Friday, December 8, 2017

Reassessing the Perimeter of Government Accounts in China -- Gov't Lies Persist Despite Positive Steps

Reassessing the Perimeter of Government Accounts in China. Rui Mano, Phil Stokoe. IMF Working Paper No. 17/272, http://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2017/12/08/Reassessing-the-Perimeter-of-Government-Accounts-in-China-45455

Summary: China’s official general government accounts do not include off-budget quasi-fiscal spending unlike the IMF’s augmented government accounts. This paper argues that the broader concept of augmented government remains relevant despite recent positive measures to separate off-budget units from the government. In fact, new avenues to finance public infrastructure, such as Special Construction Funds and Government Guided Funds, have emerged and this paper re-defines the perimeter of augmented government to include them. Finally, concrete steps for improving China’s fiscal accounts are put forward. If these steps are taken, the perimeter of general government would expand relative to official statistics but would likely be narrower than where augmented aggregates place it.

IQ will go down, especially at the top of the curve

IQ decline and Piaget: Does the rot start at the top? James R. Flynn, , Michael Shayer. Intelligence, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.11.010

Highlights
•    Important national differences, particularly the contrast between Scandinavia and elsewhere.
•    Dutch trends show that IQ gains vary by age which is indicative of the strength of various causal factors.
•    Piagetian trends provide information conventional tests do not: that the largest losses may be at the top of the curve.

Abstract: The IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered. Losses in Nordic nations after 1995 average at 6.85 IQ points when projected over thirty years. On Piagetian tests, Britain shows decimation among high scorers on three tests and overall losses on one. The US sustained its historic gain (0.3 points per year) through 2014. The Netherlands shows no change in preschoolers, mild losses at high school, and possible gains by adults. Australia and France offer weak evidence of losses at school and by adults respectively. German speakers show verbal gains and spatial losses among adults. South Korea, a latecomer to industrialization, is gaining at twice the historic US rate.

When a later cohort is compared to an earlier cohort, IQ trends vary dramatically by age. Piagetian trends indicate that a decimation of top scores may be accompanied by gains in cognitive ability below the median. They also reveal the existence of factors that have an atypical impact at high levels of cognitive competence. Scandinavian data from conventional tests confirm the decimation of top scorers but not factors of atypical impact. Piagetian tests may be more sensitive to detecting this phenomenon.

Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality

Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality. Gilles E. Gignac, Joey Darbyshire, Michelle Ooi. Intelligence, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.11.009

Highlights
•    On average, the 90th IQ percentile (IQ ≈ 120) was rated the most sexually attractive.
•    The Sapiosexual Questionnaire (SapioQ) was found to measure a moderately strong single-factor.
•    The SapioQ scores were found to have coefficient alpha = 0.78.
•    Approximately 8% and 1% of the sample scored an average score of 4.0 and 4.5, respectively, on the SapioQ.
•    Objective intelligence did not relate to the SapioQ (r = − 0.02; BF01 = 12.84).

Abstract: The emergence of the popular culture notion of a sapiosexual, an individual who finds high levels of intelligence (IQ) the most sexually attractive characteristic in a person, suggests that a high IQ may be a genuinely sexually attractive trait, at least for some people. Consequently, mean desirability ratings of IQ on a percentile continuum were estimated, across sexual attraction specifically and long-term partner interest conditions (N = 383). Furthermore, we evaluated the psychometric properties of a newly developed measure, the Sapiosexuality Questionnaire (SapioQ). Finally, we estimated the correlation between objective intelligence and the SapioQ. On average, the 90th percentile of intelligence (IQ ≈ 120) was rated to be the most sexually attractive and the most desirable in a long-term partner. However, 8.1% and 1.3% of the sample scored above 4.0 and 4.5, respectively, on the SapioQ (theoretical range: 1 to 5), which had respectable psychometric properties. The desirability ratings across the IQ percentile continuum interacted with the two conditions (i.e., sexual attraction specifically versus partner interest), such that the rater desirability of IQ increased more substantially for partner interest than sexual attraction specifically across the 25th to 75th IQ percentiles. Finally, objective intelligence correlated negatively with rated sexual attraction specifically and partner interest for a hypothetical person at 25th and 50th percentiles of IQ (r ≈ − 0.25). By contrast, objective intelligence failed to correlate with sapiosexuality (r = − 0.02, p = 0.765; BF01 = 12.84). The results were interpreted to suggest that, for most people, a very high IQ in a partner (IQ 135 +) is not the most attractive level of intelligence, which may be considered supportive of a version of the threshold hypothesis of intelligence. Finally, although sapiosexuality may be a genuine psychological construct, it appears to be influenced by non-intellective factors.

