Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Value of Greece dropped by 15% in 3 days, 50% in 10 months

Bloomberg's page about the Athens Stock Exchange informs us about the significant changes in the Greek market in the wake of the catastrophic elections three days ago. The main index has dropped from 1,300+ in March 2014 and 840+ on January 23rd, 2015 to 711 today. The total damages of the elections on the capitalization of the companies exceed the total effect of all Greco-Persian wars by many orders of magnitude.

The Greek banks were doing worse, of course. They dropped by almost 70% in the recent year and by almost 40% years since the elections. Thankfully, the markets are behaving much more rationally than in 2010 or 2012 and most people seem to realize that Tsipras et al. is only a cataclysm for Greece, not so much for Europe or the world in which Greece is a small, unimportant, and largely disconnected territory. All major market players seem to be aware of the fact that Europe is pretty much ready to disconnect Greece formally, too, and it may be almost as smooth as the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, at least on the European side.

Yields on 10-year bonds have jumped above 10%. It means that after 10 years, one has to return about \(e=2.718\) times more than what he borrowed. Some shorter-term bonds have yields above 16%. Update: three-year bond yields went to 18.5%.

The decreases of the stock prices make perfect sense. Tsipras and his comrades have promised to pretty much liquidate every company and every individual who is not one of the millions of borrow-a-lot-never-return parasites that are called the Syriza electorate. So far everything suggests that they are going to be tough. Banks won't be allowed to effectively demand their money to be returned from the borrowers. Foreclosures on houses up to €300,000 will be impossible, too. Everyone who is productive will be forced to contribute – thanks to an insanely progressive tax – to crazy programs such as 13th salaries for the government employees, free electricity and fuel for the poor, and tons of other things that Greece obviously can't afford even if the debt is completely erased. And of course, all the privatization has already been stopped. China is particularly angry that a privatization of a port was cancelled. The Chinese officials – who are clearly the pro-capitalist side of this dispute – have informed Greece that Tsipras is a new Phaeton, a mythological chap given powers exceeding his abilities who has to be killed by Zeus-issued thunderbolt in order to restore order (the original ancient Phaeton couldn't control horses which raised the threat of global warming).

It's very obvious that this system will collapse soon or later – probably soon. So Greeks have taken €8 billion of savings in cash from the banks since Sunday, in the hope that these euros will keep their value. This is a significant part of the Greeks' savings. Fortunately, Greeks are not big savers, so the savings are negligible relatively to the Greek public debt.

A potential silver lining of the aggressive attitude of these Marxist šitheads is that the Greek alphabet is somewhat similar to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet – well, instead of alpha, beta, gamma, delta, Russians start by alpha, beta, vega, gamma, delta (at least the first four were the names of 4 identical pieces of the Izmailovo Hotel in Moscow where I live in 1992, during the International Mathematical Olympiad). More importantly, they share the Orthodox Christianity.

Wouldn't you expect this religious proximity to have consequences? You should have.

Greece has made it clear that they disagree with an EU criticism of Russia in the wake of some shooting in Mariupol, a port that Novorussia may want to conquer in order to connect mainland Russia with Crimea. They seem to oppose new sanctions and in March, they may even veto the existing sanctions against Russia. Yes, a veto is enough. None of the relative cowards who largely oppose the sanctions has used the right of the veto but the Marxist šitheads in Greece are not cowards.

I think it would be great. About €50 billion of the Greek debt should be forgiven if they manage to end the meaningless EU-Russia sanctions war. And when the relationships with Russia improve again, the EU should donate Greece to Russia as a gift, in order to try to heal the scars that were made in 2014. It won't be a terribly expensive gift but it will be a gift, anyway.

More seriously, there exists a U.S. self-described economist who has praised Syriza's policies. These policies that make Vladimir Lenin look like Adam Smith in comparison have been hailed as fairly conventional economics. Today, Krugman wrote another op-ed whose title is Syriza should ignore calls to be responsible. I guess that Syriza hasn't been irresponsible enough so far!

