we simply ignore false positives.
  • The claim that causation has been “knocked off its pedestal” is fine if we are making predictions in a stable environment but not if the world is changing (as with Flu Trends).
  • The promise that “N = All”, and therefore that sampling bias does not matter, is simply not true in most cases that count.
  • “with enough data, the numbers speak for themselves” – that seems hopelessly naive in data sets where spurious patterns vastly outnumber genuine discoveries.”

“Big data” has arrived, but big insights have not.”

Luxottica to work with Google on Google Glass eyewear (The Guardian/FT/Businessweek/Engadget)

Beyond the PR aspect, the possible pull for stores (come try them) and trying to make the glasses better looking thanks to Luxottica’s designers the problem is this is still technology in search of a problem to solve, which Google hasn’t yet found. The solution would be to start looking for those uses and see how the glasses help… Plus there’s the creep and privacy factors to solve:

Sherlock google glass

Sherlock, from

Luxottica: Glassy (FT). Will it help the earnings and sales growth? A lot will depend on the first models, but it would be a mistake to let the market think results depend to a great degree on this deal.

Google to De-Dorkify Glass in Partnership With Ray-Ban Maker Luxottica (Businessweek). Luxottica… “a far larger footprint than fashionable online retailer Warby Parker, with which Google reportedly discussed a partnership.” so it’s not just design Google has in mind, it’s also retail presence.

Uses like this: Sailboat racers get a heads-up display to call their own (Engadget).

Asymmetric wars (The Economist)

“The best way to get Crimea back is for Ukraine to become a prosperous democracy—with the West’s help”.

My comment: it’s not enough; soft social democracy cannot deal with tyrants and its own populist politicians, there is a need for a much stronger version. After Iraq but really since Vietnam the US has no moral standing; the European Union doesn’t present a unified and strong front, with many suddenly waking up realizing it’s the germans, of all people, who are in the strongest position to say and do something; the rest of the world watches from afar at it’s own peril.

The costs are real in death, persecution, the daily grind of living from personal relationships, lack of opportunities.

The possible response is three fold:

  1. A staunch defense of social democracy, not as a grey middle ground between so called capitalism and socialism, but as a fair society which controls its government, whose opposite is crony capitalism and crony socialism, as well as autocracy like Putin’s. You cannot beat propaganda and misinformation only with reason, you need to show it for what it is and respond appropriately.
  2. Showing how ridiculous Putin and company are: they cannot wield authority if they are not respected. This should start at home, showing how ridiculous all those small p politicians à la Tea Party, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Chávez are. It also means showing how small the UK looks when its government will not stop russian oligarch money from flowing to London.
  3. Showing the way, following the Economist’s suggestion, but more clearly: no, your job does not have to depend on your personal relationship with the “great leader”, boss or comrade, but on your effort and the quality of your work; no, it’s not normal to have infrastructure which looks old from new, because it was done by “a friend of a friend”; no, you cannot call yourself a great nation when any economic activity implies paying for protection or bribing someone. In the current Ukraine crisis, this would imply closing all economic ties with Russia, forbidding all russians to travel to the US or the EU, so there is a real, tangible cost to having a small minded tyrant in charge. Fat chance of that given the pettiness of politicians in “The West”- and the no show from the rest of the world.