Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ay, caramba

via FT Alphaville
"..the Spanish crown ended up defaulting on all or part of its debt no fewer than fourteen times between 1557 and 1696. With a track record like that, all the silver in Potosi could not make Spain a secure credit risk."

- The Ascent of Money - Niall Ferguson

Monetizing the Celebrity Meltdown

"Barrack built his fortune making deals, and in some ways, Neverland began as just another one—a contrarian bet on a troubled asset, an operating business backed by real estate. Only in this case, the operating business was a person. Colony would bail Jackson out of his substantial debt; in return, the firm would assume ownership of Neverland, and Jackson, after a thirteen-year hiatus, would go back to work to generate new revenue. Jackson’s death, before he could carry out a planned comeback tour, turned the transaction into more of a straightforward real-estate play: Colony is fixing up Neverland and plans to sell it, at some point, for a profit. But after doing the Jackson deal, Barrack and his team began to wonder whether they might have stumbled on a whole new class of investment: the distressed celebrity."

Monetizing the Celebrity Meltdown - NYMag

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't touch

What is secret?

"How secret is "secret?" That is the first question posed by the publication today of material derived from the leak of a quarter of a million US state department cables in the Guardian and a number of other newspapers. Much of the material is certainly very private. When people around the world tell sensitive things to American diplomats they do so in the expectation that there is a high degree of implicit confidentiality about the conversations. But "private" is not the same as "secret". It now transpires that these confidences were posted on a US government intranet, SIPDIS, for a very wide distribution among diplomatic, government and military circles. They may have been marked "secret" but all secrets are relative: there are around 3 million Americans cleared to read material thus classified.

While opposing publication, the US administration has acknowledged that the involvement of news organisations has not only given protection to many sources, but has also given a context to information which, had it been simply dumped, would have been both overwhelming and free of any such context.

As Timothy Garton Ash puts it:

It is both a historian's dream and a diplomat's nightmare.

There is a public interest in understanding how the world works and what is done in our name. There is a public interest in the confidential conduct of foreign policy. The two public interests conflict.

One thing I'd bet on, though: the US government must surely be ruing, and urgently reviewing, its weird decision to place a whole library of recent diplomatic correspondence on to a computer system so brilliantly secure that a 22-year-old could download it on to a Lady Gaga CD."
WikiLeaks: Open secrets - Guardian

Cultural conundrum

"Traffic is going in circles. Armed with mounting data showing that roundabouts are safer, cheaper to maintain and friendlier to the environment, transportation experts around the country are persuading communities to replace traditional intersections with them.

There’s just one problem: Americans don’t know how to navigate them.

“People don’t understand. They just don’t understand roundabouts.”

For instance, residents of Quentin, Pa., near Harrisburg, were distraught to learn last month that a stoplight intersection in town might be turned into a roundabout.

“Just because something works in one culture, doesn’t mean it’s going to work in another culture,” said Mr. Gernert, who teaches about world cultures at nearby Cedar Crest High School. “In our country, we don’t hang animals in our storefronts like other cultures. Food is different. Transportation, patience, people, their temperaments, are different from country to country.”

Roundabouts are deemed safer than traditional intersections because their design precludes most high-risk situations.

Numerous studies have also found that replacing lights and stop signs with roundabouts can reduce harmful emissions by more than 30 percent because there is less starting and stopping.

Despite these benefits, a circuitous pattern still seems to emerge whenever a community is faced with the specter of a roundabout. Fear and suspicion are manifested in petitions and tense town meetings — and over time they generally mellow into something resembling approval, acceptance or, just as desirable in the world of transportation engineering, apathy."

European Import Has Cars Spinning. Heads, Too. - NYT

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey

In the compound smoker. And it was delicious...

Sunshine & Mist: November at the beach.

Descending Jaishi.

