greenwich town centre on "snow day"

outside the hall

frosty, hall resident

chelsea vs cfr cluj, ucl group stage


shankly gates: this was on merseyside derby day, 1-1, 4th round of the fa cup. everton took the lead through lescott, gerrard equalized with a stunning strike after a torres flick

these are the matches i've been to with sunny
loftus road, qpr. they were facing championship leaders wolves. qpr won, i believe it was keith rowlands who scored with a stunning strike.

emirates stadium - champions league, arsenal vs as roma. 1-0, robin van persie scoring a penalty

emirates stadium, this was on my first visit, arsenal vs wigan athletic, carling cup. 3-0. carlos vela and jay simpson scoring


final of university challenge today -- corpus christi won, and it actually made the main news.

the main protagonist was gail trimble, she answered 2/3rds of all questions on her team of 4. ideally you need a mix, preferable a biology/medical specialist, someone who does languages/literature and the arts, probably 2 of them because of the greater weightage towards geenral knowledge, and a science/maths guy.

the guy from manchester uni was not too bad, i particularly enjoyed the question on violin concertos where they played excerpts.

anyway, on a day when slumdog millionaire wins 8 oscars, some spotlight on trivia competitions. the media focused on the "brains" of the team and that they don't get good press compared to say someone like jade goody. however, having participated myself, i don't think trivia competitions have much to do with intelligence at all... you just happen to read a lot and practice, it's all memory. that said, there were some calculation questions that pretty tricky: i.e. they would give you random elements and you're supposed to describe their shape on the periodic table, and some calculations involving large numbers where the quick way is to calculate an approximation. i don't think some of their nervousness/awkwardness helped.

the anagram/association questions were quite challenging too.

hmm... when's who wants to be a millionaire coming back to singapore? i swear i will participate this time.

countercyclical travel

if you follow marginal revolution they have a "countercyclical assets" series during the credit crunch. so, if you wanted to travel cheaply, what would you do?

this is my proposal: the £ is really weak. what currencies could possibly be faring worse against them?

- emerging europe is facing a currency crisis: one of my colleagues will be doing her dissertation on it.

so, zloty, forint, koruna

add that to general spare capacity in travel: ryanair tonight were offering flights for £3.50 o/w incl. taxes. to krakow. that's cheaper than the bus to stansted.
"love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real."

-iris murdoch, "the sublime and the good"


nature's great events part 2: salmon

millions of millions of them converge into the rivers of british columbia. they literally swarm the low water levels and you can see fish crowding out above the water level.

and the most amazing thing is when they jump waterfalls. seriously man, what the fuck is adversity.

i also learnt that 50% of all grizzly bears don't live past the first winter. well, human mortality rates used to be high as well. they also look severely anorexic come august. but they just wait on top of the waterfall and own all the salmon.

i was auditing the advanced matrix algebra course when they were doing jordan forms of matrices... and they covered population matrices. think about it, 0.4% of all salmon make it upstream to their spawning grounds. it's almost like evolution has made the call to go for quality nowadays that i'm not used to such high replacement rates and lottery like odds.


the future of music and the death of itunes?


the new approach to free music on the internet. instead of files for you to download permanently, this provides "radio-on-demand", or virtually instant streaming.

very popular. very recommended. it has major record label support and entire versions of new albums.

i figured out why spotify business model works. i bet most music now sold is for consumption on portable players (cd players/mp3 players on cars, music on ipods etc). they know people are using music for free on their computers anyway if they have internet access... so they tease this out to you for free with ad money and try to make money on the fact that you have to fill your life with music on other occasions.

anyway, it's awesome. with good speakers now i've managed to cut the tv addiction and fill the room with music to study


jesse the tv addict

people often ask me what i will miss about the uk. i will miss the bbc. or at least i might have to watch central more in singapore.

another fantastic documentary, tip goes to bonnie for alerting me. "nature's great events", with episode 1 covering the great arctic ice melt which starts every february. the comforting voice of david attenborough (i didn't know he was ex-lse, anthropology) and the expanses of the arctic in full hd glory (teehee i like hd shows now). lots and lots of polar bears.

as bonnie said... "how hardcore that some people will go all the way to the arctic to film"
british trivia competitions >>>> any other country's trivia competitions

your starter question comes from: "19th century substance abuse"

i love university challenge!


more awesome travel documentaries

on dave tonight, michael palin in the sahara. he's making his way along the niger river from bamako to timbuktu in mali.

