Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sistine Chapel

I've only been to Rome once and unfortunately the Sistine Chapel was closed. I really want to return, but while that doesn't happen at least I can take a peek from here:

I wonder what these VR simulations will look like in 30 years.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aren't people overreacting?

I was reading Jim ONeill's weekly analysis (Chairman of GSAM) and enjoyed his putting in perspective the European crisis:

"... in 2011, the change in China’s nominal GDP in US$ will be the equivalent of creating three new Greek economies. In the context of the above question and what is important this week, I realized that, along with the other three BRIC nations, the probable change in the US$ value of their combined GDP in 2012 is likely to be close to $2 trillion. They will effectively create the equivalent of another Italy.

 This is what the BRIC countries can do to help the world, and especially troubled Europe, way more than any specific steps to invest in European beleaguered bonds."

No wonder people get so excited with emerging markets' potential. This is truly where economic growth is nowadays, both in percentage and absolute values, and is / will be one of the key macro trends for years to come.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Airton Senna

Yesterday I watched the Senna documentary on TV. I loved it and hope it gets an Oscar nomination (and wins the prize of course!). 

Senna was one of my childhood heroes and probably Brazil's most beloved sporting hero (maybe even more than Pelé). In my family, just like many others in Brazil, it was a tradition to watch the F1 gran-prix on Sundays. The European races would usually start around 11am-12 and my uncles and cousins would come to my house and watch the race while preparing Sunday lunch. There so many good memories of Senna, Nelson Piquet and their battles against Prost, Mansell and others. Great times for F1!

Senna's death is similar to JFK's death for Americans, in the sense that every Brazilian remembers what they were doing upon hearing the news. I was watching the race live and remember my mother crying and everyone being really sad when we realized what had happened. 

In a country lacking role models it is very emotional to revisit Senna's trajectory all over again. In the documentary they ask Senna about his best sporting memory and he mentions his first kart races in Europe, when it wasn't about the money or the politics, just pure driving. 

It is sad but I guess this is how many things work nowadays. Maybe I'm getting old and sentimental but I feel that things were more about emotions and getting things done rather than today. Now it is all about money, internal politics, and people feeling entitled for everything without willing to put in the hard work needed to get things. 

Anyway, I hope you all watch the movie. (Americans will need subtitles to truly enjoy it.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Economics is all around

I was reading the blog of my colleague Simon Taylor here at Judge and he posted the link of a spoof video by MBAs in Columbia on how one of the (untold) reasons of doing an MBA maybe to find a rich husband.

Regardless of whether this is true or not, I'm amazed by the number of marriages that year after year. In my PhD cohort of 18 people, we had 2 marriages!

Gary Becker would totally agree.

Here is the video:

Eurocrisis: Just Sayin'...

If politicians had agreed two years ago - when the size of the problem was already know - to do the same things proposed last week, I'm sure we wouldn't be in the terrible mess we are now: no need to keep bleeding for 2 months with the Greek referendum, less austerity measures needed, smaller bail-out size, etc...

Politicians are not on average known for being good, but the currently crop of leaders is really depressing to watch...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wealth of Nations

A friend sent me this interesting report by Credit Suisse on the global wealth.

It's impressive how having more than USD 10,000 is enough to put you ahead of 3 billion people (67.6% of the world).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Luck or Skill? Paulson & Co. edition

I've just read on the FT that John Paulson (who made billions betting on falling US housing market prices in 2008) has warned of 25% redemptions in his $30bi AUM fund, following losses of more than 40% so far this year.

My MSc. dissertation was on whether technical analysis can generate abnormal returns or it is onlu due to "luck"- i.e. out of many possible combinations you are bound to find one that will have excellent results.

I usually use Warren Buffet as an example during my classes on market efficiency but maybe Paulson will be interesting as well. Maybe his profits back in 2008 were simply luck and shouldn't be expected to persist in the future?

Monday, July 18, 2011

History of Corporations

It's been ages since I posted anything. Moving to a new job in a new country while still trying to catchup with my debt to my co-authors is not easy! My apologies to all. Once I'm settled (moving date is August 1st) I hope to get back on track.
In any case, I found this very nice article on the history of corporations that I found very interesting.

