Archive for August, 2012

Romney and Ryan: A Hail Mary Pass? A Wildcat Formation?

August 29, 2012

The New Yorker, August 27, 2012

THE TALK OF THE TOWN,  by John Cassidy


“…Until Romney picked (Paul) Ryan, the rationale for his candidacy had been that he was a practical businessman who could appeal to independents and get the economy moving.  Now Romney has tethered himself to a conservative ideologue who serves in an institution, the house of Representatives, that, according to the latest Gallup poll, has an approval rating of ten percent.  Such an abrupt reversal smacks of desperation.  Not a Hail Mary pass, exactly, but akin to a struggling N.F.L. (National Football League) team that suddenly decides to adopt the wildcat formation and rely on fakery…”

“Ultimately, the Convention is about him (Romney), not about Ryan.  But, in seeking to win over the American people, he is going to have to explain his choice of running mate and answer a fundamental question that has plagued him from the beginning:  Who is Mitt Romney?”

 A Hail Mary pass is a desperation pass, usually at the end of the game, and as this isn’t the end of the election game, the pairing of Mr. Ryan and Governor Romney isn’t quite this, but a wildcat formation, when many in the electorate,  the Democrats, and certainly the writer of the article, are not sure where this partnership is going.

Who is the quarterback and who the running back?

The Wildcat offense is a formation often used to capitalize on mismatches created by the shifting of skill players. In the Wildcat formation, the quarterback is generally replaced in the backfield by a running back who takes a direct snap from the center.  This is designed for confusion.

Koufax’s Roundball Once Trumped His Fastball

August 17, 2012

The New York Times, Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Koufax’s Roundball Once Trumped His Fastball, by Richard Sandomir

“Sandy Koufax’s sports odyssey took him from a muscular, leaping center for the Lafayette High School basketball team in Brooklyn Dodgers to the Hall of Fame as one of the most dynamic pitchers in baseball history.  

His path from basketball to baseball was the reverse of Brooklyn’s better known but tortured major league history: losing the Dodgers (baseball team) in 1957 and, 55 years later, gaining the Nets (basketball team), whose first season in the borough is to start Nov.1.

Regardless, Koufax now stands as a link between the two sports.  He is, after all, a Brooklyn icon, and the fact that he was a talented basketball player first seems a fitting precursor to the Nets arrival.”  

The roundball in the title of this article refers to a basketball.  At one time in Koufax’s life basketball was more important; at that time it trumped baseball and his fastball.  

Trumps in card games, such as bridge, can take or win cards of other suits because they are designated more important.

Heavy Hitters Unload Banks

August 17, 2012

Wall Street Journal, Wednesday August 15, 2012


Heavy Hitters Unload Banks, by Liz Moyer and Erik Holm

Quarterly Filing Shows Soros Eliminated Positions in J.P. Morgan, Goldman

“Some well-known money managers reported significantly reduced stakes in big banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., as well as food companies such as Kraft Foods Inc. in the second quarter.”

 According to this article, a number of managers in large funds have reduced stakes in banks and food companies besides Soros.  They include those in Berkshire Hathaway, Pershing Square Capital Management, Paulson & Co.  and Trian Fund Management.  

It’s baseball season with many heavy hitters in games.  There are also heavy hitters in the games of finance.

Hedge Manager Goes on Offense in His Defense

August 16, 2012

Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hedge Manager Goes on Offense in His Defense, by Chad Bray

“In a bid to discredit the testimony of a key government witness, a Northern California hedge-fund manager accused of insider trading testified that he thought the informant, was lying when she said she had a secret source for Google Inc. in 2007…

Doug Whitman…testified on his own behalf for a second day Tuesday and disputed claims by Roomy Khan, a former technology-company employee and trader, that she shared confidential information with him about technology companies, including Google.  Mr. Whitman, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud, is the first person to take the stand in his or her own defense in the government’s recent broad crackdown on insider trading, which has resulted in more than 60 convictions…

As one of Mr. Whitman’s alleged sources, Ms. Khan is an important witness for the government.”

Mr. Whitman is defending himself against the government’s allegation that he committed a securities crime by going on the offense with his testimony.

Britain Did Have a Home Field Advantage

August 16, 2012

This is a follow-up post to the previous one about the Olympics, posted on  8/5/12

Huffington Post, August 12, 2012 

By Tim Reynolds

“LONDON — Most medals, most gold medals. The U.S. got what it wanted from these Olympics.

So did Britain, riding the wave of home-field advantage for its best Olympic showing in over a century. Some of that may have come at the expense of China, which finished only five medals ahead of Russia, where the Winter Olympics are next, in 2014.

The competition is over. The U.S. was best – but the success stories from London truly spanned the globe.

‘I think these games were absolutely fabulous,’ International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said.

The final numbers: 104 medals for the United States, 46 of them gold, their highest total at a “road” Olympics. China won 87 medals, 38 of them gold, down from what they did as the home team in 2008. Britain won 29 golds, third-most of any nation, and 65 overall – fourth in that category behind Russia, a winner of 82 medals, 24 gold.”

The Dismal Dash: Olympionomics

August 16, 2012

The Economist, July 28, 2012:  Finance and economics

Olympionomics: New York.  

