Sunday, April 29, 2007

I have to put the word out about a GREAT movie I saw last night that just came out: Hot Fuzz. I hadn't really hear anything about it until we decided to go see a movie and saw it was playing at the local theater. It had very good ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes so we took a chance and it certainly paid off! A lot of it is a satire of cop movies from the 80's and 90's, but it's much more than just that. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard throughout an entire movie (though Borat certainly had its moments). I forget sometimes that although the price of movie tickets can be so expensive nowadays, the audience factor can be so great on a movie when an entire crowd of people is laughing together (the laughtrack effect--though I hate canned laughter on TV shows). So go see this movie in a theater while you still can!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So who else tried to make that argument in math class "How is this practical? When am I ever going to use this?" I know that I did and had fellow classmates who wholeheartedly agreed. Unfortunately for future defenders of this point of view, there is a clear cut example of just what math can do.

James Simons, a math professor and now head of a leading fund manager earned $1.7 BILLION last year. And this is not one of those cases of a CEO rolling in bonuses while the company flounders. His fund has earned upwards of 34% annual returns.

This scenario begs the moral question of whether these hedge funds (and other technical analysis traders) are contributing anything to the market which they profit from. They might argue that they are filling gaps created by market inefficiency while increasing the liquidity of financial markets, both of which can positive benefits. Federal Reserve chieftains of past and present have referred to it as 'greasing the wheels of capitalism'.

Others argue that it is manipulating wealth in a secretive manner to create more wealth while providing no good or service. It can't be said there is no argument in in this viewpoint---the methods are secretive and it is a process which leaves no tangible byproduct. It is interesting to note that the fund managers featured in the Alpha magazine report refused comment to the New York Times which might be an indication of their belief in how much water their defense holds...

Monday, April 23, 2007

When did we seem to just stop paying attention to these gas price increases? It somewhat reminds me of the casualty numbers in Iraq which were reported on a daily basis at first but then gradually slipped outside of the media's blinders. I know that some SUV or other large car owners probably won't be sympathetic, but my sedan was $1 short of 50 yesterday! We went out for dinner and a movie and the gas was more than both of those put together (even with these ridiculous $10 movie tickets nowadays)! I just looked around and apparently there are reports now that gas will soon be hitting $4 a gallon. Is there any end in sight? At least I can take solace when observing my English in-laws, some of whom pay upwards of $150 at the pump!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

One of my current interests in my spare time is currency trading. I find the whole field of technical analysis of markets quite fascinating. One of the major characteristics of Forex (foreign currency exchange) is that the huge volume of the market creates extreme liquidity where one can buy and sell millions of dollars worth of currency in a matter of minutes. This 24 hour market holds many traders who make their living holding positions for just 3-5 minutes at a time, shooting for a small gain combined with the large leverage many brokers offer nowadays. This is why one trader who makes posts on some currency exchange message boards is beginning to stand out. "Jacko" as he is called, uses the single-minded strategy of only trading his favorite currency pair (the Euro/US Dollar), only in one direction and only at round numbers (1.3100, 1.3200, etc.) as well as the occasional buy on dips in the trend and 50% retracements.

Now some might be skeptical at first, saying that this is really just due to the bullish run of the Euro in recent years, but he is certainly no Monday morning quarterback, as you can see in a post he made last year predicting the huge run we've seen for over the past year.

He is a breath of fresh air among the day trading scalpers who make thousands of trades every year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Having somewhat 'grown up' with the rise of the internet (I can remember computer labs devoted to teaching my classmates and I how to use it back in 1994), I can remember when it had an extreme biased towards younger people. As a result, your online persona never would really interact with the older generation. When Myspace, Friendster and Facebook initially came out, this seemed to be the case as well. However, as my generation has grown up and the internet expands to a larger and larger cross-section of society, this is certainly no longer the case.

Increasingly prospective employers are looking up their candidates online to gather more information on them which might not be known. This New York Times article from last year gives an example of a recent graduate who had been hearing no responses from job applications until he removed a satirical essay he had written online under his real name.

It doesn't just stop at jobs either. My wife, who recently has applied to law school, is part of an online community of fellow prospective students. Even at such a relatively small online community (at least when compared to mega sites such as Myspace), many suspect admissions committee members browse the site, connecting members accounts with their application, sometimes to adverse results if they speak ill of the institution or anything else inappropriate they might have said while under the mistaken assumption of anonymity.

Some tips when using an online persona:

1) Google your own name--make sure nothing that comes up (that you can have an effect on) puts you in a bad light professionally.

2) Keep online personas anonymous whenever possible. If you feel the need to put your last name there so that people can find you, look into making most of your info available only when someone has been confirmed as a 'friend' through the site (an option most social networking sites have).

3) If the above two options are not heeded, at least BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY ON THE INTERNET


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Obviously an important question to ask myself when pondering attending business school is what job I want out of it? What type of job that an MBA will help me get is desirable. I found an interesting sample of some of these jobs that are recommended for twenty-somethings looking to begin their career. In other words, me. For if I don't find something in a listing of "Top 20 Jobs" that I would like, I should really reconsider what I'm heading towards.

Thankfully there definitely are some jobs in there that look interesting. The first one listed in fact, Product Manager, sounds great to me. Although it sounds like one of those jobs with a crazy amount of work, it looks like a job where I could be able to use my creativity, problem-solving and general business skills (which I assume will have been augmented after going through an MBA program.

Of course, all this is easier said than done. I imagine a job with that level of responsibility is rarely simply handed over to fresh grads...