Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Robbing ATM's The British Way

From Bloomberg:
Boom
No American ATM has ever been robbed with explosive gas. The same was true in Britain — until 2013. Now there have been more than 90. Inside the birth of a bomb spree.
Along the western coast of England, under a half-moon hidden by clouds, a dark Audi sports car with fabricated plates followed an empty road toward a Barclays bank. Inside were five men, dressed all in black, and their gear: crowbars, power tools, coils of flexible tubing, and two large tanks of explosive gas. It was 1:51 a.m. The job would take just under seven minutes.

This particular Barclays was just waiting to be robbed. Located at the rear of a shopping mall in a town called Birchwood, it was secluded from the street by 300 feet of parking lot and faced a creek, a railway, and acres of cropland. Early on this Friday in September 2013, the area was deserted, and the walk-up ATM glowing Barclays blue onto the brick forecourt was likely filled with cash for the weekend crowds. For six months, the gang had been targeting cash machines across a 150-mile swath of the country, from Oxford to Liverpool, with a technique never before used in the U.K.
Two men exited the Audi, balaclavas covering their faces, and with professional calm attacked the face of the machine. One pried open the cash slot with a 3-foot gorilla bar, then worked it like a lever, hopping up and down with a two-handed grip. A third man knelt to assist, a fourth stood watch, and the fifth remained behind the wheel of the car, idling at a short distance behind a perimeter of security bollards. After several minutes one of the team walked up trailing a wire and two lengths of hose, which he fed a short distance into the ATM, as a doctor might intubate a patient’s mouth. The hoses carried oxygen and acetylene, and the men took cover as the gases began to mix in the pit of the machine.

The strongbox inside an ATM has two essential holes: a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load reams of cash in large cassettes. Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem. Gas is pumped in, and when it’s detonated, the weakest part—the large hinged door—is forced open. After an ATM blast, thieves force their way into the bank itself, where the now gaping rear of the cash machine is either exposed in the lobby or inside a trivially secured room. Set off with skill, the shock wave leaves the money neatly stacked, sometimes with a whiff of the distinctive acetylene odor of garlic.

In Birchwood, the oxyacetylene bomb exploded immaculately at 1:57 a.m.—a single concussive thunderclap that sent a minimum of dust and debris raining onto the sidewalk. Only now did the men hustle. Smashing a low window to the left of the ruined ATM, they crawled inside with more tools, shoved the cash into a black duffel, and exited on their hands and knees. One gently helped another to his feet, and the Audi made a neat three-point turn to begin their getaway. Details of the heist, and other events in this story, come from security camera footage, police files, court records, and interviews with investigators, prosecutors, bank representatives, security experts, and defense lawyers.

The ATM bombers were getting better, bolder, and bigger. The Birchwood heist was their 28th in the U.K.—and No. 27 had gone down just minutes earlier in Wirral, 40 miles west, carried out by a second team of five. The combined take of almost £250,000, or about $375,000, was the group’s biggest score in a single night yet. Their MO, using cheap, common, and legal gas, was nearly impossible to trace, and they left precious little forensic evidence for the police. To stop the rampage, there was little Britain’s banks could do....MUCH MORE

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What It Takes to Make the Top 1% of Incomes In Each State

From Vox:
This is how much you need to earn to join your state's top 1 percent
It takes around $385,000 of annual income to get into the US's top 1 percent. But if you really want to count yourself among the 1 percent in some way, you could always move to Arkansas. There, it takes only $228,000.

new report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute illustrates what inequality looks like from state to state. Perhaps not surprisingly, it takes a lot to get into the top 1 percent in the area near Wall Street — Connecticut has the highest bar to getting into the top, at $678,000. New York and New Jersey are close behind. 

Here's what it takes to be in the top 1 percent in your state:
Inequality by state
(Economic Policy Institute)

...MORE

Polish Swiss-Franc Mortgages May Sink Austrian Bank

Following up on "Poland To Help Holders Of Swiss Franc Denominated Mortgages".

From ZeroHedge:

The Bonds Of The Third Largest Austrian Bank Are Crashing
Last year Austria's largest bank, Erste Bank, sent shudders of Credit Anstalt through the European Banking System. This year it is Austria's 3rd largest bank that is scaring investors senseless. On the heels of the Swiss National Bank's decision to un-peg from the Euro, Raiffeisen Bank's Swiss-Franc-Denominated mortgage worries have resurfaced (along with Russian/Ukraine writedowns) and nowhere is that more evident than the total collapse of the bank's bonds (from over 95c to 65c today). Even after the ECB Q€ (and some apparent intervention to weaken the Swissy) bonds kept free-falling. Perhaps, The Freedom Party's demands for a bailout will grow louder as the contagion concerns across Europe's banking system explode...
RAFI bonds are collapsing...

As Bloomberg reports, Raiffeisen had a total of 4.3 billion euros of Swiss franc loans outstanding as of September 2014, according to estimates by Moody’s Investors Service.
The largest part of these are in Poland, where the franc has appreciated 17 percent against the zloty since Jan. 14, threatening to push up defaults on the bank’s 2.9 billion euros of mortgages in the Swiss currency.

“There’s a lot of people worried about the bank’s Swiss-franc mortgages in eastern Europe,” said Gregory Turnbull Schwartz, who helps oversee the equivalent of about $82 billion at Kames Capital in Edinburgh and doesn’t hold Raiffeisen bonds....
...MORE

The collapse of Credit Anstaldt  brought on the second, nastier, phase of the Great Depression. From a pre-bull market post:
Feb. 16, 2009:
Creditanstalt Redux?: Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown

I've been feeling far too chipper so I decided to check in with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Yikes.
From the Telegraph:
The unfolding debt drama in Russia, Ukraine, and the EU states of Eastern Europe has reached acute danger point.
If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung....
Well, other than that Generalfeldmarschall Paulus, how's the weather?
Creditanstalt
failed in May 1931. From Kindleberger's "World in Depression: 1929-1939":
In 1929, the Bodenkreditanstalt was fused overnight with the Creditanstalt. The Bodenkreditanstalt brought to the Creditanstalt large loans to industrial concerns which could be maintained only by the device of ignoring market values...
Hmmm, sounds familiar.
Unicredit now owns Creditanstalt.
After the rescue of the bankrupt corpus and a couple mergers CA became part of Italy's Unicredit in 2006....

Online Food Delivery Is A Thing (sorry Webvan): China Co. Raises $350 Million from CITIC PE, Tencent, JD.com, Others

From PE Hub:
Chinese online food delivery service Ele.me said on Tuesday it has raised $350 million from investors including CITIC Private Equity, Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), JD.com Inc (JD.O), Dianping and Sequoia Capital.