Hyperinflation - Week 6 Class


http://www.newsweek.com/id/181221 [Interview with Zimbabwe's Central Banker]

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/07/will-sanctions.html [Sanctions on paper to print money]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7859033.stm [Dollarization in Zimbabwe]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7569894.stm [Re-zeroing 19 Aug 2008]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7660569.stm [231 million % inflation]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7115651.stm [Zimbabwe - Statistical Officer Cannot Calculate Inflation - "No Goods in Shops"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7516874.stm [Zimbabwe 100 billion dollar note]


i need a replacement country/easy listening album. any suggestions?

a tom waits song

Well I stumbled in the darkness
I'm lost and alone
Though I said I'd go before us
And show the way back home
Is there a light up ahead
I can't hold on very long
Forgive me pretty baby but I always take the long way home

Money's just something you throw
Off the back of a train
Got a handful of lightning
A hat full of rain
And I know that I said
I'd never do it again
And I love you pretty baby but I always take the long way home

I put food on the table
And roof overhead
But I'd trade it all tomorrow
For the highway instead
Watch your back if I should tell you
Love's the only thing I've ever known
One thing's for sure pretty baby I always take the long way home

You know I love you baby
More than the whole wide world
I'm your man
You know you are my pearl
Let's go out past the party lights
We can finally be alone
Come with me and we can take the long way home
Come with me, together we can take the long way home
Come with me, together we can take the long way home




obama today has been working to his traditional strengths, going back to the campaign trail while still a president to try to drum up support for his stimulus bill. novel and interesting.

he said it. he said he should have started with 0 tax cuts and given republicans all the credit.

anyway, i've read public choice critics who say that this will probably be a lesson for him. they argue that bipartisanship works in politics by making both parties feel like they've won something, not by satisfying pre-held ideological beliefs (you can see that this is quite a public choice view, in its cynicism regarding government motives).

so if you did hold beliefs that the true size of your stimulus is $800 billion, your opening gambit needs to be +50% of that, and no tax cuts. Then you make a grand gesture cutting half of that, and converting some of that bill into tax cuts. the republicans come out looking like they've won significant concessions, the president looks like he's brought change into washington and the democrats/economists who want a big stimulus get what they need. so the argument is that obama needs to appear receptive by starting tough.

It is a fine line though. If you did put out a package for $1.2 trillion then you might have problem selling the package and look like a fool, because then you'd have a lot of stupid projects on it, and you risk complete failure of your project. also, maybe the true size of the stimulus is significantly less than $400 billion anyway. you see, who the hell knows? the common source is that GS etc predicts there will be a 7% output gap, but you throw a couple of billion dollars here and there, who really knows?


Unsustainable US Current Account Position - Obstfeld & Rogoff (2007)

Develops a simply 2-country model to estimate the ramifications of an unwinding of the US current account deficit. Argues that dollar adjustment to global current account rebalancing depends more on goods market integration rather than the depth of capital markets.

Argues that dollar decline is not likely to be benign, as in the 1980s, but more closely parallel the collapse of Bretton Woods in the 1970s. The closure of the CA deficit, (now at 7%), requires a potential collapse 50% larger than previous estimates. (thus 18-21%?, closer to 40% if pass-through is incomplete), because CA is not large proportion of GDP, but is a larger proportion of tradables (about 20%)

Contains stylized facts on the trajectory of the US current account, a model of the CA based on demand and pass-through, tradables and non-tradables and then calibrates the model with parameters from previous empirical papers. No regressions. Tille (2004) - estimate US assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies. Nordhaus (2002) - 3% tradables involved in Iraq War commitment. Campa and Goldberg (2002) - US Pass through estimates.