Krugman is clearly a raving lunatic. It is insane that many people in the U.S. still like to connect communism with Russia – but they happen to overlook Paul Krugman who lives in the United States.

His blog is full of absolutely incredible rants. For example, the newest one asserts that the collapse of the Greek stocks is in no way a verdict about the new Greek government! It is only an expression of the high risk of a disorderly breakdown of the whole process, an event that will surely have nothing to do with the new government, Krugman teaches us! ;-) The breakdown will have to be a consequence of the planned invasion by the extraterrestrials that Krugman unmasked a few years ago in order to cover the U.S. with new useless railways.

I can't believe that someone may be so incredibly stupid, especially if some bureaucrats gave him the "Nobel memorial prize in economics".

Make no mistake about it. Markets are pretty much sensible and they are much more sensible and calm now than they were years ago. They know that the world won't end because of Alexis Tsipras – markets are already able to avoid silly myths about domino effects and the idea that everyone depends on everyone else and everyone shares everything with everyone else (a myth that the fans of redistribution want everyone to believe!) – but some companies may die or lose much of their profits and this is exactly expressed in the prices of the stocks. Of course that unless someone neutralizes Tsipras and lots of other people very quickly, certain companies are pretty much doomed.

All companies in Greece, led by those traded at the Athens Stock Exchange, are the places where the profit is generated and the Greeks ultimately live from this profit. The drop of the index by 15 or so percent in three days approximately means that the expectations about the profits that the companies – a representative part of the Greek economy – may make in coming years has dropped by the same or similar percentage. This drop will be inevitably translated to the drop of the Greek living standards.

Of course, Syriza are hysterical communist loons so they believe pretty much any toxic Marxist conspiracy theory you have heard in your life. The idea that banks are bad and not needed is surely one of them. But banks are absolutely essential in anything we call a national economy in the modern sense. Even some of the very poor countries have banks. They need banks like everyone else. The more advanced a society is, the more dependent on banks it is.

Banks are playing the role of the intermediaries in between the lenders and borrowers (and borrowers include almost everyone who builds something for the future, as an investment), and for doing this matching rather effectively, they are earning the gap between the two interest rates which is some fraction of the higher interest rate (paid by the borrowers). If banks didn't exist, the individuals and companies would have to do the same job – looking for funds and/or looking for ways how to invest the funds to get some return – themselves and of course that they would do so less efficiently (and the work for the lawyers would be tougher and more chaotic, too). The only reason why banks still exist is that banks are doing these things more efficiently than what the lenders and borrowers could manage to do "directly".

The profit they earn is as deserved as the profit made by any other company.

There is really no conceptual difference between the work done by a bank or a brewery or a software company or any other company – and their revenues, profits, their relationship with the service done for others, and the relationships with everything else in the economy. Every selective intervention against a sector of the economy is guaranteed to be harmful. Sometimes, others may benefit. But we see that no one has really benefited from the fall of the Greek banks. Other stocks have also fallen, albeit less dramatically. After all, if banks are in trouble, other companies that depend on their services will also face some troubles.

Various populist parties across Europe – sadly, this list includes Front National in France – are excited about this chaos and damage that has already been done and that will be done by Syriza. Syriza has given the finger to the EU so it's great, we are told. This is a very short-sighted attitude. Some of the leaders of these parties may be decoupled from the real economy but most people – and even most voters of these populist parties – aren't. To one extent or another, the decrease of the capitalization and profits of the Greek companies will be translated to a lowered ability of the Greeks to repay any debt and to their lower living standards. And if a similar party with a similar program had won in another country, it could cause a similarly devastating impact as Syriza in Greece.

(Minutes ago, the Bank of England governor published a Syriza-like anti-austerity, pro-redistribution rant, holy cow. This šit is almost everywhere.)

