Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simple Man (Take II)

After heavy criticism from the Balcony and our Readers’ furious outrage, the Balcony’s Persona Grata finally picked only one out of eight candidates.

See me, Feel Me

An excellent piece of work that graphically summarizes how the world has come into this mess. The Video takes 10 minutes but it’s definitely worth watching.

You can also buy the t-shirt online…


Role Models

One of the few remaining widely respected men in Wall Street, Jim Rogers, has a new book out called A Gift to My Children, a compendium of advice — financial and otherwise — to his two young daughters (required reading if you are a parent or a son/daughter). Having spent most of his life amongst bankers and money managers, he says his first advice to his offsprings is to be careful of boys!! We wonder who he may have had in mind...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Simple Man

When everyone thought that this was a one-off…

When some were afraid the funding would run out…

Now we know what he likes…

The good ol’ days are back!! No wonder all his mates are smiling in the Balcony’s favourite photo…


… and the Economist’s concern when he was re-elected!!


Missiles in Brussels

Being on a virtual Balcony, watching the sorry shows that the corporate world is staging, and heckling them at will is, I can assure you, a pure delight. But as is usually the case, virtual heckling is no match for the real thing, and for this reason we regret not being able to attend yesterday, the climactic finale of one of the sorriest shows ever presented in the history of corporate arts. The General Shareholders' Meeting of Fortis Bank in Brussels voted for the 4th time and finally managed to approve the bank's takeover from the French BNP Paribas but not before its chairman was showered with shoes, coins and other missiles by spectators/shareholders somewhat angered by losing their life savings/pensions/jobs/dignity over the ordeal that started 9 months ago. We understand there is a repeat performance in nearby Utrecht today, so if you are in the region make sure mot to miss it.

Rock n Roll Train

Can anyone please assist in the following mind-boggling matter?

I can understand why CFOs wish to hedge the financial risks stemming from their companies’ business activities and it is perfectly justifiable, but why on Earth would a publicly-traded Railroad company in the European Union purchase CDOs?!?!?!

Today’s song is dedicated to this firm… No wonder the upcoming concert is sold out!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Photo op

It doesn't matter if you scare a whole city out of their offices in the middle of the day as long as you're able to take that perfect shot in the process. Here's the full story, in New York Post's inimitable style.

Recovery efforts

We have been covering as of lately the attempts to recover funds from the Madoff ponzivaganza (see 1, 2) that crash landed 6 months ago, yet it seems that they were not as successful as hoped. Not so much.

Today though, a new era dawns, one that we realize that the money is out there. * Two points of interest, again for those of you not actually hitting those links,

1. recovered 25.5 m out of what was once worth 1 b **

2. liquidator recovered 1b so far, 3/4 of which is from returned redemptions ***

* Just not as much as we hoped for and by far not as much as was swindled

** probably the correct wording should be , what was once thought to be worth…

*** actually not recovered yet, but you better send it back or else…

Food For Thought

As the crisis deepens, more personal tragedies see the light of day around the globe… 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look we are out of the woods yet as the on-going contraction may be prolonged and leaves its marks on society.

The Italian Job

One of the most intriguing questions ever since governments started bailing out banks was where all this bailout money goes. Today we are happy to report that we have an answer: It goes to Sylvio!!! Italian authorities have preemptively seized about $300 million in assets of four global banks — JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Depfa — whose officials have been accused of fraud to assure it could collect from the banks if they were found guilty and the banks were held responsible.

Knowing this, we can look at the now famous G-20 picture under a completely different light:


The Bad and the Ugly

At a time of crisis you would expect the governement to identify the resources with the greatest and most relevant experience and let them run the show. But they have failed to do that until now, causing the justified frustration of the people who are willing and able to help but are left watching from the sidelines.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair could not contain her anger any longer. She called the govenrment to stop wasting time with stress tests and other nonsense and give her agency the authority to close even the biggest lenders!

The “too-big-to-fail concept” should be “tossed into the dustbin,” and the FDIC should have the power to close “systemically important” financial firms, Bair said in a New York speech yesterday. “Given our many years of experience resolving banks and closing them, we’re well-suited to run a new resolution program,” she said.

