Is Hamermesh Hitting That? Yes

by Johnny Debacle

Daniel Hamermesh, an econ professor and author, discussed the economics of an ugly boyfriend:

One of the came up with what is perhaps the most amusing negative externality example that I have heard in my teaching career.

Her roommate is beautiful, but her roommate’s boyfriend, so she says, is very, very ugly. No problem, except that the roommate has a poster-sized photograph of the boyfriend on the wall on her side of the room, a poster that my student has to view whenever she is on her own side of the room.

I ask my student why, if the guy is so ugly, her roommate goes out with him, and she answers, “He goes to Harvard; and he’s also a very nice guy.” This illustrates the importance of human capital in the matching market that is dating, and also that looks aren’t everything, either. We also supply personality and the ability to get ahead, both of which are valued by the labor market and thus by potential spouses. Indeed, careful research shows that, compared with average-looking women, good-looking women marry guys with an extra year of education. Today, an extra year of education is associated with about an extra twelve percent annual earnings.

We have all used this construct before, the “I have this cousin who loves the site Is She Filthy. Does that make him a perv or just a connoisseur?” or “This friend of a friend of mine hooked up with a girl with crabs. What treatment options should I recommend to this friend of friend fellow?”

Daniel Hamermesh, we are so on to you. You can pretend to the uninformed masses that this is just promotion for your book, just some anecdotal externality action, but we know the truth. You have hunkered down with some fine Texas coed(s?) and you want savvy fans to read between the lines. There is a young lady who is so into Dr. Hamermesh, so worked up, she has a poster-sized picture of your ugly mug draping her dorm room wall. You want us to know that this may be your best accomplishment. You even go on to brag about your extra-long education. Women always tell us that it’s not the size of your PhD, it’s the motions in your notions.*

I'd like you to do a little modeling on the side

It likely started as something casual. Maybe a little modeling on the side. Perhaps you decided to explore the pareto frontier together. Next thing you know she is hanging a poster of you on the wall and sexting you pictures which visually demonstrate how far her demand curve has shifted out.

Recommendation: The answer is Yes. With impunity. If you doubt me, click through and read the opening sentence that prefaces the quoted excerpt. “Naked self-promotion.” Naked self-promotion indeed you old dog, you!

*Also how much you make.

HT to Economists Do It With Models and to Long or Short’s Twitter

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 07-12-2009

by Johnny Debacle

Brains are like hearts — they go where they are appreciated.
-Robert McNamara

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

Short the Tyranny of Form! Embrace the Freedom of Insubstantial Mistakes!

by Johnny Debacle

thus spaketh JDOften sites’ comments’ section devolve into a mutually destructive duel between two or more parties. Sides becomes entrenched, dig in and then continually try and crush the opposition with typed mustard gas. This kind of duel is fine and represents a dialogue that may lead to progress.

But another duel lurks deep in the bowels of comments section, the pernicious spelling bee or syntactical nitpicking duel. It it this duel against which I launch my campaign. I seek to destroy idiotic irrelevant comments like pointing out someone can’t spell, can’t do grammars or even stupidlier places a comma in the wrong place. Usually it’s just an indication that the commenter can’t type, or rather can’t type well, but even if it’s more, who really cares? In the days when you would spend hours drafting 300 words with ink and paper or painstakingly craft a single simple thought in cuneiform with a stick, spelling errors were a sin. But let’s move on now that we all compose thousands and thousands of words in rapid fashion daily. It’s asinine and unhelpful to slog that into any discussion, especially when the mistakes are understandable enough that nothing is lost in transmission which is the case 99% of the time.

I declare a Pax Spellimanicus et Typographicus.

In all debates, focus on your opponent’s idiotic substance not their idiotic form.