The delivery firm, whose name roughly translates as ‘Hungry Now?’, is part of a trend in China for what is known as online-to-offline (O2O) services. These include taxi hailing and restaurant review apps that link smartphone users with offline businesses.

Ele.me said it would continue to operate independently after the fundraising round. It declined to disclose its current valuation.

As more Chinese use their phones for everything from shopping to booking restaurants, China’s internet giants Alibaba (BABA.N), Tencent and Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) are increasingly investing these services to attract more users to their own platforms....MORE
Previously:
Grocery Delivery Service Instacart Raises $220 Million
"The Biggest European Venture Capital Rounds Ever" (we just saw one)
Where does the $350 million raised by Berlin-based online food-delivery company Delivery Hero rank among the top venture deals ever for a Europe-based company?
As it turns out, it was the biggest in years....

Indiana Sets Up State-run, Taxpayer Funded News Outlet

From the Indianapolis Star:

Gov. Mike Pence's state-run news outlet will compete with media
Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media, as well as sometimes break news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

Pence is planning in late February to launch "Just IN," a website and news outlet that will feature stories and news releases written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.

"At times, Just IN will break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such 'exclusive' coverage remain under discussion," according to a question-and-answer sheet distributed last week to communications directors for state agencies.

The Pence news outlet will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will "range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles."...MORE

Headline du Jour: "Stocks Falling Faster Than Snow, Dow Down 345 Points"

That's at Barron's Stocks to Watch:
Stocks Falling Faster Than Snow, Dow Down 345 Points

DJIA 17,322 down 356; S&P 2014 off 33.

Chartology: Watching For a Top In The Market

We don't have a lot of faith in long term chart patterns* but Kimble does and here's what he's looking at.
For what it's worth we think the markets, U.S. and MSCI, can chug forward for a couple more years.
Albeit with more variance than we saw over the first 5 1/2 years of the big bull.

From Kimble Charting Solutions:

http://blog.kimblechartingsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/nysebreakingsupportspydojijan27.jpg
Is the NYSE creating a "Giant Topping" pattern? Rising wedge patterns lead to lower prices around two-thirds of the time. At this moment, a top is not proven! For sure I do respect the potential that a rising wedge pattern could have some impact in the near future on this key broad market.

The upper left chart line (1) is based upon monthly closing prices starting with the 1987 lows. Notice that several key lows took place along this line and 2011's highs touched this line as well.

The apex of the rising wedge is narrowing, meaning this pattern should end fairly soon. The NYSE is a fraction below this line as of last night close, as the index has traded sideways for the past 6 months.

Last month SPY may have created a Doji Star topping pattern (lower right chart) at the 161% Fibonacci extension level based upon the monthly closing high in 2007 and monthly closing low in 2009....MORE
*First and most importantly is the "market memory" that price charts represent. If the goes too far back no one remembers that stocks petered out at this price resistance level or that support level.

Secondly, the markets under study have on average sample size of n=1, so the error bars have to be pretty widely spaced.

Oil Drillers Among Most Profitable-To-Lend To Shorts

From Securities Finance Monitor, Jan. 22, 2015:

Securities Lending Top 10 Earning Equities – January 19, 2014
DataLend presents its top 10 earnings equities for January 19, 2015. This list is built on DataLend¹s universe of more than 42,000 securities on loan.
center Methodology: We scan our universe of more than 42,000 securities on loan to find those securities with the most expensive financing positions in the U.S., U.K., Europe and Asia. Financing costs are determined by taking the total on-loan value of a security and multiplying it by the volume-weighted average fees to borrow that security, then converting the product of those numbers to a dollar value. We then sort the most expensive securities to finance in the securities lending market in descending order.

US

Utilization

1     DIAMOND OFFSHORE DRILLING 90.20%
2     GAMESTOP CL A 89.56%
3     TRANSOCEAN 89.61%
4     MYRIAD GENETICS 90.58%
5     MOBILEYE 96.33%
6     INVENSENSE 83.89%
7     GOPRO CL A 96.43%
8    ULTRA PETROLEUM 89.30%
9     MANNKIND 95.67%
10   LINDSAY 80.57%

UK

Utilization

1     SAINSBURYJ 75.16%
2     QUINDELL 85.01%
...MORE

&*^%$# Robots: Human Investment Managers at Risk

The woman being interviewed runs more money any any other person with xx chromosomes, excluding the odd BMW heiress, Walton or Bettencourt.

From the Financial Times:

Human investment managers risk obsolescence

Illustration for 'Automated algorithms offer greater choice, but risks remain'
Human investment managers are at risk of being rendered obsolete by rapid advances in algorithmic trading technology, according to the brains behind one of the world’s leading computer-driven hedge funds.

Leda Braga, who runs the $8.9bn BlueTrend hedge fund, said traditional investment approaches might soon struggle to keep ahead of so-called “systematic” computer models, as human fund managers are undercut by cheaper and more efficient technology.

“Right now there is a place for both approaches,” she said. “That is the present. But then we have the future. Does the future hold a world where the systematic approach dominates? I suspect yes.”

She compared it to the world of Swiss watchmaking. “There is still a place for artisanal watches. But if you really want to know the time in an efficient way then you buy a quartz watch.”

Ms Braga, a Brazilian-born engineer, is one of a handful of women to have risen to the top of the hedge fund world. Her comments come as many traditional fund managers have struggled to make money for clients in the past year, with computer-driven hedge funds outpacing most of their human rivals in 2014.

Late last year Ms Braga, who created the systematic computer trading business at hedge fund BlueCrest, spun off her funds into a new separate hedge fund called Systematica Investments....MORE

See also:

Auschwitz Liberation Day

I think the Jews mean it when they say "Never Again".

File:IAF F-15 over Auschwitz extermination camp.jpg

Those are a couple Israeli Air Force F-15's the Polish government invited to do a flyover of Auschwitz-Birkenau on September 4, 2003.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"In the mood to trade? Weather may influence institutional investors' stock decisions"

From ScienceDaily:
Date:
January 15, 2015
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
Weather changes may affect how institutional investors decide on stock plays, according to a new study. Their findings suggest sunny skies put professional investors more in a mood to buy, while cloudy conditions tend to discourage stock purchases.
Weather changes may affect how institutional investors decide on stock plays, according to a new study by a team of finance researchers. Their findings suggest sunny skies put professional investors more in a mood to buy, while cloudy conditions tend to discourage stock purchases.