In Shimoda. Headed out for a quick loop, back in time to enjoy the day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Education of a President

"White House aides wonder aloud whether it is even possible for a modern president to succeed, no matter how many bills he signs. Everything seems to conspire against the idea: an implacable opposition with little if any real interest in collaboration, a news media saturated with triviality and conflict, a culture that demands solutions yesterday, a societal cynicism that holds leadership in low regard. In this environment, they have increasingly concluded, it may be that every modern president is going to be, at best, average."

Education of a President - NYT

Buy Blizzak

You Are Very Dangerous People

via ZeroHedge

Also 'Hitler's plan to save Ireland' with strong subtitles..

Have you seen him?

via Boing Boing

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tina Fey - Mark Twain Prize

Watch the full episode. See more Mark Twain Prize.

Defining calories

via Helpful Figures


"Dear MSNBC,

Just a quick wake up call before you go suspending any other personnel for making political contributions:



If Joe Scarborough wants to give money to fascists and Keith Olbermann wants to pay for Fidel Castro's medical bills and Rachel Maddow's a closet Zapatista and Chris Matthews contributes to the Whigs it just doesn't mean anything anymore.

There is no longer any actual "News" in this world. There is only Opinion tarted up in the cheap perfume, fake pearls and fishnets of the supposedly straight-up 12 hour news cycle. We get it. And we've chosen to just live with it by picking our favorite brand (read: slant) of news and gleefully allowing it to confirm our pre-existing viewpoints.

So stop suspending people, the game is up and we know exactly what you are. After all, we put you there.


Americans with IQs over 100"

Dear MSNBC, Reformed Broker

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Comply with Me"

For all those forced to endure the TSA...

John Cage 4'33"

Erm..? Anyone watch this all the way through?

New bottle 'cage'

Saturday, November 20, 2010

High speed delivery

Delivered the Cervelo today, off to a good home, but sad to see it go. Did get to test the new Seasucker Talon+ Bike Rack though. Duly impressed.

Danny MacAskill: Way Back Home

via DH. That rear wheel takes a pounding don't it.

Friday, November 19, 2010


"We’ve all heard the statement at work, at family gatherings, among friends, at parties: He’s a cyclist. It’s the same sort of explanation that you’d give if you showed up to a Super Bowl party with E.T. You’d introduce him around and then say, He’s from another planet.
For a lot of folks, that little explanation is actually an apology. In three short words they’ve told everyone gathered, He’s a little weird. He won’t eat your pie. Don’t expect him to touch the mashed potatoes. Your beer is safe. (Ed. - "Erm?") He spends more time on a torture device than I do in my car.
Your mere presence has upset the equilibrium of the room and the explanation is an effort to keep things on an even keel.
And while your dedication to something that doesn’t make you pantloads of money may arouse the sort of suspicion usually reserved for felons, what non-cyclists miss are the dividends that cycling pays.
Outsiders only see fatigue, expense and deprivation when they look at cycling. We know otherwise. When you or I look at a bike, what we see is fun waiting to happen, maybe the key to a greater performance. When we see an open road, the exhilaration centers in our brains fire. When we see a hill we imagine deep suffering followed by childlike fun. The world thinks we eat like refugees, but we know that 5000 calories burned means a mammoth dinner with no guilt. Fatigue? As if. Cycling renews us, gives us strength to tackle the rest of life.
Outsiders don’t see how those lessons can inform other parts of our lives. A baby that cries for 20 minutes is much easier to deal with than a climb that lasts for an hour. Examining posturing by coworkers in a meeting is much easier to do if you’ve had to size up the competition when your legs burn so bad you want to sit up and stop pedaling. A bad day or even a bad week can be endured when you’ve dealt with months of bad form."

Identity - Red Kite Prayer  hat-tip DH

Thursday, November 18, 2010


via DH

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The Washington Post said it has “gained respect as a valid measure of a person’s political leanings.” The Fraser Institute said it’s “a fast, fun, and accurate assessment of a person’s overall political views. http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz via TBP

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bikes. With engines.


"TimeScapes:Rapture," a modern portrait of the American Southwest.

Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards

"In a free country government is a dull and onerous responsibility. It is a parent-teacher conference. The teacher is a pompous twit. Our child is a lazy pain in the ass. We undertake this social obligation with weary reluctance. And we only do it at all because the teacher (political authority) deserves cold stares, hard questions, and maybe firing, and the pupil (that portion of society which, alas, needs governing) deserves to be grounded without TV and have its Internet access screened and its allowance docked.

America’s elected and appointed officials ought to be longing to return to their personal lives and private interests. They should feel burdened by their powers, irked with their responsibilities, and embarrassed at their prominence in the public eye. When they say they want to spend more time with their families, they should mean it.
But how do we obtain this cadre of worthy citizens fidgeting unhappily in their honors and dignities?

Maybe we could use our state lotteries. These are popular. The big winner would get millions of dollars for picking the right member, and the big loser would get a Senate seat for picking the wrong one. But people who play the lottery aren’t notable for their math skills. As Fran Lebowitz said, “The probability of winning the lottery is the same whether you buy a ticket or not.” We face enormous federal debts and deficits. In Washington the innumerate are already in charge. Do we want more of them?

In fact we have the solution to our problem—and have had it for ages. A jury of our peers is the oldest institution of political liberty. Let us be governed by a jury. This isn’t a quick or infallible fix. It took a couple of juries a number of years to put O. J. Simpson in jail. But juries work well enough to have endured since the Magna Carta. Political campaigns only seem to last that long.

Jurors would be ignorant about legislative and regulatory issues. And aren’t we all. Who, exactly, in this Congress and White House has read all 906 pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? Imagine a congressional hearing where the congressmen shut up and listened and actually wanted to learn something.

Certain individuals on juries would be naïve and easily suborned by special interests. They could turn out to be thieves. This has happened before in Washington. But who is more dangerous as a burglar—the thief who knows all about your valuables and where you keep them or the thief who’s never been in your house (or Senate) before?

We’ll know we’ve won when every candidate who is voted in begins his or her acceptance speech by saying, “Oh, #@*!”"

I Think We Lost the Election - TWS

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Ride

150km, 1300m with Dave and Shane. Pretty cooked by the end. Saturday's swimming and spin session taking their toll no doubt. My ride posts have been missing the obligatory 'bike-leaning-against-stuff' shots. I hope these below make amends for their previous omission. Those of you that ride regularly out of Tokyo should be able to ascertain the route, otherwise the Garmin details are at the bottom. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

All I Can

Bring on the snow... terribly excited about the winter season (and a return to Blue River in February). Watch in HD and Fullscreen. Gets good from 2:00...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zulus! Fouzands of 'em.


Rufus Jones 1965


"Over 40 million Americans on food stamps, a bankrupt banking system, bankrupt sovereign governments in many cases, a broken world economic model where the consumers borrow and the producers don't consume, and in my eyes you can add a broken political system in most Western democracies, peak oil, and food supply shortages... all counterbalanced by the stacks of Benjamins thrown at the world by helicopter Ben. It's like hiding in the basement when a meteorite the size of the moon is about to crash on earth."

Air Pockets Ahead - ZH

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FX war

"The US is by far the biggest source of uncertainty and the initiator of the QE war. Its elite created the biggest financial bubble since 1929, even removing regulations designed to prevent it, and left the US economy in a shambles after it burst. The same people want to find a quick cure to hold onto their power. Unfortunately, there isn’t one.

The US has cut interest rates to zero and run up budget deficits to 10% of GDP. It’s shock-and-awe Kenyesian policy. But, after a few quarters of strong growth, the economy is turning down again. Unemployment remains close to 10% (and would be much higher, close to Spain’s 20%, if the data included the underemployed and those who have stopped looking for work). The stimulus has failed.

What is right isn’t important for now. What is politically expedient is. Americans want a quick cure for their country’s economic difficulties and want to devalue the dollar to achieve it. If it could force China to increase its currency value, then the Yen, Euro, and all the others would go up in tandem. The US, one fourth of the global economy, could export its way out of its problem.

