Three times a day, I trek across campus with a group of colleagues, most of whom are in finance and economics. Conversation, not surprisingly, has often been on the financial mess the world is in. How different the world would be if people in operations research ruled the world! We’d need a little more centralization, of course, since our models tend to work better if we can impose “best” solutions. And, undoubtedly, we would forget a constraint or two along the way, and perhaps ignore some stochastic elements that are a little hard to handle. But I think we probably would have avoided the nuttiness that resulted in things like Iceland going bankrupt.
Now we are in the midst of yet another bailout. This one seems to have a few more rules (as opposed to last year’s bailout that seems to have completely disappeared with no effect). Among other things, it limits compensation for some of the bankers to a mere $500,000. Of course, this has the bankers all in a tizzy: we need multi-million dollar compensation to keep the best people! Well, yes, given the past success of these people, perhaps we should pay them more just to keep them out of the more important parts of the economy, like food production and the manufacture of real things (though don’t get me started on the auto industry in the US)!
The new stimulus package includes good news that the National Science Foundation received an additional $3 billion, bringing its budget up to about $10 billion. That number really puts the $787 billion stimulus package in perspective. Instead of getting 78 NSFs we are getting … what exactly?
Added 6:20PM. As one of my less kind colleagues noted, this is exactly what I need for my proposals “ranked in the bottom 2%”. Finally summer support!