The researchers conclude that cloudier days increase the perception that individual stocks and the Dow Jones Industrials are overpriced, increasing the inclination for institutions to sell.

The research paper, "Weather-Induced Mood, Institutional Investors, and Stock Returns," has been published in the January 2015 issue of The Review of Financial Studies. The research was collaborated by Case Western Reserve University's Dasol Kim and three other finance professors (William Goetzmann of Yale University, Alok Kumar of University of Miami and Qin Wang of University of Michigan-Dearborn).
Institutional investors represent large organizations, such as banks, mutual funds, labor union funds and finance or insurance companies that make substantial investments in stocks. Kim said the results of the study are surprising, given that professional investors are well regarded for their financial sophistication....MORE
Possibly related:
"Cascading effects of mental accounting by traders in the natural gas markets."
World's Oldest Weather Report Found in Egypt: It Was Raining, People Were Crabby
Previous Climate Change Created a Race of Angry Runts
"Weather Related Markets"
From the Points and Figures blog:
Snow has shut down Heathrow Airport in London.  It’s become a roach motel.  No one gets in, no one gets out. Snow has also shut down “The City” too.  The lower volume holiday markets already were here.  This snow has made it tougher for everyone to get to work in London.  Meanwhile, the weather hasn’t been outstanding in NYC or Chicago.  Volumes are light.

This week is a holiday shortened week.  I would expect the trends of the year to continue.  Bull markets in commodities and in stocks should continue. Keep in your back pocket that on the last trading day of the year, the funds will buy to paint the tape. Then on the first trading day of January, they buy again as fresh cash gets put to work. There is data this week, but action should be muted.

Weather is not given enough credit for its influence on markets.  Weather affects business tremendously....
Mood of the Market: "Rainy and gray, then colder and darker"
Sun Photo/Algerina Perna 2005

Natural gas futures drop 3% despite Northeast blizzard

Most active, March's, $2.838 down 12.0 cents.
From Investing.com:
Investing.com - U.S. natural gas prices fell sharply on Monday, despite forecasts for heavy snowfall in the heavily populated Northeast region over the next two days.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March tumbled 6.8 cents, or 2.3%, to trade at $2.890 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours, after hitting a daily low of $2.821.

On Friday, natural gas surged 13.1 cents, or 4.63%, to settle at $2.958.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.762 per million British thermal units, the low from January 22, and resistance at $2.967, the high from January 23.

The National Weather Service said that the storm would bring heavy snow, powerful winds and widespread coastal flooding through Tuesday....MORE
The recent action via FinViz:

Poland To Help Holders Of Swiss Franc Denominated Mortgages

Speaking of borrowing in a currency other than the one you earn your income in.*
From Reuters:

REFILE-Poland may help CHF loan holders at banks' expense -PM Kopacz
(Removes extraneous word from headline)
* Polish PM is considering help for CHF mortgage holders
* Details to be presented later this week
* Poland faces presidential and general elections this year
By Marcin Goclowski
WARSAW, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Poland may help financially troubled holders of Swiss franc-denominated mortgages at the expense of the banks and will present specific proposals by the end of the week, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said on Monday.

Kopacz, who faces an election this year, did not spell out what form such help might take. She was speaking after hundreds of people staged protests in several Polish cities at the weekend demanding the government's help in repaying Swiss franc-denominated mortgages following the currency's sharp rise....MORE

Oil: U.S. Well Count To Fall By 26% in 2015, Wood Mackenzie

From Rigzone:
Wood Mac: US Onshore Well Count to Fall by 26% in 2015 
The U.S. onshore well count will decline by 26 percent, from more than 37,000 in 2014 to an estimated 27,000 in 2015, as the decline in oil prices prompted many operators to cut their 2015 spending plans, according to a recent estimate by Wood Mackenzie.

North American drilling and completion expenditures exceeded $140 billion in 2014, but Wood Mackenzie expects operators to commit less than $90 billion to upstream development over the next 12 months.

“Such sizeable cuts will have serious implications across the oilfield services sector,” said Wood Mackenzie in a statement.

Using its North America Supply Chain Analysis Tool, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that rig day rates will decline by 30 percent, while the rig count will drop from an annual average of nearly 1,800 in 2014 to under 1,300 in 2015. This decline will curtail demand in other services sector markets, including tubulars, drilling services, frac proppant and pressure pumping....MORE

"Alternatives to Stocks in Deflationary Environments..."

From Victor Niederhoffer's Daily Speculations:
What are the alternatives to stocks in a deflationary environment?
1. playbook of scenario of Japan since 1990 : )

2. Year book 2012 by Prof. Dimson/ Marsh/ Staunton (or fondly called the optimist trio) has a thorough investigation of historical deflationary events...MORE
See also both "The Enigma Inside The Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook 2014" and 2013's "Credit Suisse Investment Returns Yearbook 2013":
Last year I referred to the authors of the Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbooks as "the hot new boy band Dimson, Marsh and Staunton" while looking at a picture of Professor Dimson.

Cracks me up but hasn't gained much traction in the academy.*

"The Swiss franc appreciation and the sorry saga of FX lending"

From our Dec. 7 post: Evans-Pritchard: "Dollar surge endangers global debt edifice, warns BIS":

Two quick points*:
1) This is the second BIS warning in under six months.
2) It is very dangerous to borrow in a currency other than the one in which you earn your income.

True at retail, true at wholesale....
Reprised in "'Russian ruble's fall: A classic 'currency collapse'" and Why It's Such a Big Deal".

From A Fistful of Euros:
Back in the 1980s Australians, many of them farmers, were offered low-interest loans, appealing in a high-interest environment. With changes in currency rates the loans in Swiss francs and Japanese yen quickly became much beyond the means of the borrowers to service with ensuing pain and suffering. Icelanders felt the pain of FX loans as the Icelandic króna depreciated in 2008 as did many Eastern-European countries. – The same story has played out in country after country with the obvious lesson reiterated: for people with income only in their domestic currency FX borrowing is far too risky. All these loans, often the result of predatory lending, follow the same pattern and it is no coincidence where they hit. There is now ample case for countries to take action: banks should be forbidden to lend in FX to private individuals with no FX income. 

Australia in the 1980s, New Zealand in the 1990s, Iceland and a whole raft of other European countries in the 2000s saw liberalised markets but inflation was high and so were interest rates. By taking an FX loan or even just a loan pegged to FX the high domestic interest rates could be avoided – it seemed too good to be true.

Sadly it was indeed too good to be true: currency fluctuations changed the circumstances and servicing FX loans for those with income in the domestic currency became unsustainable. For loans running over many years this was, statistically seen, almost unavoidable. FX loans have turned into a huge problem in countries such Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine but politicians and banks have ignored the problem.