But the others won’t follow this program. China cannot move up its currency value too much or it would trigger hot money outflow, collapsing its property market and the banking system along with it. China is between a rock and a hard place.

Most major economies will do something to keep their currencies down. That is checkmate for the US. Without the devaluation benefit on rising exports, QE just leads to inflation, first through rising oil prices. The American people are suffering from declining housing prices and high unemployment. If the gasoline price doubles, the country may not be stable. How would the elite react? Probably more of the same.

The world is heading towards high inflation and political instability. It’s only a matter of time before there is another global crisis. The first sign would be a collapsing treasury market. The Fed is controlling the yield curve through its QE program. But, it is irrational for other investors to play this game. The only reason to stay in is that the Fed won’t let the market fall. But, the underlying value is evaporating with rising money supply and the inflationary consequences. When all the investors realize this, they will run for the exits and the Fed won’t be able to stop the stampede. If it prints enough money to take over the whole market, the people with freshly minted dollars would surely want to convert their money into other assets. The dollar would collapse too.

The world seems on course for another crisis in 2012. The same people who caused the last crisis are still in charge. They’ll get us into another. Iceland is sending its former prime minister to court for causing the banking crisis. A worse fate awaits the people who are causing the next crisis."

To Hell Through QE - BP

Well put.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fish tale

via Twaggies - because who doesn't like a visual

Linotype: The Film

The food-mood connection

If you're feeling cranky, drink water.


One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue, which goes along with depression, Somer says. So tank up before you get dry.

Kristen E. D'Anci, a researcher specializing in nutrition and behavior at Tufts, found that even low levels of dehydration consistently had a negative effect on mood. "Not enough water made people feel irritable, less energetic and often brought on a mild headache," she says. She and her colleagues recommend people drink 2 liters of liquids per day — or more for those who engage in vigorous exercise or live in hot climates. Water is good, but almost any liquid, including caffeinated beverages, will do. Alcohol doesn't count.

Coffee improves energy and mental performance.


This claim has been supported in numerous studies which have consistently shown that caffeine — the ingredient that gives coffee its kick — improves focus, attention, mood and energy, says psychiatrist Joseph Hibbeln, acting chief for the Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Caffeine creates a more perfect association of ideas," he says.

An irrational fear of caffeine addiction turns some people against coffee, says Marcia Pelchat, a food researcher at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "It's harmless because the amount people use is self limiting," she says. "People back off when they feel jittery."

Sugar makes kids hyperactive.


We've heard for years that sugar gets kids all wound up at birthday parties or on Halloween, but it's really just the excitement and unstructured environment surrounding the festivities, Kanarek says. She cites an authoritative analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. in 1995 that examined the effect of sugar on the behavior or cognition of children. Researchers crunched through the data from 16 published studies in which neither kids nor their adult observers knew who got real sugar and who got an artificial sweetener. The surprising result was that sugar had nothing to do with how the children behaved.

The fact that parents expect their kids to bounce off the walls after they eat sweets is what perpetuates the behavior, Kanarek says. Moreover, many parents don't realize that the body can't tell the difference between the sugar in a glass of apple juice or the sugar in a large cookie.

More here, via Lifehacker

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Irish Patient

"The gathering mortgage crisis puts Ireland on the cusp of a social conflict on the scale of the Land War, but with one crucial difference. Whereas the Land War faced tenant farmers against a relative handful of mostly foreign landlords, the looming Mortgage War will pit recent house buyers against the majority of families who feel they worked hard and made sacrifices to pay off their mortgages, or else decided not to buy during the bubble, and who think those with mortgages should be made to pay them off. Any relief to struggling mortgage-holders will come not out of bank profits – there is no longer any such thing – but from the pockets of other taxpayers.

The other crumbling dam against mass mortgage default is house prices. House prices are driven by the size of mortgages that banks give out. That is why, even though Irish banks face long-run funding costs of at least 8 per cent (if they could find anyone to lend to them), they are still giving out mortgages at 5 per cent, to maintain an artificial floor on house prices. Without this trickle of new mortgages, prices would collapse and mass defaults ensue.

