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Archive for October 2007

Economics of clones

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Livestock cloning operations in the heartland! 🙂

Note even genetically enhanced male progeny display larger variance than female progeny. I guess this is just because they lack a second X chromosome.

WIRED: …Like it or not, guys like Don Coover have already turned meat-eaters into a test market for the safety of cloned meat. “It’s inevitable that there are large numbers of clone progeny in the food supply,” says Blake Russell, vice president of sales and business development at ViaGen, another cloning company. “The likelihood that anyone could credibly say ‘Our animals are not descended from clones’ is zero.”

The reason cloning makes economic sense isn’t that ranchers will sell the actual clones for food. The idea is to sell their offspring. Artificial insemination and semen- shipping have made breeding for optimum genetics a highly profitable business. The owner of a champion bull can charge top dollar for its breeding services or its descendants. Eventually, of course, that animal will get too old to reproduce. But if you clone it, you can keep that revenue stream open. Clones can be bred just like their progenitors, spreading those popular qualities further into the gene pool. “Part of the value of cloning is that you’re buying something with unique genetic potential. It’s almost like brand identity,” says John Lawrence, an extension livestock economist at Iowa State University. “In many regards it’s less risky, because you can say you have a proven animal.”

Today, it costs about $1,500 to raise a naturally conceived dairy heifer from conception to breeding age; it costs roughly $17,000 to clone a cow. The figures are about $200 versus $4,000 for hogs. (The price drops if you make multiple copies.) But with natural or assisted reproduction, roughly 5 to 10 percent of all females and 50 percent of all males bred for better genetics don’t inherit their parents’ best qualities and must be sold at a loss, as “salvage” animals. Cloning, on the other hand, almost guarantees the high- fidelity replication of desirable traits. So the clone of a champion bull has higher downstream breeding potential than, say, that bull’s brother. If the original bull was a good breeder, then the clone’s semen sells for more and its offspring are worth more. For hogs, the numbers add up fast: Through artificial insemination, one boar can impregnate 400 sows a year, yielding about 4,000 piglets. But if that boar was cloned from a proven superior male, its progeny will be worth about $6 more per piglet in “improved feed conversion, growth rate, survivability, and meat quality,” says Russell of ViaGen. “So a $3,000 investment in cloning can create $24,000 in added value per year.”

Written by infoproc

October 31, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Posted in biotech, cloning

Small (anthropic?) world

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My former PhD advisor gives an interdisciplinary lunch talk at the Berkeley faculty club and gets immediately blogged by Brad Delong!

More on the anthropic principle from this blog. Call me a skeptic 😉

Lawrence Hall

Lawrence Hall is the name of a building (the Lawrence Hall of Science) and a professor (Lawrence Hall of Physics). The second came to the Berkeley Monday Faculty Lunch Forum to argue that there is empirical content to the Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

What is this principle? Put it this way. Suppose somebody asks you why the universe is pervaded by an 80-20 nitrogen-oxygen gas mixture, or why it is 300K outside. The answer is that the universe isn’t like that but that where you are is like that because if you wet surrounded by chlorine gas or in a place where it is 400K you–and all life like you–would be dead. Our confidence in these “anthropic” explanations is strong because we can point to places we know of that lack the 80-20 atmosphere–the asteroid belt–and places where it is not a shirtsleeve 300K–Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Can this anthropic principle be applied to more fundamental issues? Can we say that the mass of the d quark is what it is because if it were 20% lower than the neutron would be absolutely stable and there would be no stars? We cannot see any places in the multiverse where the mass of the down quark is lower, but our predecessors did not know about the asteroid belt and other places lacking an 80-20 atmosphere, and the anthropic explanation for why there is oxygen around for us to breathe was just as valid then for them as it is for us. Is it doing science to use this anthropic principle–or is it just meaningless and tautological? After all, pretty much everything in the universe has to be the way that it is for there to be a physicist with the same name as a building talking in the Seaborg Room of the Berkeley Faculty Club Monday at lunchtime–start with Lawrence Hall as your premise, and you have “explained” everything, in some sense.

