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Showing posts from 2009

Customer Connections - The Heart of the Hedge

By Chris McMahon While hedge funds are better known for seeking alpha than philanthropy, many channel their generosity through innovative non-profit organizations and foundations. They just do not usually talk about it. With the economy limping, charities are concerned. The 2008 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that between 2005 and 2007, charitable giving increased for nearly all high net-worth households, except for those with $5 million or more in income. The study said charitable giving dropped 9.7 percent, to $80,249, for those households in 2007 from $88,845 in 2005, after adjusting for inflation. That was before the recession.  While many fear charitable giving will decline even more in the face of the global economic downturn, hedge-fund sponsored philanthropies appear to be weathering the storm better than most. Philanthropy professionals say it is due in large part to the active participation by hedge fund leadership in such organizations. << Read th

The Year of the Ox: Is It a Bull for China?

Note: This feature length cover story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of SFO Magazine. Link to original @ SFO Magazine “At this critical juncture of countering the financial crisis, I called for perseverance, as perseverance will lead us to final victory. The dark cloud of the financial crisis will disperse. Let us work together for a more splendid future.” The Year of the Ox: Is It a Bull for China? ~ Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao In Chinese astrology, 2009 is the year of the ox, a symbol of wealth created by strength, hard work and perseverance. Those born under the sign of the ox are thought to be quiet, patient and determined. That’s an auspicious sign for China’s stimulus plan and newly resurgent economy. But those born under the sign are also thought to be stubborn, eccentric and quick to anger. As the global economic slowdown approaches the end of its second year, China’s economy appears to have pulled out of the downturn and to have don

Dear Microsoft, we're through.

This has been a long time coming, so don't act too surprised. If you remember, and I know your memory is selective, we've been through this before. First there was the disaster that was Windows '98, then the spiteful Millennium Edition and then the, what six? different versions of XP? I won't even bother talking about Vista, except to say that if anyone ever treats my parents like that again I'm gonna personally put some hurt on them; and yeah, I am talking to you. That crap about not being compatible with Linksys router is bull; whoever heard of such a thing? An operating system that's incompatible with a router. That's totally weak. And you have the nerve to charge $125 for the 'upgrade' after the mess you created? Gimme' a break. I sat through your tutorials, and while I could watch Latika for hours, and even though she says all the right things, it's a little bit late. I mean, respecting your customer base, creating products that a

Welcome to my latest effort to protect my brand and maintain my visibility on the web

It's a never ending effort to keep in front of it all. From LinkedIn , to Facebook to this blog , Picasa photos, Facebook photos and then there's the JLN Metals Website and the JLN Metals Twitter feed . It seems like I am spending as much time protecting my brands and maintaining my viability as I do accomplishing paying work. Fortunately it's been a good month; I just completed a feature story for SFO magazine on China's role in the global economic recovery, including a comparison to our economic stimulus packages and an analysis of their respective goals. I also did two stories for CME Magazine, several photo shoots and my typical freelance Web editing, ghost blogging, keyboard ninja for hire stuff. I'll check you soon, Best, CSM

Building Bridges

By Chris McMahon As a result of the proposed mandate to centrally clear standardized over-the-counter contracts, market participants are seeking new technology that makes matching and clearing trades faster and easier. Proposed regulatory changes in the over-the counter (OTC) derivatives markets may create new challenges for large financial institutions. Many OTC market participants have front- and middle-office systems that are built for the bi-lateral trading in the cash markets. Many of these systems cannot centrally clear OTC positions where the counterparty is always the exchange. Where a centrally cleared position is marked to market daily - and in most cases the profit and loss of a position is booked daily - an OTC position's profit and loss is typically only booked at expiration. << Read the story at >>

Dollar Recovery: Real or Illusionary?

Note: This feature length cover story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Futures Magazine. Dollar Recovery: Real or Illusionary? Link to original @ Futures Magazine With the U.S. dollar index trading in the low 70s through much of 2008, the Bush administration's so called 'strong dollar' policy had become a running joke. But the weak U.S. dollar served an important function, lubricating the global economy, and was one of the main propellants of the rise in commodity and equity prices. It took the bursting of the housing and credit bubbles and the resulting flight to quality to make the U.S. strong dollar policy real. "Because people needed to raise cash immediately, they panicked and liquidated the only other asset they had: their investments. And for most people, 90% of that is stocks and bonds," explains Jason Alan Jankovsky, analyst and trader for Core Financial Group. "Now everyone thinks it's the end of the world

2009 Equities Outlook: Taking Stock

Note: This feature length story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Futures Magazine. Link to original @ Futures Magazine As Americans headed into the holidays, the National Bureau of Economic Research threw a wet blank on the season by acknowledging in early December that the United States was in a recession and had been since November 2007. Retail spending crumbled and the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index declined to 38.6 in December, before falling to 37.7, an historic low, in January. Even worse, the nation's unemployment rate rose to 7.6% from 6.8% in December. Payrolls fell 598,000 and the number of unemployed increased to 11.6 million. Leading economic indicators and the major equity indexes reflected the volatility and downward trajectory of the economy, entering a precipitous decline since peaking in October 2007, when the Dow was above 14,000 and the S&P 500 traded above 1400. In late January, both indexes were down more

On the Art of a Trade

Note: This profile by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Futures Magazine. Link to original @ Futures Magazine Before Jason Alan Jankovsky became a forex trader, he traded Chicago Big Board Corn, calling his orders in to his broker, but his trading didn't really take off until he began to understand the relationship between buyers and sellers. When his broker explained the concept of short selling, it dawned on him that he could make money as the market rose or fell.  "That was a huge stepping stone to becoming a full-time trader because then every market opportunity became my market opportunity." Jankovsky was hooked. He became a registered series three broker in 1987, trading the market of the moment, switching from grains, to oil or gold. And in the days before electronic trading, it would take days or weeks for the market to make a move for him or against him.

Failure is not an Option

Note: This feature length story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Futures Magazine. Link to original @ Futures Magazine With the global equity and commodity markets in turmoil, U.S. government securities have offered a safe haven for capital, drawing in more and more domestic and non-U.S. buyers, who have pushed prices for Treasury bills, notes and bonds to all-time highs and their yields to all-time lows. It's an indication of just how panic stricken the markets have been that yields on some short-term Treasuries have gone negative, meaning that buyers are locking in an assured loss rather than facing the uncertainty of other markets. "In a panic market, the flight to quality is fierce," says independent floor broker and trader Robert J. Griffin. "Companies who have cash balances and are afraid to keep it in a bank buy T-bills for 0% [yield] just because they want that money back."

2009 Interest Rate Outlook: Less than Zero?

Note: This feature length cover story by Chris McMahon originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Futures Magazine. Link to original @ Futures Magazine Interest Rate Outlook: Less than Zero? Few would argue the fact that 2008 has been a historic year. The subprime lending crisis has lead to the edge of a global recession. Equity markets across the world have been slashed, erasing nearly a decade of gains, commodity markets have plunged and despite heroic, though occasionally comic and frequently tragic, attempts at intervention, credit markets have frozen. In the third quarter, U.S. gross domestic product was -0.5%, worse than the projected -0.3%, and unemployment levels continued to rise. As the margin calls roll in and the global deleveraging continues, investors and traders around the world are seeking a safe place to stem the bleeding and catch their breath: U.S. Treasuries. Demand has pushed bond prices to all-time highs, which of course has cut their yields