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Comment: Well considering that.. (Score 4, Interesting) 365

by blahplusplus (#46796421) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

... 80% of you in the US are competing over 5% of the money in the economy, you guys have no idea how unequal your society has become and you keep voting for more of getting screwed.

Comment: Re:Big data, spying? (Score 1) 117

by blahplusplus (#46781667) Attached to: Steam's Most Popular Games

How you spend your time online, what you play, what websites you access. That information can be correlated and traced back to you. Say you move to another country, fire up steam. bam IP address, etc. Anytime you are tied to a website that you are communicating with you are leaving breadcrumbs from which who you are, how you spend your time and what kind of person you are can be reconstructed with math and theory.

Comment: Re:Big data, spying? (Score 1) 117

by blahplusplus (#46776555) Attached to: Steam's Most Popular Games

"The points is SO WHAT? Where's the Evil part?"

NSA and other government agencies taking advantage of security holes in steam or infiltrating valve to spy on you and collect data (aka conversations, etc, etc). Anything chained to online DRM naturally leaves you open to being spied on.

Not only that, should valve store sensitive data on their servers about you (studies/etc). This could be stolen by hackers. Online just opens a huge can of worms. You're not thinking about what being exposed to the online world really means. This is why DRM is such a pain in the ass.

Comment: Re:The Economist is British . . . (Score 0) 285

by blahplusplus (#46774483) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

. . . the last time I checked, the Economist was not a US publication. Does the BBC World News have a, "US centric perspective," too?


(from citigroup memo download below)


At the beginning of the first memo "Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances", the analysts introduce the subject:

Little of this note should tally with conventional thinking. Indeed, traditional thinking is likely to have issues with most of it. We will posit that:

1) the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest.

Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S. What are the common drivers of Plutonomy?

Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist- friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.

2) We project that the plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.

Citigroup explains how the "non-rich" consumers become increasingly irrelevant within the "plutonomies":

4) In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in
number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take.

There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie. Consensus analyses that do not tease out the profound impact of the plutonomy on spending power, debt loads, savings rates (and hence current account deficits), oil price impacts etc, i.e., focus on the “average”consumer are flawed from the start. It is easy to drown in a lake with an average depth of 4 feet, if one steps into its deeper extremes. Since consumption accounts for 65% of the world economy, and consumer staples and discretionary sectors for 19.8% of the MSCI AC World Index, understanding how the plutonomy impacts consumption is key for equity market participants.

The analysts of Citigroup then invent a new term - "The New Managerial Aristocracy":


Let’s dive into some of the details. As Figure 1 shows the top 1% of households in the U.S., (about 1 million households) accounted for about 20% of overall U.S. income in 2000, slightly smaller than the share of income of the bottom 60% of households put together. That’s about 1 million households compared with 60 million households, both with similar slices of the income pie!

Clearly, the analysis of the top 1% of U.S. households is paramount. The usual analysis of the “average” U.S. consumer is flawed from the start. To continue with the U.S., the top 1% of households also account for 33% of net worth, greater than the bottom 90% of households put together. It gets better(or worse, depending on your political stripe) - the top 1% of households account for 40% of financial net worth, more than the bottom 95% of households put together.

This is data for 2000, from the Survey of Consumer Finances (and adjusted by academic Edward Wolff). Since 2000 was the peak year in equities, and the top 1% of households have a lot more equities in their net worth than the rest of the population who tend to have more real estate, these data might exaggerate the U.S. plutonomy a wee bit.

Was the U.S. always a plutonomy - powered by the wealthy, who aggrandized larger chunks of the economy to themselves? Not really.

Citigroup also makes clear what the CEO's of the world need: More money.

Society and governments need to be amenable to disproportionately allow/encourage the few to retain that fatter profit share. The Managerial Aristocracy, like in the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the thriving nineties, needs to commandeer a vast chunk of that rising profit share, either through capital income, or simply paying itself a lot. We think that despite the post-bubble angst against celebrity CEOs, the trend of cost-cutting balance sheet-improving CEOs might just give way to risk-seeking CEOs, re-leveraging, going for growth and expecting disproportionate compensation for it. It sounds quite unlikely, but that’s why we think it is quite possible. Meanwhile Private Equity and LBO funds are filling the risk-seeking and re-leveraging void, expecting and realizing disproportionate remuneration for their skills.



Plutonomy, we suspect is elastic. Concentration of wealth and spending in the hands of a few, probably has its limits. What might cause the elastic to snap back? We can see a number of potential challenges to plutonomy.

The first, and probably most potent, is through a labor backlash. Outsourcing,
offshoring or insourcing of cheap labor is done to undercut current labor costs. Those being undercut are losers in the short term. While there is evidence that this is positive for the average worker (for example Ottaviano and Peri) it is also clear that high-cost substitutable labor loses.
Low-end developed market labor might not have much economic power, but it does have equal voting power with the rich. We see plenty of examples of the outsourcing or offshoring of labor being attacked as “unpatriotic” or plain unfair. This tends to lead to calls for protectionism to save the low-skilled domestic jobs being lost. This is a cause championed, generally, by left-wing politicians. At the other extreme, insourcing, or allowing mass immigration, which might price domestic workers out of jobs, leads to calls for anti-immigration policies, at worst championed by those on the far right.