I believe Ms. Bair and GM's CEO F. Henderson (who claimed the position on the premise that he had the necessary force, will and leverage to lead the company into bankruptcy) form the most trigger-happy couple since Clint Eastwood teamed up with Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. If we could only find a good guy, we would be ready to produce a remake of the famous spaghetti western of epic proportions...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Real Numbers?

Desperate times such as ours, call for creative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. Of course, once you get out of the box there is no telling how far away you will end up. The Financial Times reported today that based on its unemployment and inflation rates, the ideal interest rate for the US economy would be a negative 5 percent (-5% in case you are better with figures)!!! I found the concept revolutionary (to say the least), and I am hereby stating that based on my liquidity and indebtness situation, the ideal price for me to buy my new Cessna Citation Sovereign is a negative $1.5 mln. I am sending it over to the FT guys for the implementation logistics...

This is the future

Clearly. I want us to forget about e-voting machines or IDs or whatever high tech solutions the west has provided so far. There are cases when you suddenly see that the low tech solution is so much more efficient than anything else, that you need to implement it immediately. On a global scale. More than that it manages to capture the essence of our times. I need to vote on something now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I used to think, now i don't.

As many of you avid oldmuppet readers out there know, my dear Statler and I, have been having an on and off again conversation, regarding newly discovered interesting magazines that we like to read. Obviously this conversation quite often circles around older magazines that we read or have stopped reading. No other magazine has provided such intense discussions on the merits of reading it than the Economist.

My dear Statler, i am glad to report that this topic, coupled with the economic meltdown which has accelerated the destruction of traditional media in the US, has become something of a hot issue again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

TED the Man

Huge tip of the hat to the always excellent Epicurian Dealmaker for describing, in simple terms, the latest effort by the Banks to screw taxpayers out of billions. Although I strongly recommend reading the whole article, I will try to summarize for those of you who avoid technical reading on Fridays:

Back when the Banks were still required to keep score, they were forced to accept federal bailout money to avoid bankruptcy. In exchange (and having little else to offer), they accepted to give up some of their potential future upside, in the form of hugely out-of-the-money, long-dated warrants to the government (who would expect us to see C back at $15 in our lifetimes, anyway?).

Soon thereafter, they realized that by accepting this money they had given up much more than their future upside (namely the control of their compensation committees). So they started intense lobbying to be allowed to stop keeping score (mark-to-market is the technical term), in order to fix their little balance sheet situation, return the money, and regain their freedom (to compensate themselves at will). Unfortunately, by achieving this, they started facing a slight unintended consequence: as the shares begin to rebound, the previously thought worthless warrants are becoming not-so-much-out-of-the-money, and the prospect of becoming quite valuable at some point in the future not so fictional. So guess what? They are now lobbying to be allowed to return the money and get back their warrants for nothing, on the groungs that they are currently worthless!!

I am anxiously waiting the result of this effort to add it to my list of banking miracles...

What ARE They Doing??

A note to our readers whose birth decade is the 70's (or earlier):

Next time you decide to hire (if ever) a fresh new analyst straight out of college, b-school etc. and you notice in the resume that the candidate has been a Summer Twintern(!), don't embarrass yourselves by asking what this is - you 'll only show how far behind you are left in the information super-highway (actually using this expression is a strong signal of tardiness itself). Also do not risk breaking any valuable "objets d' art" sitting on your desks, by remembering the 5GB spreadsheets you were running, back when you were interning at one of the venerable financial institutions that has since ceased to exist.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

WOW!! This is amazing stuff!! This implies that the best way to save one troubled financial institution is to destroy a healthy one… All the MBA books are naturally being re-drafted from scratch!!

The big question is: How does the Fed have the power to fire the Board of a public company, especially if this Board is trying to protect their shareholders’ best interests? Shouldn’t that be the shareholders’ job?!?

However, the world seems to be focusing on another issue:

Should they stay?  OR  Should they go?

Let’s make this debate more interactive (since most of us have currently nothing better to do anyways…): What do you think dear Readers?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

With a Little Help From My Friends

Seems we are not the only ones out there, trying to humour our way out of the current global shenanigans…. If you are interested in Bank Stress Tests, check this out!!

