Daily Archives: January 17, 2015

This keeps up, I might begin to question exactly how smart these Wall Street guys really are

Harvard Biz grads unwittingly wave the fickle finger of fate

Harvard Biz grads unwittingly wave the fickle finger of fate

Hedge fund wiped out by “unexpected” surge in the Swiss franc.

Hedge fund manager Marko Dimitrijevic is closing his largest hedge fund, Everest Capital’s Global Fund, having lost almost all its money after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) scrapped its three-year-old cap on the Swiss franc against the euro, Bloomberg news reported on Saturday.

Citing a person familiar with the firm, Bloomberg said the fund had been betting that the Swiss franc would decline. The fund had about $830 million in assets at the end of 2014, according to a client report cited by Bloomberg.

The SNB triggered big losses around the globe on Thursday when it removed a three-year-old cap on the value of the Swiss franc against the euro, allowing it to soar.

More than three years of stability between the euro and Swiss franc ended suddenly this week, as the Swiss central bank abandoned attempts to cap the currency’s value.

The bank previously aimed to let the franc rise no higher than 1.20 to the euro. As soon as the change was announced, it smashed immediately higher, breaking through the previous “ceiling.”

Foreign-exchange brokers who had relied on the stability of the Swiss franc, which until Wednesday was pegged to the euro, were taken by surprise when the Swiss National Bank abolished its controls, and millions of dollars were lost at firms around the world.

The euro plunged against the franc, going down by nearly 28% as the news broke. Associated Press reported that in the world of currencies, a move like that “can seem as rare as Halley’s Comet.”

I thought the idea of a hedge fund was to hedge one’s bets, not put everything on red at 50-to-1 leverage, but I’m naive. More important, how dumb are these guys to bet on what was in effect a scheme of artificial price control, counting on it continuing indefinitely? Wage and price controls have never worked, can never work, and if these  traders were surprised by that fact, they should probably demand their tuition back from their lefty professors at Harvard who told them otherwise.


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Imagine if there were fracking going on



Connecticut officials freak out over seismic activity in the nutmeg state.

The earth shakes – always has, always will, just like the climate changes. A tremble now and then, even a major earthquake like the Cape Ann (Boston) Quake of 1755 is part of the natural order. For fun,you might reflect on the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811, which ripped through most of the mid-west, causing incredible damage. Fortunately for FEMA, there wasn’t all that much human settlement out there in 1811, but when it next stirs, things will be even more eventful.

The point of my reference to fracking is that people are woefully ignorant about the earth we live on, and rush to attribute unexpected phenomenon on God, conspiracies or,these days, the Church of the Holy Gaia. We’re no better than the most primitive New Guinea cannibals in that respect.


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My finest achievement to date

Fudrucker’s over in China drumming up business and during a dog and pony show he clicked onto this blog, to show what else we’re doing. The message blared across the screen, he tells me, is that access to my site is blocked. Banned in Peking! That’s better than banned in Boston. I’m awed, and grateful.

China no likee

China no likee


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When you have purchased everything you could possibly imagine and are wondering what to do with what’s left over ….

The Dowager of pilot Rock contemplates life

The Dowager of Pilot Rock contemplates life

WSJ: Latest Home Style: In-home beauty salons

“People are always looking for something exciting and different,” says architect Richard Krantz of the wave of new salons. He put a salon with stations for hair and nails in a $20 million house built in Newport Beach, Calif., about a year ago. Now he’s considering including them in spec houses he designs. When he takes clients to see the house with the salon as an example of his work, Mr. Krantz says it makes a strong impression.

Builder Andrew Johnson, owner of Jadee Construction in Hot Springs, Ark., estimates that the 450-square-foot hair salon he put into a $7 million house for a client last year cost about $30,000. Big-ticket items include two pedicure chairs that cost about $5,000 apiece. There are also two manicure stations, a hair-washing basin and a leather chair on rollers for haircuts. He is currently putting in another private salon in a 4,000-square-foot home under construction in Hot Springs.

Kimberly Najjar included a hair and nail salon in the 40,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom house she and her husband built in Atlanta. Ms. Najjar says she has enjoyed the salon more than any other feature, including the ballroom, cigar room, theater, two gyms, seven kitchens, recording studio and swimming pool. “I hate going to salons because of all the chaos going on there,” she says. Many salons have no cellphone policies, which can be a pain, she adds. The house is on the market for $15.9 million—and the salon is listed among the selling points in the marketing material.

Current property listings reveal the popularity of salons in luxury homes. Some highlights: An 8,800-square-foot house for sale for $14.5 million in Los Angeles calls its hair salon an “amazing feature.” Harbor Freight Tools CEO Eric Smidt recently sold his Beverly Hills estate, priced at $45 million, that includes “coiffure salon.” The Primm Ranch, for sale for $16 million in Las Vegas, lists a hair salon among the amenities, which also include a bowling alley and a recording studio.

I’m a staunch advocate of people spending (their own) money on any damn-fool thing they want to, including a private hair salon, but if you’re doing it to enhance your resale value, forget it: these must rank just about even with indoor pools. The Journal quotes this agent’s opinion, and I think she’s spot on:

Not all agents agree on what private salons contribute to resale values. Tamara Bourne, with Keller Williams Realty in Peachtree City, Ga., has had several listings with hair salons and says they’re “hard as heck” to sell and get lots of funny comments. “It’s kind of a freaky thing,” she says.


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Warning: Parents, don’t try this at home

To protect and to serve: child welfare in America

To protect and to serve: child welfare in America

Maryland: Parents investigated for permitting their son, 10, to escort his six-year-old sister home from the park

It was a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. But what the parents saw as a moment of independence for their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, they say authorities viewed much differently.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say they are being investigated for neglect for the Dec. 20 trek — in a case they say reflects a clash of ideas about how safe the world is and whether parents are free to make their own choices about raising their children.

“We wouldn’t have let them do it if we didn’t think they were ready for it,” Danielle said.

She said her son and daughter have previously paired up for walks around the block, to a nearby 7-Eleven and to a library about three-quarters of a mile away. “They have proven they are responsible,” she said. “They’ve developed these skills.”

“The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.”

On Dec. 20, Alexander agreed to let the children, Rafi and Dvora, walk from Woodside Park to their home, a mile south, in an area the family says the children know well.

The children made it about halfway.

Police picked up the children near the Discovery building, the family said, after someone reported seeing them.

… .“Parenthood is an exercise in risk management,” she said. “Every day, we decide: Are we going to let our kids play football? Are we going to let them do a sleep­over? Are we going to let them climb a tree? We’re not saying parents should abandon all caution. We’re saying parents should pay attention to risks that are dangerous and likely to happen.”

She added: “Abductions are extremely rare. Car accidents are not. The number one cause of death for children of their age is a car accident.”

Danielle is a climate-science consultant, and Alexander is a physicist at the National Institutes of Health.

Alexander said he had a tense time with police on Dec. 20 when officers returned his children, asked for his identification and told him about the dangers of the world.

The more lasting issue has been with Montgomery County Child Protective Services, he said, which showed up a couple of hours after the police left.

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for CPS, said she could not comment on cases but that neglect investigations typically focus on questions of whether there has been a failure to provide proper care and supervision.

In such investigations, she said, CPS may look for guidance to a state law about leaving children unattended, which says children younger than 8 must be left with a reliable person who is at least 13 years old. The law covers dwellings, enclosures and vehicles.

The Meitivs say that on Dec. 20, a CPS worker required Alexander to sign a safety plan pledging he would not leave his children unsupervised until the following Monday, when CPS would follow up. At first he refused, saying he needed to talk to a lawyer, his wife said, but changed his mind when he was told his children would be removed if he did not comply.

Following the holidays, the family said, CPS called again, saying the agency needed to inquire further and visit the family’s home. Danielle said she resisted.

“It seemed such a huge violation of privacy to examine my house because my kids were walking home,” she said.

So, who’s better able to decide how to rear their children, a pair of highly-educated parents, or professional bureaucrats? In the modern world, the state wins, every time.


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Did you hear the one about the dyslexic carpet weaver?

dogSheriff Department’s rug asserts “In dog we trust”.


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