A Trip to the Cinema

Macro Man recently finished reading Flash Boys, which was certainly entertaining if somewhat incomplete.  While some of the other explorations of high-frequency trading are evidently more thorough, Michael Lewis is close to unparalleled in his ability to craft a storyline from specialist arcana that can appeal to the layman.  Who could have imagined, for example, that Moneyball (a book about quantitative analysis in baseball) would turn into a film featuring Brad Pitt?

As his mind wandered the other day, Macro Man found himself wondering who might play the relevant characters in a film version of Flash Boys.  Lost in thought, it occurred to him that in some ways, the film had already been made.   For what better description of Lewis's book could you come up with than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines?



At the same time, the very best-selling book on Amazon is the English translation of a 700 page book by French economist Thomas Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  The book has become something of a phenomenon, generating reams of lavish praise or opprobrium, generally depending on the existing views of the reviewer.   Either way, it struck your author that the crux of Piketty's tome, with its focus on income inequality, could be summarized in the title of the old Bogart/Bacall vehicle: To Have and Have Not



This naturally set Macro Man off to thinking what other notable economic and financial books may already have been "inadvertently" made into films already.


A couple of years ago, Daniel Kahneman wrote an excellent book that explores the insights gained from his academic career in Thinking, Fast and Slow.   The description of the two modes of thought resonated with Macro Man, and he thoroughly enjoyed the book.   The title, meanwhile, recalls the story of Charly (itself taken from Flowers for Algernon), a mentally handicapped man who undergoes a procedure that renders him a genius.









One of the most prominent financial commentators of the last decade is, like him or loathe him, Nicholas Nassim Taleb.  In Fooled by Randomness he popularized the notion of the "Black Swan", and then followed up by writing a book with that very name.  Following the financial crisis, of course, the Fed and other central banks have done their utmost (a little bit of regulation and lot of  financial repression) to stave off further market volatility.  For the time being, therefore, the most appropriate film adaptation of the Taleb corpus would be Bye-Bye Blackbird.  (Macro Man can't wait to see the sequel, though...)




 


Finally, one of the great debates of the post-crisis era has been the appropriate role of fiscal policy.  In the Eurozone, for example, economic recovery has been stayed by Calvinist fiscal austerity...but the prior economic crisis was the result of market rejection of Dionysian fiscal profligacy.   Regrettably but unsurprisingly, demagogues on both sides of the fiscal debate have tended to employ less-than-nuanced arguments in favour of their viewpoint.  One prominent example is of course Paul Krugman, a persistent advocate for fiscal spending who appears unwilling to acknowledge the potential downsides of such a strategy (viz. the Eurozone.)  As such, Macro Man wonders if his Economics textbook could not be cast as a remake of Brewster's Millions, the film in which Richard Pryor must spend absurd amounts of someone's else's money on unproductive services as a means of enriching himself....

Readers are of course invited (nay, encouraged) to come up with their own film adaptations in the comments section.   As for those hoping for a sober analysis of corporate earnings or the RBNZ...sorry, better luck tomorrow!


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amplitudeinthehouse
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April 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM ×

Your in form , Macro Man. conversations around here are really bringing to light the trap that CB's have netted themselves into. It's not macro anymore is it?
Your taste has an element of refinement , as for me, I try , but the punt just keeps dragging me in..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir8Y4iFrWk8

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Vasastan
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April 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM ×

While Mr. Krugman deserves respect, his recent (April 20th) comment on Sweden is just too oversimplified for my tastes. He ignores every possible complicating factor, such as workforce expansion and skills, labour market rigidity, changing labour insurance rules, and industry offshoring, to lay the blame for unemployment solely on a lack of fiscal expansion. They're not even running a balanced budget, for Pete's sake - what kind of austerity is that?

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Hotairmail
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April 24, 2014 at 11:10 AM ×

An exposition on the offically encouraged Hedge Fund 'industry' and their survival rates: "Rollerball".

