From the monthly archives:

February 2009

A sense of despair

February 27, 2009

For once, I agree with Paul Krugman when he writes: There’s so much to like about where Obama is going — health care, transparency in government, ending the war in Iraq. And the stimulus bill is OK, though not big enough. But on the question of fixing the banks, many of us are feeling a […]

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All models are wrong

February 27, 2009

George Box, renowned statistician, acutely observed: Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

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Wilmott on copulas

February 26, 2009

Paul Wilmott has responded ("Copulas and Cults") to the Wired article on copulas I mentioned recently. His tone is grave: "Far more serious, because it extends to all of finance not just to a single model, is the poor education that people get in university financial engineering programs and also the blind-following-the-blind behaviour that is […]

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Bank of America?

February 26, 2009

Excellent graphic from the NYTimes magzine article, "More Than One Way to Take Over a Bank:"

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RIAA just can't get it together

February 26, 2009

MB makes an excellent point on "why everyone hates the music industry." I could not agree more. Is there any more idiotic corporate group? Oh... yes.

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More homes!

February 24, 2009

Excerpt from Obama's speech to Congress: That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, […]

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Or perhaps his aim

February 24, 2009

All this talk of models and their interpretation reminds me of a saying: Sometimes the problem is not the arrow, but the Indian.

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Signs of the apocalypse

February 24, 2009

Wired has published an article attacking the Gaussian copula: Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street. It's a very typical "hate the game, not the player" article which finds fault with a tool rather than the people who use it. Not that I completely disagree with the critique - but imagine my surprise […]

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About those things I said before...

February 24, 2009

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the same greedy, irresponsible, "shameful" people who got us into this mess are the same ones Obama is relying on to get us out?  They may call it "private money" but the reality is that taxpayers are going to subsidize loans allowing Wall Street et al. to […]

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The Tragedy of Citigroup, in III Acts

February 23, 2009

Deus ex machina, literally "god from the machine," refers to a literary device in which a miraculous turn of events occur, solving a conflict. The origin of the phrase is from ancient Greek theatre (though, they probably said it in Greek), in which actors portraying gods were lowered to the stage via crane (hence, a […]

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Deus Ex Machina

February 23, 2009

Paul Krugman's new opinion, "Banking on the Brink," contains an excellent point: The real question is why the Obama administration keeps coming up with proposals that sound like possible alternatives to nationalization, but turn out to involve huge handouts to bank stockholders. He follows it up with a bizarre one: What we want is a […]

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Is this the bottom?

February 23, 2009

It's sort of like when little kids ask, "Are we there yet?" over and over and over: www.IsThisTheBottom.com

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Commerce Curse?

February 12, 2009

Two gone: Gregg Ends Bid for Commerce Job, Citing Conflicts. And even Huff is raising doubts: Judd Gregg Withdrawal Sparks New Vetting Concerns.

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Just answer the questions, Mr. Chairman

February 12, 2009

Barney Frank (D - MA) is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which means he plays quite a role in analyzing the meltdown of 2008.  Yesterday, he led the interrogation of the bank CEO's.  Today, Caroline Baum's Bloomberg column hypothesized what would transpire if the situation were reversed: Chairman Frank, on July 14, 2008, you made […]

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"We hate you guys."

February 12, 2009

Update!  The FT is reporting that China will buy treasuries after all, according to Luo Ping, a director-general at the China Banking Regulatory Commission: “Except for US Treasuries, what can you hold?” he asked. “Gold? You don’t hold Japanese government bonds or UK bonds. US Treasuries are the safe haven. For everyone, including China, it is the […]

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Something about a pot and a kettle

February 12, 2009

In his confirmation hearing (pdf link), Tim Geithner made the bizarre and potentially embarrasing statement: President Obama - backed by the conclusions of a broad range of economists - believes that China is manipulating its currency. President Obama has pledged as President to use aggressively all the diplomatic avenues open to him to seek change in China's currency practice. […]

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Don't buy stuff you cannot afford

February 11, 2009

Older but great clip from SNL:

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A Few Greedy Men

February 11, 2009

Classic email I received from R (and if you don't know, now you know): I picture the following dramatic scene unfolding later today: Barney Frank: What did Paulson tell you? Ken Lewis: [stonefaced] Barney Frank: WHAT DID PAULSON SAY TO YOU IN YOUR MEETING IN MID-DECEMBER? Ken Lewis: You want answers? Barney Frank: I think […]

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But names will never hurt me

February 11, 2009

There is a fascinating debate raging right now among the world's most prominent economists, who are kicking and screaming at each other across newspaper columns, interviews, and their personal blogs. The diatribe was ignited by this January 22 opinion in the WSJ by the esteemed Robert Barro, whose class I was fortunate enough to attend one […]

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The sound of a million MobileMe subscribers screaming

February 10, 2009

Google has released a beta of Google Sync for Mobile which includes support for various smartphones including the iPhone. Previously, only Blackberries were supported.  The beta, which was announced this morning on the Google Mobile blog, introduces true push syncing for Google calendar and Google contacts. In my mind, this is the nail in the […]

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Ella-ella-ella, eh-eh-eh

February 10, 2009

One of the first pictures I ever took with a film SLR, way back when:

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Thoughts on Obama's first primetime press conference

February 9, 2009

Remember this, the controversial "3am phone call" ad? How about this response? Last Thursday, President Obama wrote an opinion for the Washington Post which contained the following paragraph: And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will […]

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NYC Winter

February 7, 2009

Four shots from the last big snow (click to enlarge):       

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Two Taxis

February 7, 2009
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Let's focus on what really matters

February 6, 2009

George W. Bush's former Chief of Staff, Andrew H. Card, Jr., has a request for President Obama: "I wish that he would wear a suit coat and tie." Just last week, the NYTimes reported on Obama's relaxed Oval Office dress code.  The article retells a famous story about President #43, whose adherence to formal dress […]

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Hedging their bets?

February 6, 2009

Here is the front page of MarketWatch around noon today: Click the image to zoom in on the two most popular stories of the day...

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Is this a joke?

February 6, 2009

And Solis makes four: Solis Senate Session Postponed in Wake of Husband's Tax Lien Revelations.

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Everything you always wanted to know about desaturation (but weren't bored enough to ask)

February 5, 2009

A casual overview of how color images may be converted to grayscale.

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On the legitimization of terror

February 4, 2009

An excellent and moving piece by the father of Daniel Pearl, the WSJ reporter who was brutally murdered seven years ago: Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil. Neither [Daniel], nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South […]

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I Lego N.Y.

February 3, 2009

Thought this photoessay was great, from today's NYT.

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