Friday, September 22, 2017

Graham-Cassidy

Amazing: Just saw this in GC text.

"Section 101: Any individual who was overpaid in premium tax credits would have to repay the entire excess amount, regardless of income".

They will make people pay back if they received this "excess" amount, that'll piss them off to no end. 

On preexisting conditions: 

"States would be able to use payments allocated from the program for one or more of the following allowed activities: To establish or maintain a program or mechanism to help high-risk individuals"

The bill basically says it gives states bunch of money, they can use it to help people with preexisting conditions, GC does not make them to do so. So if a state decides not to care about preexisting conditions, it is GONE. 

I bet whole lota Rep states will not do that, states with lota Trump voters. Sup?

Meanwhile, the gears are turning..

"Not so long ago, moderate Democrats avoided single payer at all costs. Now, to use the parlance of the left, it has been "normalized." The bill, introduced last week, already has been cast as a litmus test for Democrats eyeing a White House run. And well before 2020, Democratic candidates will face pressure from the liberal flank to get behind the bill in exchange for support in the 2018 midterms."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Q&A - 21/9

Question

Did the Euro have a hand in Greece's demise?

Yes

Once in Euro, debtors figured now Greeks cannot devalue (pay back the debt in depreciated Euros, since they do not own the printing press now) and since their risk would still be considered "less safe" on paper, they'd have to offer better rates. Win-win in their minds. Naturally the Greek gov had huge influx of cash through its bonds that helped it pay for public services.

Question

Was Euro an export advantage for economically stronger countries, e.g. Netherlands, Germany?

Yes

A currency's strength reflects the confidence in that country, but after Euro, stronger countries were in the same pool with medium-strength countries, Euro's price reflected that, it became cheaper for Netherlands, Germany. Cheap currency = huge export advantage. Reverse was true for Greece, Euro become an export disadvantage for them.

Question

Then Greece should not have entered the Euro?

Not before they were ready

Huge influx of cash into government bonds covered up a lot of their weaknesses, such as an inability to collect taxes. Why try to collect taxes when money is raining down on you? But at the end of the day, bad governance is bad governance. It'd all blow up at some point.

Question

How do ppl make money from government bonds? The returns are meager.

Leverage

10-1 leverage turns 3% into 30%. Futures contracts, which can be based on bonds,  have implicit leverage (but they are traded on open exchanges -which Dodd-Frank prefers-, they are cleared daily, so they are safe). Banks failed pre-2008 because they took huge leverage (not on open exchanges) trying to make money in low rate environment, creating excessive risk.

Yoshua Bengio (an AI expert)

"AI is a technology that naturally lends itself to a winner take all," Bengio said. "The country and company that dominates the technology will gain more power with time. More data and a larger customer base gives you an advantage that is hard to dislodge. Scientists want to go to the best places. The company with the best research labs will attract the best talent. It becomes a concentration of wealth and power."

Hmmm

Now this is something you can take little more seriously than all that Skynet bullshit.

But he is also wrong. To understand why, you need to have the view of an outside AI practitioner - not of the insider-academic, someone.. well like me. The techniques, the tools bleed out, no, gush out of these companies like nothing else you've ever seen. In fact they (especially Google) make sure they share the techniques because they want developer mindshare, they want ppl who will use their tools, ergo their cloud services, etc., they want to prove they are "da shit" in AI, so they can entice more researchers toward themselves. Awesome, for me. Can they get all great researchers? All developers? No.

That leaves the so-called "data advantage". Data can make a difference, better data = better models [geek] especially for non-linear models as all the good ones are [/geek] But there are too many hands involved to make anything good or neferious happen, plus these companies follow the law (much better than the government it turned out after the NSA revelations) ensuring things cannot go awry. People talk shit about Facebook, but we know for fact that their rules against any violation is draconian. You use FB databases to check out that ex-girlfriend, or do any other weirdo shit, your ass is grass. That same day.

So I see about zero signs,for any bad smells in tech today. There's bunch of bunk, it's probably "old media" trying to create an illlusion of SV because their scared senseless abt losing their media share.

