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August 26, 2015 / schoolthought

Looking Under the Hood of the OLS Model (Mathy)

I wrote this with my intended audience being myself two to three years ago. This was when I had an intuitive and basic understanding of linear regression math and models, but was still trying to learn the specifics. This isn’t really an educational text. At best it’s a first-draft of a supplementary text on regressions. But perfection is the enemy of great, so I will post this now, and won’t spend ten more hours editing this unless I someday find myself in a position where I want some better educational materials to help teach someone who is working on learning this stuff. My motivations to write this were as follows:

1.) While I use linear regressions all the time, I had never derived the analytical solution myself.

2.) I wanted to show how to solve it in R to using an optimizer and coding it myselff.

3.) Maximum Likelihood estimation is a foundation of stats, and I wanted to give it a shot on a workhorse model.

4.) And get some more Latex experience.


The post itself is a pdf file. I need to eventually move this blog and host it myself, so that I can add plugins so Latex shows up here!


PDF File:


August 12, 2015 / schoolthought

Masters Thesis

I have attached my thesis for my MSc in Political Economy at the London School of Economics that I wrote two years ago, in August of 2013.  This thesis is on the Smoot-Hawley tariff act of 1930. This was a tariff act that preceded the great depression, and was sometimes blamed for the extent of the depression. It also was an example of an awful economic policy, and the dangers of log-rolling in the U.S. legislative branches. I argue against previous academic papers that claimed it was legislation that no one wanted, but spiraled out of control since every legislator wanted to toss in their own protectionist policies once it started. I claim that the act was in fact a prudent political move for Hoover, and benefited his political career. I set up the model using game-theory founded logic, and then build up empirical evidence by analyzing the various voting blocs within the House and Senate using principal component analysis.SimonRiddell_MastersThesis

I had hoped to redo it in LaTeX, but at this point I don’t think it would justify the amount of time it would take. So when you see those clunky equations, just pretend they look fancy. As anyone who has worked in academic social sciences should know, it doesn’t matter if the statistics or math is correct, so long as it looks imposing and flashy. But in all honesty, even though it looks clunky, I still stand by my methods of inference. Looking back on my paper now, having learned so much more, I would only make a couple changes:

The first would be to either remove–or be far more specific–with my argument on macro-economic factors. I just toss in a few citations and a macro-economic theory on factor production, which wasn’t all that necessary for my main argument. The second would be to detail the methodology behind using principal component analysis a little more thoroughly. Being more explicit in my identification mechanism and the properties I want my model to satisfy would tighten up my inferences and conclusion.

Thesis: SimonRiddell_MastersThesis

July 12, 2015 / schoolthought

Messing around with DW-Nominate and Bond Returns

Over the past year and a half I have spent most of my time at the Fed working with yields data from U.S. Treasuries. Before the Fed I spent most of my time at LSE working with political data. Specifically, a dataset called DW-Nominate. I won’t do it a full service here, but it’s a measure of partisanship within the U.S. congress. It is a formalization of our heuristic classifications. We ‘know’ Hillary Clinton is further ‘to the left’ than Ted Cruz, but how are we actually identifying that? It doesn’t work too well to identify it on specific policies, as even just 8 years ago both her and Obama were against gay marriage, which no longer is reconcilable with ‘the left.’ Poole and Rosenthal identified it by using multi-dimensional scaling to simultaneously find the ‘ideal point’ of a legislator on a single dimension, as a function of their legislative voting records, and who they vote with most. As a result a legislator, who is always voting with other legislators on ‘the left’ and not with legislators on ‘the right’ of the dimension, will be classified farther to the left.  This has allowed for each congress (in this case the House) to have its measure of partisanship estimated, based on where in the dimension the average winning vote occurs. It also has allowed for a measure of partisanship, which is a measure of disagreement amongst legislators.