As a note for commenters, we won’t delete comments that we disagree with unless they are really vile (racist mainly) or worse, spam. But consider the above a thoughtful suggestion that can push communication to better levels as opposed to letting it be weighed down by the red-tape and bureaucracy that is inherent in grammatical, syntactical, spelling and typing nitpicking. Use this in your daily life and spread this to the uninitiated! Indoctrinate your friends and enemies alike! Reject the tyranny of perfect form! Embrace the freedom to make minor insubstantial mistakes!*

*Excepting the egregious error of spelling “patients” as “pacients” by HF in our comments. That is unforgivable, a sin that should be punished by internment in the harshest gulags. HF, pack your bags for Vorkuta.

Bramdean Has Woman Run Money, Is Wrong

by Johnny Debacle

Nicola Horlick, a “superwoman” by trade, founded and runs a closed-end investment fund called Bramdean Alternatives Limited (LSE: BRAL). She named the fund after a Hampshire town in which she has a house. Both the fact she did so and the house itself can be described as “quaint.” Here is a description of what Bramdean does:

Bramdean takes on the responsibility of investing with funds and fund managers on behalf of our clients. We research the worldwide investable universe of alternative fund managers and funds, searching for the most talented managers and highest quality investments available to our clients. Our goal is to find investments that will deliver superior returns and which are lowly-correlated to more traditional investments.

Our own experienced investment management team together with our network of industry specialists enable Bramdean to access managers and funds that are often closed to new investors.

Ah yes! Access! But what kind of access was Bramdean getting?

Bramdean Alternatives Ltd (BRAL.L) said almost 10 percent of its holdings were exposed to Madoff, the U.S. company at the heart of an alleged $50 billion fraud, sending shares in the UK asset manager crashing on Friday.

Bramdean, headed by well-known fund manager Nicola Horlick, said it had two holdings that maintain trading accounts with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities that represented 9.5 percent of its net asset value at the end of October.

Separate WSJ piece:

Before news of the Madoff scandal broke in December, Ms. Horlick had publicly endorsed the money manager, calling him “very, very good at calling the U.S. equity market” in an interview with the Financial Times.

If you follow that second link, you can read how Horlick has done so well at getting access that she may well be out of her own firm by a mob of shareholders.

Maybe this played a part:

Apparently allocating assets into the biggest Ponzi scheme since the Securities Exchange Company is NOT a good call. Math indicates that it is in fact detrimental to investment performance. Maybe some due diligence should have been due done? Isn’t that why people pay fund of funds fees? Isn’t that the only reason? Oh wait, I forgot, they were paying for access. Silly me! Over the same time period as outlined above, the S&P 500 returned -30% to her closed-end alternative FoF’s performance was -45% — not what you’d expect from a “superwoman.”

Recommendation: Now this is not to say that all women shouldn’t run money. Only a fool would say something so blatantly sexist. But I will write it. Women shouldn’t run money. If you do find yourself in a situation wherein a woman is running money for you, you can expect them to charge you for “access” to a money sucking blackhole just as was done here.

It’s worth expanding this negative sentiment across all people who mostly trade on their name, whether it be Uma Thurman’s husband or whoever the bullshit artist du jour is. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes WHAT you know (and the desire TO know rather than wallowing in your own lazy ignorance) matters more than WHOM you know.

HT to WC Varones

Alaskan Bail-Out

by Johnny Debacle

California has looked down the fiscal precipice, and decided, in what will likely be its last act before it is broken off into the Ocean, that it will be to try and pay people with monopoly money. While former big 3, current Detroit 3 automakers have a certain distinctive bailoutable je ne sais quoi [Spanish Editor: CHE¿], top 10 global economies apparently lack that very same certain distinctive bailoutable quality. Alaska on the other hand, its keen efficiency likely stemming from its walrus population, is entirely bailoutable. So long as it is being bailed-out of rather than just bailed-out:

My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for our freedom and security… we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops… they’re bold, they don’t give up, they take a stand and know that life is short so they choose to not waste time.

If I have learned one thing: life is about choices!

And one chooses how to react to circumstances. You can choose to engage in things that tear down, or build up. I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose not to tear down and waste precious time; but to build up this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people!

So I choose, for my State and my family, more “freedom” to progress, all the way around… so that Alaska may progress… I will not seek re-election as Governor.

