Thursday, February 28, 2008

Are Commodity Specs Still "Useful"

Is speculation in commodities socially "useful"? Do classical economic arguments in favor of unfettered speculation retain their validity?

I have been ruminating upon these related questions questions for a while, composing several aborted missives over the past half-year, but I keep returning to it and would like to throw it out to the crowd for discussion. I know the classical arguments in favor - as utilitarian risk-transfer devices, as important market-signaling mechanisms, and hence re-direction of risk-capital for investment etc. But my fears linger, essentially wondering whether classical arguments may have significant and meaningful flaws in a modernity where behemoths now-dominate global resource exploitation; where the financial economy is bloated in relation to the real economy; where funds available for speculative activities pose structural hazards as they dwarf the size of the underlying market liquidity, or exchange-traded derivatives markets that often set the prices thereof; where such speculative flows are increasing employing the same techniques (momentum, trend-following etc.) thereby increasing position correlation amongst investors (and thus volatility) resulting in something resembling de facto collusion; where technology opens the Pandora's box for anyone and everyone to join the electronic herd in the [temporary?] stampede for this or that. What, for example, would be market-clearing price of wheat in a world where physical traders (i.e. real buyers and sellers) dominated?

I contemplate this as a long-standing on-the-record voice of the viewpoint that inflation is no simple chimera, that agricultural terms-of-trade have been secularly depressed and will recover; that poor global fiscal and monetary policies (particularly US, China & Japan, but increasingly EM and GCCs) cannot help to have consequences upon prices, so its not simply that prices are rising that raise the question. But to me, the question remains: should "we" be encouraging "it", by not only facilitating it, but institutionalizing it ? My gnawing suspicion is that the modern context poses challenges for classical market theory for even the US bond market and so US rates it would appear has been neutered by official flows of central bank reserve accumulation making traditional arguments in favor of the economic benefits of unfettered speculation suspect. This leaves second-order arguments such as "freedom" and "the right to speculate", or the argument that "the slippery slope" of intervention or regulation ultimately leads to an outright ban upon financial speculation which might engender worse outcomes than the volatile consequences of unfettered spec by nation-states, leveraged Hedge Fund wunderkinder and the agnostic but seemingly omnipresent systematic computer-driven CTAs.

At present these are but still-crudely-formed thoughts defining the camps at both poles, but I hope this will form the basis for a discussion of whether pure leveraged financial spec in commodities is parasitic, and if so, is it unduly detrimental to The Public's interest.

Joe's Country

Joe [Smith's] story is most implausible. Indeed so implausible that Mitt Romney would have had a dastardly time explaining how we might rely upon his judgement in regards to say, fiscal policy, when said judgement seems so obviously impaired in discerning the credulity of a certain self-proclaimed Utah-based Prophet. That said, and ignoring Mr Smith's amusingly revisionist scribblings, he was not (apparently) incompetent when it came to mother nature and seeing the merit in locating one's hall of worship nary a twenty-five mintue drive from what is the hands-down-best and most challenging powder skiing in the lower forty-eight states, making it a fine place to escape from the strenuous market dramas taxing one's brain (and cortisol) production. This is particularly true when [God, Mother Nature, The Sugarplum Faerie] drops nearly two feet of fresh upon The Mount, munificently clearing the sky of all obstruction by daybreak!!

OK the people are a little too earnest for me. The arts & crafts rather kitsch. The food and lodging are most basic and without praise. The apres-ski wholly non-existant. But the skiing is breath-taking, and some Utah philistines do have a sense of humour, particularly the local brewers, offering up such goodies as Wasatch's "Polygamy Porter" (Slogan: "Why Have Just One?") , or Squattter Brewery's "Revelation Ale", "St. Provo Girl" (with a thinner, more seductive serving wench on the label than Bremen's St. Pauli Girl), and my favorite, a crisp lager called "Chasing Tail", who slogan is "Don't Make Me Beg!"