These cases were spelled out at a conference on CHF/FX loans in Cyprus in December. Organised by Katherine Alexander-Theodotou president of the UK Anglo-Hellenic and Cypriot Law Association and various representatives of organisations fighting FX loans, the organisers have recently set up European Legal Committee for Consumer Rights to co-ordinate their work in the various countries marred by FX loans....MUCH MORE
HT: The Big Picture

Andreessen Horowitz On Insurance: "Software rewrites insurance" (nudge, nudge)

From Andreessen Horowitz:
Insurance is all about distributing risk. With dramatic advances in software and data, shouldn’t the way we buy and experience our insurance products change dramatically? Software will rewrite the entire way we buy and experience our insurance products — medical, home, auto, and life. Here’s how:
By changing the way insurance companies price risk
So many more signals are available for insurance companies to better price the premiums we should pay. Drivers that drive carefully in safe neighborhoods vs. recklessly through accident-prone intersections ought to pay different amounts to insure the same car — but all that data isn’t reflected in an annual odometer reading. Water damage is one of the top sources of claims for home insurance customers: Why don’t we charge customers with water sensors less, since if they know water is leaking, they can stop it before the damage gets expensive to repair.

New data sources, better data, ongoing data reporting — all are possible now with mobile phones and inexpensive Internet of Things devices.

By empowering an ongoing relationship between an insurer and insured
Today, our relationship with an insurer revolves mostly around a monthly billing statement sent to us from a mainframe application. You can tell because big chunks of the billing statement are printed in ALL CAPS IN A FIXED WIDTH FONT … the only fonts that existed at the time the applications were written.

How about an insurance company that empowers you to make smart lifestyle decisions? Examples: the car insurance company that routes you around dangerous intersections; the home insurance company that automatically summons a plumber when it detects water on the floor near the water heater; or the health insurance company that connects you with friends that are also trying to lose weight?

By encouraging us to keep safe, insurance companies can keep their payouts low. And we all bask in the glow of an insurance company that has our best interests at heart — because even though our interests are really aligned, it doesn’t always feel that way.

By changing the way insurance companies pool capital
Historically, we’ve seen mutual insurance companies (insurance companies owned by policyholders) and stock insurance companies (insurance companies owned by shareholders). We expect to see more crowdsourced insurance companies, just as we’ve seen in other parts of the financial system. Crowdsourcing works great for personal loans, student loans, small business loans — why not for insurance? From the investor’s point of view, it’s great to diversify by investing in an asset class that should move independently of the stock or bond markets. From the insurance company’s point of view, it should be a cheaper way to pool capital....MORE

"It Don’t Come Easy – Low Crude Prices, Producer Breakevens And Drilling Economics – Part 3"

From RBN Energy:
On Friday (January 23, 2015) West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures prices closed under $46/Bbl for the second time this year. RBN’s analysis of producer internal rates of return (IRRs) for typical oil wells indicates that Bakken IRRs have fallen from 39% in the fall of 2014 to just 1% today. IRRs for typical Permian wells are down to 3% and typical Eagle Ford wells are at breakeven. Everything is underwater or close to it except for the sweet spot wells with higher production. Today we present highlights from RBN’s IRR and breakeven analysis – published in full today in our latest Drill Down Report.
In Episode 1 of this series we reviewed recent price carnage in crude, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) markets that have crushed the IRRs producers enjoyed in the summer of 2014 and resulted in much speculation about the impact on current and future production. We noted that existing wells currently flowing will continue to produce – there is no value to shutting in output because of falling prices.  That is because even at today’s prices, the per-unit revenues of existing wells are significantly above operating costs. In fact, production is likely to increase in the near term. Our expectations of production increases in 2015 are reinforced by recent investor presentations (see Rig Cuts Deep Output High). In Episode 2 we ran through the inputs and model assumptions behind our IRR and breakeven sensitivity analysis using RBN’s Production Economics model. Coming up with representative input variables for the model is as much art as science but the main goal is to understand how the numbers relate to each other.  Most analysts make you guess what the input variables are, so you really don’t know what you are looking at.  We lay it out for you so you can make your own judgments about whether or not our data is truly representative. In this final episode in the series we present highlights of our analysis results. The full results are available exclusively to RBN Backstage Pass subscribers in our latest Drill Down report (for more details see the Ad below).

The primary goal of our analysis was to identify typical IRRs in different crude oil and natural gas price scenarios for major shale plays across the U.S. at various crude and natural gas price levels. We analyzed data from a range of wells for each of the basins in Table #1 and aggregated the results to provide values for representative wells in oil, liquids (NGLs) and natural gas categories.  From the set of representative wells for each play we then extracted a super set of “sweet spot” wells having the highest IP rates that produce the highest IRRs. We used these wells to identify sweet spot well characteristics.
Table #1 Source: RBN Energy (Click to Enlarge)
Then and Now
The following snapshots provide a summary of our results for typical IRRs seen in oil, wet gas (NGLs) and dry gas plays under different price scenarios during the fall of 2014 and in January of 2015. The complete results along with summarized input data that generated these outputs are available in the Drill Down Report....MORE
https://rbnenergy.com/sites/default/files/styles/extra_large/public/field/image/figure2_111.png?itok=SljOXDGQ

"Technical hurdles have been overcome for the first human head transplant"

That's old news, July 1, 2013 to be precise. Here's our post from that day.
This more recent (Dec. 2014) item is from Slate:

We Might Be Able to 3-D-Print an Artificial Mind One Day
I’m an artificial-intelligence skeptic. My problem isn’t with the software, but the hardware. Current computer technologies may give us faster, lighter laptops, but AI needs more than the PC equivalent of go-faster stripes—it needs a revolution in how we build processors. Such a revolution may be just around the corner though. As I discuss in a new article in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the convergence of technologies such as 3-D printing, advanced processor architectures, and nanotechnology are opening up radical new possibilities in how we might construct brain-inspired computers in the future.

If what we think of as the human mind is the product of a biological machine (albeit a complex one), there is little to suggest that we won’t one day have the ability to emulate it. This is what’s driving artificial intelligence research and the emergence of computers like IBM’s Watson that are getting close to thinking like a person. Yet powerful as Watson is, current manufacturing techniques will never enable such technologies to become ubiquitous.
It’s a problem of dimensions.

Imagine drawing five points on a piece of paper and trying to join each point to every other, without any of the interconnecting lines touching. You can’t do it. A second piece of paper layered over the first helps make the connections. But the more points you add and the more connections there are, the harder it gets to connect every point to every other one.

