The early stages of regulatory capture

It’s just a request for now…

Leading Internet companies “requested” to keep histories of the activities of Web users for up to two years.

The interesting thing is that none of this is being dressed up as a way to protect consumers from rapacious vendors. It’s explicitly meant as a way to thwart the possible nefarious designs of the consumers themselves. But it’ll all add up to the raising of barriers to entry, oligopolistic behavior, higher prices, worse service, and all the rest that we’ve come to expect from, well, just about every industry outside of IT where regulatory capture is firmly entrenched.

Oh yeah, and remember how the Internet was supposed to make the “old media” obsolete and allow ordinary people to route around the old behemoths and get content that they weren’t willing to provide? Get a few laws in concerning who is and isn’t allowed to set up ISP’s and a laundry list of expensive requirements that all ISP’s must follow, and kiss that Internet revolution goodbye. The Old Guard will use those regulations to extend the same stranglehold on Internet media that it has today on other media.

But it’s supposed to be a great way to combat the gravest threat facing America today. And also to stop radical Muslims from blowing things up.

Markets Aren’t Nice

Intrade’s contract on Bush’s reelection shortly ago experienced a sudden (and heart-stopping for Bush supporters) price drop from around 62/64 to around 50. When I first noticed it I thought some very bad news must have come out. However, there was no news on Drudge, and a glance at the contract’s intraday price chart showed a spike down, suggesting that someone had come in with a large sale in a thin lunch-time market. The price was already recovering when I started paying attention, and soon returned to around 60 where it is now. It looks like the seller either made a mistake, selected a bad time to initiate or liquidate a position, or was trying to set off stops into a resting bid — IOW, typical short-term market behavior with no long-term implication. Sure scared the crap out of me, though.

UPDATE: EconoPundit also wants to know what happened.

UPDATE2: As of around 6:00 PM CST the market has recovered to its pre-spike level, with size bids and offers around 62/64.

UPDATE3: EconoPundit attributes the spike down to a big seller trying (unsuccessfully) to punish those who bet on Bush.

New Year’s Eve

I was across the street at a party. Neighbors. Karaoke. Three beers. Unseasonably mild weather, some of the guys smoking cigars on the porch. Kids upstairs watching some damnable cartoon movie on video. My wife sang about 23 songs — “Once Bitten Twice Shy,” “Space Oddity,” “Tracks of My Tears,” “All My Exes Live in Texas,” etc. She is the queen of karaoke. I just sang Merle’s “Swingin’ Doors,” and a duet on “Fightin’ Side of Me.” Our two year old was walking into furniture she was so tired, and had defecated in her diaper. Time to bring her home. I got her cleaned up, pajamaed, she said her prayers in repeat-after-me fashion (she can say “trespasses”), and she was instantly out like a light.

Being some kind of junkie blog addict, I had to turn on the machine. Some people are wearing tuxedos and drinking champagne right now. I’m standing in my kitchen in my socks, doing this. Hey, it’s a big world. There’s room for all of us.

It’s about 11:31 here, and this year of grace 2003 is dribbling its final grains of sand into the big hourglass. A good time to wish all of you a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2004. Predictions for ’04 and “Best Ofs” for ’03, time permitting in the next few days. For now, one forecast: ’04 will be good year. Lots for the Boyz to kvetch about. Count on it. See y’all next year.

I Don’t Like Making Predictions

Last May I made a bet with the lovely Diane that the U.S. would attack Iraq before the end of 2002. While it looks like I will soon be right about the invasion, I was wrong about the timing, and timing was the issue. I blew it due to my usual excessive overconfidence.

Meanwhile Lex has been trying to talk me into publishing my predictions for 2003. He himself has already done so in a masterful post, and I predict that many of his predictions will prove accurate. He has a good track record, especially WRT politics. (He is typically less overconfident than I am, though our respective overconfidence levels may be converging as we age.) I have a lousy track record, especially on issues that affect me emotionally. And I find that by making a prediction on any topic I tend to increase my feeling of having a stake in a particular outcome, which makes my judgment even worse. The honest best that I can usually do, prediction wise, is along the lines of: “There is a greater than even chance that X will occur if Y occurs.” But nobody wants to read predictions that sound like that. So with these caveats in mind, I am willing to make a couple of straightforwardly vague prognostications:

– There will be surprises in the war against radical Islam. Most of these surprises will be bad.

– Unexpected stuff will happen around the world. As always.

– The U.S. monetary system will show an increasing bias towards inflation during the next year or two.

That’s about the best that I can do. If anyone wants to make some money, I am available to take the other side of bets.