Question

Did EU, its intelligence services engineer "a coup" to oust the previous President Yanukovych in Ukraine?

No

That was US + CIA (pretty sure WH did not have a clue). Why did they do it? What interest did US have in Ukraine? None. They did it simply to f--k with Putin's mind, then they watched him run around like a scared little bitch. Crimea was annexed, but, RU soldiers were already there.. They were inside the barracks, they just stepped outside the barracks. No major change. It was fun, I bet ppl at CIA had bunch of gas, but other events took place after that, civilians died, do the instigators care about that? No.

Plus US managed to insert a bigger wedge between RU / EU, good strategy for them bcz US does not want EU / RU raproachement.

Obviously RU state is a  sad sack of kleptocrats that needs to democratise, ASAP. That is a whole seperate issue.

Question

How much effect did Russia have on US elections through FB fake-news, hacking?

None

They surely tried, but their effect? Nada. Most of the hoopla is purported by media 1) to hit Trump 2) to hit new media. I do like seeing Trump cringe of course he would not give an inch "to our side" on climate, but it is what it is.

Systemic Risk Council

The Council believes that it is not possible to develop a single simple regulatory metric that would pass the test of time and withstand regulatory arbitrage. For that reason, it opposes exempting large and complex firms from other prudential regulations if they exceed a specified leverage ratio. [..]

The Council worries that the UST Report proposal excluding certain types of assets from total assets in the SLR would prove to be the thin end of a very thick wedge.

Interesting

They are not happy. Any comment around leverage rings alarm bells in my head. Post-2008 the understanding is banks are not there to make money. They are there not to f--k shit up.

Alec Ross

[From The Industries of the Future] As robotics starts to spread, the degree to which countries can succeed in the robot era will depend in part on culture—on how readily people accept robots into their lives. Western and Eastern cultures are highly differentiated in how they view robots. Not only does Japan have an economic need and the technological know-how for robots, but it also has a cultural predisposition. The ancient Shinto religion, practiced by 80 percent of Japanese, includes a belief in animism, which holds that both objects and human beings have spirits. As a result, Japanese culture tends to be more accepting of robot companions as actual companions than is Western culture, which views robots as soulless machines. In a culture where the inanimate can be considered to be just as alive as the animate, robots can be seen as members of society rather than as mere tools or as threats.

In contrast, fears of robotics are deeply seated in Western culture. The threat of humanity creating things we cannot control pervades Western literature, leaving a long history of cautionary tales. Prometheus was condemned to an eternity of punishment for giving fire to humans. When Icarus flew too high, the sun melted his ingenious waxed wings and he fell to his death. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein’s grotesque creation wreaks havoc and ultimately leads to its creator’s death—and numerous B-movie remakes.

This fear does not pervade Eastern culture to the same extent. The cultural dynamic in Japan is representative of the culture through much of East Asia, enabling the Asian robotics industry to speed ahead, unencumbered by cultural baggage. Investment in robots reflects a cultural comfort with robots, and, in China, departments of automation are well represented and well respected in the academy. There are more than 100 automation departments in Chinese universities, compared with approximately 76 in the United States despite the larger total number of universities in the United States.

In South Korea, teaching robots are seen in a positive light; in Europe, they are viewed negatively. As with eldercare, in Europe robots are seen as machines, whereas in Asia they are viewed as potential companions. In the United States, the question is largely avoided because of an immigration system that facilitates the entry of new, low-cost labor that often ends up in fields that might otherwise turn to service robots. In the other parts of the world, attitudes often split the difference. A recent study in the Middle East showed that people would be open to a humanoid household-cleaning robot but not to robots that perform more intimate and influential roles such as teaching. The combination of cultural, demographic, and technological factors means that we will get our first glimpse of a world full of robots in East Asia.

Right

While judging the issues around tech, one must make sure to filter out all cultural "noise". Cultures are full of abject stupidity. Do not rely on someone else's culture either (ah so exotic!) chances are the other guy's culture is worse. In this case "the East" does little better, but that is simply luck. Think analytically, not culturally.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#weird

Maria: Target Maga-Lago