Daily Archives: June 2, 2010

Kill the ump!

Armando Galarraga

Blows call on last out of a perfect game! Come on – it’s one thing to miss a play during the mid-innings, but ninth inning, two outs, a perfect game in the balance, and you screw up? Unconscionable.

UPDATE: The umpire admits he blew it and is sorry. I guess he should live.

First baseman Miguel Cabrera cleanly fielded Jason Donald’s grounder to his right and threw to Galarraga covering the bag. The ball clearly got there in time, but there would be no joy in Comerica Park.

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.

“It was the biggest call of my career,” said Joyce, who became a full-time major league umpire in 1989.

Instead of going ballistic. Galarraga quickly went back to work and got the final out as the crowd started to boo. Joyce faced a group of angry Tigers at the pitching mound.

“I don’t blame them a bit or anything that was said,” Joyce said. “I would’ve said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would’ve been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me.”

Seems to me that both the pitcher and the ump are class individuals.

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Will you sellers stop being so stupid?!

Village Idiot

I have just learned of a house near me that will be coming on the market today or tomorrow. I’d have estimated its listing price at $3.750, or, if the owner wanted to stretch, $4.250 million. I’m informed that the brokers invited to pitch the listing (I was not) priced it at $4.5 and around there. But one agent said $6.5 million and of course, got the listing.

So the idiot owner will be sleeping tonight with visions of sugar plums in his head, awaiting Santa Clause on the morrow. Anything is possible, and I could be completely wrong, but my guess is that a year from now that same owner, having found nothing but a lump of coal in his stocking, will be bitter and angry. I think it’s his fault for listening to such nonsense in the first place.

(Some) agents will lie to you to get your listing. If they give you a figure that’s $2 million above what other agents are telling you, ask them for a guarantee – will they buy the house from you at that price if they can’t sell it in, say, six months? When they won’t, dismiss them and use the services of the agent who’s telling you the truth. Don’t be a dummy.

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Where do liberal Wall Streeters apply to get their money back?

Pelosi supports the “derivatives reform act”, which even the White House isn’t dumb enough to stand behind. I’m delighted to see these fatheads get what they deserve, of course, but I need them to have money to buy Greenwich houses, too. So, mixed emotions. Like the old joke, watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Cadillac.

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When has it ever stopped or affected anything?

Bye bye!

UN criticism unlikely to stop drone strikes. Someone remind me  why we pay 70 percent of this useless organization’s budget.

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Killer whales eat sea lion

Teaching baby to eat

Pretty cool video here.

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Is Steve Cohen really calling it quits?

Stevie Cohen Tells Kids he Wants to Sell Stake in SAC Capital

By Teri Buhl

Bryan Burrough, co-author of famed corporate raider book Barbarians at the Gate, has scored a rare interview with Stevie Cohen of SAC Capital for Vanity Fair. Today we get a story tease where Burrough tells us Cohen’s confessed to wanting to get out of the daily grind of trading.

Wow that’s some pretty big exclusive news, which has sent some Wall Street minions mourning over the possible loss of a trading titan they consider a hero. Others are left wondering what it means to the hard-working traders at SAC Capital, who according to a March story in AR Magazine, have to give up trading profits via SAC’s shadow system, where Stevie monitors everyone’s trades and then adds the best ones to his portfolio.  But what we really want to know is why Stevie wants to leave his 30 year trading career now?

In March, Bloomberg reported that Man Group was in talks to buy SAC Capital. Last month Man chooses London-Based GLG instead.

This reporter can confirm the Man Group talks were real because a few months ago Stevie actually told some of his kids he was trying to sell to Man and still wants to sell a stake in his firm. You see that whole problem with his back pain, that Burrough gets Stevie to chat about, still has in him rehabilitation and at some point I guess you have to choose your health over the profits. SAC’s pressman, Jonathan Gashalter, would not comment on Stevie’s desire to sell his firm. While back pain surely makes it hard to work in the fast pace world of trading that gules traders to a chair and a few shiny Bloomberg screens for most the day, we think there has to be more to why Stevie wants out now.

