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Old 1st August 2011, 06:48 AM   #1
Muldur
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We've overcomplicated economics

It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
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Old 1st August 2011, 06:50 AM   #2
RobDegraves
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So...

Let's say I have a business that makes cars, has about 1 billion dollars in revenue, 1000 employees and multinational distribution.

Now... someone wants to buy that company. Please describe in detail how this contract should look like. But keep it short...
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Old 1st August 2011, 07:19 AM   #3
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"It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

Known as "Einstein's razor", the above quote is usually paraphrased thusly:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

...which I find to be an improvement over the original, as it eliminates an excess of verbiage without sacrificing anything essential.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
Have you stopped to consider how contracts evolved to be the way they are today? A lot of the arcana in most contracts came about in specific response to protect a company against a type of lawsuit. Also to avoid exploitation of loopholes, contracts need to be very precise. Unfortunately, typical spoken English is very robust, but not very precise, so many terms which are considered legalese are chosen for their precision even though laymen may not be familiar with them.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.

This makes complete sense for the guy who thinks futures contracts are a fixed resource.


.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:20 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by djpar View Post
This makes complete sense for the guy who thinks futures contracts are a fixed resource.
Who thinks that?
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
Economics as a discipline is full of theory and analysis. It's more than numbers. Do you think Econ 101 textbooks are no more pages and pages of numbers?

Economics complicates itself. It's a complicated subject. Geology is more than just studying rocks. Sociology is more than just studying societies. etc. etc.
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Old 1st August 2011, 09:25 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mark6 View Post
Who thinks that?
Muldur here



.
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Old 1st August 2011, 01:05 PM   #9
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I think medicine has become overcomplicated as well. Medicine should be something a High School kid with an aspirin and a sharp knife should be able to figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RobDegraves View Post
So...

Let's say I have a business that makes cars, has about 1 billion dollars in revenue, 1000 employees and multinational distribution.

Now... someone wants to buy that company. Please describe in detail how this contract should look like. But keep it short...
You're being facetious, but it really isn't that hard:

Quote:
[insert name of seller] agrees to transfer the entirety of the business known as [inset name of business] to [insert name of buyer] in exchange for remunerationin the amount of [insert price]

Signed [seller, buyer, witness, witness]
It answers every important legal question: who is selling? who is buying? what is being sold? What is the price?

This shouldn't be rocket science.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
You're being facetious, but it really isn't that hard:



It answers every important legal question: who is selling? who is buying? what is being sold? What is the price?

This shouldn't be rocket science.
Do you have any qualifications in the field of economics?

Can you prove that the global economic system can be simplified to a high school level?
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cwalner View Post
Have you stopped to consider how contracts evolved to be the way they are today? A lot of the arcana in most contracts came about in specific response to protect a company against a type of lawsuit. Also to avoid exploitation of loopholes, contracts need to be very precise. Unfortunately, typical spoken English is very robust, but not very precise, so many terms which are considered legalese are chosen for their precision even though laymen may not be familiar with them.
I question how "precise" they are when all they do is sow confusion.

There is a story out there about a Harvard Law professor who as an exercise set their class to analyzing a simple credit card application to answer the basic questions about it's terms.

It took them weeks and constant back and forth to the law library to reach ANY conclusion, and they still were arguing over some of the details.

Elizabeth Warren is one such lawyer who admits the over-complexity of what SHOULD be a simple contract

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/501/credit-traps.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ws/warren.html





How are Joe and Jane Sixpack supposed to be able to answer questions a lawyer and his students cannot seem to do?

The Great Meltdown and Recession, caused directly by funky financial instruments (CDOs and CDSes) based on shady loans often hawked to unsophisticated and unsuspecting consumers should have proven once and for all time the dangers of "over-thinking the plumbing".
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by djpar View Post
This makes complete sense for the guy who thinks futures contracts are a fixed resource.


.
They are. Each contract represents a specific quantity of oil. You can only sell a given barrel of oil and thus a contract once. To do otherwise is to commit fraud.
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Old 1st August 2011, 08:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Virus View Post
Do you have any qualifications in the field of economics?

