"Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I dunno, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car. So sue me—no, don’t sue me. That is opposite the point I’m trying to make."
"Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this, compulsive, need, to be liked. Like my need to be praised."
— Michael Scott, The Office
In an otherwise less than sympathetic piece on the public relations travails of the Vampire Squid everybody loves to hate, Financial Times journalist Chrystia Freeland credits the investment bank’s recently announced 10,000 Small Businesses initiative as "cleverly conceived" and "designed for maximum effect." I have to disagree.
Like many of you, I am sure, I was impressed when I heard Goldman was going to donate $500 million to a myriad of small businesses, which are widely perceived to be the primary engines of job creation in our economy. Oh goody, I thought: half a billion bucks mainlined into the veins of those businesses best able to kick start the economy back into rude health. What a coup.
Then I read the blasted thing. It is not pretty. Sixty percent of the committed funds will be distributed for "lending and philanthropic support," but this will be directed through "Community Development Financial Institutions." Call me a skeptic, but this does not sound like high powered money coursing directly into the working capital accounts of productive enterprises which can use it. Instead, it sounds like a $300 million slush fund for the functional equivalent of community NGOs. The remaining forty percent—200 million clams—will go toward "education."
Oh great, Lloyd, that’s just what every small businessman needs: an education. After all, everybody knows what the owner of a chain of dry cleaners or a machine tool factory really needs is "scholarships," greater "educational capacity," and mentoring by some half-assed social worker out of an abandoned storefront. Why stop there, though? Why not endow a hundred spots at Harvard Business School in perpetuity so Hmong immigrants can learn to
Yves had a very good post yesterday called “Why Big Capital Markets Players Are Unmanageable” on banks: the former i-banks and commercial banks. The biggest takeaway for me came from her statements regarding the level of responsibility that a junior level employee in an investment bank can have. She says:
What makes capital markets businesses different from any other form of enterprise I can think of is the amount of discretion given of necessity to non-managerial employees, meaning traders, salesmen, investment bankers, analysts. In pretty much any other large scale business, decisions that have a meaningful bottom line impact (pricing, new sales campaign, investment decision) are deliberate affairs, ultimately decided at a reasonably senior level. The discretion that customer-facing staff have in pretty much any business in limited. At what level does someone have the authority to negotiate a contract? And even then, how many degrees of freedom do they have?
That is a very significant factor in investment banking that makes it risky. Think about the blow-ups that have occurred in trading enterprises from SocGen to Sumitomo to Barings Bank. In most enterprises, most junior-level employees don’t have the decision-making authority necessary to allow these mistakes to happen.
But, Yves’ post got me to thinking a bit more about investment banking itself and the change in emphasis within firms. John Gapper at the FT had a revealing post yesterday on just this subject. He writes:
There is excited talk of investment bankers reclaiming the power and mystique that veteran rainmakers such as Joe Perella, Robert Greenhill and Roger Altman (all of whom now ply their trade at boutiques) once enjoyed at big banks, rather than being trained as technicians and treated as such.
How seriously should we take this? Not as seriously as the bankers do, it is safe to say. There will always be a place in the boardroom for a few senior advisers with the skills and temperament to give thoughtful and unbiased advice to chief executives facing big, risky decisions.
“Sometimes a chief executive needs a surgeon to operate but sometimes he needs a GP who understands people and politics and governance. The best
There wasn't a whole lot of action during the cash market session as indices held on to most of their premarket gains. The only index to come up short was the semiconductor index. It confirmed a wedge breakdown, and it's looking increasingly likely a double top is in play. A retest of the 200-day MA would appear to be the favored outcome going forward. The S&P hasn't quite negated the 'bull trap' and the risk is a triple top if this weakness in the Semiconductor Index spreads to the Nasdaq, Large and Small Caps. The technical picture remains okay plus it looks to be enjoying the start of a relative advantage against the Russell 2000. ...
Consider my address book -- and yes, the simple fact that I have one already tells you a good deal about me. All the names, street addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers that matter to me are still on paper, not in a computer or on an iPhone, and it’s not complicated to know what that means: I’m an old guy getting older. Going on 71, though I can hardly believe it. And that little book shows all the signs of where I’m headed. It wasn’t true a few years ago, but if I start flipping through ...
This is discouraging. There seems to be a prevailing attitude, even among very intelligent people (personal observation), that science is just another subject of equivalence to religion, or apparently astrology, in explaining life in the big universe. Or, subjects that are not within the realm of science are imagined to be a science based on a misunderstanding of what science is.
This misunderstanding of science may reflect a failed education system, and unfortunately, we may be traveling backwards. The highest percent of non-skeptics were in the youngest age group where a majority of people think astrology is at least "sort of" scientific.
In China, in contrast, 92% of people polled said they do not believe "in horoscopes." The exact question the researchers asked may in part explain the discrepant results. And I wonder, did some Americans get Astrology confused with Astronomy? Also not good.
King Dollar has been on a role since last summer, up over 20% in less than a year. When looking back on the US$, the rally has been rare and nearly historic. Majority of the rally took place inside the steep rising channel above. Over the past month the US$ might have put in a double top. Over the past few days, the US$ has slipped a little below rising support at red arrow above.
Here's an interesting argument by Felix Salmon, although I think he is taking two correct observations and mistakenly attributing a cause-and-effect relationship to them: Bitcoin is going nowhere because women are not involved.
More likely, in my opinion, women are not involved in bitcoin because bitcoin is going nowhere (and they know it). Or maybe, simply, bitcoin is going nowhere and women are not involved.
Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin. As its subtitle proclaims, the book tells the story of the “misfits” (the first generation of hacker-l...
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As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. High sector correlations remain a concern, reflectin...
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
In my last post (Part 1 of this article), I looked at alternative ETFs that could be used as hedges against the corrections that we have seen during that long 2 year bull run. Looking at the results, it seems that for short (less than a month) corrections, a VIX ETF like VXX could actually be a viable candidate to hedge or speculate on the way down. Another alternative ETF was TMF, a long Treasuries ETF which banks on the fact that when markets go down, money tends to pack into treasuries viewed as safe instruments. In some cases, TMF even outperformed the usual hedging instruments like leveraged ETFs. There could of course be other factors at play since some of 2014 corrections were related to geopolitical events which are certain...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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