Monday, February 18, 2013

Financial Sarcasm Roundup for 02/18/13

The U.S. stock markets were closed today for President's Day.  Why do finance professionals think they deserve the day off?  It's not like they're federal workers.  You know, maybe I should take that back.  Plenty of their institutions got bailouts and partial government ownership to make them the moral equivalent of federal workers.

The G-20 says it is committed to market-determined exchange rates but I can't take them at their word.  The major exporting countries are going to really start panicking once Japan's devaluation drives up the prices of their goods.  I wonder which country will be first to break with this statement and devalue in kind.  China?  Europe?  It won't be the U.S. as long as other currencies look relatively weak.  The U.S. was the last to leave the gold standard in the 1930s and it prolonged our experience in the Great Depression.  We'll probably be the last to leave the world's fiat currency regime this time around.  Oh, BTW, the devaluation of other countries' currencies will also hurt U.S. exporters, pushing us further into recession.

The SEC wants to know who spiked the call spread options on Heinz from a Swiss bank account.  Office betting pools in various investment banks' capital markets groups are probably buzzing over the identity of the traders who may have front-run the H.J. Heinz Co. buyout.  This one's simple enough for a ten-year old to figure out but the SEC has to make a big show of trying to find the culprit.  The Swiss account was named the "GS Account" for crying out loud.  It's worth noting that Goldman Sachs was not an adviser to the Buffet-3G-Heinz transaction, but word could have leaked through insiders who use GS for wealth management.  The presumption of innocence always applies, of course.  This is America, by golly, not some crony kleptocracy where plutocrats wreck whole sectors at the public's expense.

Future retirees won't be getting squat thanks to their reliance on overpromised entitlement programs.  I don't like the slant of the article against defined-contribution retirement accounts.  Whatever good intentions went into the creation of Social Security and Medicare are about to disappear into a black hole as seniors move in with their children.  Three generations under one roof was the American norm up until the 1950s or so and it will be again very soon.

Online gambling is about to make a comeback in the U.S. as states gradually change their laws.  Expect objections from Donald Trump, Indian tribes, and organized crime's front organizations.  We should welcome legalized gaming because there's no reason Las Vegas and Atlantic City should have all the fun.  This is the ultimate in gamification and I hope California doesn't miss its chance to get out in front.  I always wanted to figure out online poker but I have to wait for my state's lawmakers to figure it out first.

Here's a final note related to gambling and the law.  A certain Stolen Valor dude is gambling that he can keep breaking the law.  His luck is going to run out, as it does for all unethical gamblers.