Author Archive | Michael Rosen

Inversion

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Say “inversion” to a Californian, and the most likely word association is “layer.” It’s our topography that causes this phenomenon, accounting for the haze, smog and “June Gloom” we experience. It’s not a modern phenomenon either: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo called it Baya de los Fumos, from the dozens of native Tongva campfires that filled the air when he sailed into Santa Monica Bay in 1542. Normally, air temperature drops with altitude. But in Southern California in the spring and summer, the colder marine air comes ashore to meet the warmer air on land that rises above the ocean air, which Read More


Truth and Consequences

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Archaeological evidence suggests that, for thousands of years, the people who inhabited the Great Plains of North America, stretching from present-day Canada to Mexico, from the Rockies to the Appalachians, were among the wealthiest in the world. Anthropometric data reveal that they were likely the tallest people on earth. Their wealth and health is surprising, because in every other historical case, prosperity was associated with large population centers built by trade or conquest or, more often, both. But the people of the Great Plains never coalesced into a large empire. Trade and war, while present, were not the sources of Read More


Only the Lonely

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My first impression when flying into Mexico City a few weeks ago was its vastness. From the air, the city seems to stretch forever. The Valley of Mexico has been inhabited for over 12,000 years, and when Hernán Cortés entered it in 1519, its population of 1 million was probably the largest in the world. Today, Mexico City is home to more than 21 million people, twice the size of the second largest Mexican city in the world, Los Angeles. Mexico City is a great destination for tourists, with world-class museums, dining and archeology. Most of my travels are for Read More


Book Wrap

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Time for my semi-annual book perspective. I read a lot of books, but truthfully, most of them I move through pretty quickly. In the non-fiction world, I find many to be one-dimensional, perhaps an interesting idea appropriate for an essay, but hardly requiring the expansive exposition of a full book. In fiction, I encounter good writing, but rarely transcendent prose. Here are five books that I especially appreciated in the latter half of this year: History On Grand Strategy, John Lewis Gaddis John Lewis Gaddis, the dean of military historians, gives us a glimpse into his course at Yale with Read More


Breathe

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Twenty-five hundred years, Siddhartha Gautama practiced a form of meditation that involved controlled breathing. Much later, about 700 years ago, this practice, called pranayama, was codified in the most famous of Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Gita. More recently, Western science has validated the physiological benefits of pranayama. Respiratory functions are improved (increased tidal volume, ventilation efficiency, arterial oxygenation, etc.), cardiovascular system is enhanced (greater cardiac output, synchronization of vasomotion, increases heart rate variability, decreases blood pressure, etc.), and the autonomic nervous system benefits (increases vagal activity, improves phasic modulation of sympathetic activity, etc.). Here’s a simple diagram: Source: G. D. Read More


Talkin’ Turkey

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The expression comes from Colonial America, but its exact origins are unclear, and its meaning seems to have changed over the years. Originally it was a phrase that denoted pleasant, or even silly, conversation. Today, “talk turkey” means plain, direct speech. Just the facts (ma’am).  So, let’s talk turkey. Turkey is a mess, on many levels, and it’s all self-inflicted. It is classic economic mismanagement for narrow political purposes, a pattern we’ve seen (literally) hundreds of times.  Its symptoms are predictable, its cure is obvious, but the prognosis is bleak. Politics and personality are turning a manageable economic crisis into Read More


Not Beach Reading

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I love the beach. And I read a lot. I like reading on the beach, but I am not a fan of beach reading. Beach reading is generally defined as light, pleasurable, contemporary fiction, often with some romantic angle. This is a genre I could not imagine more unappealing. So none of these qualify as “beach reading,” but here are a few of the highlights of my reading list since my last update six months ago (https://blog.angelesadvisors.com/2017/12/not-recommended-reading/). Politics/History/Society Enemies and Neighbors, Ian Black. There is no ground-breaking research or insight here, but I found this to be the most balanced Read More


Everybody Out’ta the Pool

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Markets work through the forces of demand and supply. This axiom applies to all markets, from housing to marriage (as Gary Becker famously noted), and anywhere there is an exchange of goods or services (or mates). In all markets, price is the regulatory mechanism that ensures an equilibrium between the amount demanded and the amount supplied. Adam Smith called this the “Invisible Hand.” You knew all this already, because it is about as fundamental a concept in economics as exists. The price of that house is X, or the price of that automobile is Y, because X and Y are Read More


Updating the Triangle

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Last year, I introduced my big picture framework of assessing the relative attractiveness of markets Inside the Triangle through the lenses of valuation, momentum and sentiment. To recap, the ideal time to buy a market is when valuation is cheap, momentum is positive and sentiment is poor. It’s best to sell when the opposites prevail: expensive valuation, poor momentum and exuberant sentiment. The 2000 internet bubble is a recent case-in-point for conditions at a market top, and March 2009 a time when the conditions to buy were very favorable. Of course, most investors find it hard to sell at the Read More


(Not) Recommended Reading

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I don’t like recommended lists. They turn experiences into a contest (and the winner is…), and one reviewer’s preferences may have little to do with mine. That said, since my writing covers a very wide range of topics—history and sociology to science and art and beyond—I do get asked frequently where I come up with my themes. The answer is simply, I read a lot. More than a book a week, for sure, although I don’t really keep count (or rank). I don’t necessarily assume you would enjoy anything that I did, but, to give you a peek at some Read More