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Anonymous
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April 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM ×

ciao dude, you forgot Scarface ( about MF Global) with Tony Montana Corzine shouting "say hello to my BeeTeePee!"

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Dismal Scientist
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April 24, 2014 at 3:10 PM ×

Given what's happening to FICC teams at major IB's, then I would suggest 'House of Flying Daggers' as an accurate representation.

Along the same lines, the bloodbath in equity brokerage over the last few years is well summed up in 'No Country for Old Men'. Either that, or 'The Departed'.

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Anonymous
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April 24, 2014 at 3:54 PM ×

wolf on wall street?

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April 24, 2014 at 4:11 PM ×

Capital in the 21st century -- I'm about halfway (its a beast) and as an economist myself the most amazing thing is that no one ever though of looking at the statistics...

Fundamentally, it says that the 20th century is the aberration, capital concentration is the norm and that there is almost no chance that the 20th century can be repeated... Think late 19th century and early 20th century.

First and foremost is that its the first time that anyone looks at these data series.

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Leftback
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April 24, 2014 at 4:29 PM ×

Looking at the sabre rattling going on around the Ukraine, how about a remake of that understated Graham Greene masterpiece, "The Quiet American", where you replace China with Russia, Ukraine with Vietnam, Kiev with Saigon, and Sevastopol with Hanoi? The CIA operatives are played by, hmm... CIA operatives.

Central casting is already auditioning for prominent US figures to play the roles of Kennedy and Johnson. The anti-war protests and Kent State shooting venues are still to be decided. Let's hope we don't have to see anyone reprise the Brando role in "Apocalypse Now".

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abee crombie
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April 24, 2014 at 4:36 PM ×

equities feeling a little toppy here (breath, R2K, Europe). if we have another sell off, it wouldnt be what the Fed was asking for, esp as growth start picking up after the winter

Throw mama from the train

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Anonymous
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April 25, 2014 at 3:56 AM ×

re: Leftback

How about 'See no Evil, Hear on Evil' as a depiction of recent European foreign policy? We could have the UK cast as Gene Wilder and the EU as Richard Pryor. After bumbling along trying to solve crimes in their usual clumsy, uncoordinated ways from the Balkans to Iran-E3 to Russia/Ukraine, they are finally able to get the bad guys in Libya, albeit with some outside help and only when THEIR oil interests are at stake.

And I'm not sure the Vietnam analogy holds with Ukraine. There was never a colonial occupier in the latter to muck everything up in the first place.

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Anonymous
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April 25, 2014 at 9:11 PM ×

@Frozen in the North, good observation. I don't want to pick on your chosen profession, but isn't that a bit of WTF that nobody has looked at the data before?

The "days of my youth" were basically set up by the aftermath of WW2. Not a "normal" state, to your point.

Whammer

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April 26, 2014 at 5:49 PM ×

@anonymous Why no one looked at the stats is beyond strange. The only reasoning is that until Reagan & friends the age of the 1% seemed over. Don't forget Piketty research his book for 15 YEARS!

As for my pick of topic it was that or math... and math was way too boring (i Know

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Anonymous
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April 27, 2014 at 12:33 AM ×

@Frozen in the North, like I said, I don't want to pick on your profession and you seem to have a clear-eyed view. I'm thinking we could use more, and better, economists. They just seem to be hard to find ;-)

-Whammer

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Anonymous
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April 27, 2014 at 2:47 PM ×

The story of superhero economystics and their fight to save the world from a tangent universe of time warping revisionist history and undue influence. Set against a varied chorus of must do somethings and awed wtf.

Captured in a similarly cult offering "Donnie Darko".

(with an edit so we can suspend our disbelief - the silly bit at the end where he knows what matters/not, choices lead to personal harm, real sh!t still happens and he dies).

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Anonymous
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April 27, 2014 at 2:54 PM ×

...and welcome back MM.

northshore

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