Archive for the ‘Odd Stuff’ Category
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
With the news this morning that Bayouâ€™s Samuel Israel has turned himself in to police in Southwick, Mass., the long and often bizarre saga of his legal battle, sentencing, faked suicide and RV flight seems to be at an end. His capture certainly is good news from a law-and-order perspective, as he did cheat Bayou Group investors out of some $400 million. But as observers to this strange tale, we canâ€™t help but be a tad disappointed at what appears a rather anticlimactic ending.
Mr. Israel no doubt had his reasons for surrendering, just as he probably had some reason, albeit twisted, for running a pyramid-style scheme on investors in the Bayou fund group. But someone with the determination to flee the law, orchestrate a false suicide, and go on the run with a fully equipped recreational vehicle would seem as though he already had nothing to lose. Why turn himself in now?
Monday, June 30th, 2008
My father used to tell us that the military draft is a great melting pot, not that it would have any impact on my own life, but it was always good to know. I was raised in France when we had both the draft and much social class divides. And so, my father used point out: where else can you meet people from other social upbringings? Where else can a young man learn how to make his own bed and drive a car?
You donâ€™t learn how to make your bed or drive on Wall Street although sometimes I wonder if it wouldnâ€™t be a good place to start learning what you think you already know. And to be sure, you donâ€™t meet people outside of your own league in Wall Street.
Bankers meet bankers. Prime brokers talk to hedge fund managers. Fund marketers play golf with the same pension board members sometimes for nine, twelve months in a row. Regulators say: â€śCome on you here, have some quality time with us.â€ť The love oftentimes is not mutual. But when and where do all those different breeds of people meet? At the Ulysses bar on Stone Street in downtown Manhattan? Too crowded. On social networking websites such as Linkln and Facebook? Too distracting. So where?
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
Oil goes down 60 cents. Has the trend changed? Is it now pointing downward? Nick Rowe, manager of Focus Capital Wealth Management Inc., has a nice allegory. Tie a string to a sausage. Take it across the yard and stretch the string straight back to the house. Watch the dogâ€”assuming you have a lively dog and a big yard.
The dog, according to Mr. Rowe, picks up the scent of the sausage, then loses it and moves away from the stringâ€”the trend. But he catches the smell again and comes back to the straight path. His movements stay within a range, like fluctuations in prices around a steady trend.
Obviously this wonâ€™t work for people who live in apartments and lack a yard or a frisky dog. Theyâ€™ll have to be content watching the oil market.
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
If it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead, what of the nearly-dead, or the possibly dead? ABC News reported on Monday that Bayou Group co-founder Samuel Israel failed to report to prison to begin serving a 20-year sentence for defrauding investors in his hedge fund and may instead have committed suicide. New York State Police found a car registered to Mr. Israel parked on the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River. They also found what ABC News called a “rambling suicide note.”
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
People are doing all sorts of things these days to cope with the highest gas prices seen in this (or any) lifetimeâ€”driving less, trading in SUVs for more fuel efficient vehicles, investing with managed futures vehicles and commodity index funds, or the always-popular driving tour in search of that filling station thatâ€™s a nickel less than everywhere else. But whether itâ€™s plunking down $50 per fill-up or making do with $10 squirts every day or two, the pain is palpable.
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
Where are we in the credit crisis? How much longer will it last? People have taken to using baseball terms. Some see the trouble as almost over. Weâ€™re in the seventh inning, says an investment bank executive. Others argue we have a long way to go. Itâ€™s only the second inning, says a distressed debt fund manager.
What if there are extra innings? A Boston Red Sox-Chicago White Sox game in July 2006 went on for19 innings. Translated to the sequel of credit tightening and debt unwinding, that might mean years.
Â Letâ€™s take the range of estimates and calculate their average.Â It comes out to the bottom of the fourth inning. Get yourself a beer and relax.
Friday, May 23rd, 2008
At this yearâ€™s 3.5-mile JP Morgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge, HedgeWorldâ€™s managing editor, Chris Clair, and I braved 45-degree Chicago lakefront temperatures and sacrificed both knee and hamstring (from recurring ailments) to make it to that finish line to beat our 2007 times, which shall remain undisclosed.
Along the way, we managed to remain alert to our fellow racers, combing the course for potential stories. Aside from the alarming number of competitors wearing jeans and leather jackets (some of whom were actually running), there was one notable point of discussion. Despite that there were roughly 1,700 JP Morgan Chase representatives running in the race of more than 23,000, the most ubiquitous corporate logo was that of Newedge Financialâ€”the joint venture of SocGen and Calyon Financial. It felt like we were surrounded by Newedge runners at every turn of the race. The Pulse of Finance (the firmâ€™s tag line) was indeed felt strongly on the collective jugular of Team HedgeWorld last night.