Friday, 30 October 2009

CIT Friday...

Well - there is no shortage of action on the CIT thing today and the markets have turned all bloody and halloweenish. In addition to the Goldman deal, here is a deal between Icahn and CIT. Everyone but the U.S. Government is throwing a hand into the restructuring of CIT.

I'm headed into town tonight and no doubt will run into a few drunken bankers.

I'll have more to say over the weekend.

Linky-links - More Goldman and CIT

Ah. My mind is a big blank as I ponder Halloween. Halloween. I spent yesterday hanging little homemade flying bats all over the kitchen. Today I am spinning a spiders web and making some ugly cakes. One pumpkin is sporting a wink, the other is about to be thrown in the garden as something is oozing from the bottom.

I know. You want to know about CIT. The other Halloween story. Ok. As they are busy counting votes from last night, there is no answer. Bloomberg thinks the CDS market is signaling a pre-pack bankruptcy. Read that here. I expect some kind of trickle of more definitive news on that topic will appear over the weekend, making for a bit of a halloween hangover on Monday marketwise...

Oh - and by the way - this just in - on Goldman and CIT . The one billion dollar payoff has been modified. Tell me more.

I feel like Martha Stewart this morning with this heady mix of domesticity and finance info. An old friend of mine was the infamous whistle blower on dear Martha. He then went on to work for an art dealer at a gallery I used to be represented by. He was promptly fired for his honesty. Here is a story about the gallery here.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

My-my-my-my-my-my-my-my 1929

Whilst in Glasgow, Missmc was invited to a depression-themed party hosted by an author-friend. I was unable to attend - almost thankfully, as dress-up events are not my thing. But I did catch up with my friend during the day whilst she was cooking up a large vat of soup for the event. A quick google reveals that she is not the only one thinking of depression-themed parties. This website gives a complete how-to.

Does nostalgia make it fun? Of course. The veneer of the past adds a step of removal. So what would a credit crunch party reflective of this era, thrown in 80 years time feature? Well - nostalgia with a twist. In America, they might follow a recipe from (friend plug) The Lee Bros. new book "Simple Fresh Southern". The Lee Bros. are the current kings of the twisted nostalgia genre.

Moving on, what would we wear in 80 years time to reflect "The Now"? Well, for men, it would be likely be those little mini-plaid checked shirts. Skinny legged trousers for the humourously inclined. For the ladies, let's hope the 80's trend is forgotten. I am sure we ought to be wearing jeans or something really short. And a nice moth-eaten something.

The music? Oh dear. There will be nothing as reminiscent as the lovely sounds of swing available. I am guessing it will be Lady Gaga, Ting Tings and something horrid like Coldplay.

God forbid. Coldplay. Let's hope all this settles and we can, in time, forget this period entirely.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Is business slow?

Missmc has been the recipient of some very odd hotel marketing strategies as of late. Rooms in trendy east London for 1pound? Link here. Or, how about some free spa credits in Palm Springs...that sounds a bit more enticing. A self-enclosed universe of elegance-meets-camp design next to the splendor of Joshua National Park...I can almost feel the sunshine.

Am I going anywhere? No. Up until last year, Missmc would happily skip off here and there on a whim. Now? Well...we were on a train to Glasgow. Need I say more?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


On the train back from Glasgow last night we fell into the future. Brown rough-cast houses sullied the landscape. So what if? What if they were all painted in magnetic paint in some kind of grid that allowed them to become giant pixelated video walls? Not in a glowing way, but, rather, more subtle, like the Kindle. What if one could google a new exterior picture -- a skin for the house anytime? In the winter, one could favor a picture in dark colours to absorb the sun's energy and warm up the house. In the summer, an image that was predominantly white would bounce the heat away. It would be both a plus and a minus to easily change the exterior of your house by digitally placing images on them. I am certain this would lead to many people opting out of wanting to live so close to their customized neighbors. Football fans just might make this one of the worst ideas that has ever passed through my brain.

