Arguably, the Hollywood human casino will give derivative traders the incentive and means to play with people’s lives very directly. So will they put their unproductive energies into destroying the hopes and dreams of others? If economic (recent) history tells us anything, they will. Max Keiser, who developed the virtual forerunner to the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) computer technology, predicts that if his technology is approved for use with real money, Hollywood will go the way of Enron and Lehman within two years. – Ilene
As if attacks from paparazzi and star-crazed fans weren’t enough, Hollywood stars may soon have a literal price put on their heads by investors in the Cantor Exchange, a real-money trading platform where people can bet on the gross profits of upcoming movies. Sales of The Dark Knight skyrocketed after Heath Ledger died unexpectedly, and so did sales after the deaths of Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Will greed-driven investors now be laying in wait for the stars of movies they have bet on?
The Cantor Exchange (CE) is based on a virtual trading platform called the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), a web-based, multiplayer simulation in which players buy and sell “shares” of actors, directors, upcoming films, and film-related options. The difference is that where the HSX uses virtual money, CE will turn the game into a real casino using real dollars.
On April 21, Cantor Exchange reported that it had just received regulatory approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which oversees futures exchanges. “This is a significant step forward in achieving our ultimate goal,” it said in a letter, “which is to launch a market in Domestic Box Office Receipt Contracts.”
Having “contracts” out on movies and movie stars, however, has an ominous ring; and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) apparently doesn’t like the sound of it. The Cantor letter said that its tentative launch date of April 22 was being delayed because the MPAA and others “raised concerns about the economic purpose of this market and its usefulness as a hedging vehicle.”
The legitimate hedgers, the moviemakers and equity holders with a real financial interest to protect, don’t want it. But Cantor is pushing forward, because gambling is big business and there are…
Hollywood may know a thing or two about how Wall Street works after all, regardless of what Shia LeBeouf may think about InterOil. And the movie lobby really seems to know a thing or two about Washington.*
For weeks, big movie studios have been fighting an effort by two financial firms to launch a new market in movie futures that would allow investors to bet on box office takings. The financial firms think this is an Oscar-worthy scheme. The movie studios panned it. Wall Street is used to getting its way in Washington. But this time, the James Camerons of the world appear to have outsmarted the Gordon Gekkos.
This Capitol Hill clash began with the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), a fake-money internet game in which players try to predict the box office takes of Hollywood’s biggest flicks. In 2001, Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment firm, bought the five-year-old HSX with the intention of perhaps starting a real-money market along the same lines.
Cantor Fitzgerald was nearly wiped out on 9/11 and it wasn’t until 2008 that the firm asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to approve HSX. The OK came this month for HSX and another exchange, Media Derivatives Inc. (MDEX). And that’s when the Motion Picture Association of America lobbyists decided it was time for their close-up.
Cantor Fitzgerald may be a big deal on Wall Street. But it doesn’t have nearly as much pull on the Hill. It hasn’t lobbied the Senate directly since 2002, according to disclosure databases. And while its employees give generously to congressional candidates, it doesn’t have a PAC exclusively promoting its interests. MDEX—an Arizona-based firm started in 2007—is even less of a Washington player.
Hollywood’s lobbying paid off. On April 16, as MDEX executives were no doubt celebrating their good fortune, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) released her draft financial regulatory reform bill. In it, she proposed the first exclusion of a product from futures markets since angry onion farmers descended on Congress in 1958 to accuse Chicago-based traders of capturing the market and artificially driving down prices. The current law lays out rules governing the trade of derivatives of any product "except onions." If Lincoln’s
Cisco’s CRS-3 router made a bit of a splash when it was announced on March 9, but the power of this new device hasn’t yet sunk in. Consider: The CRS-3, a network routing system, is able to stream every film ever made, from Hollywood to Bombay, in under four minutes. That’s right — the whole universe of films digested in less time than it takes to boil an egg. That may sound like good news for consumers, but it could be the business equivalent of an earthquake for the likes of Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.
