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Archive for March, 2008

New Yankee

Looks like a cross between Penn Station and the Skydome, with some Stamford Town Center thrown in.

http://curbed.com/archives/2008/03/25/glam_slam_yankees_show_off_new_stadiums_bling.php?o=0

For all the money in NY, I would have hoped someone could build a decent-looking structure; unfortunately, it seems HOK ran out of good retro ideas when they built PacBell and PNC and ever since has just been copying itself.  Sort of how ever since Batman Jack Nicholson just plays “Jack Nicholson in Batman“.

At least Citi Field (faithful copy of PacBell, with Flushing in place of SF Bay) might have decent sightlines:

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ballpark/citifield_images.jsp.

The Yankees seem to have swiped their lower deck from Shea.

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Click

A baseball player is supposed to hit a ball moving 95 mph, quite possibly towards his head, while someone who has had a few too many in the fourth row talks about what he did with the player’s mom, sister, three dwarves and a goat.

The finest golfer in the history of the sport can’t hit a stationary ball because a camera shutter clicked?
http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=3313069&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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Still Going

Really, really doesn’t want to come clean about this one:

http://www.attytood.com/2008/03/exclusive_clinton_acknowledges.html

“Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK — because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke — I didn’t say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire — that’s not what I was told. I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and I said well, I, I can’t, I can’t rush by her, I’ve got to at least greet her — so I greeted her, I took her stuff and then I left, Now that’s my memory of it.

That’s odd.  The footage already shows her in no rush.  Wonder who else was on the tarmac then:

According to Mrs. Clinton’s public schedule for March 25, 1996, she arrived in Tuzla at 8:55 a.m. and was greeted by the acting president of Bosnia, Ejup Ganic; the United States ambassador, John Menzies; two senior United States military officials; an 8-year-old girl, whose name was redacted from the schedule for privacy reasons; and a seventh-grade class that had been “adopted by Germany.”

That wasn’t some random 8 year-old girl standing on the tarmac interfering with the security plan for the First Lady and her only child.  That was the head of state of the country she was visiting, the US ambassador to that country, the military guys in charge of making sure it remained a country…and an 8 year-old girl who folks thought would photograph better with the First Lady.

On the bright side, Clinton’s trips around the world have given her a wonderful personal friendship with a variety of important leaders.  Such as:

Russian President Boris Yeltsin – dead
Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – assassinated
John Hume, leader of Northern Ireland Social Democratic and Labor Party and co-signer of the Good Friday peace agreement – retired.
David Trimble, head of Ulster Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland (co-signer of Good Froday agreement) – obscure member of British Conservative Party.
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman – retired.
Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller – retired.
Jordanian King Hussein – dead.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair – resigned.
South African President Nelson Mandela – retired.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin – retired.
Philippine President Fidel Ramos – retired.
Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao – dead.
Moroccan King Hassan – dead.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic – dead.
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl – retired.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – assassinated.
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat – dead.
Saudi King Fahd – dead.
Indonesian President Suharto – dead.
French President Jacques Chirac – retired.
Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo – retired.
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso – retired.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien – retired.
Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating – retired.
Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto – dead.
Argentine President Carlos Menem – retired.

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“The president carries the biggest burden, obviously,” Cheney said. “He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.”

What an assh0le.
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Politics/story?id=4513250&page=1

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Not Surprising

Unless you really believe a banking system that cannot value its mortgage-backed securities to the nearest hundred billion or an intelligence system that cannot find Osama bin Laden after seven years or a government that could not get aid to New Orleans for a week is actively able to trace a few thousand dollars of money transfers out of some politician’s accounts…

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3607708.ece

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And who knew Sinbad was funny?

That’s the star of Houseguest you’re talking about.

Rather than admit foggy recollection (you know, I made four stops that day, people told me there might be snipers, you hear all sorts of weird noises in cargo planes), Hillary has offered a detailed expansion of her memories of the harrowing trip into Tuzla.  Apart from the Iraqi Information Minister-level implausibility of the President sending his wife and only child to a place too dangerous for him to go (martyring Hillz might have been tactically interesting, but not Chelsea), this seems like an awfully cavalier approach to sniper fire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOsGo_HWP-c

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I know O’Bama has to be Mr. Positivity, but this is really calling for a good negative ad, especially given how much she has harped on her heroism:

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/03/hillarys_balkan_adventures_par.html

And who knew Sinbad would come to be the responsible voice of memory in the election.  Almost as weird as the entire baseball steroids issue being broken open by Jose Canseco.

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In her defense, she is cute for an Administration hack…and, given the accomplishments of the rest of the team, potentially no dumber than the others:

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/16/perino-men-know-more-about-war-by-osmosis/

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Accomplished investor.  Completely crazy, too:

http://www.bloomberg.com/avp/avp.htm?clipSRC=mms://media2.bloomberg.com/cache/vpsp3dpnTUuA.asf

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More Bear Stearns

The WSJ said that Fuld cut short his vacation to India (– was it really a vacation?).  How deep do you think Lehman is in?  I don’t understand the prime brokerage world much, but I understand that Bear was seen as a 3-legged stool:  fixed income, prime brokerage, and money management.  I’m still not clear what collapsed for Bear – isn’t it late in the write-down game for a fixed-income writedown?  JPM wanted a prime brokerage account so it must have been.  How much does Lehman depend on ___ (whatever it was) that brought down Bear?  Is Lehman next / think it’s time to short Lehman?

My understanding of the Bear situation is basic at best.  But I think the main point is that however many legs were underpinning the long-term prospects of the company, like almost all financial institutions it was massively leveraged and borrowed short to lend long.  That is, it held all sorts of long-duration instruments – mortgage-backed securities, swaps, derivatives, etc – which it backed by effectively its promise to pay.  It funded its counterparty positions by borrowing overnight money.  When people started to have doubts about the value of the assets the firm held, they pulled their money.  That is, firms refused to continue lending to it, and businesses that ordinarily used it for transactions – hedge funds in the prime brokerage, other institutions in ordinary capital markets business – backed away for fear of not getting whatever they were trading for.  Plus, people were/are expecting a lot of Bear’s assets to come on the market, so their appetite for these assets dwindled, causing the quoted value to fall, causing asset coverage to fall…

Northern Rock in the UK had a very different business.  But in the extreme, all bank runs begin to look the same.  Once people are convinced an institution might fail, it does fail.

Lehman is in the same broad situation, which is why it is down today.  But keep in mind that even if Lehman is next, they have an advantage Bear did not – time.  News reports on Saturday said that Bear would not have made it to the end of Friday without taking the Fed’s money.  So they were doomed – they needed to come to an agreement with someone or face bankruptcy, and the Fed was clear that it wanted someone with deep pockets to take over; that meant a big guy like JPM and not a buyout fund like JCFlowers.  I think it is virtually certain that Lehman is talking to every major financial institution about a sale.  If you short the equity, you might make a killing when the firm crumbles.  Or you might get hit hard when RBS or Barclay’s or Al Qaeda or whoever wants a US investment bank decides to jump in the fray.  Which outcome will happen is dependent on how much time the company has before the run begins and how much comfort the market takes that the Fed will not let any of these shops go down in a disorganized fashion.

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