Explaining Southern California's economy

Rather Short Book Review: Emanuel Derman's 'Models. Behaving. Badly'

Emanuel Derman is a professor of finance at Columbia University and also a physicist. But what' he's probably best known for is his years at Goldman Sachs in the lead-up to the financial crisis and his role as one of the pre-eminent Wall Street "quants" — investment professionals who attempted to use complex quantitative models to drive risk out of making money. These days, some critics blame the quants for nearly destroying the global financial system

Derman chronicled his Wall Street days in a 2004 book, "My Life as A Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance" — a full four years before the financial crisis truly took hold in late-2008. He's now followed that title up with "Models. Behaving. Badly," in which he looks back on both his life and his life's work and...finds fault with the world that he in part helped to engineer. 

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Watch out, Southern California! New York wants to do biotech, too

The guy in the video above is Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist and a partner at Union Square Ventures in New York. (He also a very active and disciplined blogger.) I've blogged about Fred and his thoughts a few times here at DeBordReport.

Watch the whole thing to get a sense of his views on engineering, startups, VC — and where New York might be headed in terms of developing a more diverse startup community.

One of the things that means is biotech.

Biotech is a startup industry that Southern Californian already does and does well. Biotech is our version of Silicon Valley and information technology. And that's good, because biotech could be the next big thing. I went down to Orange County earlier this week to find out how and dropped by a new biotech incubator, TechPortal Orange, at the UC Irvine Medical Center.

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Occupy LA gets more aggressive

Occupy Protesters March In Downtown L.A.

David McNew/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Police officers stand guard as Occupy LA protesters stop to demonstrate at a Bank of America during the Move Your Money March on what is being called Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Occupy movement members are calling for people to move their money from banks to credit unions today in support of the 99% movement. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

When compared with Occupy protest movements in New York, Oakland, and now Berkeley, Occupy LA has seemed like a blissed-out band of peaceniks. No police confrontations. No tear gas. No rubber bullets. No truncheons. 

Until now. Well, OK, there's been no real violence. But elements of Occupy LA did...actually occupy something other than the lawn of City Hall last night. They moved into a Bank of American branch lobby. KPCC's Corey Moore got the story:

About 50 protesters holding signs and chanting "Make banks pay" briefly took over the lobby of a Bank of America branch in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night, calling for greater accountability. They were part of a march of about a thousand people demanding that financial corporations help resolve the state’s budget problems.

It's not clear yet whether the Occupy Movement is ramping up its provocations because it wants to...or needs to, given that the public and the media may be losing interest in the protests.

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Apple iPad2 v. Amazon Kindle Fire: The battle royal that will define holiday gadget shopping

Amazon Introduces New Tablet At News Conference In New York

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire is displayed on September 28, 2011 in New York City.

Back in the good old days — you know, 2009 or 2010 — there was the Apple iPad and everything else. When it came to tablets, there wasn't really a true tablet market; there was an iPad market, as my favorite tech writer, Zach Epstein of BGR.com, has pointed out. But now there's another tablet in town. Here is Forbes' Tim Worstall on how the Amazon Kindle Fire will be different from the Apple iPad, business-model-wise:

Apple makes great kit, no doubt about that, but it charges great kit prices for it too. Then it makes a further margin on selling content (music, videos, movies, books) to go onto that kit. Nothing wrong with it but it is a model that might be vulnerable. Vulnerable to someone using the Gillette tactic (“give away” the razors in order to sell more razor blades) as Amazon is. Price the Kindle Fire at just about break even point and hope to make the profits by having a larger installed base to sell the content onto.

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