Can you prove that the global economic system can be simplified to a high school level?
I don't need "qualifications" to know that simpler is better. I don't need "qualifications" to know that when an average person goes to apply for a loan, or signs a contract, that they should without any special training, education, or expertise, should be able to clearly understand and articulate the exact terms and specifications of that contract in a meaningful way.

Anything else leads to Enron and the Great Meltdown.
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Old 1st August 2011, 09:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
You're being facetious, but it really isn't that hard:



It answers every important legal question: who is selling? who is buying? what is being sold? What is the price?

This shouldn't be rocket science.
What is "the entirety of the business"?
If after selling you this business, I open up a shop with a similar name and tell my clients to follow me there, and tell all the employees to leave and join me there, have I given you less than the entirety? How about if just one of those things happens? Since there is no legal code anywhere that defines "the entirety of a business" as a meaningful term, this contract will be very hard to enforce.

What if I give you all the equipment but don't train you how to use it? Does the "entirety" include training? How do we know if it does or not?

Does it include designs for new products not yet realized?

What if you buy my company and it turns out I misrepresented it and it isn't worth what I said it was? Where is it documented in your very short contract all of the things being exchanged so a court can evaluate such a claim?

How long does the buyer have to pay? Businesses of this size aren't always handed over with the signing of a single check.

I'm not a terribly business savy person, but these simple question are pretty easy to think of, and it's pretty reasonable for both parties to want to cover their butts and make all the answers to these explicit in writing.
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Old 1st August 2011, 09:16 PM   #16
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Muldur, here's a good thread for you to consult and pick up some pointers to learn about things before you make pronouncements about a topic you admit to know very little about:

Need some good finance/economics reading

It may not be rocket science, but it's certainly not as simple as you want to try to make it.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 03:17 AM   #17
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The guy who doesn't know percentage calculus looks at economics, finds out it's hard and blames economics?

Oy vey.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 03:40 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
You're being facetious, but it really isn't that hard:



It answers every important legal question: who is selling? who is buying? what is being sold? What is the price?

This shouldn't be rocket science.
When is the business handed over?
When is the payment handed over?
Exactly what is considered part of the business?
What happens if either party doesn´t do what they´re supposed to do?
What happens if the seller lied about the state of the business?
What happens if the seller was wrong about the state of the business?
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Old 2nd August 2011, 06:11 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
They are. Each contract represents a specific quantity of oil. You can only sell a given barrel of oil and thus a contract once. To do otherwise is to commit fraud.


You can dance around all you want... you are only making yourself look more foolish.

I'm not the only one offering examples of your ignorant or simpleton views on the subject matter.



.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 06:25 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
You're being facetious, but it really isn't that hard:



It answers every important legal question: who is selling? who is buying? what is being sold? What is the price?

This shouldn't be rocket science.
so, which assets are covered in that sale? If I buy the business, am I also buying the employment contracts of everyone who works there? Am I also buying the contracts with all the business's customers and suppliers? Am i buying their patents? This business jointly owns a factory with another business, how much of that factory am I buying? This business is being sued for wrongful dismissal. How liable am I in that lawsuit? The previous owner didn't tell me about the lawsuit. Is this grounds for reversing the sale? This business is being pursued by the IRS for unpaid taxes, do I have to pay those or the previous owner?

Last edited by Lamuella; 2nd August 2011 at 06:28 AM.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 07:04 AM   #21
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Quote:
[insert name of seller] agrees to transfer the entirety of the business known as [inset name of business] to [insert name of buyer] in exchange for remunerationin the amount of [insert price]

Signed [seller, buyer, witness, witness]
Gosh... It's amazing. You've managed to convince yourself that being stupid is a virtue.

Once you've answered all the questions that the previous posters have asked, I have about 50 of my own.

Here's a suggestion.... don't become a business man... or a surgeon... or a (insert profession here).
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Old 2nd August 2011, 07:24 AM   #22
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It is natural for people to think things are more complicated than they need to be, and to feel smarter by proposing simplified solutions. This happens all the time, not just with economics, but language, tax codes, programming languages and APIs, car repairs, etc.

