Please note

I have resigned as a director of Porter Capital Management Pty Ltd (“Porter Capital”) and Porter Private Clients Pty Ltd (“Porter Private”) as I find this interferes with my primary business (Incredible Charts). In future, I will no longer publish newsletters under the banner of Research & Investment nor issue investment updates for them.

I no longer work under the AFSL and would like to remind readers that any advice in these newsletters and on the website is provided for their general information and does not have regard to any particular person’s investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Accordingly, no reader should act on the basis of any information contained herein without first having consulted a suitably qualified financial advisor.

Former Trader Tom Hayes Sentenced to 14 Years for Libor Rigging – WSJ

From David Enrich at the Wall St Journal:

LONDON—Former bank trader Tom Hayes was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday after a London jury convicted him of trying to fraudulently rig the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

The unanimous jury verdict, followed about an hour later by the judge’s 14-year prison sentence, delivers one of the harshest penalties meted out against a banker since the financial crisis.

This sentence will hopefully establish precedent for other regulators to follow. If management condoned the actions, they are as guilty as the trader who perpetrated the crime. Let’s see what actions are taken against them.

Read more at Former Trader Tom Hayes Sentenced to 14 Years for Libor Rigging – WSJ.

Why Do Democrats Keep Trying to Ban Guns That Look Scary, Not the Guns That Kill the Most People? – ProPublica

From Lois Beckett:

Over the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned.

That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public. In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban.

…It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do. In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows.

These statistics are not a sound argument against a curb on assault weapons. Saving even a fraction of the 322 firearm deaths caused by rifles would be a positive step. But it does illustrate politicians’ propensity to follow the path of least resistance, rather than taking effective action. A partial restriction on handguns — whether on sales, ownership, storage or requiring trigger locks — would not grab as many headlines, but would be far more effective in saving lives.

Read more at Why Do Democrats Keep Trying to Ban Guns That Look Scary, Not the Guns That Kill the Most People? – ProPublica.

Does evil exist and, if so, are some people just plain evil?

Interesting discussion by Prof Luke Russell (University of Sydney) on the nature of evil:

If someone is an honest person, honesty is part of his or her character. He or she can be relied upon to be honest when it counts. Someone who tells the truth on some occasions might nonetheless be a characteristically dishonest person.

Similarly, not everyone who performs an evil action counts as an evil person. In judging that Hitler was not only an evildoer but an evil person, we assume that evil was part of his character. That’s is not to say we assume he was innately evil, nor that he had no choice but to do evil. Rather, it is to say he came to be strongly disposed to choose to perform evil actions.

Were Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot innately evil or did they merely commit evil acts? And how do we define an evil act, when violence is an integral part of human/animal nature? What forms of violence are acceptable or unacceptable? Is violence only acceptable in self-defense, in defense of others, or to negate a perceived future threat? Careful study of the factors that motivated Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot will help us to better understand and protect against future despots. Demonizing despots prevents us from understanding them, leaving us prone to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Read more at Does evil exist and, if so, are some people just plain evil?.

Expensive cancer drugs are all the rage in pharma these days

Growing evidence that healthcare research should not be entrusted to Big Pharma:

In the last decade, the average cost of a brand-name cancer drug jumped from about $5,000 per month to $10,000 per month in 2013, according to a new IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics study out this morning. Oncology, by far, remains the largest area of focus in drug research and development, IMS said.

If they found a potential low-cost cure, would they be tempted to kill the research? Youbetcha.

Read more at Expensive cancer drugs are all the rage in pharma these days.

Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong [TED]

Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.

[ted id=1126]

How marijuana use among teenagers can affect brain development | The Economist

From P.H. at The Economist:

Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Chicago’s Northwestern University, worries that the rush to promote recreational use is reckless, and that not enough thought is being given to the balance between costs and benefits. In a study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, Dr Breiter and a group of researchers from Northwestern, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that the size, shape and structure of parts of the brain are changed in teens and young adults who smoke weed as little as once a week. Earlier studies have focused only on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of pot) affects the brains of animals or intensive, dependent human users—and found evidence of impaired learning, memory, attention and decision-making. But those studies did not consider the effects of casual use.

Read more at Marijuana: Baked brains | The Economist.

Inside the Nation’s Biggest Experiment in School Choice | WSJ.com

Stephanie Banchero at WSJ describes how state introduction of charter schools in New Orleans has lifted academic performance.

There is broad acknowledgment that local schools are performing better since Hurricane Katrina washed away New Orleans’ failing public education system and state authorities took control of many campuses here.

Graduation rates went to 78% last year from 52% before Katrina—surpassing Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif., cities also struggling to boost achievement among lower-income students. The share of New Orleans students proficient in math, reading, science and social studies increased to 58% in 2012 from 35% before the 2005 storm, state data shows.

….About 84% of its 42,000 public school students attend charters, the largest share of any district in the U.S.

Charter schools are largely free to manage their own budgets and hiring, set curriculum and schedules, and select textbooks. The lowest performing schools are eventually closed by state officials or replaced with new operators.

For the school year that started in August, parents picked among 78 charter schools, as well as eight traditional campuses, one independent school with a board appointed by the governor and 38 private schools that are paid with state-issued tuition vouchers. To help guide the selection, public schools are issued grades of A to F, based on academic performance.

State-issued vouchers promote competition amongst schools and lift performance. The system not only empowers parents but also empowers staff in those institutions, judging them on performance rather than on conformity to strict regulatory controls.

An experiment in the Lombardy region of Italy has also demonstrated that similar competition between state and private institutions in the health care sector reduces costs and improves outcomes. Given the striking success of this model, expect to see growing adoption in both health care and education despite resistance from vested interests.

Read more at Inside the Nation's Biggest Experiment in School Choice – WSJ.com.