Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Smugness is Out...

"Smugness is out" said a posh mum at the little one's swim lesson.  Has smugness ever been acceptable?  I think not.  

France seems rather smug this morning.  The self-satisfaction of being perfectly not-to-blame for anything happening in the global economy is casting an annoying glow. France's point of needing more than just rhetoric to emerge from the G20 meeting is a valid one, but, seems to be provocative rather than consensus-building with their threat to walk away.  The ethnographer in the lovely rowing video needs to have a word with the G20 team. 

Could you just imagine all those world leaders in a boat going down the Thames???

Monday, 30 March 2009

Competition and Collaboration

It has great music, fantastic footage, a captivating narrator, and a good point. But I wish he said more. Call me difficult...

Yes I am indeed worried.

Two pictures, same place.  One by Google street view, the other by The Convergence Crew, a group of anarchists who have taken over a disused pub in Shoreditch/Hackney as a base for the upcoming G20 protest.  On a wry note, the building has been for sale since last summer when Google street view was filming.  Personally, I miss the yellow cat.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

English Frogs

It is the Easter Holidays and with the children home, the blog might be on the light side for the next three weeks.  Pity - it looks like a doozy of a week.  This morning, CEO Rick Wagoner was ousted from GM.  The markets are spinning downward and the G20 meetings are about to begin.  And I am off to look at newly hatched frogs.  Watching the new beginnings of a metamorphic creature will no doubt be inspirational this week as things teeter and totter.

The common english frog is a cannibal.  Tadpoles will eat the other tadpoles who sprout legs before they do.  Which seems antithetical to evolution as it insures late developers will race ahead of the earlier developers.  This process no doubt has mirrors in the corporate world. 

With it looking more likely that bankruptcy and nationalization are paths for many of the large tottering companies, this metamorphic process will create new creatures.  New corporate forms have already evolved - these are now known under the media-affectionate label "Zombie".  Will these new forms then sit around and cannibalize eachother?  Not likely, but, they will no doubt affect the well-being of other more able companies that remain in original form.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Gem of Tanzania Part II

The Gem of Tanzania is featured in today's FT.  More of the story is pieced together and a bit of movie style enhancement is included.  The stone's original owner, Trevor Michael Hart-Jones is quoted saying

"The stone is jinxed"..."It was bad luck and from the moment I bought it everything went wrong".

Did you know Missmarketcrash is a certified Gemologist?  Back in the early 90's during the recession I was unemployed.  I applied week after week for this and that.  Growing despondent, I invented a game to keep motivated whilst looking for a job. Each week, I would pick the job I was most unqualified for, and, re-write my resume and cover letter.  It provided good relief and a few laughs.  Until they called.  The Gemological Institute of America phoned to arrange an interview.  I kept a straight face whilst on the phone, and then, burst into laughter.  

Off I went to the interview on 47th Street, Diamond Row.  A very subtle door led through a labyrinth of security.  I was given a series of tests in a dimly lit room.  One involved a row of 12 diamonds, others involved different coloured pegs.  And there was a psychological exam.  A week later, I was called in for a second interview.  I accepted the job with a straight face though I was still in it for a lark.  Whilst employed I powered through a bunch of courses and became a certified gemologist.  It was a very odd world.  I evaluated stones from Christies and Sotheby's as well as from a host of diamond dealers.  Much of the job was spent in a dark room with a microscope, but, once a week we worked the front office and took gems in from the customers.  The dealers were primarily Hasidic Jews and the most marvelous things would emerge from pockets wrapped up in paper packets.  Once, a dealer lifted up his son's yamulke and plucked an astonishingly large blue star sapphire from underneath and handed it over.

Now.  Value is something that is never assigned by any expert gemologist.  A gemologist is concerned with the quality of gems, never the worth.  An uncut stone may be called a derivative product as its value is dependent on the value of it being something else.  And that something else is a bunch of cut stones.  The uncut stone can be best assessed by a master cutter rather than a gemologist, or an insurer.  At the end of the FT article, the original mine suggests that its value may well be accurate if it were cut unto hundreds of smaller jewels.  So, does the mine know it is not of sufficient quality to yield one amazing gigantic stone?  Well, you'd have to go ask them a bit more.  If it could be one amazing stone and a few little offcuts, it would deserve the title "The Gem of Tanzania".  But, as it is likely to yield hundreds of ordinary rubies of unknown color and clarity and size, it is perhaps not worthy of a title yet.

