Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:1221
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  Since I last wrote a few weeks ago, North Korea has lost one showdown with the U.S. and has geared up for a second. The first showdown was a threat to ring tiny Guam with a military barrage. The second showdown is the threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles ICBM armed with hydrogen (fusion) bombs. Why the first threat? Because Guam is a U.S. protectorate with a major U.S. military base, and sufficiently off the beaten path to make good long-distance target practice. When the U.S. rattled sabers in return, a worried China publicly punched a hole in the security umbrella it provides North Korea. The Global Times, long viewed as its semiofficial mouthpiece, said that China would not defend North Korea from U.S. retaliation if North Korea struck first

This entry was posted in No category, The Region and tagged by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:1103
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  North Korea is a country of 25 million people held hostage by its warlord ruler. Its real GDP per capita is estimated at less than 10% of Bulgaria’s and less than 5% of South Korea’s.  Its main export is fear, sustained by long credible threats of devastating Seoul just south of the border and increasingly credible threats of wreaking nuclear havoc on Japan or the U.S. Its main Achilles’ heel is dependence on foreign oil, which China supplies in part to protect an ally on its border and in part because the enemy of its enemies is its friend. Its main protection is its long-screamed eagerness to take others down in flames with it.   Ideally, South Korea and North Korea should reunite the way West Germany and East

This entry was posted in The Region and tagged , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:1512
Venezuela

  Dependence on Russian oil and gas causes Bulgaria a host of problems. However, a plethora of oil can be a curse too, as it encourages government theft and irresponsibility.  Venezuela’s current agony is a tragic case in point.   Venezuela is a natural paradise, with mountains and coastal breezes tempering the tropical heat. Spanning 916,000 square kilometers it is bigger than Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and the former Yugoslavia combined. Fifty years ago it was barely more populous than Bulgaria but now has 31 million people, of which 5 million live in the capital Caracas. After Castro took Cuba downhill it became the richest country in Latin America, thanks largely to its tremendous reserves of oil.   In 2000, by IMF estimates, Venezuela’s GDP per capita was about 30% higher

This entry was posted in No category, The Region and tagged , , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:1969
greece

Greece lied its way into the euro launch in 2001, cloaking its unsound public finances from the EU’s nearly blind eye. The boost to credibility allowed Greece to borrow its way to unsustainable growth and exorbitant spending. The financial crisis of 2008 tore away the façade. In October 2009 Greece revealed a budget deficit of 12.5% of GDP, later revised to 15.7%, and warned it would default absent substantial aid or debt forgiveness   It’s been downhill ever since, thanks to the EU’s good intentions. The EU and the ECB helped Greece to bury its debt problem. Yet Greek debt didn’t die. Instead it turned zombie. It rouses periodically to terrorize the living. It has now roused again—yields on two-year Greek bonds have jumped 400 basis points in the past

This entry was posted in Europe and tagged , , , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:2015
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Immigrants boost the GDP of the countries that receive them, usually by more than the immigrants earn. Immigrants bring new customs and new perspectives, adding to cultural diversity. Immigration expands opportunities to mix and mingle. Moreover, inter-ethnic violence, like all other violence, is generally declining in the world. So why has immigration become such a polarizing issue in the EU and the U.S.?   From an elite perspective, the main problem is “sore losers”: lower-class citizens who lack the skills to compete in a globalized economy, are infected with racial and ethnic prejudice, and unfairly blame immigrants for their woes.  In Hillary Clinton’s words, their behavior makes them “deplorable” and their attitudes “irredeemable”. The only appropriate response is contempt.   However, what if the “sore losers” do lose substantially from

This entry was posted in No category, Europe and tagged , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:1947
xenophobia

  Xenophobia – the fear of foreigners – has always been a serious problem for humanity. In the EU today, however, it is outweighed by xeno-xenophobia – the fear of the fear of foreigners. European elites, eager to promote ever-greater union and reap more of the benefits of globalization, decry their citizens’ ambivalence on immigration. Unlike Hillary Clinton, they don’t openly describe a quarter of their populations as despicable, irredeemable haters. Yet, European elites are even more fearful of public hate boiling up and exploding. They see the ghosts of 20th century fascism and world wars.   Unfortunately, the public has cause for ambivalence. On the one hand, it revels in an unprecedented combination of peace, advanced technology, economic prosperity, and cradle-to-grave protections. On the other hand, that combination is

This entry was posted in Europe and tagged , , , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:2077
protest_

The Brexit and “Trumpit” movements share many similarities. Both played on discomfort with globalization and immigration. They were portrayed in the media as ignorant, reactionary, and racist. Neither seemed more than minor threats at first, their leaders too inept or buffoonish to last. The very rich, the very young and the very hip generally abhorred them and still do. The more support Brexit and Trump gathered from others, the more the media emphasized their vileness and demagogy.   Between media headwinds and their own stumbles, neither Brexit nor Trumpit gained a clear majority in pre-election polls. Even their backers expected them to fail. However, closet support and disproportionate turnout provided an extra 3%, enough to push them over the top.   How? Brexit and Trumpit struck deep chords with the

Views:1137
liberty

  Broad division of labor is mankind’s greatest economic innovation ever, and globalization is its greatest fruit. Nothing spurs more growth and innovation. Nothing intertwines civilization more. Yet every upside comes with a downside, and the main current downside of globalization is the squeeze on the middle class in the world’s leading globalizers. Their real incomes have hardly increased in a generation, their jobs have become less secure, and their prospects have dimmed.   A recent publication of the U.S. Census Bureau gives crisp evidence of this. Called Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015, it grabbed unusual attention thanks to its claim that “Real median household income increased 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2105.” That’s a huge and welcome one-year change in a slow-growth economy.   However, when

Views:2274
Self-driving cars

  AI-driven cars (also known as driverless cars or self-driving cars) will revolutionize transportation in the 2020s. They will be far safer and faster than human-driven cars. They will ease urban congestion and save humans billions of hours spent steering.   Google, Apple and a host of other companies – including traditional auto manufacturers seeing the writing on the wall – are already experimenting with driverless cars. Cameras and radar enhance cars’ existing arrays of electronic sensors. The core challenge now is software development. How should a self-driving car interpret and act on its sensory inputs?   One way to interpret and act is to write a lot of “if-then” rules. If the car receives inputs A, B and C, then it does X, Y and Z. If the car

This entry was posted in Bulgaria and tagged , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).
Views:2818
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  While Bulgarians can do a lot to leap ahead in AI, they can’t leap ahead all together. No one can. At best, a leap-ahead committee – say, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting AI – can fire up enthusiasm and share best practices. At worst, a committee wastes endless time in planning, meetings and misdirection. A camel is a horse designed by a committee.   To rev things up, let me suggest a small initiative that doesn’t need more than a handful or backers. Form a boot camp to train data scientists. It will offer six courses only: ▲ Python or R programming. These are the languages most favored by machine learning specialists (Python) and statisticians (R). They’re fairly easy to translate between – more like Bulgarian versus

This entry was posted in Bulgaria and tagged , , , , , , by Kent Osband.

About Kent Osband

Dr. Osband is an American economist, strategist, financial risk analyst and longtime student of Bulgaria. He is the author of two well-known books on quantitative risk analysis (Iceberg Risk: An Adventure in Portfolio Theory and Pandora Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance) and has served both in the public (IMF, WB) and private sectors (Goldman Sachs, CSFB, Fortress Investments).