My mother always told me “When the going gets tough, you gotta get the fuck out…to progress” so it’s good to know that at least one elected official agrees with Ma D. Thank you Sarah Palin! She also told me if you want to build something up, you have to set it free by quitting your job with it. Mom was the best. Until she left us for lucrative book offers, TV positions and our continental Uncle Sam.

Recommendation: After Alaska’s bail-out, I can only imagine that Alaska will be on a roll. But will this Alaskan roll be superior to the California Roll? Because of the avocado overlap, the key angle for analysis will be the freshness of the salmon that is used in the Alaskan roll. For now we think the Alaskan roll looks promising but our analysis is subject to change based on the day of the week, the ability to source fresh salmon and the reputation of the sushi-chef.

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 07-05-2009

by Mr Juggles

Defined in psychological terms, a fanatic is a man who consciously overcompensates a secret doubt.
-Aldous Huxley

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

Marijuana Tax: Crack Strategy

by Johnny Debacle

Marijuana Firms are pushing Californian municipalities to tax them.

This week, Oakland began sending out ballots in a special mail-only election on four revenue-generating ballot measures, including Measure F, a tax on medical marijuana.

The clubs see the ballot measure as a way to help the broader cause of medical marijuana.

“Criminals don’t pay taxes,” said James Anthony, an attorney for Harborside Health Center, one of the dispensaries. “Law-abiding citizens do. We are nothing if not law-abiding citizens.”

The strategy at work is what is known as “Crack Strategy.” Crack Strategy can be broken down into four phases.

  1. First one’s free: Give your customer product for free.
  2. Get’em hooked: Wait for your customers return. If they are not suitably addicted, repeat Phase 1.
  3. Kill your competition: Your profits are surging, but competition remains and is a constant threat. You must crush them.
  4. Buy an Island: A place where you can retire to. Phase 4 is almost never reached before death.

Recommendation: California medical marijuana dispensaries are currently in Phase 1 of their Crack Strategy as they attempt to get the Government hooked on their tax money. As we know the Government has a very addictive personality. If the weed firms succeed in attaining addiction to the extent we expect, Phase 3 will occure and a rash of related violence will commence as larger firms seek to crush their competition. This would lead to a surge in demand for hemp garrotes, brass hackey sacks and kabongs (explosive bongs). It is here where you can build your position ahead of the inevitable gap up in prices. Phase 4 is a pipe dream so it shouldn’t be used in any of your modeling.

Infusium 23

by Johnny Debacle

Everything is black and white. A sparse room lined with white tiles. Decrepit but also clean in a clinical way. Women are being herded into the room from a narrow entryway.

Close up on a woman’s famished face. Her eyes are tired, her cheeks gaunt. But she is strikingly beautiful. Her eyes are bright blue. A startling KABRUPT sound as the pipes are carrying something into the room. Water starts showering on her from above, her hair now pulled back in a tilt.

Voice comes over a tinny loudspeaker haltingly:

“Women! Do not be afraid! Let the Infusium 23 enter your hair!”

Floating bottles of Infusium 23 descend down dripping a viscous shampoo into our heroine’s hair. As the Infusium 23 hits her hair, it ceases being black and white and transforms into full color. She is seen shaking her hair in slow motion as its lavishness becomes apparent. Her whole face looks energized and she flashes a large knowing smile.

Narration provided by Miley Cyrus:

“Don’t let your hair be put to a dry death. Liberate your hair with Infusium 23’s new (moistur)ologie line of shampoos and conditioners. Infusium 23’s (moistur)ologie line corrects, restores, and structurizes your hair. It infuses hair with 23 essential pro-vitamin and treatment ingredients, and helps restore moisture for soft, silky feel. Infusium 23 — commit genocide against dry hair.”

Close up on a bottle that is coming towards the screen and growing in size.

End scene

Rejected advertising for Infusium 23.