Religion seems to bring out the best in alcoholic-artisans, for Israel's foremost handmade beer is called He-Brew, whose slogan is "The Chosen One....."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

UBS Board of Directors 2009

Sent to yours truly by a friend, with an obvious sense of humour, and the comment:

"And the extra “fashionista” prize goes to whoever first identifies Marcel!!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sedantary Ways

Investors in Activist funds targetting Japan would do well to consider the following curious fact when assessing the probability that their cage-rattling surrogate greenmailers will be successful in monetizing the apparent value embedded in Japanese enterprises:

"Only 13% of Japanese homes have EVER been resold, compared to 89% in Britain and 78% in the USA"

- From The Economist, 3rd Jan 2008 via Feb 2008 Prospect

Monday, February 18, 2008

From 'Something-For-Nothing' And Back Again

18th February, 2008

Dear Northern Rock Shareholders,

Please stop your whinging. You are, of course, the equity investors (or in capital market parlance: The Bag Holders). For those of you not versed in what precisely this means, it entails ownership rights, which in turn, yields a vote upon various orders of business that, from time-to-time, are put to shareholders, a fractional ownership share of the net assets of the Company, and a same fractional claim upon all the net profits of the firm - both those retained by the Company, as well as the portion paid in the form of dividends that management deems you worthy to receive, pari-passu to all other common equity holders.

In good times, these may indeed be plentiful and above and beyond both management and shareholder expectation. During bad times for the company, however, of which you are the owner-in-fact, this may entail a mind-numbing, ego-bruising, complete utter-and-total loss. In the case of Northern Rock PLC, lest you need reminding, times have been very very very bad indeed. This last description may, in fact, be an understatement.

You as the owner of the enterprise may argue, like the owner of a pretty red automobile parked in one's driveway whose motor is potentially broken beyond repair, that it is a fine car by all appearances sake. And that (if it were running) it would be worth a tidy sum. But, be that as it may, it is impossible to know whether or not the cost of towing and fixing and possibly replacing the engine will be greater than the ultimate value of the car, something not improbably given the visible cracks in the engine block and the oozing of slimy black stuff now pooled upon your drive. Of course, you must have the money the money (e.g. 50 billion or so) and the resolve to find out, or else it is, despite outward appearances, for all intents, worthless as an automobile except perhaps as scrap, a West-Virginian yard-ornament (when raised up upon breeze-block), or as a low-rent spare bedroom for less-than-favored house-guests and mothers-in-law alike.

You've been given ample time to try and sort yourselves out, but all I have seen is a few carpet-baggers buy shares in the secondary market to little avail, but nowhere has the sort of GBP 5billion rights issue been successfully floated that might provide the sort of cushion that would placate newly (required) creditors to balance your books, and avoid receivership and ignominy. Having failed in this this regard, creditors could, of course, try their (and yours) luck in a dismembering receivership. This would be messy, indeed, and given the nature of current credit market conditions, would likely net you ZIPP-O, ZER-O, NADA, and rien du tout.

Fortunately for the hemorrhaging credit markets, Northern Rock employees, and other holders of like mortgage assets, the largest of the creditors (Hiya Ali D.!), to whom the keys of the enterprise have been turned over, does not wish to liquidate at present. This is probably good for you (in a medicinal sort of way) for IF the loan portfolio and servicing enterprise do turn out to be sound (and profitable) in future, and Mr Darling recoups more than the financing (plus spread!) that he's lent the enterprise that you [formerly] owned, on behalf of The People, you may actually get a small "thank you" checque to deposit in addition to the rather pleasing [now rather worthless] Share Certificates that, once framed, will hang nicely on above mantle next to your Enron and WorldCom certs.

So please, show some decorum, and refrain from whining and filing frivolous lawsuits for there are far more interesting things with which to fill broadsheets and tabloids alike, such as "What was Princess Di's favoured method of contraception?".

Most Sincerely Yours,


P.S. Don't forget that most of you original small shareholders got "something for nothing" in any event, and I don't recall anyone kicking up a fuss about it.

Switzerland:: Moody's Was Here!!

Refreshed by sun, mountain air, despite avaricious Swiss irreversibly far-along their Faustian road predating others' tax-regimes, and overzealous Brits trying to make Rupert Jr. or little Gemma a ski champion by age-five, I will pose the quuestion: What do Swiss Hotels, The Rating Agencies, and the wonderful parody Spinal Tap have in common? (Hint: pictured above)

The guitarists' amplifier is iconic of unsubstantiated wishful ambitions whether laughably ignorant (as in Spinal Tap) or cynically self-interested as in the case of The Rating Agencies, or Swiss Hoteliers. The Rating Agencies are slightly less nefarious perhaps falling in the middle of the continuum, for while their conflicted interests are/were obvious, their talent pool and experience was - to be entirely fair - both thin and perpetually depleted by design since pay and ultimate rewards were laughably low in comparison to both sell-side and buy-side peers. The rating agencies are the equivalent of FI-boot camp, practically speaking, certainly not the home of analytical SAS or Green Berets, for those with such aspirations and talents were long since poached leaving...well...we can all see the sorry result.

