Wednesday, November 30, 2005

OECD, housing, and intelligent cultures

OECD: Global growth is "exceptionally vigourous" (if at risk from oil prices, US assets, global trade, yadda yadda), but house prices in UK, Ireland and Spain are “significantly overvalued”. Keeping things stable seems to be the future, although...

"[The OECD] warned of the danger of a protracted period of large house price falls with implications for a slowdown in consumer spending."

Are there parallels here with the dot com boom? The amount of money naive hope going into the Internet pre-2001 sustained it for a while, but things turned around pretty quickly*. Over-valuing in the house prices could perhaps be compared to this, as it represents a sense of hope in the economy. Fortunately, there seems to be a bit more sense surrounding the issue, at least from an economic point of view.

If that's somewhat the case, is there something underlying this short, sharp "series" of "ready investment"? In other words, are we becoming more willing to invest in something, without really thinking through how it's *really* going to pan out? Related questions:

1. Are there other instances of such investment?

2. Where does this leave us in terms of "completeness of information" regarding any particular market? There's some level of assumption that markets operate on an emergent "intelligence", but can other factors change the level of this intelligence, or at least partially occlude it?

Maybe we just need to wait and see how the housing market here turns out. My predictions of a bust over the last few years are looking like jelly...

* Here's a chart of UCAS applicants, broken down by ethnicity, to Maths and Computing...

Chart showing UCAS applicants to maths and CS, 1996 to 2004

(Source: UCAS data run through a Perl script.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Botnets are Brill for UK industry

Gotta love spin... Botnets = Broadband! says govt minister.

By that logic, Sussex Uni should claim their annual instances of Meningitis are proof of their continuing ability to attract foreign investment.*

While I have to agree a little with the minister in question to some extent, I'd much rather question the amount of knowledge about firewalls and what having broadband means to you there is out there. Should we hand out sports cars to all the people that can't drive?

* Assuming, as we all do, that increased contact with foreign "bodies" increases the chance of infection by said unfamiliar items.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stumbling and Mumbling: A racist "European model"?

Posted this over at Stumbling and Mumbling: A racist "European model"? which argues that market-driven societies lead to less racism. Will come back to this argument once again when I have time - probably in a few years... :)

"Reminds me of a BBC Radio 4 programme. I agree with what some other posters (e.g. stu) have said - money itself has no bias, just as technology or atoms don't. But I don't believe that profit-seeking and cultural bias are inherently mutually exclusive. I would say that markets and technology (moreso the latter) have meant that transactions have become more "anonymous", so that the possibilities for bias are removed (e.g. on-line commerce, finance by proxy, etc), but that would merely hide any racism that continues to exists in non-market society, without actually addressing the issue. Do markets, as another example, lead to a redressing of the imbalance in sexism?

If you were to argue that racism is less apparent because we're more isolated, and because we're forced less to interact with people that we don't want to... that's an interesting avenue."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Photos from scribex

Finally started keeping a Flickr photo stream. Selected photos from the collection being uploaded gradually...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

How ATM fraud nearly brought down British banking

This tale of Phantom Withdrawals, and the insecurity of UK banks, is pretty scary.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senior economic adviser quits Treasury

Interesting FT take on Sir Nicholas Stern leaving the Treasury...

"His departure leaves the chancellor without a senior official or trusted adviser able to provide top-level independent economic advice. ...

"Mr Brown now has no economists as special advisers and his four-strong Council of Economic Advisers has only one member, Paul Gregg, with an economics background and he is the only part-time member.

"Officials say Sir Nicholas's spell at the Treasury had been marred by difficult relationships with Mr Brown."

More evidence of a government that, if it doesn't like what it hears, tells people to get out?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Social Books

LibraryThing is currently pickling my intrigue. Seems to be very well laid out and extremely easy to use.