The yields data from U.S. treasuries are the most fundamental indicator of the present and future of the U.S. economy.  The pricing of the yield curve is related to the expectations of the U.S. interest rate and real economic activity. For example, steepness of the curve is a great indicator of future recessions, due in large part to how monetary policy affects the yield.  From this data I have constructed an excess return series, based on a function written by an economist I work for, which is the average of the additional return that can be achieved from buying an N-year bond, and selling it at N-1 years, when compared to just buying a 1 year bond. What this identifies is the time-varying risk premium in the term structure, which reflects investor’s demands for a risk premium to compensate them for interest rate risk. For example, if an investor buys a 5-year bond and sells it a year later, he takes the risk that rates rose in the interim period, which means he might realize a loss (when compared to the counterfactual of having just bought a 1-year bond). For this he requires an additional risk.

I always was curious if there was a way to identify a political risk premium in the term structure of yields, so I ran a series of regressions using the DW-nominate measures of partisanship, and political polarization. While the results were a little interesting, they appear to be null results.  I won’t entirely give up on the general thesis that there is a relationship between political polarization and the U.S. economy, but I have at least proven to myself that identifying that relationship will be much more challenging than simply throwing time-series at a regression. With that said, I’ve documented a snippet of the resulting graphs below, as well as my code.

plot2Chart 1: This chart is a benchmark, and graphs the fitted values of a regression of excess returns on the first three principal components. The theoretical idea behind this is that the term structure of yields should include all knowable future information on the U.S. economy, including the time-varying risk premium. So for another variable to meaningfully contribute, it must add above and beyond these three principal components. The R2 for this regression is 0.17


Chart 2: this chart is a regression of excess returns on only the two political variables, without including the principal components. What this regression specifically asks, as an example, is standing at the end of a 2-year congressional term and looking back at the dynamics of that legislative body, what amount of the future time-varying risk premium can I predict? Despite reaching a statistically significant result, and having an R2 of 0.11, the economic significance of this chart does not look meaningful.


Chart 3: This chart asked the same question as before, but assumed the investor was able to have perfect foresight of what the dynamics of the legislative body would be in the coming two years, essentially allowing him to predict the future and use it for his investment today.  The R2 and significance essentially remain the same as chart 2, but the variation at least looks slightly more interesting, but still pretty unconvincing.


Chart 4: This combines the two political variables with the first three principal components in the black line, and compares it to the benchmark of only the first three principal components in the red line. Statistically the R2 here is 0.26 vs. the benchmark value of 0.17, and the additional variables are significant.

I’m not convinced this represents any meaningful causal relationship outside of some historical idiosyncratic patterns. It is possible there are some deep latent factors in the U.S. and the world, which relate or drive increasing political polarization and variation in the time varying risk-premium. But absent any strong theoretical connection, I can’t bring myself to buy any of the significance.  There are also no meaningful reasons to prefer one model specification over another. For example, instead of excess returns I could have used the slope of the yield curve, and I could experiment with lags or forwards of explanatory variables without running against any theoretical reason to prefer one over the other (I tried lots of these, without results much different from what I achieved here).  And given all this freedom to try varying models, I could surely find a tight fit eventually, by luck.

In addition, the sample size of data on each congress is not particularly large, with only around 30 unique points for the entire sample (compared to the daily yields data).

Messy R Code:

DW-Nominate data from

June 16, 2015 / schoolthought

Review of Orwell’s Experience in the Spanish Civil War and WWII

Book One, Homage to Catalonia:

When George Orwell was in his early 30s, he went to fight in the Spanish civil war against the fascists. He fought for The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification — also known as the POUM. In 1936 the Spanish military staged a coup to put Franciso Franco in total control of the country. Franco would be supported by Nazi Germany and Italy, with the various workers movements being supported by Russia. The ideological shape of Europe at the time consisted of a battle between the workers movement centered in Russia, and the insidious forms of fascism, which had taken their firmest roots in Germany. Even within the relative stability of Britain and the U.S. a deep fear of socialism began to spread, built on a fear of workers collective strength expropriating and nationalizing government and industry; a fear articulated in Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, where he predicted the end of capitalism.