To this end, the rise of the far right in a number of European countries, or calls (from the right) to slow down the accession of Turkey into the EU, and calls from the left to rebuild trade barriers and protect workers (the far left of Mr. Lafontaine, garnered 8.5% of the vote in the German election, fighting predominantly on this issue), are concerning signals. This is not something restricted to Europe. Sufficient numbers of politicians in other countries have championed slowing immigration or free trade (Ross Perot, Pauline Hanson etc.).


Then comes a key-part of the first "Plutonomy" memo: Plutonomy only works if the members of a society have the impression that they can still participate, despite the harsh inequalities, that they "can join it." The analysts use the term "robber-baron economies" and conclude that a "potential social backlash" is possible. Becoming a "Pluto-participant" is the "embodiement of the 'American Dream'" -and this dream should not die, otherwise the Plutocrats could be in real trouble.

A third threat comes from the potential social backlash. To use Rawls-ian analysis, the invisible hand stops working. Perhaps one reason that societies allow plutonomy, is because enough of the electorate believe they have a chance of becoming a Pluto-participant. Why kill it off, if you can join it? In a sense this is the embodiment of the “American dream”. But if voters feel they cannot participate, they are more likely to divide up the wealth pie, rather than aspire to being truly rich.

Could the plutonomies die because the dream is dead, because enough of society does not believe they can participate? The answer is of course yes. But we suspect this is a threat more clearly felt during recessions, and periods of falling wealth, than when average citizens feel that they are better off. There are signs around the world that society is unhappy with plutonomy - judging by how tight electoral races are.

But as yet, there seems little political fight being born out on this battleground.

A related threat comes from the backlash to “Robber-barron” economies. The population at large might still endorse the concept of plutonomy but feel they have lost out to unfair rules. In a sense, this backlash has been epitomized by the media coverage and actual prosecution of high-profile ex-CEOs who presided over financial misappropriation. This “backlash” seems to be something that comes with bull markets and their subsequent collapse. To this end, the cleaning up of business practice, by high-profile champions of fair play, might actually prolong plutonomy.

The second memo, titled "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer" deals mainly with the consequences for investments which follow the analysis in the first memo.

There are, in our opinion, two issues for equity investors to consider. Firstly, if we are right, that plutonomy is to blame for many of the apparent conundrums that exist around the world, such as negative savings, current account deficits, no consumer recession despite high oil prices or weak consumer sentiment, then so long as the rich continue to get richer, the likelihood of these conundrums resolving themselves through traditionally disruptive means (currency collapses, consumer recessions etc) looks low. The first consequence for equity investors who worry about these issues, is that the risk premia they ascribe to equities to reflect these conundrums/worries, may be too high.

Secondly, if the rich are to keep getting richer, as we think they will do, then this has ongoing positive implications for the businesses selling to the rich. We have called these businesses “Plutonomy stocks”. We see three reasons to take another look at those plutonomy stocks.

There's more but that's enough, I'm sure.

Comment: Re:No sense at all (Score 1) 857

"The rational in that post made no sense at all. Knowledge must be based on fact, "

Thats because YOU don't know the science... is your mind in a position to know what the facts are? Your post demonstrates your overwhelming illiteracy with regards to the brain sciences.

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 857

"Even if this conclusion is wrong, what do you think the proper method is to deal with the irrational nature of humans? Set up some sort of inner cabal of "great minds" to run the world (ignoring the fact they're just as human, therefore just as irrational, as anyone else)? Try to find some inhuman ("angelic") agent to run the world, and hope their goals remain humanly comprehensible? Or just give up and go back to the caves?"

Say me and you don't have time to figure out enough while we are alive, we can agree there is a reality out there that we need to know to survive yes? Our main problem as human beings as there is no consensus as to what 'reality' is, or who's judgement is functioning properly (aka people feel left out, hurt feelings, 'fairness',etc). Plato explored this problem, since it is in no way new.

So let us up the stakes, let's say there's a nuclear bomb and we know there is only a tiny number of educated people that can diffuse it. (This is why we have education after all). Now probably even the most (insert political label here) takes physics seriously provided they as an animal have a deep respect for science and evidence over their feelings. AKA survival and truth comes before politics, and politics has to change if it gets in the way of survival in this case. So when push comes to shove we want someone who is scientifically informed about the laws of nature, we don't want joe sixpack (aka chances of disarming the bomb go way up and that is a good thing).

Survival being something everyone can agree on and usually when someone tries to be a dumbass we get rid of him from our society/tribe, yes?

