"If it stinks, doesn’t work, is incomprehensible and doesn’t make sense – it’s either economics or philosophy."

. . . Raymond DeVoe

Ray DeVoe was a friend I met when he was working at Legg Mason. He was one of the best writers on Wall Street , and to this day, I miss his wisdom and humor. When looking at last week’s economic reports, I was reminded of this quip from Ray:

"Because of an accident in college I took a year off and worked on the floor of the NYSE, initially as a page and subsequently as an apprentice specialist’s clerk. Returning to college I was offered the opportunity to become a dual major in Economics and Mathematics. I completed the requirements and graduated a year later – but those two disciplines have worked at cross purposes ever since. The precision of mathematics conflicts with the shifting vagaries of economics, and both are quite removed from the emotionally charged world of finance and trading, where money is won or lost in a true meritocracy. To reconcile these I have put together all sorts of “Laws” and “Theories”, including some that are unprovable, but highly probable, in my opinion. For the College Humor Magazine I submitted a collection of many “Laws” and other items, including my 'College Course Descriptions:'

1) If it’s green, wiggles or slithers, it’s biology

2) If it stinks, it’s probably chemistry, although don’t rule out economics.

3) If it doesn’t work, it’s most likely physics – but keep the economics option open.

4) If it’s incomprehensible, it’s probably mathematics, but that’s part of economics also.

5) If it stinks, doesn’t work, is incomprehensible and doesn’t make sense – it’s either economics or philosophy."