Lawrence Hall thinks that there is empirical content, and his argument goes like this…

Written by infoproc

October 30, 2007 at 12:53 pm

The one sided clash of civilizations

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This NYTimes article describes the creation of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), a $12.5B endowment from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The prospects for creating a world class university there seem dim, even with significant financial resources — would you leave your position in, e.g., Boston, for one at KAUST? Similar undertakings, such as KAIST in Korea, can depend on a deep pool of expatriate (Korean emigrants abroad) and local talent.

The article reveals how limited is the threat from “islamo-facism” and how one sided this particular clash of civilizations.

NYTimes: …For the new institution, the king has cut his own education ministry out the loop, hiring the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco to build the campus, create its curriculum and attract foreigners.

Supporters of what is to be called the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or Kaust, wonder whether the king is simply building another gated island to be dominated by foreigners, like the compounds for oil industry workers that have existed here for decades, or creating an institution that will have a real impact on Saudi society and the rest of the Arab world.

“There are two Saudi Arabias,” said Jamal Khashoggi, the editor of Al Watan, a newspaper. “The question is which Saudi Arabia will take over.”

The king has broken taboos, declaring that the Arabs have fallen critically behind much of the modern world in intellectual achievement and that his country depends too much on oil and not enough on creating wealth through innovation.

“There is a deep knowledge gap separating the Arab and Islamic nations from the process and progress of contemporary global civilization,” said Abdallah S. Jumah, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco. “We are no longer keeping pace with the advances of our era.”

Written by infoproc

October 26, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Artificial life

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From Slashdot. I don’t know if there is AI (machine intelligence) involved, but it would be easy to set up that way…

At Foo Camp I took a poll of some leading security researchers and the majority thought that the probability of a major Internet failure (e.g., 100M people without access for several days) due to botnets or worms was close to 100 percent over the next few years.

Storm Worm Strikes Back at Security Pros

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday October 24, @01:25PM
from the skynet-worm dept.

alphadogg writes “The Storm worm, which some say is the world’s biggest botnet despite waning in recent months, is now fighting back against security researchers that seek to destroy it and has them running scared, conference attendees in NYC heard this week. The worm can figure out which users are trying to probe its command-and-control servers, and it retaliates by launching DDoS attacks against them, shutting down their Internet access for days, says an IBM architect.”

Written by infoproc

October 24, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Posted in ai, security

Masters of the Universe

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The Times reports on a recent dinner hosted by Institutional Investor.

NYTimes: Not since Michael Milken’s Predators’ Ball in the 1980’s have so many of Wall Street’s bold-faced names dared to mingle together. Until last night.

Institutional Investor, the first trade magazine to cover Wall Street, celebrated its 40th birthday Monday by throwing itself a party at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Masters of the Universe from around the nation and the world flew in for the event. There was Henry Kravis, seated next to Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank. Across the way was Mr. Milken himself, whom Mr. Kravis praised in a brief speech for helping to create the modern private equity industry.

Mr. Milken didn’t make a speech to the crowd, but he circulated among them and seemed to take pleasure at being surrounded by so many of what he referred to DealBook as his “disciples.”

Also on hand was James D. Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank. John C. Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group, mingled during the cocktail hour with other luminaries such as John Whitehead, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, credited with creating the securities firm’s vaunted culture.

John Thornton, the former president of Goldman Sachs, who now splits his time between New York and Beijing, also attended, as did Joseph L. Rice III, co-founder of the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

James Simons, founder of Renaissance Technologies, one of the most successful “quant” hedge funds in history, mixed with younger hedge fund managers such as William Ackman, the activist investor, and David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was when Mr. Kravis jokingly apologized to his peers in the audience for charging his investors 20 percent of profits in 1976, which became a benchmark for private equity and hedge funds. He said that, at the time, there was no going rate, so he and his partners decided 20 percent was fair. In retrospect, he said with a laugh, “You could have gotten 25 percent.”

The room burst out laughing.

Then Mr. Simons of Renaissance took the stage. He famously takes more than 40 percent of all profits from his fund investors. “We blissfully ignored” the benchmark Mr. Kravis created, he said.

Mr. Simons also explained how the summer’s credit crunch caused his fund briefly to lose 8.7 percent in only a few days ––”a remarkable amount of money,” he said nonchalantly — though it later rebounded. At the time, he wrote a note to his investors about the losses, observing with a laugh that it took a couple of “gin and tonics to get that letter out.”