It’s a simple illustration of how hard it is to replicate the physical structure of the human brain—a 3-D matrix of billions of neurons tied together by hundreds of trillions of synaptic connections. Conventional manufacturing techniques can get us partway there. For instance, companies like IBM are pushing the limits of conventional approaches using to create brain-like processing architectures. But like the points on the paper, the technology is still inherently two-dimensional, meaning that additional complexity comes with a massive price tag.
If brain-inspired processors are to become an everyday reality, we’ll need radically different manufacturing processes....MORE

"Oil prices turn positive as OPEC secretary general calls bottom to market"

Not.
OPEC Is a revenue maximizing cartel, not a truth dispensing charity. We're going lower.
WTI $45.38 down 21 cents:
From Reuters:

Oil prices turned positive on Monday, erasing early losses after the Secretary-General of the OPEC producer group said he expected the market to bottom out around current levels.

March Brent crude LCOc1 was trading at $49.13 per barrel by 1317 GMT, up 34 cents, bouncing from an early low of $47.57.

"Now the prices are around $45-$55 and I think maybe they reached the bottom and will see some rebound very soon," Abdullah al-Badri, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in an interview.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for March delivery CLc1 was at $45.94 a barrel, up 35 cents. Front-month WTI had touched an intraday low of $44.35, just above the $44.20 hit on Jan. 13, which was its lowest level since April 2009....MORE

"Greek austerity after Syriza" What Next?

From FT Alphaville:
A brief collection of reaction to Sunday’s election in Greece follows. Before we hear from the professional financial crowd, however, a word from Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA…
This election was a referendum on austerity and debt policies. The people of Greece voted and said no to austerity and yes to renegotiating Greece’s debt.
Austerity programs can be likened to trying to help a patient on life support by punching them.
So, this could get interesting. Greece’s pile of sovereign debt is almost twice the size of annual economic output, the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union have helped to fund the country since 2010, imposing vicious/essential (delete as appropriate) cutbacks and reforms on the state to fix the problems/keep the euro intact. There are more young people out of work than in it, while Greece is supposed to dedicate almost 5 per cent of its economy to repaying debt in 2016.

First there are the assessments of Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical Syriza party, which won Sunday’s election in Greece. The FT’s Tony Barber wonders whether the radical will in fact govern like a pragmatist, a Brazilian Lula rather than a Venezuelan Chávez.

David Mackie and co at JP Morgan set out some of the areas where the so-called Troika of multinational institutions and a new Greek coalition will have to work things out.
Assuming a coalition is formed, which seems very likely at this stage, the new government will need to decide relatively quickly how it will approach the Troika. A proposal from the new government will be needed to start discussions with the Troika on a further extension of the [European Financial Stability Facility] program—which is due to expire at the end of February. The Troika may only agree on a further extension of the EFSF program if the new government makes certain commitments. The new Greek government will also need to make proposals to the Troika in order to start discussions on how to successfully conclude the EFSF program (and receive the delayed €7bn of disbursements) and on how to structure further financing arrangements (most likely an ESM Enhanced Conditions Credit Line)....
...MUCH MORE

Davos Man: Google's Chairman Says "The Internet Will Disappear" (GOOG)

These folks have big plans for you.
From The Daily Mail:
Google's Eric Schmidt claims the 'internet will disappear' as everything in our life gets connected 
  • Claims sensors and devices will be so widespread we won't sense them 
  • Says rooms will begin to personalise themselves as we walk in
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has predicted the end of the Internet as we know it - but said technology would lead to new jobs for people.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he was asked for his prediction on the future of the Web.

'I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear,' Schmidt said.

'There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won't even sense it,' he explained, according to Hollywood Reporter. 
'It will be part of your presence all the time. 

'Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. 

'And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.'
He said the move would be a big opportunity for technology firms, saying: 'A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges.'

The panel, entitled The Future of the Digital Economy, also featured Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and others....MUCH MORE, including video
Great.
Now we have the Hollywood Reporter scooping the rest of the media.

As soon as one 'Uber for weed' startup gets cut down, another grows in its place

From The Verge:
It was only a matter of time before someone spun the "Uber for __" wheel and landed on WEED. More and more states are voting in favor of legalization. Congress recently instructed the feds to back off medical marijuana. Peter Thiel's venture capital fund just bet millions that legal cannabis is gonna be huge. Why not pair pot with our newfound appetite for on-demand delivery via smartphone?

"Uber for weed" was so inevitable that at least six startups attempting to deliver medical marijuana to your door launched in the past eight months: Eaze, Nestdrop, Meadow, Grassp, Time for Dave, and Canary. That doesn't include standard offerings like the "dozens" of delivery services in Seattle, for example, that will let you call in and place an order.

Even Uber itself has partnered with Weedmaps, a popular dispensary locator, as well as a Denver-based pot shop called the Clinic, in order to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. Would you believe there's something in it for Uber, too? The partnership lets Uber sow the seeds for its rumored API, which would insert a "Get an Uber" button into every app on Earth.

The only thing more obvious than the demand for these apps is the inevitable crackdown. Imagine Uber's bitter clashes with city governments and then factor in the political pressure around a federally controlled substance.

Last month, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge shut down Nestdrop, which tried to argue that its weed delivery app was "simply a communication technology" — just as Uber used to argue that it was a tech company that didn't own any cars. Before the ruling against Nestdrop, LA's city attorney publicly announced his intention to squash the startup. Time for Dave was supposed to launch in Seattle last month, but try to download the app in the Google Play store and you'll find the link has been disabled for "violating our Terms of Service."...MORE

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Izabella Kaminska and the Trouble With Silicon Valley

Just so you know, we're not linking just because Ms. Kaminska mentioned Climateer.
From Dizzynomics:
Man of marble and of code
Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve been quietly testing a theory on a number of trusted sources, friends and acquaintances whose opinions on economic and technological matters I value.

The hypothesis very loosely speaking is that the Internet revolution was founded on an extremely precarious and highly politicised social equilibrium which may not be as robust as we like to think it is. Our failure to understand this presents us with a false sense of security.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve clearly benefited from the Internet in amazing ways and it has allowed us to achieve things that were previously unthinkable.

But…. I am increasingly concerned that we have all overlooked the precarious nature of the system we have created, how dependent it is on collaboration and how vulnerable that makes us in the long run if those social systems fall apart.

What we have been experiencing in terms of benefits and advantages is akin to a Bob Geldof-organised charity concert.
I.e. These concerts reveal precisely what we as a social group can achieve if and when we actually choose to a) all get along b) act in a United way and c) focus our efforts on one particular benevolent and altruistic effort.

