5 Quirks of Chinese Colleagues

Every office has their winners, but here are just a few of the goofy things you might encounter while working with Chinese colleagues. Those with China experience, definitely sound off at the bottom here.

1) Now while I’m sure what I eat in the office gives my colleagues room for pause as well, there are a few things that should never happen. Probably number one on my list thus far is eating hot dogs on a stick and milk for breakfast.

A close second is eating spicy peppers on the hottest days of the summer, both so that they sweat to cool off and also so they breathe more heavily so their mouth cools down too. It’s all about balancing their Qi, I am told. Which brings me to number 2.

2) There is no need for a Qi or FengShui App on your smartphone to help you with your work. If you are following your Qi app that is telling you to drink chrysanthemum tea in the late morning because your inner temperature is too cool, I’m going to go ahead and argue that you’ve got a shedload more to study about this whole Qi thing before you call yourself an expert.

Equity Risk Premiums (ERP) and Stocks: Bullish or Bearish Indicator

If you have been following my blog postings, you are probably aware that I have an obsession with equity risk premiums (ERP), and have done an annual survey paper on the topic  every year since 2008 (with the 2013 update here). I also post a monthly update for the ERP for the S&P 500 at the start of the month on my website. As a consequence, my attention was drawn to a post by Fernando Duarte and Carlo Rosa, economists at the Fed in New York, on the topic.

They argue that equity risk premiums are at historic highs, primarily because the US treasury rates are low, and note that these high equity risk premiums are a precursor to good stock returns in the future. I don’t disagree with their authors that equity risk premiums are high, relative to history and that the low risk free rate is in large part responsible these large premiums, but I am less sanguine about using the ERP as a market timing device, especially at this time in history.

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Rand Paul GOES OFF at Apple Hearing

This is just fantastic. After sitting through Carl Levin and John McCain spewing a bunch of nonsense about how Apple doesn't pay enough taxes (despite being the #3 taxpaying company in America behind ExxonMobil and Chevron), Rand Paul lit them up about what a travesty it was to blame Apple for doing the same thing every American taxpayer does, for how our convoluted tax code actually chases money overseas, and how Congress owes Apple an apology for wasting their time. He then pointed out just how bad our corporate tax code really is and proposed a permanent 5% repatriation tax on cash held overseas. This is excellent stuff:

What wallet and watch are you using?

My friend in the industry is asking me to get a new watch and a new wallet to suit the financial industry image. He says please get a branded wallet and watch. Currently I am using a casio g-shock and a wallet that costs less than $100 given by friends on my birthday.

He says image is very important and for watches, he asked me to look at swiss watches like omega and for wallets, consider bottega. I looked at their prices online and was like wow.

Vacation Days

I was surprised that my offer letter said that I will get several weeks of vacation days.

Is this for real, or would I anger people by actually using these days?

Apple Tax

I don't know why I find this funny:

Senate investigators accuse Apple of wiring together a complicated system to shield billions of dollars in international profits from both U.S. and foreign tax collectors.
A report released ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s inaugural Capitol Hill appearance Tuesday alleges the tech giant took advantage of numerous U.S. tax loopholes and avoided U.S. taxes on $44 billion in offshore, taxable income between 2009 and 2012 — a characterization Apple flatly rejects.

From "Senate investigators: Apple sheltered $44 billion from taxes"

What do you think?

2013 Bonus Season

So what do you guys think? Fees have been revived a little bit in the LTM, particularly with the huge deals in Q1'13. Are we going to see an increase from the weak bonuses of last year?

SAC Against the Ropes

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Stevie Cohen and his crew, and the situation is growing more "fluid" with each passing day. I kinda kept one eye on it all weekend after the somewhat cryptic announcement on Friday that SAC would no longer be "fully" cooperating with the government's investigation into insider trading at the fund.

Then came the announcement that Cohen himself had been subpoenaed, and the previous announcement was interpreted to mean that he planned to take the Fifth rather than testify before a grand jury.

Now the rumor is that Cohen may be cutting a deal with the feds that would close the fund to outside investors altogether. This deal would include an admission of guilt on the part of SAC in exchange for deferred prosecution (meaning no criminal liability unless the firm were to break the law again).

Contemplating ING US (VOYA)

Ran into ING US (VOYA) while hunting for cheap price to book investments. It has turned into a bit more interesting than just that metric and indeed may be an aig-style investment.

A background:
ING US is a financial services company that until recently was part of the Dutch company ING Groep NV. It, like many global financial services companies, went to the brink of catastrophe in 2008 and more specifically received a $13.5B tarp-like capital injection from the the Dutch State. Since then, ING has been selling assets to repay the bailout, most recently with the IPO of ING US (to be renamed
VOYA Financial in 2014).

Key points of a long view here include: 1) forced selling by ING's parent 2) a stabilizing retirement, insurance & asset management business:

What happened in the stock/bond markets last week (5/13-5/17)

Stock Market Analysis

Conclusions: The Dow and the S&P 500 hit new record highs last week. The Dow surged 1.6% while the S&P jumped 2%. The excitement extended to small cap stocks as well. In spite of the big jump in the indexes, only 19 stocks advanced for every 13 stocks that fell, however, 914 stocks hit new highs and only 74 hit new lows. In the words of Phil Robertson, everybody (but the bears) was “Happy, happy, happy.”

If I NEED 5 hours of sleep to function......

Should I even bother with investment banking at the bulge brackets if I know that I need at least 5 hours of sleep every night in order to function properly?

Transitioning from AM to PE

I'm hoping to get a few experienced opinions about transitioning from AM to PE through an MBA.

I have been working in the business development and client service department for a top asset management firm for two years focusing mostly on our private funds. Prior to this, I worked at a boutique consulting firm for a little over a year. I was recently accepted to a top 10 part-time MBA program and while I fully understand the additional hurdles of a PT program vs. FT, I felt that it was a better fit for my career.

Once I get my MBA I would like to be working in PE; however, I am unsure of the best path to get there. Capital raising (CR) is the most logical path, but I would like to be more involved with negotiations and deal structuring.