He went on to jokingly taunt Mr. Kravis into buying his firm. “If he wants to buy my company for $30 billion, I’m going to make it damn easy for him,” Mr. Simons said.

From the comments:

This convention was made up of people who sacrificed their personal lives to use their extreme intellects and incredible work ethics to strive to be the best in their fields. This is exactly what America was built on and should be what keeps us going forward. We as a country should reward winners, but instead we encourage mediocrity with the whole “everyone is a winner, everyone is great” mentality. Congratulations to those invited to this great event and if you really don’t like it then work harder to change the system, but that does mean actually working which you may not be inclined to do.
— Posted by Eric

Why are people assuming these people make money by plundering society? Jim Simons makes money as fairly and squarely as anyone in the world. Anyone can do what he does…if they come up with the magic formula. There’s nothing unfair about that, and it does society a world of good. The huge creation of wealth around the world is largely due to capital being deployed to its most productive use. What are masters of the universe but the “central planners” of the free market — the better the job they do, the more money they make, and the richer we all become.
— Posted by James

Written by infoproc

October 23, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Fraud and the subprime mess

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Via Calculated Risk, this Moody’s data suggests that outright fraud is one of the main causes of high default rates on recent subprime mortgages.

Subprime Mortgage Market Update: September 2007:

The data show that, as we have noted in previous communications, loan performance for the 2006 subprime vintage seems to be driven primarily by the proportions of stated documentation loans and high CLTV loans backing the transactions as well as the proportion of loans that combine (or “layer”) these risk characteristics. (Stated documentation loans are those loans for which the borrower’s income and assets are not verified by documentation during the loan approval process and therefore are more likely to be overstated.) Interestingly, FICO scores and LTV ratios do not vary significantly between the strongest and weakest performing transactions and on average transaction performance does not appear to have been influenced by these characteristics.

Written by infoproc

October 22, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Posted in cdo, credit crunch, subprime

Brain drain: from the Punjab to the bayou

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Congratulations to Bobby (Piyush) Jindal, govenor-elect of Louisiana. Does this photo remind you of Bobby Kennedy?

NYTimes: A Son of Immigrants Rises in a Southern State

Piyush Jindal was born on June 10, 1971, in Baton Rouge to Hindu parents who had come to the United States six months before so his mother could pursue a graduate degree in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University. His father was an engineer from the Punjab region of India, the only one of nine siblings to attend high school. The younger Jindal, growing up in Baton Rouge, was not expected to come home from school with anything less than 100 on tests. Public high school in Baton Rouge was followed by Brown, where Mr. Jindal was Phi Beta Kappa, and a conversion to Roman Catholicism that Mr. Jindal has described in transformative terms. “I draw my definition of integrity from my Christian faith,” Mr. Jindal said during the campaign. “In my faith, you give 100 percent of yourself to God.”

“But we live in a pluralistic state,” he was careful to add.

After Oxford, a well-paid stint at the Washington consultants McKinsey and Company was followed by an interview for the job of secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals with the newly elected Republican governor of Louisiana, Mike Foster, in 1995. Mr. Jindal was 24; it was the biggest department in state government, and it was in serious financial trouble. He got the job despite Mr. Foster’s initial skepticism, made cuts and restored the department to financial stability; Louisiana still has one of the highest percentages of uninsured, however.

Written by infoproc

October 22, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Armageddon

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Note: save your firm millions (billions) of dollars by using this free CDO price calculator.

WSJ covers the origin of SIVs and the current rescue operation. Too big to fail?

The situation today is much worse than with LTCM. In that case, it was a single firm whose positions needed an orderly settlement. Here it is an entire asset class. I am not sure how this new MLEC will work — will it really restore confidence in the asset class? Either defaults will (greatly) exceed what was priced in by the models or they will not. Only the future can tell. If default rates turn out to be high (and/or we see a big — say 10% — drop in real estate prices), the markdowns have to be big, and someone will have to pay. I suppose the consortium can step in to keep things orderly, but if outcomes are bad it is the consortium that will be on the hook.

WSJ: …Fears are rife that dozens of huge, structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, many of them affiliated with banks, will be forced to unload billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities and other assets. Such a fire sale could cripple debt markets that play a crucial role in the global economy by providing financing for everything from company payrolls to mortgage loans.