While traders often admit they admire Cohen for his trading skill and intuition, they also point out he’s still facing the challenge of that pesky ongoing SEC investigation, into his firm, for insider trading. An investigation we’ve learned is still ongoing because people told us they’ve recently been interviewed by the SEC about SAC trades- no charges have been filed against Cohen but ex-SAC traders have pleaded guilty. Burrough tells Vanity Fair readers he thinks Stevie walked a gray line when it comes to trading research at the beginning of his career, but based off his recent interview he thinks Stevie’s got that all under control now.

Burrough says, “The thorough changes he claims to have implemented at SAC to ensure that the firm is in full compliance with the law after gaining a reputation for being ‘way out there’ (in the words of one competitor) on information gathering.”

While we think Burrough’s look into how SAC Capital gets information to use in their investment decisions is limited, by the access Stevie’s press team supplied to get a positive news story out on a fund that’s trying to sell itself, the SEC does have a tough battle ahead in trying to link Cohen personally to encouraging inside trades.

But in case the SEC needs a little direction as to where the bodies are buried inside Cohen’s super secretive hedge fund, we’ve learned there’s one person they should definitely be talking to.

New Canaan, CT resident Paul Orwicz suddenly left SAC capital after the SEC brought forth their case against Galleon and friends for insider trading. He’d been one of Stevie’s top traders for nearly a decade focusing first on telecom stocks and then moving over to energy stocks in the last few years. Hedge Fund Alert was first to report on Orwicz’s sudden departure in October 2009 saying he ran a sizable amount of money ($400-500 million) for SAC Capital. The ex-SAC trader filed SEC documents in March that says he now runs his own fund, called Sursum Capital, but it’s not clear if Cohen invested seed money with Orwicz as we’ve seen him do so many times in the past.

Orwicz also has an expensive habit of racing Porches and even invested in an upstate New York private motorsport race track.  According to several sources who know Orwicz from track racing and New Canaan, the ex-SAC trader wasn’t shy about explaining how they gather info on the energy companies they trade.  These sources say the Orwicz told them SAC would pay people to get hired into Canadian companies that are working on tar sands — An energy process that firms like Murphy Oil, who SAC’s public filings show they hold a large stock position in, are often blasted for not being friendly to the environment. Word on the street is the SAC spies would even come into SAC’s Stamford office to report on what they learned about the company.  Names of which tar sands companies the SAC spies worked for could not be confirmed and Orwicz could not be reached for comment.  Of course SAC just denies any notion of using spies to get ahead of trades.

But this move sounds similar with what Britt Ericka Tunick at AR Magazine reported this March, about SAC hiring a quant trader to spy on a competitive hedge fund.

Tunick writes: According to a source close to hedge fund firm QuantZ Capital Management, after the firm hired Prasad Chalasani, a former robotics professor … he bypassed the initial getting to know your workplace approach … and immediately began probing the inner working of QuantZ’s proprietary

quant programs. Chalasani’s digging aroused suspicion among his new employers, who began making calls and discovered that their new employee had “shopped his offer letter to SAC” to land himself a job with Cohen — which was all but confirmed when he failed to return after his first day with QuantZ.

Though SAC initially refused to acknowledge his employment, a call to the firm put us straight through to Chalasani, who declined to comment.

Now that we know Stevie Cohen wants out of trading, the question is can he find a buyer who thinks his 800-person money-making operation can continue in today’s tougher regulatory environment. Is SAC Capital designed to repeat its consistent double-digit performance without Stevie there getting his hands dirty in daily trades? If so, who can the Greenwich resident, who Forbes thinks is worth over $6 billion, convince to buy it?

Editors Note: Teri Buhl is a financial news reporter who has written for: Trader Monthly, New York Post, Dealbreaker, Greenwich Time, Fortune.com, TheAtlantic.com, and New York Magazine.

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Staying power

249 Bedford Road

This house on the New York border was built new on land purchased back in 2003, and has been for sale since 2005, starting at $5.885 and now down to $4.995. You’d think the builder would have long since given up and handed it over to the bank, but no – he hangs on.