No More Unemployment (Reports)

Three weeks ago we pointed out that in a world where perception is reality, the real problem is not the problem itself but its quantification. As a logical consequence, we suggested that we can solve our problems if we stop counting. As we saw, the concept proved immensely successful as it managed to fix the balance sheet mess overnight and restore health in the banking system overall and the bankers' savings accounts in particular.

It should come as no surprise that Russia who actually based 70 years of superpower status on the concept, decided to take it one level higher and use it to fix the problem of unemployment once and for all. We learn today that "Russia's statistics office will make monthly jobless reports secret after data showed unemployment was soaring fast and experts said it was the biggest threat to social stability". There you have it, straight from the experts: Unemployment reports are the biggest threat to social stability...

I’d Love To Change The World (Take II)

#Tax the rich, feed the poor, till there are no … rich no more#

As far as the UK Budget is concerned, one picture is 1000 words

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Money For Nothing

#…and chicks for free!#

Last night’s preposterous action:

For the Premiership: Liverpool-Arsenal 4-4

For the Taxpayership: Banks-Autos 8-0!!

What’s wrong with this picture?! “It is extremely disappointing that while other stakeholders have agreed to work with President Obama to advance Chrysler’s restructuring, financial institutions that have already taken billions of dollars in taxpayer support are refusing to do the same,” a Democrat Representative said in a statement, calling the banks’ counter-offer “an affront to taxpayers”.

Obviously one wonders why on earth they asked for their opinion in the first place… they should have fuckin’ imposed it to them for crying out loud…!!

Oh, Washington is in dire straits indeed…

Running Total

OK boys and girls. Its that time of the year. You know which one i mean. No, not easter egg time, that was last week. It’s IMF total cost of crisis estimation time. Yep. 4,1 trillion mulah. Now, i know that most of you are bored and actually don’t read this shit so here’s a little inside joke included in the link above:

“In its Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF said U.S. institutions were about halfway through their needed write-downs”

NO, not that, it’s the title of the report that’s the funny part, the other one, not so funny.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I am sure you are all aware of the Eliot Spitzer affair. The famous Client No. 9 who was leading a secret double life as the NY Governor (or the other way around, I get confused). For us, we will always regret not having taken our seats on the Balcony at that time, as we missed the opportunity to post and comment pictures like this:

or videos like this.

Well it appears that it's never too late as our dear Eliot is trying desperately to get into the Balcony charts by showing unlimited amounts of stupidity. Last Firday, he took one of his daughters to see "State of Play" a movie about a congressman caught having an affair with an attractive young woman!!! I am sure that he was able to identify with the hero, or even get some tips, but I would expect his daughter to provide some necessary Parental Guidance and choose another film...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We are going to take a commercial break right now...

Well, i was watching this interview last night and boy was it funny and sad and calming and enlightening and its just so obvious to all that that we are way over our heads...oh well.

PS so what with everyone doing tv shows lately don't they have "important" stuff to do?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Absolute Power

The fact that the reach and impact of the Balcony has grown completely out of control became apparent a few days ago with the now infamous G. Soros moment of embarrassment who used our exact comments of a day earlier on his interview with Bloomberg television (without of course citing his source).

The Balcony power however, was elevated today to a completely different level when it was reported that the court-appointed liquidator of the Stanford fund finally decided to implement my dear Waldorf's suggestion and it only took him two months to get started (exceptional government reflexes should once again be credited).

Two mental notes here:

To our readers: If you wanna read about the things that WILL happen the Balcony is the place to be.

To our contributors: Taking things "in extremis" for comedic purposes no longer works. Whatever we say will actually be used and implemented! We have to come up with alternative ideas.

Bleeding America

Check out this superb interactive map of job losses in the US by Slate Mag. It really is quite scary to watch the transition in the last couple of years. Also feels a lot like the next election’s results swing if Jesus doesn’t step up his game.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

His moon is in Uranus

After the stress ball and umbrella cash flow bonanza it seems that Lehman’s liquidators are turning to some other big ticket items to help repay that massive debt.

May i suggest they try Ahmadinejad. He might be interested in some pure weapons grade raw material…?

Follow Up (III)

As expected, we were not the only ones impressed with Goldman's unprecedented efficiency yesterday. Here is what W.D. Cohan had to say in today's NYTimes (essential reading for all and especially the most religious of you believing in miracles).

