Saturday, 29 November 2008

Flippers or wings or something please...

Miss Marketcrash is confused.  Why is the market going up as we are going down?  Or is the big black cloud of news facts and figures only over the head of Miss Marketcrash?  Does anyone else read?  What are they reading?  Is Miss Marketcrash reading the wrong things???


I mean really.  Did everyone just decide bad news was good news?  Ok.  I must be mistaken. The market pulled itself together somewhat last week and sauntered along, humming a happy little song.  Birds twittered.  Markets all in all ended up even though they are down.  The Dow made its biggest 5 day percentage gain since 1932.  Oh dear.  1932.  

Miss Marketcrash thinks of it all as a big evolving system.  In the midst of a big species change. Miss Marketcrash clearly remembers falling asleep last night after the drinks party only to be interrupted by a loud thunderous voice reverberating around the inside of her head.  Darwin was booming  "Evolve yourself quickly, lest you get left in the dark gloamy swamp".  

Ah...yes...we clearly and most sincerely need...a new Special Edition Great Depression Version of the Sims right now.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The price of things...

This evening, Miss Marketcrash is off to a holiday drinks party with the posh parents from that school that we pay for child number two to attend.  As some of you may remember, child number one has recently been pulled from his lovely sweet school and placed in the state school due to ummm....circumstances.  This week, a letter from the school arrived asking us if we would be so kind as to pay half the terms fees as a compromise from January until Easter whilst our child is not there and attending the free state school.   Well - a glance at the markets tells me I could propose a compromise of my own. Perhaps I could propose trading shares to cover my debt - a scheme modeled on the goings on in America?  Yes...I could volunteer to give them 285 shares of Citigroup.  Alas, I think they would rather take back my child for free than be burdened with Citigroup shares.

And that is what the market thinks of the burden as well.  The cost of buying a CDS - the price one is willing to pay to insure against the U.S. Government defaulting on its debt is sky-high these days.  If you are new to all this - I'll try to explain without spinning your head around -very simply -  the rising cost of a cds reflects the idea that default is a realistic proposition.    In fact, the cost of these little bullies are almost three times higher than on the Dawn-of -Doom in September when Lehman collapsed.  Indeed, the cost has risen astronomically in past few days as the world has digested the terms of the Citigroup bailout...

I must admit I kind of love the sheer folly of the idea that there exists such a thing as a U.S. Gov't CDS.   But what is really astonishing is that one share of Citigroup won't even buy you a pint of beer these days...never mind a G&T...

Not that I drink of course.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Wake up to Opportunity

Missmarketcrash is honoring the Thanksgiving holiday here in London with some shopping suggestions.  I shall bring you to one of my favorite American shops - the  Did you know they are having a sale?  Up to 70% off on many items. Let's head straight to the sales.  How about:

One of my favorites - 
A glass mug engraved with the phrase "Wake up to Opportunity"...on sale for $3.99

or, the comical speedy robber - 
A Bank of America Mug on Wheels is discounted to $2.99

or, for the nostalgic and sentimental - 
A  Bank of America Charm Bracelet is discounted to 24.99

and last but not least, the useful self-explanatory -
100 U.S. Trust cocktail napkins for $5.25

All amazing gifts at very good prices.

Happy Thanksgiving, 


Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The untidy algorithm...

When the economists start to develop a sense of humor, well, then you know it is pretty much all over.  Economists have a peculiar sense of humor, but, a look at any writings by economists usually is of the dry tedious sort that would make good bedtime reading to children who need to be punished.  Looking forward and looking back are two things economists do to ascertain a sense of reality.  At the moment, neither is a fruitful enterprise as backward is steeped in nostalgia and old-fashioned ways for when banks were, well -- banks, and, markets were markets.  Looking forward is what one an economist does after looking backward and umm...forward.  But, my, how mind-shifting it is to look backward and forward from the perspective of the current  immediate present which one can see as a sort of pair of rose-tinted glasses that have just shattered.  And maybe you just want to cross the street and forward and backward are not helping with that.  Worst of all, looking left and right just places the untidy politics algorithm in the middle of it all.

