I’ve written before on the enormous losses Harvard recently sustained as a result of the investments of its endowment funds and capital accounts. The Boston Globe has now published an article on how the losses happened. It’s a familiar story and good lesson for anyone managing their 401(k) account. People made aggressive investments notwithstanding cautions about risks, the aggressive investments produced very strong returns for a time, and the investment decisionmakers overlooked the risks, focused on the returns, and then took an uppercut when the markets went south. They forgot the basic questions all investors should ask: what am I looking to achieve with my account, and how much risk am I willing to take to try to achieve that goal? These questions should be asked regularly — not just when the markets experience a downturn.
Although Ohio Issue 3, which amended the Ohio Constitution to allow for the building of casinos in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo, was approved by voters statewide, it was strongly rejected by voters in central Ohio. Now, local politicians are trying to figure out what they can do to try to prevent the casino from being located in the Columbus Arena District, a new, upscale, family-friendly area located just north of downtown. Today’s Columbus Dispatch has an editorial applauding those efforts.
It will be interesting to see what local leaders do to try to avoid the construction of a casino in the location that the Constitution now identifies as the sole, lawful location for a casino in Columbus. Withhold water and sewer services? Decline to improve roads and infrastructure? Tell the police not to patrol in the vicinity of the casino? Develop new taxing and fee-based ordinances to make operating the casino much less lucrative? Such initiatives, if pursued, seem likely to set up an interesting legal battle between the “home rule” powers of municipalities like Columbus and the effect of an unprecedented state constitutional amendment.
The fallout continues from the data breach that led to the release of e-mail exchanges between climate scientists about global warming data. This New York Times piece indicates that the controversy about the e-mails, and their true meaning as it relates to the science of global warming, has had broad repercussions.
Hacking into a computer is a criminal act which should not be condoned. However, if this particular criminal act results in greater access to raw global warming data, and increased scientific debate about that data and its true meaning, then it has had some positive effect. Science should not be a black box. If global warming is to be used as a basis for arguing that western countries like the United States should make enormous and costly changes to their economies and activities, it obviously should be the subject of robust and skeptical discussion. If climate change scientists aren’t willing to engage in such debate, that says something about their methods, practices, and status as scientists. To paraphrase Harry Truman, if climate change scientists can’t stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.