But it’s also something that is by definition a bit of a one off event.

No doubt what we can achieve is mind blowing. Like building the Tower of Babel.
But the problem with charity concerts is that after a while we do all want to go home and get back to our own selfish existence.

The Internet charity concert has now lasted nearly 30 years. That’s a very long time. But what we are starting to witness now is the rise of increasingly exploitative and manipulative agents (hackers), not to mention proprietary businesses, all of whom don’t play by the collaborative rules and whose key focus is taking advantage of the goodwill within the concert for their own selfish purposes. They even label their companies “concert x y or z” to better manipulate us — not unlike the the cottage industry of unofficial vendors that spring up on the sidelines of concerts to try and charge you twice as much as usual to get home. That to me indicates the party may soon be over — unless, of course, we quickly find a better way to keep it protected from malevolent agents.

On that basis I increasingly side with the thoughts of Jaron Lanier. If we want the concert to continue we’re going to have to start compensating people for taking part in the concert, for concert fatigue and for holding themselves back from returning to their old lives.

Climateer linked to this story on Motherboard about a new book by Andrew Keen that argues a very similar point. Namely that the web Revolution has led to the creation of a very weird form of capitalism (which in my humble experience resembles increasingly the story of Animal Farm).
From the article:
In his new book The Internet is not t​he Answer, Keen rubs up against the “Silicon one percent” to document what he sees as a profound hypocrisy—an elite made wealthy by the internet, co-opting the language of “community” while privatizing public life in every direction.
“You’ve got wealthy Oakland residents crowd-funding thei​r own militias,” he told me in a phone interview. “Google have superimposed Google Bus on San Francisco’s public transit system. These companies are eating away at the idea of public society.” The so-called Google bus is the private shuttle service that recently​ sparked protests as a symbol of gentrification and over the way it used public stops.
Profound hypocrisy I think is a great way to put it.

Now, I am not by any stretch of the imagination a tech expert. I can’t even code. Apart from some very very very very basic html....MUCH MORE
The first thing I thought of when I saw Geldof's name was this post from 2007 on his buddy:
Africans to Bono: 'For God's sake please stop!'

Mohamed El-Erian: "What Syriza's Sweep Means for Greece and Europe"

From Bloomberg:
The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, placed first in the Greek elections today, with at least 36 percent of the vote, according to exit polls. The result could even give Syriza an absolute majority and, if it wishes, allow it to govern without a coalition partner. With these outcomes going beyond what markets expected and priced in, here is a Q&A before trading resumes Monday.

QUESTION: What happened and why will it matter for markets?:

ANSWER: The early parliamentary elections have given Syriza a significant and historic victory that surpasses the market consensus.

This is the first time Syriza is in a position to form and lead a government. Its popularity reflects intensifying economic and social frustrations among Greek citizens, including the perception that their long sacrifice hasn't yielded any meaningful gains, let alone any hint of an end to what they see as years of austerity and deprivation.

An alternative economic approach was the core of Syriza's electoral campaign. Its program, which rejects austerity and seeks debt reduction, was pursued with vigor by the party's leader, Alexis Tspiras, who frequently took swipes at Germany, including personal attacks on Chancellor Angela Merkel. He argued that the most influential power in the euro zone was too austerity-obsessed in its approach to Greece.

This has led to concerns that Greece could exit the euro zone. A so-called Grexit would entail the return of a national currency to replace the euro, losing access to European Central Bank financing windows and, most probably, less financial support from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. It would also raise doubts about some other countries in the region, leading to a repricing of individual and collective risk factors....MORE

On Greece: "Alexis Tsipras: Greece’s radical or realist?"

The comments are, as usual, pretty interesting.
From The Financial Times' The Big Read 7:05 pm:
As Syriza leader eyes election win, everyone wants to know what really motivates him 

They were the biggest student protests since the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising that helped bring down Greece’s military dictatorship. Angry at education reforms proposed in late 1990 by Greece’s centre-right government that would have slashed benefits such as free textbooks, students occupied schools across the country. More than 90 per cent of academic institutions were taken over.


To co-ordinate demands, student leaders from all over Athens came to Ampelokipoi high school. At the front of the assembly stood the school’s own delegate, a 16-year-old member of the local Communist youth, Alexis Tsipras.

Many of the students, particularly on the leftist fringes, were pushing for a radical overhaul of the country’s education system. “We didn’t want exams, we didn’t want grades, we wanted an open school,” recalls Matthaios Tsimitakis, an Athens journalist who was one of the student leaders at the assembly.

But not Mr Tsipras. Despite his leftist credentials, Mr Tsipras urged only one demand: withdraw the reforms. Although the protests would grow tense — a teacher was killed in clashes between rival groups in January 1991 — Mr Tsipras, who became one of the main negotiators with the government, held his line. And, three months after they were proposed, the government sacked its education minister and withdrew the reforms. The protests ended.

Twenty-five years later, Mr Tsipras, now 40, is on the verge of becoming Greece’s prime minister as leader of Syriza, the radical leftist party poised to win Sunday’s parliamentary election. If it emerges victorious, Syriza would become the first of the burgeoning populist parties rocking the eurozone to come to power in a national capital since the debt crisis first hit the EU’s common currency in 2010.

Those who have worked closely with Mr Tsipras say the qualities he showed during that 1990 political baptism — preternatural maturity, an ability to co-opt and diffuse the demands from more radical rivals, a single-minded focus on the end goal — are the same that have marked every step of his stunning rise.
“What he says is: even if you have the greatest agenda, and the smartest programme, if you’re not powerful enough to form a majority to implement it, it only stays on paper,” says Nikos Pappas, Mr Tsipras’ chief of staff.

But those same tendencies have led critics to argue that rather than the idealistic hero of struggling Greeks he is presenting to voters, Mr Tsipras is really a far more cynical and calculating operative, using his charisma and boyish good looks to present a friendly face as he elbows his way to the top.
“I think he’s very ambitious,” says one former member of the party’s central committee who broke with the group during Mr Tsipras’s rise. “That’s the only thing motivating him. He’d like very much to be the prime minister.”

Even Mr Tsipras’s predecessor as Syriza chief, Alekos Alavanos, questions whether the party’s rhetoric matches its intentions. “It has radical left origins, but Syriza now is a moderate party,” says Mr Alavanos, credited by many with orchestrating Mr Tsipras’s rise....MUCH MORE 
Alexis Tsipras: Greece's radical or realist?