It is silly to link these controversies surrounding the new Greek government with the EU. The EU hasn't invented the concept of loans. The EU hasn't earned the money that were largely wasted in Greece. It was the taxpayers elsewhere, mostly in Germany. If the EU didn't exist, the situation would be almost the same in principle. The lender side wouldn't use letters such as the EU and perhaps not even the IMF, but it would represent pretty much the same people and their interests. Hard-working people from nations that are more likely to be savers, like Germany. Long before the EU existed, it was assumed that people should return the money they have borrowed. This principle isn't an invention of the EU. So if Marine Le Pen celebrates a Marxist aßhole for his claims that one doesn't need to repay any debt because it is silly (and it is a rule invented by some evil EU bureaucrats or bankers), she is not fighting against the EU. She is fighting against the principles of the Western civilization and the capitalist economy as we have known them for centuries.

People are often talking about Grexit – the Greek exit from the eurozone and perhaps the EU – and about their new independent currency, and so on. We also discuss whether their debt will be lowered again. Pretty much everyone in the rest of Europe says that the repayment may be delayed and perhaps the interest rates may be artificially lowered or something like that but the principal can't be slashed. Of course, none of the people in Europe is as loud as Tsipras so we can't be sure that he won't push them to some currently "silently unacceptable" positions.

But all these things are relative details for Greece. The currency a country uses is a technicality. Czechia still uses its crown, Slovakia has switched to the euro but the differences are mild and technical. I think that sensible people understand that the crown is artificially kept undervalued which affects Slovak hoteliers and many others. But it's just about a dozen of percent. The membership in the EU is a technicality, too. Switzerland and Norway are not members but they don't differ from Austria and Sweden much. And even those €300+ billion in debt – while it's a large amount expressing the accumulated Greek irresponsibility in recent decades – is a relatively minor issue.

What is at stake is the future of Greece, even in the long run, and as you know, the future in de Sitter space is basically infinite (if we ignore the Poincaré recurrences). What is at stake is the risk that it will produce €50 billion deficits every year, for decades, if it is allowed to. And if it is not allowed to, which is hopefully more likely because the irrational fear of the divorce has largely evaporated from Europe, the question is whether anything may work and become productive in the post-bankruptcy Greece.

Even if you imagine that the Greek debt is completely erased, Syriza's policies are so anti-market, anti-capitalism, anti-production, and anti-growth that pretty much all people who do something useful or who are talented or who are anything else than a worthless pile of fat and protein that voted for Syriza will simply escape from the country, legally speaking. They may still have a nice villa over there, if it is not nationalized, but their citizenship or residency will be changed so that they are not subject to the terrifying rules that these hardcore communists want to introduce. Only the unproductive people will remain there.

When isolated from other facts, this could just mean that Greece will fall to the level of Albania during communism or something like that which is not a "complete tragedy". But the extra problem is the dramatic downward slope that will be so psychologically devastating for many of them. In the recent 2 years or so, Samaras and pals were governing Greece more or less sensibly, as a generic center-right party in Europe. That meant that there were almost no "flagrantly anti-capitalist" policies in place. And Greece actually lived comparably to what is sustainable within the capitalist framework given its current situation, abilities, and wealth.

But Tsipras and his comrades are going to destroy most of the "ability to produce" that still has survived in Greece up to the present day. And they will be disconnected from the "extra subsidies" that the Greek governments had gotten used to, anyway. So when it becomes clear that new budget deficits won't be financed by other Europeans anymore because everyone recognizes that those loans to an untrustworthy country such as contemporary Greece were a mistake that shouldn't be repeated, it's guaranteed that the living standards will be far lower than during Samaras' years. Tsipras may lie 24 hours a day and "promise" that he won't allow any austerity anymore. Most people in Africa and elsewhere in the world want to live in luxury, too. But the laws of Nature impose austerity upon them, whether they like it or not, whether they prefer the Marxist, Stalinist, or Maoist wing of Syriza or any other pile of crap.

