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The Trouble with Enron

Open Secrets - the trouble with Enron
posted by Gyan on Jan 2, 2007 - 68 comments

 

Cash & Hemlock Partners LLC

EarthShell, a small Maryland company that makes environment-friendly packaging (among others) may wink out of existence thanks to PIPEs, or private investments in public equities. Who likes PIPEs? Hedge Funds, mostly. Companies that take the pipe, as it were, may be sealing their doom. 10 percent of PIPE deals done this year are 'death spirals', where the company's stock price plummets from short selling by the financiers who structured the deal in the first place. And of course it's legal if you don't get caught shorting the stock naked and covering with the shares from the PIPE. (BTW, http://www.earthshell.com appears to be on the margins now or I'd have linked it).
posted by nj_subgenius on Dec 27, 2006 - 24 comments

New Twist on the Credit Card Game

How can a credit card company fool you? Let me count the ways. When Brad Kehn received his first credit card from Capital One Financial in 2004, it took him only three months to exceed its $300 credit limit and get socked with a $35 over-limit fee. But what surprised the Plankinton, S.D., resident more was that Cap One then offered him another card, even though he was over the limit -- and then another and another.
posted by storybored on Dec 10, 2006 - 104 comments

Mandelbrot on Fractals as A Theory of Roughness.

A talk with Benoît Mandelbrot, entitled Fractals in Science, Engineering and Finance (Roughness and Beauty) [video, 80mins, realplayer] about fractals as A Theory of Roughness.
posted by MetaMonkey on Dec 3, 2006 - 5 comments

Dilbert's Rules for Investing

Everything you need to know about investing in 129 words.
posted by alms on Oct 15, 2006 - 58 comments

The 'greater fool' theory writ large

The Motley Fool's new CAPS stock-picking system keeps track of your stock picks and whether they outperformed or underperformed the market. Then everyone's picks are aggregated, weighted by the quality of their past records, to rank individual stocks. Here's how it works. (more inside)
posted by ikkyu2 on Oct 4, 2006 - 13 comments

October Surprise

Something wicked this way comes. There are a huge number of October 6th put options for the big indexes, just like the massive put options that took place just prior to 911. Fear the "October Surprise."
posted by augustweed on Oct 1, 2006 - 44 comments

the next debt bubble?

Plunging into the shadows: "In thinly traded, lightly regulated and untransparent markets, the bold can make an awful lot of money—and they can lose it on an even more extravagant scale... In today's caffeine-fuelled dealing rooms, a barely regulated private-equity group could very well borrow money from syndicates of private lenders, including hedge funds, to spend on taking public companies private. At each stage, risks can be converted into securities, sliced up, repackaged, sold on and sliced up again. The endless opportunities to write contracts on underlying debt instruments explains why the outstanding value of credit-derivatives contracts has rocketed to $26 trillion—$9 trillion more than six months ago, and seven times as much as in 2003."
posted by kliuless on Sep 24, 2006 - 27 comments

The Net Democracy Guide

The Net Democracy Guide contains a lot of neat information regarding political activity online. Whether you're a Freeper or prefer DU, this site discusses a lot of the legal formalities regarding political activity online and who is and is not subject to campaign finance laws. via
posted by Doohickie on Sep 12, 2006 - 1 comment

Peronal finances, or how I learned to stop worrying and invest in a 401k

Get Rich Slowly, a personal finance web site (created by our jdroth), has been educational to someone who spent most of his life until now pretending financial matters don't exist. His blog is updated frequently, and contains insightful tips on living frugally, eliminating debt, saving and investing. Between his site, and another very educational site entitled I Will Teach You To Be Rich (start here), I've greatly expanded my knowledge about managing my money effectively. Perhaps most importantly, they're both consistently interesting and easy reads. [more inside]
posted by knave on Aug 1, 2006 - 73 comments

Your sensible source for apocalyptic predictions.

itulip.com has returned. Back in the go-go days when Internet stocks ruled the world, iTulip was one of a very few voices warning about the Nasdaq bubble and the likely fallout. (Prudent Bear was another.) As bad as things got, the overall financial bubble never really popped, it just shifted into debt and real estate after furious slashing of interest rates and money-printing by the Fed. Financial manias are terrible; their unraveling has been compared with economic nuclear weapons. (cf: The Secret History of the South Sea Bubble [amazon book link] and the Dutch Tulip Mania.) The only good solution to a bubble is not to have one in the first place. [more inside]
posted by Malor on Mar 15, 2006 - 13 comments

Popularity, therefore Authority?