However, now that "The Gem of Tanzania" has been declared jinxed, it's value can forever remain in dispute. Somewhat like what has happened to credit default swaps.  Clever move, Mr. Trevor Michael Hart-Jones.

Friday, 27 March 2009


It is Greek God Day at the school attended by child number one.  He wanted to be Hermes, which I thought would be a breeze - a Hermes tie and off he could go.  No mum.  winged hat, sticks with snakes, and silver winged boots were required.  And a toga.  Off he went this morning, running into a friend who had cheated a bit and went as a minotaur.  A boy in a dress is no match for a ferocious minotaur and the face went long.  Luckily, at the school gates, most of the other boys were in togas and the face grew happy again.  Whew.

Hermes is a neat god.  Besides being sporty and a creative inventor of musical instruments he was a friend of all the neer-do-wells in the world and looked after them.  And, he was a psychopomp - a great word that simply means he escorted people to the correct place after death.  Hence the stick with snakes.  I really had Hermes down differently, with visions of Kelly Bags and madly designed scarves swirling through my head.  Now I understand why one needs a Hermes Kelly Bag.  It clearly has the power to transport you and all your sins to the afterlife in a comfortable way.  I would venture to say most female bankers or bankers wives have one or two.  And now the Hermes brand makes complete philosophical sense to me.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The right way out...

Here is a fantastic letter in the New York Times entitled "Dear AIG, I Quit"...

Oh my...

The G20 protests have been organized to begin this Saturday in London, with other events scheduled on the 1, 2nd and 3rd. I was browsing through the latest issue of Timeout this morning and there is surely going to be a large culture clash on the 1st. The London Burlesque festival is hosting a Glitterati Gala that evening in the centre of London. Will these campy exotics reach their show on time when mass mayhem is planned for the city that day by an event known as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"? Moorgate station, Liverpool St. Station, London Bridge and Cannon St. Station are the meeting points for the "horses" and from what I can gather, the protest will try from these locations to reach the Bank of England where a "party" is to be held.

I've led a dull life and never actually seen any Burlesque. But gosh, I've just done some research in the name of good journalism and I can proudly report it is almost worth trying to get the protest cancelled so we can all go see the show. Here is one of the acts promised - 

Ummm....Missmc is a prude and cannot bear to post the video directly -- you'll have to click here for the youtube link.  It is good fun and I do really promise it is fairly tasteful.


On the dreary side, from the BBC...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Re-abstracting the Landscape

Corporate identity of financial institutions is undergoing a flux, to put it mildly.  Corporate identity in days of old was guided by the advertising industry and the field of logo design.  The news now has the upper hand, and, the abstraction of corporate identity runs past those little logos.  A sour pill has sullied the icons of the day.

Citigroup lost (actually, sold) its red umbrella sometime in 2007 and adopted the red arc which now reads as a red (dangerous) small bridge.  AIG has no little corporate abstraction, it stands with its initials.  If pronounced as a word -- "aig" - well, it rhymes with gag and brings to mind a kind of choking yelling noise.  Bank of America has an American flag as landscape, farmer fields on a distinctive curve as it viewed from above, perhaps a corporate jet.  RBS has a geometric tesselation that would make a fine wallpaper - arrows pointing inward to a blank circle...the emptyness of the inside does not read well these days either.

Redesign ideas?  An abstract metamorphosis of these logos will no doubt be coming soon. Colourwise, Missmc recommends out with the red and in with the green.  What else?  American references need to be avoided for a while.  Fonts?  They must get serious.  Times-Roman or something nostalgic.  Perhaps most importantly, all these institutions need to be renamed before they are re-logo'd.  I can see you all smirking with venomous ideas.  Stop that!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang.  After playing Haydn's Symphony no 47 in G (not ING) backward, forward and in various orders last evening, I found the insight necessary to digest yesterday's rather large stock market rise.  And it was a simple revelation.  The complexity and opaqueness of the current crisis is so far removed from the understanding of the majority of the world from an intellectual perspective. So it is off to the world of Sturm und Drang for a proper analysis.  Despite the unabashed emotional nature of Haydn's symphony, there is a peculiar complexity at work within the piece.  Within it, the music repeats itself, and then, like a palindrome, does the same thing backward twice.  This bit is sandwiched between the emotionally evocative lively marching in the beginning and some sort of crazed gypsy ending.  