For Orwell, the lives of the working poor in Britain were horrific when compared to the upper class. His book The Road to Wigan Pier was based on his diaries and travels through the industrial north of WWII. The observations in the first half of the book subtly endorsed socialism, yet he also focused on its practical failures within Britain, frustrating his publisher and his primary audience. Despite his careful approach, Orwell saw a country and world where things were going to change rapidly, either ending in suffering and repressing or one where the poor gained more political power and no longer suffered while the rich lived opulently. So despite being British, he saw Spain as the start of a larger battle.

The ideas behind communism and fascism combined with the modern age of industrialization hadn’t been tested, but held the promise of a better world. In a sense, each offered the same thing to those in society who whenever they looked at those more well-off, saw an ease of life they could never hope to obtain, and the opportunity to live with what they saw as dignity. The realm of communism would achieve the goal through collectivization and removal of the capitalists, industrialists, aristocrats, and politicians, whose opulence put the poor in relative shame. Fascism on the other hand didn’t come with a handbook, and to me often seems to rest more on nationalism and transformative leadership. However, most modern forms of fascism often involve bribing the major capitalists in an economy until it is possible to coerce them with violence, and giving meaning through manufactured employment and some type of nationalist fervor to the working class. These tactics can be found today in Syria, as I wrote in a previous post, but with a slightly more sectarian twist.

Orwell was not alone in seeing these two ideologies building up throughout Europe. But he focused on the specific institutions, people, and parties within countries and their neighbors.

This book is largely about his time on the front lines. The anti-fascist forces were more united by common enemy than ideological similarities. There were variations on communist groups, socialist, anarchist, and worker syndicates. Their lack of organization and military supplies consistently came up in Orwell’s frustrations, but he also saw benefits in the style of military. The workers army he saw as based on class-loyalty, whereas a ‘bourgeois conscript army is based ultimately on fear’.

This book walks the reader through Orwell’s original belief in socialism, as well as his disillusionment with the ability to meaningfully fix and rebuild the foundations of a country through civil war. “This is not a war,” he used to say, “It is a comic opera with an occasional death.”

Below I’ve included more of my favorite excerpts:

“At Monte Pocero, when they pointed to the position our left and said: ‘Those are the Socialists’, I was puzzled and said: ‘Aren’t we all socialists?’ I thought it idiotic that people fighting for their lives should have separate parties; my attitude always was, ‘Why can’t we drop all this political nonsense and get on with the war?’”

“When I came to Spain, and for some time afterwards, I was not only uninterested in the political situation but unaware of it. I knew there was a war on, but I had no notion what kind of a war. If you had asked me why I had joined the militia I should have answered: “To fight against Fascism,” and if you should have asked me what I was fighting for, I should have answered: ‘Common decency.”

“In England, where the Press is more centralized and the public more easily deceived than elsewhere, only two versions of the Spanish war have had any publicity to speak of: the Right-wing version of Christian patriots versus Bolsheviks dripping with blood, and the Left wing version of gentlemanly republicans quelling a military revolt.”

“In Spain the communist ‘line’ was influenced by the fact that France, Russia’s ally, would object to a revolutionary neighbor.”

“To fight against Fascism on behalf of “democracy” is to fight against one form of capitalism on behalf of a second which is liable to turn into the first at any moment. The only real alternative to Fascism is workers’ control.”


Book Two, Orwell’s British Perspective on WWII

Following Orwell’s experience in Spain, he wrote about his time living in and near London leading up to, and during, WWII. Before reading this book my own casual historical view of WWII was that Britain rallied under Churchill’s iron will to defeat the Axis. At the time Orwell was in his late 30s, and was still recuperating from an injury he suffered in the Spanish Civil War (as a foreign fighter). Orwell’s diary portrays a different picture of a politically unstable environment, and a country that appeared to lack the motivation to go to war with Germany.