John T. Reed’s analysis of Robert T. Kiyosaki’s book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'. [cache] Kiyosaki has spun a business empire off his book, including follow up publications, TV appearances and columns that make suprisingly broad statements about what's worth doing.
posted by Firas on Feb 25, 2006 - 24 comments

Loans that change lives.

Kiva allows users to sponser small business enterprises in developing countries through flexible loans. By getting repaid and reinvesting, it's a really cool way to give a sustainable gift that keeps on giving.
posted by rollbiz on Feb 23, 2006 - 30 comments

IOU 2.0

BillMonk is a new way of tracking informal debts with your friends. Web 2.0 nonsense or a viable solution to those awkward 13-way restaurant bills? Not to be confused with Zopa, another social money project...
posted by runkelfinker on Jan 23, 2006 - 24 comments

Financial fan fiction from Forbes

The Forbes Fictional 15 -- it is list season, after all--the usual suspects, and some new entries. Daddy Warbucks (Net Worth: $27.3 billion, attended SUNY Stony Brook) gets this: Iraqi conflict has been kind to Warbucks; recipient of multiple defense contracts; cat-food holdings also up.
posted by amberglow on Dec 5, 2005 - 49 comments

Shareholder activism

Carl Icahn's Time Warner efforts find a powerful ally in "white-shoe" investment bank Lazard. Wall Street M&A advisors have been hesitant to support efforts by Icahn and his hedge fund brethren in their share-holder activist efforts for fear of alienating fee-paying corporate clients (investment banking, legal and registration fees on the Time Warner/AOL deal were approximately $300 million). By hiring Lazard, which is led by banking legend Bruce Wasserstein (1,2,3), Icahn is surely raising the intensity of his campaign against Time Warner management. Icahn has been successful in previous shareholder activist campaigns, most notably against Blockbuster (1,2), and talks a pretty mean game. Wall Street will be watching this closely - hedge fund activism is becoming a very real fear for company management/directors: Circuit City/Highfields Capital, Wendy's/Pershing, Bally's Fitness/Pardus Capital & Liberation Investment Group, Axciom/ValueAct Capital, MSC Software/ValueAct Capital (reg. required), Beazer Homes/Tontine Capital (second story on page) and more.
posted by mullacc on Nov 30, 2005 - 9 comments

Leonard Cohen is broke.

Leonard Cohen is broke. The legendary singer's manager allegedly helped herself to more than $5 million of Cohen's savings while he was busy training as a Buddhist monk. Cohen's manager also convinced him to sell his back catalogue and continuing royalties—profits from both sales were allegedly taken by the same manager.

At the age of 70, Cohen's retirement savings have been depleted to under $150,000 and he is being forced to return to full-time touring and recording.
posted by huskerdont on Sep 5, 2005 - 67 comments

In Bowie We Trust... again?

An unexpected side effect of iTunes. Remember Bowie Bonds? Introduced in 1997, bonds tied to future profits of music artists (besides Bowie, James Brown and the Isley Brothers offered them) tanked with the advent of online filesharing. Thanks to iTunes, some on Wall Street are betting that the Bowie Bond is a concept with a future.
posted by me3dia on Aug 23, 2005 - 16 comments

Thus Spake Mathematica...

This might be the only time in your life you get to hear this because the finance industry survives soley on large-scale ignorance, so listen very closely. There is NO housing bubble in the US. NEVER invest in actively managed funds. Financial lamers do better than financial jocks (and almost everyone else). .

Sadly however most of you won't have the mathematical knowledge to differentiate the advice backed by several Nobel laureates and world-renowned academics from the "advice" of any of the thousands of horny little evangelists spruking their financial "theories" for profit or fame.
posted by DirtyCreature on Jun 20, 2005 - 78 comments

"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Wall Street's Complicity in Financial Scandals. While the blame is parsed amongst the CEOs of companies like Worldcom, Tyco, Healthsouth, Enron, that swindled their investors for billions of dollars, prosecutors are also heading after the banks that funded their rise. Citicorp was just forced to pay $2 billion to investors for their association with Enron (NYT), for encouraging people to invest against good judgment in companies that Citicorp would profit from.
posted by destro on Jun 10, 2005 - 3 comments

MetaMoney

MoneyChimp - a "coherent, logical, useful and accessible financial education resource".
posted by daksya on Jun 9, 2005 - 4 comments

Free Credit Report

If you live in the South/Southeast U.S., as of today you are able to get your Free Annual Credit Report via Equifax, Transunion & Experion. Chose one service every fourth month and get reports year-round.
posted by Pressed Rat on Jun 1, 2005 - 12 comments

Remember Long Term Capital Management?

