Nov

15

 It is my understanding that my friend Prof. Kevin Kelly, of Rice University, was the developer of the first ‘nano-car’ about 4 years ago.

He and another friend and a Rice colleague of Prof. Kelly, Prof. Rich Baraniuk, did some amazing work on a new camera technology employing Compressive Sensing, that has applications for High Frequency Trading, their paper, A New Compressive Imaging Camera Architecture using Optical-Domaine Compression, I don’t have the link, but I posted it a few years ago, and it was buried in these comments sections,

Anyway, check the website. It provides “innovative cameras and hyper-spectral imagers that employ advanced computational imaging to provide unmatched price and performance. InView’s innovative computational imaging technology can be employed across the electromagnetic spectrum, including the ultra-violet, visual, infrared and terahertz wavebands”.

When I mentioned that I too was incessantly playing playing Lucky Man, Osaid it was by Oasis, obviously I meant to say Richard Ashcroft’s The Verve, which I still incessantly play and has merited my Top 25 list. Other recent obsessions, include Blue Rodeo’s "5 Days in May" and "Hasn’t Hit Me Yet". Also, Ryan Adams new "Lucky Now" and The Turtles' "I Don’t Know Why", but even before this new Travelers commercial, I seem to be incessantly playing Elenore's "Happy Together".

Check out the Turtles story, one of the great persistence stories where the two progenitors lost their song rights only to repurchase them years later when the buyers filed for bankruptcy and the two Turtles bought them back at auction and ‘happily’ cashing in on this commercial resurgence digging Wilco’s new I might.

And Mick’s effort with Super heavy and his and Joss Stone’s, One Day One Night. Last discovery, all specs should instantly download ELOs 10538 Overture and pay particular attention to the amazing sound of the “cheap Chinese cello” employed here! Stunning.

Nov

1

AA / SGThe story of the day is that Andre Agassiz's dad and Stefi Graf's are both hard driving. Andre's is known for driving the son crazy with a ball machine called the Demon. Graf's father comes to visit to congratulate the couple and see the Demon. The two dads start  jawing at each other about whether a two handed top is better than a slice on the backhand. They start circling and throwing punches at each other. Andre has to step in to prevent them from duking it out. I knew there was a market analogy. Marty Riesman always said he was the luckiest man in the world to have a father who was a bookie. I didn't have that luxury. My dad was on the boxing and wrestling as well as football team at Brooklyn. But he would thank the referee for calling the foot fault on him. "If you have to win by that margin you don't deserve it." Indeed. He'd call it on himself at a critical time in our doubles matches. The Palindrome, just the opposite. He often called foot faults on me when playing against me. What is the ideal father for a person who's going to win? I'm afraid that the bookie, and the hot headed one fit you more for the trading business than the kind hearted one. Fortunately, some with a wonderful, benevolent father marry a miserable scoundrel like the daughter that's likely to result from the bookie or the fighting fathers. They can counterbalance the naivete and gullibility of the ones raised by an Artie. It's all my father's fault and Susan's that I'm such an easy mark.

Jeff Watson suggests:

The genetic component of what we are cannot be discounted. Since 1860, having had at least two members of each generation of my family end up trading is more that an outlier. The funny thing is that nobody in my family was ever encouraged to trade, and many stumbled into it by accident. I have noticed that many successful speculators come from a background with parents who were very laissez-faire in many aspects of their childrens' development, myself one of them. Many other speculators come from an environment that celebrated and taught a touch of larceny. The very best traders I ever knew came from ag backgrounds, which isn't too surprising. Still, it would be an interesting study to see if genetics matter more that environment in the psychological makeup of traders.

Jeff Watson, surfer, speculator and art connoisseur, blogs as MasterOfTheUniverse.

Michael Bonderer extends:

I kindly refer all Speculators to Daniel Ammann's recent book, The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich. Superb! There is even stuff in their on Familial Predestination! What a cool guy. Better then Steve McQueen.

Reid Wientge muses:

Being an easy mark reminds of Poe's stating he wished he could experience dying and write about it at the same time. Being the mark: You are stuck in slow motion, watching the other act and speak, indeed, watching yourself and hoping for intervention, hoping for "sombody stop me." Is it cynical to wish that one had been trained to master this vulnerability? I think not.

Aug

21

1. One often talks about the difficulty of proving the gravitational attraction, and of course the much more important question of expectation around rounds. However, one light at end of tunnel, is that there have been at least eight excursions back and forth around Mr. Big Round in S&P: 1000. No other round has anything like this.

2. The Israeli market predicted or preordained every move n the S&P for last x weeks.

3. The POMO is a license for the banks to feather their nests at the expense of the poor unlucky souls whose debt is not guaranteed, and whose losing assets must be sold at distress.