You simply can't fool the laws of physics.

If Tsipras will reject to repay the debt, and it seems that his demands are going to be vastly incompatible with anything that the lender side considers acceptable, there will be a full-fledged dirty default. That will mostly mean that some €250 billion will disappear from the EFSF, the eurowall fund, which is a largely abstract warehouse with banknotes that doesn't directly affect anyone else. The eurozone, EU, IMF, and other officials should already start to clearly speak about their approximate plans for this event. They should already start promising exports of putrid food into Greece that will reduce the number of Greeks who will die of hunger in coming years, to emphasize how humane the EU is towards its troubled neighbors.

When Greece is incorporated into Russia, maybe the Kremlin will be kind and will extend its laws such as the minimum salary to the new Russians in former Greece, too. Let me just point out that the minimum salary in Russia is €83 a month, slightly less than €751 a month that Syriza promises to introduce (because they probably believe that they are 9 times more productive than the Russians). So some details may be a bit different than what these individuals have been promising. But otherwise, life in Russia is good enough and I doubt that Greece will want to live as a separate country.

At any rate, the reality can't be masked and denied indefinitely.

And that's the memo.

P.S.: A comment about the pathologically bloated bureaucracy. Left-wing NGOs and media have criticized Syriza's new government because only 6/41 of the ministers are women. That's politically incorrect and blah blah blah. But none of these idiots has noticed the stunning information that the Greek government has a whopping 41 members. To compare, the Czech government – the government of an equally large country and economy – has 17 members. Is it hard to estimate that the average Greek government employee does 2.5 times less work than his Czech counterpart – and is getting a 2.5 times higher salary for that? And Czechia is no ultimate example of efficiency, either...


  1. thejollygreenmanJan 28, 2015, 8:37:00 PM

    Your problem is that you are too logical. In this world, only those that sell fantasies win.
    Pity you are not running as an MEP, I would love to see you and Nigel talking sense in the hallowed halls of Brussels.
    Get into politics please, the EU needs you.

  2. (1) How, exactly, is mathematical investigation separate from scientific investigation? Humans, along with their (false and right) concepts, are part of nature. So when a mathematician, thousands of years ago, began studying mathematical structures, he was studying a part of the universe and learning facts about that part; he was not learning facts about something metaphysically separate from the universe. But we don't just have very good commonsensical reasons for accepting mathematics as part of nature; we also have inductive evidence - an incredible amount - for believing that parts of the world of mathematical forms is in some way representing the deep structures of how nature works. We don't yet know the reason for or the operation of this mysterious relation between mathematics and nature, but the relation is nonetheless evidently there!

    (2) Okay, let me agree, for the sake of argument, that QG phenomenology is less studied than mathematical QG. So what? If the world has currently limited us in finding QG phenomenology to study, physicists who understand that they can make a sound logical bridge from past empirically confirmed theories to yet untested theories - such as M-theory - will choose to work on M-theory mathematically instead of babbling about it not being science and complaining that it has produced no empirical evidence of being true.

    But in fact I think M-theory has already produced some empirical evidence of being true: M-theory - and only M-theory - not only provides an explanation for phenomena that QFT and QM and GR themselves can't explain, but it also integrates - beautifully unifies - QFT and QM and GR in a way that no other theory yet discovered has. So the probability that M-theory is true is very high. Extraordinarily high. Sure, somewhere in the space of mathematical ideas, an even richer mathematical model or theory could supplant M-theory's current role. But the chances of this happening are so staggeringly low that there's no reason to believe that it will happen. M-theory is not only part of nature; it is part of how nature works. We can say that not just with bravado but with the confidence with which we say that the idea of evolution is not just part of nature but part of how nature works.

    All this seems so obvious to me and yet I have no more knowledge of the details of mathematics and physics than an average middle-schooler in America.

