Buffett Tells Coke CEO Study Failure, Avoid Complacency; “You want a restlessness, a feeling that somebody’s always after you, but you’re going to stay ahead.”

Buffett Tells Coke CEO Study Failure, Avoid Complacency

Warren Buffett, who controls the largest stake in Coca-Cola Co. (KO), knows how to steal a show.

The billionaire investor showed up at the soda maker’s annual meeting today to help sell the company’s message to shareholders in an on-stage interview with Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent. The surprise appearance drew a standing ovation as Buffett advised Kent to stay ahead of competitors by reviewing what made other businesses falter.

“I like to study failure,” Buffett, 82, said at the meeting held in the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta. “We want to see what has caused businesses to go bad, and the biggest thing that kills them is complacency. You want a restlessness, a feeling that somebody’s always after you, but you’re going to stay ahead.”

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), which Buffett has led for more than four decades, owns 400 million Coca-Cola shares after a share split last year, with a value of almost $17 billion. Berkshire, which owns See’s Candies and an equity stake in American Express Co. (AXP), favors companies that have loyal customers and can withstand competition, Buffett said. Read more of this post

Few $1-Salary CEOs Make a Buck as Ellison Gets $96 Mln

Few $1-Salary CEOs Make a Buck as Ellison Gets $96 Mln

The chief executive officers of software developer Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and watchmaker Fossil Inc. (FOSL) both work for a salary of a dollar or less a year. The only difference: $96.2 million.

That’s how much Oracle founder Larry Ellison really earned in fiscal 2012 when you count options awards and other extras, more than any other CEO in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Fossil’s Kosta Kartsotis’ actual take-home pay: Zilch.

While CEOs with single-digit salaries are a rare breed, those who really work for nothing when other compensation such as bonuses is included are rarer still. These executives, sometimes big shareholders, only benefit if the stock rises or dividends are paid, an alignment of interests that appeals to some investors. Read more of this post

Risk of Miscalculation Over North Korea Has Grown, Dempsey Says; North Korea is “in a period of prolonged provocation rather than cyclical provocation,”

Risk of Miscalculation Over North Korea Has Grown, Dempsey Says

The risk of a miscalculation in the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs has increased, and China takes the tensions “very seriously,” the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

North Korea is “in a period of prolonged provocation rather than cyclical provocation,” Martin Dempsey told reporters yesterday after arriving in Beijing April 21 and meeting officials including President Xi Jinping.

Dempsey’s visit is part of a series of high-level contacts between the U.S. and China this month to discuss issues including cybersecurity and the North’s nuclear program. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high since February, when Kim Jong Un’s regime tested a nuclear device in defiance of the United Nations Security Council.

“The risk of miscalculation is higher and I think the risk of escalation is higher,” Dempsey said. “They are on a path that will certainly increase risk in the region.”

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and Beijing regards the neighboring country as a strategic buffer with U.S.- backed South Korea. In a visit to China earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said China needs to “put some teeth” into restraining Kim’s regime.

“I will leave here with the belief that the Chinese leadership is as concerned as we are,” Dempsey said. “We think there is still time for North Korea’s leaders to back away from provocations and we hope they take the opportunity to do so.” Read more of this post

Thai 7-Eleven King Turns Retail Dream to Stock Nightmare; Thailand Stock Exchange to Probe Siam Makro Trades

Thai 7-Eleven King Turns Retail Dream to Stock Nightmare

Billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont’s ambitions to create Southeast Asia’s largest retailer already wiped out $2.3 billion for CP All Pcl (CPALL) investors. Now, funding the industry’s most expensive bid may put more value at risk.

Dhanin’s CP All, which runs more than 6,800 7-Eleven stores in Thailand, slid 10 percent in Bangkok yesterday — the most in more than four years — after saying it will pay $6.6 billion for discount wholesaler Siam Makro Pcl. (MAKRO) The offer is 41 percent above Siam Makro’s average price in the prior 20 days, a record premium for a retail deal in emerging Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. CP All’s bid also represents the highest multiple to net income, the data show.

While Dhanin plans to squeeze suppliers for better terms and export Siam Makro’s membership-warehouse model across Asia, the limited increase to profits isn’t enough to justify the price, said Credit Suisse Group AG. Although the Bangkok-based company says it has no plans to sell new stock to fund the deal, CP All’s share price will be weighed down by concerns that it will eventually have no other option, said UOB Kay Hian Securities (Thailand) Pcl.

