Tag Archives: NY Times

The Wonderful World of TKTS

Also known as a way of buying tickets to Broadway shows that I’ve never used.

The NY Times Arts Beat blog had an interview today with Victoria Bailey, the executive director of the group that runs the TKTS booths.  Perhaps next time I’m in NYC I’ll finally have a chance to use the booths.

Wall Street Wins Again?

Coming off the news of the latest Wall Street ripoff scam, federal regulation to reign in Wall Street is foundering in Congress.  Hopefully the regulators, Administration, and Congress can get their act together to put through meaningful reform so banks don’t create multi-trillion dollar holes they need to be bailed out of again, all while making sure the individuals become filthy rich.

High Speed High Stakes

Also known as how the big Wall Street firms are like casinos.

The NY Times today had an article out today that coincidentally jives with a story I heard earlier this week from someone I work with.  Wall Street trading desks have essentially figured out how to determine what buy and sell decisions investors are making in the markets BEFORE those trades are executed and trade against them, allowing the firms to reap huge profits at the expense of regular investors.

It was July 15, and Intel, the computer chip giant, had reporting robust earnings the night before. Some investors, smelling opportunity, set out to buy shares in the semiconductor company Broadcom…The slower traders faced a quandary: If they sought to buy a large number of shares at once, they would tip their hand and risk driving up Broadcom’s price. So, as is often the case on Wall Street, they divided their orders into dozens of small batches, hoping to cover their tracks.

The slower traders began issuing buy orders. But rather than being shown to all potential sellers at the same time, some of those orders were most likely routed to a collection of high-frequency traders for just 30 milliseconds — 0.03 seconds — in what are known as flash orders. While markets are supposed to ensure transparency by showing orders to everyone simultaneously, a loophole in regulations allows marketplaces like Nasdaq to show traders some orders ahead of everyone else in exchange for a fee.

In less than half a second, high-frequency traders gained a valuable insight: the hunger for Broadcom was growing. Their computers began buying up Broadcom shares and then reselling them to the slower investors at higher prices.

The result?  The high-frequency traders ripped off the regular investors for $7,800 on $1.4 million in trades.  As a %, not a lot, but if this happens EVERY day on EVERY trade, it adds up to billions.  All because some large financial institutions have access to your orders before everyone else does, so they can bet against you to steal your money.

Japanese Cell Phone Laments Go Global

Barring the guy from Gartner Japan in this NY Times article, everyone wants a cool Japanese cell phone.  Even the folks at NPR’s On the Media did a story earlier this year.

And why not?  On some of my trips to Japan I saw color screens, text messaging, and camera phones years before they ever appeared in the US.  Despite Apple’s attempts to be the uber-cool phone of the moment, Japan’s phones are still the best representation of a digital pocket-knife.

Emracing Rationing

While I settle in to married life, I’ll resume posting articles of an interesting nature (to me, at least).  Here’s one I just read today.

A NY Times article out today argues for the use of “rationing” in health care.  The author argues that any system we work in today already rations, purely on an “ability-to-pay” basis, and recommends re-evaluating whether that makes sense in a world of expensive treatments that may provide limited “value”.

Jindal Be Bad (Why the Louisiana Gov is Wrong)

Expanding on my previous post, Sunday’s NY Times had an article about the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans and Louisiana in general and how the stimulus spent by the government to rebuild has had a major effect on the area, supporting jobs and demand.

Gov. Jindal, of course, trying to kowtow to an out-of-touch crowd trying to look after their own special interests, rejects any such help.

Nice to know the citizens of Louisiana are being served so well.

What the Stimulus Bill Does for Me

The NY Times has a great online summary of the key provisions in the stimulus bill.  I recommend perusing it, since there are some changes that you might find useful.  The highlights I saw are below:

Incentive for car buyers
Allow those who buy a new vehicle in 2009 — with a price tag of up to $49,500 — to deduct state, local and excise taxes as well as interest on their car loan. The tax break is an above-the-line deduction, which means that it can be taken even by those who do not itemize other deductions on their tax returns. The deduction begins to phase out for single tax filers with adjusted gross income of more than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Increase tax credits for residential energy efficiency improvements
Increase tax credits for purchases to make homes energy efficient, such as new furnaces or insulation, to 30 percent through 2010, for up to $1,500.

Provide coupon to convert to digital televisions
Continue the coupon program to enable households to convert from analog television transmission to digital transmission.

Provide consumers rebates for energy-efficient appliances

Expand tax incentives for residential renewable energy properties
Remove dollar caps on the 30 percent residential credit for solar thermal, geothermal and small wind property.

Equalize mass transit and parking benefits
Equalize tax-free commuter benefits provided by employers for transit and parking at $230 per month for 2009 and index both benefits to inflation. Under current rules, only $120 of the mass transit benefit and $230 of the parking benefit is tax-free.

So, if you’re looking to build a windmill or solar farm in your back yard, use public transit to get to / from work, or buy a car, this is your year.