4. There is always a web between currencies and other markets, a feeding chain if you will. But the web is always changing just when the public gets on to it, as Bacon would say.

5. The market abhors stability like the man a —-

Michael Bonderer reports:

John Mackey, the objectivist and entrepreneur, penned an op-ed on his suggestions for healthcare in the WSJ on August, 11, 2009. This has led to a 'progressive' furor and calls to boycott the company he co-founded, Whole Foods Market Inc. The least that any Daily Speculator can do is go out of his way to spend money in his stores. I have linked his piece and the WSJ's editorial follow-up.

David Higgs remarks:

Walter Isaacson's book Einstein tells of the difficulties Albert dealt with on his generalizing gravity in his Entwurf theory. It wasn't until he applied mathematics to it that he started to get the problem correct. Not sure if mathematics the answer here with the human element such a dominating element, be it a Madoff, a GS, an Obama or anyone else out to swindle the little guy, yet the wall of worry sure seems to hold true…

Steve Leslie surveys:

Don't look now but Dow 9500, S%P 1022, NAZ 2014, GS 163. In the words of Roseann Cash: "My baby thinks he's a train." Stock market up 50% since March.

Cash for Clunkers ends Monday — 450,000 cars sold as a result. One program that the Government got right. Now the dealers need to get their money from government — only 2% paid out so far. Is it true that the next thing is cash for appliances?

Sep

7

V NThe action on the first day of the month of September was highly unusual, and apparently at that time the employment number had leaked so the moves after that first day were much more likely to happen than before. After such bad starts the rest of the week has a standard deviation of 30 and only 50% chance of rise.

The 40 point S&P decline on Thursday was the fourth largest decline on a Thursday ever. By that time, the news was out, and the increase in unemployment was icing on the cake.

All this occured in conjunction with repeated highs in the fixed income prices around the world, and declines in the omniscient market in Israel below the round and Japan near three year lows of 12000 on the Nikkei.

To me, the key event was the raising of the Swedish discount rate during the night Thursday, causing an immediate 1% decline in all European equities. How come they weren't keyed in like the others to the forthcoming announcement?

The most hurtful piece of mass psychology was the naive notion about stocks having to go down because the P/E of 25 was the highest in 15 years, and that was bearish. Earnings are forecast next quarter to be the highest increase ever of 50% and you would think that people are taught to look at the future rather than the past for moves in markets.

There were many good economic numbers and bad economic numbers in the past week relative to expectations. What is it that caused the employment number to be the focus, other than the desire to paint the economy as weak before the election for obvious reasons of agrarianism? More important, why should a decline in employment at this stage be bearish for stock markets?

The one factor that made it seem so much like the end of the world was the the four day move down in S&P from the Thursday 8 28 close of 1298 to the Tuesday 9 04 close of 1236, a decline of 62 points was the second worst start of a week since the beginning of 2002, the only comparable being the four day move on 1 17 2008 before the French bank inside trading activity.

Michael Bonderer adds:

Perhaps equally important, maybe more so: Trichet's decision to increase the haircut on collateral to 12% from 2%.

Martin Lindqvist writes from Sweden:

The Riksbank declined being part of the liquidity pump that the Fed, ECB, SNB, et al, set up last year and continued with also this year. Maybe they are deliberately kept out of the loop now? However I think it has more to do with them having gotten lot of criticism for raising the last few times. Perhaps they just want to show who is in charge.

John De Palma adds:

With respect to the market obsession with the non-farm payrolls report (to the point of motivating a scene in the movie "25th Hour"), the sensitivity of interest rates to a one standard deviation surprise in payrolls is a few times higher than any other economic indicator. The rankings of market sensitivity to the indicators look like they follow a power law distribution, the distribution that characterizes movie/book popularities and other sociological phenomena. It's difficult to create a model of the economy that conforms to the dispersion of sensitivities. It's more plausible to appeal to a view of markets with focal points, attention biases, etc.

Henrik Andersson follows up on the Swedish developments:

It turns out the Swedish calculation of inflation was flawed leading up to the rate hike and the reported July number of 4.4% was in reality 4.1 percent (they thought shoes prices had increased 30% yoy…). Since the Swedish 'Riksbank' most likely was split in their decision it is widely suspected that with correct data we wouldn't have had a hike to 4.75%.

Jul

13

 I recently read "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture", by Brink Lindsey, a vice president at the Cato Institute.

Lindsey's thesis is that the mass affluence that began in the United States at the end of World War II was a watershed event with far-reaching implications (the book is U.S.-centric, but Canada and Western Europe quickly followed the U.S. into mass affluence). With basic material needs largely met, many Americans shifted attention to pursuing higher-level needs in Maslow's hierarchy. The generation born after the war, the Baby Boomers, never knew the bad old days of scarcity and had radically different priorities from their parents.

