1. Richard Epstein on the SEC suit against Goldman.

the SEC complaint makes no mention that Goldman actually took the same side of the deal as ACA, which puts it in the unique position of defrauding itself.

Read the whole thing.

2. David Brooks writes,

The premise of the current financial regulatory reform is that the establishment missed the last bubble and, therefore, more power should be vested in the establishment to foresee and prevent the next one.

David Brooks usually is more sympathetic to elites than I am. But in this column he sounds much more like me.

3. William Easterly writes,

Indulging in sheer speculation here, is it because Powerpoint is indispensable to make the military’s assigned task appear feasible when it is inherently infeasible — to achieve development, democracy, and peace by military means?

A lot of people hate PowerPoint, but that does not stop it from being a primary communication tool in organizations. If Easterly were correct, then we would not observe PowerPoint being used in other cases. Instead, PowerPoint is very much used in the Pentagon. Read Thomas P.M. Barnett, where he makes PowerPoint briefings sound like the most important weapon in the whole military.

The one virtue I can think of for PowerPoint is that it forces you to prepare for a presentation. In general, I think that the less you prepare, the more you ramble, the more you fail to emphasize your key points, and thus the more you waste the time of the audience.

It would be interesting to conduct experiments in which you randomly assign presenters to three groups. One does no preparation, one takes 10 hours to prepare a PowerPoint presentation, and another takes 10 hours to prepare but without using PowerPoint. Measuring the effectiveness of the presentations would be challenging but not impossible. My prior would be that the best results would come from prepared-without-PP, but the most dramatic difference would be how poorly the unprepared group would perform. If so, then whether PowerPoint improves business meetings depends on what you think the most likely alternative would be.