Wall Street’s Best-Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert


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In contrast with chess’s deliberative reputation, Alburt says the game helps traders think on their feet. “Strong chess players are good at making quick, usually correct decisions,” he says. “Traders are basically doing the same things as chess ­grandmasters: You have to make quick decisions in by definition uncertain circumstances.” Other chess attributes that help those high up on the ladder, he says, are its emphasis on logic and “making people responsible for their decisions.” Or as Icahn puts it: “If he’s a good chess player, he has a good math mind. So if he’s a good player, he’s not an idiot.” Hirsch of Seneca Capital agrees. “There’s a great satisfaction in ­envisioning how something is going to play out and be right,” he says. While playing chess, Hirsch adds, he credits Alburt “with any good moves I make.” The blunders, he notes, “are all mine.”

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James Tarmy — Bloomberg

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The New World Order Is Leaving the U.S. Behind


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The world order is changing fast. We are seeing the emergence of many countries on the world stage who are powerful in their own right and want to assert themselves at the global stage. The US is not the centre of the earth anymore.

Every hegemon has a sell-by date, and the U.S. is no exception. Even during the halcyon days of the 1990s — remember when the U.S. was being called a “hyperpower”? — President Bill Clinton’s administration was focused on creating institutions and a rules-based international order that it hoped would constrain China’s economic and strategic rise and extend the half-life of U.S. supremacy. For a variety of reasons, that didn’t work out so well (see: “deplorables”).

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James Gibney — Bloomberg

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India’s Illiberal Democracy


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A critical piece.

It is also true that, no matter how horrifying the news from India is, the country remains for many commentators in the West a mostly cuddly democracy and “rising” economic power. A recent article in the New York Review of Books was not untypical in this regard. “In Narendra Modi, India now has dynamic leadership for the first time in many years,” wrote Jessica T. Mathews, the former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After nodding briefly to criticism of Modi for restricting civil liberties, Mathews added, offering no evidence whatsoever, that “Modi may be consolidating enough political strength to force through long-needed reforms in New Delhi.”

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Pankaj Mishra — Bloomberg

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This Team Runs Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Page


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With Donald Trump becoming the President of the US, possibilities have opened for many other super rich public figures. Mark Zuckerberg apparently has set his sights on the presidency. Today’s needull discusses how Zuckerberg’s image is carefully controlled.

While plenty of chief executive officers have image managers, the scale of this team is something different. So is its conflation of Zuckerberg’s personal image with that of his company, the diaper-changing photos next to the user growth stats. “I don’t know that there are a lot of other business leaders that would find the same level of comfort sharing their personal and business stuff in the way that he does,” says Fred Cook, director of the University of Southern California Center for Public Relations, who has worked with Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs.

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Sarah Frier — Bloomberg

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Japan Takes On Its Workaholics


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There has been lot of news coverage on people dying in Japan due to overwork. Today’s needull discusses how Japan is dealing with the problem. With modern societies becoming more and more individualistic, many people are finding some meaning only in their work.

The harm from long working hours goes beyond stress, psychiatric issues and health problems. Overwork might also be a factor behind the country’s low productivity. Stanford economist John Pencavel has shown that if people work more than 60 hours a week, their output flatlines or even declines. Putting in long hours might convince your boss that you’re a diligent employee, but after a point it becomes self-defeating.

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Noah Smith — Bloomberg

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Exit America’s Old Elite


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I don’t know if Trump’s election is good or bad but it is a disruptive change in the establishment for sure. Similar thing happened in India when the old elite were forced out in the last election. After years of risk averse voting, looks like people are willing to take the risk.

Trump’s challenge to the status quo isn’t the revolutionary variety that’s about lifting up the poor and bringing down the rich. His tax cuts would reinforce the economic power structure by giving the biggest benefits to his fellow billionaires. The elites that his supporters detest are the kind of city-dwelling Ivy Leaguers tightly linked to lobbying firms and banks, who have become fixtures among the capital’s circle of influencers since the early 1990s. Some of the most resented elites are the latest to join—“the new ‘pretenders’ in the cosmopolitan elite such as professional women and people of color,” Karen Hult, a political scientist at Virginia Tech, wrote in an e-mail.

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Peter Coy, Matthew Philips, Josh Eidelson — Bloomberg

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