Monday, July 21, 2014

Miami is the capital of Latin America

Apparently no one at the New York Times has talked to any Spanish speaker in America for the last 5 years?

Miami has gone from a place defined by Cuban-Americans to one increasingly turbocharged by a surge of well-educated, well-off South Americans in the last decade. Their growing numbers and influence, both as immigrants and as visitors, have transformed Miami’s once recession-dampened downtown, enriched its culture and magnified its allure for businesses around the world as a crossroads of the Spanish-speaking world.

1.  I’ve certainly heard tourists lament on more than one occasion that, “I never got an opportunity to practice my English in Miami!” 

2.  Miami is now the capital of Latin America. 

“It’s now the indisputable capital of Latin America,” said Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian millionaire who founded Brightstar, a global wireless distribution company based here. “The Latin economic boom in the last 10 years has led to the creation of a huge middle class in countries like Brazil, Peru and Colombia, and they look at Miami as the aspirational place to be.”

That’s why people who travel all over Latin America often headquarter in Miami.  More direct flights to Latin America from Miami than any other city in the world.

Saturday, July 19, 2014
Where the rivers come together at Harper’s Ferry

Where the rivers come together at Harper’s Ferry

Monday, July 14, 2014

How companies know everything about you (if they’re willing to pay for it)

Sam Thielman, Adweek:

…what shows you watch, whether you watch them time-shifted or live, and which ads you see and which ones you skip. Granted, some companies aren’t that sophisticated in terms of what their own personal box does, but the most impressive of them — Comcast, for example — definitely do.

This data is cross-referenced with all that information on how you spend your money that Acxiom, Experian, Argus and others provide.  [Compiling the information] down to the individual address to make a single “pod.” Using your address, it matches your [Walmart/CVS/Kmart/Target/Walgreens/etc] loyalty cards, your car registration, and your credit card data with your cable bill.

On the back of your [cable] bill, usually, there’s a little box you can check and send back in to your cable provider saying “please don’t use my data for marketing purposes,” but if you didn’t know it was there, you probably didn’t see it and you’re probably participating completely by accident.

All those discounts you get for loyalty cards are obviously going to be used to track you.  It’s hard to get upset about that.  Those discounts aren’t free.

It’s exciting from a marketing perspective — you want to make sure that you are spending your advertising dollars wisely and not wasting them.

But who thinks that Comcast is selling the data to all their viewing habits? 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Before the Bernanke Put, we had the Wilson Put

From a collection of Benjamin Graham’s magazine columns during his early career (emphasis as in original):

When the United States entered the war in April 1917, two things must have been apparent to every thinking man.  First the war was bound to be won in the end.  Secondly, as long as the war continued the entire financial resources of the country would stand solidly behind the Allies.  What else could these facts means but that every French and English loan placed in this market was absolutely safe — because either the war would be over when they matured, in which case they would easily be taken care of; or else the United States itself would assume the burden, as part of its financial aid to the Allies.  It might have been observed that our advances to France and England were running at the rate of six billions a year, while their net imports from this country were less than 4 billions.  Evidently our loans to the Allies were covering not only their purchases in this market, but their maturing obligations as well.

In the long months when the United Kingdom 5 1/2s ranged below 90 and the French Municipals sold in the “early eighties,” the writer presented these arguments to investors time and time again.  Did they dispute his reasoning?  No.  But how many took advantage of this extraordinary opportunity? Very, very few.  Most of them “did not like foreign bonds” — which meant that the handful of level headed investors who were superior to prejudice were enabled to make a veritable killing.

1.  Traders discuss the “Bernanke Put,” which is the idea that Bernanke injects liquidity into the market thus guaranteeing a minimum price.  Though not a perfect analogy, Graham believed he had found a “Wilson Put,” as President Woodrow Wilson had essentially guaranteed the credit-worthiness of French and British bonds.

2.  It sounds like a great trade, but…was it?  It does seem as if Graham had identified a good trade idea (“Wilson Put”) and presented a reasonable hypothesis for why the market was mispricing the bonds (dislike of foreign bonds).

Yet no sources of risk are identified.  A century later, I can quickly identify a few: The risk of the Allies losing had to be greater than zero: no investment analyst can perfectly handicap war probabilities from a desk on Wall Street.  Furthermore, there must have been a non-zero chance that Germany created a new weapon to win the war.   If so, the bonds go to zero.

To be fair, Graham was 23 years old at the time and new to investments.

3.  Random bit of trivia: Benjamin Graham was born in Britain and died in France.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bill Gates in the WSJ today:

there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.

Friday, July 4, 2014
Watching the Bing watchmen

Watching the Bing watchmen

Monday, June 30, 2014

This is the most exciting World Cup after group play, “statistically” speaking

world cup brazil 2014 Through the first game of group play, this was the most exciting World Cup ever.  Group play is now over — is Brazil 2014 still the most exciting World Cup?

After the conclusion of the group stage, this is still the World Cup with the most goals scored per game and least likely to have a game end in a tie.   I’ve also added a new stat: comeback wins, because watching games is more fun as a neutral when the first goal isn’t “always” going to be the decider.

Brazil 2014 features the most goals per game in group play


Here’s the chart of that:


In group play, we went from the lowest scoring South Africa 2010 to the highest in Brazil 2014.

World Cup 2014 is also the least likely to have tie games:


Just for fun, I also checked on comeback wins.  I define a comeback win as a game where the team who won the game was losing at any point.


2014 compares pretty favorably on this metric, with only 1970 and 1978 being more likely to have comeback wins.   Before the final game of group play, 2014 was on track to have more comeback wins than 70 or 78, as 25% of games up to that point had been comeback wins.  However, none of the final games in group play were comeback wins.

[Smart observers no doubt have realized that more goals per game is highly correlated with less ties and more comeback wins.   More goals means ties are less likely, and also means more comeback wins are likely (by definition, a comeback win needs at least 3 goals).]

Friday, June 20, 2014
Out for a walk.

Out for a walk.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This is the most exciting World Cup ever (so far!)

This has been an exciting World Cup so far.  How exciting?  image

The most exciting, if you go by the most goals scored per game and the least number of ties.

After the first round of group play — in other words, after each team has played one and only one game* — we compare the number of goals per game compared to previous World Cups where each team had played one and only one game.  We use data back to 1970 for comparability purposes, even though the sample size is small.


If you prefer charts to graphs:


So far 2014 is the most goals per game in modern history.  Two quick points:

1.  At this point, World Cup 2010 in South Africa had the least number of goals.   So we went from the least amount of goals (“most boring”) in 2010 to the “most exciting” in 2014.

2.  There two closest World Cups — 2002 and 1982 — both had big outliers.  In 2002, Germany destroyed Saudi Arabia 8-0.  Likewise, in 1982, Hungary scored 10 (!) against El Salvador.  Usually lots of goals by one team means it isn’t an exciting game, plus it throws off our numbers as a gauge of how exciting a game is.

So if we trimmed the excess goals, then World Cup 2014 would be even more of an outlier in terms of more goals scored per game at this point in time.

But what about ties? We know the games aren’t blowouts, but if they were all high scoring ties, then that would probably be considered a mundane World Cup.

So far, World Cup 2014 is tied with 1970 for least likely to have games end in a tie!  In 1970, there was just 1 tie, but there were half the number of games, so the percentage is the same.


In 2010, there were lots of ties AND few goals at this point in time.  The number of ties later regressed very close to the overall mean.  While the number of goals per game stayed abnormally low through group play, when 2010 reached knockout play, the goals per game were actually a bit above the mean.

So far, this has been a very exciting World Cup.  Here’s to more great games!

* By definition, these numbers do not include the Brazil vs Mexico 0-0 tie, since it was the second game for both teams.  These numbers are all apple-to-apple comparisons: first round in group play for every World Cup, teams played its second game.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eric Wynalda on why Jurgen Klinsmann cut Landon Donovan

Eric Wynalda on a radio show this morning talked about why Klinsmann cut one of the top American players:

First of all it was personal. Not a lot of people want to say that, but sometimes when you have two huge egos in a room, that’s exactly what we’re dealing with, Klinsmann has probably the biggest ego than any soccer personality that I’ve ever been around and Landon Donovan plays it off well with that big smile and all that stuff. This whole decision has nothing to do with Landon Donovan and is all about Jurgen Klinsmann.

It’s pretty obvious.  Not to mention the ridiculous comments that Klinsmann made about how the US can’t win the tournament.  What a clueless coach.