Money

The Senator’s Big Idea

Joe Biden was my new client because he’d called Joseph Hill Associates to ask about something called “federal revenue sharing” (FRS). Most people live long and happy lives without ever hearing that phrase, but, alas, not me. I was JHA’s resident expert on FRS. Previously in this series: “The Law Works in Mysterious Ways: Joe …

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The Law Works in Mysterious Ways

After I was mustered out of the army, I reapplied to law school to finish my second and third years. I assumed my readmission would be pretty much automatic, but I was wrong — I was put through the wringer. Previously in this series: “Joe Biden Saved Me from Pocatello” Eventually I was required to …

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Joe Biden Saved Me from Pocatello

I had no intention of going to law school. In fact, I’d already been accepted into a Ph.D. program in English Lit at Yale and fully intended to spend my life writing poetry and teaching literature on some leafy campus. But then I got my draft notice and suddenly I got a lot more realistic …

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The Thrilling Conclusion

We now come to the dénouement of my story, with the episode we’ll call The Imposter. On a Saturday evening, I donned my young-lawyer uniform and headed for Glassport, Pa., situs of Copperweld’s headquarters and plants and where I was to stand in for the Baron. Previously in this series: “The Mystery Man: Baron Rothschild …

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The Mystery Man

The Case of the Missing Briefs was a disaster that my legal career survived only because it turned out Mr. F didn’t actually need those particular briefs during the argument before the judge. It’s always better to be lucky than smart. Previously in this series: “Whoops! Baron Rothschild and Me, Part IV” But there were …

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Whoops!

Before I reach the exciting conclusion of my series on Baron Rothschild, I want to mention just two of the many bizarre events that occurred in connection with Imetal’s attempted takeover of Copperweld Corporation. Previously in this series: “A Strange Request: Baron Rothschild and Me, Part III” Most of those strange events arose out of a …

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A Strange Request

My checkered performance during l’Affaire de la Limousine had apparently put me in the Copperweld-Imetal doghouse, because I received no more assignments on that matter for a long time. Previously in this series: “A Humbling Start: Baron Rothschild and Me, Part II” I’d nearly forgotten about the takeover when I received a call from the …

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A Humbling Start

As I entered the huge corner suite occupied by the head of the litigation group, I strolled by his secretary’s desk saying, “I assume he’s expecting me.” Previously in this series: “Baron Rothschild and Me” “Not likely,” she said. “He’s in New York.” I stopped dead. “But…” I stammered. “He doesn’t want you — I …

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Baron Rothschild and Me

I had passed the bar exam and was working for a very large law firm in Pittsburgh. I was still so new I would get lost on my way to the men’s room. But it was wildly exciting for a working class kid from a dying mill town to be associated with such a prestigious …

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How Sharpe Is Your Ratio?

“The Sharpe ratio is oversold.” — William F. Sharpe If the Sharpe ratio didn’t exist, I swear the financial industry would have to shut down. Originally developed by William F. Sharpe in the 1960s, he called it the “reward-to-variability ratio.” Sharpe first described the ratio in a paper published in the Journal of Business in …

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China Proves the Point

“The founding of the People’s Republic of China marked the end of the humiliation and misery the country has suffered.” — Chinese President Xi Jinping Most people who advocate pacifism do so out of revulsion against the horrors of war, certainly an understandable, if utopian, position. But China’s Neo-Confucians adopted their anti-military stance mainly for …

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Real Estate Trends

As we enter a new calendar year, the pandemic continues to impact real estate in multiple ways. The primary thesis is that for some real estate sectors, the pandemic has only been a temporary disruption, while for others, it has accelerated preexisting conditions. But even within those premises, there are also sectors that have been …

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China’s De-Militarization

“To enjoy peace, citizens must be ready for war.” — Plato, The Laws, fourth century B.C. “If you want peace, prepare for war.” — Sima Qian in the Shiji, or Records of the Grand Historian, China, 94 B.C. “Si vis pacem, para bellum [If you want peace, prepare for war].” — Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, …

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The Real Lessons of the Iraq Wars

“If someone is victorious in battle and succeeds in attack but does not exploit the achievement, it is disastrous.” — Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 12 As we approach the end of this long series on The Art of Peace, let’s take a look at America’s adventures in Iraq. Iraq I Since the …

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Why We Ended the Program That Worked

“There is nothing more difficult than military combat.” — Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 7 In 1966, roughly 6,000 people lived in the village of Binh Nghia, a series of hamlets strung out along the Tra Bong River in far northern Vietnam, near the coast of the South China Sea, a mere 40 …

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Seeking a Broad-Based Pittsburgh Economy

Q. What is Pittsburgh Works? How and why did it come about? A. Pittsburgh Works is a coalition that believes in the importance of having a strong and balanced local economy that includes and appreciates all of the important industrial sectors, including energy and manufacturing. We need jobs of all kinds for all kinds of …

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Ignoring What We Knew

“One who excels at sending forth the unorthodox [army] is as inexhaustible as heaven.” –Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 5 In the case of Vietnam, we don’t need to speculate about how Gen. Sun Tzu would have conducted the war, for the simple reason that the U.S. military already knew how to conduct …

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Where the Dead Go

Stroll through Pittsburgh’s historic Homewood Cemetery on a clement day, and it’s hard not to feel oneself shuffling off this mortal coil for a spell. The serenity of the rolling, tree-lined hills against the backdrop of Frick Park; the acres of carefully maintained plots featuring everything from angels to obelisks to massive granite mausoleums; the …

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How We “Lost” Vietnam

Happy New Year! After all the stupidity, all the lies, all the inflated body counts, all the unnecessary deaths, in spite of it all, by 1968 an American victory in Vietnam was within easy grasp. Even Westmoreland could have managed it. Why? Because the enemy had made a spectacular and unforced error: the Tet Offensive. …

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“True, but Irrelevant”

Speaking of peace, Merry Christmas! As noted last week, some aspects of the domino theory were correct. Following the defeat of the Nationalists in China, South Korea would certainly have become Communist absent U.S. intervention. The same can be said for South Vietnam, although in that case the Communist takeover was only delayed (albeit by …

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The Unknown History of Vietnam

“No country ever profited from protracted warfare.” –Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 2 Now that we’ve Sun Tzu-ized Korea, let’s take a look at America’s most destructive proxy war since World War II—indeed, more destructive than all the proxy wars in American history put together. Vietnam Since the beginning of the American Republic, …

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A Different Outcome in North Korea

“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our readiness to receive him.” –Sun Tzu, “The Art of War,” Chapter 8 Let’s suppose that President Truman hadn’t had the good sense to put Sun Tzu in charge of Korea until almost too late—after the …

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