Morning Madoff Markets

by Johnny Debacle

Early morning bid/asks

Sentencing for Bernie Madoff: 57-61 years
Total number of Madoffs sentenced to jailtime by 2011: 1-3
“Life”* remaining for Madoff: 7-9 years
“Life”* remaining for Walter Noel: 3-4 years
Attempts on the life of a Noel male in the next five years: 2-3

*Life here refers to whether someone has not been deemed “legally dead.” As we know from the Kenneth Lay situation, if you time it correctly you can be legally dead but also still living. A great way to free yourself from jail time.

Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing 06-28-2009

by Mr Juggles

Sometimes in life you have to realize a poor investment and cut your losses. Write that down.
-Van Wilder Sr.

Past Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing

History doesn’t repeat, or rhyme, IT RAPS

by Johnny Debacle

Infectious Greed posted about a blog which is harvesting 1930’s WSJ news pieces and headlines. The natural inclination from reading these frequently spot-on pieces is as a commentary on how history either repeats or rhymes. This natural inclination, just like the natural inclination to be overwhelmingly attracted to Gadget from Rescue Rangers, is wrong. History doesn’t repeat or rhyme, IT RAPS. And this is how it raps.

Jay-Z rapped 99 Problems to this historical current

The year is ’09 and your world is gone
You’ve just realized you’re alone, broke an’ one dumb pawn.
The financial forces y’all trusted are total shit,
That Ben behind the Fed curtain is not legit.
I ain’t trying to see no returns erased with Me.
We’ll head now to your situation, cut to the chase quickly.
Broker calls, “Son, do you know why your statements say zero”
‘Cause I’m young and I’m dumb and from Toledo?
Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don’t know.
Are you jerkin’ me off or should I guess some mo’
“Well you was overweight emerging markets like a schmoe.
Now you’re broke, and can’t afford your new McHouse or car.
Are you hidin’ any cash in your mattress, I know a lot of you are”
‘I ain’t done nothin’ wrong, it is someone else’s bullshit.’
“Well do you mind if I look at your finances a little bit.”
‘Well my car is leased and my house is underwater,
And I know my rights so the Govt gonna bail me out o’ there.’
“Aren’t you dumb like Nails, you some type of retard or something?”
Or a real mouth-breather or somethin’?”
Nah, I ain’t no rere, I passed my GED,
Smart enough to work for Ohio’s DMV.
“We’ll see how smart you are when the squid lord comes”
You got eleven trillion problems and squid is THE one.

Anti-Business: Huntsman

by Mr Juggles

Huntsman (NYSE: HUN) is in the business of making chemicals of some kind. Or rather it was in the business of making chemicals of some kind. Now Huntsman is in the anti-business business wherein they agree to mergers that are so disagreeable, so toxic and so unprofitable that the other side of the merger pays them to go away. The latest anti-business deal Huntsman consummated is one in which Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse are paying Huntsman cash and providing token cheap financing. This anti-business came about because DB and CS aided and abetted Apollo in weaseling its way out of merging Hexion with Huntsman as agreed in June 2007 which in turn helped DB and CS avoid being forced to provide $15 billion of cheap financing.

By the cold calculations of Wall Street, the settlement was an economic success for the banks. Had they originally provided the $15.4 billion of debt originally committed to the deal, they would have faced billions of dollars in loan losses. Now the direct cost to each bank is just over $300 million, a far more palatable figure.

Recommendation: Huntsman’s cash settlements from their anti-business segment (received from Apollo, DB and CS) in the last twelve months are about as much as their entire current market cap. This doesn’t even factor in the additional value received in these transactions from below market rate financing of convertible and unsecured debt. We like the stock in equal measure to the extent they are able to find new anti-business partners that will allow them to grow their nascent and extremely profitable anti-business segment.

Dangerous Fund I

by Johnny Debacle

Tinderbox Capital LLC, an incendiary investment management firm and subsidiary of Long or Short Capital LLC, announces its first fund, Dangerous Fund I.

