Monday, June 19, 2023

Monday Links

  • In 1985 Alan Greenspan was an expert called on to provide opposition to Gray, who was pushing for stricter regulation of S&L’s.  Greenspan was paid by Keating, of the notorious Lincoln Savings, to conduct studies “proving that faster growth and greater direct investments produced higher profits and healthier S&L’s.”  Gray, who was initially appointed as a staunch Reagan ally, moved to clamp down on the basis of tangible evidence such as the 1984 I-30 footage.  Gray had shown I-30 land flip video to Paul Volcker who, according to Black, was “horrified,” which is a decent contemporaneous corroboration that Greenspan’s judgement was intellectually dishonest and corrupt. Greenspan defended his actions in 1989.  His evasion of responsibility through diffusing the blame reveals how the ecosystem was enlisted in support of control fraud. Greenspan’s opinion was for sale, along with lawyers, accountants, and politicians who could all plausibly deny responsibility by pointing fingers. [Cheap Thrill Stocks]
  • Bluffing is not desirable in a business partnership.  This encapsulates a key disconnect when investing in capital intensive commodity businesses.  The current commodity boom aside, shale companies spent the better part of the last decade publishing investor presentations claiming alluring IRRs on their wells in order to attract both debt and equity capital, without which they would not have a business.  Yet they never produced free cash flow and many became financially distressed.  This dynamic makes it difficult to know what cards the company is actually holding, which short circuits attempts to accurately quantify the reward and obscures risks.  Capital intensive businesses are structurally in the position of bluffing because offering a compelling return is how capital is attracted, which is self defeating at best in a commodity business.  This is the truth behind the joke that a gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar next to it. [Cheap Thrill Stocks]
  • The book is massively researched, with source notes taking up nearly 40% of it, and it brims over with particular instances and individuals to support its claims. Yet despite the immense amount of detail it is eminently readable, often delightful, and its overall thesis is clear: the American Midwest during its prime was the most democratically advanced place in the world, with a civic culture that prized education, literature, libraries, and the arts, and sought to distribute an awareness and appreciation of them as widely as possible. It developed a “common democratic culture” in which “Christianity, republican law and order, market culture, civic obligation, and a midwestern-modified gentility of manner largely prevailed.” [Claremont Review of Books]
  • It is clear that industry tools are failing to reliably forecast long-term oil production from shale reservoirs. As the authors of the WSJ pointed out, these original projections were used to entice investors to pour billions of dollars into shale developments. Let's not also forget that these same, questionable, projections were also used to convince the US Congress to lift the longstanding, strategic oil export ban. [Scott Lapierre]
  • As someone with a modicum of metallurgical knowledge I was still surprised at the criticality of the lack of nickel for the German war machine. I hadn’t come across that before and the author’s explanation of the implications of essentially the German nation having no nickel in any of its components are stark. There’s probably an interesting story somewhere about how they obtained what nickel they had, mainly from Finland.  High performance engines operate in and produce inside themselves demanding environments for steel, and nickel is crucial in making steel less reactive -and this lack of nickel leads, as the author makes clear, to a direct consequence of lower performance engines. Their aircraft had less performance because of a lack of nickel – a mundane alloy component in today’s world. Imagine being the Daimler Benz house metallurgist and being told to come up with a nickel steel alloy, but not use any nickel.  At a crucial part of the war (1942) the conflicting demands on metallurgical resources means that key alloys were being taken away from aircraft production for use in flak guns. [Standing Well Back]
  • This should never have happened. The Presidential Records Act allows the president to decide what records to return and what records to keep at the end of his presidency. And the National Archives and Records Administration can’t do anything about it. I know because I’m the lawyer who lost the “Clinton sock drawer” case. [WSJ]
  • Because the dialectic has been allowed to progress significantly here in the Western world, we’re now encountering overt efforts to “collapse” our families, our children’s mental health, our livelihoods, and many or most of our basic, tried and true assumptions, institutions, and customs. Based on this track record, it’s reasonable to assume that Leftism, allowed to progress further, would seek to destroy the Ultimate Normal Thing. One likely candidate for the role of Ultimate Normal Thing is our innate survival instinct — our desire to not die. The will to be alive is incompatible with Leftism and is a logical target of the dialectic. It is perhaps our most powerful conscious or unconscious drive (love gets an honorable mention here too). Through a Leftist lens, we are utterly subjugated by our unexamined, plebeian desire to exist. Since we haven’t deconstructed our will to live (and perhaps synthesized it with some sort of “enlightened” suicidality), we haven’t been “liberated” from it, in the Marxist sense. [Normal Grounds]
  • Steve’s autism truly is a sight to behold, but I’ve had similar thoughts. Everyone has a much easier time naming the differences between 1923 and 2023 compared to the differences between 1823 and 1923, for example. But also my appreciation of the past grows the older I get. When I was 11, for example, the American Revolution was 20 “lifetimes” ago for me. Now it’s less than seven lifetimes ago. Or three of my dad’s lifetimes. And if my dad’s dad were still alive, it would be less than two of his lifetimes. The eighteenth century seems closer to me now despite three more decades having elapsed. [Sailer]
  • The villa where the case is held is at La Turbie, above Monte Carlo, and the subsequent attack on the car and chase are in the beautiful seafront village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, between Nice and Monaco. The picturesque village, with its maze of narrow streets has been seen in many films, including Bond movie Never Say Never Again. [Ronin]
  • A trip to French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) was on our bucket list ever since we made a 24-hour long stopover in Nice on our way to New York a couple of years ago. We immediately fell in love with the local vibe and wanted to return to do something active and explore more. Cycling from Nice to Monaco seemed like a perfect challenge for that. So, one Wednesday afternoon in early April we packed our mountain bikes, hopped in a car in Munich and with an overnight stop in Milan were enjoying the Mediterranean sun by midday the next day. [The Athlete Blog]
  • Energy Income Partners managed funds and accounts are long-term owners of Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. units, aggregating approximately 3% of its outstanding units making EIP the fourth largest unitholder. EIP intends to vote against the proposed combination of Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. and ONEOK, Inc. because we believe the taxes paid by our funds and investors will exceed the premium offered by ONEOK and any potential benefits from the merger.  Moreover, we want to see Magellan remain as a stand-alone entity whose returns on invested capital are far superior to ONEOK. As a high yielding partnership, the tax cost basis of a unitholder's units can decline rapidly over time as dividends are treated for tax purposes as a return of capital. The longer the units are held, the more the tax basis declines and the higher the deferred tax liability. Most of this tax is due only when the units are sold, and this proposed transaction is a sale for tax purposes and prevents unitholders from further deferring that tax liability. [Energy Income Partners
  • The garage below is also much less offensive than those shown earlier. It's distinguished from the house by its color, texture, size, and recessed location to such a degree that it's fair to call it quasi-detached. Note also that it's serviced by pea gravel rather than pavement. Nevertheless, it would be better still if it were separated from the house entirely. Unfortunately attached garages never come alone, for as the saying says, "one sin leads to another." They bring with them driveways typically made from a concrete slab with prominent control joints. To restrict myself to mild language, I'll only say that these concrete slab driveways are not a pleasant landscaping feature. [J. Sanilac]
  • After reading Rhodes' atomic bomb history, we were inspired to read the autobiography of one of the physicists involved, Luis Alvarez. While he would be eligible to get affirmative action bennies today, don't let the name confuse you, his grandfather was born in Asturias, northwest Spain and came to America by way of Havana. Luis is a good example of what I call "Wikipedia page heredity": he, his grandfather, father, and son each have Wikipedia pages. (His son, a geologist, discovered the iridum-enriched clay layer at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary and developed the hypothesis that the extinction event was caused by an asteroid impact - now known to be the Chicxulub crater off the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.) [CBS]

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