Monday, December 22, 2014

Venture capital for lawsuits

There are lots of different kinds of financial markets, of which venture capital is among the most interesting and varied. Nevertheless, this headline struck me:

Steven Cohen’s Ex-Wife Gets Outside Financing for Lawsuit

"Helping to fuel the long-running legal battle is Asta Funding, a financial backer of a Beverly Hills, Calif., firm that has provided litigation financing to Ms. Cohen, according to court documents and people briefed on the matter. Asta and the firm that is financing Ms. Cohen’s lawsuit — Balance Point Divorce Funding — have an agreement to share in the proceeds of legal recoveries by clients.
"Balance Point is part of a niche business that provides financing in drawn-out matrimonial cases to litigants with wealthy spouses. Only a handful of companies provide such financing in the United States.

One of Balance Point’s main competitors is BBL Churchill, a New York firm that offers high-interest loans to a divorcing spouse in need of cash to pay legal bills. The firm, unlike Balance Point, does not seek to collect a portion of any divorce settlement and instead looks to collect on the loan at the end of the litigation. This summer, BBL Churchill secured financial backing from a large private equity firm, said a person briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

US policy that gives priority to prior organ donors who need a transplant

US policy that gives priority to prior organ donors who need a transplant is working

  • Washington, DC (November 20, 2014) -- Prior organ donors who later need a kidney transplant experience brief waiting times and receive excellent quality kidneys, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings indicate that a US policy that gives priority to prior organ donors on the transplant waiting list is working.
    Live organ donors provide a remarkable gift to relieve another person of the burden of organ failure. While most live kidney donors enjoy excellent health after kidney donation, recent research has revealed that kidney donation is linked with an increased risk of developing kidney failure.
    Because of the gift of kidney donation, prior live organ donors receive priority on the kidney transplant waiting list. Peter Reese, MD MSCE (University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine), Vishnu Potluri, MD, MPH (Lankenau Medical Center), and their colleagues looked to see whether the current national kidney allocation policy was succeeding in its goal of minimizing waiting time to transplant forpeople who had once donated an organ. The researchers analyzed prior organ donors and matched non-donors who were wait-listed during the years 1996 to 2010.
    "The research reveals that, fortunately, these donors did not wait a long time for their kidney transplants and received high quality kidneys," said Dr. Reese. Prior organ donors had much shorter waiting time to receive a kidney transplant, and they received better quality kidneys compared with similar people on the waiting list who had not donated an organ. "This study shows that the policy is working: prior organ donors get rapid access to high quality organs. After transplant, their survival is excellent compared with similar people whowere not organ donors," said Dr. Reese. He noted, however, that most prior organ donors needed dialysis before they received their transplant. Ideally, these prior donors would have received kidney transplants before they ever needed dialysis.
  • Saturday, December 20, 2014

    How Werner Güth's ultimatum game shaped our understanding of social behavior

    Just out in JEBO, and temporarily un-gated, here is a multi-part paper in honor of Werner Guth and the ultimatum game. (Being one of so many coauthors is probably as close as I'll get to the experience of being a high energy physicist or a planetary scientist...)

    How Werner Güth's ultimatum game shaped our understanding of social behavior 

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Roads and escalators in Japan: national versus regional equilibria

    I presume that drivers drive on the left on roads throughout Japan, and so I wasn't surprised, in Tokyo, to find that pedestrians tend to keep to the left as well, and that on escalators, riders stay to the left to allow those in a hurry to pass on the right.

    But in Osaka, the escalator equilibrium is reversed: on escalators one stays to the right to allow passing on the left. Roads and sidewalks seem to be as in Tokyo however.

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Klein Lecture in Osaka, Dec 19 2014

    I'll be speaking Friday in Osaka...

    Prof. AlvinRoth
    Nobel Prize in Economics
    Title: The Economist as Engineer   
    2014.12.19 (Fri.)
    Open15:30 Start16:00
    Conference Room C01-02, 8th Floor, TOWER-C, Knowledge Capital, Grand Front Osaka   MAP
    *Lecture will be given in English

    Time: 18:30
    Venue: URGE (3rd Floor, Knowledge Capital, Grand Front Osaka)

    Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research
    6-1 Mihogaoka, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0047 JAPAN

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Punishing puns in China

    The Chinese government is reported to have taken steps to make puns repugnant. The Guardian has the story:

    China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control
    Officials say casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than ‘cultural and linguistic chaos’, despite their common usage

    "From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them.
    It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children.
    The casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than “cultural and linguistic chaos”, it warns.
    Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

    Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases and idioms – and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meanings, the order said.But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”
    “Idioms are one of the great features of the Chinese language and contain profound cultural heritage and historical resources and great aesthetic, ideological and moral values,” it added.
    “That’s the most ridiculous part of this: [wordplay] is so much part and parcel of Chinese heritage,” said David Moser, academic director for CET Chinese studies at Beijing Capital Normal University.
    When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or “May you soon give birth to a son”. The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng.
    The notice cites complaints from viewers, but the examples it gives appear utterly innocuous. In a tourism promotion campaign, tweaking the characters used in the phrase jin shan jin mei – perfection – has turned it into a slogan translated as “Shanxi, a land of splendours”. In another case, replacing a single character in ke bu rong huan has turned “brook no delay” into “coughing must not linger” for a medicine advert."

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Organs and Inducements: Special Issue of Law and Contemporary Problems edited by Cook and Krawiec

    Volume 772014Number 3

    Organs and Inducements

    Philip J. Cook & Kimberly D. Krawiec
    Special Editors

    A Primer on Kidney Transplantation: Anatomy of the Shortage
    Six Decades of Organ Donation and the Challenges That Shifting the United States to a Market System Would Create Around the World
    Regulating the Organ Market: Normative Foundations for Market Regulation
    Perceptions of Efficacy, Morality, and Politics of Potential Cadaveric Organ-Transplantation Reforms
    Philanthropically Funded Heroism Awards for Kidney Donors?
    Reverse Transplant Tourism
    Organs Without Borders? Allocating Transplant Organs, Foreigners, and the Importance of the Nation-State (?)
    State Organ-Donation Incentives Under the National Organ Transplant Act
    Designing a Compensated–Kidney Donation System
    Altruism Exchanges and the Kidney Shortage
    Reciprocal Altruism—the Impact of Resurrecting an Old Moral Imperative on the National Organ Donation Rate in Israel
    Organ Quality as a Complicating Factor in Proposed Systems of Inducements for Organ Donation