In the meantime, Goldman's CFO D. Viniar said he’s “mystified by the interest investors and government officials have shown in the bank’s trading relationship with American International Group Inc". We wonder why. Children always flock the magicians after their shows trying to find out how they pulled their tricks...

Trust the ATM

It seems we have finally found the people responsible for the banking crisis. And you thought the problem was MBOs and CDOs and greed and the like…nooooo they are to blame. Between the bankers and the politicians and the con artists and the priests and the (actual?) criminals you don’t know who to trust anymore…

Keep the Faith

From this, to this, then this and this and now… this!!

# Faith: don't let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to Keep the faith #

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Call me When You’re Sober (Take Two)

At last, some excellent news!

Just another $64,999,992,500 to go. Come on Guys, we can do this!!!! 

Follow-Up (II)

Alternative ideas are of course being tossed around. Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove, for example, suggested that "Goldman would be better off repaying $5 billion to Warren Buffett before refunding U.S. government aid, because the money provided by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. pays a dividend that’s twice as high as the $10 billion received from the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program".

However there is a minor technicality that was pointed out to us by a regular Balcony contributor who insists on remaining Anonymous: Unlike the government, Buffett did not impose any compensation restrictions. Our bet is that Goldman will stick to the original plan...


You don't become the most prestigious Wall Street firm by taking your time. I thought it could take them until the start of the Hamptons season. Well, it took Goldamn exactly one day to find the profits, boost the stock, raise the capital, repay the bailout, and hand-out the bonuses!! Bloomberg was even able to put it in one (!) sentence. I quote:
"Goldman Sachs Group Inc., buoyed by profit that exceeded the most optimistic Wall Street estimates and a 54 percent jump in its stock price, plans to raise $5 billion to repay federal rescue funds and shed government limits on executive pay."

One last question: It was our understanding that government bailouts, Wall Street nationalization, the end of capitalism etc., were the ultimate anathema, the extremely bitter pill we had to swallow to prevent the global meltdown. If it were so easy to find the money elsewhere, why did we even bother? When were they (uhm...) less than accurate? When they announced the losses in January or the profits in April?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Original Soundtrack

What an inappropriate name for a financial institution…! 41JW2EJK9CL._SS500_

Connecting the Dots

Let's try to summarize and put in order some of the most important stories we have been following over the past 6 months or so (references are made indicatively and certainly not exhaustingly):

First we learnt that contrary to what their executives and analysts were claiming, the banks were carrying in their books bad assets in excess of USD 1 trillion (the number has been revised upwards a number of times since, so I have stopped paying attention), making them essentially insolvent.

Given that it would be impossible to convince even the most naive of Madoff's clients to participate in any share capital increase, the banks had to accept an as-of-yet unspecified amount of government funds (likely to increase further in pace with the previously mentioned revisions) in order to avoid bankruptcy.

This infusion of capital inevitably brought with it increased scrutiny and intervention from some very angry politicians who insisted that bank executives return most of their bonuses or even forfeit them altogether. As expected, this made some very senior people very seriously frustrated.

Then came the news that the banks were allowed to change the accounting rules of their bookkeeping, in essence turning their balance sheets into religious scripts (as in "we believe that the true value of our assets is...").

Then on Thursday, Wells Fargo showed to the world the wonders that the new religion can do announcing Q1 earnings of USD 3 bln, while the power of the investors' faith sent its shares up 32% (a resurrection totally overshadowing the one performed by Jesus three days later on Sunday).

In the meantime, Goldman announced that it no longer wished to hold a single dime of government money and it felt confident it could repay it entirely as soon as possible by doing the impossible - raising capital from the markets (yet another miracle! - these people must have trouble diving in their pools).

Having gone through all these stories only one question remains: Can the share capital increases be wrapped up in time for the 2008 bonuses to be paid before the opening of the Hamptons season? I am sure the boys will work their miraculous 120-hour weeks and make it happen...

The Great Pretender

# Oh-oh, yes I'm the great pretender
Pretending that I'm doing well …#

This rhymes well with one of our earlier posts

Saturday, April 11, 2009


It was about time that the old Monopoly game got updated for our new era of financial responsibility. Here is a sample of actual cards for the new game.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Call me When You’re Sober

How you can use the proceeds from selling two baseball season tickets to help reimburse $65 billion is beyond me…

Rock Star


# I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name #

Who knows whom they were thinking of, when they wrote this song?