International Financial Adjustment - Gourinchas & Rey (2007)

Implications of a country's external constraint for the dynamics of net foreign assets, returns and exchange rates. Deteriorations in external accounts imply future trade surpluses (trade channel) or excess returns on the net foreign portfolio (valuation channel), with valuation effects accounting for 27% of the external adjustment. External imbalances predict net foreign portfolio returns one quarter to 2 years ahead and net export growth at longer horizons. The exchange rate is forecastable in and out of sample at one quarter and beyond.

Examine cycle by detrending (exports, imports, external assets, liabilities)/domestic wealth. Use VAR to quantify share coming from net exports and valuation effects. Data involved is the relevant US quarterly data.
Net and foreign asset positions of the US are available from
2. Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Account (for RoTW)
They tend reconstruct market value estimate by using FFA flow and position data
They have data (Gourinchas & Rey 2007)
Net Exports = meanx*shockx - meanm*shockm Net valuation = meana*shocka - meanl*shockl
rho = 1 + (X-M)/(A-L)
netchange(t+1) = 1/rho(netchange)t + r(t+1) + changeinnetchange(t+1)

Global Imbalances, Globalization, Demography and Sustainability, Cooper (2008)

Again, US Current Account facts, 1993-2007, and GDP components (S&I), Capital Flows, Net International Investment Position (with financial flows and valuation effects)
from Bureau of Economic Analysis/St Louis Fed (FRED)
Rest of the World Current Account Balances, Savings, Investment - IMF, IMF World Economic Outlook
US Census Bureau Projections for country populations (!!Singapore & HK = 1.0 TFR)
Argument: We save so much because birth rates are low (low investment), and we are in earning part of lifecycle. But why do funds flow to the US? Why not emerging markets? And what about Italy, Spain, UK? & then special features of US financial markets etc...
IMF IFS/Annual Report : foreign central bank holdings, RoTW gross and net international investment position

Bretton Woods II - Dooley, Folkerts-Landau, Garber (2004)

Basically summarizes the willingness of Asian Governments to sustain their currencies at a level to fund their export-oriented development strategy, especially investing in US treasuries, resulting in low interest rates.

Equilibrium Model of Global Imbalances - Caballero, Farhi & Gourinchas (2008)

Current Account by Region -- World Development Indicators and Deutsche Bank
World and US interest rates -- IMF IFS
Share of US Assets in World's Output and Wealth -- BEA, WDI, ECB, BoJ
Just a lot of modelling, nothing I can really use. Asset Supply Constraints and different-type countries.

From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist, US External Adjustment & the Exorbitant Privilege - Gourinchas & Rey (2005)

Dataset on historical evolution of US assets and liabilities at market value since 1952, and finds evidence of excess returns on US external assets compared to liabilities, which emerged after Bretton Woods. US tends to borrow short and lend long.
US Treasury 1997 Benchmark Surveys of U.S. Ownership of Foreign Long-term securities
US Treasury 2000 holdings of Foreign Long Term Securities


in trutina - what results from being stranded at home

In Trutina - In Balance
From Carl Orff's cantata Carmina Burana
It was written by a bunch of horny monks in the middle ages in the middle of a German monastery somewhere

In trutina mentis dubia
fluctuant contraria
lascivus amor et pudicitia.
Sed eligo quod video,
collum iugo prebeo:
ad iugum tamen suave transeo.

"In my own wavering balance
desire fluctuates with modesty
but I choose what I see
I bow my neck to the yoke
For the burden is sweeter after all
And so I take it upon me"

And so the young girl runs off to get married and not be a nun

work schedule today

i was wondering whether i could construct a composite dataset on sovereign wealth funds and their relative weightings on domestic, and foreign equity.

anyway, i wasn't expecting to be able to construct them all, because SWFs usually don't publish their positions. But Norway's pension fund has this remarkable list of all its equity holdings, it's stakes... and it appears extremely diversified. admittedly, this data goes back to 2007 because it's probably sensitive to publish their current holdings.