The Battle of France began on May 10th, 1940. Despite Hitler’s constant aggression, this was the first major battle involving allied forces. By May 26th most of France was occupied, and about 330,000 British and other Allied troops had retreated to the shores of Dunkirk. At this point there were talks among the British of making a conditional peace offer to the Germans, and the French formally surrendered. If the British lost hundreds of thousands of troops in the British Expeditionary Forces (B.E.F) it would be hard to imagine a situation where they could still contest Europe. This marks the beginning of Orwell’s wartime diary on May 28th, 1940. Orwell wrote that there was ‘no real news and little possibility of inferring what is really happening,’ but that he his suspicion was that the strategic situation the B.E.F was in was hopeless. Despite this, he said that people were not really talking about the war.

The people in the Censorship Department where Orwell’s wife, Eileen, worked, would lump all “red” papers together, and often prevent them from publication or export. Orwell also mentioned that there were rumors of air raids beginning in London, yet there still seemed to be little interest in the war as people are not grasping that they are in danger. Over the coming days, as the soldiers at Dunkirk were miraculously successfully evacuated, Orwell saw “The usual Sunday crowds drifting to and for, perambulators, cycling clubs, people exercising dogs, knots of young men loitering at street corners, with not an indication in any face or in anything … that they are likely to be invaded within a few weeks.”

I also thought Orwell’s comments on marketing at the time were hilarious. He observed “Huge advert. on the side of a bus: “FIRST AID IN WARTIME, FOR HEALTH, STRENGTH AND FORTITUDE. WRIGLEY’S CHEWING GUM.” Orwell was always particularly disgusted by wartime profiteering.

Throughout his diary, what I find most interesting his Orwell’s commitment to dispassionate political study of his time and country, while remaining steadfast in his personal nationalism and desire to defeat fascism. Orwell believed he was more clearly able to see the future than the British cabinet. Normally I’d accuse any writer of just cherry-picking his past predictions, but I think I trust Orwell here. His reasoning was as follows:

“Partly it is a question of not being blinded by class interests etc., eg. anyone not financially interested could see at a glance the strategic danger to England of letting Germany and Italy dominate Spain, whereas many rightwingers, even professional soldiers, simply could not grasp this most obvious fact. But where I feel that people like us understand the situation better than so-called experts is not in any power to foretell specific events, but in the power to grasp what kind of world we are living in. At any rate I have known since about 1931 that the future must be catastrophic. I could not say exactly what wars and revolutions would happen, but they never surprised me when they came. Since 1934 I have known war between England and Germany was coming, and since 1936 I have known it with complete certainty.”

There are plenty of other brilliant paragraphs Orwell writes in his diary, but this is the final one I’ve chosen to include in this post:

“It is impossible even yet to decide what to do in the case of German conquest of England. The one thing I will not do is to clear out, at any rate not further than Ireland, supposing that to be feasible … If the U.S.A. is going to submit to conquest as well, there is nothing for it but to die fighting, but one must above all die fighting and have the satisfaction of killing somebody else first.”

June 16, 2015 / schoolthought

Returning to my Post

I created this blog the year I finished undergrad and began working at an investments firm. I missed the academic style of learning and writing, so I found an outlet here. Since then I completed my masters at the LSE in Political Economy, and began work in Financial Research at the San Francisco Federal Reserve. It’s been about 2.5 years since regular updates, and what feels like a life-time of knowledge. Looking back on my old posts, I don’t think they are bad. But I could make far more elegant arguments with 30% of the words. Still, I’ll leave them up.

I also will strive to focus less on long and polished posts, and more on well-thought but streamlined posts. That seems to be the best way to maintain a blog in spare time. It ends up being thoughts that I want to flesh out some more than just what I might post on facebook.  I think a lot, and I want to write it down. As I step further away from my undergrad and masters, it seems less and less likely I will do a PhD. There are lots of good reasons for my choice, and I stand by it, but it’s still sad. So it’s really up to me to push myself to write and argue on topics unrelated to my career.

