Monthly Archives: October 2012

A hilarious anecdote of General Braxton Bragg (by U.S. Grant)

A small post to share a hilarious anecdote I read today in the “Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” (which I started reading some months ago, and about which I expect to write further later on in the blog).

After relating how the Battle of Chattanooga was won, U. S. Grant explains in the book some key moves made by the confederate general Braxton Bragg, his personality, etc.

Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man, professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright. But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally disputatious. A man of the highest moral character and the most correct habits, yet in the old army he was in frequent trouble. As a subordinate he was always on the lookout to catch his commanding officer infringing his prerogatives; as a post commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest neglect, even of the most trivial order.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg. On one occasion, when stationed at a post of several companies commanded by a field officer, he was himself commanding one of the companies and at the same time acting as post quartermaster and commissary. He was first lieutenant at the time, but his captain was detached on other duty. As commander of the company he made a requisition upon the quartermaster—himself—for something he wanted. As quartermaster he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed on the back of it his reasons for so doing. As company commander he responded to this, urging that his requisition called for nothing but what he was entitled to, and that it was the duty of the quartermaster to fill it. As quartermaster he still persisted that he was right. In this condition of affairs Bragg referred the whole matter to the commanding officer of the post. The latter, when he saw the nature of the matter referred, exclaimed: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarrelled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!”

… I tried to rationalize it: having those two hats at the time, Bragg might have wanted to leave in written a record of his request from one side and his denying of it from the other… seeing the reaction of the commanding officer, it seems that there wasn’t a rational side to it. 🙂

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Filed under Books

Impuestos en Francia vs. España (actualización 2012)

Hace un año escribí una entrada en el blog comparando las tablas del impuesto sobre la renta (IRPF) en España y Francia. Durante 2012, esa entrada ha sido una de las más leídas. Sin embargo, desde que escribí aquel post ha habido cambios en los tramos debido a las subidas de impuestos del gobierno (en Francia, para 2012, las tablas se mantienen constantes). Por tanto, entendía que era necesario actualizar esa tabla con esta nueva entrada y una referencia en la entrada original a ésta. (*)

Tabla comparando tramos del impuesto sobre la renta en Francia y España (ref. ingresos de 2012)

Usaré para hacer la comparación el mismo ejemplo que en el post del año pasado.

Aclaración básica: la forma en que se interpretan los tramos es la siguiente. Por ejemplo, para un salario bruto de 35.000€, en Francia los primeros 5.983€ están exentos de retención (5.050€ en el caso de España), los siguientes 5.933€ (diferencia entre 11.896€ y 5.963€, en el caso francés) tienen una retención del 5,5%, los siguientes 14.524€ (diferencia entre 26.420€ y 11.896€, en el caso francés) tienen una retención del 14%, y así hasta llegar a los 35.000€.

En resumen, para un salario bruto de 35.000€, en Francia se pagarían 4.934€ (un 14,1%) y en España, 8.520€ (un 24,3%). En Francia se pagarían por tanto 3.586€ menos en impuestos sobre la renta (un 10% menos).

Como veis, en Francia el impuesto sobre la renta (“IRPF”) es menor en cada tramo. La contribución que hacen los trabajadores a la Seguridad Social es sin embargo mayor (algún día pondré esa comparación), con lo que al final las cantidades son similares.

En el post del año pasado la cifra de impuestos en España resultaba 8.131€ (un 23,3%) frente a los 8.520€ (24.3%) de este año. Es decir, para alguien con un salario bruto de 35.000€ la subida de impuestos se traduce en un ~1%, o algo menos de 400€ (que ya habrá notado en las retenciones que practican las empresas).


(*) Mantendré la entrada original, con la tabla desactualizada, para que quede a modo de histórico y se pueda comparar con la nueva.


Filed under Economy



If you love football (soccer) and have read one of the books of the “Freakonomics” saga or any book from Malcolm Gladwell, then “Soccernomics“, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (430 pgs.), will be a great read for you.

The book is written in the same style as the other books mentioned above: using economics’ techniques, plenty of data, statistics, citing several papers, studies, etc., in order to bring up uncovered issues about football or refocus the attention about other ones. Some examples:

  • Mastering the transfer market. Departing from the example of Billy Beane in baseball, described in “Moneyball“, by Michael Lewis (of which a movie was also made starring Brad Pitt), the authors show how pouring money in transfer markets doesn’t bring titles. The key issue is to have a balanced net investment (sales/acquisitions). In soccer the main example would be Olympique Lyon which will “sell any player if a club offer more than he is worth”, for which each player is previously assigned a price (much like value investing).
  • The more money is paid to players the better (in salaries). Instead of buying new expensive players it seems to make more sense to pay well and ensure the adaptation of the stars already playing for the team.
  • The market for managers is not yet very open (e.g. no black coaches in main European teams), thus many of them do not make a real difference. There was even an English team Ebbsfleet United who dispensed the coach and allowed subscribed fans to vote the player selection for each match.
  • The book, written at the beginning of 2012 forecasted that soon teams from big European capitals would win the Champions’ League, being those capitals: London, Paris, Istanbul and Moscow. Few months later Chelsea won its first one, let’s see the others.
  • The main factors for the success of football national teams seem to be the experience (international games played by the national team), wealth and population.
  • The authors give much weight to Western Europe dominance of football due to the interconnectedness of continental Europe. Explaining the rise of Spain in the ’90s and ’00s due to its growth in population, improved economy since joining the EU, more experience and exchanges of styles with coaches of other countries.
  • The authors claim that future national football will be dominated by countries such as Iraq, USA, Japan or China.

As you can see there are many different topics, all with some data to support them (even if sometimes you doubt about the consistency of their claims, e.g. their statements on industrial cities as dominating football, dictatorships, etc.). I marked many pages with some anecdotes or papers that I would like to read.

One final anecdote: tips given to clubs and teams in KO competitions in case they face a penalty shoot-out. In the Champions’ League final of 2008, Chelsea and Manchester United reached the penalties. An economist had given Chelsea a study of Manchester goal keeper and penalty-shooters. Once you read the book and the tips the economist provided (“Van der Sar tends to dive to the kicker’s natural side”, “most of the penalties that Van der Sar stops are mid-height, thus is better to shoot low or high”, “if Cristiano Ronaldo stops half-way in the run-up to the ball chances are 85% that he shoots to his natural side”…), it is quite interesting to actually see that penalty shoot-out and how the different players acted.

[Pay special attention at Van der Sar’s reaction at 09’40”, when it seems he noticed about Chelsea having been tipped]

I definitely recommend this book to football fans. I also recommend two other books about which I wrote in the blog some time ago: “How soccer explains the World” and “Historias del fútbol mundial“.


Filed under Books, Sports