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This video shows the Tesla driving itself.

Is driving purely functional, A to B, or is it also entertainment? I ride my bikes not to get to A to B, although that can be true, but for the sheer joy of riding a bike as fast as I can to my ability.

I’m assuming that you [currently] can choose which mode to put the car in. However, how long will it be before government mandates only the car can drive. No issues about speeding, drink driving, etc. Of course then all you need is a box on wheels.

Will you pay a premium for your box. Hell no.


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Theresa May’s decision to formally trigger Britain’s Article 50 request to leave the EU in March 2017 has a huge unanswered question at its heart: Whether the request is
reversible before the two-year deadline elapses.

That sounds like a technicality. But it could change everything. If the UK can withdraw its request halfway through the Article 50 process, then this gives Britain some bargaining power in the Brexit negotiations: If we don’t get what we want, we can walk away or force the process to start over again.

But if Article 50 cannot be reversed then all the power lies with Brussels: The EU need not bother to negotiate at all — it could simply sit on its hands while the two-year clock runs down, ejecting Britain in a “hard Brexit.” An Article 50 trigger might be a trap, in other words, with only one way out.

The difference between the two positions is massive: If it is reversible, then the March trigger will start a genuine round of talks, the outcome of which is uncertain. The UK can argue to get the best deal possible.

If it is not reversible, then the March trigger is the same thing as leaving the EU.

Until recently, it had been assumed by many — including Business Insider — that an Article 50 request could be formally withdrawn any time before the two-year period ended. The House of Lords took legal advice on the issue in April 2016 and was told:

“It is absolutely clear that you cannot be forced to go through with it if you do not want to: for example, if there is a change of Government … Analysis of the text suggests that you are entitled to change your mind. … There is nothing in Article 50 formally to prevent a Member State from reversing its decision…”

That advice dovetails with the opinion of former director-general of the Council of the European Union’s Legal Service Jean-Claude Piris, who wrote in September that “Even after triggering Article 50 and notifying the EU of its intention to leave, there is no legal obstacle to the UK changing its mind, in accordance with its constitutional requirements.”

But the legal arguments in the “People’s Challenge” case heard today at the High Court raised the issue. It turns out there is no rule or precedent explicitly stating whether Article 50 is reversible or not. Barrister Jolyon Maugham has an informative blog post on the issue here. And the Financial Times’ David Allen Green outlines the issue similarly here.

It is not clear whether the judges’ ruling in the case will state a position on reversibility.

Maugham notes that the reversibility issue carries huge political consequences. The High Court case is mostly about whether Parliament should vote to formally trigger Article 50, or can the government do it on its own without a vote?

If the trigger is reversible, that would imply Parliament — or a new referendum — could vote to reverse the trigger. In other words, even if Prime Minister Theresa May did not seek approval from the House of Commons to trigger Article 50, the House could still cast a vote later, before the two-year period was up, yanking Britain out of the negotiations.

That holds up the tantalising possibility for Remainers that parliament may get more than one opportunity to block or delay Brexit.

In the more immediate future, Theresa May’s government needs to figure out whether Article 50 can be reversed before March arrives. Because if it is not reversible, then she will go into those talks with very few weapons indeed.

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The last day of law school.

It will be quite a last day. 2 oral presentations of written assignments and picking up a crucial mark in the Environmental law assignment, worth 60% of your final grade. A B+ means that you pass the course.

Mr Romulus is missing.

Normally he is waiting for his breakfast. Not this morning. Normally, as soon as he sees or hears that I am up, he would make his way home. Not this morning. He is old and hasn’t been the best for a few weeks now. I am concerned.



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Scholarly considerations of economic regulation and governance generally take the state as a precondition, the necessity and centrality of which is not to be seriously questioned. The bold, creative scholarship of Edward Peter Stringham has, for some time now, begged leave to differ. Stringham explores the possibilities of private law and private governance, never more ably than in his new book.

Private Governance: Creating Order in Economics and Social Life sets out to show that, despite strong biases against them in the academic and public policy communities, voluntary associations and their private solutions to social and organizational problems continue to prevail and propagate, undermining the “deus ex machina theory of law.” This theory, “popular in bad social science,” treats the law as an “exogenous corrective device”  that exists entirely outside of the people and institutions on which it acts.

Stringham’s work draws extensively on public choice theory to expose the flaws in the deus ex machina outlook, challenging the largely unexamined assumption that law is uniquely and necessarily the province of government. As he notes, “Even if one assumes that certain problems require legal rules, one need not assume that a compulsory monopoly must provide them.” Indeed, observation of existing governmental monopolies should have taught us the very opposite: that unaccountable, concentrated power yields arbitrary results and opens the door to serious abuses of power and discretion, and that these are exactly the conditions a stable legal system ought to avoid.