Dangerous Fund I will specialize in positions that lack defensible absolute return theses. Assets will be allocated so as to leverage Tinderbox Capital’s expertise in trades of which they have little understanding, so-called “dangerous” trades. These trades will include vega convergence bets, investments in opaque levered pass-through instruments, naked red/black hedge trades, and proprietary coin-in straddles. Their due diligence process will include a rigorous “bottoms up” analysis that is comparable to the processes of Fairfield Greenwich Group and other top investment management firms.

Tinderbox Spokesman Johnny Debacle:

“We see a clear need for an investment vehicle for people who want to lose all their money. Competitors out there have lost on average 30-40% in this cycle. We think we can lose more, especially with our so-called ‘dangerous’ trades. Our trades are dangerous because we don’t fully understand them. Frankly, we may not understand them at all. Take a vega convergence bet wherein we form a pair trade with options with two assets with similar, but not the same, underlying. We make that trade and we’re pretty sure something happens, we just don’t know what that is. Does anyone? I may not have the details of that trade correct either. That is a core strength of our investment process.

Scores and Scores of bottoms up due diligence will strengthen everything we do. We aren’t content to just sit on our haunches, while someone else just dances about doing work on our junk [bond portfolio]. No, we plan to do that and more, which is what makes our “bottoms up” approach so powerful. We will spend money and get the most bangs for your buck. We will get our hands dirty and our pinkies stinky if that’s what it takes to better understand the trades we make and ascertain their appropriateness.

We know that young risk-seeking investors demand places to put their money to work, places where they can allocate $10,000 and potentially lose it all. This is the niche that Dangerous Fund I will fill. We give you all the risk you will ever need and guarantee that we will potentially lose it all. Additionally, Dangerous Fund I will be appropriate for investors whose portfolios are overweight return and underweight risk and are thus seeking proper balance.

We just need your money to fuel our fire.”

Tinderbox Capital LLC is an investment firm that offers a focused set of investment products to a global institutional and high net worth client base. Tinderbox Capital LLC is currently structured to directly manage strategies in so-called “dangerous” trades. Despite this structure Tinderbox Capital is uniquely unqualified to manage your money well and uniquely qualified to manage your money poorly. You would do well to simply light your money on fire instead because at least then you get the benefit of the heat it generates. Or you could just wait for Dangerous Fund II which Tinderbox Capital LLC is in the process of registering. It will seek to disintermediate the middleman from the process of lighting money on fire by physically igniting investors’ dollars for them. It will charge a traditional 2 and 20 fee structure.

Mexican Cocaine Producers Bumping the Shark

by Johnny Debacle

It seems that the Mexican cocaine industry has responded to Chilean cocaine producers’ efforts to win the 2010 Copa della Coca. Mexicans responded to the Chileans’ cocaine baggage by smuggling cocaine in sharks.

The Mexican Navy says it has seized more than a tonne of cocaine hidden inside the carcasses of frozen sharks.

Armed officers found slabs of cocaine inside more than 20 sharks aboard a freight ship in the Gulf coast port of Progreso in Yucatan state.

Recommendation: We still think Chile’s creativity and ability to craft “the beautiful coca”, makes them the odds on favorite for the 2010 Copa della Coca, but you can’t count out Mexico or Bolivia. Perennial favorite Colombia is likely to have an off year, but it will come down to the draw.

Author’s note: This story was especially personal for me and difficult to write. As many of you may know, my Mexican grandfather was smuggled into this country in a shark in 1952. That experience would go on to shape his entire life. When he was young, before the shark experience, he was gregarious, charming, the kind of hombre who could saunter into a room and turn it into a fiesta. But after being smuggled in a shark, he was much darker and he’d often drift off into thought mid-sentence, never to return…as if swallowed by a shark. When we’d go to the beach, sitting enjoying churros, his mood would change as soon as I approached the water. “Don’t get eaten by any sharks, Johnny! If you do you’ll never be the same!” he’d shout warningly at me as I stepped into the ocean. I blame that shark for why I never really knew my grandfather.

HT to FuManChu

« Previous PageNext Page »