In recent weeks, bankers and Treasury officials have held a string of urgent meetings to address the problem. They summoned Messrs. Sossidis and Partridge-Hicks because of their expertise in SIVs, which until weeks earlier some of them had never even heard about. Gordian Knot runs the world’s biggest such fund, with some $57 billion in assets, from an office in London’s ritzy Mayfair district.

The two bankers are part of a small coterie of London bankers who engendered what became a $400 billion industry. The funds boomed because they allowed banks to reap profits from investments in newfangled securities, but without setting aside capital to mitigate the risk.

Now the industry has become a significant threat to the stability of global financial markets. After the recent meetings, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. announced an extraordinary effort: They will attempt to raise a fund of as much as $100 billion by the end of the year aimed at supporting an orderly unwinding of many SIVs, with an eye toward restoring investors’ confidence in the debt markets that the funds use to raise money. They chose $100 billion as a goal for the superfund based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation — roughly one-third of the $350 billion in debt issued by SIVs would be coming due in the next six to nine months.

Significant Obstacles

The plan faces significant obstacles. Some bankers have been hesitant to take part on the grounds that it would amount to a private-sector bailout of Citigroup — an assertion the bank denies. Citigroup is the largest player in the SIV market with seven funds holding about $80 billion in assets. Many investors are skeptical.

The late 1980s, when the idea for SIVs was born, was a period of sweeping change in the credit markets. The concept of securities backed by home mortgages was evolving, and the junk-bond boom that made Michael Milken famous was going strong.

Mr. Partridge-Hicks, working in London, and Mr. Sossidis, based in New York, were looking for a better way for Citigroup clients — pension funds and banks — to profit from the nascent market for securities backed by assets such as commercial mortgages and credit-card receivables.

The two bankers hatched the idea of setting up a fund that would issue short-term commercial paper and medium-term notes to investors, then use the money to buy higher-yielding assets, typically longer-term ones. The bank would profit by collecting fees for operating the fund. The fund’s assets would belong to its investors, so they would stay off the bank’s balance sheet. SIVs had an advantage over conduits, a similar structure that was already gaining popularity: They didn’t require banks to cover fully the fund’s debts if the commercial-paper market dried up.

…Assets in SIVs ballooned into the hundreds of billions of dollars globally, but the business remained local, dominated by London-based bankers and lawyers, many of whom had some connection to Citigroup. After the departure of Messrs. Sossidis and Partridge-Hicks, Citigroup’s London office launched five more SIVs with names such as Centauri and Dorada. Their combined assets reached $100 billion earlier this year. In 1997, two more bankers left Citigroup for Germany’s Dresdner Kleinwort to help arrange an SIV called K2 Corp. Citigroup also earned fees by helping other banks arrange SIVs, such as Tango Finance Ltd., which it set up for Dutch bank Rabobank in 2002.

London, a Small World

Most of the few dozen SIVs, typically registered in offshore havens such as the Cayman Islands, are managed out of London. Most players attribute the city’s dominance to the fact that SIVs are extremely complex, often taking as much as a year to set up, so it is difficult for new players to enter. Because the business started in London, most people with the necessary skills and experience are in the United Kingdom, says Geoff Fuller, an attorney with Allen & Overy LLP in London, who has advised Citigroup and other clients on SIVs and other structured-finance products. “It’s a small world where people know who their competitors are,” says Mr. Fuller.

Mr. Sossidis says that as the SIV market peaked in recent years, many of the new players didn’t fully recognize the perils involved in borrowing money short-term and investing it long-term. “These were the last ones to enter, the first ones to exit,” he says.

In the wake of the 1998 collapse of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, Gordian Knot took precautions to protect itself from being forced to sell its assets if markets turned against it. Among other things, the company got rid of a trigger that would force its flagship Sigma fund to sell if the value of its assets fell. In addition, he says, the firm sought to better match the duration of its assets and liabilities. Analysts now say that veteran organizations such as Gordian Knot should be able to survive the current crisis.

When troubles with subprime mortgage loans in the U.S. sparked a broader credit crisis this summer, SIVs didn’t appear to be affected because few had exposure to subprime loans. On July 23, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report that SIVs were “an oasis of calm in the subprime maelstrom.”

