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« Silliness for the Day | Main | Women's Hair: The Long and Short of It »

February 07, 2008

Finance Highs and Lows

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* The NYTimes' Jenny Anderson writes an article about studies showing that finance-biz-style wheeling and dealing can deliver a lot of drug-style excitement. Here's the, er, money quote:

A small group of scientists ... say they are starting to discover what many Wall Street professionals have long suspected -- that people are hard-wired for money. The human brain, these researchers say, responds to high-stakes trading just as it does to the lure of sex. And the riskier the trades get, the more the brain craves them.

Finance guys get happily high when they gamble irresponsibly with your retirement, in other words. And don't you feel good about paying with your money to support their habit?

* FvBlowhard passes along a hilarious mock-disclaimer originally posted by Barry Ritholz:

WARNING: THESE BONDS HAVE BEEN RATED AAA BY A MAJOR RATING FIRM. THESE RATING FIRMS HAVE PROVEN THEMSELVES TO BE CLUELESS, MONEY-LOSING INCOMPETENTS IN EXCESS OF A TRILLION DOLLARS IN LOSSES. THEY WERE PAID HANDSOMELY BY THE BOND UNDERWRITER, AND ARE HOPELESSLY COMPROMISED. PURCHASERS OF THESE BONDS ARE ADVISED TO IMMEDIATELY KILL THEMSELVES, THUS SPARING THEIR LOVED ONES EMBARRASSMENT IN THE FUTURE. ALSO, THESE BONDS MAY LOSE VALUE. I JUST WET MYSELF MERELY THINKING ABOUT THIS PAPER. WHILE PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RETURNS, YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT PAST PERFORMANCE ALSO SUCKED. DONT BLAME US IF YOU LOSE ANY MONEY, AS WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE F$#@ WE ARE DOING ANYWAY. REALLY, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at February 7, 2008




Comments

Hah! I showed them - I don't HAVE a retirement plan.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on February 7, 2008 2:23 PM



Also from Ritholz:

Investment Dealers are excited to announce the newest structured finance product - Constant Obligation Leveraged Originated Structured Oscillating Money Bridged Asset Guarantees, or COLOSTOMY BAGS. Designed to accommodate the most sophisticated investment strategies, Colostomy Bags contain the equity tranches of Structured High Interest Taxable Derivatives, or SHIT, and are leveraged an infinite amount of times through the innovative use of derivatives.

"Its an actively managed, unlimited liability, open ended investment with no maturity date, which pays LIBOR plus 5,000 and has no correlation to traditional investments" said a spokesman for the Investment Dealer who engineered the product. "It's based on a CDO structure, but it's designed to default BEFORE the first coupon payment, which you'll agree has no correlation with stodgy traditional investments and is a perfect fit for portable alpha scams, er, strategies." Following the default, each month more leverage is added to the structure to pay for the coupon and the Dealer's fees which are set at 80%. "We feel the fees are reasonable, given the adrenaline rush you'll get each month attempting to mark these."

The Colostomy Bags carry a AAAA rating, based on the rating agencies opinion that they are even safer than Treasuries. "You can't use traditional credit analysis to value these babies, no sir-ree" said a spokesman for a rating agency. "Just like Icelandic Banks, we give them the highest rating because you just know that the Fed will bail out all the hedgies who buy these things..remember like Long Term Capital? And the best part is, the beauty of this structure is that the loss given default is NEGATIVE, so by extension we feel that the CDS will trade through Treasuries."

Inhaling deeply on a fatty, he continued "We've been tinkering with our model, which served us well for Enron and the Telecoms in '02, and our stress testing shows that the probability of loss in the senior tranche is close to zero." The model, constructed of a wishing well, Joseph Jett's trading blotter, and drawings of Unicorns then collapsed in a heap. "Well, back to the drawing board!" he cackled.

A real money investor, huddled on the windowsill outside his office, said he remained optimistic about holding the Colostomy Bags but was a bit concerned with the 95% decline in value on the first day they traded. "We've taken a bit of a haircut on these but I'm waiting to see the first servicer report, which should arrive in a few months. At first I was annoyed that the dealer who sold them to me refused to make a market in them, but that makes my job easier since I'm not tempted to sell."

We located a hedge fund manager at a due diligence meeting in the VIP room at Score's. He said he was skeptical of the structure at first but was dared into buying it by a fixed income salesman. "He said to me, 'what's wrong with you, its quadruple A rated, just buy it, what are you a pussy?' He also said it was going into 'an index', although he didn't say which one, but I felt that I had to buy it. And that was good enough for me, bro'."

Posted by: Byrne on February 7, 2008 3:15 PM






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