Benquo

Wiki Contributions

Comments

Bureaucracies create jobs. For mechanistic details see Parkinson's Law.

Thanks, the Hadza study looks interesting. I'd have to read carefully at length to have a strong opinion on it but it seems like a good way to estimate the long-run target. I agree 16,000 is probably too much to take chronically, I've been staying below the TUL of 10,000, and expect to reduce the dosage significantly now that it's been a few years and COVID case rates are waning.

This just seems like a much vaguer way to say the same thing I did. Is there a specific claim I made that you disagree with?

As far as I can tell, the function of this kind of vagueness is to avoid weakening the official narrative. Necessarily this also involves being unhelpful to anyone trying to make sense of state-published data, Fauci's public statements, and other official and unofficial propaganda. If we have an implied disagreement, it's about whether one ought to participate in a coverup to support the dominant regime, or try to inform people about how the system works.

This generalizes to actions.

Lots of people I know, including me, take way fewer actions than is optimal because we are trying to avoid making mistakes instead of trying to get what we want. (In some cases that's just a cover story and we're actually trying to avoid revealing our location or preferences, so that we're not a target.) But in lots of contexts if you just do things, instead of trying to supervise your intentions so you only do things you've preapproved, you can get lots more done that you want to do. 

If you're worried that this is risky, you can think about what's likely to go wrong and how important that is in the specific context where you're considering to just do stuff, and plan ahead to mitigate the risks worth mitigating.

I'm gonna treat this as a serious question, since most of the value of engagement comes from that scenario, and ignore the vibe of "why are you so negative?".

The gains from reason, discourse, and trade are so huge that they can produce positive returns for many people even in the presence of adversarial action. If you don't see this, some suggested reading at a few levels:

Human animals want to live, it takes a lot of optimization to pervert that even imperfectly, and that perversion reduces the capacities of the thing being perverted, which limits the damage.

So there's a lot of perverse activity - which really is bad - but the good news is that if we were previously misattributing production to perverse activity, that means that the value per unit of nonperverse activity is much higher than we thought. Plus there are lots of people who are oppressed, and they have to be relatively nonperverse to survive since they don't get taken care of for being bad.

I'd expect trying-to-live behavior to be trying to cooperate with other instances of itself, sharing and investigating what seems like relevant info. In the ideal case info being shared would be strong evidence of its relevance and importance, and info not being shared would be evidence of its unimportance.

"Intellectually incurious and un-agent-y" about info strongly relevant to mortality risk isn't consistent with a rational-agent model of someone trying to live, and I don't see what "trying to" could mean without at least implicit reference to a rational-agent model.

I don't conclude that people are trying to hurt themselves to signal loyalty simply from the fact that they don't seem to be trying very hard to survive. I conclude that from the relative popularity of injunctions to impose or endure harms for the collective good, vs info that doesn't involve sacrifice. Many famous religious and philosophical writers have praised sacrifice for its own sake, which is strong evidence that some strong coordination mechanism is promoting such messages. Given that, it would be surprising - and require an explanation - if I didn't know people who participated in that coordination mechanism.

But again you don't have to go outside of mainstream microeconomics to find explanations for this. Liquidity premium is one (relatively mundane) explanation, and I suspect principle-agent problem again applies here, perhaps because it's easier (less costly) for a shareholder to monitor one big company for misalignment, and for the company to institute governance measures to try to ensure alignment, than the equivalent for n smaller companies.

I would expect a liquidity premium to exist but I'd expect it to be much smaller than the size of opportunity I'm seeing - why do you expect to see one so large?

I don't think the principal-agent problem explains anything here because large publicly traded corporations frequently have governance, financial structures, and operations that aren't intelligible at all to casual investors. For example, I've taken courses in finance, accounting, and economics, and worked in financial services, and I have no idea how to evaluate Markopolos's criticisms of GE, & compare this with their financial statements, because the latter are so vague. (Do you?) Nor was there a trusted intermediary whose evaluation methods I understood. (Can you recommend one?) In practice when I did own stocks I was relying on correlation with other investors - the government would try not to let us all fail at once - rather than any ability to meaningfully exercise oversight over centralized management.

The parenthetical questions are meant seriously, they're not just rhetorical flourishes.

A standard principle-agent problem in corporate governance is managers who prefer to hoard cash instead of returning profits to investors, with the investors not trusting the managers to use that cash in their interests (instead of the managers' own interests) in the future. (That's probably why the shares of such a company are trading at such a low multiple to its earnings that you can afford to buy them by issuing debt.) Leveraged buyout can be viewed as a solution to this problem.

I understand this argument, it would be a perfectly logical reason for some leveraged buyouts to happen in some circumstances, but in practice many leveraged buyouts are a way to offload risk onto counterparties with less legible high-trust relationships with management, such as employees - e.g. in the airline bankruptcies - or consumers, who can't use brand quality as much as they used to be able to because corporate decisions are made based on short-term numbers, and turnover means that the cost of eroded brand loyalty will be correlated across many companies and distributed across many people, and since the state won't let large corporations in general fail all at once, we end up with bailouts. I recommended a book on the subject because I really can't cover everything in the blog post, it's long enough already and this sort of thing is very well documented elsewhere.

If you were an owner or investor of a bank, should you really prefer that lending decisions be based on the subjective judgement of loan officers? What if they decide to base their decisions in part on what maximizes their values instead of yours? E.g., demand kickbacks, make loans to their friends or allies, bias their decisions with political ideology, or just slack off when they're supposed to be interviewing the farmer's friends and neighbors.

I'd rather people investing on my behalf use objective profit-maximizing criteria, ideally with skin in the game, and that's why it's surprising that access to capital depends so much on the kinds of subjective factors you mention (checking whether someone has already been extended credit, whether they're vibing the right way with VCs or bankers, whether they look like a normal borrower, and in the case I described, whether they took a class prescribed by the credit union) relative to economic considerations.

I have a close friend who was had a business bank account closed for avowedly discretionary reasons after a conversation with a banker where as far as I can tell the banker got spooked because he seemed like he had specific, creative plans that didn't look normal. (Nothing illegal was discussed; they were thinking about something that might have attracted regulatory scrutiny, but they'd have been happy to negotiate or just look for a different counterparty for those transactions.)

An important case study here is Abacus Bank, the only bank to be prosecuted in relation to the 2008 financial crisis, as far as I can tell simply because they're culturally decorrelated from other banks (small, ethnically Chinese, privately held). The prosecution didn't work out, because Abacus hadn't done any crimes.

If a physicist were to spend two hours trying to explain to me how they knew that the earth was flat, I'd expect to come away from that conversation with a better understanding of the physical world or the social construction of physics knowledge, which would better help me navigate my life, even if I ended up wronger on the bottom-line answer - because that's how epistemically persuasive explanations work, they have to show an ability to win bets either more often or with less computational cost than alternative hypotheses.

Load More