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Gthaberlach's Public Library

about 8 hours ago

Is the smart, calculating, successful thief entirely a myth? The study mentions that professional thieves probably do exist, but they're so rare that they're hard to find in surveys -- probably fewer than 1 in every 100,000 people.

about 8 hours ago

Aid undermines what poor people need most: an effective government that works with them for today and tomorrow.

One thing that we can do is to agitate for our own governments to stop doing those things that make it harder for poor countries to stop being poor

DEATON just won the Nobel in economics.

about 10 hours ago

Investors had particularly soured on SunEdison’s strategy of developing new wind and solar farms and then selling them to the companies it spun off, TerraForm Power Inc. and TerraForm Global. Both were formed to return reliable dividends to investors, neither have done so.. . . . . . . . "We need to adjust our tactics, at least in the short to intermediate term," Ahmad R. Chatila, SunEdison’s chief executive, said in a conference call

about 13 hours ago

SunEdison Layoffs Pose Questions About Clean Energy's Future
by Leon Kaye on Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015

BIG SILICON REFINER- WAFER MANUFACTURER - NOTE CURRENT 2.6B $ cap. - - lost ~ $1.1B this year.

SunEdison had been riding high this year, with a market capitalization soaring to almost $10 billion just three months ago. But investors' confidence had been wavering long before SunEdison reached what was a historic milestone for the company. Acquisitions of firms including First Wind and Vivant Solar worried analysts who saw that $4.6 billion buying spree create a sudden spike in SunEdison's debt-to-equity ratio.

. . . . Wall Street became skittish over SunEdison's fundamentals, and as July turned into August, its stock lurched into a rapid tumble.

In July, SunEdison's stock price had hit an all-time high of $31.84 a share. It had fallen as low as $6.56 a share in late September before hovering at its current price of about $9; in turn, the company's market capitalization has taken a steep nosedive to what is now an estimated $2.6 billion.

. . . . SunEdison's restructuring will result in a 15 percent reduction in its workforce. The company expects to take a short-term financial hit as it will incur charges of anywhere from $30 million to $40 million in the next quarter, with most of those funds going toward severance packages for fired employees.

about 13 hours ago

David Brooks

The House Republican caucus is close to ungovernable these days.. . . . . . . These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.

about 17 hours ago

Andrew Ross Sorkin

Mergers and acquisitions are on track for a record year. So far in 2015, there have been nearly $3.5 trillion worth of transactions, according to Thomson Reuters. One Wall Street banker described Monday as feeling “a little bit like 1986 or maybe 2007.”

If that’s right, these deals do not portend good things, and will likely represent the end — or at least the beginning of the end — of a bull market. . . . . this level of deal-making is unsustainable.

Consider what’s behind Monday’s announcements: businesses that are under siege and trying to transform themselves. . .. . .. “To pay back the interest on the $50 billion of debt that the new combined company will have on their balance sheet, Dell will need to pay roughly $2.5 billion a year in interest alone,” she wrote in a note to her employees. “That’s $2.5 billion that they will allocate away from R.&D. and other business-critical activities, which will keep them from better serving their customers.”

. . . . Surely, the Dell-EMC deal and the potential beer combination are far more logical than pie-in-the-sky deals driven by illusory goals or fantastical synergy claims, such as the infamous AOL-Time Warner merger in 1999, widely considered the worst deal ever. We haven’t seen anything that silly — yet.

Oct 12, 15

Exploration expenditures down by half - many companies not exploring at all
. . .
“There is not enough existing discovered resource and U.S. shale to sustainably grow production over the next decade, and it takes five years in the best case, and generally closer to 10 years to take a major conventional discovery into production,” the analysts wrote.

Domestic benchmark oil, which has been trading below $50 a barrel since July, was down 81 cents to $48.82 Monday morning on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The sharp reduction in exploration spending spells good news for exploration and production companies with good portfolios,

Oct 12, 15

Productivity growth in US shale, as measured by initial production per rig, averaged in excess of 30 per cent year between 2007 and 2014. US shale throws down the gauntlet of whether the lessons of lean manufacturing can be applied to conventional oil production.

The shale industry has revolutionised US oil production. It has the potential to do the same to the global oil market.

Spencer Dale is group chief economist at BP and is a former chief economist at the Bank of England.

Oct 12, 15

August 31, 2015

A Madison-based research hub devoted to evaluating the environmental effect of nanotechnology has received $20 million in National Science Foundation funding over the next five years.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the host institution for the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, led by Robert Hamers, a chemistry professor at UW-Madison whose research has helped spawn a spinoff company focusing on building more powerful and more stable batteries for hybrid cars and electric vehicles.

Oct 11, 15


The original expectation was that I.V. would file a hundred patents a year. Currently, it's filing five hundred a year. It has a backlog of three thousand ideas. Wood said that he once attended a two-day invention session presided over by Jung, and after the first day the group went out to dinner. "So Edward took his people out, plus me," Wood said. "And the eight of us sat down at a table and the attorney said, 'Do you mind if I record the evening?' And we all said no, of course not. We sat there. It was a long dinner. I thought we were lightly chewing the rag. But the next day the attorney comes up with eight single-spaced pages flagging thirty-six different inventions from dinner. Dinner."
. . . . .
The unavoidable first response to Myhrvold and his crew is to think of them as a kind of dream team, but, of course, the fact that they invent as prodigiously and effortlessly as they do is evidence that they are not a dream team at all. You could put together an Intellectual Ventures in Los Angeles, if you wanted to, and Chicago, and New York and Baltimore, and anywhere you could find enough imagination, a fresh set of eyes, and a room full of Varleys and Pfaffs.

Oct 11, 15

By Niall Ferguson Oct. 9, 2015 6:17 p.m. ET

Henry Kissinger long ago recognized the problem: a talented vote-getter, surrounded by lawyers, who is overly risk-averse.

There “is no such thing as an American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in 1968. There is only “a series of moves that have produced a certain result” that they “may not have been planned to produce.” It is “research and intelligence organizations,” he added, that “attempt to give a rationality and consistency” which “it simply does not have.”

Two distinctively American pathologies explained the fundamental absence of coherent strategic thinking. First, the person at the top was selected for other skills. “The typical political leader of the contemporary managerial society,” noted Mr. Kissinger, “is a man with a strong will, a high capacity to get himself elected, but no very great conception of what he is going to do when he gets into office.”

Second, the government was full of people trained as lawyers. In making foreign policy, Mr. Kissinger once remarked, “you have to know what history is relevant.” But lawyers were “the single most important group in Government,” he said, and their principal drawback was “a deficiency in history.” This was a long-standing prejudice of his. “The clever lawyers who run our government,” he thundered in a 1956 letter to a friend, have weakened the nation by instilling a “quest for minimum risk which is our most outstanding characteristic.”

. . . .
I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”

. . . . he was willing to work with Russia and Iran—neither famed for spending time under that particular mantle—so long as they accepted the ousting of yet another Middle Eastern dictator.

A fighting chance for a better future in the Middle East? Make that a better chance for a fighting future.

It is clear that the president’s strategy is failing disastrously. Since 2010, total fatalities from armed conflict in the world have increased by a factor of close to four, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Total fatalities due to terrorism have risen nearly sixfold, based on the University of Maryland’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism database. Nearly all this violence is concentrated in a swath of territory stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there is every reason to expect the violence to escalate as the Sunni powers of the region seek to prevent Iran from establishing itself as the post-American hegemon.

Today the U.S. faces three strategic challenges: the maelstrom in the Muslim world, the machinations of a weak but ruthless Russia, and the ambition of a still-growing China. The president’s responses to all three look woefully inadequate.

Those who know the Obama White House’s inner workings wonder why this president, who came into office with next to no experience of foreign policy, has made so little effort to hire strategic expertise.

. . . . “High office teaches decision making, not substance,” Mr. Kissinger once wrote. “It consumes intellectual capital; it does not create it.”

Oct 11, 15

LIKE California, much of Brazil is gripped by one of the worst droughts in its history. Huge reservoirs are bone dry and water has been rationed in São Paulo, a megacity of 20 million people; in Rio; and in many other places.

Drought is usually thought of as a natural disaster beyond human control. But as researchers peer deeper into the Earth’s changing bioclimate — the vastly complex global interplay between living organisms and climatic forces — they are better appreciating the crucial role that deforestation plays.


Oct 11, 15

Current will start with $1 billion in revenue and expects to become a $5 billion business by 2020, executives said. Early customers who have agreed to start using the G.E. systems include Walgreens, the Simon Property Group, Intel and JPMorgan Chase.

Oct 10, 15

Great visuals - great spread - more than half of political contributions from 158 families - mostly Republican - mostly finance and oil.

Oct 10, 15

Robert Hockett, a law professor at Cornell who specializes in bank regulation and real-estate finance, told me that he thought the Abacus case illustrated an evolution in lending practices, which he outlined in three stages. In the first phase, there was little need for written contracts because in traditional communities no one would risk breaking his or her word. In the second, when formal contracts started to appear alongside the old understandings, a lender assessed a borrower’s creditworthiness “at least partly on the basis of exposure to the community.” This was essentially the world of Abacus’s customers, and Hockett stressed that, until quite recently, it was the world of mainstream American banking, too. “Mortgage loans were provided mainly by local banks, or savings-and-loan institutions,” he said. “The lender knew who the borrower was and could do a credit check pretty easily.”

He went on, “Finally, the third stage is the stage that really took off, starting in the nineties, and brought us the crisis. This is what’s called the ‘originate to distribute’ model. Here what you get is a bunch of loan originators who don’t know you at all. They’re extending loans to you fully intending to sell the loans to somebody else who knows you even less well—the securitizer. And so now the only thing you have is the paper. The documentation is everything. ! ! ! ! ! There is literally no space for trust at all.” ! ! ! !

>In a sense, Abacus’s customers—with their limited financial horizons and their reliance on networks of trust—were living the thrifty lives that small-town Americans once prided themselves on.

Oct 10, 15

The World Bank has pledged to boost by up to $29bn the financial assistance pledged to poorer nations to cope with climate change, bringing closer the possibility of reaching a target of $100bn a year by 2020.

Jm Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank Group, said it could boost funding by a third, from 21% to 28%, in response to client demand. He spoke at a meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Lima, Peru.

“As we move closer to Paris countries have identified trillions of dollars of climate-related needs. The bank, with the support of our members, will respond ambitiously to this great challenge,” Kim said.
. . . . The charity’s climate change policy expert Isabel Kreisler said finance ministers should agree at least half of “public funding going towards the $100bn goal should be for adaptation”.

Most of the money is going to green energy investments such as climate-smart transport solutions, renewable energy and enhanced water security.

Oct 10, 15

Mike Ivey - March

The state has seen an explosion of surface mining operations over the past three years, with the type of large-grained silica sand found in western Wisconsin in high demand by oil drillers. The sand is mixed with water and chemicals and injected into wells at high pressure to force out hard-to-reach deposits of oil and natural gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources counts over 135 companies involved in mining, processing or hauling sand, up from just a dozen in 2010. The state is the nation’s leading supplier of frac sand, with train cars taking tons of material to drilling sites in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere.

But while the use of fracking has helped the U.S. rival Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer, it has also led to a global glut in oil supplies, sending prices to their lowest levels in years.
<br />
<br />Because of that, a number of publicly traded frac sand companies operating in Wisconsin have seen their share prices plummet as investors worry that low oil prices will also impact the industrial sand business. When prices are low, oil companies historically cut back on drilling activity.


Oct 10, 15

“There are lots of extraordinarily smart people who take individual parts of the tax code and recombine them in complex transactions to construct something not intended by the law.”

A recent paper by Mr. Rosen and four other computer scientists — two others from M.I.T. and two at the Mitre Corporation, a nonprofit technology research and development organization — demonstrated how an algorithm could detect a certain type of known tax shelter used by partnerships.

First, the researchers translated tax regulations governing partnerships, a growing source of tax trickery, into source code. Then they rendered the transactions underpinning a questionable shelter known as “installment-sale bogus optional basis,” or Ibob, as a series of codes. The Ibob shelter artificially inflates the basis value of an asset on a tax return to wipe out taxable gains when that asset is sold. While some of Ibob’s individual transactions are perfectly legal, the collective result is a bogus deduction.

Oct 10, 15

The numbers drawn up by Bloomberg are a “levelised cost of energy” (LCOE) which takes into account financing, intermittency and other issues, so that different technologies can be fairly compared. However LCOE does not account for the cost of managing intermittent power in the national grid electricity system.

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