7 Fascinating Reads

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Happy Friday! There are more great news articles, commentaries, and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are seven fascinating ones I read this week.

Currency wars
Billionaire Mark Cuban tells CNBC how he's betting against the Japanese yen:

Yeah. Actually, in early December, I went and took every penny of debt that I had -- with the Mavericks, and personal debt, and everything -- and converted it to a yen loan, when I think [the yen] was in the mid-80s [against the dollar]. So, I've been really happy with it.

Fat fingers
Montana may have to forgo an expansion of Medicaid because a politician literally hit the wrong button in an important vote:

"We had some procedural motions to challenge the speaker. One of our Democratic members pushed the wrong button. That procedural motion failed on a tied vote."

That legislator was Tom Jacobson, a freshman from a central Montana town called Great Falls. Jacobson told local reporters that he got the vote wrong, although he did not respond to my phone calls and email requesting comment.

Montana's House rules do generally allow legislators to change their votes (Bangarter told me that these changes were generally accompanied by a $20 donation to charity, but I could not find anything about that in the statute). They do not, however, allow legislators to change their vote if "it would affect the outcome of legislation." And in this case, it would change the outcome: One vote flipping would mean the Medicaid expansion would make it to the floor.

Nice work if you can get it
Josh Brown points to a study from NerdWallet showing ...

all the 883 analyst ratings issued on the Dow Jones 30 stocks in 2012. All the recommendations were latest issued prior to 1st January 2012. Then it compared the recommendations to stock performance through 2012. NerdWallet found that only 51 percent of the recommendations were correct.

Yes, predicting stock movement is challenging, but you do expect highly paid analysts with decades of experience to at least beat the average. And 49 percent of analysts failed on that parameter.

It comes down to this:

Slim pickin's
The Wall Street Journal
writes about tight housing inventory:

Meritage Homes  a large national builder, opened sales last September for 75 new homes at its Belmonte subdivision, with prices starting just below $280,000. By the time the community had sold out, in early March of this year, prices had risen by between $55,000 and $75,000 on every model.

"There's an excruciatingly tight supply in the market," said Barry Grant, Meritage's northern California division head. Buyers, Mr. Grant says, have gotten so used to bidding wars in the existing-home market that they have started offering more than the asking price for new homes, an unusual practice. "These are the salad days. They really are," Mr. Grant says. "We're doing very well."

Congress held a hearing on long-term unemployment, and according to Niraj Chokshi of National Journal, just one lawmaker was in attendance. See the picture he took here.

Signal and noise
After Tuesday's brief market plunge based on a fake Twitter post, comedian Andy Borowitz writes a satirical post wondering why anyone pays attention:

Federal investigators said today that they were "baffled" as to why millions of people chose to believe something they read yesterday on Twitter, a social-media site that has falsely reported the deaths of more than seventy-five thousand different celebrities.

"It's mystifying," said one investigator working on the case. "One theory we're considering is that people who spend time on Twitter eventually lose their capacity for critical thinking and become sheep."

Would be funny if it weren't so true
Steven Colbert interviews Thomas Herndon, the economics grad student who found math errors in a seminal study on debt and GDP growth that has influenced economic policymaking for years:

Enjoy your weekend. 

The article 7 Fascinating Reads originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Meritage Homes. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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