Friday, September 08, 2006

Still in Sicily

The Erice meeting has ended, but I'm still here for a couple of days. Yesterday I rented a car with two colleagues and drove to Agrigento to see some impressive Greek temples and have a traditional Sicilian seafood dinner. Now I'm back in the mountains trying to understand some things about AdS/CFT duality.

My collaborator Xavier Calmet won a prize for best theoretical presentation (students and postdocs were allowed to give short talks). I was among the people deciding on prizes, so I was careful not to vote on that one. Xavier's talk was on how a minimal length arises from simple quantum mechanics and general relativity. I think its accessibility was the primary reason for the prize :-)

Although I've been mostly thinking about physics the last week, I've been getting some interesting emails about the deterioration of the US housing market. It seems official data from OFHEO and the census bureau very much understates what is happening. Some of the data showing that we've passed the peak of the bubble are quite dramatic. The next couple of years will be a buyer's market. The open question is of course how the housing collapse will affect the overall economy. It's worth noting that there is a cap on bond returns, since if the economy really tanks, and 10y yields decrease below, say, 4.5 percent, the housing market may reinflate again due to low interest rates. Since 10y yields are currently at 4.8, the maximum capital gain is probably less than 10 percent.

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