“CP All is going to have to do a cash call,” Alan Richardson, a Hong Kong-based fund manager who helps oversee about $110 billion for Samsung Asset Management Co., including Siam Makro shares, said in a phone interview. “The valuation doesn’t make sense. With this kind of emerging market, the potential is definitely there, but for a stock investor who looks on a time horizon of one to two years, it would be negative.” Read more of this post

Three Taipei hospital staff show symptoms after H7N9 bird flu contact; H7N9 outbreak in Taiwan could derail buoyant stock market

Three Taipei hospital staff show symptoms after H7N9 contact

CNA and Staff Reporter, 2013-04-25

Three hospital personnel have developed respiratory symptoms after coming into contact with Taiwan’s first confirmed case of H7N9 avian flu, the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center said Wednesday. All three had taken proper protective measures when providing medical care for the patient, a 53-year-old man who fell ill three days after returning from eastern China’s Jiangsu province, one of the H7N9-affected areas, the center said. A survey of the epidemic situation showed that 139 local people had come into contact with the man, a Taiwanese businessman based in Jiangsu’s Suzhou area, the center said. Three of them had close contact, 26 had contact more than seven days ago — putting them outside the infectious period — and 110 are hospital personnel, the center said. Four of the hospital staff have also passed the infectious period and have not developed symptoms, the center said. A further three of the hospital staff did not take proper protective measures when treating or caring for the patient, but none of them have so far shown any symptoms, the center said, adding that they will be strictly monitored until April 27. The epidemic control center said that all those who have had contact with the patient have been served notice urging them to monitor their own health. They will also be subject to close monitoring until their respective infectious periods expire, the center said, adding that public health officials will help people on the watch list get medical treatment should they develop flu-like symptoms such as fever or coughing. The quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation said Wednesday it has posted information about the imported H7N9 case in Taiwan on its website and urged the Taiwanese trade association in Suzhou to help push Taiwanese residents in the region to step up epidemic prevention measures and provide them with news updates. China reported the world’s first confirmed H7N9 human infections March 31, and as of April 23, 108 cases had been confirmed there, with 22 deaths. Two of China’s largest cities — Shanghai and Beijing — as well as five Chinese provinces — Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan and Shandong — have reported confirmed infections. As of 8am Wednesday, Taiwan had reported 129 suspected H7N9 cases, 128 of which have been ruled out as H7N9 infections, said Chou Jih-haw, deputy director-general of the Centers for Disease Control under the Department of Health. The center said it had informed the World Health Organization and China of Taiwan’s first H7N9 case earlier in the day, Chou said. It was also the first H7N9 case outside China.

H7N9 outbreak in Taiwan could derail buoyant stock market

Staff Reporter, 2013-04-25

News of Taiwan’s first confirmed case of H7N9 avian influenza is expected to derail the country’s surging stock market, reports our Chinese-language sister paper China Times. Read more of this post

First suspected H7N9 bird flu case reported in Jiangxi Province

First suspected bird flu case reported in Jiangxi Province

Created: 2013-4-25 9:42:58

Author:Dong Zhen

AUTHORITY of east China’s Jiangxi Province today reported the first suspected case of H7N9 infection inside the province. The patient, a 69-year-old male, has been admitted into a hospital in Nanchang City. He was confirmed as a suspected case yesterday by the local disease control authority. A team of medical experts have rushed to the hospital for his treatment and medical analysis. A total of 14 persons who had had close contacts with the patient are now under medical observation and they have so far shown no flu symptoms, the provincial government said. The country’s state disease control authority is now checking a sample to confirm whether the man is infected with the virus.


Is there another factor other than cholesterol and triglycerides causing heart attacks? The trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the human gut

Updated: Thursday April 25, 2013 MYT 8:14:07 AM

Is there another factor other than cholesterol and triglycerides causing heart attacks?

NEW YORK: Thousands of heart attack victims every year have none of the notorious risk factors before their crisis – not high cholesterol, not unhealthy triglycerides.

Now the search for the mystery culprits has turned up some surprising suspects: the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the human gut.

