Although investors were being phished, they “had no reason to be suspicious. They had been told of the wonders of free markets.” But free markets were not so wondrous, because they put the producers of the new, complex, risky securities at a big advantage over the producers of the older, simpler, safer ones. After all, the new securities promised higher returns while disguising the risk of default:
As long as a significant part of the bond-buying public was willing to swallow the myth whole, the investment bankers had an incentive to produce those rotten avocados, and to extract from the agencies the high ratings that would be the cover-up.
On modern advertising and one of my favorite, beloved Ogilvy’s ad :
Akerlof and Shiller think that the idea of phishing also helps to explain modern advertising, especially when we focus on the crucial role of narrative in human thinking. Clever marketers offer simple, attractive stories about their products, and get those stories to stick in the human mind. Consider a famous advertisement for Rolls-Royce, displaying an elegant young mother in the driver’s seat, turned slightly toward her elegant children, who are walking toward the car from outside the entrance to an elegant grocery store. The headline of the copy: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” Advertisements of this kind tell an appealing story about what life would be like with the product.
→ The New York Review Of Books
In a humiliating televised confession, Wang acknowledged that “I acquired the news from private conversations, which is an abnormal way, and added my personal judgment and subjective views to finish this story” (which, you know, is how journalism usually works). In the United States when someone accurately predicts a downturn or policy change, we practically throw him a ticker-tape parade; in China, they throw him in jail.
→ Business Insider
What is happening? Why is China—the country that people once thought was the engine of the world economy—tottering so badly ?
To answer these questions it is necessary to recognize that China was never the engine of the world’s growth. To be such an engine you have to import more than you export. Then you would create a demand that is filled by other countries, which as a result export more than they import. Importers are the engines in the supply trains of the international markets. Exporters are the wagons, pulled by the demand created by the profligates. Think of what drives liquor markets: barmen or drinkers?
Credit: Michael Lomax, Impossible Bottle
“In any given market, Bridgewater may have a dozen or more different indicators. However, even when most or all of the indicators are pointing in a certain direction, Dalio doesn’t rely solely on software. Unless he and Jensen and Prince agree that a certain trade makes sense, the firm doesn’t make it. While this inevitably introduces an element of human judgment to the investment process, Dalio insists it is still driven by the rules-based framework he has built up over thirty years. “When I’m thinking, ‘What is going on today?,’ I also need to make the connection to ‘How does what is happening today fit into our framework for making this decision?’ ’’ he said. Ultimately, he says, it is the commitment to systematic analysis and systematic investment that distinguishes Bridgewater from other hedge funds. “I hear a lot of people describing what’s happening today without the proper historical context and without the framework of how the machine works,” he says.”
The New York Magazine on the culture of Bridgewater :
The path to Principles began early in Bridgewater’s history, when Dalio began to think that employees, like economies, could be understood as following patterns. Transcendental Meditation informed his belief that a person’s main obstacle to improvement was his own fragile ego; at his firm, he would make constant, unvarnished criticism the norm, until critiques weren’t taken personally and no one held back a good idea for fear of being wrong. Dalio’s chosen investment system depended on such behavior. Unlike at a hedge fund such as Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital, where star traders are given chunks of the firm’s capital to run quasi-independent desks (and offset each other’s losses), everyone at Bridgewater essentially contributes to the same strategy as they work under Dalio and his longtime confidants and co-CIOs Bob Prince and Greg Jensen. Dalio thought radical transparency could optimize the hive mind. “The culture makes you have to listen to other people,” says Giselle Wagner, a former Bridgewater chief operating officer.
→ The New Yorker
Lawrence Summers :
Famously, while you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. In the same way, markets may well be inefficient and diverge from fundamental value, and they may well be subject to government manipulation for significant intervals, but it is a foolish government that supposes it can indefinitely maintain speculative prices at politically convenient levels, as the Chinese authorities may soon discover.
→ Financial Times