Perhaps this bloke?!

Bankers Blues

# If you got money in the bank don't let your (horse) draw it out
Cos it'll take all your money and then it'll kick you out #

The avalanche of bizarre executive mishaps is continuing and Rory’s song tops the charts again!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Monkeys and humans

It turns out monkeys and humans have one more thing in common, which puts the world's oldest profession in an entirely new light.

Bottom fishing

Everyone is trying to call the bottom these days, in the economy, real estate, the stock market and everything in between. Witness Jim Cramer and his grilling on Jon Stewart's Daily Show to appreciate how this can be really risky business. Dick Bove, "star" analyst at Rochdale Research (who?) might be making the same mistake by disagreeing with Mike Mayo (Calyon's bank analyst) on Monday's Wall Street Journal:
Rising star Dick Bove - the Rochdale Research analyst who foretold much of the banking crisis - couldn't disagree more with Mayo. In restarting his coverage of Bank of America Corp. (BAC), he called the economy's bottom. (Bove, like Mayo, recently changed firms.) "My belief is that the economy has turned," Bove said in a note to investors. He said Bank of America's stock price will ultimately "return to its all-time highs."
Now, Dick may turn out to be right, however it's worth looking back a year when he called a "generational buying opportunity" on bank stocks, with BAC trading around $39 (hat tip: Karl Denninger). Yesterday's closing price: $7.06 (OK, 30% higher today due to WFC's bogus earnings). There is a sucker born every minute, as they say, especially in stock "research."

Quote of the day IV

Nouriel Roubini, generally accepted major prognosticator also known as Dr.Doom (if you don’t know who he is then most certainly you are reading the wrong blog)

"Cramer is a buffoon"

Dear bunny, all i want for Easter is a special MTV Celebrity Deathmatch between the two, with John Stewart as the referee

Money Shot

It was only a matter of time. Huge tip of the hat to the always excellent Dealbreaker, for bringing to our attention, what is brilliantly dubbed underneath as the first ever known... Pornzi!!! I guess we should have seen it coming...

Like a Rolling Stone

The events and facts surrounding the Madoff case are more or less known. What is perhaps less well-known is the fact that the SEC has filed more than 75 enforcement cases involving Ponzi schemes over the past two years!! 

The latest one comes from Denver, once home of the Great Bob Dylan and the setting for Dynasty. It’s amazing what people do for a motor home and a cabin in Idaho!!

# Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you? #

I’d Love to Change the World…

# … but I don’t know what to do … so I’ll leave it up to youou !! #

First of all, let me express my pride and gratitude to have been given the opportunity to strum my guitar up there on the Balcony!

The song written by the legendary Ten Years After is still contemporary “Thirty Eight Years After”. Especially in Greece where the lyrics seem to apply the most. 

In the past few months, there has been a continuing concern (and an accompanying market reaction) whether over-indebted EMU countries can in practice default in the current slump. Although both ECB and local government officials in the Mediterranean have been quick to dismiss such a possibility and drive sovereign credit markets tighter, the debate seems to be still on-going.

Ironically enough, the leading mobile carrier in Greece recently launched what is probably their most expensive advertisement ever!! This is not depicting Athens by the way (although it could be, considering what’s taking place in the ad)!!

# Life is funny… skies are sunny… bees make honey… who needs money, Monopolyyyy #

Sgt. Floyd Pepper

While we were busy introducing and then waiting for good old Pops (still are actually), as, no doubt, the most sharp-eyed of you have already noticed (Muppet Characters to your left), another lovely Muppet crept up on us and took his seat at the Balcony!

My dear readers please join me in welcoming our newest addition to the team, Sgt. Floyd Pepper!

Despite the overwhelming age difference (he must be at least 2 centuries our junior - collectively speaking) I 'm sure we 'll make a heck of a team. We might actually start posting in rhyme so that he can accompany us with his guitar...

We can barely hold him from making his inaugural post (oh, the youth), so fire it away Flo...

You Shall Not Ponzi...