Missmarketcrash is most usually cool and analytical, but, the past few weeks have seen her seep toward a state of Sturm und Drang.  Emotions seem to rule the global state of affairs these days, and, Missmc has tuned into this.  And Haydn's symphony brings it all to clarity.  Marching, marching, marching has been done.  The palindrome is a bit messier as the structure of forward forward, backward backward is still underway in the crisis and it just might shift to forward backward, backward forward before it is all played out.  But, there is that mad gypsy music at the end, a kind of free anarchy that makes one dance too fast to come afterward.  And that will be the interesting part.

Monday, 23 March 2009

The Sound of Music

The hills are alive...but Missmc is still frightened of the real world and unsure.  She might run away from that man and his pronouncements and back to the simple life.  To decide, she will now listen to Haydn's Symphony No. 47 in G backwards. 

(snapshot chart from Marketwatch)

Easter Holidays and the G20 Protests

The children will not be skiing this year for the upcoming Easter Holidays. We will be in London, dear lovely springtime London, playing hide and seek through verdant wood. But we will be housebound for the first week as it looks like April chaos. Three days of anti-everything G-20 demonstrations are planned. Make that four, counting this Saturday. They sound rather large and disruptive. See the article here in the Guardian.  I do think the Guardian is publishing anything they can conjure up with regard to the topic, but, still, there will be much going on.

Missmarketcrash is a coward when it comes to protests.  During the "feminist revolution" Missmc's hippie mum took her to a women's lib demonstration.  I was a keen supporter along with Mum in the beginning of the day.  By the end of the day, I was completely disillusioned.  Too many things were rolled up together, side by side along with Women's Liberation.  Did I have to embrace all these things together?  Of course not.  But the banquet of causes soured the essence of the concept for me.

This coming week looks similar in that it will host a wide range of causes.  What group wouldn't join in to stand under the broad umbrella of outrage currently in the air?

Ugh.  A week having to stay local with the children sounds like a selfish complaint, but, really, I was so keen on showing them the wonders of their own city and making the most of not getting away for the holidays.  I was on a mission to make staying local fun.  Now, with the planned protests cancelling a large part of that idea,  I am feeling rebellious.   I now want to be most extravagant and un-green and hop on a plane....

Postwar Austerity in Britain

This is quite a longish film...If you are a bit rushed, see a touch of the beginning, skip to 6:20, then head to 9:00 or so -- the end is very funny....

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Predictors of Beaconicity

Humour is a funny thing.  Missmarketcrash is amused by the conversation about the "words banned by the LGA" post. Where on earth has everyone's sense of humour gone?  Missmc found the list utterly hilarious.  She also finds the phrase "humour is a funny thing" really really funny.  Especially with the British spelling.

How do some words slip into being a cliche?  And what is a cliche?  Flaubert, in his "Dictionary of Received Ideas" had fun with this notion.  "In its essence", "at a certain point", a word is rendered fairly meaningless and reduced to a puff mushroom.  There it is, and then, pop -- there is nothing left of it.  We "carry on" reading or talking without analysis or thought.  Carry on.  Have you ever stopped to visualize that?  Or dissect it in context?

Many readers demanded a link of proof that there was such a list.  The point was the absurdity of some poor bureaucrat compiling such a list with earnestness, and getting carried away with his listmaking to the extent that ordinary words such as "Welcome" creeped in.  Other words were only a cliche in the world of the bureaucrat and incomprehensible to the public.  Fair enough, but, still funny.  Who would not pause and giggle at a phrase such as "Predictors of Beaconicity"?  The pedantic nature of issuing such guidance reflected back on the notion of bureaucracy itself.  And, that, in itself, is - and here comes the cliche - LOL.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Google Street View

Missmarketcrash has frittered a good part of the morning away looking at the just-launched London version of  Google Street View.  Here is Missmarketcrash's local high street and the line outside the local butcher shop.  A bit dull compared to the image of the puking man and his friend with reindeer antlers that has been making the rounds.  Most of Dulwich has been re-classified as Camberwell by Google street view.  I can hear the locals fainting.  Maybe it is just a reflection of where property prices are headed. 

I ought to be chatting about AIG, bonuses and retroactive taxes, but, it is a philosophical tangle on many levels.  I will say that anger is a weird thing.  If we are collectively in some kind of emotional process in digesting the current economic crisis, anger is one of those things to move forward and beyond.  Missmc has a bit of a plexiglass screen up on the emotional side and is trying to address things purely on an intellectual level.  With that, the examination of human reaction in the media is a topic I am willing to tackle.  After watching Obama on Jay Leno last night, I can say that what works well on the emotional side for people is good comedic timing.

