Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AT&T wi-fi access for iPhone owners

Finally, after several false starts, we get the formal announcement of free wi-fi for iPhone users at AT&T wi-fi hotspots. Justifying AT&T's default hijacking of my wi-fi settings to treat "attwifi" as a trusted network and breaking my 3G connection as I pass five Starbucks on the way to work.

But, of course, it's not all sunshine and light - logging in is a multi-step, daily process so I can't skip from node to node as I walk past the quintet.

Someone needs to write an app that automates the login process ASAP.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Break The Glass

According to this Bloomberg article, Goldman seems to have been aware of the break-the-glass plan from at least the beginning of 2008 as they already had Federal Reserve representatives on the premises in March 2008. I guess it wasn't so secret after all? And how was it shocking news when Goldman and Morgan became bank holding companies at the end of September. And, finally, why wasn't Lehman given permission when asked a few weeks earlier?

"The contingency planning to become a commercial bank had been under way since March, after the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. sent shivers through Wall Street. That's when Federal Reserve inspectors set up camp at the firm's 85 Broad St. headquarters, a sign of things to come."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

college isn't for everyone

NYC seems to be getting more serious about vocational education. I'm all for it as I think the focus on college is unproductive/destructive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

new model?

I wonder if the more gradual declines (relatively speaking) and absence of a capitulation day is due to investors being (somewhat) better educated and, in any event, indoctrinated with the view that a crash is the wrong time to sell?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holy Mackerel

I think the Fed has just signed on to bail out all large commercial enterprises in the U.S. Because no one is financing, the Fed will now buy commercial paper.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Citi seeks $60b

Based on absolutely nothing as I haven't bothered to read the court filings - doesn't seeking $60b ($20b for compensatory damages) confirm that Citi was getting Wachovia for almost nothing ($2b)? Which is the strongest policy case for finding for Wells Fargo? And thus Citi's request indirectly supports Wells Fargo?

Developed and Emerging Markets Banks Convergence?

I think that the business model of emerging market banks has historically been collecting deposits and investing them in foreign sovereign debt (and not lending to local business except large and/or politically connected enterprises). Are we moving to the same structure in the rest of the world? At the same time the emerging markets are moving towards actual commercial lending? And, if so, does this suggest that investments as substitution for debt will become possible in the U.S.?

Spitzer's Fault?

Only half tongue in cheek, was Eliot Spitzer a proximate cause of the current economic turmoil?

Consider his weakening of the investment banks (leading them to take on riskier strategies to maintain earnings), targeting of AIG (leading to the ouster of its CEO – the one man who could keep Financial Products in line), and failure to limit mortgage lending fraud and abuses (items more appropriately with a state AG’s mandate).

And then the consequences: Lehman’s bankruptcy, Bear’s bailout, Merrill’s merger, AIG’s nationalization, and today’s frozen credit markets.

Friday, October 3, 2008

sleepless success

There seems to be a strong relationship between success and needing little sleep. The second appears to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LBIE and Hedge Assets

This sentence from the GLG investor letter (posted on the NYT website) is difficult to understand: "Our assessment of the LBIE exposure is based upon a number of assumptions (including, that amounts LBIE was required to treat for each Fund as client money and not use in the course of its business were and are, in fact, so held and will be released upon repayment by each Fund of all its debt to LBIE)."

I would have thought that, for the most part, repayment of debt to LBIE would effectively release securities held as collateral in margin accounts and NOT cash (because cash would be credited dollar for dollar and so is a wash - no incentive to repay).

If this thought is correct, that means that GLG and its brethren have contingent liabilities equal to (x) the excess of securities held as collateral over (y) borrowings from LBIE. Assuming they were leveraged to the hilt and a meaningful portion of assets were at LBIE and they are a general unsecured creditor of LBIE...

AIG rescue terms

From the NYT website:

"The preferred shares will have an interest equivalent to 79.9 percent of the votes of A.I.G. and be entitled to receive 79.9 percent of any dividends paid by A.I.G. on A.I.G.’s common stock."

Does this mean that dividends are paid roughly 50/50 (44/56) until the preferred is converted?