More and more I believe that all MBAs should have a history-cum-law course. It would probably overlap a lot with Ethics and maybe Strategy courses but I am sometimes amazed by the lack of historical knowledge on previous crises and the inner workings of a modern corporation.

Have a nice summer!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Back to the Future

Today I was looking at some research papers on macro data to prepare for a live TV interview with the BBC and found this report by the IMF that was published this month.

It's interesting to see the predictions they made in 2009 and what has really happened.

In any case, good reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This is Funny

IESE's firewall issues a warning message whenever you try to access websites with keywords on their black list.

Today I was trying to put side-by-side figures on a paper that I'm writing. The problem is that the name of the language I (and most people in Finance) use is Latex.

Well, I googled "Latex side-by-side figures" and boom!

"The page you are trying to see does not adjust to our security requirements and therefore it can´t be accessed directly.

In case you are sure that there is no harmful potential you may go to the page by clicking on the "
Permitir" button."


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Primer on Hedge Funds

I just saw this paper on SSRN, written UBS's alternative investments, that has a quick intro on what are hedge funds.

If you don't know what they are, here is a good introduction. Here is the link for download:

UBS - Hedge Fund Primer

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What if Charlie Sheen Was a Trader?

Very funny article on the FT about Charlie Sheen being a star-trader and negotiating his compensation package:

Here is an excerpt:
"The committee then considered objective measures of Mr Sheen’s performance. These were impressive: Mr Sheen’s trading had contributed tens of millions of pounds to the bank’s bottom line over the previous year.
At this point the committee was minded to view Mr Sheen’s transgressions as a private matter, and not one over which it behoved HotShots Bank to take an excessively paternalistic line.
It was also noted that Mr Sheen, a self-pronounced “total freakin’ rock star from Mars” appeared to regard himself as very mobile. If not paid a bonus in line with his compensation expectations, he would surely quit."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Early-century performance reviews

I'm sure that if they made these kinds of comments in today's politically correct world it would be grounds for a lawsuit in many places...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sales - Music Industry

the graph below has the total sales of the music industry. Interesting how turnover peaked in 2000 and has been going down since then. Even the introduction of digital media hasn't really helped.

No wonder that with artists demanding a bigger slice of profits and internet downloading being so easy to do, their business model is in serious need of a change.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

100 Years of the American Economic Review: The Top 20 Articles

Via Brad DeLong's blog, here are the top 20 articles in the AER's first 100 years.

I've read about 6-7 of them, but the one I often use on my research is the Grossman and Stiglitz's one:

Grossman, Sanford J., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1980. “On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets.” American Economic Review, 70(3): 393–408.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Importance of Being Honest

This is a great article by E. Derman and Paul Wilmott on  how we should be careful with our models. Here are their suggestions at the end,

  • I will remember that I didn't make the world and that it doesn't satisfy my equations.
  • Though I will use models boldly to estimate value, I will not be overly impressed by mathematics.
  • I will never sacrifice reality for elegance without explaining why I have done so. Nor will I give the people who use my model false comfort about its accuracy. Instead, I will make explicit its assumptions and oversights.
  • I understand that my work may have enormous effects on society and the economy, many of them beyond my comprehension. 

It is so easy to get lost in the mathematics of models that we often see papers completely out of touch with reality...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Somali Pirates, Goldman Sachs and "Doing God's Work"

A colleague sent me this funny spoof story on a group of Somali's pirates being on trial and claiming that they were in fact working for Goldman.

I hope nobody believes it :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Importance of Entry/Exit Points when Investing

This graph on the NYT is very interesting in showing the importance of entry/exit points of investing in markets.

I wonder what investors that bought US stocks in 2010 will get in 20 years.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brazil Definitely Needs Something Like This

I read this post on Andrew Gelman's blog  that is really cool. is a not-for-profit website in India asks for people to anonymously reportany bribes they had to pay when dealing with the government. This is a cool way to guide anti-corruption efforts and see which part of the government should be better controlled.

Here is an example of what they have: