Friday, May 29, 2009

Don’t Twitt Me This Way

Meinen Herren Waldorf und Statler,

Ich habe eine Frage bitte: Was ist das Wort für “WTF” auf deutsch?!?!

Finally, someone proposes THE solution

Nope, no they don’t. I was just trying to get your attention really. It’s actually a pretty stupid idea, but by now you guys are so numb from the stupidity buffer overflow that you didn’t notice.

Well, it seems that the Dutch want to start regulating banking by ensuring that people who work on banks pass some test or something…anyway, as i said it’s so stupid that it has that self-explanatory quality that only stupid ideas have. Veel Geluk!

How to run a successful ponzi

By now a lot of you my dear readers are looking at the world developments and thinking that you could run a good ponzi scheme if only for that little bitty rule that says that all money going back 6 years should be returned. All.

Well we may have found a loophole!!! Crowds of prospective ponziers are waiting the court decision to see if the wife of R.A.Stanford can unfreeze her half of the fortune, which was awarded in their divorce settlement. So you all know the drill.

Marry someone, divorce them, give them half of your ponzimongous loot, repeat every 6 years, end when caught by SEC.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sitting on the fence

OK. This guy either has 10 kilo balls of steel or is just bat-shit crazy. Probably both if you ask me. Plus the explanation is just so richly layered, a sweet combo pack of social justice with a little bit of “jump or get off the bridge cause i am late for work” shit.

Dollars for Kiwis II

That’s it. I am shutting down, facebook, twitter, the works. I can’t afford for them to find me, ever.

PS i love how the mom, jumps on the opportunity to diss the boyfriend. Her little princess could never even think about doing such a thing. Classic!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


We have been long been arguing up here on the Balcony that the current crisis is one of excess liquidity and excess leverage and so far the measures that have been taken are even more debt issued and more liquidity pumped in…

The risk of such a tactic is naturally hyper-inflation and not necessarily deflation as many fear. So personally I fully agree with Mr Faber’s view. It remains to be seen.

At least now we know that Toto were actually referring to the US in their 80s smash hit!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Godfathers in Wall Street

It is a well known fact that over the past 50 years, Mafia has prospered immensly by exploiting the most popular human vices: narcotics, prostitution, gambling. So it should come as no surprise that they are now diversifying into the world of high finance. You don't change the recipe that has worked for you so well...

Go Ahead, and Jump

Former South Korean President Roh committed suicide over the weekend, by jumping off a cliff. In his note he claimed that the main reason for his decision was that "he was in debt to too many people".

In a vivid display of the differences between western and eastern cultures, people in Europe and the US finding themeselves in a similar situation, typically choose to refinance...

Quote of the Day

Things usually have a way of working out

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a law school graduation ceremony.

When all else fails, try spiritual faith. That’ll do the trick.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dollars for Kiwis

Maybe some excess TARP money found its way over to New Zealand?

Have a Drink on Me

I have often wondered what would one of our great great ancestors think if he could have been transported to today’s world. Surely he would have been puzzled by the technological advances (Apple’s ipod shuffle being my personal favourite as a music afficionado!!) and amazed by the sheer magnitude of today’s world statistics.

But what would have he made about this? They make it sound literally like piece of piss… Perhaps then the answer to global food shortages is shit recycling!! Well, at least there’s plenty of that around nowadays…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Balance shit

During this unprecedented crisis, in which we have landed ourselves by overstretching our debt load, a number of us are looking for ways out of the debt hole we dug. Most solutions include finding ways to cut debt.

Correct you say!!! Not so fast. Some consider this to be the wrong solution to our problems. What is clearly needed is to reach out and get as much debt as possible. Here’s some choice quotes from the article.

"From a funding standpoint, 2009 is already done," said CEO J.Immelt as he announced that within a few month he intends to finish up with the 2010 debt target and get started with 2011. His team is working around the clock to finish up on 2011 and get some of 2012 done before 2009 is up. No plans were announced on the earnings side of the equation.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

… or shall i say: “Won’t Get Fuld again”!?!

PS. The comment by Blah about the interior design course at the bottom of the article is wrong, it was supposed to address Mr. Thain.

Can I Have My Warrants Back?

Almost a month ago, we brought to your attention the latest effort by the banks to magically make billions of taxpayers' money disappear by repaying their TARP funds and getting back for free the warrants that they had granted to the government.