Private Governance is a comprehensive and sophisticated answer to a question with which libertarians, particularly those of the free-market anarchist sort, are confronted: “But how would it work?” Stringham shows that a completely private, stateless system of governance is not only practicable but far superior to the coercive monopoly systems from which we derive our governing structures today.

The author previously edited an authoritative collection on this kind of ordered, private-property anarchism, Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice (2007), which spanned a period of over a century and included contributions from such libertarian luminaries as Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, and Benjamin Tucker. His conversance with the extensive libertarian literature in this area is unsurpassed.

Stringham’s work follows directly from that of radical libertarians like Gustave de Molinari in the 19th century and Murray Rothbard in the 20th. It bears noting that “anarchism” may not be the most helpful of labels to apply to these thinkers, since it has long been fused to the economically retrograde, anti-market, and anti-property philosophy found in the works of, say, Peter Kropotkin or Mikhail Bakunin. In this case private property and market competition are not evil but good; these “anarchists” seek not their abolition but their universalization—their application to areas of political and social life that are today dominated by governmental monopolies.

Molinari’s The Production of Security (1849) argued that the free market could provide even defensive services. We in turn find the germ of this revolutionary idea in the “industrialism” of French radical liberals Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer (the former of whom was an acolyte and son-in-law of the great classical economist, Jean-Baptiste Say). Comte and Dunoyer sought to depoliticize society, to “municipalize the world,” allowing peaceful free market forces to decentralize and ultimately dissolve governments.[1]

The themes of Private Governance hinge to a great extent on questions about how our institutional frameworks could better channel incentives and human nature. Public choice analyses are therefore at the center of Stringham’s project: if human beings are self-serving and avaricious in markets, then they will likely be no less so when inhabiting governmental bodies, at least if we’re being realistic rather than romantic about governmental agencies.

Early in the book, Stringham frames the question this way: the Nobel Laureate James Buchanan “never applied public choice to law . . . , but what if he did?” He proceeds to take the application of public choice to questions of law and social order as far as anyone before has dared—and then farther—cogently combining theory, historical lessons, and empirical research. The results are embarrassing for legal centralism, the idea that only government can supply law and order.

To replace legal centralism, Stringham posits a polycentric legal system “in which courts are engaged in an ongoing, dynamic discovery process of experimentation, trial and error, and feedback.” Drawing on Adam Smith, Stringham observes that even among governmental courts, competition “led to ‘superior dispatch and impartiality.’” Potential litigants might avail themselves of the law merchant, or the chancery, or manorial courts, just to name a few, the contest between these courts impelling each to produce fast, fair justice.

We can generalize from this and turn ever more governance functions over to market mechanisms. And we should because, as it happens, governments are not very well positioned to protect our rights. As Stringham explains, “Legal centralists’ wishes notwithstanding, law enforcement officials may not have maximizing utility in society or maximizing Kaldor-Hicks efficiency in their objective function.” Rather, it is just taken for granted that government bureaus and the “public servants” that inhabit them will automatically act selflessly, devoted undeviatingly to the common good.

It is as if the human beings working for the government were of a different kind, exempt from the assumptions we make about the fundamentally self-interested nature of those working in capitalist firms. Of course, those who accept such facile explanations don’t bother to confront either the fact that the “public good” is a famously slippery notion, or that people do not magically metamorphose into messengers of the heavens when they move from the private sector to the public. Public choice theory doesn’t let political philosophy’s gospelers of statism off the hook so easily; if people are selfish and incentives matter, then these facts hold across the board.

Public choice reveals that in fact there is no deus ex machina. It shows that, if our institutional designs are going to work, they have to work with and for actual human beings, not the perfectly altruistic constructs of Progressive political theory. Economic thinking, when applied to policy questions and political theory, contests many of the facile assumptions of the deus ex machina notion of government.[2]

And that’s where Stringham’s book enters the scene, filling a gap in the literature and explaining how market mechanisms and spontaneous orders account for these flaws in human nature. Centralized, unilateral power and discretion, Stringham shows, are not the solutions they pretend to be but are fraught with moral hazard and information problems. Historically, market relationships—horizontal, decentralized, and voluntary—have actually been much better at managing risk and protecting interested parties. The array of historical examples and case studies that Stringham has collected give the lie to the argument that private governance is just the fantasy of fanatical libertarians.

