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  • Selected 2007 Posts

    Posted by David Foster on January 2nd, 2008 (All posts by )

    I’ve been going through my 2007 posts to select the best ones for a year-end summary. Here’s the first batch, encompassing the categories Education, Management/Leadership/Business, and Markets/International Trade.

    Education

    Readin’, Writin’, and the Business Shtick. Recruiters see some serious gaps in the education of many recent MBAs.

    New Frontiers in Helicopter Parenting. Some parents are getting over-involved with their children’s careers.

    Just Unbelievable. Some examples of mindlessness and hysteria in universities and K-12 schools.

    Free-Range Kids: A Vanishing breed? Many children are so cocooned by their parents that they may be losing the ability to understand how the world actually works.

    Just Unbelievable. More bizarre school policies–so crazy that it seems like they must be part of a South Park episode, rather than real life.

    Wilful Ignorance. Does education sometimes destroy the ability to see reality? (This post is based on a personal experience related by Chicago Boy James Rummel.)

    Interesting Data. Which is going up faster: the cost of a student-year of public education, or the price of a barrel of oil?

    The Trivialization of Science Teaching. Some dismal news from the UK.

    “Smart” vs “Hard-Working.” It makes a difference whether you praise students for their smarts or for their work ethic.

    Management, Leadership, and Business

    Two Schools Systems–and Two Foundries. Schools and foundries are very different sorts of places, but there are some common threads in the factors leading to excellence or mediocrity.

    Leadership Vignette. You don’t necessarily have to be a manager in order to act like a leader.

    An Interesting Test. A rather simplistic test suggests some interesting points about human nature and motivation.

    Interesting Data. A study of the relationship between customer satisfaction and stock prices.

    Cause & Effect. A cautionary tale about applying the mantra “ask why five times.”

    Management Advice from 1797. Some acute thinking from a Spanish naval administrator.

    Markets and International Trade

    Credit Warning. A Financial Times writer warned of risks in the credit markets, as indicated by the low spread between Treasury rates and corporate bond rates.

    Interesting Data. The S&P 500 since 1999, denominated in various commodities.

    Trends in Global Manufacturing. A study shows that the US may lose its role as the world’s top manufacturer by 2020. Which will be a surprise to those who believe we have already lost it.

    One per Second. A look at Chinese manufacturing and exports; see also these thoughts on international trade and the decline of world poverty.

    Interest Rates and Equity Returns. Fund manager John Hussman doesn’t think much of the so-called “Fed model” for stock-market valuation: Wall Street is presently managing trillions of dollars of other people’s money on the basis of a single toy model, originally discovered in a packet at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

    Sovereign Wealth. Foreign governments are starting to invest considerable sums of money in corporate securities in other countries.

    I’ll post the other categories sometime in the next few days.

     

    4 Responses to “Selected 2007 Posts”

    1. Dan from Madison Says:

      Some good reading here, thanks for posting it.

    2. Anonymous Says:

      Re: “Readin’, Writin’, and the Business Shtick” – I wonder how many of the poor writing samples came from kids who either went straight from undergrad to business school, or only had a few years in the workforce? The worst performers in my MBA class were those kids. I don’t think MBA programs should admit kids under 26.

    3. David Foster Says:

      Anon..I certainly agree that it makes sense for MBA programs to require some actual work experience. But as far as the specific issue of writing skills goes, I’m not sure it would do much good. If a person hasn’t learned effective writing by the time he gets his undergraduate degree, the odds are high that he never will.

    4. John Jay Says:

      Anon was me. MBA schools require recommendations, and at least at the good progframs, poor communicators tend not to get good recommendations, so the work world winnows out some of the dross at the better institutions. I assumed that this quote was taken from someone looking at the top tier schools, because complaining about poor quality at some of the lower tier programs is an exercise in futility.

      I agree about the undergrad part. Especially for Engineers and Scientists, where one and only one comp class is the norm. But also the departments of English Lit are not staffed with Ginnys anymore. The politicized grad students who teach Freshman Comp ignore the mechanics and shove ideology down the throats of students. I’d go even further and say that if students can’t write well by 11th or 12th grade, they are unlikely to ever acquire the skill.