Friday, April 4, 2008

Yet More Random Thoughts For Friday

What's up the the Pregnant Man? If he has female reproductive organs, isn't he a woman? I want more details, but I'm kind of afraid to ask. And I definitely don't want to see any photos.

You know, derivatives and swaps really aren't that complicated. They're just new. And they're not even that new. The problems should not be this big. Can't anyone model this?

Anyone who relies on the "genius of the market" is an idiot.

Hillary seems to be getting tired. Plus, I know everyone tells lies, but she tells bad ones. A lot.

Old Chris Rock example of a bad lie, "That's your baby."

The Rape T-Shirts just seem in bad taste to me.

Time shares really are the way to go on vacation if you have kids.

My wife thinks if I mention someone more that once here that I'm "infatuated." So, just to clear the air, I am not infatuated with David Shuster. But, I did notice that he was wearing a black and white pinstripe suit yesterday on Hardball, which, with his nearly black hair and pale complexion, gave a kind of retro black & white look to the whole news segment. Since existentially we know that nothing is a mistake, I can only assume that this b&w theme is meant to convey a subliminal pro-Obama image to viewers.

David Gregory's new show on the Presidential Election, coming out just when everything has gotten realllly boooooring, is OK, but follows the same old format as a dozen other shows. It's not going to turn into another "Nightline." But it's not bad. At least it's better than The McLaughlin Group.

Milton Friedman's philosophy is inherently evil, and should be discarded. Yeah, that's right. I said it.

People's homes should be considered more than a financial asset, and should be treated differently under the law. Why have we forgotten this?

If America is basically just a big, free market, then how does patriotism fit in?

I'm looking forward to seeing Tom Glavine pitch for the Braves again this season. Tom's a 42 year old lefty, who has made the transition from young fastballer to crafty old curveballer. He spent the last 4 years with the Mets, but he's back home now. He's also a native Bay Stater, like yours truly.

The economy seems to be getting better around here. I hope it spreads.

Interesting perspective from an old lady cashier at the Mercedes dealership. She's been there for many years. She says that election years are always slow for Mercedes sales. Grass roots insight! This would make a lot of sense especially for this year. Since we have no incumbent running for re-election, both parties are running on a theme that things are all screwed up and only they can fix them. Well, the base message being that things are all screwed up is bound to influence consumer confidence. Downward. And since we have a consumer driven economy, this has an impact. A negative impact, to be specific. Let's call this the "Old Lady Cashier Effect."

No more news from the Swingers in our neighborhood. Maybe I should start to work out.

So, who won the NCAA Tournament? Is it over yet?

Apparently the LPGA has finally figured out that if they market their hot, straight women, then men will watch them too. Duh. Pretty girls, golf, laying on my couch with a beer. Sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon plan. I may have to delete The McLaughlin Group from my tivo schedule to make room in my tv schedule.

Speaking of The McLaughlin Group, what happened to Tony Blankley? He's disappeared. Did they figure out he was a Moonie and kick him off? Or did he and Eleanor finally just have a big slapfight and she won? The new blond conservative woman whose name I can't remember is really good. Plus she doesn't interrupt.

Lake Lanier is up 5 feet, but is still 15 feet below normal pool level. So Atlanta should make it through the weekend.

That's all for now.

Models in the news

How About Some Modeling In The News?

No, I don't mean the incredibly and annoyingly stupid young girls on America's Next Top Model, which I still cannot believe gets airtime in my house. And I'm not talking about the crew of perky spokesmodels on the new Fox Business Channel. Though I must say, Neil Cavuto really seems to have calmed down since I last watched him several years ago.

But after mentioning the dumb girls, I feel compelled to give a shout out to a few of the up and coming smarty pants tv people who I would, frankly, also watch even if the sound were off.

Taking my role as tv viewer very seriously, a big part of my responsibility is to provide feedback via this blog. Not just because moving from the couch to my desk chair constitutes my daily workout. But because it is important to help maintain the illusion of true public discourse in our democracy/republic/oligarchical sham or whatever it is we live in these days.

So, without further sarcasm:

Second runner up is . . . Erin Burnett, an alum of Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg (where all great minds gather), Erin is ratings gold, and on two tv shows every day, CNBC's Squawk On The Street and Street Signs. She's super-smart and Chris Matthews is not-so-secretly in love with her. And who can really blame him?

Here's a clip showing Erin calling W a monkey, which is why we love her her.

First Runner-up is . . . Becky Quick, also of CNBC. Becky, a Wall Street Journal alum, has a serious demeanor and a tenor delivery that commands attention and allows her to hold her own against her overbearing and loud male colleagues on Squawk Box, without showing much effort. No clip of Becky here. But she does have a fanclub.

And our Grand Prize Winner and Miss Worldview Brainy Chick for April 2008 is:

Mika has worked her way up through the journalism pipeline and projects an air of seriousness and toughness that makes her number one in my book. It's rather difficult to find photos of her. And, trivia, her Dad was some sort of Doctor Strangelove type for Jimmy Carter.

Here is a clip showing her taking what I would say is a heroic and much needed stand for journalism. You really need to watch it. It's great.

Well, that was fun. But that's not what we are really about today. I'm here to complain about the news. Again. It's what I do.

I keep hearing all about the catastrophic events that might have happened if Bear Sterns went into Chapter 11. While I more or less believe this, I'm still curious. What exactly would have happened? Someone must have a model of what would have happened. That's what all of you finance guys do, right? I started a small investment company a few years ago and all I heard was, "model this" and "model that." "Let's see your model." Well, I didn't have a model. So I had to learn how to "build" models and forecasts. They like to say they are "building" them, even thought "typing" them would be more accurate. It's just another ridiculous affectation for finance people to make their work sound more complicated than it is.

I learned to use the SWAG method of forecasting and modeling. That's an MBA term that stands for Silly Wild Ass Guess. It actually works.

So what would have happened if Bear went into bankruptcy? Well, the general answer is that panic would envelope "Wall Street", even though most of the hedge funds are in midtown or out in Connecticut, and investors would clamor to liquidate their positions and go to cash. The over-leveraged and under-capitalized companies would have been unable to pay, and be forced to file bankruptcy.

Well, OK. But which ones? How would it all go down? I'd be interested in seeing how it might have played out. Wouldn't someone buy them? My bet is that someone has already figured this out all of this. So, why don't we get him or her on the tv. This would help us get to answer the more important queston, "So what?" I guess we'll have to wait for Stone Phillips or Diane Sawyer to come up with something.

This is kind of important, I think, because that raionale I'm hearing today seems to be internally inconsistant. On the one hand, allowing Bear to fail would have led to a complete loss of confidence in our financial markets, causing them to stop functioning. OK, let's accept that premise. But then we are assured that this Bear type deal was strictly a one time thing, because it was an emergency. Well, if it was a one time thing, how does that restore market confidence? Does that mean the next bank will be allowed to fail? That doesn't inpsire much confidence in me. I need more info about why the Bear situation was so unique and special.

Same issue with our pending withdrawal from Iraq. We keep hearing all of this nonsense about it taking 18 months. Nonsense it is. Let's see a logistical model. We don't need to bring home all of our worn out equipment, and it's only 150,000 troops. That's not that many to move. I'd like to see a draft logistical plan. Get Wesley Clark to draft one up for tv. He's not busy. Let's see what he can come up with. It will help his aspirations for the SecDef appointment.

Here' a suggested start for the model, start at the extremes and work your way in. The bookends are 1) everybody stays where they are for 100 years (aka the "Crazy Old Man McCain Option"); and 2) the troops all get in their humvees and drive to Israel in time for Shabbat this evening (aka the "Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves And Get The Fuck Out Of Here Option.") A number of practical approaches lie somewhere in between.

This kind of detail would be more interesting that five consecutive news shows covering the same stories with the same film clips and the same commentary. Come on newsies! Step it up! This kind of junk is why journalism is considered a gut major in school. You can do better.