LeftwardRightward (guessstate, sequenceindex):
if sequenceindex is past the end of the sequence, return 1
if (guessstate, sequenceindex) has been seen before, return saved result
result - 0
for each neighboring state n:
result = result + (transition probability from guessstate to n given observation element at sequenceindex)*LeftwardRightward (n, sequenceIndex + 1)
save result for (guessState, sequenceIndex)
return result

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


From Wikipedia:
171 is an odd natural number between 170 and 172.
171 is a Harshad number, divisible by the sum of its digits.
171 is a palindromic number and an undulating number.
171 is a triangular number and a 13-gonal and 58-gonal number.
171 is a repdigit in base 7.

And from the FDIC:
171 is the number of banks which are currently on the FDIC list of unstable banks....
And an unreliable source says Citibank was not on that list...


Missmarketcrash has a fan letter this morning.  A friend who is still employed at an Investment bank writes...

"Dear Missmarketcrash;

I want optimism!  Innocent naivete has a lot going for it, dish yourself up a spoonful on me this morning if there is any laying about.  "

Deep Breath....
It was a magnificent pie-in-the-sky all-sun-shining day yesterday for the European markets.  Up around 9/10% in most spots.  Across the glistening waters on American shores of freshly cut grass, the markets swooned upward and forward in a happy-go-lucky fashion.  Speaking of happy-go-lucky --  have you seen that Mike Leigh film?  It gave a bad name to innocent naivete - the character was so daft and kept falling into dangerous situations without realizing it.  Insert your thoughts here - but do extrapolate a bit and go beyond yourself....

It is a difficult thing to have innocent naivete and a bit of intelligence at the same time.  But, that is precisely what the world is demanding of us at this fast-forwarding moment. That might just help see us through.  Perhaps we need something along the lines of a Japanese anime girl character with fluttery eyelashes to sit in the spot on the television where the deaf interpreter is usually featured.  She could have magic powers from catching falling cartoon dollars which she could on occasion, giddily throw up in the air, and then shyly wink at you with a nice innocent flirt...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Opportunities ahead...

Ah...the Prime Minister's speech...I've always a weakness for a Scotsman - I married a man-of-the-kilt born not far from where Mr. Brown was born.  But - they could not be more different from one another.  Mr. Brown is really good at these fiscal things, whereas my husband does not really do much regarding fiscal things, save read the Economist.  So what did Mr. Brown say?  Lots of things about extraordinary measures and extraordinary times...and that creativity and entrepreneurship will help lead the U.K. into opportunities ahead in the new Global economy.  Creativity is certainly needed to understand the situation.  Does anyone understand yet the extent of the damage to the entire global financial system?  Thankfully not.  Let's keep it that way.  Let's sing and dance and top-of-the-pops our way out of it and entertain the world when the world could use some entertainment.

I've had a phrase stuck in my head for about a month now.  "The Silver Lining".  Indeed.  The impoverished town of Glasgow where Mr. Brown was born has always been a hive of creativity and is home to successful artists known worldwide - 

The Silver Lining could be just that.  More artists, writers, musicians and less bankers. But will that work?  I think we'll have to keep a few bankers along for the ride into the beautiful global future.  But could someone please tell America that they haven't given Citibank enough cash? Leading economists in the world see a massive amount of folly in the amount of aid offered. (See  Leading economists would probably suggest the bankers will need another handout in the of violins and guitars and other instruments to busk with in the tube and subway stations around the world...

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Jolly Displeased....

Whilst Citigroup is almost old news, it will probably be making very large news tomorrow. Hence the mood of this house, and, of the lovely pink FT.  From the title of one of the fluff articles and the tone of the rest of the paper -- Jolly Displeased is the mood de jour.  

I began my day today in Mayfair, having brunch with the children.  Lest you think we've lost our frugal minds, brunch was courtesy of a family relative, a widower who a few years ago inherited a rather dauntingly large family business to look after and has done quite a brilliant job of it all.  At the same time she has raised an adopted son who is now 16 and was a welcome addition to the brunch table as he could hold a conversation with us and simultaneously keep my children enthralled.  Even I cannot do that.   After brunch we waltzed through the Tate Modern. For a day that started with the first magical snowflakes we'd seen and went on to more marvelous things, well, you would think we could shake the gloom.  But the conversation did not waver much from The Gloom and The Doom.

The understanding I had reached about the state of things quite a long time ago is now the prevailing mood.  So where does that take us?  Is it mood capitulation or is it something far far worse???   