As this era of abundance unfolded, practices and institutions that stood in the way of self-fulfillment came under "sustained and furious assault". The civil rights movement fought racism. Women fought discrimination in hiring and promotion. Sexual taboos were overturned. Alternative lifestyles proliferated.

People's reactions to these sweeping societal changes increasingly determined their political allegiances. "On the left were arrayed those elements of American society most open to the new possibilities of mass affluence and most eager to explore them … At the same time, however, many on the left harbored a deep antagonism toward the institutions of capitalism and middle-class life that had created all those glittering new possibilities. On the right, meanwhile, were the stalwart defenders of capitalism and middle-class mores. But included in their number were the people most repelled by and hostile to the social and cultural ferment that capitalism and middle-class mores were producing."

Lindsey believes the most important story is that the majority of Americans who are not passionate political partisans have been gradually forging a "libertarian synthesis" that allows for individualized pursuits of self-fulfillment while supporting capitalism, rule of law, and intact families—a balance of personal freedom and personal responsibility. "Most Americans … embrace the traditional, Middle American values of patriotism, law and order, the work ethic, and commitment to family life. At the same time, however, they hold attitudes on race and sex that are dramatically more liberal than those that held sway a generation or two ago." Lindsey argues that this synthesis, as yet unrecognized by the major U.S. political parties, is the basis of the social order of the 21st century.

The book has a copyright date of 2007, but appears to have been written before the 2006 congressional elections. I found myself wondering how well the apparent sharp left turn in American politics since then fits Lindsey's hypothesis. As the Collab noted the other day, there is an anti-market cacophony in the air these days. It feels like the mirror image of the late 1970s, when Keynesian economics was so thoroughly discredited that President Carter felt compelled to support deregulation and appoint Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. Now, "your own men", as Mr. Zachar would say, such as Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson are advocating increased regulation.

Michael Bonderer adds:

Relatedly, check out the good piece in Time magazine by Nathan Thornburgh on the Libertarians' freedom agenda and how it's transforming America's political landscape and the potential for the "Naderization" of McCain in a few states.

Apr

6

CanaAs a very serious collector of art, I see people buy art for the purpose of investment all the time. I'm asked to give my opinion on the worth of a particular piece of art a few times a month. When the public sees headlines touting record price for Van Gogh, Renoir or Matisse, they rush out to buy art for investment. Some major companies have also put the shareholders at "art market risk" by owning large collections of art for investment purposes. The cottage industry of consultants that has sprung up dealing with the art investment field is full of swindlers, thieves, liars and cheats. The consultants, dealers, and auction houses are the ones who profit, not the average collector. Even some reputable dealers have been known to sell fakes, such as works by Dali, which are 99% fake (except for his signature). While it is possible to make some money in the art market, it is very improbable for the collector to profit. A collector should stick to buying art he loves, has beauty, wants to display forever, and is willing to bequeath to a relative or museum upon death. The art hanging on our walls and in our collections is owned by history, and we are merely the caretakers of the art. Incidently, despite the spin by Sotheby's and others, the mid-range market for good Impressionist art is rather soft. There are also some good prices to be found in the Old Masters. I used to tell my lovely wife that the price of good mid-range art fluctuates inversely with the number of margin calls on the Street.

Sam Marx remarks:

PollockI believe a lot of modern art is a fraud. Jackson Pollock's splatter paintings — how can anyone take them seriously? Yet they are sold for millions of dollars. A painting (not a Pollock) hung in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC for a number of years before it was discovered to be upside down.

Marion Dreyfus critiques:

Your grasp of modern art is not strong; if you know the continuum of the field's development, you would not say that. It marks a yahoo sensibility, alas. There are fraudulent practitioners, but Pollock is not one. Suffice to say there are less well researched and annotated and revered artists around to pick on. In general, if you are going to pick on frauds and fakes, better to pick on a very current artist whose chops are not yet firmly implanted in the historical record and universally accepted.

Just as there are 'collectors' without an ounce of sophitication in what they are amassing, there are quick-buck artists eager to make use of the investing/collecting sensibility when they adjudge the market to be a bunch of gullible wallets circling for a kill.

And though it sounds foolish, because much of modern art is nonrepresentational, if the artist is not present while the museum hangs the piece, it is forgivable if the canvas is not the way the artist intended: The average viewer could not tell which side was intended to be down, which up, so one ought not hold the museum guilty for such an understandable error.

Sam Marx retorts:

What makes Pollock’s work worth millions? One critic called Pollock's work colorful "wallpaper designs." I don't believe Pollock precisely measured the hole he created in the bottom of the paint can and a slight change in the hole size in the can of paint that he was dripping from would've resulted in a very different painting. If you don't have a precise control over what you're doing, I have doubts about it as a masterpiece.

Michael Bonderer assays:

RothkoSam, easy boy! Kindly try to put Pollock specifically, and the Abstract Expressionists of the budding NY School Artists more generally, in the context of post Hiroshima/Nagasaki, post WW II ethos and emerging Cold War ethos of the late 40s and early 50s, to understand their aesthetic and important place in global art and their brilliance. Particularly interesting would be for you to trace Pollock's pre-Abstract Exprisionist work to see how he as an artist developed and emerged as a leading Abstract Expressionist. As the atom's understanding came to mass consciousness, you will see bio-morphic imagery present in many artists' work, including Pollock's. This gave rise to the 'explosive canvas' of Pollock and others and the magnificient 'color-field' work of Rothko, as they all came to grips and a better understanding of where we as a society were going on a certain level from 1945 to the present. Collecting and investing in art is an aesthetic and a lifestyle, and to do it well you really have to immerse yourself, e.g., Paris in the 20s and 30s, NYC in the late 40s, 50s and 60s, LA and SF Bay area in the 50s and 60s and 70s and the LA Chicano art of the 70s and 80s and now Shanghai today with its phenomenal present day contemporary pieces and artists. Sam, I kindly direct you to the Art Tab on Costco's web site!

Lon Evans adds:

Should this be 1910, Sam, you’d be offering to pass on any available Van Gogh.

Adam Robinson offers:

Cana Alas, what's not strong is modern art's grasp on what moves the human heart.

If anyone wants to take up the affirmative position that modern art resonates with the human soul and psyche anywhere near as much as does any Old Master painting, I'll take up the negative banner onto the debate field with gleeful alacrity.

As a rule of thumb, in any field of human production, whether art or literature or essay writing or science, I lay it down as axiomatic that the time and consideration that ought to be accorded to the appreciation and evaluation of human products is proportional to the time and consideration that went into their creation.

Some might argue that talent or brainpower ought to figure in to the calculus of merit, also, so for those who like to quantify things, let's say,

PT x BP/T = k x CAT (production time of creation times the creator's brain power/talent equals some positive constant times the claim on an audience's time)

Show me a piece of art — or an idea even — that took two years of a human being's life to conjure and produce, and another that took two days, and the assuming the talent of the creator's to be the same, I'll give the later maybe 1% as much of my time weighing and appreciating as I will the former.

Michael Bonderer explains:

Tang ZhigangAnd therein lies the adventure and challenge. To effectively emmerse oneself into the Shanghai art and media cognoscenti and find the Shanghai Pollock and Rothko and Diebenkorn. Scour the streets and allys and lofts for the work-product of the Tiananmen-inspired dissidents and new-found 21st Century Shanghai sensabilities. Maybe even find the Costco art-mill progenitor and take him out for tea and latte and pick his brain. He may be nothing more then a knuckle dragger, but then again, he may point you to a street that is having a new showing Friday night.

Jeff Watson responds:

There are some prefectly dreadful works from the Old Masters out there. Just go to the Prado or Louvre, and you'll see plenty of examples. While I'm not a fan of most modern art, I do like some of it, and have one piece in my collection. Good art is good art, in any genre, be it music, literature, or theater, and the heart will respond to to what's good. Some have pre-existing opinions on the merits of a certain genre, and it could cause them to miss out on something beautiful. Pre-existing opinions have cost me a lot of money in the market over the years, and this has taught me to sample everything, and keep an open mind.

Steve Leslie ponders:

Why is it that a painting of a nude is considered artform when a photograph can be considered pornography? As an addendum, do I need Freudian therapy if I am a fan of Robert Mapplethorpe?

Why would someone spend millions for a stolen work of art yet know in advance that he may never reveal it for public viewing?

Along the lines of burglary, How can billions of dollars worth of artwork be stolen every year and vanish for decades?

What happened to all the artwork that the Germans plundered from France, Italy, Denmark and other places during World War II and has not been seen since?

Where does someone draw the line between art and garbage? Along those lines what, defines Dali as a genius and not mildly psychotic?

Was Andy Warhol an accomplished artist because he drew for Campbell’s soup labels or in spite of it?

Who else thinks that Frank Frazetta is genius personified?

Are dogs playing poker classified as modern art, especially with the Phoenix-like rise in popularity of the game?

Do velvet Elvis paintings increase in value?

Alston Mabry postscribes:

I enjoy using artwork as wallpaper on my computers. Two very good sources are Mark Harden's Artchive and WebMuseum. It is crucial to get a good scan, that has decent color saturation and sharpness. For example, Hopper's Cape Cod Afternoon from WebMuseum, in which the colors are very rich, and you can actually see the grain of the canvas.

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