Since I dislike idle promises of future work, right after I post this I will make a real post. It’s a pseudo-review of Orwell’s autobiographical book documenting the Spanish civil war and a book of his diaries during WWII, which covers my own thoughts reading it, as well as the most memorable passages




September 5, 2013 / schoolthought

Syrian Actors


I wrote this post to identify key players in the current Syrian civil war. Any intervention or policy would need to consider a complex set of actors, and not simply reduce the war to opposition vs. Assad. I have focused on more general information, and included fewer details about specific events. My sources are at the bottom, and come from academic and think-tank scholarship. I’m not an international affairs expert, nor am I an expert on Syria; as a result I have tried to just build an outline using information from academic writing. I wrote this to document my own study of the Syrian civil war, with the goal of providing some clarity to all the moving parts. Clarity does come at a cost, and it is certain I have misrepresented or missed important information.

I made the initial graphic to give a simplified overview of the two sides: The pro-Assad group is in the upper half, and the pro-opposition group is on the bottom half. The closer a group is to the center of the figure; the more intimately involved they are in the civil war. The working class is split, as their support is difficult to measure, but is not clearly for or against Assad (most would prefer simply to live). The size of each block has a loose and one dimensional correlation with their relative importance at the point of writing (e.g. the US could dramatically increase if they launch an attack).




Russia:  Russia established a naval base in 1971 in the Syrian city Tartus. Russia and Syria do trade, but it is less than half of a percent of Russia’s GDP. The most compelling similarity is that both countries do not follow Western demands. They run crony capitalist governments, have business oligarchies, and suppress political Islam. It’s also important to note that while we often assume Russia is an autarky, the domestic population is in support of Putin.

Iran: Syria is Iran’s last major ally in the region. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, form the backbone of resistance against Western Arab moderates, Israel, and the US. Syria has strengthened its relationship with Iran over the past decade. This strategy makes sense, given that the US policies since 2001 have threatened authoritarian nations in the region. By strengthening their alliance with Iran and Russia, the Assad government has been able to dramatically increase its weapons arsenal.

Hezbollah, the Mahdi Army: These are both non-state Shi’a Islamic military groups. Hezbollah primarily operates out of Lebanon, with limited political representation, and the Mahdi army is the former Iraqi state army. Hezbollah plays the larger role of the two, and they both are backing Assad.

Syria has formed a strong relationship with Hezbollah and provided them with arms. While Syria cannot wage conventional war against Israel, they use Hezbollah to have the ability to command asymmetric (terrorist tactic) warfare. This has proven itself to be a strong strategy over the past decade. While conventional warfare drastically favors Israel and western actors, it is difficult to fight asymmetric tactics, as we have learned in Iraq. Syria lacks the sophisticated intelligence and weaponry held by western forces as well as the ability to leverage crippling economic sanctions.

Investment in non-state military actors is a clever strategic response. In addition, by outsourcing this branch, they are able to form a credible commitment to retaliation. For example, if the branch was formally part of their military, an attacker might hope that a decisive strike will result in surrender. And once the country surrenders, the asymmetric warfare soldiers will no longer have an incentive to engage in guerilla terrorist tactics. This is not the case, as Hezbollah has recently threatened to attack Israel if the US attacks Syria.

Corporatists:  Syria operates as a market economy with a large public sector and many crony capitalists, which has provided support for the government since the early 1970s. They represent the business interests that depend on Assad, and are centered in Damascus and Aleppo. In 2010 of the 260 public enterprises, less than 10% were profitable. After replacing his father in 2000, Assad sought to expand this supportive base by increasing international trade. However, due to a perceived lack of stability over the past decade, investments did not enter, whereas cheap imports did, angering business interests.

The majority of corporatists were frustrated for having lost government rents.  They no longer had the same support for the regime, and some initially participated in peaceful protests. However, the status quo was still preferable to war and death, and explains why the general population in Damascus and Aleppo appear to support Assad.