But I do kind of love that we are far enough into the future that this is indeed possible.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Quick FYI

Missmc is headed to Scotland tomorrow morning for a rainy rainy dark and don't forget to change the clocks holiday. I'll be posting from the iPhone so posts might either be sporadic, or, short...

The Loyalty Card

My oldest son has just sold me two drawings. After purchasing, he gave me a "Loyalty Card". How sweet. My very first item of this type. There is nothing as lovely as the thought that I will now be loyal to him. Forever and ever. He is one step ahead of his younger brother now.

Gosh. The eight year old has a company name, a logo and a loyalty card. The future looks bright. Or, at least, like capitalism.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mervyn speaks...

Ok. Speaking of the children, let's get back to the economy. Mervyn King had a bit to say on the children's behalf during an impassioned speech that is the news of news today.

"We shall all be paying for the impact of this crisis on the public finances for a generation."
- Mervyn King

His speech will no doubt turn into a bit of a political football, but, the essence ought to be digested in pure form. Last Autumn there was great debate on the reshaping of Too Big to Fail institutions. With the advent of a rapidly rising market and the return of credit (a bit), these kinds of discussions have fallen by the wayside. But, as noted by many, the problems within the financial sector remain. The concept of "Moral Hazard" ought not to be the residue left in people's minds from this speech. Because that is an emotional discussion. What ought to linger and blossom from this is not Mr. King's solution but the re-opening of the discussion of new models and approaches. I have not read a good proposal for a solution yet. Yet.


Well. Missmc is not thinking of the usual topics today. She is thinking of her son. Who is on the very sensitive side. Last evening, Missmc took a bunch of boys to the halloween school disco. What is an eight or nine year old boy to do at a disco? Two of the boys who came along immediately started running about and intimidating the younger boys. It was like watching a pack of dogs decide whether to play or bite. And bite they did, breaking a boy's costume and reducing a few to tears. I passed one of the rabid boys back to his father. I had the other apologize. My sensitive son opted out of the mean games, and, asked to go home.

I am still horrified, and, filled with more than a bit of despair. Hence the digression from the usual topics. Dear blog, are you there? I need a cup of tea.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Carl Icahn, CIT and Goldman Sachs

Sooo. We have Carl Icahn offering to bail out CIT. We have Goldman Sachs suing Carl Icahn over a an entirely different matter. We have Goldman looking to profit from a CIT collapse. We have Mr. Icahn in a similar position, but in a more stealth kind of way.

Here is an exclusive interview on The Street with Mr. Icahn regarding the CIT loan.

Here are two articles. The first from is from Forbes discussing Goldman Sachs v. Carl Icahn. The second elaborating on the naked shorting of Delphi is here on Bloomberg.

Gosh. It is time time time for CIT, The Movie. We've got villains, fist shakers, and ordinary Donut Vendors. It is a horrid circling vulture scenario.

Maybe an online kind of Cluedo Game could make it all a bit more fun. Is it Professor Plum selling CDS in the Billiard Room or is it Reverend Green cooking up something nasty in the kitchen? Or, are there two villains battling to be the best murderer? If I just had a bit more time this morning I'd set that up...


What man hasn't fantasized about growing a moustache? Here is your chance, and, good excuse. Movember is a charity that raises funds for Men's health. The website is astonishing and worth a visit. I recommend a visit to the Lab and Mo Space. I will personally make a pledge for anyone who signs up as a result of this mention, as, well, I've a soft spot for moustaches...

Let me know via email to "".

Sunday, 18 October 2009

How the World is...

Missmc has seen it all. From Primrose Hill to Shoreditch and many points in between, the Frieze Art Fair has cannily provided a glimpse into how-the-world-is. In Primrose Hill, the Museum of Everything is a shrine to the art of everyone the Frieze Art Fair is not devoted to. Inside an ex-recording studio used by the likes of Madonna and Paul McCartney, an exhibition of 'naive' art is hung salon style over the ramshackle space. It is like stepping into the looniest part of the brain, the Freudian zone of things-that-should-be-kept-in-the-back-of-the-mind. Intense obsession reigns. At the MoE I was lucky enough to see the screening of MAKE, a movie made by my friend Scott Ogden. If you see MAKE, you will develop a love for these uncomfortable and sometimes absurd works of art. The touching humanity he lends to the portrayal of four 'outsider' artists is contagious.