We learn, for example, that during the Gold Rush in San Francisco, when the city’s police failed the people who lived in the city and were often “considered worse than the private criminals,” businessmen worked together to organize a private police service. This example is especially compelling insofar as San Francisco was then a rowdy boom town, just the kind of place for which private governance is supposed to be inadequate. At the middle of the 19th century, it was a Wild West maelstrom of criminals and single young men (80 percent of the population) in search of quick riches. And this rogues’ gallery had in it rogues who had emigrated from every corner of the globe. Such conditions are thought to preclude “social cooperation without government,” yet small business owners mobilized efficiently for their own protection.

Where government did not have the ability, knowledge, or incentive to solve the problem, concerned merchants did. Stringham likewise shows how the rules of the London Stock Exchange emerged from the specific needs and challenges of its participants, faced with laws that forbade many of their contracts. Undeterred, brokers devised ingenious rules and procedures through which to guarantee investments and prevent fraud.

The progenitors of such private forms of governance were not Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists or libertarian ideologues. They were practical businessmen, concerned with creating an environment in which economic value is protected cost-effectively. Thus were their solutions developed spontaneously, responding to specific, identified problems, often on an ad hoc basis.

“Providers of private governance,” writes Stringham, “recognize government is not the solution, so they take the initiative and provide private ones.” They are different from government bureaucrats in that they have a concrete incentive to take the initiative and, better still, to come up with solutions that actually work. With skin in the game and specialized knowledge of their own businesses and industries, private governance innovators are uniquely equipped to problem solve.

Just as important is their lack of the kind of binding coercive power possessed by legislators and government regulators. Where the customer is not a captive, bound by law to a package of services, a given provider must constantly readjust to changing circumstances and consumer preferences. Participants in such voluntarily ordered systems want and expect to deal with one another again; this expectation of repeated business interactions—if not with the very same individual, then at least within the same small network—is part of a highly complex, extra-governmental groundwork for honesty and fair dealing.

All that governments can ever do is compel and coerce, and this they often do rather arbitrarily, without due regard for the unforeseen (and indeed unforeseeable) consequences of their meddling. Government bureaucrats have an incentive problem: they are paid to meddle, whether it is necessary or not. And they aren’t rewarded for coming in under budget, for the efficient use of time and resources.

Private Governance demonstrates that free market competition in law and order is not unprecedented and does not yield an unregulated chaos in which the consumer is defenseless against greedy capitalists. Regulation is indeed everywhere: it is competition, rather than compulsion, that serves as the regulatory tool. The sophistication of markets, itself an outgrowth of expressed consumer needs and preferences, enables them to allocate risk much more effectively and safely than governments. Market actors with financial skin in the game, it turns out, end up formulating rules far superior to those arbitrarily handed down by regulators, too often oblivious or (what is often worse) just overzealous. The mandatory, one-size-fits-all rules of government are not without their costs. And when everyone is locked into government rules and regulations, the costs of bad rules—those that don’t actually serve regulators’ purported consumer safety goals—are that much higher.

Stringham shows that private organizations, equipped, unlike government, with specialized knowledge (peculiar to time, place, or their profession) can outperform government and formulate better protocols for social and economic behavior. The effective assembly of such rules is in fact just the kind of task to which specialization within a market economy is most well-adapted.

Classical liberal and conservative readers who are unable to follow Stringham to full-fledged private-property anarchism are nonetheless likely to find his arguments persuasive. Private Governance handily levels conventional wisdom about the necessity of coercive monopolies for the provision of law and law enforcement. As Molinari explained over a century and a half ago, free and voluntary associations are more than competent to dispense law and justice, however uncomfortable this fact may be.

With a careful combination of historical examples, empirical evidence, and old-fashioned (in the best sense) political economy, Edward Stringham offers an stimulating and challenging perspective on the intersection of law, politics, and economics. Destined to be a libertarian classic for all three fields, Private Governance is a testament to the power of free individuals, to the potential of a society without sanctioned coercion.


[1] The definitive treatment of Comte and Dunoyer’s radical liberalism is David M. Hart’s Class Analysis, Slavery and the Industrialist Theory of History in French Liberal Thought, 1814-1830: The Radical Liberalism of Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, King’s College, Cambridge, 1994.

[2] Economist and political scientist Michael Munger calls this the “unicorn fallacy,” observing “that people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world.” When these people imagine the state, they quite unconsciously ascribe to it a range of superhuman qualities; that is, they abstract it from its component parts, which are the very same self-interested human beings who make up market institutions. On its face, this is a problem for those who favor compulsory monopoly for some goods or services (for example, providing police and roads) but not others (for example, the manufacture of shoes and widgets).

