Fraudsters, Cyborgs and Cheap Power

Your weekly 5 things from the mind of Miles Lasater

Happy Saturday! Here are your 5 things from the mind of Miles for this week.

  1. Lying for Money. Reading analysis of, economic theories of and occasional jokes about large-scale financial fraud may not be your cup of tea.  But if it is your cup of tea, then Lying for Money is some great tea! I would argue that learning about fraud helps you better defend against it. For example, the book offers a useful taxonomy of fraud including long firm/bust out, ponzi, control fraud and market fraud. Three other things that stuck with me:

    1. Fraud is Part of Prosperity. The economically optimal level of fraud is not zero. To growth and prosperity, you want to accept higher levels of fraud than seems right. I’ve always considered trust a pre-conditions for trade so I thought about this part of the book a lot. He argues that trust can be high and still have some fraud in the system. 

    2. New Markets. New markets offer enough novelty that people don’t know the normal and anti-fraud systems are not as mature. So, expect more fraud in new market areas.

    3. Focus on Unit Cost. Systems designed for low per unit processing cost are ripe for exploitation. Think insurance claim processing or high-throughput financial transactions.

  2. A Third Thumb. Have you seen the video of the third thumb in action? The delight on people’s faces is worth seeing. They published a study of the neurological effects of wearing the device. I’m continually amazed by the plasticity of the brain. Are you ready to be a cyborg?

  3. Succumbing to MasterClass. I finally signed up for MasterClass. I knew they did glossy video classes with high-profile teachers. What I didn’t know is that the price is all-you-can-eat subscription. First course was on negotiation. Next I started a class on how to run a political campaign. Down the rabbit hole I go!

  4. Hypnosis for Pain. I’ve been reading up on the use of hypnosis for pain management. Studies suggest that hypnosis is effective for some people to lower reported chronic pain. Curious if you have any experience with hypnosis?

  5. Cheap Power. Solar is getting cheaper faster than experts predicted. Now comes the claim: “Today, local wind and solar could replace 80% of the US coal fleet at immediate savings to customers.” (see article and original report). I think they are saying that the ongoing cost for existing coal plants is more than the levelized cost of installing solar.  That is bananas! (As a counterpoint, Vaclav Smil’s new book Numbers Don't Lie says natural gas is still the cheapest power generation. Maybe the difference is the inclusion of the distribution?)

Until next week,

Miles