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Comment Re:C API yet? (Score 1) 135

First off, its not a requisite that a VM add significant overhead to code. Its true that it can't have zero overhead, but its not true that it automatically causes a massive CPU performance hit and memory explosion. I'll point to one benchmark that at least indicates JVM performance can exceed C++ performance, . (To be clear, Android does not use a JVM, it uses its own VM).

Second, if you base your language choice for a mainstream, general purpose platform, solely on code efficiency, you're making a mistake. Speed is *not* all that matters. Portability and *programmer* efficiency are major factors to consider if you want a successful platform. In these dimensions the Java language and VM execution environments tend to be superior.

Third, for the vast majority of programs, its the code you write, regardless of language that makes the most difference. Languages create far fewer slow programs than poor programmers and designers.

None of this is to say that their aren't benefits to native code, and in the long run Android should provide a way to write native code for those tiny bits of the program that are doing heavy algorithmic work. What I do mean to say is that saying the best language for all your code is C[++] is incorrect (unless all you write is heavy algorithmic code, most applications have more than this).

Comment Re:Can somebody 'splain this? (Score 1) 361

I have always believed that the vast majority of today's financial instruments have been invented out of thin air for no reason other than to ultimately ensure the employment of bankers and brokers.

Bzzzzz! Wrong. Every financial instrument out there is there for one reason, and one reason only, someone was interested in buying it. The problems we are in today are not with the tools, the tools functioned exactly like they were supposed to. The problem is that everyone, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E was too busy or too lazy to read the manual for the tool. When I say "everyone" I mean the subprime borrowers who should have understood their mortgage agreement, I mean the loan originator who should have known the borrower couldn't conceivably repay, I mean the credit rating agency who didn't do their due diligence on their AAA-rated security, I mean the banker who bought the mortgage-backed security and blindly trusted the rating agency, I mean underwriters of CDSes who didn't do their due diligence in so many ways, I mean the legislators that told Fannie and Freddie to get more people to own houses no matter what, I mean the people who bought shares in financial companies who didn't realize the valuations were completely unsustainable.

A couple of examples in what I'm sure you would call "invented" financial instruments

The mortgage-backed security (MBS) that is blamed most often for this crisis did exactly as intended. This security is perfectly useful, someone said, hey, for the most part a mortgage is a bond, why don't we treat them like it. The problem is that an individual mortgage might not be repaid, but if you pool a bunch of similar mortgages together, you can get a pretty good idea of what percentage will fail. Now, you slice this pool up and sell the puddles. Now people who never could offer a mortgage before because they didn't have the money to lend for a whole house, or couldn't put all their eggs in one basket can essentially sell mortgages and be pretty confident about their risk and return. What went wrong is that the mortgage originators didn't assess the borrowers suitability properly, the rating agency that rated the MBS didn't check the originator's work, and the buyer of the security didn't bother to check the rating agencies work.

How about credit default swaps (CDS)? Paul borrows $1000 from you, and you're pretty sure that Paul will pay all of it back in a year, but you have to have at least $900 to pay for a new liver (you drunk!) in a year. Now, I say, hey, for $5 a month, I'll pay you the difference between the $1000 and what Paul pays you, just in case he doesn't pay you back. This is a great deal for you, because no matter what you get your new liver, and if Paul does pay you back, you get $940. Sound familiar, that's right, this is just insurance with a fancy name! I'm sure you'd agree that insurance wasn't just 'invented out of this air'. The problem was in this case that I didn't assess correctly that Paul was just developing a coke habit and would skip to the Caymans after two months. Now with home insurance, companies can assess the risk very well, because they have a lot of historical data and a big sample size. The risk of default on corporate debt is a lot more complex and has less historical data, and many writing the CDSes (yeah, I'm looking at you AIG) were way off in their assessments.

Bankers are a fun target because they're generally rich and got that way because they happen to like the soulless task of combing through countless spreadsheets and schmoozing clients until they're both too drunk to see, but there's plenty of blame to go around in this mess. The great thing about free market capitalism is that no one is forcing you to do anything. If you were a good little, risk averse, worker ant for the last 15 years you should be very happy right now. You should have plenty of cash and can get a house, a car, and a new wardrobe at a huge discount. You can sit back and buy that prick banker's Manhattan flat for 50% off and laugh harder when you sell it back to him for three times that in 8 years when he's got cash again. If, on the other hand, you are all pissed off because your option ARM just reset and now your Citigroup stock is worth 10% of what it was, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Comment Re:Communism at work. (Score 1) 176

"Man uses free market mechanisms to avoid losing three quarters of a million bucks, and Big Brother comes down on him."

Markets only work when all the players have access to all the information, otherwise the market prices things incorrectly. The problem is that we don't operate in a perfect market where all information becomes available to all agents at the same time. For example, companies have to put a lot of work in place before announcing a dilutive secondary offering. Therefore, some people with stock in the company will find out about this ahead of time and if they engage in transactions, its a market failure because the parties in the trade are operating on what can only be asymmetric information. If allowed, this results in all assets being sold for less than they are worth because purchasers would be irrational not to demand a risk discount since they can't trust that they know as much as other agents.

No market has perfect information flow, but we can, and should disallow the worst cases of information asymmetry.

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