Remember Long Term Capital Management? The hedge fund whose collapse threatened “a systemic crisis in the world financial system”? Most people in the investment industry claim that they have learned the lessons of LTCM, but what about the rise of synthetic CDOs, “complex structures that employ wads of credit derivatives to build leverage on top of leverage-what some skeptics call "imaginary" structures?" Investments in these financial instruments has exploded from under 1 trillion USD in 2001 to more than 5 trillion at the end of last year. Are problems with synthetic CDOs behind the recent rumors of "hedge fund frailty?" largely stolen from The Agonist
posted by afu on May 17, 2005 - 24 comments

no interest, no profit?

Islamic finance --doing business according to Shari'a. ...Pious Muslims are not allowed to invest in industries that have ties to tobacco, alcohol, weapons, pornography or pork products. Since the law prohibits banks from charging or paying interest, Noriba and other Islamic Financial Institutions (ifis) instead make money by using a system based on the sharing of capital gains or losses. But even with post-Sept. 11 suspicions that Islamic banks may fund terrorist organizations, demand for the services of ifis is on the rise from the towers of Bahrain to the streets of London. Indeed, they represent one of banking's hottest sectors. ... more here
Socially-conscious investing of a different sort?
posted by amberglow on May 6, 2005 - 15 comments

$11.5 Trillion Lost In Bermuda Triangle

$11.5 Trillion Lost In Bermuda Triangle In case you've ever wondered just how much money the mega rich keep nice and tax free in off shore shelters, it's $11.5 trillion.
posted by expriest on May 6, 2005 - 46 comments

Class action!

Who here hasn't been a bit short before payday? Jacob Ayrton of Calgary took out a payday loan of $500. Two weeks later he owed Payroll Loan Canada $606.32 (a $95 "brokerage fee" and 59% interest for a whopping 15,000% per annum charge.) Yesterday, an Alberta judge certified a class-action suit against so-called payday lenders with Mr. Ayrton as lead complainant. "These companies really exploit people who are vulnerable," said his lawyer. A fast-growing franchise opportunity for investors, payday loan operations are facing increased scrutiny in Canada and the U.S. (NC, NV, IL.)
posted by docgonzo on Apr 27, 2005 - 43 comments

Financial sensibility... in America? Wow!

This is not science fiction. It's really happening. (Links to Slate article) Apparently contrary to expectations, Americans seem to be exercising financial sense and paying down their credit card debt. Well, how about that! :) Anyone else here doing this?
posted by zoogleplex on Apr 25, 2005 - 116 comments

Wall Street

Wall Street - How it Works, and for Whom, by Doug Henwood. Sold over 20,000 copies as paperback. Acclaimed by Crooked Timber. Available for free under a Creative Commons license (Amazon).
posted by andrew cooke on Apr 8, 2005 - 8 comments

Contenders to the throne

Hi-Tech's New Day - Since the collapse of the Nasdaq bubble and the dotcom fizzle, the last five years have been particularly hard on technology entrepreneurs. But lately, there's been a bit of a resurgence (what with the Google IPO and Apple's second wind and all). Not that the boom is going to resume, by any means, it's just encouraging that tech innovation continues apace and is again being rewarded in the marketplace! [really i'm just posting this cuz there seems to be a new intarweb celebrity power couple on the block (via a.whole #1) :]
posted by kliuless on Apr 7, 2005 - 3 comments

Sign on the X

Testing the limits of credit card receipt signatures. Are there any?
posted by DBAPaul on Jan 14, 2005 - 62 comments

Free Annual Credit Reports

Free Annual Credit Reports
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 goes in to effect today. One of the major provisions of the bill, is that consumers now have the right to one free report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. [more inside]
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood on Dec 1, 2004 - 37 comments

Export Credit Agencies--The Secret Engine of Globalization

Worse Than the World Bank? Export Credit Agencies--The Secret Engine of Globalization The amount of investment that export credit agencies (ECA) support worldwide is significantly greater than the total amount of lending from the World Bank, IMF and all other multilateral institutions combined. ECA's account for the single biggest component of developing country debt and half of all new greenhouse gas-emitting industrial projects in developing countries have some sort of ECA support. Investments in places like Guatemala, South Africa, Pakistan, Chile [PDF], have had unacceptable social, environmental and economic consequences. Administered or backed by a government, an ECA uses taxpayer money to make it cheaper and less risky for domestic corporations to export or invest overseas. ECAs privatize the profit and socialize the risk while negatively impacting indigenous cultures and enironments, all with little or no governmental oversight or public awareness of the matter. So what can we do about it? [PDF]
posted by faux ami on Nov 26, 2004 - 14 comments