With that, here is the puking man and his reindeer friend.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Something that has everything...

We are in a pause, a lull, a wonderment moment. After yesterday's surprise quantitative easing, the markets are going...o...ahhh...huh? More than a few people have been caught out on the short side by the move. So, now what? It is all wait and see.  Meanwhile, unemployment reports from both the U.K. where I am, and America, where I was, are dim. The American data was announced with a positive flair, but, the data is actually as grim as usual. UK unemployment now tops 2million. There is a handy interactive graph here at the BBC which illustrates the rapidity of this.

Children and markets like surprises.  The lack of press leaks kept the latest plan from being torn to bits before the announcement. Consensus from economists seems to suggest the latest measure is "something that has everything".  Which does not say much, but, the " Just do it" approach seems to give it an agreeable nature.

And what is Missmarketcrash doing?  Glad you asked.  I am planning a birthday party for the soon-to-be eight year old.  We are off to see Monsters vs Aliens in 3D which can't be as scary as my usual day.  We'll finish the party at a favorite Japanese restaurant.  The only bit I cannot figure out is the party bags.  With everything on the economics side still tottering around and about, I feel whatever small thing I put in, it must have genuine long-lasting appeal to justify itself.  I do mean appeal, rather than usefulness.  

On the other hand, it would be nice to have both.  But my expectations are dimmed by everything these days.  Of course, I am still an a-type obsessive - so, back to the grueling search for something that has everything...

Greed and Black Holes...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I'm speechless...

Here in Britain, a list of words have been published that are banned from use by Local Government Authorities.  From A...

across-the-piece, actioned, advocate, agencies, ambassador, area based, area focused, autonomous, baseline, beacon, benchmarking, best practice, blue sky thinking, bottom-up, CAAs, can do culture, capabilities, capacity, capacity building, cascading, cautiously welcome, challenge, champion, citizen empowerment, client, cohesive communities, cohesiveness, collaboration, commissioning, community engagement, compact, conditionality, consensual, contestability, contextual, core developments, core message, core principles, core value, coterminosity, coterminous, cross-cutting, cross-fertilization, customer, democratic legitimacy, democratic mandate, dialogue, direction of travel, distorts spending priorities, double devolution, downstream, early win, edge-fit, embedded, empowerment, enabler, engagement, engaging users, enhance, evidence base, exemplar, external challenge, facilitate, fast-track, flex, flexibilities and freedoms, framework, fulcrum, functionality, funding streams, gateway review, going forward, good practice, governance, holistic, holistic governance, horizon scanning, improvement levers, incentivising, income streams, indicators, initiative, innovative capacity, inspectorates, interdepartmental, interface, iteration, joined up, joint working, LAAs, Level playing field, lever, leverage, localities, lowlights, MAAs, mainstreaming, management capacity, meaningful consultation, meaningful dialogue, mechanisms, menu of options, multi-agency, multidisciplinary, municipalities, network model, normalising, outcomes, output, outsourced, overarching, paradigm, parameter, participatory, partnership working, partnerships, pathfinder, peer challenge, performance network, place shaping, pooled budgets, pooled resources, pooled risk, populace, potentialities, practitioners, predictors of beaconicity, preventative services, prioritization, priority, proactive, process driven, procure, procurement, promulgate, proportionality, protocol, provider vehicles, quantum, quick hit, quick win, rationalisation, rebaselining, reconfigured, resource allocation, revenue streams, risk based, robust, scaled-back, scoping, sector wise, seedbed, self-aggrandizement, service users, shared priority, shell developments, signpost, single conversations, single point of contact, situational, slippage, social contracts, social exclusion, spatial, stakeholder, step change, strategic, strategic priorities, streamlined, sub-regional, subsidiarity, sustainable, sustainable communities, symposium, systematics, taxonomy, tested for soundness, thematic, thinking outside of the box, third sector, toolkit, top-down, trajectory, tranche, transactional, transformational, transparency, upstream, upward trend, utilise, value-added, visionary, welcome, wellbeing, worklessness.

A dictionary of received ideas no doubt.

Obama, Jay Leno and Robot HRP-4C

Think about robots.  The old-fashioned image of robots conjures up squareness, flashing lights, perhaps an incomprehensible sound.  A mechanical automaton, moving on its own accord, perhaps a bit unpredictable.  A certain menace, or, a comedic aura surrounds the idea of robots-of-old.

Now.  Think about banks.  The old-fashioned image of banks brings forth a sturdy imposing building, men in suits, a kind of properness, reliability and authority.  This image is almost gone.  It is hard to recall because that kind of nostalgia has been erased by current events.

Robots have advanced tremendously since inception.  A new image of robots is evolving in the cultural psyche.  This re-mythologizing process is also underway with the concept of banks. Below is a robot design quite unanticipated by the collective imagination.  Even with consideration of all the models of robot-ness the culture has brought forth, the robot shown here on the BBC website catches one by surprise. And so, it is with Banks.  Expectations are changed.  With regard to the latest robot, known as HRP-4C , an unease and distrust is softened by its feminine features.

Reshaping the cultural palatability of banks and financial instututions is a very tough proposition.  Obama is soon stepping into the cultural myth-making world of television to give his best effort on the Jay Leno show, but, it is going to take much much more than that.  

Japan has produced an amazing array of humourous and odd cultural artifacts since their economic crisis.  The angst has transmogrified into a creativity unique to the country.  If America can do the same with its displeasure, it will be something to look forward to. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Making the World a Better Place

Missmarketcrash has been truly inspired by the the idea of the Accountants (FASB) to change the appearance of things at banks to make the world a better place (see preceeding post).  I've just done a bit of improvement to my own image by placing my head on Carla Bruni's body.  I feel much better. This kind of appearance-altering-strategy can work wonders!

Problem Solved.

Missmarketcrash is quite impressed by a new solution to solving the economic crisis. The Financial Accounting Standards Board has come up with a twistedly marvelous solution. I admit I did try and read the original text issued by the FASB and my eyes swam straight to the back of my head and made a slight popping noise. With that, I will just say that I am pleased the whole mess might just be solved by a little accounting derring-do. The Calculated Risk website does a very good job of explaining all here...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Fast Moves....

Pink Slips


Amongst the twitters of birds and blossoms of spring this morning, the financial markets continue their rise upward and onward. What propels such a thing? Faith, the covering of short sales and more faith. It might prove infectious for a short while as those who read markets by consulting models of old stick to theories designed in the past seek the almighty bottom. But it is just not the same anymore and these tricks of the trade are past their sell-by date. Of course, if there are enough believers out there, my skepticism is unwarranted.


The markets are a parallel universe. In literature, the parallel universe device is a much loved favorite. This device was employed long before the many worlds-interpretation of quantum mechanics, but, has flourished since. Religion, myth, literature or theoretical physics often can explain things via parallel universes and differences in time found between places where things happen.

It is akin to a schizophrenic having several personalities who each find their own religion at different phases of their "lives" which guide them through various events that may or may not be real.

Imagine that.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What's coming next and how to get through it...

Which economist would you like to see in one of these shiny suits?

(when viewing, stick through the odd intro - it is worth it...)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Gem of Tanzania

Just when things were becoming slightly comprehensible...here is a gem of a story that twists into the amazing and unbelievable....

Zombie Snails and the Media

Missmarketcrash is back.  Perusing the missed topics of the week, one that seems to have garnered a great deal of attention from both the popular media and some fairly thoughtful websites is that of CNBC vs The Daily Show.  As a non-television watching person, I dismissed the topic and moved on.  But it keeps popping up.

The Daily Show is the showcase for a relative of Missmarketcrash, the comedian Lewis Black.  Lewis and I shared a Brooklyn apartment for a short while long ago when he was in the infancy of career development.  I know a lot about Lewis but far less about television.  Having shared a living space with Lew, I can say that the person on television is different from the person in person.

That's entertainment.  Most of us know that, but, the power of media personalities in shaping human opinion is not a dismissable force.  If there were to be an equivalent to CNBC broadcast in Britain it would not be the popular entertainment vehicle that it is.  It would likely be dry and erudite and feature mini-documentaries on financial topics rather than real-time live banter about the markets.  I can see a show before my very eyes comparing the parasites which invade the zombie snail to the current crisis.