  3. Dear NumCracker, the word "theory" doesn't really mean that it's a "proven one".

    No theory in science so far has been "proven", after all. Science works exactly in the opposite way. Theories are used as long as they explain something and they are viable, up to the moment when they are *disproved*, i.e. falsified.

    This is true for GR as well as SM and string theory.

  4. "Yields on 10-year bonds have jumped above 10%. ... Some shorter-term bonds have yields above 16%."

    WTF! A reverse yield curve! That surprises me. Ordinarily it means 'investors' (AKA manipulators mostly in the Greek case) are piling into longer dated bonds in the expectation of a fall in interest rates. Surely not? One would, again ordinarily, expect rates to go through the roof.

    But nothing about Greek government debt and the manipulations of the EU zero pushers surprises me.

    Take a look at these historic yields on Greek 10-year bonds. At one point in the crisis in early March 2012 the yield was nearly up to nearly 37%. Then the EU shits performed their magic. Hey presto! Instant fall!

    Link: http/
    (5-year tab)


  5. Lubos, you assume "SM ⊂ ST" ... and this is a bold assumption even for an I.Q > 180 person! Anyway, from a strict rigorous mathematical viewpoint that conjecture must be proved by finding the correct compactification that reproduces our low-energy world. No one has succeeded in this attempt till now, and, most likely (despite of our dreams) ST would be damned to be useless for such end. Maybe it is not a fault of the model, it would be just a proof of mankind limits. But, by now, it is a question of belief. In the end of the day, one may perceive that QG having no observable direct effects is not a problem, the problem would be to believe that a successful (top-down) theory of QG as ST can make contact with our (bottom-up) superb battle-tested QFTs (aka QED/QCD). Intimately, I seriously doubt that ST will someday be able to produce hadron masses in a even similar precision as quenched QCD (also a theory with no free parameter) can, but it does not make the theory less useful to understand Nature ... this just constrains its applicability to out of our (everyday) reality.

  6. "Why do some people find it more intriguing to invent bizarre
    ideological, purely linguistic exercises whose goal is to *a priori*
    eliminate (as "not science") some theories or conjectures even without
    looking into what they are actually saying, predicting, and how they
    justify it? What does it matter how someone defines "science"?"
    It matters a great deal if the priority is not to clarify...but to hide sensible thoughts behind a smokescreen of nonsense. Who would have a motive to do such ? Hint : not scientists. I like the way John Rappoport thinks.
    When you want to lead the herd into trouble, a blindfold is useful.

  7. I am not clear exactly as to your objection of the use of the word theory since we say GUT(grand unified theory) which we have no test for.

    Also, in Eisenstein's master piece which was not accepted by "hundred" scientists for some time he mentions the word theory many times, just do a find

    Anyway, the word Hypothesis is usually used as starting given assumed facts with the derived results being a theory.

  8. Soon they'll be dancing in Athens on:

    Ka lyin, ka ka lyin, Kakalyinka maya

  9. Sorry, that was botched spelling of Kalinka because my Russian buddy was drunk.

  10. For Marxists, the planning is The Worse, The Better. People losing jobs or being hungry means more activists for socialist policies.

  11. Einstein theory of gravity had, since the start, a clear Newtonian limit. Actually, in some sense, it is the only top-down theory (or theory of principles, in Einstein's words) to make instantaneous close contact with previous experiments (in the sense it not only explained the perielion) but make testable and falsiable predictions: Redshift, Radar delay, and light deflection. It was not accepted by hundred of stupids by 4 years, right? Given that since Sobral (1919) it became clear that "Then I would feel sorry for the dear Lord. The theory is correct anyway.". On the other hand, old GUTs a la SU (5) are exactly the kind of simple, beautiful, unifying hypothesis that will forever be a hypothesis and no more: sorry, but the proton simply refused to decay! Nowadays, I feel similar smell when people predict (correctly) a Higgs mass to be 125 GeV from universal aspects of ST compactifications (G2) ... but I do fear Nature refuses to produce other expected superparticles at the predicted (TeV) energy scales. I feel uncortable with that because ST is not really being tested, such predictions are not constructive and rigorous deductions (as taking limits in GR), so what is being tested is the sloppiness of ST-phenos! Better ensure one really understand what makes a vacuum realistic and just after that making bold claims that the "theory" may be tested. I do wait for BICEP2 experimental confirmation more than for LHC new run, because it seems to point out to our model-builders that Nature is much more conservative and ingenious than naively was expected ;-)

