03/25/2015

Insider Trading Law After the Newman Decision: What Does It Mean to Financial Industry Professionals?

In December 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued what has been described as a landmark decision in United States v. Newman.  In its decision, the Court vacated the insider trading convictions and sentences of Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, two hedge fund professionals convicted of insider trading after trial in federal court in Manhattan.  The decision has been greeted by the white collar defense bar as an important repudiation of the Government’s heavy handed pursuit of insider trading. 

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03/23/2015

What’s Next for Cuba? by NYU Stern Professor Ingo Walter - See more at: http://blogs.stern.nyu.edu/riskintelligence/?p=1989#sthash.UvUJWeHH.dpuf

The following is an excerpt from CNBC: Iwalter2

Now that the decision has been made in Washington to reset Cuban-American relations, it’s a good time for an outside perspective on where things may go from here. Bottom line: Cuba may well become a rising star in the region and an attractive economic partner for the U.S. if things are managed well. In financial terms, Cuba will be a “buy” when the time comes. A recent visit revealed some impressive strengths buried not far below the surface.

Continue reading "What’s Next for Cuba? by NYU Stern Professor Ingo Walter - See more at: http://blogs.stern.nyu.edu/riskintelligence/?p=1989#sthash.UvUJWeHH.dpuf" »

03/18/2015

Should Your Investment Commentary Be Different?

“Should your investment commentary present a distinctive point of view?” That’s the great question posed by a participant in one of my presentations on “How To Write Investment Commentary People Will Read.”

My answer? It depends.

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03/17/2015

Book Review: A Risk Professional’s Survival Guide

Risk-professional-sruvival

This highly readable and informative book can serve the needs of a variety of individuals. The end-of-chapter problems make the book suitable for a classroom setting for those who plan to become practicing risk managers. Readers interested in gaining a general overview of risk management will also find the book valuable.

World events and new financial products have shown the importance of risk management to the finance industry. The numerous mathematical models customarily invoked in addressing risk management can make it difficult for students of the subject to learn to put into practice the tools of the trade. In many traditional texts on risk management and finance, theory and application are taught separately. The theory is usually presented first, and then the concepts are reinforced by examining a case involving a real or fictional firm, either in the main body of a chapter or as an end-of-chapter homework assignment. In most instances, different firms are used throughout the book to illustrate the various concepts.

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03/16/2015

From Fired to Hired

Losing Your Job Can Be Less Painful—and More Productive

While it’s true that the 21st century job market is loaded with opportunities—think of 60 million Baby Boomers retiring—it’s also fraught with peril.  Globalization, technology, and competition are impelling companies to do more with less money and fewer people.  Those powerful forces can propel you into unemployment, no matter how smart, hard working, or effective you are. 

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China: Ecological Civilization Rising?

Returning to China for the first time in a quarter century this month was equally awe inspiring and terrifying. The observation deck of the truly gorgeous Shanghai World Financial Center is breathtaking, a fitting testament to China’s rise. But it was the unexpected sense that we might be experiencing history at DeTao Group’s summit in Shanghai, “Future New Economy: Sustainable Model Toward an Ecological Economy,” that left an indelible mark on me.

I had the honor to address the DeTao Group summit on the topic of regenerative investing in natural capital. Inspired by the vision and leadership of DeTao Chairman George Lee, it was an extraordinary experience. The warm hospitality and genuine appreciation and respect extended to all the visiting “experts” was quite exceptional. As George told me, “in Chinese culture, we honor our teachers.”

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03/15/2015

Wall Street Bonuses Are Climbing, but Not Everyone Is Smiling

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Here’s a crazy fact, one that likely won’t sit well with Elizabeth Warren and other Wall Street detractors. The average bonus for employees in New York City’s securities industry actually increased in 2014 despite the fact that profit was down 4.5% from a year earlier, mostly due to embarrassing litigation costs. Though the narrative is a bit more complicated than what appears on the surface.

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03/11/2015

Book Review: The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing

Bogleheads

This book, which introduces novice investors to Vanguard Group founder John Bogle’s approach to passive investing, is one investment guide that does not intimidate readers into thinking that investing is so complicated they need professional help. On the contrary, it encourages laypeople to oversee their own investments.

Bogleheads—investors who have adopted Vanguard Group founder John Bogle’s investing philosophy—have morphed from a loose association into a formal group organized around a website that attracts more than 50,000 visits daily. This second edition of The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing introduces investors to the Boglehead approach to passive investing. Authors Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf are all well over 70 years of age, are financially set, and have no hidden agenda. They do not work for Vanguard or any other company, nor do they earn commissions from selling investment products. Furthermore, they would be content if readers borrowed the book from a friend or the library instead of purchasing it.

