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24 января, 19:45

Beware Of Alternatives Facts

There's been a lot of talk in the much-maligned media about truthiness, alternative truths, and warring narratives. It won't do simply to insist that the assertion of "alternative truths" is simply a fancy name for "falsehoods". It's a bit more complicated. The maddening thing is that people can summon lots of little truths in the service of a great lie. For example, you can claim that people cheat when it comes to entitlements and, because some do cheat, use that claim to discredit all social welfare legislation as part of a movement of creeping Socialism. They can even feel smug about it because, after all, helping people is bad for their character. Then there are climate change skeptics who have taken the errors in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to discredit -- wholesale -- the notion that human beings are involved in harming the planet. Yes, there are facts -- but facts don't stand alone. They have to be organized into some kind of narrative. The fact is that we can say true things falsely. We intuitively know this when we hear a politician, a preacher, an ideologue. All the words are true and yet we smell a rat. All the "facts" appear straightforward but there's something that doesn't quite gel. Strangely the opposite can be true - we hear a politician speak and we're deeply moved. The words don't come out right but the pitch and the tone touch something deep within us. "This guy is speaking from the heart and reaching mine. I don't care if his words are out of whack, his message is reaching me where it matters. I'm angry and hurting and now I know why." So truth-telling involves two skills: the marshaling of facts and putting them together in the form of a story. We often call it "connecting the dots." And the dots can be connected to form very different pictures of the truth. The early Church had a similar problem. One theologian complained that it was as if the orthodox had gathered all the colored stones to make a true likeness (a mosaic) of the head of Christ. Then the heretics came along, took all the same stones and made the head of a fox. History teaches us that human beings are masters at telling stories using the "facts" to suit their purpose. History is, in part, the story of the fight for power. which often involved denying others their humanity. Women, slaves, children weren't considered fully human, neither were indigenous peoples. This lack of full humanity was considered an obvious "fact." Think of "The Declaration of the Rights of Toiling and Exploited People" promulgated in January 1918 by Lenin, the master manipulator of facts. The text identified "former people" - they were not quite human. Since they were "former people" they could be disposed of, slaughtered. They were people of the old regime and, therefore, were deficient in humanity and this lack became an excuse for terror. Lenin and his followers believed that some human groups had to be destroyed in order to realize the potential of humanity. Many found themselves bearing the stigma of being a former person! Imagine being looked at as someone who represented a humanity that had had its day! In recent history, the fact that one presidential candidate called some people "deplorables" gave the other candidate a chance to be their champion - someone who could set the story straight and win their hearts. We all have our own peculiar ignorances and blindnesses. There were those who admired Hitler and Mussolini in the 1930s. Mussolini was spoken well of by Will Rogers, Thomas Edison and Andrew Mellon. "If ever this country needed a Mussolini, it needs one now," said a senator for Pennsylvania. Walter Lippmann thought we needed a mild dictatorship in 1933 and told FDR so. What's interesting is not so much what people believe as to the way their beliefs function in the psyche as if they were objective "facts". The Civil War and the abolitionist movement were a seething mess of "beliefs/facts". On the one side was the romantic acceptance of the bloody violence of a John Brown whose soul, no doubt, goes marching on. Many saw the war on slavery as a cosmic event, connected with the Second Coming. Louisiana preacher Benjamin Morgan Palmer saw the abolitionists' "hate" as a world-rending event, a continuation of the rage against authority loosed on the world by the French Revolution. Palmer wrote: "In this great struggle, we defend the cause of God and religion. The abolitionist spirit is undeniably atheistic. The demons which erected its throne upon the guillotine in the days Robespierre and Marat, which abolished the Sabbath and worshiped reason in the person of a harlot... Among a people so generally religious as the Americans, a disguise must be worn; but it is the old threadbare disguise of the advocacy of human rights... Under this specious cry of reform, it demands that every evil shall be corrected or society become a wreck... [But] it pleases God to allow evils which check others that are greater... To the South the high position is assigned of defending before all nations, the cause of all religion and of all truth." Some of this sounds eerily familiar. The irony is that the Civil War was not an Apocalypse. It didn't cleanse us - it ushered in the Gilded Age, an age of luxurious excesses and political corruption. We must struggle to tell the truth but the truth is deeper than a collection of facts which we can manipulate. Truth is related to trust. In one version of the human story, the world is a wedding. To be human is to be betrothed - betrothed to each other in covenant. There's no private trip. We're all in this together "for better for worse." In the old Prayer Book of 1662 the groom said to the bride, "and thereto, I plight thee my troth." I give you myself, my truth. Politicians take note of the story you're pushing in the name of truth. Be sure you're not only a master of the facts but also betrothed to the truth. Remember Emily Dickinson's poem: Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--- Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth's superb surprise As Lightening to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 января, 17:30