And it would likely have a very small audience.  Back in America, most serious investors dismiss CNBC thought they might keep it on in the corner, muted and watch the quotes fly by.  It is in most trading rooms and a useful thing for listening to speeches on economic policy or to keep up with quick news bulletins.  There is a reasonably large portion of the American population that does tune in to garner information and make financial decisions based on watching the show.  I've been in a New York City Taxi before when the driver was keeping up to date through CNBC and he discussed his investments with me.  The taxi driver took the television show quite seriously and watched it "to know what is going on".   The point is, most people are passive watchers who take information as fact.  I'd say that viewers have a responsiblity to be intelligent viewers.  To know is not enough.

But that requires a very generous utopian view of human intelligence.  And by the way, that zombie snail link is worth clicking.  The things that can invade a brain and shape destiny can take far more gruesome forms than Jim Cramer.

Friday, 13 March 2009


A long history of banter and barbed criticism between the political parties in Britain is the accepted norm, to the amusement of most. Missmarketcrash is not amused. I must admit I do like a bit of the theatrical heckle that Parliament provides. But, this is group theatre. Solo performances with criticism directed at others strike Missmarketcrash as terribly egotistical and unnecessary. For much of the financial crisis, David Cameron has kept up his side of the sport with major barbs directed at Gordon Brown.  Today, Cameron has "admitted he got it wrong" with regard to economic matters. Missmarketcrash eagerly clicked on this BBC article. Expecting a bit of humanity.  Alas, he is still heckling.

I am clearly in the minority and most do take this as good sport.  I am trying.  Perhaps a bit of a costume, some kind of cape, mask, or giant comedic grimace would be of assistance...

I'd be more than happy to design something...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Limited time offer....

Missmarketcrash loves the optimism of this realtor discussing a half-finished bank owned repo in Wisconsin. The bank is proclaiming a special deal limited time offer of 10% off if purchased before April 15th...

Zombies are Welcome

Missmarketcrash thanks everyone for sticking around this week whilst she was in mourning. Did you know I really did just spend six days sleeping in the same house as the corpse of my father-in-law? I must admit I am quite proud of myself for not running away howling in sheer terror. It was a very helpful thing for the other family members to have the corpse and I am pleased that it provided solace for them. And I did survive. Just.

My overactive imagination was not good company for the corpse. You may have been worrying about zombie banks whilst I was away, but, I was faced with visions of real zombies and kept one ear and one eye open whilst sleeping to be sure it did not walk about at night.

I did do a bit of research on the topic of keeping the deceased at home as I was admittedly caught off guard by this practice. It was reasonably common before death rituals became a part of the service industry. Scotland and Ireland are two places where bodies kept at home is still part of the norm. And, I am in Scotland, so this is all good. My overactive imagination aside, it seems a perfectly healthy and reasonable way to handle death. In fact, it is much more palatable than the commodification of death. While surfing this morning, I came across the National Museum of Funeral History which is located in Texas. Their website sums up the capitalistic tendencies of the industry with an on-line gift shop where one can purchase "Undertaker" brand spring water. The fantasy coffins from Ghana are worth a look. The museum takes marketing to an extreme and also offers chocolate coffins. They can even host corporate events. Any bank shareholder meetings looking for a venue? I am certain Zombies are welcome.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Investment firm finds a higher calling...

There seems to be no place on earth available for heaven on earth. The Wall Street Journal gives details in this article, the fantastically titled "Investment Firm finds a Higher Calling"...

Falling off a Cliff

Warren Buffett said today that the U.S. Economy has fallen off a cliff. Here is an animation that gives variations on ways to fall off a cliff. Admittedly, this video is about a "small cliff" but the possibilities are more varied than I had ever imagined...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Blog in Mourning

Missmarketcrash comes from one of those seriously uptight New England families, so, it is with much surprise she is sitting in Glasgow in the midst of what seems to be a really good radio play. It is still a week of mourning, and, Missmc is walking about, cooking and cleaning whilst around her there is the most extraordinary conversation about "our father". Indeed, he is much deserving of this attention.