Today we are happy to report that the effort is already bearing the first fruits as Old National Bancorp in Indiana, has repaid the government in full by returning its bailout money and repurchasing its warrants for which it paid $1.2 million while analysts estimate them to be worth as much as $6.9 million. According to the story JP Morgan hopes to be next...

JP's CEO J. Dimon anticipated that some of us may disinterpret the Bank's anxiety to repay, as having something to do with their warrants thought to be worth around $1.1 billion. So he went on record to explain that their main concern is the limits that prevent TARP recipients from hiring skilled foreign workers with a H-1B visa, which are a “complete and utter disgrace.” "JPMorgan employs many U.S. citizens overseas and one of the “worst” things that could happen would be for other nations to revoke visas in response to government policy", he added.

Having read this, a visibly touched Treasury Secretary T. Geithner said that the government cannot wait to get rid of the warrants either, and would be happy to sell at whatever prices the Banks would be willing to offer. He failed however to mention the possibility of the Government awarding Dimon with some sort of medal for protecting US labor rights abroad, and for that Dimon is feeling justifiably upset...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

America's Scam

I am sure you have all heard a thousand times all these beautiful parallels between business and team sports. I am referring to the popular theories that competing in a team sport requires the same set of skills, work ethics, personal traits, and personality characteristics that will lead you to success in the business world and vice versa. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that business visionary, technology pioneer, and devoted sportsman Larry Ellison is artfully transferring the latest trends in corporate ethics to his beloved sport.

Consulting Our Intelligence

Crises are the ultimate consulting bonanza. Senior managements everywhere, are faced with tough decisions and resourceful consultants are always in hand to provide support and assistance (in the famous words of S. Adam's Dogbert, "I became a consultant because I like to con people and I like to insult people"). Here is how this typically ends:


Monday, May 18, 2009

Hells Bells

Following a stressful day of number-crunching, it seems we are now down to the second round, that of face-punching! For it seems that all hell has finally broken loose in the once-prestigious Wall Street, which is dubbed in the article as “Screw-Up Street”.

Watch this space, i sense there’s more coming…


Having read the story immediately underneath, my dear Waldorf had this great idea to start coming up with extreme fictional fraud stories and wait to see them becoming reality (based on the infallible premise that in our times everything can happen and everything will). "This doesn't end!! They all have their schemes on the side. Let's start saying things totally extreme! For example, let's say that Geithner himself gets involved in a financial fraud, and see if this could possibly come true too" he told me full of excitement. It was not a good example of course, because this has already happened, but I still like the idea...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ongoing Auditions

This just in. I wish I had something smart to say but sometimes our favorite three-letter acronym says it best: WTF?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

I thought we had a deal and we were all clear on it. We would inject ourselves with every fiscal and monetary drug the FED and Treasury chemists could come up with. Then we would rid ourselves of all these ugly anchors to reality (mark-to-market and the likes). And finally we would feast on a daily diet of the strongest antidepressants so that we can do just that: avoid the dreaded Depression (after all we don't get to be called the Prozac Nation for nothing).

And just as the plan was beginning to work and the masses were embarking to this Utopia of Recovery, we find out what? That we can't even get our own people to get high!!! Not only they stubbornly refuse to get themselves injected, but they insist to preach soberness to those willing to listen!! This can by no means be tolerated. He will of course be replaced by someone "more upbeat" (appropriate term for "high"), but the preaching has to stop as well!

Freedom of speech and the First Amendment can only go that far; the stakes are too high here and we are doing it for their own good anyway...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What We Really Really Want...

The Balcony is proud to announce that it's putting together its own teen band to fill up the huge vacuum left in the music industry ever since the adorable Spice Girls ran into irreconcilable artistic differences.

Ladies and Gentlemen we proudly present the new mega-band that has already captivated the imagination and gained the pure admiration of millions around the globe: The Ponzi Boys!!!

We have already singled out as band members the Deaf Ponzi, the Religious Ponzi, the Artsy Ponzi, of course the teens' favorite Pornzi, and we are adding today the Sports Ponzi!!

My dear Waldorf and I are working around the clock to go through millions and millions of creative ideas sent to us on an hourly basis to identify the ones with the highest marketing potential, while SFP is evaluating the artistic value of each act, in order to fill up the last open spots.