In a study released on Wednesday, scientists discovered that some of the bugs turn lecithin – a nutrient in egg yolks, liver, beef, pork and wheat germ – into an artery-clogging compound called TMAO. They also found that blood levels of TMAO predict heart attack, stroke or death, and do so “independent of other risk factors,” said Dr Stanley Hazen, chairman of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, who led the study. Read more of this post

Chinese officials’ deepening “watch phobia”; The disappearing Vacheron Constantin watch of Fan Jiyue, county Party secretary of Lushan

Latest case shows Chinese officials’ deepening “watch phobia”

2013-04-23 04:12:46 GMT2013-04-23 12:12:46(Beijing Time)  SINA English

By Jia Xiaoguang, Sina English

A distinct mark left by wearing watch on the wrist of a local official has solicited the attention of China’s watchful netizens recently, who linked their finding with the possibility of the official’s involvement in corruption. Photo shows Fan Jiyue, county Party secretary of Lushan hit by the recent deadly earthquake in southwestern Sichuan Province, had taken off his wrist watch before he started an inspection visit to the quake-stricken areas with Premier Li Keqiang. There is a ring of white stain on his left wrist, a clear evidence of wearing a watch, as the photo displays. Some netizens then found a file photo of Fan delivering a speech, which testifies to the existence of the “vanished” watch. It is a deluxe watch branded Vacheron Constantin, costing a staggering price up to 210 thousand yuan, some other person pointed out. Fan’s motivation of picking off the watch before showing up in the public is then accused of deliberately dodging the public supervision and covering up his extravagant life style, which, however, ended up with much wider self-exposure. His case, a latest instance of official’s rising fear of carelessly exposing their costly personal assets such as wristwatches, is preceded by the notorious “Brother Watch” Yang Dacai, former head of the work safety administration of NW China’s Shaanxi Province. Yang was found wearing luxury wristwatches and was later expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) over engagement in serious disciplinary violations in February.

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Buddha statue wearing all-back hairstyle

Buddha statue wearing all-back hairstyle

2013-04-25 06:42:50 GMT2013-04-25 14:42:50(Beijing Time)  SINA English

By Jia Xiaoguang, Sina English

An online image of a colossal Buddha statue has caused a buzz among China’s Internet users recently, as the Buddha wears an outlandish all-back hairstyle that makes their eyes pop out. Still under construction, this sculpture is located in the Longhua Playground in Luoyang, C China’s Henan Province. While an official declaration has confirmed that the statue, though in the figure of a Buddha, is actually an artistic representation of the founder of the playground, it does little to suffocate the diffusing imagination of the netizens. “How come he wears an all-back hairstyle?” some one is clearly taken aback. “The Buddha must have used some hair-growing shampoo!” another cried out. “This is a sublime piece of art work. “ some other with the eyes of a connoisseur said. “His face reminds you of Sakyamuni, state leader, corrupt official and capitalist at the same time.”


Euro may only last five years, says senior German government advisor

Euro may only last five years, says senior German government advisor

The euro has a “limited chance of survival” and may only endure another five years, Kai Konrad, one of the German government’s closest economic advisers, has claimed.

“Europe is important to me. Not the euro,” said Dr Konrad.

By Jeevan Vasagar, Berlin

3:15PM BST 24 Apr 2013

In notably outspoken remarks for a senior German figure, Dr Konrad, chairman of a scientific council that advises the finance ministry, said: “Europe is important to me. Not the euro. And I would only give the euro a limited chance of survival.”

Asked whether he thought the single currency would last five years, the economist said: “A concrete period is hard to identify as it depends on so many factors. But five years sounds realistic.”

This pessimistic judgment by a senior adviser runs counter to the official German government view that the euro must be held together for the sake of unity in Europe. Dr Konrad’s remarks came in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag, on the debt crisis in Europe. Read more of this post

Changing Rules of the Road for China’s Auto Industry; Domestic car makers face a tough struggle to adapt to their evolving marketplace

April 24, 2013, 12:25 p.m. ET

Changing Rules of the Road for China’s Auto Industry

Domestic car makers face a tough struggle to adapt to their evolving marketplace.


In many areas of the Chinese economy, from refrigerators to computers and banking to consumer goods, domestic players have captured the lion’s share of the enormous market. There is only one glaring exception: autos. Even after the government plowed billions into building up domestic champions, Chinese auto makers account for fewer than 30% of the new cars sold in China each year. This week’s Shanghai Auto Show is a good time to consider why that is and how local firms can change it.

Chinese auto makers have achieved impressive success, building their 30% market share from virtually zero 15 years ago mainly by delivering relatively inexpensive cars to a large number of first-time car buyers. They also are closing the quality gap with their international peers in surveys such as the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey, although a gap still remains.