  12. Dear John, it's obvious why the curve is reversed. The shorter rates are higher because the main risk of default - the main reason that increases the rates - is probably very near.

  13. The Greeks have voted for a dream, they'll get a nightmare

  14. Dear Luboš,

    I find the trouble with a subject like economics is that it seems to me to have huge scope to allow one to argue in opposite directions and round in circles all at the same time. One can find plausible explanations to rationalise away almost anything, all based on arm-waving, simplistic assumptions that can be chosen mostly for their convenience in pushing one's point of view, or agenda.

    The plain fact is that I don't know what forces (including manipulations) are operating here and what their resultant effect will be. No doubt they'll be changing in time too, and undoubtedly with sudden discontinuities introduced by the 'non-holonomic' fairies employed at the central-authority mushroom. Given that the players involved are human too (well, most of them I suppose), there'll be lots of second guessing each other and gaming the system with inside information playing its part as well.

    What I presented was merely the regular take in normal circumstances. However, the circumstances here are anything BUT normal. So who knows? I don't.

    You could well be right but I don't find your explanation convincing. If Greece does default on its short-term loans then that's surely a signal there'll be trouble for long bonds too. They may be able to continue to pay the interest instalments on the long bonds out of the money saved by not paying out the maturity proceeds on the short bonds but for how long can that go on? And what then about the maturity proceeds eventually on the long bonds — when the time comes they'll be shorts too, and past practice has been established that Greece defaults on those. :)

    UNLESS, the 'market' is expecting Greece to 'come to its senses' in reasonable time. Somehow. Wow!

    The 'market' is never wrong of course. That's why there has never been a market crash anywhere, ever! :)

    But don't get me wrong. I'm all for free-market capitalism as I see no alternative to it, but I don't take its indications as infallible or anything like it. And when it's not 'free' ... well ...

    Either way, I'm not pushing any particular view on this, just expressing some surprise and my suspicion of jiggery-pokery forces at work. That's all.

  15. Apologies, John, I found your comment too vague and don't see any point of yours. If you wrote "[fog]" instead, it would be about the same from my point of view.

    You may make everything relative but there are still facts. Communist policies - and those are textbook examples - lead to reduced growth, efficiency, misery. This is not a rationalization, this is a fact that may be derived theoretically and that was also confirmed experimentally - sadly, including countries like mine participating in the experiment. Or you can relativize whether what we had was misery and stagnation. OK, I can call it my interpretation, but my interpretation is still as important for me as facts. The outcome of communism *is* misery.

    Defaulting on short-term and long-term bonds separately is a pure technicality, I am not interested in these details at this moment. Any default will have consequences and the degree of the consequences will be decided primarily by the level of agreement or "dirtiness" of the default, and not which bonds will go bust first.

  16. probably near those in the US who can't afford a tesla, you think?

  17. Dear Luboš,

    My apologies too. It seems I didn't properly delimit the scope of my comment too clearly because I agree with what you say, especially about communism. We more than just see eye to eye on that.

    "Defaulting on short-term and long-term bonds separately is a pure technicality, I am not interested in these details at this moment."

    But that's all I was addressing though. Just a peripheral comment.

    Given The Reference Frame's international readership perhaps I shouldn't have used the word 'economics' so casually and without proper qualification as I now see our very different backgrounds clearly have a bearing here.

