Thursday, December 18, 2008

Michael Schumacher

Why is Michael Schumacher in the $5m-$10m band of contributors to the Clinton Foundation?

Madoff Shmadoff

World's biggest ponzi scheme? Not even close - social security is obviously the biggest. And unusual for two reasons:

1) The promoters do not (generally) lie. Rather, they simply don't go out of their way to let investors know that current contributions funding distributions to historic participants.

2) To some extent, the promoters are actually trying to make the system somewhat legit (actuarially feasible) - rare to unique in ponzi world.

Just teasing. Sort of.

Monday, December 8, 2008

CS no FB?

Had no idea that there were even rumors that CS would get out of investment banking altogether. I thought CS was doing relatively well and so would be able to preserve an investment banking platform.

PE Secondaries

Have been thinking about PE secondary sales (Harvard, UVA, etc.). And have a thought - assuming PE returns are largely a function of vintage, and assuming now is the right time to begin putting money to work, could it be that the sellers are actually not exiting PE but rather freeing up capital to invest at the right time? For a public stock, future beliefs about the industry or asset class determine whether to hold or sell a position, regardless of prior losses. For PE limited partnership interests, different years and funds are not fungible and so investors need to make a new purchase to get exposure (can't simply hold on to old investments and ride out the volatility). So, although there may be some increase in value for 2006 vintage funds, better to get in the 2009-10 funds even at the cost of writing off a large part of the value of recent investments. Just a thought.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

saving for the future

For a long time I've wondered how to make sense of an extreme example. Assume we are all the same age. And we all save diligently for retirement. And we all retire at roughly the same age. What are those savings worth? Anything? If cash? If non-portable assets? If portable assets? I'm thinking about conversion of retirement savings into services and whether this means, if the stock of available services is roughly fixed (number of people available to provide the services), that you just see crazy inflation. Oddly, does this also mean that, if we all got uniformly poorer (for example, if all of our equity portfolios got cut by 40%), is there a more muted effect than you might expect? I don't really get it.

A hope

Price variations are generally a function of liquidity needs rather than changes in underlying value. I hope.