Archive for February, 2009

The Man Swimming Next to Me Looks Like Ben Bernanke

I do laps at my gym’s pool on a regular basis. It’s tony, the facilities beautiful. The water is not too chlorinated, just enough to know that when I pee in that pool I won’t feel guilty about it. Today at my natatorium there is a difference, a difference that interrupts my epic meditation on intangibility and not-drowning. In the lane next to me there swims a man who looks exactly like Ben Bernanke. He could be his doppelganger.

I stroke and see him wearing his balded dome like a mongoloid’s swimcap. Fringes of hair flopp as his head breaches the water. His beard is cheerfully limp, soffy rather than grizzled. His lips plump but distorted, an aubergine deflated balloon encircling his mouth, gasping for breath, trying not to swallow. The whole effect is that of a walrus awkwardly pushing its limbs in an attempt to survive these unfriendly waters in his ill-fitting man suit.

This non-Ben Bernanke is doing a modified backstroke, flailing his arms backs while doing some sort of starbust kick or inverted frog kick. I wonder if he understands that that is no way to stay afloat.

I begin to daydream as I stroke past. Maybe next pass I should dolphin kick myself under the divider, under his manatee-like body, wrap his throat with my arms and pull him down into the deep. I’d torque his body in a twisting motion to perform a human spiral. My superior lungs ensuring my survival. I take another breath.

He is doing a leisurely sidestroke now. I switch to butterfly intervals and once again slip into fantasy. The back of his head is a perfect target, one wayward stroke and my fist would land an incapacitating donkey punch. Or maybe I find a way to take a ninety degree left turn and drop two devastating elbows on his back, leaving him unable to be bailed out.

Is this him? Could it be him? Is this a man deep in thought about interest rates, about replacing the invisible hand with his clammy visible palms, about the need for an even bigger TARP, a mega-TARP. It’s difficult to tell. He kicks awkwardly, he inspires no confidence in his own solvency, and he looks mildly retarded. But it makes no sense, he should not be in NY, he should be in Washington, doing…something. Shouldn’t he?

Regaining my focus, I pour myself into the fluidity of my own motions.

But I can’t escape it. Why do I lust to bring ruin to this man? He looks kind. He is not responsible for twenty years of reckless leverage. He did not give us these fake free markets, where the only regulation allowed was the most distorting or feckless. He did not bring us here. But that face, that singular face just staring at you, so dumbly, as everything falls down around him. I want to punch it.

That face.

I’m just glad it wasn’t Geithner.

Suspension of Dividends

Like most of you, Long or Short Capital is not entirely immune from the current dislocation going on in capital markets. Also like most of you, Long or Short Capital recognizes that this period of extended dislocation and, more generally, the backdrop of the Great Regression, provide the perfect cover for past acts of corporate malfeasance and accounting shenanigans.

The good news is that you, as subcriberholders under our former dividend policy, have been compensated both in the form of money, and in the form of insightful investable recommendations. But there is bad news. Due to the current capital market uncertainty, especially the difficulty we have encountered in trying to secure a revolving line of credit so that we are able maintain sufficient liquidity, as well as the difficulty we have had in finding (entirely theoretical) potential debtor-in-possession financing (seriously we aren’t going to file, we swear on Madison’s life), we have entered into a cash conservation mode. We will be suspending our dividends, retroactively and futurely.

We have hired a financial advisor to explore our options both with respect both to our capital structure and to maximizing value to our executive team. We have them looking into the appropriateness of soliciting reverse dividends from our subscriberholders so as to improve our liquidity and ease the burden of certain off-balance sheet arrangements that were undertaken to finance my yacht (sometimes referred to as “the corporate yacht” in our filings), as well as my summer yacht.

We appreciate your continued support in these trying times. Personally, I think you can relate to the humiliating devastation I feel as I am forced to go from one mega-yacht I purchased due to my excessive compensation as CEO, one company yacht (in name only, I used it exclusively), and one summer yacht paid for by embezzling LoS capital funds, to only one mega-yacht.

For updates on our dividend policy, always navigate to our Dividend Policy. Thank you.