But their share has remained relatively flat in the past five years. This suggests they already have plucked the low-hanging fruit in the marketplace. Further success will hinge on their ability to adapt to a more sophisticated auto market. Read more of this post

Nespresso’s bitter taste of defeat in the $10bn coffee capsule market where it has a market share of roughly one-third

April 24, 2013 7:49 pm

Nespresso’s bitter taste of defeat

By Louise Lucas

Even judges, it appears, are waking up and smelling the coffee. The phalanx of patents designed to protect Nestlé’s Nespresso machine-and-capsule coffee systems has been dented by a UK High Court ruling. The decision hands consumers the option of using rival capsules made by Dualit, the British manufacturer better known for its retro toasters, in their Nespresso machines. Dualit, which spent about £1m on lawyers during the course of the 10-month legal battle, was delighted. Leslie Gort-Barten, managing director, said he already had an appointment next Tuesday with one of Britain’s big four supermarkets that could now consider stocking its capsules.

Nespresso has a powerful grip on the $10bn coffee capsule market. It has a market share of roughly one-third, according to Euromonitor, more than the next two biggest players – Green Mountain and DE Master Blenders – put together. It generates sales of just under SFr4.5bn ($4.75bn), estimates Jamie Isenwater, analyst at Deutsche Bank, and margins on earnings before interest and tax (all of which comes from pods rather than machines) of more than 30 per cent. Read more of this post

Indonesia is the world’s biggest market for one American icon: Tupperware.

April 24, 2013, 1:54 p.m. ET

Indonesia Provides a Tasty Dish for Tupperware


‘Open your hearts,’ CEO Rick Goings told salespeople in Jakarta this month. ‘Indonesia is the No. 1 market in the world.’


JAKARTA, Indonesia—Companies from across the globe are just starting to tap Indonesia’s booming consumer sector. But the Southeast Asian archipelago already is the world’s biggest market for one American icon: Tupperware. Indonesia last year replaced Germany as the biggest market for Tupperware Brands Corp., TUP -4.14% which sells plastic containers for leftover beef stew and baba ganoush at house parties world-wide. Indonesia is likely to lead the company’s growth in Asia this year. That will help make the Asian-Pacific region the company’s biggest this year, topping Europe, South America and North America, said Chief Executive Rick Goings. Tupperware’s sales force has exploded to an army of more than 170,000 people here from only 2,000 a decade ago, riding a consumer boom in Southeast Asia’s largest economy and selling record numbers of water bottles, plastic lunchboxes and neon-green plastic dining sets.

Read more of this post

Should Bloomberg be afraid of Twitter?

Should Bloomberg be afraid of Twitter?

April 24, 2013: 6:35 AM ET

Social media analytics firms such as Dataminr are trying to take on Bloomberg in the race for fast-paced business news updates.

By Omar Akhtar, reporter

FORTUNE — Bloomberg LP has long prided itself on being the premier provider of financial data, news, and analytics, but can it deliver news faster than social media?

Millions of dollars can change hands through the rapid decisions investors make based on industry news. It’s why they’re willing to pay an average of $20,000 a year to use a Bloomberg terminal. The service, which makes up Bloomberg’s core business, aggregates information from more than 1,000 news organizations and 90,000 websites, vital to clients looking for any kind of advantage for their investment strategies. Companies like New York-based startup Dataminrclaim they can deliver market-moving information faster than the newswires by accessing and analyzing information available on social media. Read more of this post

Beyond the energy and cost savings, new types of lighting are now envisioned as ways to heal, soothe, invigorate or protect people.

April 24, 2013

New Technology Inspires a Rethinking of Light



BETTER GUIDANCE Engineers with the Lighting Science Group Corporation, Mark Oostdyk, right, and Ran Zhou, testing road lights.

AFTER the joy of the birth itself, parenthood sometimes brings the unwelcome news that a newborn has jaundice and must wear goggles and be placed under special lights. Imagine how different this experience might be if there were no goggles, just a warm blanket covering the tiny body, a healing frequency of blue light emanating from its folds. That comforting scene, already a reality in some hospitals, is evidence of the fundamental rethinking of lighting now under way in research labs, executive offices and investor conferences. Digital revolutionaries have Edison’s 130-year-old industry, and its $100 billion in worldwide revenue, in their sights. Color, control and function are all being reassessed, and new players have emerged like a wave of Silicon Valley start-ups.

