Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Mar 19, 2010

Happy Friday. I was out sick yesterday but feeling a bit better. What I’ve seen so far — a good William Cohen editorial in the Times, the AP dissects Obama’s promises on transparency, plus a little college b-ball:

The rot at the heart of Wall Street (New York Times)

To that end, shareholders must demand that corporate boards of directors revamp the entire compensation structure on Wall Street away from one based on revenue generation to one that rewards long-term profits. For goodness sake, what other business on the face of the earth, aside from Wall Street, pays out between 50 percent and 60 percent of each dollar of revenue generated to employees in the form of compensation!

Promises, promises. Obama’s “transparency” is pretty opaque (AP)

The administration has stalled even over records about its own efforts to be more transparent. The AP is still waiting–after nearly three months–for records it requested about the White House’s “Open Government Directive,” rules it issued in December directing every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public.

Runaway cars: Driver error or car malfunction? (NPR)

No one has done research specifically on sustained error with car pedals. But psychologists have spent a lot of time thinking about the errors humans make. Psychologist Chris Wickens has written a book on this subject, and he says that psychologists looking at people under intense stress have identified something called the “perseveration response.”

“You just keep repeating the same error over and over and over again,” he says.

College basketball isn’t a great business model (Christian Science Monitor)

So, with all that cash rolling in, basketball must be a moneymaker for colleges and universities, right?

Nope. Most college basketball teams lose money.

How about championship-caliber teams?

Not really. “If you look at basketball teams as a stand-alone company, virtually none of the teams come out ahead,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

What are the odds of picking a perfect NCAA basketball bracket? (PBS NewsHour)

When the WSJ looked into it, their odds range from one in 150 million to one in 9 million trillion if each game were a true toss-up. “Put another way, you are about 60 billion times more likely to win the multistate Powerball lottery.”

Another favorite via Book of Odds:

…if you follow the optimal strategy of always picking the higher seed to win, your odds of filing a perfect March Madness bracket are just 1 in 35,360,000,000–almost 18 times worse than your odds of being killed by a waterspout in a year (1 in 1,988,000,000).

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