The Decline Thing

The cover of next week’s TIME:


The Black Cod Currency Index

Cute: Using Nobu prices to do cross-currency comparisons.

Black cod w. miso, dollar-adjusted local price

Russia: $66.03
Great Britain unweighted average: $57.09
South Africa: $54.29
UAE: $50.37
Australia: $44.61
China: $43.53
Hong Kong: $41.00
Hungary: $40.89
Japan: $39.26
Bahamas: $29.83
United States unweighted average: $26.38

via FT Alphaville » Introducing: the Black Cod Index.

Twitter Digest: 2011-08-10

  • As a clapping obsessive, I love this: Cultural differences explain synchronized clapping's incidence. ->
  • I've never been part of a discussion involving "smell tests" where metaphorical utility trumped my squeamishness. ->
  • With Citi's Willem Buiter speculating today that all G7 countries will lose their AAA ratings, does that not mean AA is the new AAA? ->
  • My favorite pleonastic email subject from a nitwit brokerage exec today: FRENCH RUMOR..REPEAT RUMOR. ->

Silicon Valley Asset Sales, Then and Now

I’m not sure what to be more chagrined about in this interview with a Silicon Valley econo-undertaker, that he anticipates so few assets in upcoming bankruptcy sales, or that those assets mostly include patents and IP.

In terms of the younger companies, what do you have to unwind exactly? What sorts of assets do they have to sell off?

Things have definitely changed. I remember in 1999, 2000, I would sell a used server for $35,000 and I had a line of people wanting it. Today, a server is $5,000 and you can get an okay server for less than $2,000. [In the meantime], we’ve probably become one of the largest sellers of [intellectual property] in the country. We sell tons of IP, and as you know, the IP wars have started, so we play with the big guys, the little guys, and the in-between guys.  During the last bubble, there weren’t as many patents. It was more ideas and URLs.

via peHUB » Silicon Valley’s Undertaker: ‘We’re Anticipating a Major Fallout’.

How the West Was Lost and Where it Got Us

From the WSJ tonight, a Birinyi graph comparing bank performance from 1929 onwards to banks today since the 2008 crisis/event/crashes/etc. The 1930s banks are as proxied by the S&P money center bank index for the period, while the current banks is as modeled by the KBW bank index.

OB PC762 banks K 20110810164314

Lives of Unquiet Desperation

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail on the London riots, but the lessons are more universal:

The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.

via UK riots 2011: Liberal dogma has spawned a generation of brutalised youths | Mail Online.

Twitter Digest: 2011-08-09

London Riots, the Domestic Version

One of the more persistent self-congratulatory questions I hear people ask is this, “What would it take for something like the London riots to happen here in the U.S.?” The implication is that for all its flaws and wildness the U.S. is somehow more civilized in its incivility than is Europe, at least London.

It is, of course, deadly wrong. As the U.S. has discovered many times over history to its dismay, the patina of civilization here is as thin as anywhere. What protects the U.S. has been wealth, complacency, and American exceptionalism in service of the idea that bad things don’t happen here.

What would it take? A year of austerity and more cuts ahead, plus  a wobbling economy, did it in London, and I’m reasonably sure the same thing would happen here in the U.S. Arguably, it would happen faster given this country’s modern inexperience with societal sacrifice in service of a common goal. All of this makes late 2012 — a year into U.S. austerity alongside a wobbling economy — the time to watch the U.S. streets.

Gold, Baby

From Reuters as the gold frenzy (literally) hits new highs, this high-gloss take on the precious metal’s recent history:

0809 POST 1 Gold1

Twitter Digest: 2011-08-08

  • "Waiting for a Landslide" is almost a good Ross Douthat column. What the hell is wrong with the world? ->
  • .@epc Yeah, the ASX miracle index. See attached in all its day-glo wonder. in reply to epc ->
  • Laughed out loud a moment ago as Bloomberg terminal ran screaming red headline that an equity index somewhere was actually up. ->
  • Favorite metaphorically apropos thing I saw today ->
  • Ken "This Time is Different" Rogoff is predicting/suggesting we get a QE3 announcement from Bernanke & Co. tomorrow. ->
  • Bloomberg article tonight saying can acquire Yahoo for < value of its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. I'll get right on that. ->