Yeninko of the Umlaut

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Deals

I'm rarely one to condone excess consumption but assuming you are not one of the hoards of people that are un- or underemployed or at risk of being so, and you need stuff now or in the next five years, I'd recommend you might want to go shopping.
The fallout from the horrific holiday season for retailers has begun, with the operator of an online toy seller filing for bankruptcy protection and more stores are expected to do the same — meaning more empty storefronts and fewer brands on store shelves. A rash of store closings, which some experts predict will be the most in 35 years, is likely to come across areas from electronics to apparel, shrinking the industry and leading to fewer niche players and suppliers.
Or worded another way, retail shops are having the best sales in the last 35 year right now. They stocked betting on sales like last season, and that just didn't happen, so not only do they have to survive the crumbling capital markets (where they borrow money for expansion) they also aren't selling any products.

Good deals are to be had. I bought work pants at 60% off at Gap and Alexis bought a pair cords at 65% off at JCrew.

Having said that, I hardly think the worst of this economy is at hand so if you don't have the money, be careful.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Love Reports

I'm the kind of guy that likes reading NTSB accident reports. The Hurt report was fascinating but I've just found the best read since the 9/11 report.

It is titled "The World's Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud" and dissects Madoff Investment Securities Ponzi scheme. Some of it is at a high level which is when my eye start to glaze over but with a start like this it is hard not to be riveted for all 15 pages:
I am a derivatives expert and have traded or assisted in the trading of several billion $US in options strategies for hedge funds and institutional clients. I have experience managing split-strike conversion products both using index options and using individual stock options, both with and without index puts. Very few people in he world have the mathematical background needed to manage these types of product but I am one of them...Due to the sensitive nature of this case, it's dissemination withing the SEC be limited to those with a need to know...As a result of this case, several careers on Wall Street and in Europe will be ruined. Therefore, I have not signed nor put my name on this report. I request my name not be released to anyone other than the Branch Chief and Team Leader in the New York Region who are assigned to the case, without my express written permission. The fewer people who know who wrote this report the better. I am worried about the personal safety of myself and my family.
The author goes on to list 29 Red Flags, including this gem:
Fed Flag #24: Only Madoff family members are privy to the investment strategy. Name one other prominent multi-billion dollar hedge fund that doesn’t have outside, non-family professionals involved in the investment process. You can’t because there aren’t any...
Then the author begins instructing the SEC (over three years ago!) exactly who to interview and even how to interview them:
...the SEC should call: Leon Gross...Leon can't believe that the SEC hasn't shut down Bernie Madoff yet. He's also amazed that FOF's actually believe this stupid options strategy is capable of earning a positive return much less a 12% net average annual return. He thinks the strategy would have trouble earning 1% much less 12% net. Leon is a free spirit, so if you ask him he'll tell you but you'd understand it better if you met him at his workplace in a private conference room and tell him he won't need to have Citigroup lawyers present, you're just there for some friendly opinions. He talk derivatives at a high level, so ask simple "yes or no" type questions to start off the interview and then drill down.
Jeeze, I wish I work for the SEC where citizens did all the work for me.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page dies at 85

The LA Times reports

Bettie Page, the brunet pinup queen with a shoulder-length pageboy hairdo and kitschy bangs whose saucy photos helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has died. She was 85.

Page, whose later life was marked by depression, violent mood swings and several years in a state mental institution, died Thursday night at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been on life support since suffering a heart attack Dec. 2, according to her agent, Mark Roesler.

Thanks for popularizing the hair cut and helping usher in the sexual revolution Bettie, you'll be missed

Friday, December 05, 2008

Teen Self-Esteem May Be Too High

"Researchers compared responses from teens in 1975 and 2006, asking questions about their qualities and abilities. The study, published last month, found that today's kids consider themselves to be far more intelligent and capable than their 1970s counterparts, and more likely to report being "completely satisfied" with themselves.

The concern that teens — and especially young women — have low self-esteem has been around for decades...The supposed self esteem crisis has been blamed on everything from thin fashion models to gender bias in the classroom, yet there's little evidence for a nationwide lack of low self esteem among girls or anyone else."

To many people have been reading my bible

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