“This is the move from the last industrial-age analog technology to a digital technology,” said Fred Maxik, the chief technology officer with the Lighting Science Group Corporation, one of many newer players in the field. Read more of this post

Mixpanel, A Startup That Wants To Kill Pageviews And Other ‘BS Metrics,’ Now Measures 12 Billion Actions Per Month

Mixpanel, A Startup That Wants To Kill Pageviews And Other ‘BS Metrics,’ Now Measures 12 Billion Actions Per Month

Alyson Shontell | Apr. 24, 2013, 2:37 PM | 1,947 | 3


Suhail Doshi is a no BS kind of guy. He believes it’s “BS” to report pageviews, a metric digital companies frequently use to show their site’s growth. Instead, Doshi wants digital and mobile companies to highlight monthly user engagement numbers, a metric he believes is much more important than pageviews. His startup, Mixpanel, helps companies track one key metric, and his engagement-first mentality is starting to catch on.Mixpanel is an analytics company that was founded in 2009. It helps 1,000 paying customers and tens of thousands of non-paying customers track “actions.” Any time a user engages in a powerful way with a brand (a user buying a rental on Airbnb, for example, posting a photo to Instagram, or “liking” content on Facebook), Mixpanel calls that an event or “action.” Doshi says his company now tracks 12 billion actions per month for its customers. That’s up from 10 billion the month before. It took one year for Mixpanel to track its first 1 billion actions. Read more of this post

Rise of the Maple Syrup Mafia; Can a successful exit by one Canadian tech firm jump-start innovation north of the border, a la Silicon Valley’s PayPal Mafia?

Rise of the Maple Syrup Mafia

April 24, 2013: 7:18 AM ET

Can a successful exit by one Canadian tech firm jump-start innovation north of the border, a la Silicon Valley’s PayPal Mafia?

By Ryan Holmes

FORTUNE — In 2002, PayPal, the online payments giant, was sold to eBay for a cool $1.5 billion. Overnight, many of PayPal’s core employees got very rich. Rather than calling it a day, however, theso-called PayPal mafia went on to found and invest in a wave of new startups. You may have heard of some: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, Zynga, and Kiva … to name just a few. From one buyout, an entire ecosystem of wildly successful tech companies was spawned. In fact, over the last decade, the PayPal mafia’s track record has been nothing short of extraordinary, with one promising startup after another propelled to billion-dollar status and well beyond.

So what’s their secret? Was there something in the water? Did PayPal (EBAY) co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin teach employees some Jedi entrepreneurial magic? Maybe. (Thiel doesbelieve humans can live forever.) But the likeliest explanation is a bit more mundane: The PayPal buyout gave some very young, very ambitious people the confidence to try for another big win and an experienced network to fund them. If that’s all there is to it, then I’ve got a question. Why does Silicon Valley get to have a monopoly on innovation? Why aren’t new tech mafias springing up elsewhere? The Internet radically decentralized information and ideas. So why is startup success still confined mainly to one corner of California? Read more of this post

IBM’s Chief to Employees: Think Fast, Move Faster

Updated April 24, 2013, 9:24 p.m. ET

IBM’s Chief to Employees: Think Fast, Move Faster


IBM is reassigning hardware chief Rodney Akins following poor performance results in the first quarter that sent the stock plunging. Spencer Ante reports on The News Hub. (Photo: AP)

International Business Machines Corp. IBM +0.05% Chief Executive Virginia Romettydelivered a rare companywide reprimand in the wake of a poor earnings report last week, saying the sprawling technology company needed to move faster and respond more quickly to customers. The comments came in a five-minute internal video message to the company’s 434,000 employees. In the video, Ms. Rometty salted the praise for employees in her regular post-earnings pep talk with unusually blunt comments that the company needs to speed its shift to new computing models to get back on track. “Where we haven’t transformed rapidly enough, we struggled,” Ms. Rometty said in the video published on IBM’s internal website and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “We have to step up with that and deal with that, and that is on all levels.” Read more of this post

Mutant H7N9 Bird Flu Virus Evolves to Show Pandemic Characteristics

Mutant Bird Flu Virus Evolves to Show Pandemic Characteristics

A mutant version of a bird flu virus created by scientists last year to show its ability to spread between humans evolved to show characteristics of previous pandemic viruses, a study found.

A genetic component of the mutant H5N1 virus developed a 200-fold preference for binding with human over avian receptors, according to a study led by researchers at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London. Their paper was published today in the scientific journal Nature.