But how can Swiss Hotels be more ignorantly wishful than Spinal Taps iconic volume-control that goes beyond "10" to "11", or more conflicted that the rating agencies? The answer is they either undertake compromised self-rating of hotels, or or have so corrupted anything resembling accurate independant "star-based" ratings as to be entirely useless, for there is almost no correlation between the star-rating and the quality and facilities of the establishment except to say that they are (like CDO's) universally over-rated whether by hook, or by crook. Our first establishment, a purportedly neat and clean 3-star in a convenient location, bore almost no resemblance to either the promotionary words and pictures nor the compromised rating. I will not spoil your lunch with photos, lest you soil your desk. High-tailing it out of there after a quick kip, we secured adjoining rooms in the "***** Superior" (better than five star, yes the #11 on the Amp). Now, Cassandra and Family have had the good fortune to stay at many unrated luxurious and "five-star" establishments all over the world but especially the mountain, and this was certainly NOT five-star, let alone five-star-superior (reminiscent of Bear Stearns "Enhanced Leverage High-Yield Fund"), with rock-hard beds, non-existent feather duvets, dilapadated and antiquated hardware, a ski-room that resembled a root-cellar, and stingy fare for the half-board. Oh the Russians were there, as were the smarmy waiters in starched polyester white jackets, along with the high-end British fully-orchestrated ski-holiday complete with little Ivan or Nigel being whisked-off with private instructor in the stretch Mercedes.

Now before you put this off to bad luck or limited sample-size, I have stayed at worthy places in Switzerland, but there appears to be something more systematic at work here. For what is fascinating in comparison to say Austria, is that despite CHF hyper-bas rates of interest, there has been little investment in hotels here. Russkie contrapreneurs, domicile-arbs, and hedgies have fueled private chalet and beaucoup new-apartment construction, but the tired hotels suffer from lack of investment whether due to wage bills that cannot compete with Austrian generous use of eastern european labour, or a more cost-concious consumer. And Switzerland is not without its charms, so these competitive disadvantages in themselves would be tolerable if ONLY they were honest. But they are not, and the entire system appears corrupted and disingenuous. This is NOT snobbishness, for I've happily camped, hosteled, and dormitoried without pretension or complaint, knowing what to expect. But dishonesty and inflated self-opinions well-departed from reality, is short-termism as its worst.

So "au revoir, Valais". Next year, it will be a return to the familiar and entirely more sober and honest "Austrian Gemutlichkeit".

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Swiss Aid

Dr Jean-Pierre Roth
Schweizerische Nationalbank
Boersenstrasse 15
PO Box 2800
8022 Zurich

7th February, 2008

Dear Dr Roth,

I will be visiting your fair and beautiful country for a holiday over the next 10 days and would self-servingly be most grateful if you would kindly follow the lead of Mr Trichet and suggest/confirm that that the tightening cycle in Europe is, in fact, over, and that it is now safe for thrill-seeking investors to once again use your currency as a source of funds for all manner of opportunity that is beginning to emerge.

Such a statement would go a long way towards offsetting the horrid appreciation that has (almost) made me regret not booking in at Crested Butte.

Thank you for your consideration and I remain hopeful of your immediate assistance,



Anti-Dollar's [Temporary?] Demise

I like gold, I do! I like it as I fancy "The Times Atlas of the World" in front of which I can kill an entire afternoon, a 70's Vintage Port, or a pair of dreamily-fitting Lorenzo Piano trousers. Despite this inherent attraction for something of obvious inherent quality, Gold is a speculative red herring, here and now. For each new datapoint indicating a more severe contraction, and each new lurch down in other asset prices, makes the precious metal (and sisters) - psychic allures that they may still hold - a dramatic financial non-sequitir in comparison to other non-levered or lowly geared assets with and potentially growing cashflows, or for that matter, mid-term government securities. Not that Alt-A mortgages at the other end of the spectrum provide much better comfort, nor does equity with cyclical sensitivities - with low visibility and diminishing earnings expectations - provide safer haven.