However, once Irish banks pass under direct ECB control next year, they will be forced to stop lending in order to shrink their balance sheets back to a level that can be funded from customer deposits. With no new mortgage lending, the housing market will be driven by cash transactions, and prices will collapse accordingly."

If you thought the bank bailout was bad, wait until the mortgage defaults hit home - Irish Times

via The Luck of the Irish - Marginal Revolution

112th Congress

via CTF

Quantitative Displeasing

"The stock market loves QE2, if yesterday’s rally was any indication. But the questions about it — whether it’ll do any good, whether it’s reckless, whether it’ll spark a global currency war — aren’t going to go away. One prominent one today is coming from inside the Fed.

Thomas Hoenig, the head of the Kansas City Fed and the only dissenter on the FOMC to Wednesday’s decision to flood the marketplace with $600 billion worth of new liquidity (quite possibly because he’s the only one who didn’t hit the liquidity hash pipe on his way in the building,) has some serious misgivings about the wisdom of pumping asset bubbles.

What Hoenig’s getting at there is a misallocation of resources that sends “hot” money into risky assets, building up a bubble that eventually bursts and unleashes a torrent of pain on the populace. By this point, after the housing bubble, credit crisis and dot-com bubble, that’s become a familiar exercise, yet Hoenig may be the only guy currentl with a vote on the FOMC who sees the downside clearly (albeit some other dissenters within the Fed will get the vote next year, although they’ll still be in the minority.) That’s a pity for the rest of us.

The stock market loves QE2, it doesn’t care about the long-term ramifications, one, because “long term” on Wall Street generally means next Friday, and, two, because the truest axiom on Wall Street is “don’t fight the Fed.” If they’re pumping, Wall Street’s buying.

But make no mistake, this story does not have a happy ending."

Hoenig, The Dissenter’s Take on QE2 - Market Talk, via The Reformed Broker

Melchior Palyi

"Decades before anybody had ever heard of a mortgage derivative, an economist named Melchior Palyi predicted key causes of the 2008-2009 financial crisis with precision that makes a modern reader's hair stand on end.

Looking back into the 1920s, he found that investment-grade bonds went bust with alarming frequency, often in the same year they were rated. On average, he showed, a bank that followed the new rules would end up with a third of its bond portfolio going into default.

The record was so unreliable that it would be "still more responsible," Mr. Palyi growled, to "stop the publication of ratings altogether." He was especially troubled that the new banking rules switched the responsibility for credit safety from bankers—and even bank regulators—to ratings firms.

In the wake of the crisis, Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, today's major ratings companies, have all said they have taken steps to improve the transparency and reliability of their ratings and that no one should use credit ratings as the main basis for an investment decision. This year's financial-reform law scales back, but doesn't eliminate, the role of credit ratings in regulation.

Who was Melchior Palyi? Born in Hungary in 1892, he became chief economist at Deutsche Bank. Fluent in at least four languages and endowed with a wicked sense of humor, Mr. Palyi was the chief economic adviser to the German central bank during the financial reconstruction of Germany after the hyperinflation of the early 1920s. In 1933, as Hitler came to power, Mr. Palyi fled to the U.S. He nursed a wariness of centralized power and inflation until he died in 1970.

Mr. Palyi warned in 1938 that a push toward universal home ownership would "make the population fixed to the ground" by "overburdening them with housing costs." That, he foresaw, would limit the mobility of American workers—helping explain why unemployment is so stubbornly high today.

He also derided what is now called "quantitative easing," characterizing it as "a sort of Santa Claus to the economic system" that can lead to "runaway inflation" and a concentration of too much power in too few hands. Investors piling into stocks today based on the Federal Reserve's latest bond-buying binge shouldn't get too cocky.

Mr. Palyi was fond of saying that sooner or later, too much credit always turns into a giant debit as borrowers crumple under the burden of escalating interest payments. That's a warning this entire country would do well to heed."

