Sunday, September 30, 2007

Buying the Euro with Jacko

Back in April I mad a post about an intriguing forex trading strategy where the basis was pretty straightforward: buying at each 100-pip level with a 50-pip trailing stop loss, but the key is only to buy in on direction. That post was made on April 21st back when the EURUSD was reaching an imposing resistance level of a 4 year-high meaning it was likely not going to be the best time to buy. However, even then, if you had employed this strategy according to its simple rules (making sure to also employ the strategy of not rebuying if price goes 50 pips past your stoploss until it returns to your last buystop), this strategy would have been very successful as we have seen the Euro make an all-time high of 1.4300 this week. How successful exactly you would have been exactly of course depends on how much of the account you were willing to risk each time the 50 pip trailing stoploss was set.

However, anyone who might think of employing this strategy immediately should be aware of some quite big new in the currency exchange market which is that China has just launched up a $200 billion foreign exchange investment fund. It is difficult to know (well, impossible really) what they are going to do exactly with this, but there is a great deal of speculation that since China has bought so much of the United States' debt (thank you Uncle Sam!) that they have an extremely vested interest in the strength of the dollar and as such, might attempt to manipulate the foreign exchange market by shorting the Euro and Pound. Again it is impossible to know for certain what they will do, but it is probably advisable to watch the price of the Euro from a distance in the near future as we already see the Euro beginning to retrace after its recent surging climb.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Missed Life Lessons

It's interesting how you can grow up and realize that there are certain things you just somehow never learned about. Even worse is if there isn't an easy place of reference to find out. An example of this for me is "dress codes". They never really came up in high school or with parents, so how exactly is this information disseminated. Well, no need to think about that too much anymore with the internet. There is a great little website someone cooked up here called the Dress Code Guide. All you have to do is enter in a few variables such as gender, time of day and the what the given dress code is and the website spits out concrete descriptions of what to wear. A great site to remember for clueless fashion people such as myself.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Idealism at Its Finest

There was an article yesterday that was trying to argue that instituting a four-day work week would solve a litany of the world's problem. When people try to argue something like this (at least in the manner he does), I just have to wonder have they ever read anything about economics? But then again, that doesn't even begin to cover the logical hypocrisies littered over this article.

First the author makes the argument that we would drive less. For some reason this is split into eight different reasons that basically just cover the sam negative aspects of driving. And yet, when I think of the absolute worst traffic and congestion of the year, I think of the first day of three-day weekends. Furthermore, the less commuters there are, the less incentive and money there is to fund the infrastructure of public transportation which is one of the only real solutions to traffic and its associated problems (money, pollution, congestion, time spent in traffic, etc.).

He then naively postulates that people would suddenly work harder and skip work less during a four-day week even though their would be absolutely no incentives in place to encourage such good behavior! The idea that people would suddenly start spending all free time cooking, gardening, playing with children and shopping at Whole Foods if they only had one more day off is ludicrous.

My favorite parts though are where he argues how much money we would save! There would be less road work (ignore the fact that a lower GDP would lead to less tax money for roads), less money spent on daycare (ignore the fact that the parent is not working that day at job which undoubtedly would pay more than the money a daycare costs per day) and of course less money spent on consumer goods at Walmart (since if only I had Fridays off, I would never have bought a toaster and plates to eat on from Walmart this month).

Furthermore, what about all of the people who work for the betterment of mankind? The nonprofit workers, the scientists working on renewable energy, the doctors and nurses caring for sick people, etc.?

I am not quite clear whether the author thinks all people with days off spend them sitting on their hands at home spending no money or if he imagines that employers will pay their employees the same for a four-day week as they would for a five. The bottom line is that anyone who thinks a drastic reduction in number of market transactions would increase market efficiency needs to go read some Adam Smith. I will agree with his final point: an extra day off feels great!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A lot of the time investing can seem like quite a boring process. Well if you're a soccer fan, the next time you have some spare investing money around here's an option for you: "My Football Club", currently sporting (har) 50,000 members who are pooling their money together to eventually launch a takeover bid for a club.

As a soccer fan, I have to say this looks like a very fun idea. In fact, given the success outside of this country of the video game Football Manager, where one controls nothing in-game, only managerial activity, I'm surprised this isn't even more popular. This is particularly true as many fans are becoming increasingly disenfranchised from the sport with rising ticket prices, ridiculous wages, and billionaire owners going into debt buying championships.

This seems like a great application of Web 2.0 as owners will even vote online for team selection and other such activities. The fact that Manchester United, one of the richest clubs in the world is only tenth place in the voting for which club to take over is a good sign that the members are at least somewhat grounded in realism. Hopefully if and when the takeover happens, they will keep the same open spirit that the group seems to have now.

Unfortunately I think I'll have a hard time convincing my wife to spend $70 to buy shares in a TBD sports team right now. Perhaps I should just focus on applying to business school.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One of the most difficult tasks in this life can be building good habits, particularly when it is done autonomously. It's now become the cliche that fitness centers around the country are jam-packed the 30 days following New Year's only to have the numbers severely taper down thereafter.

I watched a fascinating BBC documentary called The Human Mind a few years ago that followed an otherwise normal person with a severe case of road rage as he attempted to shed this habit through various psychological techniques over the course of some months. The end result was failure--inferring that, as much as we might like to believe otherwise, significant personality change is extremely rare.