Imagine what it’s cost to maintain this place over five empty years. 

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Dead beat borrowers – homeowners and states

For some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me add links this morning so here is a quote taken from Business Insider about David Rosenberg

The great thing about writing a daily is the insightful responses it elicits.  Yes, it seems that everyone has the cash to spend on an iPad — the latest must- have consumer gadget.  All you need to do is stop paying your mortgage, as the NYT wrote about yesterday.  But if you are waiting for State governments to pay you for services rendered, wait in line.  Dave from New York sent the following:

“Hi Dave

At a Memorial Day event in upstate NY today I spoke with a friend who
works in a medium sized construction company, about 45 people total.
His firm does a lot of work for New York State, as do most of the
construction companies.

New York stopped paying all of them. They have been asked by the
State to keep working on their ongoing projects and the state will pay
them at some point in the future, they don’t know when.
Many of these firms have walked out of the projects, they just can’t
afford to keep working without being paid. One firm is owed over $8
million on one job alone and has been told that if they quit, the State
will sue them for breach of contract, even though the State will not pay
them in the near future.

It appears that the State wants all of the construction companies to
carry the State through these tough times.
New York State probably won’t pass a budget this year at all. The
politicians are afraid that the cuts will be so severe that the
government workers’ unions will make sure they are all defeated in the
elections in November.

So now we have a State government that is acting exactly like the
ostrich, sticking their heads in the sands when danger is at hand.
Who’s  covering the rear?”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/rosenberg-deadbeat-homeowners-are-just-the-tip-of-the-pay-me-later-economy-2010-6#ixzz0piJtYtEx

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When is a house “new”?

A new listing on Riversville Road appeared today, asking $8 million. That seems steep to me, given its location, but what caught my eye was its “built date”, stated as 2006. The listing claims it was “re-imagined” in 2006 but pulling its history, there was a house on the same location built in 1955 and renovated in 2003 or thereabouts. Somehow, I suspect it’s that same house. I don’t think “re-imagining” supports a new build date, but perhaps I’m wrong.

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This seller is getting serious

40 Edgewater

This is nifty, albeit small (2500 sq.ft) house with almost no yard and no room for expansion. The owners paid $785,000 for it in 2003 and then did a beautiful job of renovating it. They relisted it in 2005 for $1.699 and have dropped their price steadily during the ensuing five years. Today it dropped to $1.095. A young couple with perhaps an infant or two could do far worse. Very convenient location on a nice street and a very, very nice house.

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Chicago Politics to be unveiled, starting Thursday

Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial begins this week and the circus promises to be hugely entertaining. Except for Chicago Demmerkrats at the White House (if there are any) who are shaking in their boots. From Politico:

The corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is already shaping up to be a political circus, promising to lay bare the underbelly of Chicago politics.

But while the stakes are clear for Blagojevich – he could be the fourth Illinois governor in 40 years to retire to a federal prison – some of the most powerful Washington insiders are braced for potential political damage from the trial, which begins Thursday.

President Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. all have at least some skin in the game, according to documents produced by prosecutors, defense lawyers and the White House counsel. Blagojevich has been charged with engaging in state-level kickback schemes, but Washington is much more focused on allegations he tried to sell Obama’s old Senate seat.

None of these Washington insiders have been accused of wrongdoing. But their names are sure to come up in testimony.

“It’s like a soap opera,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “Everyone will be watching it.”

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Just in time for the Gores’ divorce presents

Royal Society reexamining its position on global warming.

Britain’s premier scientific institution is being forced to review its statements on climate change after a rebellion by members who question mankind’s contribution to rising temperatures.

The Royal Society has appointed a panel to rewrite the 350-year-old institution’s official position on global warming. It will publish a new “guide to the science of climate change” this summer. The society has been accused by 43 of its Fellows of refusing to accept dissenting views on climate change and exaggerating the degree of certainty that man-made emissions are the main cause.

The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”

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