Our outmost respect to Mr. N. Taleb (of the "Black Swan" fame) for being one of the very few people who predicted all this before it actually happened (what a refreshing concept). Here are his Ten Principles for the way forward. Being aware of the size of Mr. Taleb's ego, I am sure he must have prefered to name his article the "Ten Commandments" instead, but in any case proper attention must be paid.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I would like to thank the Academy

I am well aware that by now everyone is eagerly anticipating my official arrival on this blog (see photo on left). I would like to thank my fans, my family, my friends, my producers and God for bringing me here, I could have never made it without you. I was hoping to publish my first post today, however, due to unforeseen circumstances, I must postpone it for tomorrow (or later). In the meantime, let's all remain calm and we can get through this.

Lost in Translation

First this, then this, and now this!!!!

Someone should seriously explain to Berlusconi the definition of the word humor. I think he is missing the point…

Although he seems not to have missed the point in this comically inclined, yet politically challenged video

Muppet competition

Guess the next title in succession (extra points if you are a Reuters journalist).

5.GM CEO says bankruptcy will be fast if needed

4.GM CEO Henderson says bankruptcy not inevitable

3.GM in “intense” preparations for bankruptcy

2.GM readies for bankruptcy

1. ?????

Hint: this is not like the GMAT test you all did for your MBA where you have multiple choice, you are supposed to try and look for a trend and then think of the next point in this trend. Please submit your answers at Winner will be chosen at random. First prize is a PUMA. Competition ends 30/4/09 (or earlier if GM goes bankrupt)

Greed is good

So is sewage.

May i suggest that instead of raising 33% the sewage rates to all your citizens, you raise it a few gazillion% only to Morgan Keegan & Company? After all, they are the ones who created this shit, n’est-ce pas?

Full Nationalization

While we are anxiously waiting fro Pops' debut, the news keeps coming. We learn today that at least 400 laid-off finance professionals have signed up for potential government jobs. In line with what G. Soros suggested yesterday, when he said that the Obama administration is nationalizing only one side of the banks' balance sheets, and for reasons of completeness, the government appears now to be nationalizing even cost elements removed from the balance sheets.

A Note to Our Readers

During the past couple of months, Waldorf and I have done our outmost to bring you the madness of our world. Unfortunately, it has become evident that the capacity of AIG, GM, GS, Citi, Madoff, et al. to produce insanity far surpasses our ability to cover it. Not to worry though, our dear readers. We have summonned the help of yet another charmingly aged Muppet!

Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Pops!

Having spent all of his career so far, deeply embedded in what we used to call Investment Banking (different terms are being used lately), Pops is uniquely positioned to spot and point out the irony (should I say vainness?) of it all. He has agreed to join us and share his insights with you. Although there are no concerns whatsoever about the quality of his contribution, he has refused to provide any guarantees about its quantity. He will intervene only when he deems it necessary. We will take it anyway. Pops welcome onboard. It's getting crowded in the Balcony, and as Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing...

PS: One more thing. After receiving yesterday, the extremely flattering comments of two friends who, regretfully, chose to remain Anonymous, we felt that we had to add Pops to our team in order to ensure that those posting on this blog continue to outnumber the ones commenting it...

Title of the Day

Footballer given yellow card 'for breaking wind' during penalty shot

OK, i need to go fix a new cup of coffee now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Isn’t it (meta)ironic?

As we at the Balcony canvass the trillions of web pages and news sources out there by utilizing an army of thousands of researchers (headed by sleeper cells inside the biggest hedge funds and financial institutions) in order to bring to you, dear readers, only what reading material is worth your time, we stumbled upon a serious question yesterday…

What is a depression?

Obviously the economists among you are gonna jump to the fore with precise definitions and what not, but i propose to you a new paradigm. One nonetheless that we have hinted at in the past.

A depression is a recession so prolonged or so severe that it invades pop culture. Respected musicians write (crappy) songs about it and tv shows feature it prominently in their scripts…they are making wall street the sequel for crying out loud, how do you call that?

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another...

We learn today that PIMCO (rapidly becoming another Balcony favorite) was among the first ones to invest in distressed real estate mortgages to the tune of USD 3 bln, back in 2007. We can all imagine how this investement has performed: -33% since inception to be exact (they can claim of course that while their idea was spot on, their timing was slightly off).