Most people are familiar with routers, or desktop boxes used to provide connectivity between PCs, laptops and printers in a home or small office. These are tiny geckos compared with theT. rexes used by telcos such as Verizon and AT&T to distribute data among computer networks and provide Internet connectivity to millions of homes and wireless subscribers.
As it turns out, these megarouters sitting inside data centers of major telcos and cablecos are among the biggest bottlenecks of the Internet, because as bandwidth speed to end users has shot up in recent years, router technology has not kept up, resulting in traffic jams that can slow or freeze downloads.
Cisco’s superrouter is expected to turn what is now the equivalent of a country road into an eight-late superhighway for Internet data traffic, including 3-D video, university lectures and feature films such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. "Video is the big driver behind all this," says analyst Akshay Sharma of technology-research company Gartner Inc., noting that voice and texting will soon be overtaken by richer multimedia content and applications.
While it’s already possible to stream a feature film in real time, in the best-case scenario it takes about two hours to download to a personal film archive, at home or on a mobile device, for repeat viewing. With the predictable slowdowns and interruptions now so common, the process can eat up four hours or more of computer time — to say nothing of time lost managing the process.
But routers are not the only cause of bottlenecks, and Cisco is not alone in working to maximize the Internet’s full potential. Google is also concerned about the speed limitations imposed by wires that run to the home. Last…
A bunch of legendary comedians got together to make a sketch, where the punchline is: "establish a Consumer Financial Protection Agency". It’s kinda a funny, but mostly because of the Darrell Hammond’s imitation of Clinton making sexual innuendos, and Fred Armisen’s impersonation of Barack Obama. It seems director Ron Howard was trying to find something to ‘do good’, so he chatted with the earnest and overeducated Elizabeth Warren, and decided consumer financial regulation was the kind of smart idea that would obviously work. After all, who’s against consumer protection?
I am! This is the same government that goaded banks to lower standard to lend more to historically damaged communities, and then when those borrowers defaulted, blamed such lending on the banks. Avoiding the poor is redlining, targeting the poor is predatory, which means, whatever goes wrong can be blamed on the banks. Government always wants to have its cake and eat it too: low taxes & high spending, high growth and union-type work rules, banks lending more today and raising their capital.
The CFPA tries to do what most regulators try to do: improve efficiency, eliminate waste, consolidate regulations,simplify regulations, protect consumers, and protect jobs! It seems banks are greedy and basically uregulated, leading directly to the 2008 housing crisis. There are seven government bodies already regulating banks, highlighting how incredibly naive this proposal is. If there’s a magic bullet for improving efficiency, etc., share it with existing regulators…unless you think that all the regulators have been captured by some interest group, which if true just means we are bringing in one more interest group to advocate why they should get a better deal.
More importantly, if your concern is about the irrational poor people easily duped by huckster bankers, lower prices and penalties on the poor doesn’t help them, it enables them. Life has carrots and sticks, and one definition of a vice is that which generates bad outcomes in the long run. If you are constantly overdrafting your account, don’t have enough money to make a 20% down payment on a property, you need better financial discipline. Helping the poor from being trapped by debt should try to minimize they amount of debt they have, say by increasing rather than lowering prices on credit cards.…
In my larval, pre-blogging days, I always faced the back-to-school moment with abject dread. It meant returning to a program of the most severe, mind-numbing regimentation in the ghastly New York City public schools after a summer of idyllic unreality in the New Hampshire woods, where I went to a Lord of the Flies type of summer camp. And so here I am, many decades later, still uneasy as the final page of the August calendar flies away in a hot Santa Ana wind, and a great hellfire closes in on the far eastern reaches of Los Angeles, and the American money system falls into a peculiar limbo, and every fifth person is out of work, or going bankrupt, or glugging down the seawater of default, or being denied coverage by health insurance that he-or-she has already shelled out ten grand for this year, or getting shot in a trailer park.