Citigroup is somewhat like that big spider in the Tate turbine hall - it is sitting menacingly overhead, interrupting my brain.  It has been doing so for quite a while.  "We make money the old-fashioned way, we earn it" was an old Smith Barney ad featuring a dishevelled eyebrowed fellow.  It always made me laugh and conveyed a bit of a winking sincerity on the part of Smith Barney, and now, well, he just looks very very sad and very very tired.

Friday, 21 November 2008

The Best Bank

Through the post with a resounding thud this morning comes a Special Admissions Ticket to an event held at the rather glamourous sounding Palmetto Ballroom.  But, alas, it is not a glamorous ticket but rather a ticket to attend a meeting for the proposed merger of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.  Still looking for a glamourous angle I look up the location online.  If I were to spend my last pennies on attending I would be able to do a bit of shopping at the important sounding International Trade Center where the Palmetto Ballroom is located.  I could go to "Belle Ville" and buy some "Chic European womenswear".  I know I should not say it, but, I do wonder what North Carolina's idea of "Chic European" is.  Or - oh - I could go to the Bank of America Store and buy hats, keychains, mugs branded with the BoA logo.  Feeling giddy with it all, I press the link for the BoA store.  Amazing.  They have an online merchandising shop -  It is an interesting array of toys for what presumably would be the children of American bankers.  Tumbling Towers wooden blocks game, a travel-sized naval battle game, a disfunctional looking yo-yo, and best of all, a piggy bank...

I've spent weeks researching banks and here is the best one found before my very eyes.  It has a cork in its nose to keep the money from falling out...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Strictly come spending...

After the U.S. markets closed yesterday I turned the BBC Live News on to see what they had to say about it all.  Well...they were much like my dear friends on the matter - they were on the glass half-full side and discussing "Strictly Come Dancing" and John Sergeant's departure.  In that moment, I decided I do love the BBC.  The truth of the matter is, if they had put economists on to discuss the markets it would likely have been just as meaningless as the SCD debate (Yes - acronyms seem necessary when dealing with an economics blog).  MissMarketCrash loves economists, but, truly, what they say today makes little difference when we are on a high speed trip down the whirlpool and things are changing by the second. But, non-the-less, I'd rather see a sexy economist than talk about Strictly Come Dancing.  Oh dear -- do not run away dear on, I am indeed capable of escapism...

Now that there is not much left in the way of a reliable reality, I look at my children as if they could be Charlie, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Not to win a golden ticket, but, more importantly, to be sheltered from the gloom and doom surrounding us.  I remember most clearly the message of the movie was about being able to shape your own version of reality - that how the world was was to a large degree shaped by how you perceived it.  Now that is heavy philosophy 101 stuff but it was more or less a light-hearted song about candy which conveyed it to me at a young age: 

"If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to do, do it.
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it."

After I got over a very lengthy childhood crush on Jean Wilder I grew up and umm...that little song was embedded in me.  It was no doubt an American thing which has been post-modernly translated into Nike's "Just do it" ad campaign.

Now how to keep the next generation on the sunny-side can-do side of the street?  The economists should curb talking to the government and go straight to Hollywood for some reality-shaping.  But I think that is what Hitler did.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


It is that time of the evening in London where the obsessive MissMarketCrash is watching the U.S. markets close, wine glass in hand of course.  And out of the corner of my eye, I read that Citigroup shares are involved in their largest one day drop. Curious, well, not just curious but with ummm...concern -  I see that the share price is 6.66.  Oh dear. 

And with my other eye as I have taken to multiple screens which give the illusion of knowing and being in control of it all I read of the largest U.S. consumer price drop and predictions from another U.S. government acronym about the length of the "slump" being well over a year...

And to watch the close of the U.S. markets tonight is going to require more wine I think.  I'd ordered 120 bottles of cheap (but luscious) bergerac a week or so ago from a friend of a friend to see us through these difficult times and insure we'd still have drink when the markets crashed completely...well - they've done that, but really truly most sincerely crashed is what I mean...

It must be time to chase down that order and make sure it is in the cellar promptly...but from the looks of things this evening, it might be too late...

Things that ooze goodness....