they also have annual reports up to 1998, which is the year where their international equity holding was allowed to go up to 40%. unfortunately, that's not as far back as i would have liked.
school's out tomorrow too. yay!
schools' out. took out my ruler, it's 12 inches of snowfall, the heaviest in 18 years. they cancelled school because most people are like me marooned.

still, this city always comes to a standstill whenever there is a little bit of snow. no buses, no tube, no transport links. boris johnson exhorts us all to work from home. let's hope it gets better tomorrow. and they were prepared with the weather forecast

still, since it comes once every 20 years, maybe it isn't worth the investment.


bad news: i tried to do the GMM (generalized method of moments) problem set today. i've never felt so lost in a course before.

good news: london is covered in proper snowfall, it's absolutely snowing chunks here. it's the best snow i've seen in all my time here, and i'll post photos soon. i went out and was caked in snow.

first up, what a graceful champion rafael nadal is... the way he takes victory is very sportmanlike, especially after roger broke down when he received the plate. luckily, roger managed to recover and with equal grace let rafa have the last word.

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal reduced Roger Federer to tears as he won a classic Australian Open final to secure his first hard-court Grand Slam title and stop the Swiss equalling the all-time Majors record on Sunday. Federer was left speechless by the defeat and broke down sobbing as he tried to address the crowd. "God, it's killing me," said the Swiss, who was consoled by his hero, Australian great Rod Laver. "I love this game, it means the world to me and it hurts when you lose," the dejected Federer said later. "In the first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad. Then all of a sudden it overwhelms you. "You can't just go in the locker room and take a cold shower, take it easy - you're stuck out there. It's rough."

"Sorry for today," Nadal told his rival. "I know how you're feeling right now. It's really tough.

"But remember you are a great champion, you are one of the best in history and you're going to improve the 14 of Sampras."

there is no way this is going to beat last year's wimbledon final as the best match ever played which had 10-8, 9-7 games and rain interruptions. but i felt both players took it to another level, there appeared to be far fewer unforced errors in this game, and unlike the previous year, where federer was ill, federer was fitter than ever, hardly panting between strokes. he also played phenomenally out of his skin today, which must be infuriating for him. because he must know that he has played that well and it still wasn't enough. at the end of the day, tennis is not a winner's game. tennis is the type of game that goes to the player that makes the fewest mistakes. he made very few, but he didn't convert breaks. also, his first serve % could be higher, but really that's just nitpicking nadal was forcing him to hit to a very high standard.

at the end of the day, nadal is left handed, federer is right handed. federer continues using a single handed backhand, while nadal is a two handed backhand player. so nadal's powerful forehand keeps going to federer's backhand, so the stats are against him. if he can figure out a way to fight this, then he's a genius.

he is basically the anti-federer (actually he is much better than that, because he beats everyone else too, and has his own style) but basically his style of play was the one that was needed to displace federer, because of federer's main weakness in his game


nadal is perfect on clay winning all but one match ever. federer was the only guy who managed to beat him on that surface.

there were times where federer was even playing like nadal, just keeping the ball in court and winning, showing that he has learnt to compete better from the baseline. but at the end of the day that's just not his way, and he reverts to type.

but that isn't exactly a fair characterization of this match. there were times where nadal appeared tired, but what was amazing about him was that he would be able to psychologically beat the shit out his opponent. he would go down 0-40, giving federer 3 break points, pull back to 40-40, trade deuces 4 times before winning the point. try again next point federer. it was his ability to win clutch points or points that mattered, as if he knew when to use his energy and raise his game. it didn't matter that federer always looked more comfortable holding serve, because rafa would always break back when it mattered. he basically came back from the dead 3rd set, just like he did at wimbledon.

i grew up with roger federer, always watching him when i was studying. if he can pick himself up again after losing yet another 5-set final to win his 14th grand slam, he will be a winner. since 2004 he is in grand slams unbeaten except to one person, the opposite-handed (left) rafael nadal, his phantom nemesis. he gets up every grand slam to blitz his way to the final so he can play his practice match with rafael nadal, the only chance he gets to play with someone who can consistently beat him.

anyway, this summarizes it



"Playing Style"

get up again please, and inspire all of us.