Assad Regime: The Assad regime is at the core of all events, but is in some ways the most static. The Assad family first came to power in 1970, and belonged to an Islamic sect known as Alawis. This sect represents about 10% of Syria’s population of 22 million, but composes the core of the regime and the rich land owning political elite. The group already had mass wealth, and did not depend on the government for rents. In short, their support for the regime is unwavering. The other actors have complicated interests and goals are not immediately clear. Conversely, the regime wants to retain power. The most overlooked fact about the regime is that it still has strong support. The most recent poll was conducted by the Qatar government, which is not supportive of Assad. The poll showed 55% support for his regime. His support is strongest among the corporatists and bourgeoisie of Damascus and Aleppo, the military, as well as ethnic and minority groups.

Alawite military:

In addition to the regime, the military also is vastly overrepresented by the Alawis sect. If the regime falls, it is certain that the Alawites will no longer retain their privileged position, and will be punished for their allegiance to the regime. Moreover, they do not view other Syrians as part of their “in-group,” and as a result do not have the same issues as other militaries, when being ordered to fire on their own people. This explains their intense loyalty both to Assad, as well as to one another. Despite initial claims of mass defection, only an estimated 10,000 of 200,000 troops defected. The most high profile defection was when a non-Alawite pilot, on orders to bomb an opposition territory, instead flew to Jordan.  Since then the regime only allows Alawite pilots to fly, as they are the most trustworthy.

Following Assad’s orders, the military strategy has been to defeat the opposition forces with little to no regard for collateral damage. In July 2011, Assad ordered an attack on Tremseh, the first village lost to opposition forces. Using military ‘irregulars,’ who were specifically chosen for their willingness to kill civilians, as well as attack helicopters, he sent the message that even living in an opposition controlled town was sufficient to be killed. Despite early claims that the Assad regime would fall, the Syrian military is well equipped and well trained. Most importantly, Assad’s air superiority is extremely effective both for military objectives, and to damage opposition morale.

The Working Population: Initial protests presented a picture of an enraged Syrian working class, which includes the population that does not benefit from government rents or public sector handouts. There were fewer protests in Damascus and Aleppo, which could be due both to higher living standards or a stronger military presence. As protests grew in 2011, the regime acted with swift cruelty. Over the following year the opposition began to grow, and the protests began to subside. The details of the timeline far surpass what can be included in a paragraph, but the short version seems to be that most civilians weren’t willing to die for a protest. Those that were willing to die, would rather die with a gun in their hand, and formed the base of the opposition.

Despite claims that the opposition owns 70% of the country, this isn’t the case. The Assad regime has fortified Damascus and Aleppo, and has strategically withdrawn from other cities. Most contested cities lack clear governmental rule. Even if they did claim ownership of various cities, it offers them no additional ability to wage war, and in that respect is meaningless. In fact, the opposition has recently pulled out of cities for this very reason, as all it has done is increased civilian deaths at the hands of the Assad regime. The general civilians in these areas are either under control of their own militia, local sectarian warlords, and in some cases foreign terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaida.

Syrian National Council (SNC):

The Syrian national Council is the alleged strategic base of the opposition. The SNC does have a formal leadership, but is ultimately composed of a wide set of smaller organizations. The SNC leadership appears to recognize allied groups based on what is most likely to gain support from other nations; as a result they claim to only formally represent groups interested in replacing Assad with a democratic ‘western friendly’ government. For example, they formally exclude the Jabhat Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda linked). It is difficult to tell if this does represent their true interests, and how many of those fighting alongside the SNC support this goal. What is more disturbing is that many of the opposition fighters have committed crimes against humanity similar to the Assad regime. And while the leadership distances themselves from these war criminals, it is difficult to verify if this reflects a reality on the battlefield.

Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda):

The Al-Nusra Front has been estimated to only form 10% of the opposition. However, they are suspected to be the best trained, armed, and commanded. They receive funding from Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan. The most successful and well planned suicide bombings and assassinations in Damascus and Aleppo are attributed to Al-Qaeda. They have also engaged in brutal attacks on government empathizers and civilians. It is often assumed that their goal is to replace Syria with an Islamic government. However, leaders of the Al-Nusra front have denied this as their primary goal. A more pragmatic goal would be to carve out areas of Syria as a regional foothold to gain resources and expand. They have already begun state-building, and have set up humanitarian relief efforts, religious courts, and schools in smaller towns abandoned by the government. They have also successfully raided and stolen government weaponry, and will likely attempt to expropriate chemical weapons from the Assad government

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, & Qatar:

These three countries have supported and supplied the opposition forces, as they oppose the Syrian government, as well as their Iranian allies. Their support of small arms and rockets has been necessary for the opposition forces to arm themselves.

United States:

The US has recently debated entering the military conflict. However, this debate has seemed to ignore existing US intervention, as the CIA has provided limited training, supplies, and weapons to some of the opposition forces. Syria is currently in a war of attrition, but the traditional constraint of supplies has been removed through intervention in support of each side. As a result the only constraint is blood. The US has not been decisive. By providing supplies, and hinting at future intervention, the opposition forces have remained in the fight. However, the US has not set a strategic objective, and has only contributed to a drawn out bloody conflict.  If the US wants Assad out of power, they ought to act. If not, they need to accept that Assad could win, and at the least will probably retain power in Damascus and Aleppo. By taking a half measure the only certainty is that more death will occur through a prolonged conflict, which might easily end the same way as if the US never intervened. Ironically, this would contribute to plenty of civilian deaths that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.

Current arguments in favor of surgical strikes skirt over the constraints of these weapons. Tamohawk missiles are unable to penetrate bunkers and WMD storage. And, at least at the beginning of the war, Syria had a robust integrated air defense system, meaning airstrikes would require a comprehensive attack on air defense systems. If the US focuses its attack on Assad’s conventional weapons and air force, the opposition might be able to topple the regime. However, not only would Assad have a massive incentive to use chemical weapons, he could give them to Hezbollah, or Al-Qaeda could steal the weapons. Although the US may not like Assad, there is no promise the next regime would be better, and it may be less stable. It the Assad regime is directly or indirectly defeated by the US, it is possible the continuing instability would demand additional investment.






Order, Freedom and Chaos: Sovereignties in Syria. Middle East policy.

George Abu Ahmad. Summer 2013.


Syria: Issues for the 112th Congress and Background on US Sanctions. Congressional Records.

Jeremy M. Sharp. March 2011


The Terrorist Threat from Syria. RAND Corporation.

Seth G. Jones. May 2013.


Observations on the Air War in Syria. Air & Space Power Journal.

Lt Col S. Edward Boxx, USAF. March-April 2013


US Navy Positions Ships For Possible Strike Against Syrian Targets. Institute for the Study of War.

Christopher Harmer. August 2013.


Airpower Options for Syria. RAND Corporation.

Mueller, Martini, Hamilton. 2013


Syria Contextualized: The Numbers Game. Middle East Policy.

Musa al-Gharbi. Spring 2013.


Syria: From ‘Authoritarian Upgrading’ to Revolution? International Affairs.

Raymond Hinnebusch.2012


The Political Economy of Syria: Realities and Challenges. Middle East Policy.

Bassam Haddad. Summer 2011.



April 2, 2013 / schoolthought

Professor John Cochrane Interview

Edit: 2015/08/07, Looking back on this interview some of my questions were sloppy with how I used some financial terms, which have a distinct definition within the asset pricing literature. I asked the LSE student econ journal if they would let me interview John Cochrane, as at the time I was working through his textbook on Asset Pricing and was trying to reconcile the scientific side of finance with the experiences I had had working on a private sector multi-asset team. Since that point I have learned far more while working in financial research at the Fed. PS: He’s an awesome guy.

If you are unable to read the print in your browser, either scroll to the bottom to read it at the actual LSE Econ Society website or right click to view the picture in a new tab so that you may zoom in/out. Thank you for reading :)!

Professor John Cochrane Interview

This is from an interview I did with John Cochrane for the LSE Econ Society. The motivation to reach out to Dr. Cochrane, and the questions, are all my own. This is a picture/excerpt from the actual article found here:

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