A few weeks ago the posh mums descended upon Sainsbury's to buy half-price toys for the children.  I missed the scrum, but, wandered in a week or so later and bought up a bunch of things to have on hand for the endless birthday parties held in exotic locales, like cricket grounds, pirate ships, and theatres to name a few of the venues on offer this month.  My children's favorite parties thus far have been the one held under-a-tree-in-the-park-in-the-pouring-rain-with-fish-and-chips, and the other in a house where the mum was in charge of some nice old-fashioned games.  It is not really economics or themes or activities that dictate what my children like - I think it is the opportunity to freely play and express themselves rather than being bossed about by a clown.  But all children are different. And I myself would sooner hire a boatful of people in charge than take charge myself as children still often terrify me.  But off topic I stray again - get back in the car, we are going to Sainsbury's....

In a small section of the pink paper today it says that Lord Sainsbury is donating 82m for plant research to a lab at Cambridge.  120 Scientists and some plants collected by Darwin will be found in the new lab.   My toy purchases are now legitimized - almost every tangent radiating from the above sentence oozes goodness.  Gosh - the plastic they were all made from must be almost classified organic with that announcement!

Jokes aside, it is lovely to read of charity in the midst of this mess.  

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Some more hollywood style scandal and distraction....

Ah.  this is what it all needs.  Let's say you've written a script on it all (you know - the great economy saga)  for Hollywood and when you pitch it, everyone moans and groans and says you need to spice it up a bit.  Enter Mark Cuban. Now here is a perfect script.  Big personality charged with insider trading.  And then the plot thickens.  But who on earth has thickened the plot? Imagine this...he had recently started a blog to keep track of the fed and which banks were being bailed.  ( Ah...but why?  Ulterior motives?  His?  Theirs?  Rather than rehash all of this, I invite you to read his wikipedia profile and see what else you can find.  I cannot begin to write it all, as it seems a snarl of fiction/non-fiction.  Perfect Hollywood stuff.  He's even acted in a few films, not to mention the ones he has backed...which are even more conspiracy-theory laden...

And this is all a bit gossipy and off topic for me.  Better to leave the school gates quickly I think.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Appearances are not everything...

Maybe it is the slight flu I have, but, it all seems like a big subliminal ad for Missoni...all those zigs and zags in different slightly off-putting hues in the market charts have danced before my weary eyes as I lay in bed concentrating on not sleeping.  Last night I was busy with that, and, wondering what son number one would wear to the cricket birthday party today at the Oval since his white trousers hadn't been mended yet and it was cold, too cold and he is catching a cold...

Cricket is one of those sports that has "Laws" for its governing principles.  Not statements of intent or general pr like the g-20 statement - no - cricket has laws.  I don't mean to say that is a good thing or a bad thing but rather that it is an unusual thing - it has a governing structure outside of the norm which is generally found in sport....And it has lovely outfits unlike my Son's new state school uniform which seems more suited to PE than everyday wear.  "Dear Sirs, I am writing to let you know that ____ will not be returning to your school after the half-term..."...I can still picture him in his lovely blazer and ugly tie, shorts and tall socks... 

But - appearances are not everything.  And that is the consensus on the G-20 - the issued statement and utterances by the leaders gave an appearance of unity...just an appearance. Which should work in the old reality, but, the new reality demands concrete things - and fast.  But let's call it a preamble and a good start in establishing "The Spirit of the Game"...

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Because he sounds like Jack Nicholson...

Because my Financial Advisor sounds like Jack Nicholson is not the reason I am with him.  Sure - he has several things in common with Jack besides that voice which I love to hear on the other end of the phone - he lives in L.A., he is married to a sexy actress and like Jack, he took a good long while to settle down.  A number of weeks ago I had a chat with Jack.  Jack was playing one of his more neurotic menacing characters and our conversation was not unlike the chicken sandwich scene from the movie Five Easy Pieces.  Except - role reversal - I was Jack, and Jack was the stroppy waitress who loathed me.  In the end, I got what I wanted and did not even have to tell him to stick the chicken between his knees.

That would be terribly rude.  My youngest child had show-and-tell last friday and chose to bring in his book on table manners.  Terribly funny from a boy who has a hard time sitting at the table.  I asked him why he wanted to bring in his little book and he said in a perfectly deadpan-kind-of-way "because I like table manners".  Almost the way Jack would have said it.