But, you must remember all that complexity did not come about because someone thought it was a good idea to "make it complicated". All that complexity came about because it had to. When you have a billion people pulling the rules in a billion directions, it is inevitable that complications will be codified into the mix.

If there was no such thing as sociopaths, parasitism or outright dishonesty, perhaps 75% of those rules would not be necessary. These are people who will try to reinterpret the wording of your contract, whenever they can. (They will even try to worm their way through the more precise language often used today, though it is more difficult for them to get away with it.)

If there was no such thing as "bad luck", perhaps we can remove even more. A lot of contracts come loaded with contingencies, in case bad stuff happens through no fault of either party.

What you are proposing ignores those factors, completely.

I am sure there are some historic examples of rebooting complex laws, and replacing them with simplified ones. But, it only takes a few years before those start getting really complicated, again.
(The only examples I can think of off the top of my head, are programming APIs, not laws. Perhaps I, or someone else, might be able to provide examples of laws, later.)

Instead of fretting over how complicated things have gotten, you should fret over which experts to trust to help you get you through those complexities. Find a few good, reputable people to do so.

Because, if economic laws and contract wording were simpler, you would need to put that same level of effort into the assessment of every single individual you will ever conduct business with, before you can trust them to the same level. In this way, the complications are actually opportunities for simplification in your life.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 07:42 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
I question how "precise" they are when all they do is sow confusion.

There is a story out there about a Harvard Law professor who as an exercise set their class to analyzing a simple credit card application to answer the basic questions about it's terms.
I think your story is just that, a story, and nothing more. I have reviewed credit card contracts and have never had any problems identifying the basic terms of the contract (rate, rate changes, grace period, penalties). I am not a lawyer, nor anyone with particular training. I am just an average person, who applies critical thinking to reading a contract and don't find it very difficult. The problem is that most people don't bother to read them because they assume they won't understand them. When I bought my condo, my realtor expressed a great deal of surprise when I called her the next day to explain specific terms used in the C&C of the HOA, because she had never before had a client who actually read the thing. Once she explained the terms I was not familiar with, I accepted them and signed them.

Its not rocket science. It just takes a critical mind, some focus and a bit of time.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 09:49 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
Right, let's cancel all science posthaste because it is too difficult for a high-school age kid with a calculator you to understand.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 09:51 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by timhau View Post
The guy who doesn't know percentage calculus looks at economics, finds out it's hard and blames economics?

Oy vey.
Keep in mind that he opposes trade and thinks that price ceilings are a good idea. It is no shock that he thinks that contracts and the science of economics are the same thing.
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Old 3rd August 2011, 04:29 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Muldur View Post
It shouldn't take years of college and a legal staff in order to understand and conduct business, yet that is the exact situation we've gotten ourselves into.

Contracts that should be 2 pages are 100s of pages of "micetype" full of jargon that makes Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes glaze over. That's why they trust "investment advisors", and bankers to give them the Regular Guy's version...which, as we have seen, is an open invitation for exploitation and abuse by the "middle men".

Obscure and arcane loans, funky "derivatives", overly complex Rube-Goldberg designs for transactions, etc have left the average person unable to fairly and easily evaluate business opportunities and investment returns.

Economics should be something a high-school age kid with a calculator can figure out in a few minutes. Anything more complicated than that we probably have no business doing.
Do me this is more about business than economics. But the complexity in business transactions is precisely the reason why we need a consumer protection agency, to help out the plumber get a fair deal on on the market.
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Old 4th August 2011, 05:01 AM   #27
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Firstly, contracts are governed by legal theory, not economic theory. Therefore, citing a complicated contract hardly demonstrates that economics is overcomplicated. As others have noted, there are often good reasons why a contract is lengthy and complex, as the people writing the contract want to ensure that pretty much every possible eventuality is covered.

Secondly, the basic concepts of economics are not complicated.
Things such as the laws of supply and demand, opportunity cost, and other such ideas are quite simple and are taught at high school rather than at university.

There are, however, more arcane and complicated fields of economics, such as research into information assymetry or various areas of behavioural economics.
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