Keywords: Mate preferences; Intelligence; Sapiosexuality; Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence

Basel III: Finalising post-crisis reforms

Basel III: Finalising post-crisis reforms

December 2017
The Basel III framework is a central element of the Basel Committee's response to the global financial crisis. It addresses shortcomings of the pre-crisis regulatory framework and provides a regulatory foundation for a resilient banking system that supports the real economy.
A key objective of the revisions incorporated into the framework is to reduce excessive variability of risk-weighted assets (RWA). At the peak of the global financial crisis, a wide range of stakeholders lost faith in banks' reported risk-weighted capital ratios. The Committee's own empirical analyses also highlighted a worrying degree of variability in banks' calculation of RWA. The revisions to the regulatory framework will help restore credibility in the calculation of RWA by:
  • enhancing the robustness and risk sensitivity of the standardised approaches for credit risk and operational risk, which will facilitate the comparability of banks' capital ratios
  • constraining the use of internally modelled approaches
  • complementing the risk-weighted capital ratio with a finalised leverage ratio and a revised and robust capital floor
An accompanying document summarises the main features of these revisions.
For more information on the Basel III reforms, see the Basel III webpage.

Examining the Roles of Pornography Use, Religiousness, and Moral Incongruence

Grubbs, Joshua, Joel Engelman, and Jennifer T Grant. 2017. “Who’s a Porn Addict? Examining the Roles of Pornography Use, Religiousness, and Moral Incongruence.”. PsyArXiv. December 8. psyarxiv.com/s6jzf

Abstract: Pornography use is a common but controversial behavior in developed nations. At present, the scientific community has not reached a consensus regarding whether or not people may be become addicted to or compulsive in use of pornography. Even so, there is considerable evidence that a substantial number of people are likely to perceive their use of pornography to be problematic or addictive in nature. Whereas prior works considered perceived addiction dimensionally, the present work sought to examine what might lead someone to specifically identify as a pornography addict. Consistent with prior research, pre-registered hypotheses predicted that religiousness, moral disapproval, and pornography use would emerge as consistent predictors of self-identification as a pornography addict. Three samples, involving adult pornography users (Sample 1, N=829; Sample 2, N=424) and undergraduates (Sample 3, N=231), were collected.  Across all three samples, male gender, moral incongruence, and pornography use behaviors consistently emerged as predictors of self-identification as a pornography addict. In contrast to prior literature indicating that moral incongruence and religiousness are the best predictors of perceived addiction (measured dimensionally), results from all three samples indicated that male gender and pornography use behaviors were the most strongly associated with self-identification as a pornography addict.

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) display remarkable olfactory acuity in human scent

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) display remarkable olfactory acuity in human scent matching to sample performance. Katharina E.M. von D├╝rckheim et al. pplied Animal Behaviour Science, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.12.004

Highlights
•    Habituated African elephants were trained to discriminate and match human odours using Matching to Sample (MTS) protocols.
•    African elephants displayed no loss of working memory, and successfully discriminated target odours.
•    African elephants also discriminated between related human individuals spanning three generations and including sibling pairs.
•    This experiment proved the elephants’ significant ability to perform well at operant conditioning tasks.

Abstract: This paper presents data on the success rate of African elephants in human scent matching to sample performance. Working with equipment and protocols similar to those used in the training of forensic canine units in Europe, scent samples were collected on cotton squares from twenty-six humans of differing ethnic groups, sexes and ages, and stored in glass jars. Three African elephants were trained to match human body scent to the corresponding sample. In total, four hundred and seventy trials, during which the elephant handlers were blind to the experiment details, were conducted. Each trial consisted of one scent that served as the starting (target) sample to which the elephant then systematically determined a potential match in any of the nine glass jars presented. Elephants matched target and sample at levels significantly higher than indicated by random chance, displayed no loss of working memory, and successfully discriminated target odours. They also discriminated between related human individuals spanning three generations and including sibling pairs. In addition to demonstrating scent matching capabilities, this experiment supported the elephants’ significant ability to perform well at operant conditioning tasks.

Keywords: African elephant; olfaction; scent discrimination; scent matching to sample