Elon Musk On the Simpson's: "I Don't Care About the Money"

There is some ambiguity in the headline but I'm pretty sure our loyal (and long suffering) readers know what we meant.
From BusinessWeek, Jan. 23:

Elon Musk: Guest-Starring on The Simpsons Was 'Kind of Trippy'
While attending the University of Pennsylvania, Elon Musk was a busy dude. He pursued degrees in business and physics during the week, and on weekends threw raging parties at a rented multi-bedroom house-turned-nightclub to earn extra money. By the time Sunday night came around, Musk wanted to relax, and did so with a ritual shared by millions of people. “I had this lousy TV that was always fuzzy and made it really challenging to watch anything,” he said. “The only thing we would tune in for was The Simpsons every week.”

This Sunday, Musk, the head honcho at Tesla Motors and SpaceX, will enjoy the rare experience of watching himself in a Simpsons episode called “The Musk Who Fell to Earth.” The episode was inspired by a meeting Musk had with James L. Brooks, the longtime executive producer of the show. The men were spitballing ideas, and by the end of their discussion Brooks knew he wanted Musk to play a fictionalized version of himself on the show.

The episode begins, naturally enough, with Musk traveling through space in a craft of his own design. He’s taking the genius engineer version of a Sunday drive because he’s struggling to come up with new ideas. Then, by happenstance, Musk lands in the Simpsons’ backyard and meets Homer. “Homer then becomes this incredible inspiration to him,” said Al Jean, the head writer and show runner for The Simpsons.

Musk forms an unlikely partnership with Montgomery Burns and seeks to electrify and modernize Springfield, while on a quest to build a model community. The cars are electric and drive themselves. There’s a Hyperloop taking people around the city at record speeds. “Burns thinks it will make him a fortune, but it turns out that he’s going to lose $50 million a quarter,” said Jean. “Musk, of course, thinks that’s fine. This leaves Burns so livid that he attempts to kill Musk.”...MORE
And via Fox's Animation Domination YouTube channel:


"Factoring Global Demand into the Price of Oil"

We've followed -and linked to- Political Calculations for quite a few years. One of our 2009 posts prompted this response from P.C.:
Welcome to the Friday, April 24, 2009 edition of On the Moneyed Midways, where we catch you up with the best money and business-related blog posts that we found in the past week's best money and business-related blog carnivals.

It seems Climateer believes we here at Political Calculations are "quirky." Here's Climateer's dilemma:
Political Calculations is quirky. On the one hand they link to Prof. Shiller's merged Cowles/S&P data (first rate scholarship/database). On the other they do a "On the Moneyed Midways" linkfest that seems aimed at a totally different target audience.
As it happens, we do have two very different, but somewhat overlapping audiences, which we discovered long before we first launched OMM. There's the (mostly) serious core crowd who enjoy the analytical power we bring to a number of different topics, and then there's the (more fun-loving) community of money and business-focused bloggers with whom we interact in other forums.... 
Here's some of that analytical power on display: 
Brent Crude Oil Price Projections - 1987-2040 - Source: AEO2014 EARLY RELEASE OVERVIEW, http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/early_prices.cfm
How much of a change in global oil prices can be attributed to changes in the relative demand for oil? And how much might be attributed to changes in the relative supply of oil?

Those are questions that we've asked and answered before, but now, for the first time, we can finally quantify the extent to which either of these economic factors may be driving the price!

We can do that math now thanks to the work of James Hamilton, who built a model of how much world oil prices change in response to changes in the prices of other commodities - ones that are particularly sensitive to changes in the demand for them: copper, U.S. dollars, and 10-Year Constant Maturity U.S. Treasuries.

Our tool below is built to do that math, with the default values being the values recorded for the week of 4 July 2014 (for the "Previous Values" and for the week of 12 December 2014 (for the "Current Values"), which Hamilton recommends because they smooth out some of the big swings in values that are recorded in the day-to-day data....MORE
HT to professor Hamilton and his post "What’s driving the price of oil down?":
In December I provided some simple calculations of the extent to which a slowdown in the growth of global oil demand may have contributed to the spectacular drop in oil prices since last summer, and I updated those estimates two weeks ago. Some of you have suggested that as conditions keep changing, perhaps I should update those calculations every week. Thanks to the always-helpful Ironman at Political Calculations, I can now go that a step better, and provide eager Econbrowser readers a quick tool they can use to update these calculations on their own on a daily basis, if your heart so desires....MORE

Get ready for the most sweeping business change since the Industrial Revolution: "The algorithmic CEO"

From Fortune:
The single greatest instrument of change in today’s business world, and the one that is creating major uncertainties for an ever-growing universe of companies, is the advancement of mathematical algorithms and their related sophisticated software. Never before has so much artificial mental power been available to so many—power to deconstruct and predict patterns and changes in everything from consumer behavior to the maintenance requirements and operating lifetimes of industrial machinery. In combination with other technological factors—including broadband mobility, sensors, and vastly increased data-crunching capacity—algorithms are dramatically changing both the structure of the global economy and the nature of business.

Though still in its infancy, the use of algorithms has already become an engine of creative destruction in the business world, fracturing time-tested business models and implementing dazzling new ones. The effects are most visible so far in retailing, creating new and highly interactive relationships between businesses and their customers, and making it possible for giant corporations to deal with customers as individuals. At Macy’s, for instance, algorithmic technology is helping fuse the online and the in-store experience, enabling a shopper to compare clothes online, try something on at the store, order it online, and return it in person. Algorithms help determine whether to pull inventory from a fulfillment center or a nearby store, while location-based technologies let companies target offers to specific consumers while they are shopping in stores.

Now the revolution is entering a new and vastly expansive stage in which machines are communicating with other machines without human intervention, learning through artificial intelligence and making consistent decisions based on prescribed rules and processed through algorithms. This capability has rapidly expanded into potential connections between billions and billions of devices in the ever-expanding “Internet of things,” which integrates machines and devices with networked sensors and software, allowing the remote monitoring and adjustment of industrial machinery, for instance, or the management of supply chains.

Take, for example, General Electric GE 0.82% , which has already turned itself into a math house. It has assembled a staff in Silicon Valley to provide customers with advanced analytics that do such things as predict when equipment maintenance is due. As of the middle of last year, this quintessential industrial company had about two-thirds of its $250 billion backlog in orders from services based on its mathematical intellectual property....MORE
HT: Abnormal Returns

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Robots Can’t Dance: Why the singularity is greatly exaggerated"

From Nautil.us:
Can a robot be creative? Advances in cloud robotics—machines connected to supercomputers in the cloud—have given self-driving cars, surgical robots, and other “smart” devices tremendous powers of computation. But can a robot, even one supercharged with artificial intelligence, be creative? Will a mechanical Picasso paint among us?

