Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quotable Quotes.


The intellectual employee may deny what he or she objectively is -- a salaried thinker -- but cannot escape being one, except by virtue of unemployment. (Tom Walker, aka Sandwichman, Feb. 17, 2017)
Perhaps readers can relate to this. Sometimes, often by accident, I find a quote remarkable for whatever reason. It may be because it's witty, or because it offers insight on a subject in a succinct way, but it could be for many other reasons. But it makes my mind jump from one idea to another.

I reproduce that quote exactly as its author, the irrepressible Sandwichman (aka Tom Walker), wrote it (violating in the process my own style conventions): the italics, are his italics. I didn't even add quotation marks.

It's a highly quotable quote, I think. It's witty, it's brief. It also, in fact, offers insight on more subjects than Sandwichman's intended target: fake news.

Note, as well, the use of the word "objectively" (which unfortunately, the author did not italicise).

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Journalists work with information, which may influence public opinion. Their relevance in our times of fake news is evident.

Economists are also salaried thinkers, just like journalists. They, too, may influence a public. And the services at least some economists provide their clients must be extremely valuable:
"Some of the professors earn more than top partners at major law firms. Dennis Carlton, a self-effacing economist at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and one of Compass Lexecon's experts on the AT&T-Time Warner merger, charges at least $1,350 an hour. In his career, he has made about $100 million, including equity stakes and non-compete payments, ProPublica estimates."
Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, authors of that quote, could learn from the Sandwichman: their quote is neither brief nor nearly as witty. Still, their report ("These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers", ProPublica, Nov. 16, 2016) is akin to the subject the Sandwichman broached.

You see, Compass Lexecon is one of a handful of select economic consultancies. One of their specialities is expert witness testimony in trials involving large corporations, frequently on behalf of the corporations. Judges are their public. This goes some way into explaining the first sentence's relevance in the quote above, yes?

Mind you, as a professional consultancy, Compass Lexecon sometimes works for government regulatory bodies. In fact, at least once they worked simultaneously for both, corporations and government, in the same trial:
"In 2012, the federal government and a group of states sued Apple for conspiring with several major publishers to fix prices on e-books.
"The states hired American University's Jonathan Baker, the Compass economist, as one of its experts …
"Apple later hired [Jonathan] Orszag, also of Compass, to do the same calculation."
Eisinger and Elliott:
"Compass economists can reach very different answers to the same question, depending on who is paying them."
Not bad, as quotes go; but there's still some way to go.

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University of Chicago law and economics professor and judge Richard Posner (yes, the Chicagoan who converted to Keynesianism in the road to Damascus in 2009, but remained unimpressed by Paul Davidson or the pokeys) founded Compass Lexecon (as Lexecon) in 1977.

Posner is a big name in law and economics, which explains the foundation of Lex-econ (get it?). When Posner became a judge, in 1981, the outmoded notion of conflict of interests still held sway, so he left Lexecon. He may have regretted that: Lexecon became very valuable.

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Although they need to work on their style, Eisinger and Elliott did an excellent job. Go there and read it.

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Years ago Natalia, too, was making a killing. You may object she wasn't as academically qualified. Well, maybe. But I'm sure she was way prettier than those dorks and didn't go around making shoddy predictions.

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Noah Smith's career advice: learn statistics to make big bucks! Give me a break.

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