It was in keeping with the spirit of the Frieze VIP tourbus that whisked Missmc around to East End Galleries last evening. The highlight was the bus itself. The drivers were 'outsider' drivers who seemed to have been given command of a bus for the very first time. We nearly toppled into Maureen Paley's understated digs as our driver careened over the curb. Nettie Horn's gallery provided a fantastic Mojito to enhance our journey. Anselm Kiefer's M-o-n-u-m-e-n-t-a-l pieces at White Cube provided a fitting last stop before we headed off on foot to dinner.

The hushed bus conversations provided opinions about this year's art fair. Everyone was in near agreement. The humour, the follies and the absurdities were gone. And, everyone was craving the escapism of yesteryear. No one wanted to be prodded into seriousness. But the contemplation side of a folly-less universe is no doubt spurring things full circle back. Get ready for the return of the Sincerely-Absurdly-Dry (SAD?). Al Taylor, we need you back.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Mug on Wheels

With a 2.2 billion dollar loss for Bank of America announced today, I thought I ought to let you in on a little secret. Shhh. They are having a sale.

Shop Here. My favorite is still the mug on wheels.

The Invisible Hand is not George's friend either.

Ah. What a coincidence. HE speaks. The invisible hand is no longer his friend either. Here.

Is feeling guilty about a position he has taken?

George Soros and the Invisible Hand are no longer your friends.

Brightly coloured cutting edge with a sense of humour?
Understated lux grey-and-black-maybe-navy-or-an-occasional-flesh-coloured-thing?

Art Students and the Wealthy rubbed shoulders yesterday at the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park. Sometimes the costumes were swapped, and, then, well, one ought to know better. The press were hungrily badgering for signs of d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r. Gallerists were canny to the gloom and doom game and had several pieces "on reserve", but, not fully sold. Some collectors haggled. Most dealers stood their ground. The best things sold with dignity. Sales have always been rather hush hush at Frieze, except in 2007 when things sold out before the doors opened. Those days are gone.

So what was on offer? Missmc focused yesterday on the Frieze Projects, presentations of art things that were not for sale. The aforementioned Superflex film was darkly humourous, with the phrase "George Soros and the Invisible Hand are no longer your friends" lingering after her down the hall. After that, I went to see the project by my old friend Anton Vidokle and his collaborator, Julieta Aranda. It was an alternative currency like the Ithaca Dollar thing, but, for artists and art workers. I looked for a giant something that was supposed to have "crashed" into the building but missed it. Rumour has it it was taken away.

Admittedly, I was seeking out the works that referenced finance or economics. In the past, the art world consideration of economics would be to include more artists from non-western countries that perhaps did pieces that reflected their culture.

Economics is a really hard topic for artists. Art is not about money. Art is not about money. Art is not about money. It is about ideas. It can be art about ideas about money, but, that only works in a recession. Otherwise, the money topic lifts art out if its ideas-based realm and plops it down uncomfortably, kind of 80's style, next to the topic of artists-who-knew-how-to-make-a-lot-of-money but were not necessarily good. And that kind of art ruins the market for both collectors and artists alike. Art is about money.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

No News is Good News.

Are you feeling post-modern? Here is a very neat report from the PEW research center that deconstructs perception of the economic crisis from an examination of media coverage in the United States. Bottom line? It is politically-driven. And? No news is good news.

(HT Yves Smith)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Hypnosis and the Financial Crisis in Four Parts -

Would you like to visit a hypnotist to guide you through the financial crisis? You may do just that at the Frieze Art Fair where artist-activists Superflex are presenting a four-part film work on just that topic. Here is a sneak preview.

The Financial Crisis - trailer from Superflex on Vimeo.