Outside of all that, there is, of course the end of an era being conducted with regard to economics. Missmarketcrash shall try to transport you from that via a character description of the mourning family as there is really not much else to be offered in mourning seclusion. Avert your eyes or, put on your detached hood. I shall try and give you a parallel if you promise to excuse me. Everyone needs an escape. Call it a one-act play. First, we have the widow. She is a romantic who has chosen to keep the corpse of her beloved departed husband in the house for a week. She is modeling outfits and trying to find the line between sexy and dignified for "the day". In between clothing changes, she goes to kiss the corpse. Next, we have the Son. He is poetic and stoic and offers kindhearted narration to the play. The Daughter is a shadow of the widow. The Small One is limp and languid and cries for the duration. The Son-in-law is gruff, poetic and kind-hearted. And I, the daughter-in-law? The detached pleaser. No I shall not cry but would you like some cake?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

A Love Blog

Missmarketcrash was woken up by birds this morning from-the-place-she-cannot-post-from. In truth, Missmarketcrash is at a family funeral so economics is a far-off subject and will remain so for the duration of the week. Love is today's topic as the romance of the century has been reduced to one remaining partner. With that, here is a romantic poem...I do promise humor will return shortly --

To Know

To know that arc of joy that
chased you through the day flowers
dappled sunshine
narcissus light who leapt inside you
to glimpse himself. Ardour stood, and
then a cartwheel with steady gaze.

You said, stay. together
long shadows will bring morningsong
and as one, we shall see our memories
greet the idle chatter, and, lo,
the melody will be revealed, clear, nectar
repeated on and on.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Blogging Pause....

Missmarketcrash has to dash off for a few days to a place where she cannot post from.   My head will be full of fine things to tell you when I get back.  If the world ends before that, read this...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Green Banks...

Back in this post, Missmarketcrash suggested banks ought to hop on the eco-marketing wagon to cleanse their toxic image.

Well, they have.  BNP Paribas has announced a new GPU-based architecture aimed toward "promoting green computing".  See the green press release here....

Absurd Bank Number 3...

The bank you have to pay to get to the future...does that really work though?

A bit of one's own farm...

Last year, as the lovely vegetables of Daylesford Organic were arriving weekly at Missmarketcrash's city abode, she had a thought.  Farm-share.  She wanted to pitch tent in the countryside on a big plot of land, find some able farmers, and go.  And sell shares of her yummy organic farm to Londoners who could come for weekend visits to sow and hoe and drink Missmarketcrash's luscious organic wine and beer and be a farmer for a day.  Children would run happily chasing rabbits, mums would contribute recipes to the farmshare blog, perhaps even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would stop by and film a television segment and help with promotion.  And, when the shareholders were not pitched up for the weekend in shabby-chic treehouses, they would be home, consuming their boxes from the farm which would be sent in exchange for those shares.  With a bit more boring thought on the accounting side, it would all run swimmingly.  The trend of  knowing one's food source combined with the prospect of a weekend romp in the countryside, the prestige of having a bit of one's own farm...it all sounded ideal.

But, of course, the task of motherhood and financial management and other distractions-that-used-to-be-called-career swept Missmc away from empire-building and good ideas.  All has not been lost.  Missmarketcrash has just been given a coveted share of an allotment in a fantastic local spot.  It comes with the free guidance of Jamie Oliver's previous gardener and a community of gardening zealots.  Perhaps this is just the first bit of research toward a good idea.  If you would like to take the farm-share idea and run with it, it is yours. Of course, I'd like a few preferred shares in exchange.  We could have a delightful weekend together.

* A brilliant less-capitalistic version of this is already underway in the U.K., termed Landshare...see here...This works well in the U.K., but, I imagine the model above is the only model that would work in the USA...as it seems necessary to avoid anything with a nationalistic aura!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Transubstantiation of complex convolutions of random variables...

I wish I could have written that...

See it here...

Island Tameness

Insuring the survival of the things we are most afraid of flies in the face of human reason.  The introduction of credit default swaps to our world economy may have a parallel in the ecological world, in the theories which abound on the topic of ecological naivete.  The "animals without predators have no fear" problem.  But can animals learn fear?  Studies show that they can.  But not fast enough.  So, what prevents a Dodo event?  Either isolating these species onto their own island, or, eradicating the predator.  

So.  The isolated island thing would be loosely in keeping with the bad bank proposals when it comes to credit default swaps.  Or, can they be killed off?  It is a faulty analogy (and reversed) because credit default swaps do have predators.  But, the predators are human.  Or algorithms. Or, it is all vice-versa.  So then, what to do with a naive predator whose prey is also the predator?  Now we are on an island of tangled snakes eating their own tails as the logic circles and entwines.  Apologies.

Perhaps the CDS market can evolve so it stops engineering its own demise.  Fast evolution is something that can be done to financial products faster than evolution in the scientific world. World events have just shown this to be true.