Within days, though, weaknesses began to show in the short-term debt market. In late July, a bank affiliate set up by German bank IKB Deutsche Industriebank ran into trouble. It had relied on extremely short-term financing in the commercial-paper market to finance investments in risky securities backed by subprime loans. A month later, Cheyne Finance, a $6.6 billion SIV operated by a London hedge fund, began liquidating assets to repay debts.

By now, investors in Citigroup’s SIVs were growing concerned. Citigroup’s London office issued a letter to investors in its seven SIVs saying that its funds were sound. On Sept. 6, the bank took the extraordinary step of stating publicly, through statements to the London Stock Exchange, that its SIVs had little subprime exposure. But Citigroup, too, was selling assets. Today the bank estimates the value of its SIVs at $80 billion, down from nearly $100 billion in August.

Throughout August, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and other top Treasury officials were watching with increasing concern as the commercial-paper market, on which SIVs rely for much of their funding, began showing signs of severe strain. Information from the Treasury’s markets room, where staff sit in front of flat-screen monitors scrutinizing market movements, was painting an ominous picture. The difference between yields on Treasury bills, which are considered safe investments, and corporate commercial paper, which companies issue to fund day-to-day expenses, was growing sharply — a sign that investors were rapidly losing confidence.

Robert Steel, Mr. Paulson’s top domestic finance adviser and a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, learned from colleagues on Wall Street that the crux of the trouble was SIVs. Investors in the commercial-paper market had all but stopped lending to the vehicles. Mr. Steel and others within Treasury began to worry that the bank-affiliated funds would engage in a fire sale of assets, a move that could exacerbate the credit crunch and damp the broader economy. “What you don’t want is a disorderly liquidation,” Mr. Steel explains.

Dumping of Assets

On Sept. 13, Mr. Steel began phoning Wall Street executives. That Sunday, Sept. 16, about 30 people gathered in a large conference room across the hall from Mr. Paulson’s office. The group included executives from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bear Stearns Cos. and Barclays PLC. As they munched on sandwiches provided by Treasury, a consensus emerged that large-scale dumping of assets was a likely outcome over the next year, people who attended the meeting say.

At first, some bank representatives were hesitant to get involved, saying they didn’t see a need to participate if they didn’t have exposure to SIVs, according to the people who attended. But Treasury officials stressed that even if the banks didn’t have direct exposure to SIV assets, there was a broader risk that would eventually filter down to everyone, including those firms.

At least one bank representative suggested that Treasury step in with some money to help bail out the firms, the people who attended say. Mr. Steel told the group that wasn’t an option: Treasury would only back a private-sector, market-based solution. “We bought the sandwiches, and that’s it,” Mr. Steel told those assembled.

In the room was Nazareth Festekjian, a 15-year Citigroup veteran who runs a group that deals with unusual situations, such as the restructuring of Iraq’s debt in 2005. Mr. Festekjian, 46 years old, hadn’t known what an SIV was until he received a call several weeks earlier from a government contact asking him to work on a solution.

He and his team came up with the idea to create a fund that could “bridge the gap” in the market by acquiring assets in a way that might give investors more comfort, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the meeting, Mr. Festekjian unveiled his plan, which was printed up in color, says one person who was present.

Backing Away

The following week, the group again gathered in New York. There were fewer bankers, but they were joined by big SIV investors, including Fidelity and Federated Investors Inc., and by Messrs. Sossidis and Partridge-Hicks. SIV managers expressed frustration with investors for backing away from the market, according to two people who attended. Investors complained that the SIVs were not as reliable as they had been billed, one of these people says. Ultimately, all sides settled down and agreed that a solution would be important for the market.

…The plan still may not come to fruition if not enough banks agree to provide financing, or if SIVs decide that the cost of participation is too high. Some SIVs, including those sponsored by smaller U.S. banks, have started working out their own solutions with investors, and say they don’t plan to join the superfund. Architects of the plan could be satisfied if no one at all ended up using the fund, so long as its existence staved off a collapse of the SIV market, according to a person familiar with their thinking.

Written by infoproc

October 19, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Posted in cdo, credit crunch, finance

Innovation

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A special report from the Economist on innovation.