But - I digress.  I do have the toast.  The toast is going to be changed into sterling and I thought it worth a bit more of a wait.  But - the toast is burning!  And I do not mean California which is also on fire as we speak.  Actually, it is not the toast, but, rather the toaster which is looking alarmingly has looked wrong for a good long time but is really rather really wrong according to rumors....

Friday, 14 November 2008

Capitalizing on things...

At the school gates, there are a few Carla Bruni types amongst the mums.  No doubt these will be the gals that weather the current economy with aplomb.  France has sidestepped recession status, unlike much of Europe.  Of course, France will gloat a bit.  I do think this will all be short-lived. The G-20 has characters somewhat similar to the school mum crowd.  The capitalistic bombastic bully, the diligent well-educated bore, the utterly-devoted-tunnel-vision type, the social climber, the quick study, the head-girl...

"If we are facing the most serious crisis in the world economy since the Great Depression (and why is that always capitalized?) then we need to take a lot of possible unorthodox and special steps" was uttered (except that bit in the curves) by Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Ah.  What is missing now is the Party girl, the glass-half-full one, your best pal...where oh where has she gone???  It just won't be the same without her.

G-20 Faith

There seems to be much positive anticipation of the G-20 summit meeting today which really began yesterday with a dinner last night.  I want to know is what the menu was.  Something powerful and rich, with a little emerging nation flavor thrown in. But nothing Swiss as no one from Hong Kong, Singapore or Switzerland is in attendance. I'm off to a quiz night for charity this evening with the posh bunch so I'll ask for some imaginary menu ideas from the we-love-Delia set.

Back on the state school front, I'm now sure after thinking about the makeup of powerful world committees I've pinpointed what is missing from the state diversity. Those who can play violin at the age of two and do kumon maths every morning before school are simply not there. They are still at the posh school, miles ahead of the other children, approaching everything with disciplined diligence.  

No wonder the posh school is teaching everyone Mandarin.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Under the Hedge....

George Soros said "we are in a deep recession and a depression could not be ruled out" this afternoon while I was cooking the-dinner-featuring-a-lot-of-potatoes.  The Swedish au pair, bless her, ate heartily and did not blink an eye at my frugal meal.  The markets also pretended all was well and AS WE SPEAK it is UP 400 points.  But there are 23 minutes left, and, anything could happen at this point.  Mr. Soros also threw in some nice commentary about hedge funds imploding - things we knew that have been mouldering quietly at the back of the fridge silently.  

I tend to like Mr. Soros, more than Mr. Buffett. But Mr. Buffett's reassuring comments a few weeks ago inspired the markets to dive about 10%.  And the bleak statements by Mr. Soros have made the markets surge.

I am certainly feeling rather stable in comparison.

Kuwait Stock Market Closed by Courts

Miss Make do and Mend has had a hoarding instinct of late - saving little scraps of tinfoil, wondering what to do with elastic bands...the kind of obsessive panic that should really be put to good use, or, hidden.  These little panic moments are coming more often throughout the day - especially with news like this:

Kuwait Stock Market Closed by Courts

Yes.  Closed by courts.  Until the 17th of November.  The traders cheered.

I think I shall now take inventory of all said small scraps in our house and make a shrine to "Life As It Used To Be".

Make do and Mend...

After a jolly month of transferring some of the children out of the posh school and into the local state school, Miss Make do and Mend, well, has a lot to write about!  In a small London village such as ours, well, such a move was the talk of the town.  Long faces, hungry for gossip would lunge toward the poppets and I on the playground and speak in that hushed tone reserved for obituaries and such.  The big question of course, was, could we still be posh?  Could they speak to us ever again?   Having one child in the most coveted state school and the other in the private prep made us - "interesting".  In other words -- Social Confusion reigns! Miss Make do and Mend finds it all quite an entertaining parody of the British class system and promises to report with diligence.  Along the way, a sprinkling of juicy market morsels and facts which obsess me to no end will appear.  For instance, did you know one could buy a credit derivative swap on the US Government? can bet on its demise and profit on it disappearing.  The most interesting part of that is - well - the price of the swaps are getting higher...more are thinking that it will indeed fold and wither like a dehydrated dinosaur....