For while the fear remains inflationary hell or deflationary systemic implosion at the extremes, it is the inflationary fears that appear more canard-like as the sucking sound of all manner of wealth destruction, balance-sheet reduction, asset-impairment, price-discovery, money-velocity deceleration, higher margin requirements and haircuts, creates multitudes of overt and unseen cascades throughout all markets (and the economy) at a pace many times greater than it can be replaced with SWF contributions, cheaper money, steepening yield curves, or fiscal stimulii.And this is lkely to remain the case, irrespective of the smell of monetary napalm in the morning.

Add to this Gold's large leveraged speculative position, and huge percentage of prevailing open interest owned by fundamentally agnostic CTA's resulting from short, medium and long-term programs, and it seems likely we will soon witness a rather ugly pile-up on the exit ramp. Such is the nature of the log-normal distribution that describes speculative price advance, and decline.

Specs are still fearful of global easing and global stimulus, which is why the metal is levitating while the known financial world incinerates. Longer term, of course, who knows, the economic horrors unfolding may be granted respite, and the fear-pendulum may once again swing towards stagflation or even inflation. But that will be in the future, for at the moment the barometer is suggesting otherwise, and Gold longs would be wise take heed, and not fall in love with their position.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Halftime Fun and Some Diffs Between Liberals & Conservatives

(apologies in advance for an off-subject rant, for there is undoubtedly copious amounts of gratuitous political missives floating about, without having to read another. This one is general, but personal, not to mention entirely true. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty)

Watching the Superbowl (or in my case the good half of it) got me to thinking about a few of the minor things that distinguish American liberals from conservatives. What, pray tell is the connection to the SuperSpectacle? Giants stadium, for a start combined with the fact that one seemingly cannot escape from Election 2008, now in full-swing, though still with a mind-numbing 270 days or so before the Nov trigger date. Why-o-why can we not have a single day upon which the parties conduct their respective Round-One Selections? And may we please limit this selection date to no more than 90 days before the general election? And finally, anyone caught airing gratuitously self-serving political ads prior to 180 days before the General Election will be disqualified - with no exceptions. And, oh yeah, people: Please do NOT let politicians kiss your baby...

Back to the thread and the connection I wish to reveal. You see, all is NOT well in the Meadowlands Giant's Stadium. Witness this NY Times report, or this one from Can't Stop The Bleeding depicting errrr less-than-salubrious behaviour at "Gate-D" where (apparently) women are [successfully?!] taunted to expose themselves, perhaps for the greater morale of NY Jets fans. This doesn't surprise Cassandra, though the similarities remain with my experiences more than twenty years ago. Now before you all go and get yourselves excited, let me first explain. A maddeningly (i.e. unfathomable and inexplicably) conservative friend took me to a NY Giants game one Sunday at the Meadowlands. Actually, for me it was an Eagles game, but there was no need to telegraph this fact to the other 75,000 blue-and-white Giants fans. Some watery beer was drunk. Fumbles and turnovers witnessed, mostly Eagle-inspired (this was after the days of Jerry Wolman, voucahbly professional sports' least astute owner EVER, but before the days of Donovan McNab). More beer was drunk. Then half-time. My conservative (though generous amongst friends) companion then bought us six-more foul and overpriced "beers". I assumed he bought that many because it was watery.

We went outside and camped ourselves leaning against the inner wall overlooking the central area of one of the circular pedestrian ramp-ways (depicted right) that are strategically positioned at the corners of the stadium. We imbibed a bit more, smoked a cigarette. I noticed more people congregating and looking down. Didn't think much of it. My friend
took out a dollar, and tossed it over the wall whence it floated down many floors below, before settling on the ground level. Other people started tossing coins, their chimes echoing over the noise as they hit the bottom. Were they, like pennies in a fountain, making wishes to insure the Giants overcome Phila's feeble efforts? I couldn't imagine what was to come. My "friend" now tossed a fiver ove rthe side (thats prolly $50 v.2008.2 money). More coins. More dollars - even a few tenners - showered down. There was some commotion going on below. Someone was climbing the fence at the ground level, a young black kid it seemed. The gallery was now filled to the brim. My conservative friend had an ear-to-ear grin, and proudly said: "Watch This!" The kid went over the top of the fence, landed feet-first inside and started scurrying to pick-up money. As soon as this young gladiator started, Romanii in the galleries began hooting and howling and pelting him from all sides and all levels - five and six floors up - with coins, anything and everything, making him cover his head, and whincing as they hit him. Half-full cups of Pepsi and Ice cubes created mini-explosions as the fell from more than 100 feet up. One even hit its target. The kid was going for the paper. My "friend" hurls one of the beers down with venom - it misses the mark- but the spray-shrapnel leaves a slick foaming residue, upon which he slips. More coins hit him, and after 45 seconds like a rider bucked off the Electronic Bull, he scurries out and over the fence, less enthusiastic than when he began. I look over at my "friend" (inverted commas indicating my increasing discomfiture) and he's laughing his ass off, and can't understand why I don't find it as amusing as he does. This continues with several more black kids having a go, before the audience runs out of beer, money and ammunition, the second-half is set to begin, and police make their way to break up the spectacle. So, I'd suggest if the NYT fuss is over the exposing of one's tits for some cash, I'd say while it's certainly no LESS venal, and probably a cultural improvement over 20 years ago.

