Coffee Talk

Links I've been thinking about:

There's a difference between a work that makes you think "Boy, I don't understand this" and one that makes you think "Boy, this person has lost it". The near-infallible signs of scientific derangement include the "Why, this explains everything" aspect, the "Everything you thought you knew is wrong" one, and the intricate details-within-details style, almost always taken to unbearable lengths.

Epicurean Dealmaker provides the most clear and concise explanation I've seen of how private equity firms use leverage:

Private equity, as I have said many times before, is a valuable part of the financial ecosystem. It is particularly suited to helping businesses which require some sort of transformation, in structure, methods, and/or capital, in order to improve their value. All of these transformations are very difficult if not impossible to accomplish in a publicly owned company which answers to multiple, often conflicting constituencies in the full glare of public attention. For that reason alone, financial sponsors are a useful subset of capital providers, because they work their magic in private. As Mr. Surowiecki points out, they are not net job creators (or destroyers) of any magnitude. But they are not asset strippers, "vultures," or liquidators, either. Think of them instead as boot camp drill instructors, whipping out of shape or underperforming laggards into top-flight athletes. Sure, they have their failures, but on the whole they do a pretty good job for a bunch of undersocialized ex-investment bankers.

Private sector unionization is back on the skids:

The most significant number in the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics release on unionization is probably this: Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are in unions. That's the same percent as last year. In the middle of the 20th century, it was 35%. ... The number is significant because it suggests that labor's much-publicized private sector organizing drives have failed. They appeared to be meeting with some success a few years ago-the private sector rate actually rose from 7.4% to 7.6% between 2006 and 2008. Those union gains have now apparently been lost, and the private sector unionization rate again asymptotically approaches zero. ... Are Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB labor's last hurrah?

The new Matthew Broderick superbowl spot: