Dec

23

 I read an article about High Frequency Trading on Technology Review:

"High-frequency traders are making money by delivering a service: liquidity. In today's highly decentralized market, defenders say, their systems are simply the most efficient way to match buyers and sellers".

What happens if "they" shut the machines off and pull the bids — or throw the big knife switch to "bias = sell"?Makes me think about that scene in "Trading Places" where the Dukes scream "turn those machines back on!"

Dan Costin writes:

They're users of liquidity, not creators of it. Know of any less than liquid stocks that a high frequency trader would get involved with? The stocks they play with are already plenty liquid.

Jeff Sasmor replies:

200+ MM shares / day in C where on many days the price bounces up and down by 1 cent for minutes or hours (aside from the open) is creating liquidity? If the HFT guys aren't churning C then who is?

May

11

A very nice article on businesspeople who wish to improve the world appears in the May 7, 2009 New York Times and is worth reading.

 Dan Costin responds:

Make sure you read the comments, too, they go through some of the more obvious counter-arguments to the more extreme positions in the article.
 

Mar

19

Chick fil AWatched the market soar today as the Fed cut rates by 3/4%. Now the news tonight is full of political commentary by the pundits. This country is in serious trouble and the press is engulfed in picking apart someone's speech that he made today. Be ready for real estate to plummet and for some big builders to fall this summer as the subprime mess further unfolds .
 
The economy should be what everyone is addressing as it is affecting all of us and our cost of living. Yes our next President will have some input on what direction the USA goes, but our weak dollar, fuel costs, food increases across the board (especially eggs, milk, bread) should be our biggest concern.
 
I know one company that is bullish on our local economy: Chick-fil-A. They have been in our local mall for 12 years and are currently demolishing a closed Ponderosa and will begin constructing a free standing all-brick unit, with inside playground and drive-thru, that will employ 60-90 workers. People have to eat. My best friend owns the mall unit and will own/manage this one as well and it will be closed on Sunday. Chick-fil-A is an interesting story — owned in total by one family.

Steve Leslie writes:

Chick-fil-A is a real American story. I liken it to Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's. Entrepreneurs should read Truett Cathy's autobiography as well as some of his other books. He is a devout Baptist philanthropist and just a wonderful man and a great American. My stepson worked as a camp counselor in Georgia for the Cathy foundation. I can't say enough as to what an inspiring figure and icon he is.

On the business front, I recently saw an interview with Dan Cathy, Truett's son, who now runs the organization and he mentioned not surprisingly that they are aggressively expanding into China and Asia. On a marketing note, I think this is pure genius — a cow holding a placard with their slogan "Eat Mo Chikin."

Dan Costin adds:

Went through South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, subsisted on Chick-fil-A and Maurice Bessinger's barbeque. Both manage to antagonize various portions of the population (Maurice likes to display literature about alternative interpretations of Civil War outcomes in his stores, and flies a big Confederate flag) but you just leave your own values at the door and go in to enjoy the good food. Not unlike visiting foreign countries with different belief systems.

Dec

1

PipeA roofer came here last year or so to give me his bid to re-roof my carport. He slipped a contract down on my dining room table, all pre-prepared while he sat in his really, really expensive pickup truck outside.

He wanted me to sign a deal for $2,500 for the job. The carport is 20 x 10 feet. 200 sq ft. So that's $12.50 per sq ft. I declined. He said I could finance, I looked at the finance charge and it amounted to about 20% — and that's how inflation is created. People buy stuff, order work done and use finance — instead of using self-discipline to say no. And I said no and did the roof myself at less than $200 but I did injure a knee carrying a 50 lb bucket of tar up the ladder to the rooftop.

This week I asked a plumbing company to send a guy over because I have smelled sewer gas during the night, somewhere in the system a problem exists and although I am pretty good at copper plumbing work I am not a drain-waste-vent person. Don't like to deal with the stuff that goes down drains.

Anyway, the plumber was a master at his trade and an all around good fellow to get acquainted with. He could not find the problem for certain but suggested a code violation in regard to the washing machine waste discharge which if corrected probably would solve the sewer gas issue.

He bid $1,500. Well I had to decline that also. The parts for drain-waste-vent work are cheap, just plastic. The job is like cut and paste on a computer in that one measures pipe and cuts it for the purpose it's to be used for then you use a common glue to paste the parts together.

Yesterday I went to a new Barnes & Nobel store with a coupon they mailed me and bought a Crack & Pecker plumbing book that details exactly how to work with plastic pipe for drain-waste-vent systems; cost me $23 with the coupon. I will do this job for a few bucks worth of plastic pipe.

That's how inflation comes to us. We are lazy, don't want to learn how to do things for ourselves, pay exorbitant finance charges and increase inflation, because, you see, inflation if created out of debt, and I can prove it because I have done my job, research.

Dan Costin writes:

I live in the UK. Had an Indian fast food dinner last night with my wife, two chaat appetizers and a prawn curry, a lassi, a glass of mediocre wine: £30. Under £5 if I'd made it myself. Then went to see a movie: £20. £4 if I'd watched it at home. I drove there, gas is over $8/gallon. Could've walked an hour. Or stayed home and fixed the toilet. But I'm letting the plumber do it. Who knows how much he'll charge. But it keeps everyone happy. Skill specialization is the only way we can get a complex civilization like ours to work. Otherwise I'd be busy making jams for the winter about now, trying to figure out how to keep my corn dry, and my cows happy. Then there'd be no time for trading, the ultimate specialized trade, at the pinnacle of our civilization.

Russell Thomas adds:

Pounds
I also live in the UK. I was thinking only yesterday about some building quotes of around thirty thousand pounds for a dormer extension to my bedroom and a small utility room, which are situated effectively in my roof. I would gain an upstairs bathroom situated on existing floorspace , and an extra eleven metre square of standing room for this cost. I appreciate that time, knowledge and tools come into effect, and hopefully over the years an increase in property value. But at most the raw materials of such work would be five thousand pounds. That leaves twenty five thousand pounds labour for a four-five week project. Now if I added that thirty thousand pounds total to my mortgage like most people do in the UK. Over the term of my twenty year mortgage, I will effectively be paying sixty thousand pounds for the whole project! In a nutshell, the builders walk away with 25k after a few weeks work and I am left with a debt to pay over the next 20 years which will effectively double the initial amount paid. Anyone know any hardworking migrant Polish builders?

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