Bittman Is Serious

Thanks to Ramesh Ponnuru we stumbled upon Mark Bittman’s piece, Why Not Utopia, in the NYT.  We are convinced that it is not satire but if it is it is brilliantly done.  Ponnuru picks his favorite sentence as

In the long run we know that we’ll make the transition from capitalism to some less destructive and hopefully more just system.

We will go with the classic Marx was right but Communism hasn’t been tried yet:

There was Karl Marx, whose analysis was largely correct but whose reputation was soiled by the alternatives developed in his name.

Our voting was very close so you will probably find a different winner.  Read it.  Not because you will ever get that ten minutes back but read it because this, it appears, is what enough people believe to have it show up in the NYT.  You can feel superior and be forewarned at the same time.  And it it turns out it was satire then we can all breath a little easier.

RIP, Jim

Duplicate bridge is a challenging game.  Very few players can be good and engaging at the same time.  We lost one of those rare individuals today.  Jim had a whole litany of medical problems that eventually killed him.  We last played six days ago.  He was one of the few people that could discuss his medical problems with some joy in his voice.  His positive attitude in the face of challenge is something that we could all emulate.

Subversive Movies

We saw the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on video recently and followed it up with the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the theatre today.  These are the most subversive movies we have seen in decades.  Business folk have rarely been portrayed as interesting but they are here. They are not interesting evil or interesting crazy but just interesting.  The success of the title hotel is in doubt in the first show.  Even better, the day is saved by somebody with bookkeeping and business skills.  The businesses seem real.  They make mistakes but often learn from them.  It is never in doubt that the two youngsters will end up together but the the business difficulties of the hotel (and related enterprises) and the oldsters at the hotel keep you guessing.

In the second version, our hero is looking to expand.  There are lots of different businesses involved from the hotel to the fabric business to motorcycle maintenance, tourist guiding, a night spot, and a speech on entrepreneurship.  The sequel keeps the subversive nature of the original by portraying businesses are interesting.

It is especially interesting that the films show capitalism in this manner in India.  Capitalism or “market tested betterment” if you like, has helped millions escape poverty in the past quarter century or so.  These are fun films with a great cast that do not pound home the point.  But you may realize after you get home that, “Hey, none (few?) of the business people in either movie were evil!”  Or, “There weren’t any business improbabilities where they can waste billions of dollars on crazy scheme.”  These are two movies that you can enjoy when you watch them and appreciate them even longer.

Proctor and Gamble Financial Statement Translation

Proctor and Gamble, according to its annual report, operates in 180 countries and territories.  The financial statement translation gain or loss is other comprehensive income is often a huge number.  Four times in the past eight years it has been half of net income.  Can the gain or loss be predicted in a simple manner?  Let’s start by comparing it to the change in the Euro.  Here is the data for the last eight years.  P&G fiscal year ends June 30.

Proctor And Gamble’s Data for Euro Change FS Translation Gain and Loss
Year Net Income Comp Income OCI FST E BOY E EOY Change
2007 10,340 11,808 2,419 1.28 1.34 0.06
2008 12,075 15,204 6,543 1.34 1.58 0.24
2009 13,436 6,332 (6,151) 1.58 1.40 (0.18)
2010 12,736 8,272 (4,194) 1.40 1.25 (0.15)
2011 11,797 17,565 6,493 1.25 1.45 0.20
2012 10,904 3,501 (5,990) 1.45 1.27 (0.18)
2013 11,402 13,142 710 1.27 1.31 0.04
2014 11,785 11,472 1,044 1.31 1.37 0.06
Correlation with Change
-0.11 -0.28 0.94 0.99 -0.77 0.75 1.00

So the change in one currency has an r of .99 and an r-squared of .987.  This is interesting because as of this morning the Euro was down 32 cents this P&G year which would, if the correlation continues, imply an enormous OCI hit.  Then the question becomes does this have an impact on stock prices?  P&G is down 9% in the last three months when most of the carnage to the Euro has happened.  This superficial analysis hardly gets to the level of suggests but it might be worth some serious work.

Juxtaposition

Consider this from the WSJ:

In that sense Mr. Obama’s Keystone XL veto is a microcosm of his overall economic record: bonuses for billionaires, scraps for middle-class workers.

The administration’s attack on economic growth is unabbated.

And yet this from George Will at NRO: Obama’s best idea (talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations) is the expansion of free trade with a variety of Trans-Pacific nations.  His problem is that the Democrats are against free trade and the Republicans don’t trust him.  Therefore, he has had difficulty getting the fast-track authority typically needed to negotiate these agreements.

It is strange on the same day we have the administration fighting a congressional attempt at bipartisan free trade and trying to create a bipartisan initiative for free trade.  Intellectual consistency is really not that important but why it is happening is not the critical question.  The critical question is should the Republicans join with a few Democrats to give the administration fast-track authority.  With the current administration the best attitude is mistrust and verify.  However, we can trust the other countries to pursue their interests.  That is the reason to support the administration.  We can’t trust them but we can trust the other countries so force the administration to make a deal or to fail.  Don’t give them an excuse.

More Hollywood Stereotypes

Doug Haugh discusses bad businessmen in kid flicks with Businessmen as Hollywood Bogeymen at WSJ.  He should think of it as training for consumers.  If you watch TV and movies you expect it.  Castle and Perception are two shows that specialize in bad businessmen.  Perhaps Perception was axed because you always knew the killer.  For example, in “Meat” you knew that the animal rights activists would be naughty but not killers.

NCIS may have killed half the Navy’s petty officers but one reason it is popular is that the Venn diagram of religion, skin color, and class won’t identify the culprit. Movies need surprises even more that TV shows.  It is easy to think of other villains, ask Kevin Williamson:

The bands of marauders did come, of course, and the biggest and orneriest and most cunning of them stayed until their longevity imbued their successors with an unearned glow of respectability. They call themselves “public servants” now, but the type is familiar enough: Every chimpanzee troupe has a boss, but only human beings have capitalism. Warren, Clinton, and the rest are lining up to be the new boss.