Zacks.com featured highlights: Heritage Commerce, Comfort Systems, Emcor Group, Sterling Construction and Magnachip Semiconductor

Zacks.com featured highlights: Heritage Commerce, Comfort Systems, Emcor Group, Sterling Construction and Magnachip Semiconductor

24 января, 17:30

Zacks.com featured highlights: Teck Resources, Cosan, Pacific Ethanol and KKR

Zacks.com featured highlights: Teck Resources, Cosan, Pacific Ethanol and KKR

24 января, 17:14

Look Beyond Profit, Buy 5 Stocks with Increasing Cash Flows

Even though profit is a company's goal, cash is its lifeblood for existence, development and success, and indeed a measure of its resiliency.

24 января, 16:27

5 Momentum Stocks Following Driehaus' Rule

Momentum strategies have always grabbed the attention of risk loving investors due to their potential to yield solid returns.

24 января, 14:00

Psychoanalyzing the World’s Problems Won’t Help Us Solve Them

A century past its formulation as a treatment for neurosis, psychoanalysis has become popular again as a method for explaining all kinds of social torments. Not just among psychologists and artistic types, who have always had their ear to the unconscious — lately, CEOs, politicians, and economists all sound as though they have brushed up on their Freud. At last week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the spirit of the Viennese forefather of psychology infused the Davos air. One could not attend a panel or have a conversation without encountering classic psychoanalytic ideas. Global elites? In denial. Social divisions? A product of anxiety. Human behavior? Ultimately irrational. Politics? A triumph of identity narratives over economic principles. All in the shadow of a new world leader who seems bent on providing evidence for Freud’s theory of defensive projection, which argues that we blame others most for what we know and like in ourselves least. A roundup of quotes from various sessions read like the transcript of a psychoanalytic seminar. Anthony Scaramucci, who stopped by the Alpine gathering on his way to taking over the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, said, “People in the U.S. and Europe are feeling a common struggle that maybe many of us here in Davos do not feel.” (Take “maybe” as a marker of the ambivalence that often accompanies emerging insight.) UK Prime Minister Theresa May, perhaps unconsciously, articulated a classic Freudian analysis of how that struggle leads to the rise of a divisive kind of leader: “Those parties that embrace the politics of division and despair, that offer easy answers, that claim to understand people’s problems, and that always know what and who to blame feed off the sense among the public that mainstream political and business leaders have failed to comprehend their legitimate concerns for too long.” Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel made a plea for awareness, urging leaders to leave the insulated skyboxes from which they look down on society and to take the kind of compassionate and curious stance on disturbing emotions that psychoanalysis has long advocated: “Leaders need to do a better job of listening to the anger, the discontent, the frustrations, the resentment — even when they take sometimes ugly, odious forms — because there is something to learn. There are, embedded in those frustrations, legitimate grievances and aspirations that we have not successfully addressed for quite some time.” As someone whose work has long been informed by these ideas, it was astounding to see them erupt into the mainstream. It was disconcerting, too. As I have written here before, when we reach for psychoanalysis to understand the news, it is rarely because the news is good. But it was not surprising. For the past year these concepts have found their way into newspaper columns, management magazines, corporate boardrooms, and politicians’ speeches. Psychoanalysis is all the rage because we resort to its principles to explain others’ anger as much as we do to express our fears. Freud had a term for such moments, when troubling ideas and emotions can no longer be swept under the carpet. He called it the “return of the repressed.” Those moments, he suggested, are a mixed blessing: They reveal our worst impulses and can bring forth our best insights. Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, seemed to agree. She recalled the resistance that her warnings about inequality had encountered in Davos years before, and concluded: “If policy makers don’t get it now, I don’t know when they will.” And many of her fellow economists and business leaders seemed intent on “getting it” at last. But is “getting it” enough? Is insight all it is cracked up to be? Not quite. Don’t get me wrong. I find psychoanalytic theories very useful for making sense of current affairs and showing that big ideas are often strong emotions in disguise. I wish those theories were even more popular and better understood. At the same time, taking a psychoanalytic stance — heavy on compassion and interpretation, and light on dialogue and intervention — strikes me as defensive on the side of those who aspire to lead. Social problems like the appeal of populism or the anxiety about job loss brought about by automation are not just neuroses writ large. Putting them “on the couch” is useful, but it can be defensive if interpreting them is all that one does. That intuition moved scholars and professionals who established “systems psychodynamics” half a century ago. Leaders might find their ideas about the unconscious leaders even more useful and contemporary, if more demanding, than those of Sigmund Freud. Unlike the clinical psychoanalysts of the early 20th century, who worked with individuals and were concerned with the effects of childhood caregivers on adults’ inner life, these scholars worked primarily with groups, organizations, and various social systems. They followed Kurt Lewin’s admonition that the only way to truly understand social systems is to try to change them. They gained their insights from personally engaging with such systems, not from maintaining a scholarly or clinical remove. They proudly called this “action research” to distinguish it from the more contemplative kind. Systems psychodynamic theories pay less attention to how early attachments shape people’s experience and behavior, and more to how we are affected by the organization and circumstances of our lives and work. What follows is the realization that insight about our history cannot release us from our unconscious captors. Neither can it diffuse the feelings of anger, anxiety, or despair that captivity usually comes with. Only social and organizational changes can — the kind that usually upset power structures. Systems psychodynamic theories are as subversive in intent as clinical psychoanalysis, in that they seek to free up human potential by upending a constricting status quo. But they suggest that social activism, not just compassionate interpretation, is called for when the source of our torment is the social systems around us, rather than those in our past. In short, getting it, or even voicing it, is not enough if you can’t or aren’t willing to change “it.” Getting it will make you look useless at best, and complicit at worst. As “I get it but my opponents don’t” infuses aspiring leaders’ rhetoric worldwide, that is the kind of contemporary psychoanalytic insight that they might do well not to repress.

