Greece junked

Another Black Swan spotting!

Greece’s credit rating was cut three steps to junk by Standard and Poor’s, the first time a euro member has lost its investment grade since the currency’s 1999 debut. The euro weakened and stock markets throughout the region plunged.

Greece was lowered to BB+ from BBB+ by S&P, which also warned that bondholders could recover as little as 30 percent of their initial investment if the country restructures its debt. The move, which puts Greek debt on a par with bonds issued by Azerbaijan and Egypt, came minutes after the rating company reduced Portugal by two steps to A- from A+.

Wait a minute, hasn’t the financial media reported that Greece was saved, bailed out, etc about 20 times in the last month? Anyhow, you may recall that I suggested going long dollar a few months ago, back when the Euro was around $1.45. Needless to say, the few people who noticed at the time said I was crazy. Again.

On a tangential note, don’t you enjoy the way the ratings services always helpfully let you know that a bond is worthless well after it becomes completely freaking obvious? I don’t often agree with Paul Krugman, but I thought it was impressive that 93% of the AAA-rated mortgage securities are now downgraded to junk. Ex post facto, of course. It would appear that an AAA rating doesn’t mean what so many investors thought it meant.

Immigration irony

A letter to the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Of course Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, signed the state’s anti-immigrant bill (front page, April 24). Why? The majority of Arizona residents wanted her to. Immigrants, undocumented and legal, are blamed for crime, unemployment, crowded emergency rooms, pet overpopulation and every other social ill that comes to mind.

It reminds me of Germany in the 1930s and how Jews were held culpable for Europe’s problems. Arizona’s Legislature shamelessly panders to the radical fringe in our state and snickers at those of us who seek common ground.

For the first time since moving here from New York City in 1997, I am ashamed to call myself an Arizonan.

Debra J. White
Tempe, Ariz., April 24, 2010

This is exhibit A why Arizonans should be restricting immigration. And not just from south of the border.

Statistical status

There is something about the economics-inclined mind that can’t help considering what the reported numbers imply:

The average woman dates 24 men and spends more than £2,000 before finding “Mr Right”, research has shown.

Here’s what occurred to me upon seeing this article in the Telegraph. First, the average man probably dates fewer than 24 women before settling down, so once you have dated 12 women, you should have a pretty good idea of where you rate with the opposite sex. Don’t delude yourself, that’s where the market has valued you. So, if you want to get married and have children, you should strongly considering doing so with the next woman you meet who compares reasonably well with those previous 12 women and is largely compatible with your faith, personality, and finances.

Second, if you’re only interested in trophy hunting, you can also use this information. Since the average woman has also had sex with six men, this means that she will have sex with one in every four men with whom she goes out on a date. So, if you’re not having sex with at least one out of every four women you take out, you’re clearly doing something wrong and need to either adjust your approach or rethink what sort of women you are pursuing.

Third, it occurs to me that this sex/date ratio is probably as effective and objective a means of defining male sexual status as any, which is useful given the inability of many men to understand that this status has nothing to do with what a man thinks of himself, but is determined by the way women react to him. Alphas, being near-irresistible to women, would have a percentage of .850+ since even George Clooney and Brad Pitt strike out from time to time. Sigmas would be a bit less, around .750+, thanks to the strangeness and unpredictability factors. Betas would be between .250 and .400, Deltas between .100 and .300, Gammas between .050 and .200, and Omegas below .050. So, if you want to figure out to which classification you belong, just work out your historical sex/date ratio. Note that this isn’t a sex per date ratio, it is the percentage chance that a man will eventually have sex with a woman if he goes on a date with her. It would probably not be unreasonable to use this ratio as a probability proxy for the likelihood that a woman will accept a date request from the man as well.

This sex/date classification obviously doesn’t apply to women because they are the ones responsible for deciding whether a date ends in sex or not. This means that their status has to depend upon initiations rather than conclusions, but it should be possible to come up with a similar classification set based on the amount of date requests and propositions women receive from men of varying statuses. A date request from an Alpha would be worth 3x more than a proposition from an Alpha, which would be worth 5x more than a date request from a Gamma. Something more or less like that, anyway.