Senator Elizabeth Warren endorses Martha Coakley

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

Watch this video. This is no ordinary endorsement.

Before seeing this video, I had no idea how well Martha Coakley understood the issues that Elizabeth Warren fights for. I knew that Martha Coakley had fought the big banks, but somehow, this endorsement changes how I look at Martha Coakley.

Here is the link to sign up for emails from the Coakley campaign.

Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy

Filed Under SteveG's Posts has the article Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy by Larry Hardesty.

This story is republished courtesy of MIT News (, a popular site that covers news about MIT research, innovation and teaching.

Here is a quote from the story to give you a hint at what this is about.

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. For most of the past century, the prevailing explanation of this conundrum has been what’s called the “Copenhagen interpretation”—which holds that, in some sense, a single particle really is a wave, smeared out across the universe, that collapses into a determinate location only when observed.

But some founders of —notably Louis de Broglie—championed an alternative interpretation, known as “pilot-wave theory,” which posits that quantum particles are borne along on some type of wave. According to pilot-wave theory, the particles have definite trajectories, but because of the pilot wave’s influence, they still exhibit wavelike statistics.

John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, believes that pilot-wave theory deserves a second look. That’s because Yves Couder, Emmanuel Fort, and colleagues at the University of Paris Diderot have recently discovered a macroscopic pilot-wave system whose statistical behavior, in certain circumstances, recalls that of quantum systems.

If these ideas pan out, it could significantly change what I learned about quantum mechanics 50 years ago.  I won’t comment further until Terry Steiner has a chance to throw his 2 cents worth in.

Interestingly I first read an article that was almost word for word the same as the above article, but had a few turns of phrase that seemed rather bizarre.  That article,  Math Proposed Substitute to Quantum Tenet, was in Capital Wired and written by Rasim van Nierop.  I posted a comment on the article asking whether this version was plagiarized from the one above, or was it vice versa.

Mass. pension fund posts 15.2% gain for ’13

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

The Boston Globe ran an article on January 22, 2014 Mass. pension fund posts 15.2% gain for ’13.

The pension fund beat its internal benchmarks last year in most categories, although it lagged in public real estate trusts, distressed debt, and timber holdings. The fund continued to enjoy improved results in hedge funds, with a 12.6 percent return last year versus an 8.8 percent average return for fund-of-funds.

The pension fund has shifted away from fund-of-funds, which use middlemen and charge extra fees, and is instead investing directly in a smaller group of higher-performing hedge funds. Overall, the fund expects to save $100 million in fees annually in 2015, and already has saved tens of millions.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman, who is chairman of the state pension board, said the fund’s strong results last year will help lower its $28.3 billion unfunded liability. The fund paid out $1.6 billion in retirement benefits in 2013.

“Our commitment to maximizing returns while successfully managing risk demonstrates sound fiscal leadership that will serve the interests of the Commonwealth’s taxpayers,’’ Grossman said.

Had I read that story back then, I might have thought “Oh, that’s nice”. However, after I wrote the previous post on this blog Is New Jersey Fudging Its Pension Fund Results to Deflect a Christie Scandal?, the whole thing takes on a new light.

According to the Globe article pension board chief Michael Trotsky is a former hedge fund manager who took over the pension job in 2010. 

I did better than a 15.2% gain in 2013, and I am living off my pension fund investments.  I wouldn’t touch a hedge fund with the proverbial ten foot pole.

September 15, 2014

In an attempt to start looking more deeply into this issue, I did a search of the Tresurer’s web site.

I found an article Massachusetts Pension Fund Overcharged.

“These overcharges are simply unacceptable, and we will take every step available to recoup lost funds and prevent this from happening in the future,” said Grossman. “Profiting disproportionately on the backs of the Commonwealth’s pensioners cannot be allowed to continue.”

A good sign that the Treasurer is paying attention, and intended to recoup the lost funds.

I found the 2012 Annual Report of the Massachusetts State Retirement Board. There is the chart on page 21 that gives some figures on the issue that concerns me. It shows the PRIT Fund Core Asset Allocation. Hedge Funds are 9.07% and Private Equity is 11.94% of the allocation. I don’t know how this compares to other state run investments. It is a higher allocation that this non-expert investor would like to see.

I also found a reprint of an August 6, 2014 article from The Boston Globe, Mass state pension fund rose 17.6% in fiscal ‘14. It compares the performance of Massachusetts to a few other states.

The items noted above are only the beginning of the research that would need to be done. Also, people far more expert than I in interpreting these types of documents need to have a look.

Is New Jersey Fudging Its Pension Fund Results to Deflect a Christie Scandal?

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

Naked Capitalism has the article Is New Jersey Fudging Its Pension Fund Results to Deflect a Christie Scandal? The article quotes from the article Gov. Christie Shifted Pension Cash to Wall Street, Costing New Jersey Taxpayers $3.8 Billion written by David Sirota and published in the International Business Times.

    Gov. Chris Christie’s administration openly acknowledged that more New Jersey taxpayer dollars were going to land in the coffers of major financial institutions. It was 2010, and Christie had just installed a longtime private equity executive, Robert Grady, to manage the state’s pension money. Grady promoted a plan to put more of those funds into riskier investments managed by Wall Street firms. Though this would entail higher fees, Grady said the strategy would “maximize returns while appropriately managing risk.”

Four years later, New Jersey has secured only half the promised results. The state has sent more pension money to big-name Wall Street firms like Blackstone, Third Point, Omega Advisors, Elliott Associates and Grady’s old firm, The Carlyle Group. Additionally, the amount of fees the state pays financial managers has more than tripled since Christie assumed office. New Jersey is now one of America’s largest investors in hedge funds.

The “maximized returns” have yet to materialize… Had New Jersey’s pension system simply matched the median rate of return, the state would have reaped roughly $3.8 billion more than it did between fiscal years 2011 and 2014, says pension consultant Chris Tobe.

What strikes me about this article is how wrong I have been in some of my assumptions about hedge funds.  I have read that hedge funds over charge their customers and under-perform the markets.  I have also read that hedge funds are investments only for wealthy, sophisticated investors.  So, putting two and two together to come up with three, I thought, so who cares if these wealthy, so-called sophisticated  investors are being taken for a ride.

If there are sophisticated investors putting money into these things, I was wrong to assume that they were putting their own money into them.  They were using OPM (other people’s money), and raking off commissions and political donations.

The people who are being taken for a ride are the taxpayers and pension beneficiaries.  It is almost a tenable position to assume that the non-wealthy are the losers in any scheme, and then go about finding out how this fact is hidden in the details.

Let’s all do some research and find out what has been reported about Massachusetts pension fund investments.  Has Steve Grossman really done as good a  job as I have been assuming?  Will Deb Goldberg do a good job in the future?

See my subsequent post Mass. pension fund posts 15.2% gain for ’13.

The Bennis Plan: Here Is a Real Strategy for Dealing with ISIS

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

The Real News Network has the interview video and transcript of The Bennis Plan: Here Is a Real Strategy for Dealing with ISIS. On YouTube, the interview summary is merely:

Military strategies have failed, only a political and diplomatic solution will work

I would hope that Bennis’s understanding is more like the following:

Military strategies alone have failed, only with the addition of a political and diplomatic strategy will it work.

It is nice to see an interview that is more than just “That won’t work”, but an interview that includes “Here are some things that need to be done.”

I think that some of the “diplomatic” strategies that Obama has employed, have worked. Obama refused to help Iraq until the democratic process of electing a new, more inclusive government was allowed by the Iraqi holdouts to complete. This was a strategy that previous Presidents were not clever enough to use.

That is a demonstration of exactly what is wrong with the Hillary Clinton method she would have applied in Syria. Essentially, she just wanted Obama to go in and do something while the internal forces dithered. Unless the internal forces are made to understand the consequences of dithering (and corruption) will there be a hope that they will concentrate on helping the people rather than just line their own pockets and quarrel with potential allies.

Tavis Smiley Extended Interview

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

The Daily Show has the video Tavis Smiley Extended Interview. The previous link is described as:

Tavis Smiley discusses his book “Death of a King” and describes the events leading up to Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in a hope to start an insightful conversation about race. (16:22)

The video clip below only includes the first part of that interview. If you want to see the whole thing, and I highly recommend that you should, use the link above.

The book Death of a King is something I am definitely going to read.

Does the content of the sermon that Dr. King never got to preach remind you of another Pastor who was unjustly vilified for telling us the truth? You may even think that that vilification was justified, but I maintain you would be wrong.

Maura’s Primary Night Victory Speech

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

Here is Maura’s Primary Night Victory Speech.

This is for the 83% who didn’t vote. The 17% of us who made this decision, made the right one. Maura gave the hints that she understands that this is class warfare, and the Republicans are on the other side. I have already seen some ads, not from the Healey campaign, that shows that the Democrats are taking the gloves off, and calling this campaign exactly what it is. It is about time.

My fellow Americans, please stop being idiots

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

The Daily Kos has the blog post My fellow Americans, please stop being idiots.

You people have all been in the internet for awhile now. Haven’t you learned the first lesson? Don’t feed the trolls. That’s what a terrorist is at heart, an asshole playing you for a reaction. Someone who gets off, not on the things he is doing, but on seeing how badly those things upset you. And what does a troll do when you react? Something worse.

I think this fits in nicely with this anniversary date.  I don’t know why we keep picking at the scab of 9/11.  At least this year was a little less focused on those nasty terrorists and how they made us victims.  This year, what few words I listened to in the media seem to focus more on how we worked to recover.

There have been hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed in the wars because of the 3,000 that died on 9/11. I simply cannot understand why it takes the videotaped murder of two journalists to make us forget what we have learned about the futility of these wars.  We now want to make more death and destruction and spend billions of dollars to avenge the death of two people.  I don’t think any troll on the internet could ever hope to get such an overreaction.

If the John McCains, Lindsay Grahams, John Boners, CBSs, NBCs, NYTs of the world could just hold their tongues, we could quietly go about taking what action we need to take without feeding the trolls.

Has Apple Pay Just Put Apple in the CFPB’s Crosshairs?

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

Naked Capitalism has the post Has Apple Pay Just Put Apple in the CFPB’s Crosshairs?

…Apple’s newly announced Apple Pay service puts Apple under the CFPB’s jurisdiction but[sic] virtue of having made itself a regulated financial institution. And Levitin means all of Apple’s consumer services, not just Apple Pay. He believes that Apple is now a “service provider” under the Consumer Financial Protection Act. That makes Apple subject to CFPB examination and UDAAP.

What, say you, is UDAAP? UDAAP stands for “unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices”. UDAAP is the CFPB’s most feared power.

Chalk up another win for Elizabeth Warren.  Somebody has to put the brakes on Apple taking over everything.  As Microsoft’s evil empire declines, there is Apple ready to move in.

President Obama Addresses the Nation on ISIL

Filed Under SteveG's Posts

YouTube has the President’s address. I presume the White house will eventually put up an edited version, but at the moment, this is the one I have.

Skip ahead to 31 minutes at which time the President walks in.