Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

From the book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations:

" ex-colonies have done so well as (South) Korea and Taiwan, where annual growth rates per head from 1950 to 1973 exceeded those of the advanced industrial nations (Japan itself accepted). This achievement reflects in my opinion the culture of these societies: the family structure, work values, sense of purpose. (I say this even though many economists do not accord importance to culture, which cannot be measured and, for these experts, just gets in the way of good ideas.)" - David S. Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

Reminds me of this...

"Anyone has to be flabbergasted by Japan's recession, which has endured for 10 years, despite interest rates below 1%. The government is playing all the monetary games, but it's not working. If you had described this situation to Harvard economists, they would have said it's impossible. Yet at the same time, there's an asset bubble in Hong Kong. Why? Because Japan and China are two vastly different cultures."

"This is a classic example of why, to be a successful investor, one must draw from many disciplines. Imagine an economist standing up at a meeting of economists and giving my explanation. It wouldn't be politically correct! But the tools of economics don't explain what's going on." - Charlie Munger at the 2000 Wesco Meeting

and this...

"You've got a complex system and it spews out a lot of wonderful numbers that enable you to measure some factors. But there are other factors that are terribly important, [yet] there's no precise numbering you can put to these factors. You know they're important, but you don't have the numbers. Well practically everybody (1) overweighs the stuff that can be numbered, because it yields to the statistical techniques they're taught in academia, and (2) doesn't mix in the hard-to-measure stuff that may be more important." - Charlie Munger in a 2003 UC Santa Barbara Speech

There's sometimes too much emphasis on what's easily measurable over what, though tough to quantify, matters more.


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