the COGENT PROVOCATEUR


COGENT PROVOCATEUR:
free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.


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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


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the COGENT PROVOCATEUR:
free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
CAMP ENRON:
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.


OTHER GOOD STUFF:
Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Friday, March 22, 2002

 
--- Business Week: "Restating the 90's" ---

Business Week releases a bombshell analysis -- or is it just a crock? -- with a cover piece titled "Restating the 90's". The premise: contrary to what "everybody knows", the 1990's was a relatively poor decade for capitalists and a relatively good decade for labor.

CP knows well what "everybody knows" isn't always true, and the grand aggregates are especially easy to mismeasure and misinterpret. We haven't seen the article yet, but a sniff test suggests it's something more serious than the usual WSJ editorial page "life so hard bein' rich" flim-flam. We'll give it a read, and a second read, with interest ... and skepticism.

For instance, labor is rewarded mostly in real-asset equivalents, while capital is rewarded in speculative asset equivalents ... which swing markedly above or below real economic value ... which is determined only in the long run ... if ever. Baseline capital market valuations are obscured by a landscape of craters on top of craters on top of bubbles, and the "real return" signal is devilishly difficult to extract from foreground noise.

We'd be very surprised if unit returns to ordinary labor were notably richer in the 90's, but not at all surprised if a non-representative subset of hired help -- the "managing class" -- had managed to take both ordinary labor and ordinary shareholder capital for an expensive joyride.

We'd also be unsurprised if net capital accretion had fallen away from tradition relationships with gross capital formation. FASTER obsolescence and a higher Stupiddity Quotient may have shredded real capital "big timber" into bark dust at rates unprecedented in peacetime.