Liberals think that such a spectacle is simply "wrong". They may not wish to legislate against it, but they viscerally feel something's awry, and will at the least try to both understand the problem, and if possible, solve or ameliorate it, with respect to the conventions of sober-minded cost vs. benefit analysis. Conservatives, by contrast, gleefully see as a reflection of, no Celebration of "the market - for nobody made them do it." This ignores links between their poverty and society as if their fate and condition is somehow, entirely self-inflicted. Though even IF one accepts society's organization and events which have gone before were responsible for the poverty, lack of opportunity, or what have you, (strong motivators the world over), one still needs to feel some responsibility to the community and society, to feel the least bit culpable. In the curious conservative mind, however, "the best public interest" seemingly "is no public interest!" This sufficiently distances The Conservative from the tether of any responsibility such that he/she can now self-justifyingly pursue that which may please them, without respect to consequence to others or the common the good. It also apparently is without regards to the inherent logical inconsistencies and hypocrisy of such a position. Indeed, The Conservative desires to see a firm line on immigration, but sees no problem in hiring a housekeeper or nanny working illegally in order to save money, nor do they understand the connection between their "cheap" restaurant food, and so-called "efficient" distribution system, and the same "cheap" illegal labour that makes it so. They are likewise intent upon maintaining a robust defense and projecting American power abroad, yet fail to see the connection between the expenditure and the revenue required to fund it. They similarly believe that the private sector is always the best answer to delivering services to the people, yet fail to comprehend that this same private sector has caused America to spend approximately 17% - or between one-and-a-half to TWICE what other OECD nations expend - for WORSE outcomes and hardly-extensive coverage. Yet despite their apparent faith in the private sector, they do not seemingly believe that the one and the same private sector's welfare can be left to chance, such that further knee-jerk monetary & fiscal pump-priming - even beyond which is implied by the Taylor Rule - is required to save the private sector from itself. And there are more logical singularities: inconsequential to the important policy debates, highly indicative the flawed reasoning around which Conservative thought orbits. In their world, every life is apparently sacred (unless it be a gay or lesbian life), and personal liberties are sacrosanct so long as they are evangelically-approved - a moral rock/paper/scissors outcome that confers superiority to guns over sex, and flags over birth-control pills, and images of murder over those of, yes, a woman's [divinely created?] teat.

It's a shame to have to generalize, for there are undoubtedly logical and principled people, who may be labeled conservatives though who abhor such inconsistencies, but such is the nature of the two-party system. Maybe its not conservatism per se, The Republican Party - a strange form of crony-moralistic-authoritarian- feed-my-selfish-greedy- friends-at- the-troughism that was characteristic of the Nixon and Bush-2 Administrations and which spawned all manner of strangeness, from "disco" and "bell-bottoms" to Abu-Ghraib, Creationism, and the emergence of Alberto Gonzalez.

Liberals undoubtedly make policy mistakes, but importantly they will be different mistakes, resulting not from venality and mal-intent, but from mis-calculation, or well-intentioned mis-understanding. The people they will hire will be more honest, or at the very least, less corrupt and partisan in respect of the money-interests of their friends and themselves. All these distinctionsmatter. Liberals' mistakes, in general are akin to smoking pot - dopey, but endearingly benign - whereas conservatives' mistakes resemble those resulting from a bourbon binge- leading to all manner of baseless intoxicated triumphalism and a car-wreck or two, often with fatalities, including more-than-a-few innocents, which is the bothersome bit, in what might be an otherwise satisfyingly Darwinian outcome. But the bottom-line is that flexible, but clear-thinking, the public interest, and less-than ideological, outcome-driven result - virtuous prerequisites for societal leadership in modernity will more likely result from the Liberal mind, than the faith-based and parochially-selfish. Please vote accordingly.

