Links 10/20/08

Indian tigers: ‘Protection measures aren’t strong enough’ Guardian

High summits ‘could harm brain’ BBC. They don’t mean the geopolitical kind.

Publish and be wrong Economist. “One group of researchers thinks headline-grabbing scientific reports are the most likely to turn out to be wrong.” And this is the stuff in peer-reviewed journals, mind you.

Obama Assembles U.S.’s `Largest Law Firm’ to Monitor Election Bloomberg

Churchill’s Dictum Uwe Reinhardt (featured by Willem Buiter). Reinhardt makes mincemeat of Paulson’s bank bailout program.

Valuations Need To Fall Further for a Sustainable Rally Matt Blackman Seeking Alpha

A Damascene Moment Macro Man

Do our rulers know enough to avoid a 1930s replay? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. Some of this is familiar ground, but Evans-Pritchard has fresh, sobering data on production and shipping.

Forecasters warn UK ‘already in recession Independent

Deficit Rises, and the Consensus Is to Let It Grow Louis Uchitelle, New York Times

Regulatory Rule #3: Don’t Rely on the Sophistication of Sophisticated Investors Mike Guttentag Conglomerate

1927-1933 Chart of Pompous Prognosticators Barry Ritholtz. This is a classic I had somehow missed, and reader Chris remedied that oversight.

Get Rid of the Performance Review! Samuel A. Culbert, Wall Street Journal. This is a great piece, but it has taken 16 years for someone to come to the conclusion voiced in a 1992 paper by Patrick D. Larkey and Jonathan P. Caulkin, “All Above Average and Other Unintended Consequences of Performance Appraisal Systems,” that 100 years of experimenting with performance appraisal systems (their critique is much broader than Culbert’s) has conclusively shown that they do not work.

In defence of hedge funds Sam Jones, FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Richard). A great post that describes how investment banks have taken to blaming hedge funds for their woes, when in fact the were the creators of the problems they are trying to pin on hedgies.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    Culbert’s essay on performance reviews is outstanding, and I agree with all his assertions. One-way accountability sessions are bogus, and where one’s pay and work assignments are tied up in a boss-favored outcome they are, in a word of two syllables, a mindfuck. Two-way accountability, and done ahead of final assessment is a positive. Where I went to college, we wrote evals _of our professors_ as well as received them; the power was more distributed.

    But if performance reviews are so seriously dysfunctional, and I agree with him that they are, why do they grow year by year in pervasiveness? They are a paper trail liability shield for organizations against charges of bias, spreading pap and BS to allow management to do what they had already decided all along. If the paperwork is cut carefully, it’s hard to prove racism, sexism, ageism, or retaliation by management. For that reason, we will have performance reviews as long as we have bosses. *sigh* They may get a little better, but they aren’t going away.

  2. fresno dan

    AmbroseEvansPritchard “But it will not spare us a decade-long toil of pitiful growth – or none at all – as we purge debt. The world stole prosperity from the future for year after year, with the full collusion of governments, regulators, and central banks. Now the future has arrived”
    He must be smart, ’cause thats what I think

  3. fresno dan

    “Churchill’s Dictum Uwe Reinhardt (featured by Willem Buiter”
    I don’t know whichis scarier – Paulson as a self interested scammer, or Paulson as ignorant of what he is doing. As I’ve asked before, did Paulson actually know how Goldman Sachs made money??? Any answer is disconcerting

  4. Matt Dubuque

    The Publish and Be Wrong article borders on the specious.

    Obviously a lot of the research supporting drug efficacy (upon which the authors rely heavily in their latest study) in the USA is flawed and biased. But this is well known in the US epidemiological community and has resulted in several recent editorial board shakeups at the much ballyhooed New England Journal of Medicine for this very reason.

    But to extrapolate from that limited sample set from a journal (and to a lesser extent JAMA) that has been distinctly tarnished to peer-reviewed research in general is quite a stretch. It is much more reflective of a decline in American standards.

    Furthermore, their claim that a high proportion of widely cited articles were subsequently “refuted” is
    quite a claim.

    First, theirs is a meta-study, so they apparently assume all the various ANOVA assumptions, kappas and t-values in the underlying studies should be held constant, or perhaps “averaged” together, which is quite a dubious assumption.

    Every study has its own degree of certainty about its results and its various confidence intervals ABOUT that level of certainty. To lump them all together is a NOTORIOUS difficultly with meta-analyses such as these, something which is COMPLETELY ignored in the article.

    Secondly, precisely what does “refute” mean? Clarified? Amplified? Contradicted? Expanded? Distinguished? Certain narrow exceptions raised to the general rule in the original study?

    “Refute” is an extremely broad term and I’m fully persuaded that even a cursory reading of the underlying studies would show that these “refutations” were not refutations at all but clarifications and amplifications of the original theses held with published degrees of certainty held with peer-reviewed confidence intervals.

    Just more food for the illiterates to chow down as the anti-intellectual dumbed down lack of critical thinking becomes the norm rather than the exception in the Western world.

    Heaven help us all.

    Matt Dubuque

  5. Anonymous

    “College tuition is the next bubble to pop, imo. The growth rate of the past decade that has been extrapolated ad infinitum can’t be sustained, just like the credit that funded it.”

    No doubt. Especially in law schools. There is a bi-modal salary distribution, where less than 10% get big firm salaries, and the rest get far less. However, all the law schools charge the same tuition. And the job market for most lawyers is horrible.

    Bad Market For Law Students

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