    For me economics simply means the study of Western market economies and their financial workings and only those — Keynesians versus monetarists etc, that kind of thing. I have never had to think about communist economies or communist economics, if one could even call it that, because communism has never been part of 'my world' so to speak. It has always been a distant dystopia and one to avoid. You've suffered under it though and therefore naturally have a broader conception of 'economics'.

    Anyway, strictly within my limited scope of the term, I tend to take economic arguments ... well let's say I don't exactly accord the subject the status of science. Incidentally, I notice that some have claimed that very status for Marxism — something I find UTTERLY laughable.

  18. OK, John, I don't understand how you want to isolate the discipline so that it only applies to "Westerners".

    The laws of economics apply to Westerners, Easterners, Southerners, Nordic Aryans, and extraterrestrials, too.

    Economics has the (limited but still existing) powers to predict the behavior of the economy given any assumptions about the laws etc. And it has to be because any assumptions may be codified in the West, anyway.

  19. Dear Luboš,

    "OK, John, I don't understand how you want to isolate the discipline so that it only applies to "Westerners"."

    I certainly didn't intend what I said to come across that way. As you say, it applies everywhere and the broad principles clearly work. I don't see any disagreement between us.

  20. "... Greece is a small, unimportant, and largely disconnected

    I can't imagine the Europeans want a failed state anywhere in Europe, so for all the tough posture a degree of accommodation may yet be sought. Greece is also a NATO member.

  21. Avē, caesar, moritūrī tē salūtant

  22. Swine flu, there are numerous failed states in Europe - such as Kosovo, Moldova, and others - perhaps even Ukraine should be counted today.

    I don't see why a failed state on the periphery of Europe should be a bigger concern e.g. for a Czech than a failed state in Eastern Africa or Latin America. Europe is a model of the whole world and it's almost equally diverse.

    NATO is a military organization. If it thinks it can play the role of an IMF and revive failed economy as well, good for them.

  23. For a different perspective on the Greece and the financial crisis you could read Greg Palast's article 'Trojan Hearse'.

  24. I wasn't expressing an opinion on whether it is morally right or wrong to bail out Greece. (A hint: I have no more patience for a nation with the first world longevity and third world retirement age than you do.) I was, however, saying that one should ask whether the EU powers might have any strategic reasons to alleviate their situation to a degree, for sometimes strategic considerations beat moral hazard.

    I don't know much about Greece's actual military capabilities, but it does appear to have more robust military expenditures that one might expect of a geriatric socialist country. Something to do with the neighborhood. Whether its military capabilities are of real interest and/or concern to NATO powers, I do not know, but if they are, the US might start whispering in some EU ears too.

    Oh, and the US will be working on eliminating misery in Cuba, although the process has only just begun. Cuba is strategically located vis a vis the Gulf of Mexico, so it was going to be pulled back to the mother ship sooner or later. I don't know if the coming Nicaragua Canal had anything to do with the current timing, but it wouldn't surprise me.

  25. Update: seems direct evidences for primordial quantum gravity effects have simply evaporated =(

  26. You have to admit, Popper did a disservice to the world by giving it the word "falsifability". It has to remind one of that one kid in the sand box who throws a temper tantrum when the other kids in the sand box won't follow the first kid's "rules". I just finished Feyerabend's Against Method, and he makes a very convincing case that Popper was not the brightest light bulb on the Christmas tree. Now, I know there are good things about Popper, but it seems to me he created a religion. Talk about the law of unintended consequences!

    I am quite certain Feyerabend would salute you (or more likely give you a high five) and tell you to "keep on truckin".

    Seriously, Lubos, I don't know how you have the stamina to fine tooth comb these things like you do! I have neither the patience nor knowledge base. So, thanks for your efforts.

