Gold mistake

Spent almost 5% of a retirement fund to buy gold mutual funds and already saw a 10% drop. Not sure if it is a mistake in the long run. But the timing is definitely not great. This was mostly aimed as a hedge of the non-stop money printing worldwide governments. I consider this a “short-term”…

Twitter loss

It was a mistake that I didn’t act immediately. I have not many but a sizeable amount of Twitter stock. I had a reasonable impression that the stock will pull back significantly after it banned Trump’s account permanently. I set a limit order hoping for a rebound. I set a price of $55, which is…

Framing and prospect theory

Asian disease problem illustrated that framing can alter one’s decision based on if we are emphasizing gain or loss. Prospect theory is just a fancy name to conjecture what happens when the utility function is indeed what economists believe.

Pareto optimality

I always forget what does pareto optimality mean. I reviewed the slides of convex optimization course by Stephen Boyd recently and found the following very intuitive example. The curve below shows that to maintain a certain production volume, a factory needs to allocate its resources (fuel and labor) in the region . Essentially, we can…

Understanding mortgage

I am considering to buy an investment home recently and so am trying to really understand mortgage. As an engineer, I thought it should be very simple. Indeed, it is quite simple but it eventually spent me couple hours figuring it out on my own. It is a simple high school math problem but I…

為什麼我反對最底工資 (Why I oppose minimum wage)

首先,有些人可能認為不支持最低工資不道德,因為工作那麼辛苦,拿不夠28元(要不33元)一個小時是一種侮辱。但問題是如果我們相信基本的資本主義,就會發現工資是不可能隨便定的。就拿觀塘到北角的渡輪來打比喻,前一陣子坐過一次,只有十多二十個人坐,現在船費5元,一程收入也不夠100元。大概油錢就花上幾十元,除了船長,有一個水手,如果要做到收支平衡,工資是真的上不去。 先不說對消費者的影響,即使加價也不一定能提高收入,因為從觀塘到北角坐港鐵應該會比較快,只是也比較貴。如果加船費,大概乘客就變得更少了。 要維持服務,很有可能就只好把水手除去。 社會上類似的例子有很多,諷刺的是,最底工資冠冕堂皇的要保障弱世社群,而被排濟的剛好就是這些技術較低或老弱殘疾的一群。事實上,自最底工資立例而後,已經常常可以聽得見殘疾人事被解僱或是被減低工時。 就先前的例子,很容易看到工資是沒有可能人為地隨便上漲。所以當訂立最底工資為28元,就等於把所有原來小於28元的工作全部禁掉。這樣的道理,經濟學家一早就明白,而比較早實施最低工資的地區已經看到一些低工資的工作從社會中永遠消失。比如說在美國,油站再沒有服務員幫忙加油,快餐廳飯後顧客要自己收拾,電影院不再有帶位員,香港也不免會慢慢地步上美國的後塵。 有些人可能覺得像這種低層次的工作,即使消失掉也不用惋惜。可是,對於技術較底或經驗較淺的人士,這可能是唯一給予他們自力更生的機會。對很多雇主來說,這些在職場直接打滾的經驗,可能比一些無關的學位銜頭更具吸引力,所以這些經驗都不應該只是用金錢來衡量的。而更大問題的是,最低工資把傳統的學徒制度非法化。不管職業學校搞得再好,都沒有在實際環境中實習學得更好更多。但由於最低工資,傳統像美容院實行學徒制的行業已經不能再負擔學徒,如果這個得不到解決,人才斷層的問題將會在很多行業中發生。 當然,最低工資並不是完全沒優點。由於它把工資成本提高,它迫使企業轉型及使用自動化,長遠來說可能會提高整體社會的生產力,但是這對於原來拿最低工資的人士來說可是一點好處也沒有。返過來說,他們剛好是最低工資引發的社會進步的犧牲品,因為當企業轉型完成後,他們將會永遠失去他們的工作。這樣的道理,對大力支持最低工資的議員不會不明白,但是比起面對解釋清楚給民眾的麻煩,直接從支持最低工資來拿到政治本錢當然就吸引得多了。而且,這個到底是不是最好的提高生產力的方法呢?比如說,政府為企業提供科研的稅務優惠也可以達到同樣的效果,而且最低工資引來的經濟的代價不一定被稅務優惠要小。更甚的是,在信息萬變而通訊發達的現代,應該善用民眾的智慧來集思廣益,刻意誤導群眾只會為政府帶來越來越多的麻煩。 那如果不用最低工資,怎麼能保障工人有足夠的收入生活呢?大概也會有人說,如果沒有最低工資,工人的工錢可能比不工作拿綜援還小,那怎麼可以吸引就業呢?這個事實上只是一個簡單的數學問題,綜援竟然比工作的收入還多是政府稅制欠缺規劃的結果。政府絕對可以對於工錢過低的市民加以補助,事實上政府的就業交通津貼就是一個很好的開始。而且類似的補助可以通過現有的報稅程序來處理,這樣就不會大量的增加行政負擔。而且,就如剛才說的,工作給予的,絕對不只是工錢,尊嚴跟經驗是不能用金錢來衡量的,政府應該多鼓勵全民就業而減少對長期失業人士作出補貼,或可以跟隨外國用食物卷來代替對後者的補助。 ======================================================================================================== Hong Kong (HK) is in its second year in experimenting its minimum wage law. It is at the moment where we are discussing if we should raise the minimum wage from 28 HK dollars (about $3.6 US) to more. Some suggests to raise to 30 or…

Obama’s Tariff

I am terribly disappointed with Obama’s tariff. Especially I believe that he is an intelligent person. He definitely should understand the reaction from Beijing and is well aware of the impact of Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act to the Great Depression. He is basically risking all these for the political capital needed for his health reform. While…