So we'd develop a system of reasoning related to long term survival, now in the ancient world... it would make sense anyone who disagree'd with it we'd get rid of (either by prison or killing depending on the situation). Since if you don't survive, there isn't really any room for debate now is there?

Now in our time, the "good" half of the elites in the corporate world and upper classes believe in the dictatorship of the best and brightest (aka the smart over the stupid). The downside is that there is not enough of them and there is no guarantee that they are mature (just look at the bailouts).

Bailout vid:

Basically it would come down to us developing techniques to ferret out our own lies and illusions, there must be a method that we just haven't discovered/come up with yet (consider you reading this right now, you know that you 100% exist in order to read this text, so we begin with the brute fact that we exist, and try to figure out the relationships that are connected to this one brute fact of existence which we can base our knowledge upon). Since even if our brain is flawed, there still must be stuff that works 100% or else we couldn't have survived. So the answer MUST be in our biology. Just what is the ruler the mind is using to measure the universe, at the foundation of mind there must be an absolute idea/concept from which to build a theory of truth regarding long term survival. (aka the door is open or closed, if we couldn't know, we couldn't decide and hence hurt ourselves).

Now the utlimate rule by which people stay or go is: People who have respect for truth, survival and the laws of nature and people who don't. Our problem comes with giving respect to people who just don't value these things. These people need to be mocked/shamed/whatever'd. We'd have to find some way to deal with them.

That's what this comes down to in the end, those of us who are adults and the rest of mankind who are teenagers/childish. Since a respect for what is true is respect for your own survival (aka the highest value, since it is the foundation of everything else we value).

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 857

What you're stating would be great in a RATIONAL non superstitious world, where peoples brains worked according to enlightenment ideals but they don't.

If we took most of the people who voted 'against' global warming in the general population, how high do you think their scientific literacy would be? Human brains aren't blackboards, once bad information gets inside a persons mind through media it's damn near impossible to get it out. Think of it in terms of entropy, the energy you need to transform that brain back into a state where it has what is reasonable is overwhelming, especially when you're considering millions of people and let's say they don't trust you because you are black or for some other stupid unconscious reason.

Most people are not in a position to understand themselves and their own thinking, that's what the science says, aka, the average person is not qualified to 'scientifically debate' things like climate change. Or would you disagree with that assessment?

If you doubt it, look at the science:

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 3, Insightful) 857

"Your post is self-defeating. First you claim no one is an authority on what he or she knows, then you claim to know something "

No it isn't self defeating, there are people who CAN reason through natural unconscious superiority, not that they are able to take credit for that. Because smart people are unable to justify why it is they know what they know because it simply takes too much time. i.e. our brains simply do not work like we think they do. Consider if I asked you how much a given representation of really boring bits of your everyday visual field cost in biological terms (how much does it cost to perceive a door, a car, etc). You would have no fucking answer, yet you are able to do it. So we are capable of knowing things and not being able to explain why we know them. The hard part is trying to explain to OTHER PEOPLE not because they are stupid but because they are unaware that they are flawed (aka it's a time vs resources vs what is that animals modus operandi problem). Human beings are locked in their brain circuitry, you search whats in your memory to make a judgement, the problem is you can't see the contents of your own memory. Most of the information you're using to make judgments is not available to your conscious awareness.

I'm interested in truth for no political reason, I just want to know how the universe works, but for others they see it as an attack on their religion, politics, etc.

The problem is to find truth you have to take the attitude to rip it apart all the time (how can this be wrong? etc?). The problem is you wouldn't be able to know if you were in a position to do this unless you already possessed that unconscious superiority. Now this doesn't mean it's impossible for you to learn, it just means you'd have to spend an inordinate amount of time with a fine tooth comb going over what it is you know to find the contradictions.

Most of this is really just a lack of time in one's life to ferret out one's own hidden false premises that are just beyond the edge of your conscious awareness.

And I know you've never done it, to really find what is true requires unreal dedication few people have and you have to do it not in an argumentative environment or mode of operation because you want to not deceive yourself. When you're trying to "win" you're not trying to understand. The natural world is an unfolding process and that is the approach you have to take.

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 857

You are just as scientifically illiterate as the prior poster. Your brain doesn't literally live in reality, and science has discovered that *people are not* good judges of what they know and what they don't know about themselves and reality. So that means everyone is affected. So a good thing to do at this point would be to try to destroy what you think it is you know by going and asking people who are experts in the topic and I know you and the prior poster have not thought about this.

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 857

"You're irrational."

Actually it's you who are irrational, because I KNOW you are scientifically illiterate about how your own brain works:

Your brain DOESN'T live in reality, it lives in it's own abstract representational space which has some bits of reality, but you are not in a good position to understand what you don't know and science says so! Of course that would require education you are lacking.

Comment: Re:Eh? (Score 1) 99

"It isn't real democracy when the government gets total control with only 30-some percent of the popular vote."

While democracy is rule by corporations, there are BETTER and WORSE corporate parties that have negative effects on everyone. It just means it's a lot of hard work to change the world.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.