Archive for May, 2013

Home Run Off a Curveball: Accident Turns Wall Street Trader Into Author

May 30, 2013

San Francisco Chronicle and, Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thrown a Curveball, Trader Hits a Home Run, by James Robinson

January 2, 2011:  Joe Peta, a “baseball obsessed New York trader, was hit crossing a street by an ambulance in Manhattan, causing his leg to snap and leaving him in agony.  Peta, a former Lehman Bros. trader, was a graduate of Stanford’s MBA program.  When Lehman Bros. failed, he was hired by Nomura Securities.  Nomura fired him soon after his accident when he was confined to a wheelchair, the injuries still not completely healed.

Later, Mr. Peta, still in his apartment, was musing as “baseball’s Opening Day was approaching–and he still had a great deal of time on his hands.  Making a closer than usual examination of the statistics saturated Baseball Prospectus 2011, he began to get curious why the Tampa Bay Rays had been so surprisingly successful in 2010. Those questions would turn into a quest that would change the direction of his life.”

He began writing Trading Bases, a book about masses of baseball data which turned into a business plan.  “Baseball, Peta says, is a mechanical game.  Unlike other team sports, in baseball one player’s performance does not depend as much on a teammate’s…As opposed to basketball or football, each team in baseball really is a sum of its parts…player performance will not deviate a lot over the course of a season.  

Although baseball analysis of this sort began with Michael Lewis in the 1990s, Peta “might be the first person to use this information to create a pseudo-hedge fund that, instead of stocks, ‘trades’ in calculated wagers on each day’s baseball games. 

Trading Bases concludes with Peta raising $1 million and moving to Las Vegas for three months in 2012 to test his acumen, at his publisher’s insistence.  During the 2012 season, he says, he registered a 14 percent gain…Constructing the system behind Trading Bases has rekindled his youthful appreciation of the simple joys of baseball.”

Capital Markets: “Washington Has Been Dealt a Good Hand”

May 29, 2013

New York Times, Friday, May 24, 2013


Tougher Oversight Rules Create Tighter Focus on Washington, by Eric Lipton and Ben Protess

WASHINGTON–“In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations.  Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it them selves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month–over the objections of the Treasury Department–was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by the New York Times.  The bank’s recommendations, which were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill, would exempt broad swaths of trades from new regulation.  Two crucial paragraph, prepared in conjunction  with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

Industry executives said the change they advocated was good for the financial system, not just the bank.”   However, there are some concerns about the bill: “the bill restores the public subsidy to exotic wall Street activities,” said Marcus Stanley, the policy director of Americans for financial Reform, a nonprofit group.”

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, on a trip to Washington,  said, “America has the widest, deepest and most transparent capitalmarkets in the world;  Washington has been dealt a good hand.”

Curve Ball and Breasts

May 15, 2013

The New York Times OP-ED, Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Cascading Confessions

“(Angelina)  Jolie stunned the world with a New York Times Op-Ed article explaining why she decided to have a preventive double mastectomy once she learned that she had the BRCAI GENE, which spikes the risk for breast and ovarian cancers…’I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.’

…So it was hard to read about the pain caused by the genetic imperfections lurking beneath that lush perfection, a curveball from one celebrated for her curves.”

For definitions of curveball, please go to and find the sports term in baseball.

Game Changing Politicians from Iran

May 15, 2013

New York Times INTERNATIONAL Monday, May 13, 2013           

 2 Presidential Candidates in Iran Draw Resentment, by Thomas Erdbrink

TEHRAN–“A day after two game-changing politicians signed up at the last minute as candidates for Iran’s presidential elections in June, the country’s governing establishment reacted angrily, predicting that they would not be allowed to participate or that they would definitely lose.  

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a protege of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani signed up at the end of a five-day registration period on Saturday, shocking opponents who had bet on their preferred candidates being the only ones running in the June 14 election…

The two late entries took away focus from the establishment’s candidates: Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei: Saeed Jalili, Iran’s nuclear negotiator; and Mohammed Baqer Qualibaf, the mayor of Tehran, the capital.”




Slam Dunk and Now The Teardrop

May 10, 2013

On the front page of the New York Times of Thursday, May 9, 2013:

Hop and a Flick:  Floating One Over the Big Guys, by Scott Cacciola

“Miami–The slam dunk has captivated the basketball world for a generation with its combination of raw ferocity and balletic grace, but this year a different shot is sweeping the N.B.A. playoffs.

It’s called the teardrop.  And its the antidunk…The teardrop floats over defenders’ outstretched hands, arcs toward the rafters and then –especially this year–drops through the net with barely a whisper.”

The teardrop hasn’t entered the idiomatic lexicon yet, but just wait.  If you see it used in an idiomatic sense, please let us know.  Thanks.

The Sales Tax: A Level Playing Field?

May 2, 2013

The New York Times, EDITORIALS/LETTERS, Thursday, May 2, 2013

“Fairness on Sales Tax:  The Senate is finally about to pass a bill to let states collect sales taxes on online purchases

Twenty-one years is a long time to wait.  But that is how long local retailers have waited for Congress to undo a 1992 Supreme Court decision that exempted many online retailers, like, from collecting most state sales taxes.  The exemption has given online sellers a 5% percent to 10% price advantage over Main Street stores.  

The wait, however, may soon be over.  Next week the Senate is expected to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill that would authorize states to require out-of-state sellers with more than $1 million in sales to collect sales taxes.  The states, in return,, must simplify their sales-tax codes and give retailers free software to calculate the taxes–steps already taken by most states.  A identical bill in the house also has bipartisan support…

Main Street needs a level playing field to compete with the exploding online industry.  So do large retailers like Best Buy, that have cut jobs as shoppers have increasingly tested electronics at local stores and then gone home to buy then online without paying sales tax.  Equally important, states need the revenue to help recover from the recession.”

A level playing field is needed in sports, but also in business. It’s only fair.

David Stern, NBA Commissioner, Passing Over the Reins

May 1, 2013

The Charlie Rose Show, Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Charlie Rose interviewed David Stern, NBA (National Basketball Association) Commissioner, and Adam Silver, Deputy Commissioner, on today’s Charlie Rose show on National Public Radio.  He stated at the beginning of the show that Mr. Stern was passing the reins to his deputy.  

Passing or handing over the reins to another is an idiom that means ceding control of a institution, corporation or other.  The term is derived from handing over the reins of a horse to another thereby ceding control of the horse.