They're only in it for the money

Your Check Won't Float As of Thursday, October 28, "floating" checks will become a thing of the past. Be forewarned or stand by for major insufficient funds fees on your accounts. More info inside.
posted by Pressed Rat on Oct 26, 2004 - 71 comments

Blogs of the billionaires

George Soros' blog: hot on the heels of the early-adopter in chief, Bill Gates, George Soros has joined the blogging community. Needless to say, the onetime scourge of British monetary policy is not using LiveJournal but he does have a provocative position over the war in Iraq. Warren Buffet by contrast, despite having signed on as a Kerry economic adviser, appears to concur with the pre-emption doctrine. Does anything about the US election make sense anymore? The capital markets seem to have agreed that the outcome point is moot - can popular opinion (.pdf) be far behind? Some disagree. (.pdf)
posted by dmt on Oct 2, 2004 - 8 comments

Damn it Jim, I'm an Accountant Not a Cook

America's Black Budget - the Manipulation of Mortgage and Financial Markets Investors benefit from understanding the federal budget, credit policies and covert intervention that drive markets -- often overriding fundamental economics. How has the US governmental apparatus become so powerful in the marketplace and what does it mean to the health of our economy? How unstable is the mortgage bubble and where are the opportunities for investors if the bubble bursts?
posted by willnot on Jun 28, 2004 - 21 comments

Ponzi!

What's a Ponzi Scheme? Enron was described as a Ponzi scheme. Social security has also been described as a Ponzi scheme. The originator of this scheme was Carlo Ponzi who led an interesting life and bought a nice pink house with his ill-gotten gains. There's even a website where you can read about him in more detail, including the intro to his autobiography.
posted by dodgygeezer on Jun 16, 2004 - 9 comments

Pop Goes the Bubble

Is a Market Disaster Immement? The Federal Reserve has confirmed [a] Stock Market Crash forecast by raising the Money Supply (M-3) by crisis proportions, up another 46.8 billion this past week. What awful calamity do they see? Something is up. This is unprecedented, unheard-of pre-catastrophe M-3 expansion. M-3 is up an amount that we've never seen before without a crisis
posted by willnot on Jun 2, 2004 - 45 comments

What is the future of the US stock market?

Why Stock Markets Crash : Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems. Professor Didier Sornette of UCLA has some very interesting things to say about stock markets. In his book, he explains how his "theory of cooperative herding and imitation [...] has detected the existence of a clear signature of herding in the decay of the US S&P500 index since August 2000 with high statistical significance, in the form of strong log-periodic components." Although his timing has been just a bit early, the theory, the predictions to date and the pictures are all pretty uncanny. This is easily the most interesting book on the stock market I have ever read and provides interesting and believable hypotheses about things I never imagined could have rigorous explanations. For an overview, here is an interview with the author.
posted by muppetboy on May 14, 2004 - 19 comments

$14 into $1,000 in one year

I'm not a fan of followup posts, but this is cool enough to mention. Remember the challenging question of how to turn $14 into $1,000? BirdD0g has taken that noodle-scratcher of a problem and turned it into his personal challenge, and he's taking everyone along for the ride at 14bucks.com. He's got until April 15, 2005 to turn it over into a grand, which sounds like plenty of time, but that's a lot of profit to turn over (7000% return on investment). Who wants to take my $14 bet it doesn't happen?
posted by mathowie on Apr 29, 2004 - 38 comments

One more bubble, please.

Word on the street is google has filled for an IPO. Hot Damn!
posted by chunking express on Apr 29, 2004 - 35 comments

MPT. Empty?

Chris Leithner on the state of finance. Modern Portfolio Theory is central to most business-school investments curricula, but it has its detractors.(last link pdf)
posted by Kwantsar on Apr 26, 2004 - 3 comments

Warren Buffett's Annual Letter

Warren Buffett's annual letter to his shareholders is worth a read.
posted by BlueTrain on Mar 8, 2004 - 27 comments

Jump! Jump! Jump!