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03/09/2015

25 Real Life Questions Asked in Corporate Finance Interviews

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MBAs have a variety of opportunities after graduating. The most common career paths are consulting, investment banking, and tech. But many others go the corporate route, working in an accounting or strategy role at a company outside of financial services.

As one would imagine, the questions that are asked in corporate finance interviews are rather different than those that take place at investment banks or consulting firms. Below is a list of 25 real-life interview questions asked of MBAs by corporations in need of finance talent. How would you do?

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02/25/2015

Shavers, Sharks and Payday Lenders

Westerners have long harbored a love-hate relationship with lenders, and their ambivalence shows no sign of abating anytime soon. What has changed over time is the perception of what constitutes “bad” types of lenders or loans. In various times and places, it was illegal/immoral to charge any interest at all, to exact interest from kinsfolk, to charge rates considered too high or to use violent collection methods. Today, it is lawful, and even somewhat morally acceptable, to charge any rate of interest to anybody willing to pay it. Reformers, however, want to protect borrowers from being cajoled, forced or tricked into borrowing at high rates for long periods.

The King James version of Exodus (22:25) states that “If thou lend money to my people poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” Usury here is usually taken to mean taking any interest whatsoever, though at least one recent translation reads instead: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.” If the traditional interpretation is correct, perhaps early Jews lamented lost profit opportunities because Deuteronomy (23:19–20) clearly allows some lending at interest: “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury.”

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02/23/2015

What Happened to the U.S. Constitution? Effects of Changing Interpretations on International Debt and Banking—Part II

In Part I of my article, I described how the decision of an obscure federal judge promises to transform world debt markets. I planned in Part II to describe the Argentinean debt deal, but in the interim Bloomberg published an article that elucidates this matter in sufficient detail (Levine 2014). Furthermore, the document describing the debt settlement is available online (Securities and Exchange Commission 2005). I cannot claim to have read the entire document—219 pages of prospectus and approximately 150 pages of supplement—but I gleaned enough by browsing. It contains interesting information on how international debt is settled, and if I were to teach international finance, I would make a case study out of it.

Continue reading "What Happened to the U.S. Constitution? Effects of Changing Interpretations on International Debt and Banking—Part II" »

Mongolia Investment Outlook

Mongolia is one of the world's fastest growing economies, with a year-on-year real growth rate of 7% in 2014. Recent growth has been primarily driven by development of new mining projects, growth in the real estate and agriculture sector, and an expansionary fiscal and monetary policy.

Mongolia's economy is highly dependent on trade with China. Economic growth has been negatively affected by a slowdown in the Chinese economy, which accounted for 94.1% of Mongolia's exports in 2013. In addition, Mongolia is dependent on Russia for all of its fuel and some of its energy needs, which makes Mongolia vulnerable to price pressure from Russia.

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02/17/2015

Recent Research: Highlights from February 2015

"On the Holy Grail of “Upside Participation and Downside Protection"
The Journal of Portfolio Management (Winter 2015)
Edward Qian

Upside participation and downside protection” is a popular motto for many investors. It has taken on much more significance in recent years, in the wake of the global financial crisis. But how do we define and evaluate strategies from the perspective of “upside participation and downside protection”? In this article, the authors present an analytic framework in which they provide a quantitative definition of upside and downside participation ratio, define participation ratio difference as a goodness measure for defensive strategies, and prove a relationship between the participation ratio difference and traditional alpha. As an illustration, they apply this new analysis to the S&P 500 Index and its 10 sectors and show that defensive, low-beta sectors tend to have positive participation ratio differences, while cyclical, high-beta sectors tend to have negative participation ratio differences. This finding is consistent with the low-beta/volatility anomaly and provides another explanation for the popularity of low-beta/volatility strategies.

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02/16/2015

Life After the CFA Charter

I still remember the feeling of happiness, relief, and complete sense of accomplishment when I received a congratulatory email from CFA Institute on August 6, 2013 letting me know that I passed the Level III CFA exam.  I officially became a CFA Charterholder in November 2013. The certificate is very big, and I feel proud every time I look at it.  It reminds me that hard work and determination will help me overcome any challenges that I am currently facing, or will face in the future, as they did when I embarked on the CFA journey.

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02/11/2015

Eight Leading Indicators That Your Banking Job Is Killing You

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Is your banking job doing you in?

Your banking job may be boring. It may be exhausting, stressful, all-consuming, and fraught with the sort of political machinations better suited to an episode of Question Time, but does it have serious implications for your mortality? Researchers at Stanford Business School and Harvard University have come up with a helpful checklist of workplace stressors which suggest that it might.

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