Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Sometimes I like veer away from posting about current events and give my dear readers something more general. Here's a brief on "indexes" like, say, CPI (consumer price index), which measures changes in homely purchasing power:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

To avoid the crazed "Green Man" of flash crashes and market madness, limit orders are a good way to make sure you get the value you desire:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

The graphs in this article can seem a tad daunting at first. But look closer and this "rebus" resolves itself. The commodity index is trading below all the comparable indexes presented here. Why?:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Like the galah bird's pink bosom, humankind's hubris is perhaps our defining and most ostentatious feature. TED gives us a few of his thoughts on the subject:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED discusses the JOBS Act's impact and offers some unrepentant truth: The big underwriters couldn't be bothered to piddle on the desires of us poor retail investors:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Over Budget

Movies, movies, movies... Everyone loves movies. Most recently, the airwaves and cyber-pages have been abuzz over "The Hunger Games." I haven't seen it, so got  nothing for ya. However, I can say something about another movie I have not seen.

The film "John Carter" has been an unprecedented celluloid catastrophe. In Hollywood lingo, "It's the biggest bust in history." This, of course, raises the question, "How do you not see it coming?" As a studio, one might be surprised by a slight under or over-performance, but to fail so ungracefully, hideously, and miserably cannot be so unforeseen. Surely, that proverbial raven of ill will must have flown over the film set a while back.

From what I've heard and read, that's not the point. To summarize, many large studios give their leading stars gloriously overblown roles and paychecks in mediocre films to keep them happy. (Why does this make them happy, aside from the money, I don't know...). I suppose the argument goes that when you think you've got a real winner on your hands, you have a stable of willing A-listers to jump on board to propel your project to immortal status.

Fine, ok That means the studios are willing to lose big bucks in the hopes of reclaiming them, and more, with a few smash hits every now and again. Moreover, they believe that certain actors can create enough value with their mere presence to make up for all the losses incurred on movies WITH THE SAME ACTORS. Anyway, I ran some numbers. (From

Average worldwide film gross (total) from 1995-2012:


Average number of films per year 1995-2012:


Therefore, average gross per film 1995-2012:


"John Carter" cost $237,000,000.

Let's say the studio gets a great script. They wanna use the star of "John Carter," Taylor Kitsch, again. And let's say it's the same budget again. We'll give the script writers some credit and say they added a chunk of value to the average. So now, we've got a film worth, say, $50,000,000. By Hollywood's logic, Taylor Kitsch is the final blast from the rocket that will send this ship space-bound, so to speak.

Well, in order for the film to BREAK EVEN, young mister Kitsch would need add $187,000,000 to the value of the film.

I'll let you figure out if that's plausible. Hell, it might be! I'm no film expert. I'm just giving details people....

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Sorry folks, I've been in Barcelona, but I am returned! And I bring you something on gas prices. President Obama has likened himself to superheros, but his supposed amazing adjurations of high gas prices from the economy have not really come true:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED has an interesting theory. When the investment banks went from privately owned dragonets to full-fledged public, fire-breathing beasts, they lost their souls, so to speak:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

This article argues that concept of "potential GDP" is, at best, adscititious, and, more likely, naive: 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Now that breezy carelessness of St. Patty's weekend has been ravened away by the return of MONDAY, I hope you enjoyed it:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Interesting thought experiment: In order for somebody to absquatulate with your right marry, they got to pay you for it:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

TED offers a strong rebuke to Goldman Sachs. Everyone's pissed off, even if no one's surprised. I'll give my own words to the matter shortly:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Goldman's hiring a new PR chief. TED suspects Mr. Siewart (the new guy) will not spew the same tendentious fire and brimstone party-line that Mr. Van Praag (the old guy) did: 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Some good and bad news for your Tuesday. Not exactly an aureate report on small businesses, but at least optimism is up. On the other hand, inventories increased, a sign usually linked to slow demand. I think I have other posts about inventories... Hmm... Can't remember. Anyway, that's the way it is:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

If you've been following Attorney General Eric Holder's statements, you know there's a bit of controversy swirling around the President's "supposed" right to kill American citizens he deems "terrorists," or something to that effect. I agree with the following letter, sent in response:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Let's take a look at France. Francois Hollande, a presidential candidate in that country has proposed a 75% top tax rate. The main opposition? Professional football (soccer):

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Greg Mankiw is advising Mitt Romney, whose previous industry-of-residence, private equity, has come under fire. Many people have looked at Romney's wealth and compared it to his paltry tax rate, the benefit of "carried interest." Mankiw tried to defend this rate in print. Here's a rebuttal:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

A good note for the Republican candidates who wish to do away with the Federal Reserve? That may be true, but the general timbre of this article should be kept in mind by all would-be reformers:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thanks for Helping!

"Patent holding company"

"Non-practicing entity"

Names like these sound official and respectable. But what about "patent troll?"

I wasn't aware of their existence till recently, as I was perusing the Internet for information on patents. A friend and I have recently founded a technology start-up, so, of course, we're looking into patenting our product. I'm not trained in law, but I can imagine the legal process for filing is quite obtuse. And, naturally, where there are confusing processes afoot, there are opportunities to make money. What these patent trolls do, apparently, is hold a trove of patents, not using them, but merely hanging on to them. Then when some, usually large and rich, company tries to file for a new product, said troll jumps out of the bushes and shouts "aha!" and slaps forth an enormous lawsuit.

Perhaps the most well publicized patent troll "attack" was when NTP sued RIM, of Blackberry fame, over its patents. RIM settled to the tune of $612 million. The great, sad irony? It was fairly widely accepted that NTP's patents would be nullified to "prior art," which means there is evidence of the patented technology prior to the patent filing. However, the law does not care if the patents are eventually overturned. So long as NTP's name was written on those documents, they could sue.

Legal complications aside, this form of "business" is revolting to me. Although, easy money is hard to turn down. Patent trolls actively hurt growth by scaring new firms from entering the market, and possibly stopping or slowing down new innovation. These companies are about as helpful as a computer virus. Thanks guys! You should be ashamed of yourselves...

Mazi's Link O' the Day

One need only peruse the headlines to see how much buzz there is around bailouts and stimulus. Has it gone from aid to addiction:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mazi's Link O' the Day

Straight from Macro Theory, a brief discussion on sticky prices and how monetary policy should be adjusted to take account of them:

Friday, March 2, 2012


Rick Santorum is a deeply troubled and misguided man. Here's the three things you need to know:

1. He wants to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut (which stopped states from banning contraception). Therefore, it follows that he wants our government to ban contraception. He has made it clear that his beliefs regarding contraception are based on religious teachings. Thus, Rick Santorum wants to enact laws explicitly based on religious doctrine. He also decries Islam and, more specifically, Sharia law as terribly oppressive and constricting. He denounces religious law, but he also supports it. Hypocrite.

2. He thinks that colleges are "indoctrination mills" and that Obama is a "snob" for boldly setting forth the goal that every American go to college. It's funny how the facts ( tend to make Santorum look like a fool.

3. He likens Obama and his opponents (progressives in general) to Hitler and Satan. I do not believe that he is using inflammatory rhetoric for the sake of being elected, rather, he truly believes that liberals are influenced by Satan. When one believes fellow Americans are evil incarnate, compromise becomes impossible, and oppression becomes likely. If he were elected, scary things could happen to liberals. 

I have nothing against informed, principled conservativism. Rick Santorum is not a conservative, he's an insular thinker with a world view that would be laughed out of even the 20th century. He shouldn't have a pulpit in the 21st.

Thursday, March 1, 2012