Ken Goldberg is the ideal person to ask. For one thing, when he was getting his Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, Goldberg built a robot that painted. For another, Goldberg, 53, is a computer engineer, roboticist, and artist himself. He grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he forged his creative path. “I was an outsider, at odds with what other kids were doing, and became very interested in art,” he says.
Today Goldberg is Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also directs a lab on automation sciences, a center for medical robots, an initiative on data and democracy, and a center for new media. He’s published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers on topics such as automation algorithms and his artwork has been exhibited at the Pompidou Center, Whitney Biennial, and Berkeley Art Museum.
Goldberg has strong views on creativity and how it differs in computers and people. His energy and intellect are infectious as his mind races from one idea to another. Our conversation ranged over his own projects and heroes, from gothic literature to Google Glass, Freud to philosopher Hubert Dreyfus. We spoke at his UC Berkeley lab and at a restaurant in Mill Valley, California, near his home, where he lives with his wife, Tiffany Shlain, a filmmaker and the founder of the Webby Awards, and their two daughters, Odessa and Blooma.

What’s been your most creative moment in science?
I spent a summer in graduate school trying to find the mathematical proof of completeness for an algorithm I had written to orient polygonal objects. I lived alone and every day I would write out ideas. To keep my sanity I made paintings of the rickety old stone stairs in the alley outside of my apartment. I woke up one morning and realized I could prove it using a step function. It was a true Aha! moment. The proof has been cited over 400 times.

Einstein talked about how the greatest scientists are also artists. For him all great achievements in science must start from intuitive knowledge.
Agreed. Intuition is a hunch, sensing there’s an opportunity—how to set up the problem. As an artist it’s finding the right idea or concept. Making an opera about Klinghoffer, for example—that’s not an obvious subject for composer John Adams to have come up with. In both science and art, one must rely on a gut feeling about which direction to go.

Tell us about your painting robot.
I liked the idea of a robot being able to demonstrate that a machine can go through the motions of painting but can’t capture the eloquence, the subtlety, the nuance of a human painter. What also fascinated me was how people responded to the robot. The performative aspect of a moving robot was very hypnotic and fascinating to them.
Carstensen_BREAKER-2 
Bloom: Goldberg and his collaborators transform seismic data into a display of color. A seismometer at the Hayward Fault measures the Earth’s motion and transmits this data over the Internet to the installation, where the data is processed in real time to produce an abstract field of unpredictable circular blooms.

Watch live online version here

Sounds like that laid the groundwork for your “Telegarden.” Tell us about that.
In 1993 I was teaching at USC. My students came to me and showed me this amazing thing called the World Wide Web. We sat around brainstorming about what we could contribute. Since we were working in robotics and had robots in the lab we thought, “Why don’t we connect a robot to this Web and let people control it from anywhere in the world?” We got super excited about the idea of having a robot do something that was ironic. We wanted to have it tend a garden. A garden is interesting because in some way it’s the last thing you expect a robot to be doing. I loved the juxtaposition of the natural and the digital worlds....MORE

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Hedge Fund Manager Blows Clients’ Money in Three Weeks"

From Barron's Focus on Funds:
Canarsie Capital has a grim message for clients: “a series of transactions over the last several weeks that have resulted in the loss of all but two hundred thousand dollars.”

Juliet Chung and Susan Pulliam report that Canarsie, named for the east Brooklyn neighborhood, told clients on Thursday Tuesday that the $60 million hedge fund lost all but $200,000 of its assets in about three weeks.

CNBC’s Lawrence Delevingne first reported that that Owen Li, the fund’s founder, was contrite about the massive loss:
“My only hope is that you understand that I acted in an attempt—however misguided—to generate higher returns for the fund and its investors. But even so, I acted overzealously, causing you devastating losses for which there is no excuse”
Li, a 28-year old former Galleon Fund Management trader, reportedly ran the firm with Kenneth deRegt, former head of risk management at Morgan Stanley....MORE

You Can Rent a Tesla to Sleep In, From Airbnb, for $595/Wk

I don't think this is what Menon, Negroponte et al had in mind when they were talking about technological convergence.
From Jalopnik:

Most Tesla Owner Ever Turns $118,000 Model S Into AirBnB
Innovative Tesla Man ponders to himself, "hm, how can I combine as many hip startup tech ideas together as possible at the same time? What about AirBnB... Tesla????"
 Most Tesla Owner Ever Turns $118,000 Model S Into AirBnB
Yes, this guy has actually listed his Tesla as a two-person bedroom, filling the Model S P85's spacious interior with a 36"-wide air mattress, a pillow and multiple sheets. The listing claims "it goes 0 to Sleep in 4.2 seconds!" ...MORE
Here's the airbnb page:
Description
The Space
Stay in the World's First TESLA HOTEL!

Price includes a Tesla pick-up & drop-off at Sky Harbor Airport IF our schedules match up! Or use the UBER app to get to the Tesla Hotel. It's less than $20 - or first time Uber users get it FREE with Promo Code: uberTeslaRenter

The airbed in back sleeps 2 in climate controlled comfort all night. Since the Tesla uses NO gas the Tesla's A/C or Heat can run all night without any problem locked securely in my attached garage. You can set the mood with your selection of any Internet music you would like on the huge 17" monitor. How often do you get to sleep in a $118,000 Electric Car?

The Twin Airbed is 6'6" long and 36" wide. The space in back is even wider, 40" wide near the wheels and up to 56" wide near the rear doors so you have extra room to move about. It comes with clean sheets, pillows and a blanket or comforter if you like.

**Sorry, NO NBA Players allowed. Despite my love for basketball, the Tesla is just too small for anyone over 6' 6". Please...stop asking....

"Mapping New York City's Most Expensive Homes Ever Sold"

From Curbed:
 top-20-sales-ever.jpg
New York's glassy One57 tower, the founding father of Billionaires Row, recently smashed the record for the most expensive home ever sold in New York City, with a $100.5M sale of the duplex penthouse, finally usurping the $88M sale at 15 Central Park West. To mark the occasion, and reminisce about "cheaper" days, appraiser and graphing guru Jonathan Miller pulled up the top 20 most expensive sales in the history of the city. We turned the list into a map, which conveniently doubles as a tour around southern Central Park. All of the sales are $50 million or more, only two are located Downtown, and just in case you didn't think the market was off the charts, more than half of these sales happened last year....
...MUCH MORE