Monthly Archives: February 2008

Warren Buffett: No Foe of Sovereign Wealth Funds

Warren Buffett, in his annual letter to shareholders: There’s been much talk recently of sovereign wealth funds and how they are buying large pieces of American businesses. This is our doing, not some nefarious plot by foreign governments. Our trade … Continue reading

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Wine Datapoint of the Day

Krug’s new single-vineyard Champagne, the 1995 Clos d’Ambonnay, will sell for between $3,000 and $3,500 a bottle. And it will sell all 3,000 bottles with ease; indeed, the price will be higher on the secondary market than it is on … Continue reading

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Apple Buybacks: Still a Bad Idea

Back in December, I wasn’t a fan of Apple buying back its stock. I’m still not a fan, despite the fact that Apple stock has dropped 40% since then and the fact that Arik Hesseldahl says that a buyback is … Continue reading

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The Irrational Allure of Free Stuff

How irrational is our love of Free Stuff? Dan Ariely runs a thought experiment: Consider how long you would be willing to stand in line for a free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone. Let’s assume that your answer is … Continue reading

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Vulture Funds: Homeowners’ Best Friends?

I don’t think I persuaded many people with my 5,550-word defense of vulture funds this time last year. Maybe Kambiz Foroohar will have better luck, with his heartwarming story of vulture funds saving homeowners from foreclosure. Or, you know, maybe … Continue reading

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EMI: Where the Owner Assails the Staff, and Vice-Versa

What happens when you cross a creative industry with a private-equity shop? Ask Guy Hands, who just bought EMI: What we are doing is taking the power away from the A&R guys and putting it with the suits – the … Continue reading

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The Unjustified Google Panic

Remember the panic which ensued when comScore announced that Google’s paid-click rate was declining? Henry Blodget went so far as to call it a "Google Disaster", and the shares plunged. But it turns out that the comScore data aren’t nearly … Continue reading

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Credit Markets Aren’t Liquid Enough for a Mass Selloff

Jon Jacobs wants "an unrestrained, cathartic selloff" in the credit markets. He makes a good point: that banks are holding on to the assets they’ve written down in the hope, basically, that they’re smarter than the markets. The only way … Continue reading

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Are Equities Attractive?

Brad DeLong thinks that stocks look attractive over the long run, and has written a paper to that effect: As of this writing the annual earnings yield on the value-weighted S&P composite index is 5.53%. This is a wedge of … Continue reading

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Municipal Default Alert: Vallejo, California

Do municipal bonds really never default? The Californian town of Vallejo seems to have gotten very close. Portfolio’s Liz Gunnison filled me in on the details of the city’s bonds, from Bond Buyer: The city government and its related enterprises … Continue reading

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Is a Mortgage Like a Marriage?

It’s great to see my friend Christian Menegatti quoted in a front-page NYT article. But what will his wife think? Christian Menegatti, lead analyst at RGE Monitor, said the firm predicted more homeowners would walk away from their homes if … Continue reading

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ABX Datapoint of the Day

As Peloton implodes, it’s liquidating its long mortgage positions, to nasty effect. The triple-A tranche of the most recent ABX index is now at just 61, while the double-A tranche has crashed all the way to 26. Yeah, that’s the … Continue reading

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I’d Like to Escalate This Issue to Level Ballmer

It was an experience suffered by millions: people with new PCs, or with newly-installed copies of Vista, finding themselves with peripherals which simply wouldn’t work because there were no drivers available. Aggrieved customer John Shirley decided to write an email … Continue reading

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It Could Have Been the Trade of a Lifetime

Yesterday, John Carney asked why rogue traders always seem to lose money rather than making it. Today we find out exactly why, at least in the case of MF Global: their rogue trader, Brent Dooley, was trading his own account. … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Friday Edition

Narrow victory for battered UBS chief Opening the windows on Microsoft: "Mr Gates may be leaving the building but persuading his paranoid spirit to depart is something else again." The War on Error Oil Wealth Fueling Boom In Islamic Finance

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Transplant surgery

Liesl Gibson: Best doctor ever!

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Reasons to be Sanguine about CDS Counterparty Risk

I spoke today to Nishul Saperia at Markit about credit default swaps, and I’m very glad I did: he’s cleared a lot of things up for me, especially on the problem of counterparty risk. Here’s one problem, as explained by … Continue reading

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Lacey Gallagher, RIP

I knew Lacey for many years, she was always vivacious and insightful. This is incredibly sad news, although not unexpected. Here is the memo which went out today from Mike Ryan and Bunt Gosh at her last employer, Credit Suisse. … Continue reading

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Bandwidth Datapoint of the Day

Says Google: According to the TeleGeography Global Bandwidth Report, 2007, Trans-Pacific bandwidth demand has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63.7 percent between 2002 and 2007. It is expected to continue to grow strongly from 2008 to … Continue reading

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No Security in Securities

James Stewart is shocked – shocked! – to find out that his ARPS aren’t liquid. They were sold as a liquid, safe, slightly higher-yielding, tax-exempt alternative to money-market funds. I should know, since I bought some… What was a ready … Continue reading

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When Banks Don’t Manage Their Bankers’ Risks

Dear John Thain has a thought-provoking piece up today about the way that risks and revenues are managed at investment banks. Think of banks as being divided in two: on the one side are the bankers, who generate fee income … Continue reading

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Brazil Datapoint of the Day

From Annelena Lobb: Brazil edged past China to become the largest emerging market in the world, as measured by Morgan Stanley Capital International’s emerging markets index. Brazil has a free-float market capitalization of $509.10 billion and comprises 14.95% of the … Continue reading

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Phibro: Beneficiary of Citi’s Benign Neglect

Sticking with Citi, Ann Davis has a fantastic front-pager in today’s WSJ on Andrew Hill, who runs commodity-trading subsidiary Phibro. Go read it, it’s full of wonderful details, like Hill’s thousand-year-old castle in Germany, which recently housed a massive Schnabel … Continue reading

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More Musical Chairs at Citi

Michael Grynbaum, it turns out, was prescient back in November, when Citigroup replaced its long-time chief risk officer David Bushnell with safe-pair-of-hands Jorge Bermudez. The move seemed unconvincing, mainly because Bermudez is a commercial banker, not an investment banker: Mr. … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Thursday Edition

Trade: Leonhardt vs Baker The Debt Delusion: Thomas Palley on the unsustainability of the business cycle as we’ve come to know it over the past 25 years. Will Publishers Lose Their Bacon if Ads Are Traded Like Pork Bellies? Online … Continue reading

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