23 января, 22:45

Real Estate Lessons from Mr. Universe

If there's one thing I've learned that's worth remembering, it's that you never know when or where you're going to discover something you can use. More specifically, you never know who is going to teach you something to guide you along on your journey--be it a friend, a client, or just some random individual who happens to come across your path. To be honest, though, I wasn't expecting it might ever be Arnold Schwarzenegger who'd send me some tasty nuggets for thought, but that's exactly why a successful entrepreneur should always keep an open mind. You may or may not know it, but like me, the well-known actor, politician and bodybuilder has also enjoyed a very successful career as a commercial real estate magnate. Beginning with his first purchase of a building in Santa Monica, California, he's gone on to build a substantial portfolio as an entrepreneur in this area with many profitable investments over the years. "I wanted an investment that would earn money, so that I could cover the mortgage through rents instead of having to pay it myself," Arnold wrote in his 2012 autobiography, Total Recall. "The math of real estate really spoke to me (and) it was just a talent I had," he said, recounting the two-and-a-half years he spent researching the market in Santa Monica before making his first move. He learned about every building in the city and examined numerous options and opportunities before finally making his first purchase of an apartment building off Wilshire Boulevard back in 1974. But while this was all part of an interesting story, there was something a little deeper here that really struck me. In particular, Arnold went on to talk about his nay-saying friend and how negatively he reacted when "The Terminator" decided to take this initial risk with commercial real estate. "How can you stand the pressure?" asked his friend, whom Arnold described as someone who never wanted any risks in his life. "You have the responsibility of renting out the other five units. You have to collect the rent. What if something goes wrong?" "Problems were all he could see," Arnold wrote. But then the light bulb went on for the former California governor. "I caught myself listening," he said, and that's when he remembered not to let the fears of others prevent him from taking risks. More significantly, Arnold remembered he didn't even want to hear that negativity coming from someone else, as letting himself get attached to it could cloud his own judgment, which in the case of these investments certainly seemed to be sound and on the money. "Don't tell me any more of this information," he told his friend. "I like to always wander in like a puppy ... Don't tell me (the problem) ahead of time." "Often it's easier to make a decision when you don't know as much, because then you can't overthink," he wrote. "If you know too much, it can freeze you. The whole deal looks like a minefield." This is very sound advice. Certainly one is going to want to do due diligence with their research--as Arnold himself demonstrated--but that doesn't mean it's going to be in your best interests to seek opinions or take surveys around other people's fears. On the contrary, once an investor has obtained adequate information to be an informed consumer, they're probably going to be better served letting their intuition side-step in and trusting their own judgment with what feels like the right move at that time. There are no guarantees, of course. It's not an exact science. But in my own experience I find putting some trust in my instincts--provided they're clear and informed--makes for a truly sound investment. And of course, it always pays to keep an open mind. You never know where your next nugget of wisdom is coming from ... -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

