"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
Texas businessman Chris Faulkner charmed hundreds of investors and major media companies into believing he had extensive experience in energy markets, but, as Bloomberg reports, it turns out the self-proclaimed "frack master" had none and that at least $30 million he raised was spent on strippers, escorts, lavish vacations and other personal expenses.
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
In this discussion, students from the University of Nebraska got to ask Bill Gates and Warren Buffett questions of their choosing. The questions vary widely and can be found below. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are two of the richest people in the world and their answers and advice are invaluable to anyone looking for success.
Date: September 2005
Location: University of Nebraska
We continue to receive requests for updates to the "Best Stock Market Indicator", which used to be a regular guest post from John Carlucci. Here is an update of the "Carlucci" indicator along with a summary of John's explanation on how he uses it.
As John described it: "The $OEXA200R (the percentage of S&P 100 stocks above their 200 DMA) is a technical indicator available on StockCharts.com used to find the "sweet spot" time period in the market when you have the best chance of making money."
I have mixed feelings about Brexit today. Clearly the European institution need reforming. The addition of so many countries in the last 20 years has created a top heavy administration. The Euro adds more complexities to the equation as the ECB policies cannot fit every country's problem. On the other hand, a unified Europe has advantages as well – some countries have benefited from the integration.
For Britain, it's hard to say what the final price will be. My guess is that Scotland might now vote for independence as they supported staying in Europe overwhelmingly. Northern Ireland might be tempted to leave as well so possibly RIP UK in the long run. I was talking to some French people and they were saying that now there might be no incentive for France to stop immigrants from crossing over to the UK like they do now and simply allow for travel there and let the UK deal with them. The end game is not clear to anyone at the moment....
One week ago, when bitcoin first crossed above $700 on the seemingly insatiable Chinese buying which we forecast last September (when bitcoin was trading at $230) would take place as a result of China's capital controls (to much pushback by the "mainstream" financial media), we tried to predict what may happen next. We said that "it could go much higher. That said, anyone who bought last September when the digital currency was trading at $230 may be advised to take some profits, and at least make...
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After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
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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