The Wayward Royal

Missmc's email inbox is cluttered up with jolly party invites as the Frieze Art Fair is in town. My ticket for the event is somewhere lost in the post, thanks to a series of Royal Mail strikes. I've been told I can pick it up at the event so all is not lost. There are electronic tickets but my invite happened to be the old-fashioned kind.

Regarding the strikes, the BBC reports that big companies such as John Lewis and Amazon have already contracted with other private carriers and cancelled using the Royal Mail. After all, Christmas is coming.

For a large corporation, changing carriers is an easy option. For a private citizen or small business there are less choices and they are all a good deal more expensive. As far as other options, there are things one just cannot do via email. Lovely thank-you notes on creamy stationary are just not replaceable by email or ecards. And the large check I've just sent out for some new wooden double-glazed sash windows has also gone astray.

This is terribly-timed and looks unresolvable. And, my Economist Magazine keeps going missing. Probably for good reason. I am sure whatever they have written about the strikes is unsympathetic.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ontology and me

Ontology. Is that a word we've heard an awful lot about of late? It is one of those words that has seeped into every discipline precisely because it is one of the most general words out there. If one wants to present something in a logical way and give it gravitas, well, it is the word for you. Hook it onto most anything and you've got a thesis.

"The Ontology of the Financial Services Industry"
"Ontological Modeling of Semantic Pre-Dispositions"
"Ontology and Nothingness in Modern Economic Theory"
"The Ontology of post-Lehman accounting rules changes"

Ontology and me. A dandy children's book. After all, children are very Wittgensteinian by nature. Their usage of a word determines its meaning. Some ontologies that purportedly investigate meaning are based around such a perspective. It comes natural to children.

What on earth have I had for lunch? Well. It is earnings week and the debates over whether things are bad or good requires careful report reading to incorporate cost cuts, accounting changes and other things that have helped merrily chug us along. That is, if one is inclined to look at these things as a kind of oracle as to where things might be going. It is most helpful these days to have two heads. One with its own opinion, and, one that understands the ontology of it all.

I need a cigarette.

Do not cross go, do not collect 200 dollars.

"Now is the appropriate time to focus on a transition of leadership..." ( businesswire)

No kidding. Run. Nothing personal, but golly, I'd opt for a rest from it right about now as well.

Yes. I am back with my CIT obsession. Read more here.

I'll talk to you later --

Missmc's escape-with-the-girls to S's farmhouse-in-Mallorca weekend has been cancelled. Alas. No matter, England needs us. The latest data on the UK inflation rate is grim. The BBC story features a fat woman in a purple shirt walking by a 98p shop. No No No.

Here in Leafy Dulwich, the girls have indeed been scrimping and saving. Charity" clothing swaps and fell-off-the-back-of-the truck handbag sales have spread a weedy rhizome over the area populated by Bankers' wives. But thrifty is and always has been a virtue here. The moth-eaten cashmere is the perfect foil of modesty as long as you keep up with the personal trainer sessions. Call it the high/low. It is a much harder look to pull off if you are actually a girl who works. The moths never get to the cashmere and there is no time for the gym.

Thankfully, I'm somewhere in between. And I'm off to my Pilates session. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, 12 October 2009

To know is not enough...

Here is your chance! Does anyone have a question for any of the 2009 Nobel Laureates? The most interesting questions will be answered by the prize winners. Click here to submit your queries...

Any questions that are not answered might be answered here.

Bridge for sale...

From the BBC...

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Have you ever? Missmc hosted a spontaneous dinner party for a few Irish boys last evening. I am completely and utterly surprised just how well I feel this morning. One was a Journalist, the other, a Wit. We were chatting away about the Irish economy. Suddenly, the Wit leapt up, his eyes gleaming. "You must have some Poitin!" he exclaimed. He ran out the door and appeared in a blink with a bottle of clear liquid. I brought out some antique crystal glasses to disguise our digressions. It was all very merry, to say the least. I was quite surprised when I woke this morning to find I could still see clearly.

