Monthly Archives: August 2008

Status Update

I’m going to be travelling by train, plane, and foot for most of the coming week, which means that posting will be sporadic and confined to times when I have an internet connection. Still, nothing major ever happens in August, … Continue reading

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UBS: Still Entrenched in the Art World

Count me in with Anthony Haden-Guest: for all their credit-related losses, the big private banks and wealth managers like UBS and Lehman Brothers are not going to ease up on their sponsorship of art-world events. Guest quotes a couple of … Continue reading

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Rumor Sourcing of the Day

As Zubin will tell you, the WSJ has a favored locution when it cites anonymous sources: it likes to call them "people familiar with" the situation. The sourcing is so vague it can mean just about anything — essentially it’s … Continue reading

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Polyvalent Transition Metal of the Day

If you want a leveraged play on long-term energy prices, rhenium might be a good place to look. The obscure metal has a very high melting point of 3,186°C — only tungsten’s is higher — which means that if you … Continue reading

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Leon Black: The Picasso Connection

The art world has no √©minence more grise than John Richardson, art historian extraordinaire and author of an enormous biography of Picasso which, three volumes in, is still 40 (of Picasso’s) years from completion. Part of the problem is that … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Wednesday Edition

Disclosure? I Call B.S.: If you knew exactly what was going to happen to CDOs back in 2006, you still wouldn’t have been able to calculate the effect on the banks. Have Economic Debates Changed Since 1977? A very funny … Continue reading

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Barack Obama, Economic Policy Wonk

David Leonhardt has a must-read piece on Barack Obama’s economic policy in this weekend’s NYT Magazine. It’s long (over 8,000 words), and even so it doesn’t tease out all the implications of, say, Obama’s 100%-auction cap-and-trade system on US fiscal … Continue reading

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Rant of the Day: Daniel Davies on Afrobollocks

Poor Edmund Sanders. He writes a perfectly well-intentioned article about Ethiopia’s famine, complete with interview with prime minister Meles Zenawi, only to run into the acid pen of Dsquared: Bonus points for the mention of "the Chinese model" in a … Continue reading

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Blurb Whore of the Day

Rachel Donadio had an entertaining essay in Sunday’s NYT Book Review on blurbing. It’s a fine art, she says: "Blurb too often, or include too many blurbs on your book, and you might get called a blurb whore." Well. I … Continue reading

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Retail Datapoints of the Day

Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2000: $675 Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2007: $1,500 Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2008: $2,500 Square footage of the Saks Fifth Avenue … Continue reading

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What’s Driving Fannie and Freddie

Fannie and Freddie are down again; the shares are so cheap at this point that even a relatively modest fluctuation of less than 80 cents in the Freddie share price will hit the headlines as a 20% move. The fact … Continue reading

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Blogonomics: What CFAs Read

Professional investment advisors don’t spend much time reading blogs, according to an article by Susan B. Weiner CFA which was brought to my attention by Yves Smith: When the CFA Institute tried to find sources for this story, most people … Continue reading

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Lehman: Still Awaiting Necessary Capital

The latest bright idea emanating from the office of Dick Fuld would seem to be a highly complex transaction involving warrants and call options and what have you. Take away the jargon, however, and the proposed deal seems quite simple: … Continue reading

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Wine-Price Datapoints of the Day

I just found Juliet Chung’s fascinating article on wine pricing at restaurants, which appeared in the WSJ on Friday. Here’s a couple of datapoints for you. A bottle of 2004 Opus One will cost you $195 at Houston’s in San … Continue reading

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Extra Credit, Tuesday Edition

Activist urges Natixis to halt rights issue: Einhorn moves to Europe. Letter here. Plummeting value of synthetic CDOs demand action: "Investors are easily sitting on unrecognised market value losses of several hundred billion dollars". Grade Inflation: "There is no evidence … Continue reading

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The Crazy Lehman Share Price

Lehman Brothers looks as though it’s going to sell its asset management arm, Neuberger Berman, for a sorely-needed $10 billion or so. That’s got to be good news for the stock, right? No: Lehman shares are down more than 10% … Continue reading

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Read Dylan

Justin Wolfers, meet Tim Wheeler, the CEO of UK property group Brixton. Mr Wheeler said the opening lines of the American songwriter’s All Along the Watchtower “seem to capture the beleaguered mindset of the UK commercial real estate market”. For … Continue reading

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Why Greenspan Won’t Shut Up

Welcome, Caroline Baum, to the please-Mr-Greenspan-shut-up society. There is something unseemly about Greenspan’s conduct. Former presidents don’t criticize U.S. foreign policy during times of war, Jimmy Carter notwithstanding. The same unspoken rule should apply to economic policy… So here’s my … Continue reading

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The Destroyer of Swedish Capitalism

For a wonderful real-world example of Martin Wolf’s take on global capitalism, check out Niklas Magnusson’s profile of Swedish activist investor Christer Gardell. This being Sweden, Gardell isn’t only unpopular with unions and other leftists, he’s even unpopular with shareholders: … Continue reading

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Martin Wolf on Capitalism

Give Bill Gates, Mike Kinsley, and Conor Clark credit: if their Creative Capitalism project achieves nothing else, it has certainly brought into being one of the most interesting, diverse, and provocative group blogs on the internet. And Martin Wolf’s tour … Continue reading

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When Savings Start to Rise

Paul Kedrosky quotes David Rosenberg today on the implications of a rising savings rate: The savings rate is going to be forced higher. This, again, is going to be very, very disinflationary. It means that fashions are going to change. … Continue reading

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Gas Mileage: Overrated

I never thought I’d say this, but America has become too obsessed with gas mileage. Prius owners use their real-time mileage readout to try and get the absolute maximum number of miles out of every tank; politicians talk dreamily of … Continue reading

Posted in climate change, commodities | 1 Comment

Extra Credit, Monday Afternoon Edition

Explaining the brokers Part I: Why are brokers’ balance sheets so huge? The root of all evil? The harmful effects of money. Non-existent fees and the ephemeral nature of trading profits: A glimpse at what dsquared does in his day … Continue reading

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How Does Barrons Move the Market?

Seeking Alpha (twice), Colin Barr, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, and many others have blamed today’s price action in Fannie and Freddie — they’re down about 20% apiece, albeit from a very low level — on an article which appeared over the weekend … Continue reading

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Another Reason to Ignore Earnings Estimates

Baruch thinks that sell-side analysts deliberately game the earnings-expectations system: Analysts with buy ratings on a stock will have lower earnings numbers going into quarters than their peers, so they don’t inadvertently raise the average of published sell side expectations, … Continue reading

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