The study builds on work led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that showed how H5N1 could become highly transmissible if its hemagglutinin gene is mutated and mixed with those of the H1N1 virus that sparked the 2009 swine flu pandemic. As a follow-up, the MRC-led team plans to study the same binding properties of the current H7N9 virus reported in China, John Skehel, one of the study authors in London, said in a phone interview.

“The preference of the transmissible mutant for binding to human versus avian receptors, and the structural manner by which it binds them, are highly characteristic of pandemic viruses,” the researchers said in the published paper.

The hemagglutinin gene produces the protein that the virus uses to stick itself to host cells. By measuring the binding properties of the mutated gene in the H5N1 virus, the scientists found that its affinity for human receptors increased slightly, while its preference for avian receptors declined significantly, they said. Read more of this post

Meet your new, high-tech $100 bill on Oct 8; The note features a series of amped-up security measures aimed at combating counterfeiters

Meet your new $100 bill

By Emily Jane Fox @CNNMoney April 24, 2013: 7:22 PM ET


For only the fourth time in history, there will be a new $100 bill. After a three-year delay due to slower-than-expected production, Americans will finally have an improved, high-tech $100 bill for their wallets, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. The bill is set to debut on Oct. 8. What’s so special about the new greenback? To start, the Fed says the the bill is a culmination of a decade-long research and design process. The note features a series of amped-up security measures aimed at combating counterfeiters, including a blue, 3-D security ribbon on the front of the bill that moves when the note is tilted back and forth and side to side. The inkwell and bell on the front of the bill and the number 100 on the right-hand corner also change from copper to green when the note is tilted. This is the fourth time the $100 bill has been redesigned, according to a Fed spokeswoman. It has been revamped three times in the last 20 years alone, as the Fed had to react more often to improved counterfeiting technology. The design was first unveiled in 2010 and was meant to go into circulation in Feb. 2011.

New York City Plans World’s Biggest Indoor Ice Facility in Bronx

New York City Plans World’s Biggest Indoor Ice Facility in Bronx


New York City plans to create the largest indoor ice facility in the world, with a former Deutsche Bank AG (DB) asset manager investing $275 million to turn a vacant Bronx armory into a 750,000-square-foot skating palace.

KNIC Partners LLC, founded by Kevin Parker, a former asset management head at Germany’s largest bank, will transform the Kingsbridge Armory into a center with nine regulation-size rinks expected to attract 2 million visitors a year, city officials said. The first five rinks are set to open in late 2018.

The landmark armory, built between 1912 and 1917, takes up a full city block and has been vacant since 1996. Officials said they expect the development will create 260 permanent jobs and 890 construction jobs in the Bronx, the poorest of the city’s five boroughs.

KNIC Partners will lease the facility for 99 years and direct 5 percent of annual gross revenue, or about $1 million per year, to the city, Tom Corsillo, a spokesman for KNIC Partners, said today in a telephone interview.

“The construction of the world’s largest indoor ice rink facility will create recreational opportunities for millions of visitors and local residents, and most importantly create hundreds of jobs for the local community,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. Read more of this post

Record Carbon Plunge Means Pain for Europe’s Utilities: Energy

Record Carbon Plunge Means Pain for Europe’s Utilities: Energy

European utilities, which have lost investors money for the past three years, can expect nothing but more pain after the European Parliament rejected a proposal to support prices in the world’s largest carbon-credit market.

Germany’s EON SE, GDF Suez (GSZ) SA of France and CEZ AS (CEZ) from the Czech Republic are among power suppliers whose earnings will drop because a majority of their energy comes from wind, natural gas and uranium, meaning they will be undercut by coal-fired plants, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said. Burning coal benefits most from cheaper carbon permits because the fuel emits about twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas.

The European Parliament on April 16 rejected a proposal to delay the issuance of some carbon credits, or allowances, triggering a record 35 percent drop in permit prices and sending the stocks of utilities down. Falling carbon prices weaken the incentive to invest in low-emission technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

“The competitiveness of our gas plants is seriously undermined by coal,” GDF Suez Vice Chairman Jean-Francois Cirelli said at a shareholder meeting in Paris yesterday. “CO2 is a major difficulty for us, and it’s a major failure of European policies.”

