October 12, 2008

Arcane Gazebo's financial crisis FAQ

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 12, 2008 6:45 PM

I won't attempt to explain the financial crisis here, but I will answer a few questions that have frequently been asked of me.

Q: Why haven't you been blogging about the recent events in the financial sector (or anything else, for that matter)?

A: One reason is that I don't have a lot of insight to add over what others are already saying. On top of that, since I work in proprietary trading I'm not at liberty to talk publicly about the aspects that affect me the most. As for blogging on other topics, I'm spending a lot of time at the office, and posting to the blog from firm systems is (I believe) frowned upon in the same way that using personal e-mail accounts is.

Q: Do you still have a job?

A: Yes.

Q: What's it like starting out in the finance industry right now?

A: Sort of like you got the last ticket on a luxury cruise, and the cruise ship was the RMS Titanic. Or you moved to Tokyo just in time for a Godzilla attack.

And now, some questions that have not been asked of me but to which I have answers:

Q: What's happened to the Lehman Brothers building since they went bankrupt?

A: Since it's on the edge of Times Square, it has a big TV screen on the front that used to show attractive video of various landscapes. When Barclay's took over the building, it didn't change for a few days, and then turned into a still Barclay's logo on a hideous blue background--BSOD blue. They later figured out how to animate the logo, but it's still that awful blue and the entire block glows with the color at night.

Q: Is there a blog collecting those dumb trading floor pictures you complained about a while back?

A: Yes: Sad Guys on Trading Floors.

Q: Can you give me financial advice?

A: I think my employer would frown upon this.

Q: I work in the financial services industry. What is a good song to play at the office this week?

A: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"

Q: Is there a bright side to all this?

A: Barack Obama is now the overwhelming favorite in the presidential election.

Q: So why haven't you been blogging about politics?

A: The political news cycle moves so fast that by the time I get home from work my commentary is redundant.

Q: What about the music blogging?

A: I've just been lame. I did catch a couple shows at Austin City Limits a couple weeks ago (Spiritualized, and Iron & Wine). And I've been listening to the new TV on the Radio album, which is excellent.

Q: Should you put a disclaimer on a post like this?

A: It should go without saying, but the opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer. I should just put that on the sidebar.

Tags: Finance, Music, Politics

Yay, excellent Q+A post! :) How about gaming, played any good board games/RPG's/console games lately?

Posted by: Zifnab | October 12, 2008 7:04 PM

Ooh, excellent question. One of my coworkers and I started an office board games group. At our last session we played a 7-hour game of Twilight Imperium: fun, but quite complicated and epically long. Another good and new-to-me game we played at an earlier session is Pandemic, a cooperative board game (much shorter, only took about an hour). And at a different gathering I played Citadels and enjoyed it enough to pick up my own copy.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 12, 2008 7:12 PM

I'm glad things are going along, thanks for the post.

Posted by: Mylanda | October 12, 2008 11:30 PM

MOAR blogging!

As I mentioned, I saw Iron and Wine AGAIN the weekend after Austin before The Swell Season (and again as Sam came out to sing a song with the Swell Season), and a week from Saturday I have a free ticket to see Flogging Molly!

It's a very Irish month for me as far as music (which is, really, a very good way to have your music)

Posted by: Josh | October 12, 2008 11:42 PM

The captions on the 'sad guys on trading floor' site are hilarious!

Josh: I'll let you know how much Irish music I hear when I visit Ireland next month. I'll be in Limerick, so I'm going to try to (cheesily) write my seminar conclusions in limerick form.

The Godzilla attack analogy seems quite apt, but at least the job seems really interesting! Attack it with mad physics skillz!

Posted by: Mason Porter | October 13, 2008 1:21 AM

The captions on the 'sad guys on trading floor' site are hilarious!

Josh: I'll let you know how much Irish music I hear when I visit Ireland next month. I'll be in Limerick, so I'm going to try to (cheesily) write my seminar conclusions in limerick form.

The Godzilla attack analogy seems quite apt, but at least the job seems really interesting! Attack it with mad physics skillz!

Posted by: Mason Porter | October 13, 2008 1:21 AM

Good to hear you're getting some games in!

Oddly enough, I was thinking that Obama becoming the favorite in the presidential race was part of the BAD news for the economy... Mmmm... Regulate, regulate, regulate like it's 1978.

Posted by: Chris L-S | October 13, 2008 7:08 AM

Citadels was one of the hot games this year at PAX, but we didn't get a chance to play it -- in spite of the incredible amount of time we spent in the tabletop area. I think we even borrowed a copy to play at some point, but ended up getting distracted playing a many-hours-long game of Apples to Apples with a bunch of guys from Microsoft.

I noticed your (AG's) employer was on campus last week giving an informational session, but they scheduled it at the same time as our department colloquium, which I am now required to attend -- otherwise I was curious enough I might have stopped by.

My take on the current financial situation is the same as my current take on the election is the same as my current take on a lot of things: "Who? What? If it doesn't pertain to the properties of a compact vector space (or insert-currently-confusing-topic here), I don't give a damn."

Posted by: Lemming | October 13, 2008 7:21 AM

Mmmmmm... compact vector spaces. (Lemming: Now you know how I feel a lot of the time! Well, compact vectors spaces AND baseball...)

I brought Apples to Apples with me to PAX last year in the hopes of getting a game going, but it never worked out. I can definitely see how the massively-improved tabletop setting would help out a lot there.

Maybe I'll be able to make the one in Boston---a bit easier trip for me than Seattle, and I have more means in that city to get some local financial support via seminars.

Posted by: Mason Porter | October 13, 2008 8:50 AM

Lemming: I helped give that info session at Stanford and Berkeley two weeks ago. They didn't send me to the Caltech one though. (This was an info session for the particular trading group I'm working in and not just the firm.)

Chris: Well, I was thinking in more general terms, but there are plenty of reasons to expect that the Obama administration will be good for the economy. Here are a couple:

1) Democratic economic policy has a better track record. Historically, GDP, the stock market, and employment do better under Democratic administrations than under Republicans. (Note also that the budget deficit decreases while Democrats are in power and increases under Republicans--the Dems are the more fiscally conservative party.)

2) Professional economists overwhelmingly prefer Barack Obama's economic policy. Consider this survey by The Economist (not exactly a bastion of Marxism) in which 80% of economists surveyed favored Obama. This is not surprising, since McCain is completely unserious about economic policy. He's admitted that he doesn't know much about the subject, and his views reflect that: they seem to change on a daily basis and are frequently backwards, such as a spending freeze in the middle of a recession or a cut in the capital gains tax at a time when few people have any capital gains.

As for the likely new regulations, the current crisis is following a long period of deregulation of the banking industry, and there are some compelling arguments that this is not a coincidence. I think you will not find much support for the idea that the current regulatory regime is adequate. I would not say regulate like 1978, but like 1933...

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 13, 2008 4:27 PM

For song:
REM - End of the world...

but i feel fine

Posted by: shellock | October 14, 2008 4:33 AM

If you work for Morgan, you can now play "Turning Japanese". I guess Goldman employees could play... "Omaha" by the Counting Crows? "Margaritaville"?

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 14, 2008 5:25 AM

For Lehman, it would be the old Willie Nelson tune, "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over."

Posted by: JSpur | October 14, 2008 10:14 AM

It's easy when you're big in Japan...

Posted by: Mason Porter | October 14, 2008 3:00 PM

(Yes, I know I switched songs.)

Posted by: Mason Porter | October 14, 2008 3:00 PM
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