Short Led, Short Plant and Short Age

From an MTV article headlined Robert Plant And Alison Krauss Win Grammy Album Of The Year:

“I’m bewildered,” Robert Plant said onstage as he accepted the Grammy Album of the Year award with Alison Krauss on Sunday night. “In the old days we would have called this selling out, but it’s a good way to spend a Sunday.”

And so are we, and so did we. I wouldn’t buy any stock in the Grammy’s as a guide towards good culture, but the fact that this man, won one NOW, has had us writing calls all morning on Robert Plant, on Age and on the base metal, Led Zeppelin. This is like a musical 9/11 with this having been transformed by a easy listening aural rape into this.

Recommendation: Baby boomers, please go away, lest you ruin even more of the world with your insipid gerriatric tastes, your wanton spending, your unfettered sense of entitlement and your inability to understand the difference between The Google and The Internet (hint: Sergei Brin and Larry Page invented one, Al Gore invented the other (along with Global Warming)).

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 02-08-2009

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three.
-Catch 22

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

Keys to Getting a Job in an Industry in The Toilet

There are many keys to getting a job in finance, an industry currently in the toilet, albeit a gilded one that does not stink. If you are failing to find a new job or Lehman let you go or Bear bade bye-bye or Goldman gave you a golden parachute or RBS rended you redundant or Credit Suisse cut you loose or you work at B of A, then read on to equip yourself with the paddles you will need in order to navigate shit creek.

The first key is nepotism, or any relationship that transcends logic and reason. If your desired employer is your father, your mother, or a blood relative, or your father is the head of a powerful financial firm, or the former President of the United States, or you are a member of the same secret society as your potential employer, these things will likely secure you a job. Kudos.

Barring nepotism, you may have to fallback to what we call “Actual qualifications” which include past quality work experience at a prestigious (but suitably similar) firm, outstanding marks in your education at a top ten institution and excellent demonstrable abilities (like the ability to jump seventeen feet into the air if you want to work for a basketball firm or the ability to devise opaque pyramidal trading strategies if you want to work for a market-making/investment advisory firm). These things are mostly out of your control at this point, and they are difficult to maximize ex post.

But you do control the next key, differentiation. Although mostly just a euphemism for “don’t be coastal white male from a top fifteen school”, other differentiation is achievable with the right combination of savvy, research and sticktuitiveness. Also gumption. With the economic backdrop of the Great Regression and a hugely competitive job search environment in finance, differentiation becomes all the more important.

One example of differentiation is to “be a woman”.

Another example of differentiation is to come to your interview dressed in a way that says you are an especially serious person who would become an especially serious employee. If a man, this means a well-fitted suit, a bold but elegant tie/shirt combination and a unifying theme that conveys assured sartorial command. If your expected interviewer is a woman, it’s ok to tell your tailor to tighten the fit in your lower mid-section — the woman would likely like to know just what kind of employment package she can expect from you.

If a woman and the expected interviewer suffers similarly, this means dressing in a way that is both smart and sexy. A Theory pantsuit with a crisp Pink shirt underneath, pearl earrings, and a bag & shoe combination that looks brand new is a combination that will put your best foot forward into that employment door. If the expected interviewer is a man, a tasteful teddy will ensure that they take you literally and a set of Prada glasses will make you seem smart. Smart and sexy.

Besides what you wear, you can differentiate yourself by what you are willing to do. Will you step into a boxing ring with a senior trader who is wearing brass knuckles, if asked? What about drink 4 gallons of milk in thirty minutes or eat 35 McDonald’s cheeseburgers? After the markets close, will you push a broom to help on facilities costs? If a woman, will you sleep with your boss? If an attractively girlish looking man with soft hands and features, will you sleep with your boss with the lights off? Increasing what you are willing to do is an out-of-the-box blank check that a potential employee can give their potential employers as incentive towards being hired.

The last key for you to be left with is to never put anything meaningful, or that you spent time on, or that is actually value-add, after the 600 word mark (or in resume terms, the first page), because frankly, there is little chance anyone is paying attention to you anymore. It’s a great time for a corny joke, or a non-sequitur, but little else. If you, or your idea, cannot fit within 600 words (or in resume terms, one page), than you, or your idea, are most likely preposterously awful.

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 02-01-2009

Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?
Yes. Lick ’em tomorrow.
-An exchange between William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S Grant during the Battle of Shiloh

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

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