Archive for August, 2011

“TV Cash Tilts College Playing Field”

August 28, 2011

The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, August 25, 2011


“TV Cash Tilts College Playing Field”, by Jessica E. Vascellaro and Darren Everson

“The value of television deals for college sports teams continues to rise, rivaling the value for some professional teams.”

“The escalating TV dollars are reshaping the amateur realm of college sports.”

“But the new business opportunities have raised questions about fairness and rattled alliances.”

What’s going to happen when a level playing field for college sports is being tilted because of  TV money?

London: News Corp. Punted

August 25, 2011

The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, July 12, 2011

London– News Corp punted its proposed takeover of BSkyB to an independent antitrust regulator, slowing and also possibly depoliticizing the approval process for a deal jeopardized by a scandal at the company’s UK newspaper unit.

In American football the phrase “4th down and let’s punt” means the offensive team has to kick the football to the other side and assume a defensive posture.  There is more information about the term and American football at

Kicking Footballs of Bids

August 25, 2011

The Big Short, by MIchael Lewis (Inside the Doomsday Machine)

Published by W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London

“Spider-Man at The Venetian”, p 163

“We were doing everything we possibly could to buy more,” said Charlie.  “We’d put in our bids at the offering prices.  They’d call back and say, “Oops, you almost got it!”  It was very sort of Charlie Brown and Lucy.  We’d go up to kick the football and they’d pull it back.  We’d raise our bid and the minute we did their offer would jump up.”

Rating Agencies Gamed by Wall Street Firms

August 25, 2011

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (Inside the Doomsday Machine)

Published by W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London

“Spider-Man at The Venetian”, p 158

“Danny thought that the vast majority of the people in the industry were blinded by their interests and failed to see the risks they had created…The rating agencies were about as low as you could go and still be in the industry, and the people who worked for them really did not seem to know just how badly they and been gamed by big Wall Street firms.”

p. 155  “As the securities became more complex, the rating agencies became more necessary.  Everyone could evaluate a U.S. Treasury bond;  hardly anyone could understand a subprime mortgage-backed CDO (collateralized debt obligation).”

p. 100  “The more egregious the rating agencies’ mistakes, the bigger the opportunity for the Wall Street trading desks.”

“In the late summer of 2006 Eisman and his partners knew none of this.  All they knew was that Wall Street investment banks apparently employed people to do nothing but game the rating agencies’ models.”

Making the Dice Work and Playing Games With Subprime Mortgages

August 25, 2011

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (Inside the Doomsday Machine)

Published by W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London

“Spider-Man at The Venetian”, p 151

“Craps offered the player the illusion of control–after all, he rolled the dice–and a surface complexity that masked its deeper idiocy.  “For some reason, when these people are playing it they actually believe they have the power to make the dice work,” said Vinny (at the Venetian in Los Vegas).”

“Thousands and thousands of serious financial professionals…were now playing craps with the money they had made off subprime mortgage bonds.  …it had somehow become the most powerful engine of profits and employment on Wall Street–and it made no economic sense.”

The financial players at the Venetian were playing gambling games on the tables, but they were also gambling with subprime mortgage bonds, rolling the dice and playing craps with billions of dollars of bonds that would almost bring down the U.S. financial system.

Hotelier Again Rides a Wave

August 24, 2011

The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, August 17, 2011: THE PROPERTY REPORT


“Boom and bust hotelier Laurence Geller is on another upswing, having orchestrated a string of clever deals this year to rescue Strategic Hotels and Resorts Inc. and its trophy hotels from the brink of financial ruin,”

“While Laurence definitely has done  lot of things to improve the company since the downturn, he was responsible for the ship through the life of the process,” says Enrique Torres, a lodging analyst…”

I like this:  He is riding a wave and responsible for the ship, two great idioms.

Here’s another: “Mr. Geller became known for playing hardball with the hotel brands that operated Strategic’s hotels, threatening to sue or put the properties into bankruptcy to break the management contracts and win the terms he wanted.”  Playing hardball equals playing tough.


August 23, 2011

The Economist August 13, 2011:  Middle East and Africa

Football in Barain

“A HOUSE DIVIDED”, page 45, is the lead for the story.  Next to the title is a picture of a football (soccer in U.S.) player doing a “header”  in a green and white jersey, and a subtitle, “It’s a contact sport.”

“The scars from Bahrain’s protests are still felt on the pitch.”  Pitch is used in many places in the world for field.  I believe it comes from British cricket. (Wikipedia: “In the game of cricket, the cricket pitch consists of the central strip of the cricket field between the wickets.”)

We use “field” in this country for the area of play, but I assume in Great Britain the name “pitch” for field derives from the word used for throwing or pitching the ball.  (Reader, please correct me, if I am wrong.)

The Economist article describes how the team, Al-Ahli, which won Bahrain’s top league title last year, was “one family” despite the players’ different religions: “We never thought about whether we were Sunni or Shia.”  Unfortunately,  the sectarian strife in the streets engulfed the team as the players took sides in the protests:  Two Shia brothers, A’ala and Mohammed Hubail, national stars, were arrested and jailed.  Six other team members were suspended from playing.

“Just as Al-Ahli in its heyday was a microcosm of Bahrain’s integrated society, its woes today reflect the depth of the country’s new divisions.”

Moore’s Law: Transistors Have Had Good Innings

August 23, 2011

The Economist,  August 20th 2011

Science and Technology

Transistors: Plugging the Leaks, pp.71.72

“As physical limits bite, electronic engineers must build ever cleverer transistors:

MOORE’S LAW– the prediction made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, that the number of transistors on a chip of given size would double every two years–has had good innings.”–from “clunky” to “transistors now measured in billionths of  a metre.”

It’s baseball season in the U.S. now:  Transistors have had good innings in the years since 1965 ushering in the “Age of Information Technology”, just as a baseball team has to  have good innings to win the World Series.  According to the Economist article, the Moore  prediction might continue to be true a little bit longer with some new engineering ideas.

Tossing a Political Football

August 16, 2011

August 2, 2011:  Wall Street Journal


There were many comments in newspapers and on TV using the idiom tossing the football back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in Congress when trying to come to an agreement on raising the debt limit in order to avoid a default.

Bullriding into the U.S. Presidential Race

August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011:  Wall Street Journal, OPINION

Bachman-Perry Overdrive

“The fight for the Republican Presidential nomination is finally getting underway in earnest, with Texas Governor Rick Perry bull-riding his way into the race and Michele Bachmann winning Saturday’s straw poll in  Iowa.” Mr. Perry was late entering the presidential race, but he “knows how to link job growth to Texas’s policies of low taxes, spending control and tort reform”  in the run for the Republican nomination.

Bull-riding is a rodeo sport which evolved from western ranch heritage in the U.S. and perhaps Spain’s heritage in the West.  It is dangerous and difficult.  I once saw a Brahma Bull jump over the fence and into the audience in the San Francisco, California Cow Palace.  However, that was unusual.  The bulls are fierce and difficult to ride.

Try this site for more information and pictures: