Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Player: Lunch

"Nah, are you kidding me? Lunch is for wimps..." - G.G.

One of the most important concepts in the finance world is how you spend that period midday to recharge. What you eat, who you eat with, and where you eat all speak volumes about your role in the finance world.

All right I agree that some people in the finance industry are better suited for eating at their desks. We got it right with quants. Banks just locked the Trekkies into a windowless closet and told them, don't come out until you write a program for me that I can take credit for. I guess the dorks got their revenge by making absurd assumptions in their models

What's for lunch: A slice of Sbarro's pizze slid into the slot of the door.

Who you eat with: The other quant in the windowless room over, though you communicate through tapping Morris code in the wall

Where you eat: Basking in the light of your computer screen

The trader has a coke habit to curb his appetite and no fuckin time to leave, so he a) sends the intern b) spends 10 minutes outside getting food if he is not important enough or c) just shotguns a Redbull for a meal. If the trader were to eat:

What's for lunch: Chinese food. The boxes placed right under their mouths as they stare longingly into their Bloombergs.

Who you eat with: The guys around your desk. The dialouge involves a story of one of the traders regailing the croud of his trip to Brazil where he fucked a 17 year old prostitute.

Where you eat: Why would he ever leave his desk during daylight? Traders are reverse vampires.

Commercial/Corporate Bankers:
This is where the fabled three hour martini lunches come from. Unfortunatly, the booze usually has to wait til night but the lunch is still acceptably expensive. Who cares? Just use the corporate card!

What's for lunch: Goat cheese profiteroles and an arugula Caesar salad. For entrees, choice of swordfish meatloaf with onion marmalade or a rare-roasted partridge breast in raspberry coulis with a sorrel timbale. I know, I know, they really have had to pull back on the options in recent times...

Who you eat with: This is the genius part. If the banker doesn't have a client to take, they go out with the other bankers. Excuse me? I believe he ordered the cactus pear sorbet.

Where you eat: Any place that offers quail eggs.

Any capital markets organization that reminds me of the pedestrian AAPL deserves nothing better then a nice Mexican place. Speedy, so the screensaver does not come up by the time they get back.

What's for lunch: Burritos, tacos, bathroom in an hour food, etc.

Who you eat with: The team. The waiter has not realized there were so many various shades of Oxford blue dress shirts.

Where you eat: Anyplace that could use a five year projection assuming a growth rate of 10% sales increase, 5% G&A reduction, 6% tax increase in the third year...

Executive Management:
Suprisingly varied. Either a banker style lunch or a trader style one.

What's for lunch: Who am I firing again today?

Who you eat with: Deb, can you send in my twelve o'clock?

Where you eat: 21 club or McDonald's. Wherever the deals are baby.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Player: Daisy's "Beautiful Fool"

I declare after today's 300+ upswing that the bear market is officially over.......

Hahaha, what a crowd. 'Take my wife please.' Hey seriously folks, so I had a conversation recently with some brunette broad who strikes me as one who has a massively low self esteem (a friend's ex so despite the big boobs and low esteem, not desirable since its chartered territory. Amusingly, she currently works at her ex's firm.) It really came through to me when we were discussing a book that serves both as my Bible and autobiography, The Great Gatsby. In case you couldn't get my stong love for the novel by the pseudonym, Jay Gatsby is a big hero to me. Any book that starts, "'Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'" (Good point there, Nick) Anyway, it's more relatable to me then The Grapes of Wrath (Why do farmers' sons want to be farmers too? The superior subsidized job is clearly in finance.)

So this brunette chick asked me why guys prefered Daisy Bucchanan in the novel/life. It's so true. I want to put on my tux and go out with Daisy to parties. I wanted to say something like, "Guys want some dumb hottie to run around with and only will settle down when the sure thing is good enough versus rolling the dice at a bar." I realized this poor girl was so confused and unconfident, she was trying to analyze the male mind. My response was concise, since I was trying to be delicate about this, "She's...uh...blond." I mean, guys will say they want equal intellegence to theirs in a relationship but that's bull. Guys want a girl slightly to waaaaay dumber, so the guy can make the call about where to eat and when to fuck. Guys want a companion, not a warden. I love it when a girl is literally in awe of my views and capabilities. If you haven't tried dating someone dumber then you, try it. It's so choice. Who wants a chick to nag when you could get one of Daisy's "beautiful fools."

There are dangers to singling in on a Daisy. I have always emulated the playa profiteers in fiction and nonfiction; you got your Howard Hughes, Jay-Z, Ol' Heff, etc. in real life and the Rhett Butlers, Jay Gatsbys, Fransisco D'Acconda, etc in fiction. Here are the guys who made bank doing cool things like blockade or booze running and are pretty consistently saying swag one liners all the time. The reader should also note that the REDRUM to their pimping and happiness is always the one woman. I admit I myself am prone to screwing this up as well. Occasionally, I'll think consistent earnings in terms of pussy are good for ROE and get over involved with a girl. Ultimatly, I either I lose my patience or my mind, leading to the inevitable girl going/revealing crazy.

The break ups put me in my prime to get some though. As someone who knows only how to go big and without a bodyguard instructing me to not get another round of drinks, I'll push it. I'll also be more prone to hit on whoever the fuck I want and treat them like trash. It's like the guy in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He doesn't give a shit about these chicks and says straight up how he just finds them attractive and wants to hit that. Suprising amounts of girls dig that complete disregard of risk aversion. I love being single. I'm out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Player: Fall Back Plan

"Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril."

-Sun Tzu

With this quote in my mind, I read two newspapers mainly. I hear what my friends are doing on Bloomberg, and thus know myself. I also glance at the New York Times occasionally to know the assholes. I like to keep a finger on the assholes...uh, I mean, enemy. Besides, it's always an ego boost. I see the Times lament idiodically about certain firms giving hard earned bonuses out for top performers, I skip the story and go straight to the unemployed intellectuals in the comments section. Some exerpts (notice the time of day. Oh so this is what people do when others are making it rain!):

  • March 9th,20091:09 pm
    How can these people be rewarded. My Smith Barney broker lost me half of my portfolio and did not protect my downside. He better not be getting a bonus!!!!
    — Posted by Mark Green

  • March 9th,20091:30 pm
    Did Pandit, Rubin, Weill get one too…and if they did, WAS IT A BIG ONE????
    — Posted by popskoenig

  • March 9th,20092:17 pm
    Greed to perfection, what else can you say.
    — Posted by Ed

Thanks guys. As much as you fantasize about being interviewed by Keith on MSNBC (equal to the number of fantasies of subsequently rubbing him off), those people worked when you were twittering on articles and maybe deserve the most for contributing the most. And no wonder the Times is now renting out its building to produce cash flow.

Here is the article in full:

Granted I think it's a bad joke that we cant go to the Bahamas anymore and now need to accept cash (one buddy said he spent his shitty bonus in one night at a legit strip club) or stock for being the best among coworkers (I'm sure the WFC employees ask can I get their stock reward in GS shares? Well, then again, the Cali bankers prob have never heard of a legit bank since Drexel). Knowing the current strength of my enemy (I mean, because of them, John fuckin Edwards had a shot at being prez), I have considered alternative roads in life. Call me crazy, but there may be more to life then banking. I can't live too long under the government's thumb as a civil servant who will be scrutinized for pounding a bright eyed college girl in Jamaica (traveling with parents mean high school? Eh, its all good) on the company retreat.

So another alternative to a job as an International Playboy would be: Bar Owner. I've thought about this occupation with similar passion to banking. Just pipe dreams at this point but who knows, maybe someday. I would probably name my bar Black Out. "Hey man, where you heading to tonight?" "I'm going to go to Black Out." Location is crucial. Probably some place warm would be appropriate. Or near a college scene. Something that leaves me with prospects as SB 2K9. The one challenge I would have would be the competitive advantage of the bar? If quality, then I would need to outclass every other bar at a high overhead cost. In times like these, I'd lean towards price. If price, its gotta be a complete dive. But I could see open bar if you pay the cover. It's a fun mental exercise, thinking about ventures like that. I'm so used to recommending capital structure and various financial advice, it would be fun to show state college reject bar owners how to cash flow a bar four times its initial equity investment. And the bonus would be that the Bar Owner gets to hook up with the help aka hot bartender college students. Shit goes wrong or you get bored, hire another one. And how sweet a pick up line is that? 'Have a shot, its on the house.'

I dunno, like I said, interesting exercise, to own a bar. Then again, maybe I'd rather just blitzed in one.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nothing: Super Powers


Call me deep but sometimes I like to pause the game I run on the weekends to look around. I feel a need to compare myself to the competition. It's reassuring to look and to mentally confirm that I am indeed better than everyone around me. When I see a late thirty something in a trendy blazer talking to two hard bodies, my anxiety is mollified when I see he is wearing jeans. In my occasional glance of the scene, I realized looking around the bar on Friday that I overall I was keeping up with the competitors. After all, the brohams all think monosyllabically and therefore look the same. However, I did notice one thing. Besides the loudly striped button down shirt and spiked hair in the front, I saw that everyone had tanned skin. Well, tanned is a relative term. They all had the skin color of tomatoes. After asking one maroon bronze broham if he got sun that afternoon, he replied, "Nah, broham, tanning bed."

While reassured that the worlds' idiots would voluntarily kill themselves in pods emitting radioactive waves, I realized my office's florescent lights did not give me a healthy hue. Therefore, I spent Saturday reading the weekend Journal next to my pool with some SPF 15. After reading the Money & Investing and headlines, I discovered that there was this new film called "Watchmen" coming out this weekend. Instead of heeding the poor review, the concept piqued my interest.

I considered the pros and cons of being a superhero, and I must say that I am happy that we don't have 'em. First of all, why do I need others to be born with powers? I already have every desirable super power . I mean, would you rather have the power of flight or a pilot fly your G5 while you chat with the air hostess? I already have the power to read minds. It's called investing in emerging market trends and playing girls off each other in the bar. Finally, I also have the power to time travel, or 'black out' as I like to call it.

Ultimately, the concept of the comic is a fantasy for puerile high schoolers and middle aged virgins. The fantasy is based in the alter ego, being someone stronger and significant etc. One of the main types of alter egos for superheroes is what I am on the cusp of achieving. Your Iron Mans and Batmans are billionaire international playboys. Yet, these men do not feel fulfilled with their lives for some reason. As an escape from their wonderful lifestyle, they put on tights and run around at nights looking for clowns. The specious premise of the super hero is puzzling to me. What's the matter Bruce Wayne? Was the thrill of punching the high school dropout thug really greater than closing the LBO? Ridiculous. The other typical alter ego is also utterly incomprehensible. I refer to the Clark Kent/Peter Parker, mild-mannered newspapermen who serve the greater good as flying boy scouts. I never understood their motivation to help others, but then I realized these men actually want something. This superhero thing all is just a huge ruse to impress the top shelf Louis Lanes. Let's face it, Louis wouldn't think of Clark as a copy room fuck even if she was sloshed at a Christmas Party. Besides, Clark is too nice (read, there's an office rumor you like guys!) to ever take advantage, so he needs a baller alternative. The need for the mild mannered superhero is to get ass. Costumes are admittedly a great way to peacock.

At the end of the day, I feel flattered that these comic worshipping dweebs just want to be a little more like me. Whether they want to be billionaire playboys like Bruce Wayne or rail the hottie Louis Lane, it is certainly pitiable yet slightly endearing. Better to have a hundred jealous people rather then one who would pity me! I gotta admit, it feels great being a superman.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Player: Walk out

Another thing I enjoy about this melt down is the transfer of talent. You have to be a complete moron in the finance industry and not be thinking about the next step. Talking to bankers and traders, many have other offers set up. Look at this exec and now top performer compensation. Fuck you Fwank and Dodd!
For example, I heard that a group of traders got the same bonus for last year as the trainees of the firm. Are you serious? Everyone will bail or stage a coup. Capitalists don't put up with some socialists' bullshit. These guys have been there 25 years, and are workers. For example, they had a goddam fire in the building the other day on another floor and they kept at it until the smoke came in. Give me a break, they are worth the money and someone will pay if your broke ass firm won't. At least they will make up some sweet offers that they may be getting. Or if they leave, they will sue the company for all the 36 weeks of vaca that they never took...

Nothing: "A Dollar Can't Buy You Anything These Days"

While it's surely brutal to watch yourself lose millions in a day, in the words of Mel Brooks, "It could be worse...could be raining!" The weekend is supposed to be great spring weather, and while my net worth may be in half, it's still filthy rich by all standards. No need to get hyped up. Even Buffet calls the economy a quote unquote "clusterfuck" and the Firm said the recession will deepen (shall I send you a check for the fee on that one, fellas? It's in the mail...)

In all this you gotta look at it and laugh. Perfect example.

Now available on the McDonald's dollar menu: Citigroup!

This was the world's biggest bank! Why its still on the Dow eludes me, I spent more for my breakfast (a biscut and sausage $1.50 or so). Badadadada.....I'm lovin it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Player: Having Pledges

Jeannie: This party so rocks, Richard!
Richard: This party sucks rectum, Jeannie!

Everything I needed to know about business I learned in a fraternity. Small and big things in fraternity life can be applied to a career. Whether it's knowing that closing a deal is easier over drinks, knowing how to manage Neanderthals who have one thing on their mind, or simply knowing people want to associate with others superior to them. (Say what you will about being the nice guy for getting business. But you genuinely care about someone and their well being and you will be stomped on. It's typically better to say a joke, act cold, and tell people what to do. They will appreciate your advice and love you for it.)
I occasionally check back in with the chapter every now and then. It's not like I care about the fraternity's organization and its history (I certainly did not when I was there). I just want to make sure the lazy shit heads don't fuck up so that the alumni god gets my 18 year virgin sacrifice at Homecoming each year. I was reassured when I called that we got 39 pledges that year which is pretty good I guess.
But being in a fraternity and being knee deep in slutty girls wearing camouflage hats means paying your dues and seeing if you have what it takes. Lots of things in life are like pledging, especially work. An internship is a time when you get treated like filth for the hope you get accepted as a brother/banker at the end of the trial. Some people don't make it through pledging or an internship. Take this one college guy I knew who was interning at a firm similar to mine when I also was doing my internship years ago. A smarter dude, he actually created value for his division by writing a program for the CDS desk. He got treated like shit and his ego got the better of him. He took a job at some puny i bank I never heard of.
Pledging in Greek and banking systems I found to be pointless (ie delaying the inevitability of me running things) but it teaches you the skills of silence and making your boss happy. You have to learn the tiny rituals that leaves your elders impressed, endure physical strain such as a lack of sleep, dress sharp, get drinks for superiors, pretend you are enjoying the most boring shit in the world, memorize the bullshit touting the greatness of the organization, and of course have a terrible self-esteem until you are deemed capable and worthy.
However, just as in the Greek world, if a bank don't get pledges that bank is gonna stagnate. I heard from the grape vine that BAC just canceled ALL of their interns for the summer. Shit, y'all are fucked. Not only does that speak volumes about how doomed that shit show is but I can't imagine who is going to get the BAC bankers' coffee and make their copies. One of the great pleasures of getting through pledging is that you can choose to be a complete asshole to the guys who want to join. Make the young guy stay late. Can you do this spreadsheet for me and I'll take credit for it? Thanks...oh, do you have something to say? No? That's what I thought.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Or Nothing: How low can this market blow?

About 6 months ago, I once asked a smart manager and trader what he thought of the market. He laughed at the question because he had been shorting the markets cleverly for some time. He said, "You know what I think. That's not the question. The question is, do you want it fast or slow?"
It's early in the polls but the Jounal has a poll for how low will the markets go? 29% say below 5000 and 30% say 6000.
The acceptance of the markets breaking through the psychological barrier of 7000 was so odd. It was so dead fish, orderly. It's almost like there is a resignation by finance folk. Lots of statistics agree with this orderly sell off. Walking through the banker and trader packs having their smoke break in the late afternoon, it was a hudled mass just listening. What's usually fuck this trade, there was a stony silence. And the guys are smarter than your average banker. These are after all, the survivors of multiple job cuts. They know their job and there was no fear, no greed, no emotion at all. These brave warriors giving the stiff upper lip; I almost saluted them and wanted to thank them for their noble service to capitalism. Their endurance is admirable and anyone can understand their mental strain. With options being bought more and more for the next two years, people are prepared for the worst yet to come.

The result of the housing being weak is banks. Since we apparantly cannot face the truth about all our assets needing to drop in price, we try to solve the banks. Are the banks insolvent or illiquid? Insolvent, if youre a realist. So nationalize then? How do you nationalize just one bank? You can't; short selling GS sharks will go to the next pool of blood. How do you sell the assets? You can't; this country is broke and Americans will be damned to have another country buy our banks. I'm not going to lamant that these questions are not ones that can be answered easily. That's for a failure history professor who sucks and cannot make it in the real world. The answer is let's see what happens when you drop Citi and AIG and whoever else is weak out the window. If I were to fall out, gravity would not be called systematic risk. But it's a fools hope. Cronism is too strong.

Well, the big dogs opted for slooooooow.