Archive for March, 2010

Was Senator Bunning’s Pitch a Strike or a Wild Ball?

March 14, 2010

This headline was seen in “The Wall Street Journal” in LETTERS TO THE EDITOR on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 in reference to U.S. Senator Bunning’s (Republican from the state of Kentucky) refusal to vote for a bill that would  extend unemployment benefits to US citizens who had lost their jobs, but would cost $10 billion.  Senator Bunning took a position (pitched a ball)  that temporarily stopped a vote.  Was the pitch a strike for fiscal or monetary restraint or was it a wild ball which might hurt the public?

To understand the italized terms and American baseball, please go to and look up baseball.  Usually, pitches that are wild are not termed wild balls, but wild pitches.

The Oil Market is Throwing a Curve

March 9, 2010

The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, March 4, 2010 

HEARD ON THE STREET: Financial Analysis and Commentary

The Oil Market is Throwing a Curve, Liam Denning

“it isn’t that the prices haven’t risen.  The price of crude (oil) on the New York Mercantile Exchange has increased 7% since early December… But oil for delivery in 12 months has fallen 0.2%, meaning the forward curve has flattened out considerably.”…

Surplus crude must be sold cheaply or stored.  The latter (stored crude) requires forward prices to rise relative to spot prices to make it economical.  Either way the weak supply-and-demand picture points to the spread widening.  A steep upward slope in the crude curve erodes overall returns for investors in passive funds, which buy futures and roll them forward into new positions as they expire.” 

The graph in this article: “Squeezy Feeling (Discount of first month Nymex crude-oil futures to 12th month dollars per barrel)” shows a graph with oil discounts decreasing in the last 14 months from a bit more than 16 to 2.8% now, and yet there are high stocks of oil.

This article, a rather difficult one for all but oil investors,  uses a baseball idiom/metaphor as the title of the article to emphasize the current unpredictability of the oil market. If a pitcher in a baseball game throws a curve at the batter, it is an unpredictable throw.  It may throw the batter off his timing. 

I wonder if the author of the article played baseball or is a baseball fan.  Not only does the title use a baseball metaphor, but there are many “curves” in the article: “crude curve”, “futures curve”.  Of course, a curve is used in standard English to denote a rounded area on a graph, in this instance oil futures.

Were the Greeks Playing Craps When They Manipulated Currencies

March 3, 2010

Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 2, 2010:


“Swapping Blame Over Athens”

“Ben Bernacke ..told the Senate that the U.S. central bank is investigating Goldman Sachs over CDS (Credit Default Swaps) involving Greece and other foreign countries… Under the 2001 deal brokered by Goldman, Greece swapped (traded) dollar-and yen-demoninated debt for eros at below-market exchange rates.

This is not to say that Greece’s number fudging was a good idea.  But before we round up the Goldman croupiers who arranged this particular deal, we’d do well to remember that the Greeks were’t the only Europeans playing craps at the currency-swap table in the euro’s early years. ”

Craps is a gambling game played with dice, the outcome of which is determined by the roll of one or two dice.  The probability of the dice combinations determines the playout odds, win or lose.  The odds are l 1:1 to 35:1 in favor of the gambling house.

Croupiers are gambling house employees who organize the craps game and play for the gambling house.  “The Wall Street Journal” is using gambling metaphors/idioms to emphasize the risks Greece took in manipulating currencies to become part of the European Union and its euro.  Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking and securities firm that Greece used and that the “Journal” termed the croupiers.