Category Archives: Finance

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

Paul Krugman at the New York Times reflects on a comment by “ObsessiveMathsFreak” on Finally I can see sense in the markets. Thanks ObsessiveMathsFreak!


The markets want money for cocaine and prostitutes. I am deadly serious.

Most people don’t realize that “the markets” are in reality 22-27 year old business school graduates, furiously concocting chaotic trading strategies on excel sheets and reporting to bosses perhaps 5 years senior to them. In addition, they generally possess the mentality and probably intelligence of junior cycle secondary school students. Without knowladge of these basic facts, nothing about the markets makes any sense—and with knowladge, everything does.

What the markets, bond and speculators, etc, want right now is for Ireland to give them a feel good feeling, nothing more. A single sharp, sweeping budget would do that; a four year budget plan will not. Remember that most of these guys won’t actually still be trading in four years. They’ll either have retired or will have been promoted to a position where they don’t care about Ireland anymore. Anyone that does will be a major speculator looking to short the country for massive profit.

In lieu of a proper budget, what the country can do—and what will work—is bribe senior ratings agencies owners and officials to give the country a better rating. Even a few millions spent on bumping up Ireland’s rating would save millions and possibly save the country.

Bread and circuses for the masses; cocaine and prostitutes for the markets. This can be looked on as unethical obviously, but since the entire system is unethical, unprincipled and chaotic anyway, why not just exploit that fact to do some good for the nation instead of bankrupting it in an effort to buy new BMWs for unmarried 25 year olds.



You go ObsessiveMathsFreak!

3D or Not 3D?


Confession: I saw Jaws 3D five times in the cinema. I was a young teenager and, like, IT WAS 3D!!


There were other 3D movies at the time, such as Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone with Peter Strauss that I saw multiple times because HEY! IT’S 1D BETTER THAN 2D!!!


Then I grew up.


If I was a young teen today I’d probably bet wetting myself (and hiding the evidence down the back of the bed) with the selection of 3D movies out and coming soon. Some of them, such as Toy Story 3, aren’t even dependent solely on the 3D effects.


It’s a glorious time to be 13 and a consumer of movies!


The problem for me is I’m no longer 13. I don’t care if the flat screen in front of me is displaying layered images as a story is unfolding. The whole effect reminds me of nothing “real”, but most closely resembles parralax scrolling, hailed as awesome as far back as the videogame Moon Patrol in 1982, and now in use most notably in Flash animations across an internet near you (unless you’re an adherant to the religion of Apple).


It was exhilerating to watch how smoothly a game like Turrican ran on the Commodore Amiga while it presented a background moving on several planes, depending on how far away they were supposed to be. Like WOW!


Now I don’t care. Now I’m interested only in what’s in the box. Not the box itself.


But that’s just tough on me because teens are the movie-going demographic du jour. Since I am outside that demographic, the movie studios are not targetting me nor do they care what I think of it.


For the record though, I thought it important to state my opinion: 3D is a load of crap. …at least 3D in its current (and previous) form, with required glasses , is a load of crap.

It adds nothing but a dark plastic layer between the viewer and the movie. It’s like visiting someone in prison and having to talk with them through a wall of glass. If that wall wasn’t there, even if we were still not allowed to touch or move nearer, wouldn’t we be that much closer?


It seems every electronics manufacturer in the world has staked its family silver on the mass-adoption of 3D technology. Whether we like it or not, it is coming because “they” have decided.


Allow me to make a prediction: There is a guaranteed new market crash in our future and 3D technology will play a big part in it. Nobody in anything like big numbers is going to pay cold hard cash to replace their “2D” television so they can have the privilege of watching Coronation Street or Desperate Housewives in 3D. And even if they did, they would soon get fed up with finding and cleaning and replacing their 3D glasses.

It’s just silly to believe it could be any other way.


Yet, every large multinational conglomerate, from SONY to Samsung, from Nintendo to Mitsubishi (hmm, are all of these Japanese/ Asian?)… OK, from Microsoft to every Hollywood movie studio (some also owned by some of the above), appears to be putting every ounce of their weight behind this technology.


So what happens when that techology collapses (as it will, inevitably, because as I said: It’s crap)?


Simple Solutions #2: The Greece Issue

In this series I posit some unconventional/ will-never-be-tried solutions to problems of our times.


THE PROBLEM: Greece is going bankrupt and needs money.


THE SOLUTION: Have a holiday!


Instead of giving/loaning Greece billions of euros, European governments should commit a certain percentage of their populations to take a holiday in Greece each year for the next X number of years.

eg. 10% of the Irish population will holiday in Greece over the next 3 years.
2% of Germans will holiday in Greece over the next 3 years.
3% of French people will holiday in Greece over the next 3 years.


This brings money to the people of Greece themselves, who then spend it and it filters up the chain to banks and governments.


EU countries can offer incentives to their own people to go to Greece, thus ensuring the numbers -eg. “Buy a holiday in Greece and we won’t charge you VAT on the purchase!” …this can also boost businesses in their home countries, by encouraging ‘local’ travel agent holiday purchases rather than internet sales so as to verify the deal.

Also, it lends confidence to the financial market as it is a verifiable income to the country of Greece for the next number of years.


Greek people get money and goodwill. Other Europeans get a holiday in a lovely part of the world.How bad? It sure as hell beats forking out a fortune and praying it comes back some day.


If the Greek infrastructure isn’t up to the influx of travellers well they’ll just have to build more infrastructure -and how bad will that be?



Of course this won’t be adopted because: It’s unconventional. It doesn’t directly involve single vested interest groups (eg. “The banks”, “The government”), but instead relies on individuals throughout the EU.

It seems obvious to me that the banks and the governments are the last ones to fix these problems (on their own at least), but who the hell listens to me?



How much is a billion?


1 billion = 1,000,000,000 = 1,000 million  (in European terms)


1 billion seconds = 11,574.074 days = 31.79 years (start counting now)


1 billion inches = 15,782.83 miles (roughly the distance from Dublin to New York, then back to Dublin, then back to New York, then back to Dublin, then back to New York)


1 billion people = roughly the population of the USA x 3


1 billion acres = roughly seven-and-a-half times the size of France



Gift Pricing -How much is yours?

Speaking of Two Lovers the other day reminded me of an unrelated event from a few years ago…

I asked Mrs. Rumm what she would like for Christmas. She told me a plain white gold wedding band. The one she already had was the standard gold type. She wanted a white one to go with different outfits. Or something. Who am I to question such things?

I recall buying the wedding rings with her first time around. Both of us wanted nothing other than “a plain ring”. Nothing fancy. As a result, the two rings we bought were each in the region of £40 (Irish punts). Our taste in jewellery hasn’t changed.

Now it was maybe six or seven years later… 2004ish. We had a new currency (the Euro). We had gone through an economic boom. Prices were higher. So adjusting for currencies (bring it to, say 55 euros), inflation (80ish?), a bit of greed (90ish), some more greediness (100ish), gold price fluctuations (….?) ..and a bit more on top, I estimated the absolute maximum cost such an item could possibly be would be 130 – 150 euros.

“OK,” I said. “No problem.”

Next day I entered a Jewellery Store (this sentence seems odd to me, but if I said “entered a Jewellers” it’d have a whole different connotation to my dirty mind).

“Can I help you?” enquired a pleasant-looking, well-presented male assistant in a calm voice that sounded like melted chocolate flowing over a lush carpet.

“I’m looking for a plain white gold ring for my wife,” I informed him, “Nothing fancy.”

“OK,” he smiled softly and lead me to the counter. He pulled a tray of rings from underneath. The first thing I noticed was the lack of prices.
The second thing was all these rings had something fancy about them -diamond studs, ridges, fancy engravings, etc..

Instead of jumping immediately to the vulgar issue of price, I hummed and hawed and finally asked if he had anything plainer.
“I’m really just looking for plain white gold -no decorations or anything.”

He considered this quietly and carefully before selecting one of the more plain bands from the same tray. It had only a few small indents here and there.

“Yeah, it’s not too fancy, I suppose,” I had to concede. “How much is it?”

“That one is 600 Euros,” he said as though his voice was massaging my temples.

Shocked, I couldn’t help myself.

“Six hundred!!?” I gasped.
“I told you it was for my wife,” I said, “not my girlfriend!”

Without batting an eyelid, the assistant creased his brow and nodded as though this made complete sense to him.
“I think we may have something more plain in our other store,” he confided. “I can ring them and have it here by tomorrow.”

“A simple, plain white gold ring?” I enquired, slowly turning towards the door.

“Yes yes,” he nodded.

“And how much roughly would that cost?”

He waved in the air and shook his head as though conjuring a nominal amount between old friends.

“Pah -no more than three-fifty,” he informed me, his voice having lost some of the chocolate softness.
“Come back tomorrow I’ll have it for you,” he smiled.

In truth, I almost felt bad not going back there the following day. It seemed a breach of trust somehow that instead I went down the road and bought the first one I spotted for less than two hundred -and that was difficult to find too let me tell you!

I still don’t see how it could be possible for something like that to jump to more than four-times its price in a few years. Madness I tells ya!

– – – – – – – –

Full disclosure: I can’t say for certain if the “I said wife, not girlfriend” line is truly original. It’s possible I heard it somewhere before. It sounds like something Rodney Dangerfield might have said. Either way it was fun using it. …A little disconcerting that the guy didn’t even flinch, but fun nonetheless. 🙂


I urge you to heed what I’m saying. This is serious people. The world is on the brink and we all need to row together and prop each other up where we can.

That is why I am leading a campaign for an informal whip-around for one very special person. I’m sure you have a leaky tap you were looking to replace this year or were intending to buy a steak or some lamb chops this month or maybe you felt flathulach and thought you might splash out on a new pair of shoes (?)

But before you spend those coppers in your pocket, please please please spare a thought for the chairman of the Bank of Ireland, Mr. Brian Goggin, who I just heard on the radio. He expects to earn under 2 million euros this year.

Surely we can’t let this happen to a man who took home more than 2.9 million last year. I mean, that’s a 33% paycut!!

So, if any of you are rich on redundancy or were suddenly paid part of an invoice due to you two years ago, perhaps you could mosey on over to your nearest Bank of Ireland branch (if it hasn’t been closed during the streamlined Celtic Tiger years) and put a little something in an envelope for Mr. Goggin. You can trust Bank of Ireland to know what to do with it.

Give a little now. It will help a lot.

(They’ll be back for the rest later on.)