The Man Who Called the Financial Crisis—70 Years Early - WSJ

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010


via Sheldon


“Dr. Bernanke unfortunately does not understand economics, he does not understand currencies, he does not understand finance,” Rogers, 68, said in a lecture at Oxford University’s Balliol College yesterday. “All he understands is printing money.”

Fed’s Bernanke ‘Doesn’t Understand’ Economics, Jim Rogers Says - BW

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Perfect Stride

"Following the stress fracture last fall, Salazar took Ritzenhein to see Gordon Valiant, Nike’s house expert in biomechanics. Valiant put him on a sixty-metre test track outfitted with a force plate and had him run barefoot. Sensors in the force plate recorded the amount of force exerted on each part of the foot during impact: his so-called “loading pattern.” That pattern revealed a spike under Ritzenhein’s third metatarsal. To compensate for that, Valiant engineered a thin orthotic embedded with a small oval of ultra-soft foam to support the injured bone, which Ritzenhein has been using since mid-July, when he returned to high-mileage training. Salazar also instructed Ritzenhein to replace his sharp forefoot strike with a less aggressive landing on the midfoot, and he reduced the number of miles that Ritzenhein ran, compensating for the lost distance with long sessions of aqua jogging, plus workouts on Nike’s altered-gravity treadmill, a pressurized pod that allows athletes to run with artificially lowered body weight.

Maintaining this new form has been a challenge. “I have to think about it all the time now,” Ritzenhein said. “My upper body especially. I’ll be running around the field and Alberto will say, ‘Get your thumbs down! You have your thumbs up!’ ”"

The Perfect Stride - New Yorker

Fascinating article on runing and running form...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Autumnal Ride

Holiday today, so took advantage of the beautiful autumnal weather and headed out for a ride with Dave. Left at 7am, home at 5:30pm, 201km, 1750m, bumped into Pro-Dave training with his team mates, headed up Tomin-no-mori, was cold up at 1000m, it was colder descending to our lunch spot, but warmed ourselves up on a surprisingly fast run home...


Timely Reminders

1. In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more, is Congress.- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.-- Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.-- Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle .-- Winston Churchill

5. A government, which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always depend on the support of Paul.-- George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.-- G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.-- James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries, to rich people in poor countries.-- Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

9.. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.-- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.-- Ronald Reagan (1986)

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.-- Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!-- P.J. O'Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. Voltaire (1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you! -- Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.-- Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.-- Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end, and no responsibility at the other.-- Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.-- Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.-- Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly native American criminal class...save Congress.-- Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.-- Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.-- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity


"In the late nineteen-sixties, Wall Street was crippled by an unlikely nemesis: unfinished paperwork. Thanks to a booming stock market, trading volume had soared in the course of the decade; between 1960 and 1968, the number of shares traded daily quadrupled. This should have been wonderful news for brokerage houses—more trades mean more commissions—but it ended up wrecking many of them instead. Because brokerages were slow to add workers and update back-office operations, they were literally buried beneath all the new business—offices were full of stock certificates, and trade documents were stacked halfway to the ceiling. Amid the chaos, dividend checks went unsent, trades were credited to the wrong accounts, and fraud spread; hundreds of millions of dollars in securities were stolen. And since the firms often didn’t process trades quickly enough, billions of dollars’ worth of transactions a month were simply cancelled. In 1968, the stock market started closing one day a week to let firms catch up on their work, but the brokerages’ bookkeeping woes caught up to them first, and more than a hundred firms went under. It took years—and the passage of an investor-protection bill—for the crisis to abate.

You’d think the Street would have learned its lesson."

Back-Office Blues - NewYorker

Learned? Learned its lesson? Hahahaha.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Breaking news...

Beware the amateur

"The lesson here is beware the amateurs. Wherever they gather in huge profitable masses a bubble has surely formed, and the longer they are able to walk around blithely picking up $100 bills off the sidewalk, the bigger the bubble is."

Beware the amateurs - Modeled Behaviour