Still we all know 'that guy', the person who dug deep and turned their academic career around, the person who went from addict to clean and sober, or the person who lost a lot of weight and has kept it off.

So we continue to try to build good habits in hope that we can be an exception. Fortunately there are many of these people on the internet and along with them, some great Web 2.0 methods for tracking and psychologically reinforcing these habits.

To start off with here is a great article at Lifehacker about a great tip Jerry Seinfeld once gave to the blog's author (a beginning stand-up actor at the time). Some who don't know Jerry Seinfeld well might see him as somewhat of a strange person to take productivity advice from, but in actuality he is known in the industry as one of the hardest working comics. If you like the idea, here is a convenient year-long calendar to print off and follow your progress.

Some more advanced methods for of tracking include:

Sciral Consistency - A desktop solution for tracking tasks that need to be done every certain number of days. While a great product in the making, It was a bit too confusing at first and after putting in the time to learn it, I realized it needed a few more key features to be developed before I would use it on a regular basis (specifically the ability to schedule tasks you do a certain number of times per week or month).

Loopdo - A method for keeping track of your longer-term goals.

Everyday Systems - Similar to the Seinfeld method, it keeps track of daily consistence in practicing a habit through a color coded system.

Joe's Goals - My personal favorite, it has a unique method of keeping track of how often you do a variety of tasks and lets you put down a point system for the different goals giving you a sum total at the end of the day. After long-term use, you can even view charts of your success in keeping habits. A bit geeky, but fun nonetheless. It has a very intuitive design as well. Brings out the competitive spirit in me a bit, which in this case can only be a good thing!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just after announcing their new line-up of ipods, Steve Jobs also announced a $200 price cut on the iPhone, released just over two months ago. In an attempt to appease those early adopters who had just purchased the iPhone for $600, Jobs offered a $100 rebate. The catch? It is specifically a $100 rebate to the Apple store.

Apparently this is not sitting well with those $100 gift certificate holders who view it as money going right back into Steve's backpocket. Now while I can understand their frustration that they are looking a bit like suckers, at the end of the day, isn't that what happens to all early adopters? Early adopters reap the benefit of not having to wait a small time period after a new technology is released in exchange for certain consequences. One of those main consequences is that new technology inevitably has a price cut not too long after its initial release along with increased possibility of buggy software like we've seen in some parts of Windows Vista this year or defective hardware as was seen in the Xbox 360's recently released driving wheel accessory.

More than anything, the ridiculousness of the complaints is that they should be happy they were given anything at all (though having perused the Apple store before, I can't recall too many items <$100). After all, basic price theory dictates that these consumers deemed the iPhone (for some reason) worth the $599. In fact in all likelihood, they probably valued it as worth more than that as they were so eager to dispense with their cash, even waiting in line or buying off ebay and craigslist. This reminds me, hopefully some of those worthless people who buy up stock in iPhones just in order to then resell it on Craigslist had overbought their supply of iPhones and got a bit of comeuppance with this price cut.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Although some people (probably myself included) might say there is already an overabundance of internet travel sites, what with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, TripAdvisor, Kayak (my personal favorite) and others, I believe there is a new one that deserves mention: The basic premise is that since the prices of flights tickets can fluctuate in a seemingly random pattern, instead of conducting the headache of constantly searching for prices to see if a good deal has come up, you give your criteria to along with the price you are looking for (non-binding unlike Priceline), and Yapta conducts this search daily until it finds a flight that meets your criteria and sends you an email alert.

For me this sounds perfect since I live 5+ hours of flying away from both my wife and my own families and of course am buying at least a couple of pairs of tickets per year. This will do a great job of taking the stress out of the process.

A good idea probably is to combine this service with Farecast, a new Seattle startup that focuses on airfare predictions along with buy/wait recommendations.

Definitely should be using this soon as the holiday season approaches (my goodness is it really?)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

An interesting list I came across:

Top Paying Keywords on Adsense

austin dwi $66.89
austin dwi attorney $58.30
san diego dui attorney $54.56
houston criminal attorney $47.44
san diego dui $42.83
dwi texas $40.89
dui attorneys $40.19
dwi attorney $39.90
dui attorney $39.11
dui attorney $39.11
dui attorney $39.11
dui lawyer $38.49
lawyer dui $38.49
dui lawyers $37.57
federal criminal attorney $35.80
car accident lawyer $35.67
dwi attorneys $35.32
criminal lawyers $34.19
new york criminal attorney $33.95
auto accident attorney $33.19
auto accident lawyer $33.13
dwi lawyer $32.31
dwi lawyer $32.31
texas dwi law $31.02

I find this interesting not as a tool for earning money on a website, but rather as what companies value a single lead so much and are able to turn such a profit on a single lead that they are willing to pay such an extreme premium on it. I think its safe to say where the overwhelming money is: law. Really though this should come as no surprise since everyone knows the lucrative nature of the law. If we analyze what specific type of law, we see that it overwhelmingly DUI lawyers--a scenario where the client is fairly likely going to use a lawyer anyway so the likely scenario is that the advertising is so high because the competition among DUI lawyers is extremely fierce.