Links 6/3/09

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Plants ‘can recognise themselves’ BBC

The Math Gender Gap Explained Newsweek. The notion that more men do well at elite math looks more and more shaky.

Privacy study shows Google’s eyes are everywhere San Francisco Business Times

These Dark Satanic Mills Epicurean Dealmaker

More on bank lending data Econbrowser, and More on the fall in private borrowing and the rise in the fiscal deficit Brad Setser. We mentioned this issue in a post yesterday.

Appeals Court to Hear Challenge to Chrysler-Fiat Deal Wall Street Journal

Visa sees credit card industry restructuring Reuters. So what am I missing here? In the 1980s, everyone paid an annual fee and the cards had high but less exorbitant interest charges and far fewer “gotcha” fees. So charge fees again. This isn’t rocket science. It might take some price fixing, um, signaling to get there, but if airlines can figure this out, I am sure banks can too.

Health Insurers Balk at Some Changes New York Times

Congress Helped Banks Defang Key Rule Wall Street Journal

Germany Blasts ‘Powers of the Fed’ Wall Street Journal

Arthur Levitt Hired by Goldman Sachs Jesse. “Hired” = “Bought”. Levitt was up for some regulatory posts, and when he was the head of the SEC, exhibited a bit of backbone, enough so that he got perilously few board seats when he stepped down.

Fiscal options for the UK: sovereign insolvency, inflation or serious fiscal pain Willem Buiter, And he thinks the US is in more of a bind, details for a later post….

Pending Home Sales: Watch The Birdie! Karl Denninger

Antidote du jour. From reader Barbara:

A bar-headed goose walks with one of her day-old chicks at the Servion Zoo near Lausanne, Switzerland:

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  1. Gentlemutt

    Ach, what a disappointment by Mr. Levitt! Evidently he is merely the best of a bad breed and not really all that different from Rubin, Summers, Greenspan, Cox, Corrigan, etc.

    At the very least he is tone deaf, just like his buddy Mayor Crime Scene.

  2. Greg

    Having attended dozens of middle and high school math competitions over the past few years, I'm comfortable saying that there's still massive gender and ethnicity gaps in elite math worldwide. The ~500 recent USA Mathematical Olypmiad qualifiers are disproportionately of Asian background (10 times as many as would be expected based on representation in the US population)and roughly 10 to 1 male dominated. The names of the qualifiers, from which the USA Mathematical Olympiad team is eventually selected, can be found at

    Similar gender gaps can be found at just about any high-level math contest, including international events.

    Unfortunately, with the exception of elite math and science, males are substantially under performing in virtually every other academic endeavor. In the US, the percentage of males enrolling at typical universities has been dropping for many years and is now just 45% or so. As a group males receive far worse grades than females in high school and college. At many liberal arts institutions, the female-dominated gender imbalance creates undesirable social issues.

    Not much light has been shed on the subject of the gender gap in elite math since Summers comments on the subject a few years ago. The Newsweek article – essentially denying that a huge gap continues to exist – typifies the mainstream response. Kind of makes you wonder if Summers wasn't on to something. Maybe we're just not ready to talk about it.

  3. Hugh

    I am not a fan of Arthur Levitt. Consider he headed the SEC during LTCM, the dot com bubble, and Enron. He was there during the big push to deregulate markets during the Clinton Administration: Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the CFMA.

    Also Levitt is 78 years old. This I would think would have to be a significant part of the story. Why is Goldman really hiring him?

  4. dd

    Math Olympiads represent a different skill set: the ability to grasp the structures and quickly solve a puzzle. The real issue is the lose of the philosophical underpinnings and the theoretical framework in the rush to produce "champions." The current crisis is grounded in too many "champions" applying mathematical constructs in areas philosophically incompatible with the underlying reality.

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