What we found more interesting in the article though, was the analyst quoted saying that their only hope for some recovery rests with the Geithner plan boosting the value of these mortgage backed securities. Quick! Who was the first one to declare participation in the plan, literally minutes after its announcement? You guessed it: PIMCO "attracted by the potential double digit returns"! Well, if not in that fund, certainly in the other...

Great Minds Think Alike

Billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros said yesterday that "the change to fair-value accounting rules will keep zombie banks alive", while "the Obama administration is basically nationalizing only one side of their balance sheets", namely "the deficits which are difficult to estimate, but should be in the region of maybe a trillion-and-a-half dollars".

With such insightful thinking, it's no wonder he got paid USD 1.1 billion last year. Nevertheless, we think it is almost impossible for him to have independently reached exactly the same complicated conclusions that we published yesterday, and therefore we feel honored and privileged to have Mr. Soros amongst our readers...

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Post Is Worth a Thousand Words

I will use the best possible commentary to the best picture I have seen in a long while, to introduce you to one of my favorite blogs around:

Pictures like this are what dreams are made of: Berlusconi’s vintage moment of Italian overaffection… Medvedev’s uncomfortable “can’t believe you’re touching me” expression… Gordon Brown looks like he’s lost… both Asian representatives sticking to typically straight, honorable postures… Africa’s reprehensive (Meles Zenawi) off to the side, clearly an outsider… Saudi King Abdullah is looking awfully mischievous… and of course, our commander in chief, thumbs up and as confident as ever. If there is a picture out there that better captures the current state of global leadership, we haven’t seen it.

A Drop in the Ocean

In the grand tradition of getting paid enormous amounts of money for adding significant value to your company (see AIG, Fannie and really every other financial institution out there) we bring you Fairfield Greenwich. Not a new entrant by any means since they have been in bed with Madoff for a long time (actually looks more and more like a golden sponsorship status rather than a basic relationship) but nevertheless they seem to have earned their bonuses this year…

Miss Balcony

It is no secret that one of our (i.e. W. and I) highest aspirations in life is to become one day, members of the Miss Universe Pageant judging committee. We have to admit, however, that even ourselves could not have made a better choice for this year's award. Her remarks last week made her an instant Balcony's darling. Could we possibly suggest a future visit at a soon-to-be-closed GM factory, or AIG's trading floor?

Darwin Awards: Business Edition

In a post that already looks like its gonna kick-start a new section in our site, we give you the story of a fox columnist who obviously wrote about something he shouldn’t have.

Let's Stop Counting

You are five goals down, it's not even halftime yet, and the way you are playing, by the time the game is over, you will be needing a powerful calculator. So what do you do? Simple: You stop keeping score!!! In a little while it will feel like you are winning again...

Great Material

I realize that the GM story is starting to get on everybody's nerves especially given the exhibition of idiocy by the company's executives, on what seems to be a daily basis (my dear Waldorf had to work over the weekend to keep up with their pace). Some of us however are handling it creatively...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quote of the Day III

Newly appointed CEO of General Motors on the fate of his company

"If we have to resort to bankruptcy then we're going to do it fast...there are non-traditional ways to do this but it requires a fair amount of force, will and leverage and we have force, will and leverage,"

Did it ever occur to you to use force will and leverage so that you DO NOT resort to bankruptcy (oh wait i forgot, for that you need government money, someone else for CEO and something else for the shit you have for brains)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Old News

I have no intention of questioning the reflexes of prestigious institutions such as the Institutional Risk Analyst as they are beginning to grasp the similarities between our two most favorite recent stories: AIG and Madoff. But you, loyal Balcony followers, know where you heard it first (1,2)!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Saint

After taking a short break due to prior commitments, i return back to fore a little bit more sentimental than usual, and i give to you my dear readers, an article submitted by one of your brethren (our readers now amount to millions* but we at the balcony are dedicated at reading all your comments and email).

Presented without comment

* calculation based on historical value and not mark to market.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bailout Package Expansion

If you think President Obama as a happy swimmer, the various financial institutions, automakers, etc. as a deckcair, and their initial bailout packages as a perception of reality shrunk by the cool breeze of optimism, here is in simple understandable terms exactly what has happened.