The Efficient Market Hypothesis – or when markets get it wrong

Electric vehicles may be the future. A lot of people think so. I haven’t seen an electric vehicle that both has the range I need and anything close to the towing capacity I want in a vehicle. (Some of us do more than run back and forth to the grocery store and work!) Electrocuted | Energy Matters

The referenced article is interesting, but the attached graph is what really caught my eye. Tesla’s market capitalization is nearly that of GM. But the number of vehicles they sold in 2016 is dwarfed by GM. And Ford. And everyone.

I saw this kind of thing in 1990s during the .com bubble. People – who were otherwise intelligent – told me that it was OK that internet companies were so small… they were building the future! Or something. But of course it does matter.

But then when you start to talk to them about the statement of cash flows, their eyes glaze over because they are only buying the sizzle. Do you know what a statement of cash-flows is, where to find it and how to read one? Are you familiar with the equation Assets = Liabilities + Owners Equity? (Do you know where you might see that equation?)

Maybe Tesla really is worth as much as GM. Maybe they have the secret sauce that will let their electric cars be so much better than the ones from Volvo, or Toyota, or Ford, or Honda, or anyone else, but in my humble opinion, there is something wrong with the way the markets are viewing Tesla.

For the basics on the Efficient-market hypothesis, see Wikipedia, but remember it is the Wiki. For an alternative view on the rationality of markets, the standard text is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, published in 1841. It details such things as the “South Sea Bubble” that hit England, “The Mississippi Scheme” that hit America and Tulipmania that hit Holland.

Canadian sniper makes record-breaking kill shot

This is quite a record. Canadian elite special forces sniper makes record-breaking kill shot in Iraq – The Globe and Mail

A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces in Iraq has shattered the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot in military history at a staggering distance of 3,540 metres.

That’s 2.2 miles, for you metrically challenged types.

I was in a “discussion” on social media with someone who couldn’t understand that a Canadian held this record, and not someone from the USA.

I tried to explain, that Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia actually give their snipers rifles designed for long distance work.

As best I can determine, the US Marines and the US Army use sniper rifles (that would be the M40A5 and M24 respectively) based on the 7.62X51 NATO cartridge. Both rifles have a barrel length of 24 inches. PALMA (long-distance competition) rifles in 7.62 NATO come off-the-shelf with 28 inch barrels, and custom rifles are often 30 inches or a bit longer, because that cartridge benefits tremendously from the extra barrel length. Even then, it isn’t 3000 meter capable. If I am wrong about what weapons the US military is using, please note it in the comments. I understand that the Marines have been looking for a replacement, but the .338 Lapua rifle I saw mentioned as under consideration had also been cut down to 24 inches. Someone with more experience in that caliber will have to say if that makes sense or not. I’m sure the 24 inch rule is out of deference to some US military doctrine, but not everyone agrees with it.

McMillan Tac-50The Canadian special forces soldier used a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle, that shoots the BMG .50 caliber round, with a barrel of 29 inches. That is another round, built around relatively slow-burning powder that benefits from increased barrel length. [Photo of Tac-50 via Wikimedia Commons and User MathKnight]

L115A3A recent record holder, Craig Harrison, formerly a Corporal of Horse in the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment of the British Army, used an Accuracy International L115A3 chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, which sported a 27 inch barrel. [Photo of L115A3 rifle via Wikimedia Commons and user Andrew Linnett]

Click either image for a larger view of the weapons used.

The Australians provide their snipers with Barrett 50 caliber rifles. I have no direct evidence, except the 2800+ meter shot they made a few years back, but I expect they are using the 29 inch barrels for that weapon.

All that said, the current record is quite a feat, with whatever weapon is used.

Tam Reminds Us it is The Anniversary of D-Day

View From The Porch: 6/6/44

The youngest guys wading through that bullet-stirred surf are ninety, now, and there are fewer every year who remember with advantages what feats they did that day…

Go watch The Longest Day. (It is on Netflix.) It isn’t a documentary, but it is pretty good, given the level of special effects available in 1962. And it really does have an “all star cast.” Everyone from John Wayne to Red Buttons.