The only side-effect from my evening is that I am incredibly certain I can understand this movie without subtitles. Here is an excerpt from Poitin, the movie.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Obama wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and Rocket slams into the moon all in one day

Obama wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize? Rocket slams into moon today? Sounds like the news is on a roll.

I was just gathering my thoughts before the news. I was lost in a tangent of thinking about absurdities and how they are often just on the right side of innovation and have practical application. And I was looking for something to illustrate that. I failed in finding the perfect example and things digressed when I ran into these happy skipping dogs...(see below). Japanese culture excels at the absurd and innovation. The practicalities of applying that seem to escape me in this particular example.

We are firmly planted in the future and its unimaginable possibilities today with the rocket, the Obama and the happy skipping connect the dots...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Make do and Mend

The BBC has adopted the Miss Make Due and Mend model and Newsnight is exploring in a very old fashioned way what it might mean. Old-fashioned? The host has packed her sewing machine into her car. Call me modern, but, that is not the first thing I would bring. I'd probably get a free skype to skype phone sim card for starters. And I might fix that old laptop under my bed and throw it in my bicycle pannier. The sewing machine strikes me as a slightly dated and sexist icon. Never mind the car.

On the programme, Mary Jane Baxter is trolling the country looking for ways to earn some cash along the way. Perhaps she should exit the country. A friend of Missmc who was a company director in the construction industry is about to accept a two-year contract in Qatar as he has been unemployed here for four months. His family will remain behind in sunny London. All a bit heart-breaking to say the least.

The old make do and mend certainly was about the sewing machine. But, what does it mean in this modern world? I will certainly be curious to see if this BBC adventure evolves...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Cute little button economics

Missmarketcrash is hopelessly addicted to the new iPhone. I know, I know - I am late to all of this and it is not anything new. You are correct, but, I still cannot help thinking about it even if this is old-hat. It is new to me.

This morning we plugged the little iPhone into a big amp and speakers and spent breakfast-time listening to digital radio stations from all over the world, courtesy of WunderRadio. We went from the lower east side of New York to Hungary, a stop by London, and then, over to Japan whilst eating our toast. Japan was the big winner, providing us with the category of "anime" music that was simultaneously simple and complex and suited the spirit of the little iPhone.

I've yet to find the best sowpods dictionary application or something to make my son practice his violin but I am confident these things will be found with a bit more time. Time is the thing here. The iPhone seems to be my little crystal ball that revealed how the internet of the future will continue to be shaped. It is what they have hoped for, and, it seems to be coming true. I actually paid £3.00 for the little WunderRadio. I have never paid for content on the internet. So, here goes the future. You might read I am both disappointed and slightly pleased.

The Financial Times has a free mobile iPhone application downloadable from Apple. It is a bit of a lure that might result in a paid-for subscription. If I am feeling old-fashioned and do not wish to download the little app, I can just bookmark FT through Safari and up it will pop rather than downloading a cute little button. But the button is easier.

Application downloading does seem like something one is less inclined to shrug away from paying for. It is relatively new and we are being trained that it might cost money. It provides a simple just-press-the-button-and-enter-your-password-and-we-will-charge-you interface that simply and cheerfully shifts consumers into more paid-for internet content. Newspapers must be crossing their fingers. I quite like newspapers so this is the kind of thing I'd like to see rescue them.

On the other side of things, I am grateful that there will always be something for free. Like this.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Oh the power...

Gosh. I almost feel like I have to write about CIT again. Or Goldman. My new shiny white iphone arrived yesterday and, well, I've been a bit busy organizing it, and, myself. With all the third-party applications available, one would think a financial institution application for the iphone is in order for the truly obsessive. It ought to be a little game. Imagine being able to move thin markets, profit handsomely from loss, the possibilities are endless. I think perhaps it ought to be modeled along the lines of "Rolando", a nifty little games program I downloaded last evening that operates by tilting the phone this way and that way. One can save the little Rolando's with a light tap or tip...or leave them stranded...

Oh the power!

Monday, 5 October 2009

CIT and Goldman Sachs

Missmc is still on the Halloween theme. The deadline for the CIT debt exchange is October 29th. If it fails, bankruptcy would be filed in the days following. How fitting. The FT is also obsessing over the CIT thing and two articles appeared over the weekend which discuss the relationship Goldman Sachs has with all this. No doubt, the Goldman conspiracy theorists are chattering again. The FT held back, but, did slide in the adjective "perverse" a really polite way.

These articles are apt to cause confusion as there are two issues and two FT articles. Firstly, as stated here, Goldman provided rescue financing last summer with an agreement that they would be paid 1billion if the company goes bankrupt or defaults. The second FT article concerns itself with a second source of profit for Goldman should CIT file bankruptcy. They are indeed a large holder of credit default swaps on CIT. The amount, and who is standing on the other side of these holdings is unspecified. You may read about it on the FT website here.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Missmc has been out three nights in a row again after a grueling week.  Thankfully, I was drinking blueberry juice last night rather than whatever it was that I had too much of the evening before.  Blueberry juice?  It was that, or, falling asleep at the dinner party with our spy friend.  The spy was in good form and spent a good amount of time analyzing the books in the host's loo to comedic effect.  It was a welcome diversion as it is often quite hard to catch up with old friends that, really, have about 300 taboo topics sitting like a herd of invisible white elephants at the table.  He is a gem.  And, if you must ask, he is not a spook.  He is a "civil servant".

We also spent some time over the weekend in the V&A.  It was another case of things being not really what they seem to be.  We toured one of the Cast Courts and marveled at reproductions of an endless number of tombs, caskets and monuments, mostly medieval.  It was strikingly in harmony with the "Telling Tales" exhibition of contemporary design at the V&A.  Walking from the medieval into the contemporary was not much of a leap as death, fantasy and allegories continued on.  It was all very October.

Medieval and October are of course bound together conceptually with their joint obsession with death, as nature retires and sheds its leaves and hunkers down for the winter.  The markets tend to go all goth and join in with this autumn spirit.  Is human nature really that predictable to revisit gloom on a predictable basis?  If any clues can be taken from the art and design world, the answer appears to be yes.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Donut-shaped Recession

The markets have begun the October plunge as anticipated by some.  Missmc has sat through the rally with the cash-on-the-side bunch.  It is the looking at the wizard behind the curtain phase of things and, well, really, he is not so bad, just a bit of a charlatan.  Not an evil kind of charlatan, but, rather like the parent that turned out less glorious through adult eyes.  You know, the one you still yearn to see as you did as a child.

The financial markets may bump down slowly with a half-grin and run the course as long as we do not experience something a CIT bankruptcy.  As noted in the Financial Times, the bankruptcy likely hinges on the CDS levels on CIT and who holds them. There is at least 52billion worth of CDS out there on CIT.  My thoughts?  Havoc and the straw that...?  Quite possibly, if coupled with other economic variables.  If you've read yesterday's post we can perhaps begin to call this whole affair the beginning of the Donut-shaped Recession.   More on that here on the BBC with the news that "Dunkin Donuts President quits"... 

I know, I know.  you are visualizing that.  There is a hole.  As for going round and round upon itself, well, that is a shape that would be impossible to graph, but, entirely understandable as an abstract...;)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Put your helmet on.

Are we back where we were last autumn?  With a cliff-hanger of a bankruptcy looming for CIT today in the U.S., I know, you are sitting there, thinking, well...the markets are not going to have a flashback. They are experienced, and resilient.  Let's hope.  According to this article in the Independent, it would be the fifth largest bankruptcy in American history, should it happen.  It has been in the news on and off for a while, and, I have put up some insulation between the story and I.  A bit of a hole was punctured in this protective snug when the Independent mentioned that it would affect thousands of Duncan Donut franchise owners.  

Donuts?  They can go.  But it would clearly be disastrous across the board nonetheless.  Hence the insulation.  Put your helmet on.

To end on a better note, the metaphorical structure of the donut is worth a ponder.