The economy may be drifting into recession, but at least one profession is experiencing an unparalleled boom: political consulting! If you have even the slightest expertise in politics, or economics, or polling, or direct mail or Internet marketing, this is your time in the sun. No more Ramen noodles and Pabst Blue Ribbon for you. Nope, from now on it’s Sonoma Cutrer and Maine lobster!
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Remember Capt. Renault’s famous line in “Casablanca?” “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Given the hand-wringing about the stunning revelation that motorcycle cops have ticket-writing quotas, triggered by the revelation that a couple of low writers (bad pun intended) had been faking it, you’d think that Colorado Springs residents are as naïve as kindergartners.
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Earlier this month, the Associated Press distributed a story about the last breeding pair of Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles. “She’s around 80 years old. He’s 100. Breathless scientists watched as the world’s most endangered turtles successfully mated. But the attempt to breed the species’ last known female with the last known male in China has failed because the eggs didn’t hatch .... The elderly pair can try again next year, part of a delicate attempt to keep the species alive.”
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In the antediluvian days when socialists and communists still roamed the earth, they engaged each other in powerfully irrelevant debates about economic policy. Communists opposed all private enterprise, while socialists were less doctrinaire, believing that government need only control the “commanding heights” of the economy.
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There’s a wonderful, if likely apocryphal, anecdote describing Winston Churchill’s reaction to the post-World War II takeover of Yugoslavia by Marshall Tito’s communist “partizans.” As the story goes, a young intelligence officer burst into Churchill’s office to inform him, in agitated tones, that Yugoslavia was about to fall into communist hands.
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<em>“I view derivatives as time bombs, both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system.” Warren Buffett, letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, 2004.</em> During 1997, Blythe Masters, a 34-year-old British-born Cambridge graduate, whose degree is in mathematics, conceived and created a new financial product at J.P. Morgan in New York. It was designed to separate the default risk on loans from the loans themselves.
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