As for the reference to “…what feats they did that day…” It is the St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. (Also known as the “Band of Brothers Speech.”) This version is from the (somewhat) underrated Danny DeVito film about an out-of-work ad man who gets a job teaching some army recruits.

The Battle of Midway: June 4, 1942

Six months after Pearl Harbor, the US Navy was able to win a major victory at the Island of Midway. Battle of Midway – World War II – HISTORY.com

Thanks in part to major advances in code breaking, the United States was able to preempt and counter Japan’s planned ambush of its few remaining aircraft carriers, inflicting permanent damage on the Japanese Navy. An important turning point in the Pacific campaign, the victory allowed the United States and its allies to move into an offensive position.

The video at History.com is good, but the audio isn’t balanced correctly. Still the article is good.

Although initial strikes by Midway-based planes were not successful, American carrier-based planes turned the tide. Torpedo bombers became separated from the American dive-bombers and were slaughtered (36 of 42 shot down), but they diverted Japanese defenses just in time for the dive-bombers to arrive; some of them had become lost, and now by luck they found the Japanese. The Japanese carriers were caught while refueling and rearming their planes, making them especially vulnerable. The Americans sank four fleet carriers–the entire strength of the task force–Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu, with 322 aircraft and over five thousand sailors. The Japanese also lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma. American losses included 147 aircraft and more than three hundred seamen.

I always enjoyed the 1970s Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston movie, but it probably doesn’t hold up for folks used to 21st century special effects.

First Man in Space – April 12, 1961

Yuri GargarinCertainly a milestone in human exploration worth noting. Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space

Yuri Gagarin was a 27-year-old fighter pilot in the USSR Air Force, when he made a 108 minute orbital flight in the Vostok 1 spacecraft.

A month later Alan Shepard would make a suborbital flight to be “The First American in Space.” (Such distinctions were important to people during the Cold War, though ignoring the Soviet’s accomplishments seems petty at this distance.)

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born March 9th, 1934 in Klushino, Russia. He died at the age of 34 on March 27th, 1968 when his fighter jet crashed.

There is a statue of Gagarin in London, near Admiralty Arch.

The Bureaucratic Failures that Lead to the Attack on a German Christmas Market

The 19th of December, 2016 was for Germany, a bit like 9/11 was for the USA. Before that date, they were mostly in an “It can’t happen here,” state of denial. Berlin Attack: “An Attack is Expected” | ZEIT ONLINE

Zeit produces long articles, and this no exception, but it is an interesting look at how the German federal system works – or in this case didn’t work.

The German authorities knew a lot about the Tunisian Anis Amri. Actually, almost everything. Nevertheless, shortly before Christmas he was able to commandeer a truck in Berlin and kill twelve people.

A total of 56 people were injured in that attack, and some of them are still in hospitals.

How the police in various states (Lands in the German parlance) knew about Amri, and yet didn’t manage to stop him, in the face of crimes committed, false statements made to authorities and more. He was identified as a threat, at least by one police department, and yet nothing was done.

As for that denial…

With the Berlin attack, a phase of relative comfort came to an end in the Federal Republic. While bombs exploded in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Belgium, and terrorists shot or ran down people down with trucks, Germany was until then spared major Islamist attacks.

Arthur C. Clarke (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008)

Some fun facts about Sir Arthur Charles Clarke…. He is probably most well known as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (He is credited on the screenplay with Kubrick as well as on the novel. Both were written concurrently.) This was based loosely on a short story by Clarke, entitled “The Sentinel.” And a few other of his short stories.

His most notable contribution to the real world is his 1945 description of geostationary communications satellites which he described in the September 1945 edition of Wireless World. (A British publication.) At the time the article was published (“Peacetime Uses for V2”) it was considered to be “not feasible” based on cost. It was in fact less than 20 years before it became a reality when the first geostationary communication satellite, Intelsat I, was launched on April 6th, 1965. The orbit – at 35,786 kilometers above the equator – is known as the Clarke Orbit.

The 2nd interesting idea for the real world that he floated is the space elevator. Pretty much what it sounds like. If we ever develop the technology to build the cables, it will drastically reduce the cost of putting something in orbit.

As an author and observer of human nature, he developed three laws, which he is famous for.

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The third law has been done to death in science fiction.