Has the economy got you down? Studies show that if you give suicide the ol' college try your income will increase 36.3%
posted by palegirl on Oct 29, 2003 - 22 comments

We must pay attention to bubbles

Argentina Didn't Fall on Its Own. (Single-page, printer-friendly version here.) I don't normally read long articles on economic subjects, but this one is riveting, because it links Argentina's collapse to larger issues of how the world of money works today.
"The time has come to do our mea culpa," Hans-Joerg Rudloff, chairman of the executive committee at Barclays Capital, said at a conference of bank and brokerage executives in London a few months ago. "Argentina obviously stands as much as Enron" in showing that "things have been done and said by our industry which were realized at the time to be wrong, to be self-serving."

...It is like "a bizarre AA program in which you remove booze from the homes of people who are reducing the amount they drink and put it into the homes of people who are drinking more every day," Pettis said. "This is probably not the best way to reduce drunkenness."

posted by languagehat on Aug 3, 2003 - 7 comments

Big Business as Usual.

Big Business As Usual. "In announcing their record settlement with 10 Wall Street firms accused of misleading investors with bogus recommendations, [the Securities and Exchange Commission] also released new e-mail records showing stock experts chortling about how they were making out like bandits at the expense of the average investor", and revealed troubling insights into the way Wall Street really works: "Merrill Lynch initiated coverage of LFMN on September 28, 2000 with a 2-1 [10-20% appreciation forecast short term, 20% appreciation forecast long term], when LFMN traded at $22.69. At that time, Merrill Lynch was pursuing an investment banking relationship with LFMN. After Merrill Lynch initiated research coverage, LFMN's price declined to the....$3-5 range in December. On December 4, 2000, Blodget e-mailed a fellow analyst,'LFMN at $4. I can't believe what a POS [piece of shit] that thing is. Shame on me/us for giving them any benefit of doubt.' Merrill Lynch's research report on LFMN dated December 21, 2000, [reiterates] a 2-1 rating..."
And the "record settlement" with these common swindlers in three piece business suits from our brave SEC? For Wall Street, Fines Are A Day's Pay.
posted by fold_and_mutilate on May 7, 2003 - 23 comments

Horror at the ATM

My name is Rod and I can't handle Money. "You see, I never open my bank statements, ever. My only point of contact with my bank is through the ATM next door to the estate agents in Warminster. Even here, I never knowingly press that button which tells you what your balance is, and if I press it by mistake I screw shut my eyes." This is me. Is it you? What's wrong with us? Chrometophobes unite.
posted by grahamwell on Apr 2, 2003 - 74 comments

The Value of a Dollar

It's all about shareholder value. Steve Jobs has received tremendous positive press for only accepting one dollar per year as payment for his CEO services at Apple. How does he do it, you ask? Well, he supplements his income by a) being a billionaire, and b) renting out his corporate jet to Apple, at a cost of over 1.2 million dollars, over the past two years. Which is an exceptionally generous rental fee considering that Apple itself paid $90 million for the jet, which it bought for Jobs in May of 2001. This data was disclosed along in the most recent quarterly report in which Apple announced layoffs of 260 employees, none of whom were given a jet.
posted by jonson on Feb 14, 2003 - 13 comments

Could he be right yet again?

Could he be right yet again? : Interview with Bob Prechter (and another one) If he is, we're all in for a world of hurt. In this three part interview, Elliott Wave International president Robert Prechter discusses his new book, “Conquer The Crash: How To Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression.” During the 1980s, Bob Prechter won numerous awards for market timing as well as the United States Trading Championship, culminating in Financial News Network (now CNBC) granting him the title, "Guru of the Decade." In 1990-1991, he was elected and served as president of the nation-al Market Technicians Association in its 21st year. He has also published a seminal book on Elliott wave analysis titled, “Elliott Wave Principle – Key To Market Behavior,” three books on the major practitioners of wave analysis, and books on his own views in Prechter's Perspective and At the Crest of the Tidal Wave.
posted by muppetboy on Feb 13, 2003 - 47 comments

A speculative bubble is created when objectivity, reasoning, and valuation give way to greed and an insatiable desire for profits.

A speculative bubble is created when objectivity, reasoning, and valuation give way to greed and an insatiable desire for profits. On this date in history... October 29, 1929: The date of the stock market crash that marked the start of the Great Depression in the United States. Could it have been averted by the reading of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay?
posted by puddsharp on Oct 29, 2002 - 21 comments

Post a great earnings quarter then

Post a great earnings quarter then cut jobs and send them to India. Nice job Bank of AMERICA
posted by Macboy on Oct 22, 2002 - 21 comments

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