For years, my "friend" and I bridged our political differences, though since the abortion of this administration and the realization of this Cassandra's most dire warnings, and the increasing role of "faith" in his politics, I speak and correspond with him less and less. I do not know whether he has tired of defending positions that dangle from "sky-hooks", or whether he, like America, prefers not to confront the embarrassment of what "being so wrong" has brought to the country...

The Virtues Low Key Ownership

"Hey, Great game! "Can you you believe it??!?" "What an upset!" "....Spectacle .... suspense .... and that Eli Manning....!" Blah blah blah ya-da ya-da. In all honesty, even for this philistine who believes that steroid-pumped behemoths slamming into to each other and scrumming toogether in tights and armour for 60 minutes bounded by anal-retentive letter-of-the-rules interpretation and eagle-eyed camera enforcement is rather absurd, the second half admittedly was exciting, though I make no apologies for my cynical opinion regarding the game, the sport, the game of the sport, or is it the sport of the game?

Foul and curmudgeonly critic that I may be, what I found curiously emblematic amidst the post-joust celebration and triumphalism of the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy was the peculiar comfort everyone seems to have with the oxymoron represented by the concept: "Owner of The Team". This seems such a long way from my youth soccer club, or the PAL baseball and basketball leagues with which I grew up, as well as foreign to the university teams and sporting clubs with which I played. I never, in fact, recall being "owned" as such, and rebel that I am, wonder aloud about what it might have meant.

I can tell you I don't know the Mara's (the NY Giant's "owners"). They might be fabulous people. "Ma' Mara, looked a bit uptight on the podium, but its hard to look warm and matronly in Gucci on TV, right?? They might even have had something "hands-on" and endearing to do with enabling the victory (though I harbour my doubts - for many "owners" of professional sports resemble "lucky squatting" monopolists). But like throes of nationalism, and the often-dubious benfits accruing to the median-citizen from its pursuit, there remains a veil between The Team and its fans, and the business interests of The Owner. Some Owners, like perhaps a few enlightened corporations, or benign Lords or Viziers of old, understand the tenousness of the relationship between owners and owned, and the potential for backlash when said relationship is deemed too exploitative. Others are already well-beyond any reasonable indication of their intention.

This tension is always there. The "Game" (however absurd) IS a game of the common man, and the benefits derived by owners therefrom requires buy-in in the form of passion, enthusiasm, and the willingness to either fork over huge sums of money for tickets, parking and memorobilia OR large chunks of time in front of the big-screen TV devouring the finest Madison Ave has to offer. The People's continued buy-in requires - at the least - lip-service and the appearance of sensitivity to issues of capital-labour relations (insuring the Fan doesn't feel similarly exploited in the process). It's hard to be "one of the lads" from The Super Box, emerging to bask in others' glory and collect the spoils. The danger that lurks here is that "The Owners" - or at least those that are not hands-on, salt of the earth-types (like Jeff Lurie of Phila) or rabid charitable enthusiasts, should NOT be center-stage, EVER. Certainly not in public jubiliant celebration. And I suggest this not out of a preference for self-effacing behaviour over racuous triumphalism (though I am more sympathetic to the former), but as a detached observer looking at it from the vantage point of their long-term interests. For while it may remain deterministic that complexity, media, spectacle and finance in modernity are ever more central to professional "Sport" generally, money, monopoly, greed, exploitation of taxpayers for private gain, makes farce of this same "sport" (if this is even possible at this point), exposing The Game itself precisely for what it is (and isn't). So my advice to the "Owners": watch from a distance. Always take a backseat to Club and Team and managers, for it is welll-nigh impossible to appear genuine when you're not.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mein Feuhrer! I can walk!

Volatility on the Big Board and in other financial markets has caused a major international crisis! While merely a symptom of the problems themselves the effects of The Big Board upon people are profound.

Some observers are clearly worried...about the causes....the effects....and both the lack of policy response and the policies themselves. Efforts are made to comfort them, and to alllay their fears and worries to no avail.

An very secret and very important meeting of the monetary chiefs is convened.

Passionate arguments are made for swift and decisive action!

A few lone voices plead for sanity and level-headed reason (See Brad Setser again in moustache)

Despite pleadings, the Charismatic Chairman sways everyone to his action plan

The Decision is made and solemnly delivered.

The die are cast, with some remaining enthusiastic about the course of action until the very.....