Why FB really loves the first amendment

If it wants to stay this big and unregulated, Facebook cannot afford to upset the rulers of countries where it operates, no matter how abhorrent their actions. We saw that in Myanmar, where military personnel used Facebook to help incite the Rohingya massacres. Now we see it in the US, where Facebook refuses to run afoul of a president who just called in troops to tear gas citizens.

—From The Financial Times, in ‘Facebook and the creation of a US oligarch

Goodhart’s law

Physicists have long noted that observing some phenomena actually changes their nature. In finance, the equivalent is known as Goodhart’s law, after the British economist Charles Goodhart, who in 1975 argued that once a measure becomes a target, it loses the very properties that made it a good gauge to begin with.

—Robin Wigglesworth in the FT: ‘How a volatility virus infected Wall Street


“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

Goodhart’s law – Wikipedia

Continue reading Goodhart’s law

A tale of two (secular) countries – 🇮🇳 & 🇹🇷

In constitutional terms, Turkey is a secular country. But whereas in most places this implies the separation of religion and state, in Turkey it means state control over religion.

The Economist: Turkey’s religious authority surrenders to political Islam

Their belief is that cow protection is central to Hinduism, and Hinduism is the core of Indian nationhood, even though the constitution says that India as a nation belongs to all religious groups. Cow protection and nationalism have got intertwined.

FT: Narendra Modi’s illiberal drift threatens Indian democracy


Please tell me that I’m not the only one who’s been seeing this connection between nationalism, religion, conservatism, and (crony) capitalism in India, Turkey and elsewhere?

Leading the curve: Russia.
Ahead of the curve: Turkey.
In the pack: India, Poland, Hungry, US, UK, Thailand, and more…

Corporations, Marketplaces, and Individuals

Silicon Valley’s favourite economist, Ronald Coase. Back in 1937, a young Coase wrote “The Nature of the Firm”, calling attention to something strange:

while corporations competed within a competitive marketplace, corporations themselves were not markets. They were hierarchies. If you work for a company, you don’t allocate your time to the highest bidder. You do what your boss tells you; she does what her boss tells her. A few companies dabble with internal marketplaces, but mostly they are islands of command-and-control surrounded by a sea of market transactions.

Think like a supermodel if you want to win from the gig economy, July 15, 2017 at 11:44PM

Tobacco industry’s 4 step plan to eliminate inconvenient facts

First, the industry appeared to engage, promising high-quality research into the issue. The public were assured that the best people were on the case.

The second stage was to complicate the question and sow doubt: lung cancer might have any number of causes, after all. And wasn’t lung cancer, not cigarettes, what really mattered?

Stage three was to undermine serious research and expertise. Autopsy reports would be dismissed as anecdotal, epidemiological work as merely statistical, and animal studies as irrelevant.

Finally came normalisation: the industry would point out that the tobacco-cancer story was stale news. Couldn’t journalists find something new and interesting to say?

The Problem With Facts, April 24, 2017, at 10:13 AM