All the band members have already had brilliant solo careers but uniting under the super-powerful Ponzi Boys brand will surely turn them literally into money-making machines.

PS. Initial contacts with Bernie to take up the management of the Band have fallen through as he expects to be unavailable for the next 100-150 years...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Correctional Learning Centers

This just in: California’s budget deficit has grown so severe that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he may be forced to release 40,000 prisoners or lay off 51,000 teachers if voters next week reject three budget balancing measures.

I won't even get started on the relative teacher/prisoner cost (apparently it stands at 0.78:1.00) and what this implies for the California educational and correctional systems; I will also refrain from wondering how on earth from the presumably thousands of cost items in the state budget we ended up with this really charming dilemma; and I will go straight to my proposal:

Fire the teachers, release the prisoners, and make them teachers!

If you take into account the situation in most schools in California, I would expect the student discipline level to increase, the learning content to stay about the same, and the perceived harshness of the prisoners' punishment to skyrocket...


This must certainly be the best double-looped, self-fulfilling Catch-22 situation I have come across since I read Joseph Heller's brilliant novel:

The SEC and a court-appointed receiver are not allowing suspected Ponzi-er R.A. Stanford to free up frozen cash to pay for his lawyers, in order to prevent him from defending himself with proceeds of the alleged fraud (which he claims it does not exist). This decision makes his conviction (and therefore the existence of the fraud) almost certain, thus proving itself wise. If however, Mr. Stanford was somehow able to prove his innocence despite the SEC decline, he would show that there was no fraud in the first place, and therefore he would be able to freely draw the cash required for his legal defense (which he would no longer need though).

If Heller was writing today about the human insanity, I bet his Yossarian would be a hyper-quant fund manager and not a B-25 pilot...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Extreme Cost-Cutting

... and while we are on Scott, here is his contribution to new cost-cutting ideas:

Pointy Haired Bernie

If Insanity is the new official religion of our corporate world, Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) must be counted amongst its earliest prophets. Here is his take, on the Bernie effect on some very high profile New York charities:

Crazy World

Let’s take a breather for a second and do a little PR to our trillions of Readers (MtM)…

I noticed today that even our favourite publication, the Economist, is piggy-backing The Balcony in a vain attempt to lure our Readers. Well, it’s not gonna work… The Balcony is a pioneer in exposing the financial shenanigans of the human race on a global scale, accompanied with music, films and as my dear Waldorf once said, a sprinkle of WTF!!

Our dear Readers, you ‘re in the right place!

Click Here!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A stressful day

I was gonna write a little song and dance on the whole bank-stress-test-oscar-winning-extravaganza show, but then i thought otherwise. You see, why not leave it to the guys who started this thing to tell their own story…

And the winner is…Only 10 banks need to raise capital and only 75bn of it!!!

75bn is a nice number. By now you guys are numb enough from the TARPnaisthisia to not really feel the pain so here’s some comp shots.

75 = 10 more than Madoff made off with

75 = 13 more than AIG lost by itself last quarter (and 35 more than it received in Fed funding in order to have the privilege to report this quarter)

75 = 70 more than AIG lost this quarter (without the 30 option payment to get to today) and last, just to list a non-negative one…

75 is a little over a third of what AIG has gotten in funding so far in order to stay alive and keep losing money, so i think we got some room to grow here

PS you know that the recession is over when the numbers thrown around fail miserably to impress anyone

Just a quick follow up

It seems that the movie we saw a few days ago was just an episode, since another, more ingenious story crept up on us with new ways to electrocute young kids. This guy’s a winner for sure.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ponzi Assistant (P.A.)

It's been quite a while since I last wrote about Bernie, and this has left me with an empty feeling (just like the investors of his fund). As I was beginning to despair though, I came across the first ever interview of his secretary to promote the story she wrote for Vanity Fair(secretaries to financial scandals, are just like fat lady singers to the Opera - it ain't over til they sing)...

As you can imagine, Ms. Squillari had a lot to say but I have to point out two memorable quotes:

1. "Once, I looked in his address book and found, under M, about a dozen phone numbers for his masseuses. If you ever lose your address book and somebody finds it, they're going to think you're a pervert, I said." - It was either that, or somebody opening his trading book and thinking he was the largest fraudster in history.