Economist: JOHN KAO is an innovation guru described as “Mr Creativity” by this newspaper a decade ago. Now he is concerned about America losing its global lead and becoming “the fat, complacent Detroit of nations”. In his new book, “Innovation Nation”, he points to warning signs, such as America’s underinvestment in physical infrastructure, its slow start on broadband, its pitiful public schools and its frostiness toward immigrants since September 11th 2001—even though immigrants provided much of America’s creativity. The rise of Asia’s innovators is a “silent Sputnik”, he argues, invoking a cold war analogy. What America needs, he reckons, is a big push by federal government to promote innovation, akin to the Apollo space project that put a man on the moon.

Curtis Carlson puts it in starker terms: “India and China are a tsunami about to overwhelm us.” As head of California’s Stanford Research Institute, Mr Carlson knows the strengths of Silicon Valley from first-hand experience. And yet here he is insisting that America’s information technology, services and medical-devices industries are about to be lost. “I predict that millions of jobs will be destroyed in our country, like in the 1980s when American firms refused to adopt total-quality management techniques while the Japanese surged ahead.” The only way out, he insists, is “to learn the tools of innovation” and forge entirely new, knowledge-based industries in energy technology, biotechnology and other science-based sectors.

It is natural to be sceptical of such dour arguments and calls for government action. After all, the United States still leads in innovation. Whether it is by traditional measures, like spending on research and the number of patents registered, or less tangible but more important ones, like the number of entrepreneurial start-ups, levels of venture-capital funding or the payback from new inventions, America is invariably at the top of the league. Indeed, the Council on Competitiveness recently concluded in a report that, by and large, the outlook is bright for America.

…Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google with Mr Page, insists that “Silicon Valley doesn’t have better ideas and isn’t smarter than the rest of the world” but it has the edge in filtering ideas and executing them. That magic still happens and attracts people from around the world who are “bold, ambitious, determined to scale up and able to raise money here actually to do it.” Mr Brin points to Elon Musk as an example.

Mr Musk moved from South Africa to eventually settle in California to make his fortune. His equation for success is: “talent times drive times opportunity”. Unlike many countries, America is never satisfied with the status quo. “There is a culture here that celebrates the achievements of individuals—and it is too often forgotten in history that it is individuals, not governments or economic systems, that are responsible for extraordinary breakthroughs,” he says.

…But surely innovation and entrepreneurship are not the same thing? Following the most useful definition—that innovation brings fresh thinking to the marketplace that creates value for a company, its customers and for society at large—someone who opens yet another corner café may be a successful entrepreneur but not much of an innovator.

The ones worth paying attention to are a special type of entrepreneur who embraces new ideas. These are the people who are able to carry out the “creative destruction” that Schumpeter marvelled at. In Europe they are thin on the ground: too many Europeans opt for comfortable jobs working for Siemens or Electricité de France than the risk and bother of starting speculative new companies.

This is worrying for Europe. National champions and incumbents are not disruptive innovators: upstarts are. From 1980 to 2001, all of the net growth in American employment came from firms younger than five years old. Established firms lost many jobs over that period and dozens fell off the Fortune 500 list.

Big corporations have been dying off and disappearing from stockmarket indices. Most of the dynamism of the world economy comes from innovative entrepreneurs and a handful of multinationals (like GE, IBM, 3M, P&G and Boeing, all of whom have stayed on the Fortune 500 list for over 50 years or so) and which constantly reinvent themselves.

Carl Schramm, president of the Kaufman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurship and innovation, says that “for the United States to survive and continue its economic and political leadership in the world, we must see entrepreneurship as our central comparative advantage. Nothing else can give us the necessary leverage to remain an economic superpower.”

Written by infoproc

October 18, 2007 at 6:43 pm

More where those came from…

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Our seminar speaker yesterday was A.P. Balachandran, a distinguished theorist from Syracuse University. During lunch I asked him what the effective population of India was for producing technical and scientific talent. That is, what fraction of the population has access to educational opportunites equivalent to those in advanced countries. I asked whether the number might be 300 million, but he replied it might be closer to 100 million. If so, we can look forward to a rapid increase in the number of Indian scientists and engineers in the next generation, as their economy continues to develop. It’s scary to think that we currently only feel the effect of 10% of their population! The literacy rate in India is only about 60% at the moment.

Written by infoproc

October 17, 2007 at 3:50 pm