Hurricane Sandy

In case you missed it, the British graffiti artist Banksy has been in town for a few weeks, infuriating local vandals and certain aesthetically-sensitive officeholders alike, inspiring entrepreneurs, sending those in-the-know into boroughs that they had not previously heard of and fueling the manufactured-outrage industry with the observation that One World Trade Center is not a stirring work of architecture.

Well, hedge fund manager Nelson Saiers didn’t miss it, and thought, since the great man is here for today’s Hurricane Sandy anniversary, it would be a nice gesture if he were to throw up a mural to “raise awareness” about those still suffering from the storm’s aftereffects. And maybe he has. Saiers isn’t sure.

As art is subjective, if you have already completed a piece fulfilling the requirement please contact me.

Either way, Saiers, to whom it apparently had not occurred that Bansky might not bite, has decided that he’s not going to wait for that confirmation. But others are! Read more »

Fermat Capital Management’s John Seo lives in Westport, Conn., and so the faux-pas narrowly averted by New York’s next mayor and not-New-York’s-next-mayor does not concern him. Nor, it must be said, did the thing whose anniversary will send Messrs. de Blasio and Lhota into sack-cloth and ashes, not only because it only meant nothing more than a few days working at home in his underwear, but because anything that does not require him to activate the emergency escape submarine he keeps in the fourth bay of his six-car garage is, by definition, a mere inconvenience. Read more »

Only your raw sexual magnetism/the lack of cable/light/food can do that. Read more »

“For years I kept these memos away from anything related to politics. But more recently I began to discuss issues facing the United States, and this has required some mention of policy and thus of politics. I’ve tried very hard to be non-partisan, with a goal of not having readers know my leanings…Because I found America’s recent presidential election – and especially the results – so fascinating, I’m going to move explicitly to the field of politics, but with the same goal of non-partisan expression…If you believe the exit polls, people who were positively influenced by the handling of Sandy could have made up all or more of Obama’s 2.8% margin of victory. If it’s true that Sandy was the deciding factor for 15% of the electorate, and if it caused just a fifth of those people to switch to Obama, that means without Sandy, Romney would have won. I find it shocking that the choice of a president for four years could turn on something as fickle as the weather.” [Howard Marks]

  • 09 Nov 2012 at 12:56 PM

Leon Cooperman Has Nothing To Say About You-Know-Who

“I have extreme problems with my office due to the hurricane and that is where I am focused,” Cooperman wrote in response to a request for comment by Absolute Return about the reelection of Barack Obama, whose rise to power Cooperman previously likened to that of Adolf Hitler and who, by the by, is still yet to send a handwritten thank you note for “Inspired: My Life (So Far) in Poems,” the self-published memoir of Cooperman’s 14 year-old granddaughter. That comes through, maybe then he has something to say about the events of last Tuesday. [AR, earlier]

As you may have heard, things are not going so well for New York City* of late. Lower Manhattan has been without power for days. A hundred or so houses that once stood in Queens are now rubble. Staten Island has been destroyed. Those living uptown and in other areas that emerged relatively unscathed are dealing with survivor’s guilt. In spite of all that, Mayor Bloomberg has declared that the Marathon, scheduled for this Sunday, will go on, a decision that has been met with major outrage by people who believe the considerable resources that go toward putting on the race should be put to more critical use elsewhere, that the city does not need the strain of putting up an additional 40,000 people, that the supposed economic benefit would be a drop in the bucket of what NYC needs, that the generators sitting in Central Park right now could be helping those sitting in darkness, and that considering dead bodies are still being pulled of the water, it’s generally “too soon.” One guy who’d beg to differ? Ed Koch. Twenty-five years out of his mayorship, he still gets these people and while the media would have you believe holding the marathon has caused an enormously heated debate, he’s here to tell you that’s bull. New Yorkers want this and if Koch were still King? He’d be throwing a parade come Sunday, with A-Rod as Grand Marshal. Read more »

I’m a little obsessed with the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. One way to think of the financial industry is that it is basically a machine for abstracting real human activity: you buy a house made of bricks and wood and stuff, but the financial industry enters numbers in a computer to represent your mortgage, bundles it with other mortgages, slices up the risks of those mortgages – house price appreciation, credit risk, interest rate risk, prepayment risk – and sells them to different people who never need to care about what your house looks like. There you sit in your house, while the numbers spin unseen around you.

The machine, though, is built out of pretty old-timey materials. Those mortgages are mortgages, recorded on pieces of paper in county records offices somewhere; the securities are securities, scraps of paper that convey rights to whoever happens to hold them. Bonds used to be, and in some metaphorical and legalistic sense still often are, pieces of paper with coupons attached that you tear off and mail to the corporation to get them to send you a check for your interest payment. I think things like that actually happened, in the dark ages. But not for a long time.

At the core of the financial abstraction machine is the engine that turns old-timey scraps of paper and whatnot into abstractions.1 And that engine is an actual thing! It is called DTCC! It’s, like, a building downtown, and all the paper certificates come in, and out come numbers on screens that you can sum and multiply and manipulate and sell derivatives of to your friends. It’s what allows finance to be fast and computerized and high-frequency, so you can buy derivatives and indexes and deltas and exposures rather than, like, ten pieces of paper that give you ownership in Ye Olde Buggy Whips Concern.

Anyway this happened: Read more »

For those of you who do not keep up with the drama in the Twitter universe, many, many people are very angry with a user who goes by the name @comfortablysmug, for spreading false information during the worst of Hurricane Sandy that included claims that ConEd workers were “trapped in a power station,” that ConEd was shutting down “ALL power in Manhattan,” and that the New York Stock Exchange was under three feet of water. These reports turned out to be complete lies and @comfortablysmug was shamed in the town square, outed, and forced to offer a “sincere apology to the people of New York,” noting that “while some would use the anonymity and instant feedback of social media as an excuse,” he would take “full responsibility” for his actions. Many in the media, however, are still quite miffed and one guy who’s really pissed? The dude who happens to have the same name (in real life) as comfortablysmug AKA Shashank Tripathi. Read more »