Economics

Dell And EMC

The big news today is about Dell buying EMC. This hits close to home, EMC being a Massachusetts company and employing people I know. It also reminds me of all the people I knew who worked for DEC before it was bought by Compaq, which still seems odder to me than the current merger. But then, DEC was shortsighted in some ways, missing the boat when it came to microcomputers, even more than IBM, which at least grasped things enough to create a market and widely adopted standards. IBM has been seen to varying degrees as the walking dead for decades, yet somehow kept going, even thriving. Then again, installed base creates inelasticity on the way to doom. Just ask COBOL. This is why, in the absence of total annihilation, civilization itself will not collapse absolutely and immediately in the face of many possible disasters. But I digress.

EMC is arguably more focused, robust and nimble than was DEC, and a better fit with Dell than was DEC with Compaq. It could work, until enough of their combined business goes obsolete. We’ll see.

Gone Galt

Be it unintentional or not, the economy isn’t the same after many workers have gone Galt, dropping out of the full-time workforce on an extended, if not permanent, basis. This hits close to home. I didn’t start out intending to participate negligibly in the economy until the economy rejected me. Now it’s about stability, bare adequacy or making do, and refraining from helping the economy any more than necessary until at least 2017.

I Didn’t Realize It Was THIS Bad

However, this corroborates my view that there is indeed a new/continued housing bubble and, naturally, the potentially for it to fuel another crash. I’m lucky to be in an apartment with rent that doesn’t routinely increase, but what was barely affordable market rent ten years ago is now slightly less affordable below market rent. In a world in which we need either an even larger apartment or, better still, a house rental. Neither of which will happen any time soon, though certainly they will happen sooner than home ownership. The only way I’ll ever own property is if I pursue my old dream of buyng a piece of insanely cheap land in the middle of nowhere so I can at least camp out on it now and then, perhaps build a cabin getaway, or if the housing market fully crashes next time and I am in a position to take advantage of it. It was a big surprise to me that houses didn’t deflate to what they were worth in the last crash, and tended still to be overpriced. The house next door last sold in a $100,000 short sale, at a price that was somewhere between 20 and 70 grand more than I’d have considered appropriate.

Realistic Monopoly

These are great revisions to the classic Monopoly board game. I especially liked:

These rule changes create opportunities for cooperation, as well as the possibility of crises. That’s because most players will probably end up owing far more than they can hope to repay if they ever have to cover all of their debts at once. A few unfortunate throws of the dice can create situations where there literally isn’t enough money in the game. This creates a great opportunity for players to learn how debts get restructured, as well as the importance of knowing everyone’s place in the hierarchy of the capital structure.