I was in Los Angeles for a few days last week, as chance had it, marveling at the odd disposition of things there. I’ve been there many times over the years, but you forget how overwhelmingly weird it is. Altogether the LA metro area has the ambience of a garage the size of Rhode Island where someone happened to leave the engine running. To say that LA is all about cars is kind of like saying the Pacific Ocean is all about water. But one forgets the supernatural scale of the freeways, the tsunamis of vehicles, the cosmic despair of the traffic jams. The vistas of present-day LA make the Blade Runner vision of things look quaint in comparison.
You motor out of the LAX airport – personally, I love the name "LAX" because it so beautifully describes the collective ethos of the place – and you discover quickly that the taxi cab’s windows are not that dirty, it’s the air itself colored brown like miso soup. Going north on the 405 freeway, you see the looming Moloch of the downtown skyline through the brown miso soup. And you begin to understand why the products of the film industry are so fixated on the theme of machine apocalypse. Downtown LA looks like just such a gigantic machine as the FX crews would dream up, as if a day will come when those gleaming mirrored office towers will pull themselves
First we had the $5.5 billion dollar deal between Baker Hughes and BJ Services. Now Disney picks up Marvel. It’s suddenly feeling like the old days when Monday mornings meant merger announcements. That’s $9.5 billion in deal flow today.
No details yet on the banks working the deals or the financing involved.
From the Associated Press:
Walt Disney Co. says it is acquiring Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man into the Disney family.
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of 5,000 Marvel characters.
Disney said Monday that Marvel shareholders will receive $30 per share in cash plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own.
It said the boards of Disney and Marvel have both approved the transaction, but it requires an antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.
Disney (DIS) announced this morning it was acquiring Marvel Entertainment (MVL) for about $4 billion, or $50 per Marvel share. The acquisition price represents a 30% premium to Marvel’s current share price.
Operationally Marvel appears to be a good fit for Disney. Disney’s distribution could quickly exploit Marvel’s strong licensing business. In addition, Marvel has recently gotten into making its own productions (versus just licensing its characters for films), which has helped drive better-than-expected results the past few quarters.
It was just two days ago when we laid out what could be "the trade of the year": namely, going long Chesakeapke's $500MM 3.25% bonds of March 15, which were then trading at 80 cents on the dollar in anticipation of a Chesapeake bankruptcy, yielding a whopping 299%.
This is what we said:
... yes, Chesapeake will default, but the question is when. For those who think the company will somehow survive for a more than a month without filing Chapter 11 or arranging some prepackaged bankruptcy, and actually repays the $500 million issue, this could be the trade that makes so...
The New York Federal Reserve just announced that older Americans are carrying more debt than ever before and, believe it or not, spins this as a good thing:
New York Fed Finds Large Increase in Debts Held by Those Over Age 50
(NASDAQ) – Americans in their 50s, 60s and 70s are carrying unprecedented amounts of debt, a shift that reflects both the aging of the baby boomer generation and their greater likelihood of retaining mortgage, auto and student debt at much later ages than previous generations.
The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more auto debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Friday.
In May of last year, the S&P hit a key level and stopped on a dime. We applied Fibonacci tools to the highs in 2007 and the lows in 2009, to the chart above. The 161% Fibonacci extension level came into play in the 2,150 zone last year and when hit at (1), the markets stopped on a dime.
If your tools or adviser has suggested to be long and strong since May of 2015, that advice has been costly.
Our take, “Free advice that is wrong, is expensive!!!”
The Asian session had set up for big losses, but markets were able to defend against such losses even if finishing with a lower close.
The S&P tagged the January low, but it's hard to see it holding out if there's another challenge on 1,810.
The Nasdaq was able to register a higher close (although below the prior day's close). It probably did enough to negate what is normally a bearish black candlestick, but bulls won't have any confidence until the bearish channel is broken.
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Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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