Punching a bear in the nose

The BBC has an excellent and balanced analysis of the Russia-Georgia conflict to date, raising many of the issues inherent in the situation. Here’s one worth some reflection, especially if you want to put odds on the next trouble spot: 8. Are borders in Europe to be sacrosanct for ever? It has been one ofcontinue reading

RX: Ikea

I’ve avoided posting anything from the Globe Facts and Arguments page until now, I think, but yesterday’s essay is just too dreary and sad to ignore. The author is a Globe copy editor who has taken a dream job — which, amazingly, given the generally subpar morale of the Globe newsroom, appears to be hercontinue reading

Chinese ingenuity, the new Soviet incompetence?

From the GMO quarterly newsletter, a dissenting voice on the Chinese miracle: No sooner do we finish wallowing in the idea of Soviet incompetence than we start to believe that Chinese central planners can wonderfully manage a complicated economy, growing unprecedentedly fast and transforming overnight from a rural society to a capital-intensive wonder using halfcontinue reading

We made the cut!

Often Canadians like making it onto lists — best quality of life, most expensive cities, kindest and gentlest societies, that kind of thing. But then there are lists Canada is on but would prefer to be left off, like the Al-Qaeda target lists, or this one — super-bear economist Nouriel Roubini’s list of countries likelycontinue reading

Doomed to repeat it, slowly and ponderously

I’ve just finished a very funny book on how Wall Street works, published in 1940 and written by someone who worked in the markets through the crash of 1929. Where Are The Customers’ Yachts was reissued as a paperback a few years ago, and almost every page is relevant to today — perhaps even morecontinue reading

Bottle up and explode

As one among the 29% of Canadians who, really, couldn’t care less about the increase in prices at the pump, I read the Canwest story “Pent-up anger unites nation” feeling like I imagine separatists do when Canadian nationalists bemoan the possibly imminent departure of Quebec: According to a new poll by Ipsos Reid, carried outcontinue reading

The trouble with eyewitness accounts

..neatly summarized in one paragraph of the Star’s story on the shootings in the Annex: Marc Biginelli, 21, watched events unfold from Bloor St. He said a tall young black man wearing a black T-shirt and baggy jeans came at the group from behind, gun in hand, and that he was “very tense, very aggressive.”continue reading

The scourge of sunlight

I’m with Barry Hertz of the National Post — time for Toronto to calm the fuck down when it comes to heat alerts. He tracked the panic , visiting several cooling centres yesterday — as he puts it, “one of those perfect summer days we could only dream of last winter.” Some highlights of hiscontinue reading

V for Volatility

Last summer I drew your attention to the CBOE Volatility (VIX) index, which at the time was, like the Baltic Dry Index, a relatively low-profile stock market metric that had started to look very odd. (My own familiarity with the VIX index is the legacy of two years of early morning meetings with a acontinue reading

The blame game gets more interesting

Come October, the Toronto Real Estate Board will have a new bogeyman to blame for sliding sales: the federal government. The government is reining in mortgages, at least the insured ones it guarantees, scrapping the 40-year amortization period in favour of a maximum of 35 years, requiring a minimum credit score and downpayment and imposingcontinue reading