Smart Picks 26 September 2014

Strong men rising. 

Economist -- Xi who must be obeyed

The most powerful and popular leader China has had for decades must use these assets wisely.

What I’m listening to. Handel -- Chorus: And he shall purify the Sons of Levi 

And Putin too. 

Financial Times -- Russia: Putin’s power politics

The arrest of Yevtushenkov has rattled oligarchs who thought close ties to the Kremlin would keep them safe.

UKIP’s silly position on immigration called out. 

Telegraph -- Ukip vs the free market: Britain's immigration debate gets interesting

Ukip has promised to cut immigration.

All grown up. 

Washington Post -- Bookend speeches of Obama’s presidency

President Obama began his presidency with a call for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” He will end it as a reluctant but unapologetic warrior, using U.S. military force to smash Islamic extremists and the “network of death” they have planted at the heart of the Middle East.

Messy war. 

Financial Times -- Obama revives the failed logic of the war on terror

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 with misplaced certainty, misconstrued assumptions and poor foresight.

Japan weakening. 

New York Times -- Japan Inflation Slows, Threatening Economic Policy Agenda

Japan‘s annual core consumer inflation eased in August in another sign that the Bank of Japan could eventually be forced to take additional easing steps to meet its 2 percent inflation goal sometime next fiscal year.

Front line on climate change. 

New York Times -- Florida Goes Down the Drain

The politics of climate change.

Market tremors signal dangers to come, but when to exit? 

Street Talk -- 3 Things Worth Thinking About (Vol. 10)

Yesterday, I reviewed some the longer term macro trends of the markets noting some deterioration that should give rise to some concern. However, the bullish trends currently remain intact which suggests that portfolios remain more heavily tilted towards equity exposure for the time being.

The 80-20 rule applies to drinking as well. 

Washington Post -- Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.

Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night?


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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.