2. Squillari wrote about a conversation she had with Madoff years ago, after a client's secretary had been arrested for embezzlement. She said she was surprised when he told her, "Well, you know what happens is, it starts out with you taking a little bit, maybe a few hundred, a few thousand. You get comfortable with that, and before you know it, it snowballs into something big." - Big to the tune of $65 bln to be exact.

For the rest of the spicy details (including Bernie's strange hygiene habits), look out for Vanity Fair's next issue...

Fargo - The Urban Version

I have to admit that Wells Fargo has not made it (yet) to the Balcony charts, since its management has (so far) refrained from demonstrating the ample stupidity shown by its counterparts elsewhere (operative words in parentheses). Having said that however, a series of attention-grabbing Bloomberg headlines over the past couple of months could not go unnoticed:

- Firstly, on March 5, analysts look at the Bank's loan portfolio and are scared ***tless.

- Then, on April 9, the Bank looks at its own portfolio and decides to stop marking it to market, presumably to avoid further horrifying people. As a result, it posts record Q1 results and the stock surges 31%...

- Then, on May 4, investing legend* W. Buffett says that WF is a "fabulous Bank, destined to prosper no matter what". As expected the stock rises a further 24% bringing its return for the past two months to... 200% (at this stage the scary feeling is almost entirely gone replaced by a pure comedic element).

- Then, all of a sudden, yesterday, horror returns with a vengeance when rumors come out that the Bank will need $15 bln new capital as a result of its stress test.

13 years ago the Coen brothers became famous for mixing the terrifyingly absurd with the absurdly stupid in their unique Fargo. It appears that, once again, life is imitating art, and the material for the sequel (set in urban Wall Street this time), is all ready.

*both meanings apply

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mea Culpa

I knew this would get ugly. Last night, it was time for Sylvio to have his say and it wasn't pretty. He characterized the situation over his marriage "a media crime" (so our apology yesterday was obviously not accepted - thankfully he didn't name any names), and said that he still loved his wife "like the whole world" (unless something is lost in transalation here, I find this not very reassuring for Ms Berlusconi and somewhat controversial: did he mean that he loves her as much as everybody else does or that he loves her as much as he loves everybody else?). In any case, it appears that our relationship with Il Cavaliere is now beyond any repair and for this we feel deeply sorry.

PS: Despite our best efforts here at the Balcony, we find the sheer volume of the Sylvio related stories received daily, impossible to cover. Yesterday's developments alone, included a reprimanding from the Vatican, a 17-year old model calling him Daddy (after his insistence - she preferred to call him "grandpa") , and the beginning of the USD 5 bln divorce proceedings. We, therefore, urge our readers to try to keep up with the news through multiple channels since not one single media source could possibly keep up.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Pigs Fly...

When I first saw this, I thought here is an innovative idea. But then I remembered something my dear Waldorf had brought to our attention, and realized that the idea is not that novel after all. Many airlines have adopted it long before; it's just that they don't market it so aggressively, so passengers don't notice...

What a lovely photo

You know, literally hundreds no thousands of you loyal subjects readers keep asking us what were we thinking when SFP took the photo of Statler and me (the one that you see on the left) that sweet sweet combo pack of amusement, bewilderment, loss for words, anger that we belong to them same species topped with just a sprinkle of WTF.

Well, many moments come to mind, but another one came just recently while reading this article. Now, it’s not just the article, but the quote 'The big shock came when I got fired', the supposed agreement of the parents, the fact that these were children of colleagues and many finer points throughout this piece that just bring this thing together. That’s the juice right there. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

One More Cup of Coffee

Certain innovative business ideas that see the light of day in the current crisis can be described as either extreme or brilliant. This one is in my opinion extremely brilliant!!


To: All Balcony contributors (SFP in particular)
Re: Drawing a line

Here at the Balcony we pride ourselves for abiding to the highest moral standards and respecting the basic human values; none more so than the family.

Criticizing, heckling, even ridiculing is one thing, tearing families apart is quite another, and we should at all times remain mindful of the gap between the two.

On behalf of the Balcony team, I wish to extend to Sylvio our sincerest apologies for all the pain and grief we have caused him, and we hope that he will not hold it against us and will continue feeding us with his unique material.