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“Investors’ personal views on climate science are irrelevant.

Enough governments and businesses are convinced by the scientific consensus that the threat is real, and are driving regulatory and technological changes that are reshaping the investment landscape. You may not be interested in the climate, but you can be sure the climate is interested in you.” — Financial Times

Our changing climate is having real-world effects.*

Miami Beach, Florida, is experiencing increased flooding as a result of rising sea levels. All along the Eastern Seaboard in the United States, cities, towns — even naval bases— are battling an array of problems caused by increased coastal flooding and encroaching tides. Indeed, some scientists speculate that Manhattan — an island, by the way — could at some point find itself under water.

The global climate has always been in flux. But historically changes have taken centuries, even millennia, to manifest themselves. We have not, as yet, ever confronted the sort of severe shift that current climatological models suggest may lay in store.

Investment managers need to be evidence-based, and the evidence is now very clear:

“’Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,’ said William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is among the leaders in research on coastal inundation. ‘It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.’”

Academic finance has started to research the issue. In “Price of Long-Run Temperature Shifts in Capital Markets,” Ravi Bansal, Dana Kiku, and Marcelo Ochoa examine the social costs of carbon emissions. They note that “temperature risks have a significant negative effect on wealth.” Each of the US equity portfolios they examine had a negative exposure, or beta, to long-run temperature fluctuations. This implies a rising risk-free rate and an equity-risk premium.

Many institutional investors now adjust for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, and Morningstar recently began publishing ESG grades for the 20,000-plus funds it covers. While climate change is included among the 20-plus factors Morningstar grades, the phenomenon warrants a category of its own.

BlackRock has also conducted climate change research. In “The Price of Climate Change: Global Warming’s Impact on Portfolios,” the authors discuss the potential influence changing carbon regulation could have on various industries. They note that the insurance sector has already begun to incorporate rising global temperatures into its pricing models. For the larger investment industry, however, the threat of global warming has yet to hit home:

“Most industries lag insurers when it comes to properly accounting for and pricing risks of climate-related events. Many equity investors ignore climate risk, and credit investors and ratings agencies do not routinely assess it. Property markets often ignore extreme weather risk, even in highly exposed coastal areas. Most asset owners do not measure their exposure to potentially stranded assets such as high-cost fossil fuel reserves that may have to be written off if their use is impaired by climate change regulation.”

BlackRock asserts that these effects are not currently priced, but will be very soon. Proactive investors should anticipate that. This is not to say that climate change’s impact will be uniformly bad. As with any wrenching change, there will also be opportunities along the way. Just as investors in fossil fuel-dependent companies must weigh the risks, investors in alternative energy or mitigation services companies could very well profit.

Though global warming could have devastating consequences worldwide, it does not mean investors should concentrate investments in landlocked, temperate nations. It does require that we carefully consider the phenomenon’s potential long-term effects. No part of the planet is immune and some regions will be more affected than others.

The real reason to diversify globally is not to avoid or mitigate short-term market blips, but rather to protect against economic catastrophes concentrated in our home markets,Clifford S. Asness, Roni Israelov, and John M. Liew observe. Investors should be especially mindful of this when it comes to climate change.

The environment’s margin of safety is narrowing with each uptick in global temperatures. This will translate into greater effects on investor portfolios. It is the job of the investment manager to cushion against those risks while still seeking profitable opportunities.

I posed the following question in a recent blog post: “What idea in finance today, that we hold to be true, will seem laughable in 100 years?”

In a century’s time, it may very well be laughable that we did not take the risks of global warming more seriously when considering our investments.



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The Trumpster has been accused of a weird sniffle during the debates. I was mildly curious as to what the media were referring to.

Anyway, I saw a clip of the 2’nd debate, where, this ‘sniff’ occurred. It was not a ‘sniffle’ as in a cold, rather it was a pronounced inhalation through the nose prior to speaking. I knew that I had heard this before.

All day it was irritating me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Driving home, it came to me, it was from this film.


Top Gun.

Iceman, did exactly the same thing, in I believe, this scene. I don’t have time currently to watch the film [again] but I’m almost positive this is the origin of the Trumpster’s ‘sniff’.

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All sorts of stuff going on in the world, but, we are 7 days from finishing the degree and we still have 3 assignments due prior to starting exams.

It is the usual mad panic – for the [hopefully] last time. Pretty much everything is on hold.