The continent’s biggest utilities, already struggling to increase revenue amid a stagnant economy, have to contend with a new damper on electricity prices because the market is tethered to coal, one of the most commonly used fuels for generation. Forward electricity prices, which give an indication of future earnings, dropped 3.7 percent since the decision. “Lower carbon prices will tend to reduce long-term earnings,” said Chris Rogers, utility analyst at Bloomberg Industries in London. “The weak power price environment may require write-downs at utilities.” Read more of this post

Quant Finance Reading List


This is the big one! I’ve tried to list as many great quantitative finance books as I can. The lists cover general quant finance, careers guides, interview prep, quant trading, mathematics, numerical methods and programming in C++, Python, Excel, MatLab and R. If you have any suggestions for more books, please contact me at mike@quantstart.com and I’ll get them added.

This list was last updated on 8th April 2013.

General Quant Finance Reading

One area that routinely catches out prospective quants at interview is their lack of basic financial markets knowledge. It’s all well and good being the best mathematician and programmer on the globe, but if you can’t tell your stock from your bond, or your bank from your fund, you’ll find it a lot harder to pass those HR screenings.

These books also make much better bedtime reading than graduate texts on stochastic calculus…

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine – Michael Lewis

Liar’s Poker – Michael Lewis

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management – Roger Lowenstein

More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Penguin Press)) – Sebastian Mallaby

How I Became a Quant: Insights from 25 of Wall Street’s Elite – Richard Lindsey, Barry Schachter

My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance – Emanuel Derman

Financial Engineering: The Evolution of a Profession (Robert W. Kolb Series) – Tanya Beder, Cara Marshall

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It – Scott Patterson

Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets – David Leinweber

Physicists on Wall Street and Other Essays on Science and Society – Jeremey Bernstein

The Complete Guide to Capital Markets for Quantitative Professionals (McGraw-Hill Library of Investment and Finance) – Alex Kuznetsov

Models.Behaving.Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life – Emanuel Derman Read more of this post

Entrepreneurs, Firms and Global Wealth Since 1850

Entrepreneurs, Firms and Global Wealth Since 1850

Geoffrey Jones Harvard University – Entrepreneurial Management Unit

March 12, 2013
Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper No. 13-076

This working paper integrates the role of entrepreneurship and firms into debates on why Asia, Latin America and Africa was slow to catch up with the West following the Industrial Revolution and the advent of modern economic growth. It argues that the currently dominant explanations, which focus on deficient institutions, poor human capital development, geography and culture are important, but not sufficient. This is partly because recent research in business history has shown that several of the arguments are not empirically proved, but especially because the impact of these factors on the creation and performance of innovative business enterprises is not clearly specified. Modern economic growth diffused from its origins in the North Sea region to elsewhere in western and northern Europe, across the Atlantic, and later to Japan, but struggled to get traction elsewhere. The societal and cultural embeddedness of the new technologies posed significant entrepreneurial challenges. The best equipped to overcome these challenges were often entrepreneurs based in minorities who held significant advantages in capital-raising and trust levels. By the interwar years productive modern business enterprise was emerging across the non-Western world. Often local and Western managerial practices were combined to produce hybrid forms of business enterprise. After 1945 many governmental policies designed to facilitate catch-up ended up crippling these emergent business enterprises without putting effective alternatives in place. The second global economy has provided more opportunities for catch up from the Rest, and has seen the rapid growth of globally competitive businesses in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This is explained not only by institutional reforms, but by new ways for business in the Rest to access knowledge and capital, including returning diaspora, business schools and management consultancies. Smarter state capitalism was also a greater source of international competitive advantage than the state intervention often seen in the past.

Groupthink: Collective Delusions in Organizations and Markets

Groupthink: Collective Delusions in Organizations and Markets

Roland Bénabou Princeton University – Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

IZA Discussion Paper No. 7322

This paper investigates collective denial and willful blindness in groups, organizations and markets. Agents with anticipatory preferences, linked through an interaction structure, choose how to interpret and recall public signals about future prospects. Wishful thinking (denial of bad news) is shown to be contagious when it is harmful to others, and self-limiting when it is beneficial. Similarly, with Kreps-Porteus preferences, willful blindness (information avoidance) spreads when it increases the risks borne by others. This general mechanism can generate multiple social cognitions of reality, and in hierarchies it implies that realism and delusion will trickle down from the leaders. The welfare analysis differentiates group morale from groupthink and identifies a fundamental tension in organizations’ attitudes toward dissent. Contagious exuberance can also seize asset markets, generating investment frenzies and crashes.

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