23 января, 17:30

Zacks.com featured highlights: Braskem, Gibraltar Industries, International Consolidated Airlines, Lakeland Industries and Leucadia National

Zacks.com featured highlights: Braskem, Gibraltar Industries, International Consolidated Airlines, Lakeland Industries and Leucadia National

23 января, 17:30

Zacks.com featured highlights: Extended Stay America, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Barnes & Noble, Universal Health Services and Greif

Zacks.com featured highlights: Extended Stay America, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Barnes & Noble, Universal Health Services and Greif

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23 января, 17:13

When Children Rule: Parenting in Modern Families -- by Sebastian Galiani, Matthew Staiger, Gustavo Torrens

During the 20th century there was a secular transformation within American families from a household dominated by the father to a more egalitarian one in which the wife and the children have been empowered. This transformation coincided with two major economic and demographic changes, namely the increase in economic opportunities for women and a decline in family size. To explain the connection between these trends and the transformation in family relationships we develop a novel model of parenting styles that highlights the importance of competition within the family. The key intuition is that the rise in relative earnings of wives increased competition between spouses for the love and affection of their children while the decline in family size reduced competition between children for resources from their parents. The combined effect has empowered children within the household and allowed them to capture an increasing share of the household surplus over the past hundred years.

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23 января, 17:13

Public Finance in a Nutshell: A Cobb Douglas Teaching Tool for General Equilibrium Tax Incidence and Excess Burden -- by Don Fullerton, Chi L. Ta

To help first- or second-year graduate students in economics apply their theoretical training, this paper shows how to solve a simple and intuitive computable general equilibrium (CGE) model using a calculator. Because this simplified Harberger model uses Cobb Douglas functional forms for utility and production, one can solve for all input and output prices and quantities with no taxes and then solve for exact measures of output with a large tax change (not using derivatives). We then show how to solve simultaneously for capital and labor prices (incidence on the sources side of income), for both output prices (incidence on the uses side), for exact measures of overall welfare loss such as the equivalent variation, for excess burden and marginal excess burden, and for the effects on revenue in the form of a Laffer Curve.

23 января, 16:32

4 High Earnings Yield Stocks for a Winning Portfolio

We have set Earnings Yield greater than 10% as our primary screening criterion for picking stocks that have the potential to generate solid returns.

23 января, 15:52

5 Stocks to Buy on New Analyst Coverage

The importance of new analyst coverage is evident from the extensive data it unearths for investors. It's a good strategy to bet on stocks that have seen increased analyst coverage over the last few weeks.

23 января, 14:29

5 Affordable Stocks with Impressive Returns

5 Affordable Stocks with Impressive Returns

20 января, 17:30

Zacks.com featured highlights: UMB Financial, Stifel Financial, Lam Research, Lincoln National and Prudential Financial

Zacks.com featured highlights: UMB Financial, Stifel Financial, Lam Research, Lincoln National and Prudential Financial

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20 января, 16:51

Should You Buy Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) Ahead of Earnings?

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) looks like an exciting pick for investors as it is poised to beat at earnings season.

20 января, 16:14

Medical Product Stocks Q4 Earnings Roster: SYK, ISRG, RMD

Medical is one of the broader sectors among the 16 Zacks sectors that is expected to report earnings growth in the fourth quarter.

20 января, 16:13

5 Stocks with Striking Net Profit Margin

Net margin helps investors assess the risks of investing in a company.

20 января, 16:08

Buy these 5 Low Leverage Stocks to Be Safe

Considering the fact that debt ridden companies are more vulnerable at times of volatility, it is safe to avoid those for achieving optimal returns.