Which economist will win the medal-prediction gold? 

Finance and economics “Athletic prowess is not all that is being tested at this year’s Olympic Games.  There will also be teams of econometricians battling it out to predict how many medals will be won by the host nations.  Over the years economists have deployed all sorts of mental gymnastics in their search for a model that can reliable forecast Olympic winners.  Initial expectations that medal tallies would be closely correlated with the population and per-capita wealth of a country were soon dashed.  The models leapt over the hurdle of statistical significance only when a third variable was added–how many medals the country won the last time were soon dashed.”

According to this article, the “dismal scientists hopped, skipped and jumped to two other statistical significant results.”  First, was “the Soviet effect” ; this “began to fall with the Berlin Wall.  Second, the host nation effect, that they tend to win more medals than at other times.  Predicting the size of the effect and the number of medals Britain “will bag is the equivalent of the 100-metre dash.”

The events/metaphors used in this article are:  the dash, the 100 meter dash, the hop, skip and jump, the hurdle, and gymnastics.  All but the last is a track and field event.  

“The 100 yard dash is an event of 100 yards or 91.4 meters.  It was part of the Commonwealth Games until 1966 and was included in the decathlon of the Olympics, at least in 1904.  It is not generally used in international events (having been replaced by the 100 meter sprint.  However, it is still occasionally run in the United States in certain competitions.”  (Wikipedia)

Schumer Plays Hardball on Cnooc

August 4, 2012

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Friday, July 27, 2012


 Schumer Plays Hardball on Cnooc, by Keith Johnson

WASHINGTON–Senator Charles Schumer said he would ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to use Cnooc Ltd.’s proposed $15 billion purchase of Canadian energy firm Nexen Inc. as leverage to pry open the Chinese market for U.S. companies,”  that approval of the transaction should be withheld until China’s government makes enforceable commitments to ensure reciprocal treatment for U.S. companies.  Mr. Schumer believes, according to this article, that approval of the Cnooc-Nexen transaction should be a test of these reciprocal agreements.  

Mr. Schumer is playing hard with the Chinese in order to “level the playing field” for U.S. businesses.   Hardball is used in Major League baseball.  For more information go to http://www.sportsidioms and look up “baseball.”

A Slam Dunk Contest

August 3, 2012

The New York Times, Monday, July 30, 2012

Sports Monday

A Slam Dunk Contest: An Opening Statement Punctuated by Dunks, by Greg Bishop

“After a slow start, the United States men’s basketball team punctuated a rout of France in its tournament opener with dunk after dunk.”  The score was 98-71.

Today, Friday, August 3rd, the U.S. team beat Nigeria 156-72.

A slam dunk in basketball is when a player jumps above the basket and “dunks” it in the basket.  As a metaphor, slam dunk, refers to something easy.

Deal Maker Now Doubts Megabanks

August 3, 2012

The New York Times, Thursday, July 26, 2012


Deal Maker Now Doubts Megabanks, by Michael J. de la Merced

I am sure you have read about Stanford I. Weill, the former chief executive of Citigroup, who “arguably (was) the most powerful banking voice behind the effort to dismantle Glass Steagall,”  and now has changed his mind.  Here are some quotes from the article:

“Sanford I. Weill on Wednesday called for separation of banks’ trading and deposit units.  In politics, it is called flip-flopping.  In banking it is called postcrisis regrets.” 

“For years, Sanford I Weill agressively pushed a ‘bigger is better’ philosophy in banking, turning Citigroup into a financial behemoth through a series of ever-larger deals.  Now the empire builder wants to break up the banks.”  

The article also calls Mr. Weill “a serial dealmaker.”  

A deal, a dealmaker, or making a deal can be a political, financial, of even a marital deal.  When the cards are dealt (verb) or a player deals they are distributed to the players rather than the play completed.  However, a deal in business implies that the business has been completed by the parties involved.  So this is rather a stretch idiomatically.  Plus deal in deal maker is an adjective.  

Definition: To give out as a share or portion; apportion. 2. To distribute among several recipients

‘Subpar’ Now Par for the Economic Course

August 3, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, July 27, 2012


AHEAD OF THE TAPE, By Spencer Jakab

Subpar’ Now Par for the Economic Course

Don’t quite get this, as I don’t think golfers use subpar.  Below par is more commonly used.  Par is average, and, of course, a golfer would love to be below par, get a birdie (one under par) or an eagle (two under par) because the lowest score wins.  Perhaps, it works as a metaphor for economic news.

“Tiger Woods may feel encouraged by the phrase ‘subpar.’  Not Ben Bernake.  Unfortunately, of the thousands of times that word appeared in media reports recently, the majority were in the context of economics rather than golf.  Friday’s first take on U.S. gross-domestic-product growth for the second quarter is unlikely to improve the mood:  Forecasters see an annualized increase of just 1.5 %.  ….

What’s more, today’s tepid climb is from a deeper hole than any since the Great Depression–about three times worse than the average downturn since 1960.  Granted, today’s recession is marked by the need for deleveraging, making it different from a business-cycle downturn…

Washington already has unleashed far more firepower on the downturn than usual and received scant bang for its buck.  All the more reason the Fed may soon take an even more aggressive swing at boosting growth.  Fore!”