stunts

Paul Singer Explains It All

Fresh off a busy week in Davos, the Elliott chief pronounceth on the top issues of the day. For starters, he doesn’t get this whole bitcoin thing:

Paul Singer, founder of $23.3 billion Elliott Management Corp., told investors he was “shocked” by the virtual currency Bitcoin’s popularity and skeptical of its long-term prospects, according to a quarterly letter sent this week.

“There is no more reason to believe that Bitcoin will stand the test of time than that governments will protect the value of government-created money, although Bitcoin is newer and we always look at babies with hope,” Mr. Singer wrote.

Gold, however, he likes, even if he doesn’t fully understand what’s going on with it right now.

Mr. Singer encouraged investors to consider gold, which he wrote was “currently available at a good price….”

Gold is out of fashion, but we think the explanation for why it has been drifting down is not compelling. The economy seems stuck in the doldrums, but most so-called ‘experts’ have been changing their minds almost weekly about when they think the economy will finally begin a long-term acceleration to the upside,” Mr. Singer wrote in the letter.

He doesn’t like banks breaking the law and getting away with it.

“Lawlessness is a slippery slope,” the letter said, addressing one of the most controversial topics in financial services today, one seldom reported on or discussed in the media. “If a little ‘excess discretion’ is used… or a law is ignored in thousands of subtle ways, then over time the rule of law will be replaced by corruption and whim,” the letter said….

“Laws are not self-executing,” Singer wrote in the investor letter, as he cited a need for those entrusted to interpret the law and handle investigation and enforcement responsibilities to do so “with honesty and intelligence.”

He really doesn’t like all this talk about raising the minimum wage.

“Put bluntly, these policies would destroy jobs and cause companies and even entire industries to move elsewhere. These movements are politically motivated–a way for politicians to fake compassion,” Singer wrote in a letter to investors of his $23.3 billion Elliott Management on Jan. 27.

“If they gain traction, millions more people will make the transition from gainful employment to government dependency as jobs get priced out of existence by the rise in employment costs. Such policies would inexorably lead to lower economic growth, higher unemployment and a citizenry that is less and less self-sufficient.”

But most of all, he really, really doesn’t like it when hedge funds stupid enough to invest in Argentina’s post-haircut bonds waste his goddamned time with ridiculous pie-in-the-sky bullshit, when he and Cristina Kirchner could just hash the thing out over lunch. Read more »

  • 24 Jan 2012 at 10:27 AM

Let’s Talk About: CFA Level I Results

Thirty-eight percent of the December™ Level I™ test-takers test-takers learn by email today that they’re one step closer to being able to guarantee investment results. As for your humble correspondent … Read more »

As it turns out, the only piece of commenter advice on taking the CFA Level I Exam that I actually followed was “don’t have lunch at Headquarters, the strip club across the street from the Javits Center.” Initially, I wasn’t sure about this advice. When I left the Javits Center for lunch, a part of me felt that I owed it to myself, to Bess, and to our readers to have my CFA lunch at a strip club. But after spending two hours in a shabby cavernous room with terrible lighting surrounded by bored and disillusioned people unhappily doing things that they had memorized but didn’t really feel in their hearts, I couldn’t have handled a second-rate strip club.

So I went to a Mexican place in Chelsea and had a nice lunch surrounded by fully clothed people. To make sure that exam conditions closely replicated my successful practice exam, I also had two reasonably strong margaritas. That, plus my watch stopping in the middle of lunch, added a little excitement to my walk back to the Javits Center.

I can’t really tell you whether not going to Headquarters was good advice, since I didn’t do a controlled experiment. I suspect it was, and I arrived back at the Javits Center cheerful, refreshed, and swaying slightly. In any case, here are some other hard-won insights for those of you considering the CFA:
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I’m back. Did I miss anything?

My imaginary CFA results are mid-80% area for both the morning and afternoon sessions. That sounds like it predicts a pass on Saturday, though probably not at a 95% level of significance. (Does it? I have no idea.) The effect of 1 drink before / 1 during the afternoon is hard to discern although there were more wrong answers towards the end of the afternoon session than at the beginning. Also I was heartily sick of it by the end. Are there really II more levels of this thing? Do they have more stuff on them? That seems excessive.

Now I’m not going to run afoul of ethics guidelines by discussing anything on the mock exam, or real exam, or anywhere else. (Also, this is important: CFA Institute, if you’re reading this, we’re just kidding about the whole guaranteeing returns thing.) But the sense I get is that people find the ethics section particularly daunting, which, COME ON PEOPLE, you are not doing much for public perceptions of your industry. Nonetheless, as a public service for those taking the test on Saturday and looking to sharpen your skills, here’s an extra practice ethics question suggested by a reader. Read more »