Monday, 2 March 2009

And now, back to the cricket...

When the BBC actually mentions the stock market, you know it must be horrid. In general, one would never actually know there is a stock market anywhere in the world if your news source was limited to BBC online. It is actually a refreshing thing not to have it considered part of one's daily life.  Today, "Stocks plunge on Financial Fears" is planted in the dot-center. I do remember tuning into the BBC news one evening last year on one of the larger plunge days to hear the market news. They said, "Markets are down across the world. And now, the sports news." Or something to that effect.

When London had bombings a few years ago, much the same happened. "Bombs have gone off in several London locations. And now, back to the cricket".

So, with the market news front and center, what is a girl to think? Clearly, it is time to think about cricket. Or, tennis, or Dylan Thomas, or fashion.

On a day when most of the world markets are down between 4-6%, AIG is up.  On that note, back to the cricket...


Missmarketcrash had a glimpse of the future turning when she was invited to an 80's revival party last spring. Today, as the spring fashion is laid before us, the 80's look is everywhere and bad fashion is in vogue. No. This moment is missed. The clothes were designed and ordered, and, the world fast-forwarded past the 80's moment, leaving these collections behind. The 80's revival look is already over before it has begun. Economics will do that.

Stone-washed and distressed jeans remain a no-no even though I do like a bit of irony. The "bad fashion" movement of curiously mis-matched better suits missmc who has been "shopping in the archives" of her own closet as of late. Accidental dressing, like mixing metaphors, is a breeze for missmc.

But, what else is on offer? A curious trend of nude colored things and sheer things. Perhaps the "emperor's new clothes" style is more appropriate for the moment. This trend is already established and firmly in place with Lady ga-ga who goes wandering about in her knickers. And hey, a bit of nudity or faux nudity could cheer us all up.

I for one will be sporting some rather large pink sunglasses. And yes, they will have rose-colored lenses. I've already been painting my fingernails nude, which makes them disappear in an elegantly perverse way. Yes. The "Emperor's New Clothes" trend is more aligned ideologically with the banking thing and is clearly the way to go this season. But with debate on government actions in the air, maybe I ought to get that Margaret Thatcher t-shirt out again to stir things up...

Propaganda about Propaganda

repeat three times, "Nationalization" is hereafter to be known as "Government Stake"....

I love the circularity of Propaganda about Propaganda.

St. David's Day

Missmarketcrash ignored her good name this morning whilst the markets were crashing about and went off to a tennis lesson.  Highly recommended.  Instead of the static buzz of gloom and doom, the boyish D. worked on Missmc's serve and entertained her with conversation.  About what?  St. David's Day of course.  St. David's Day was yesterday and, at the tennis club, Dylan Thomas was read over lamb, leeks and cabbage.  And something called syllabub.

From what I can gather, it is a Welsh thing about independence, cheerfulness, and remembering to do the important little things in life. The syllabub part of it sounds optional, as should anything be that involves cream and madeira.  And Dylan Thomas?  He is probably remembered more for his drinking than for his poetry.  Less known about Dylan Thomas is that he produced propaganda films for the Ministry of Information.  

Propaganda films.  There is a tangent I shall save for another post as it is a jolly topic.  Missmarketcrash wasted a bit of the morning looking for a clip of "Our Country" by Dylan Thomas for you this morning and was told she had to be a university to access such a thing.  Pity.  I could use a bit of feel-good cheerleading about things this morning.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Bank Report Cards Are Out

Missmarketcrash is blind.  Try reading this, courtesy of Clusterstock providing data from Institutional Risk Analytics.

Bottom line?  Amazing reading.  Get out your magnifying glasses and place an analytical drink in your hand...or two.

The Way Things Go...

The topic du jour is "Anticipation" and chain reactions.  With tottering banks, scrambling politicians, AIG again, and emergency talks at an EU economic crisis summit today, anticipation is not of the lovely childhood variety of birthdays and christmas lookings-forwards.  This genre of anticipation is a kind of spreading dread, an abyss glanced, a cliffhanger pause.

Here is the visual equivalent of that variety of anticipation, with a bit of droll humor by Swiss artist duo Fischli and Weiss....a small excerpt...

* Apologies to F & W for recontextualizing, but Missmarketcrash thinks this is one of the best art pieces ever made, and, it is stuck in her head this morning....and by the way, speaking of the best things, did you come here to this blog by way of Tyler Cowen?  Isn't he great?