  27. Oh, its real alright. Plato was no dummy. -Don

  28. Right, you may ask but one may also answer. Greece doesn't have this strategic importance that would justify repeating the mistakes of the past and pumping $100 billion each year or two to the country. If there will be "alleviation", it will be similar to alleviation of problems in Ukraine or elsewhere - sending a few million dollars a few times.

  29. That's a completely wrong interpretation of what happened. There are two different papers, with two different collaborations, one of them made a discovery and the other didn't and there's no way to be sure that one conclusion is right and one conclusion is wrong.

  30. Absolutely, this single word "falsifiability" plus the name of Popper has become a religious cult, literally, which in no way matches Popper's relatively modest intellectual capacity.

    Science has been falsifying hypotheses at least since Galileo Galilei and it's of course the most "conclusive" kind of a step that may occur which in no way means that all of science is about it or that it's the main goal to make such conclusive tests possible.

  31. >The goal of science is to find the true propositions about Nature

    That is a very nice way to say it. You have all the living post-modernists turning in their grave, you know! :)

  32. Dear Luboš,

    "That's the most important thing Dirac needed to write on a Moscow blackboard." (Caption under picture of blackboard.)

    That Dirac wrote somewhere or once said that "Physical law should have mathematical beauty" I wouldn't question, but that he wrote it on a blackboard with all the ostentation of signing his name underneath and dating it like some self-regarding street poet seems wholly out of character for the man. I understand his style was much more refined and personally modest, even for an Englishman gentleman (albeit one with a Swiss-French connection), taciturn indeed.

    Someone else must have written that, surely?

  33. The whole text is the same handwriting. Couldn't they simply have asked him to write it and sign? I don't know why you think it's so impossible.

  34. Thanks, Don. When the insight that science actually cares about the truth becomes original or controversial, well, then it's a reason to laugh, at least when one has a good mood for black humor. ;-)

  35. Dear Luboš,

    As you say, someone could well have asked him to write it, sign his name and date it.

    So I wouldn't say it's impossible, only that it strikes me as most unlikely from what I've read about Dirac's character. He simply doesn't strike me as the type who would have willing complied with such a request, let alone initiate such a thing himself, especially as it could be interpreted by others not present and privy to the (jovial?) circumstances in which the request was made as the output of someone on a huge attention-seeking ego trip, and therefore "terribly, terribly gauche", which is how that kind of thing would be generally seen by polite society in England even now, but in spades when he supposedly wrote it.

    Put it this way, I'm very happy to act the goat and play along when there is fun to be had, but if someone were to make such a request of me (and nobody would of course, but that's irrelevant) then depending on the circumstances I would surely hesitate and if I did comply I would be sure to erase it before the end of the event as I wouldn't want the evidence preserved for posterity with all the likely unwelcome misinterpretations it could imply.

    On the other hand, for someone like Feynman say, who is well known to be a friendly joker and a showman, I can easily imagine circumstances in which it would have been perfectly fine for him to write such a thing and no one would think twice about it, and certainly with no ill-reflection on him.

    For example, his showman reputation preceding him, he might have been invited to give a lay audience a talk on physical laws with an emphasis on their mathematical expression. Now maybe he wouldn't have written precisely what Dirac wrote but he might well have come up with some equally pithy saying and wrote it in silence on the blackboard right at the start of his talk, then turned to the audience and with a big grin said, "That's what I say, that's what I'm sticking to and that's why I signed it to prove it; and that's what I'm here to talk at you about tonight!" [Hoots of laughter!] No problem. :)

    But Dirac? Just my gut feel. That's all.

    More likely someone else wrote it at the end of one of his talks after being struck by what he just said, or by someone simply giving a talk and emphasising what Dirac had said elsewhere. Something like that. Of course in that case it wouldn't be his signature on the blackboard but merely an attribution. I wouldn't know what his handwriting looks like anyway.

    I could be completely wrong about this though. My knowledge of Dirac's character is only that that can be had from publicly available sources and is pretty scant.

    Just out of interest, do you happen to know the provenance of that photo?