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Posts Tagged ‘IPL

Get Shorty

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(NB: This post has references to some fancy  financial terms – like ‘assets’, ‘stock market’ and ‘destruction’. Prior knowledge of these will not help you appreciate this post in any way, but it will distract you from ‘intrinsic thought’ of the post. Understanding this thought, however, is of no material consequence. Also, this post is like 500 words too long).

People recently have demonized Credit Default Swaps by calling them ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’, ‘Offerings from the Devil’, ‘That-which-must-not-be-named’  et cetera. These innocent-little instruments, for the uninformed, started out as insurance tools to hedge (v: to protect by erecting shrubs around yourself) for people who did not have the risk appetite for their assets defaulting (i.e their value going to sh*t). It’s like the Japanese folks buying Earthquake Insurance for their houses – the premiums they pay are substantial, but the security they achieve against a future outcome which isn’t that unlikely is often worth the cost.

This is often easier said than done. Valuing the ‘cost’ is usually the toughest part. An insurance agent will use emotional blackmail (‘think about your kids’) or fake common sense (‘what good is all your dough if you’re dead’ or ‘whotcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk’) to sell you a ridiculous policy with hefty premiums. It’s a whole new ball game however if you take personal emotions/concerns out of the equation.

The subprime mess happened in the not-so-distant past, as we all know. People took home loans when they couldn’t afford them; Credit companies gave away loans when they didn’t have any real money to dole out; banks bought these loans in bunches and assumed that because the bunches looked pretty, they would all survive peacefully. Everyone was happy because ‘risk’ was being ‘magically’ ‘diversified’. When things did in fact go south, and oh did it go so wrong, a lot of finger-pointing happened in the direction of, among others, CDSs (who were, to be honest, one of the chief culprits).

In hindsight, the crisis seems inevitable because of the unsteady nature of the equilibrium. You essentially had people, who had no real business or interest in a company or a stock, betting on it going bust. Because you weren’t restricted by the market value or the number of shares, there ended up being bets of negative expectations hundreds of times worth the companies’ actual value. It seems astonishing now that we didn’t see how it was all destined to fail. But hindsight is often useless unless it involves sighting hinds.

CDSs encourage people with short (negative) views to put their money where there mouth is, irrespective of how ridiculous this idiom is. However (in an alternate universe perhaps?) if the crisis had not happened and if CDSs had not ended up being such horrible things, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the notion of ‘going short’ permeate into different facets of life.

Short thy frenemy:
This is fairly obvious. You sell/ buy CDSs on something as trivial as someone you dislike slipping on a banana peel or unintentionally passing wind not-so-silently in public; a movie flopping or earning critical acclaim (some might say they’re the same thing); someone missing a lecture or a flight; me buying Earthquake Insurance on Japanese houses – the possibilities are endless. Oh what fun.

Short yourself (… is all that you can do): **
– There’s this blokey called Trichet who’s like the head of the ECB. That’s the European Central Bank, which shares not just its abbreviation with the English Cricket Board but also the same sense of chaos, infighting and confusion (and the fact that they both depend on a ‘foreign hand‘ for success). The ECB decides what the interest rate will be for the Euro currency. This decision has pretty much nothing to do with how the Euro moves with respect to the US Dollar these days. However, whenever Trichet starts speaking at a press conference, at a dinner table or even at a coffee counter, the Euro starts falling. This happens Every.Single.Time, unless when Trichet wants it to fall – then, it dutifully shoots up. This near perfect correlation (negative correlation for the finicks) is nothing less than unbelievable, and it is a self-short opportunity just waiting to be monetized. Clearly, if there is anyone who knows what Trichet wants, the best bet would be Trichet himself – well most of the times.

– I had a fairly horrible run of luck in the Twenty20 cricket extravaganza called ‘IPL 3’ last summer, when pretty much every team I bet on ended up losing. (I take credit for shorting the Mumbai Indians and thereby ensuring that they went on to play in the final. Needless to say, I bet on them winning the final which they subsequently lost). It didn’t matter which team it was or what its form was – I had an astonishingly large miss-to-hit ratio, so much so that people kept requesting that I don’t bet on their favourite teams. Some gracious souls actually paid me to not bet at all. It’s a complex thing, shorting yourself – you start off by believing strongly that outcome A will happen. Just as you’re about to bet on A, you’re reminded of your shite track record. This immediately makes ~A (converse of A) a fool-proof certainity. On the back of this rock-solid logic, you realize that you should instead bet on ~A (since no one wants to voluntarily lose money). But the law of converse kicks in again, which means that the more likely outcome is now A … there is essentially no way out unless you truly forget what you wanted to bet on at the very beginning. It’s like you’ve just anti-Incepted yourself.

As is quite obvious, CDSs go hand in hand with speculation, gambling, pessimism (for the protection buyers), optimism (for the protection sellers) and greed. Most stock markets work on the assumption/hope that value will go up ‘in the long run‘. Sure, there are ‘Puts‘ you can buy if you have a negative view. But nothing captures negativitiy and a ruthless desire to see someone or something get destroyed as efficiently as a CDS, especially if it’s a naked short (i.e. short bets made by Traders Gone Wild). Shorting stuff requires a complete absence of morals & ethics as well as a lack of sympathy for someone else, which explains why it caught on like wildfire in the trading community.

All I want to say is – Damn you subprime crisis. I was itching to go short non-financial stuff – like this relationship between a couple who I’m convinced are going to break up – but because of your screw up, now I can’t.

My posts usually have better endings, but this isn’t one of them.

** The ‘short yourself’ bit was what prompted this whole post.

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Written by sujaybedekar

December 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I proud to be Indian

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There’s this thing people keep talking about called momentum. School kids are quick to define it as “m x v bar” and get done with it. Sports commentators, however, go on and on about how important a factor it is, apart from luck, form and ability (in that order). And after watching yesterday’s IPL T20 Mumbai Indians v/s Chennai Super Kings match, I think I can safely say –

Master and the Mauler

The performance by Mumbai was almost faultless. It was, to quote Ravi Shastri (and I apologize rightaway and in advance too) a good toss to win. As expected, Mumbai decided to field first. Shaun Pollock gave a masterclass (4-1-9-1) in how to bowl in the right areas with the pitch having something in it for those willing to bend their backs. He showed why bowlers like him and McGrath are like wine – they age with time and only get better as the years go by’. He also debunked the theory that people should retire once they are past their prime, because clearly, form is temporary, class is permanent. The ‘special one’ from Delhi – Ashish Nehra – was not too bad either. The Dhawal Kulkarni kid bowled well too, except for the last over where the occasion got to him and he showed that he needed some more experience. But in hindsight, it was a good thing that Chennai got to 150.

What followed next was pure magic. Entertainment of the highest order. I remember reading somewhere about Sanath Jayasuriya’s admiration for Sachin Tendulkar, and he mentioned after the match how reassuring it was to have someone like Sachin at the other end. The sixes he hit (eleven in all) so easily with those treetrunk-like arms went longer than just into the crowd – they justified why Mukesbhai was willing to rely so much on his ability that he shelled out $900,000 for him. They also validated why he was considered to be the best opening batsmen in the subcontinent (and possibly the world) for a very long time.

At the risk of sounding cheesy and so very Tendlya-obsessed, I must say that it was Sachin who made all the difference. There was a certain confidence in the team, the way they stuck to the plan, how they fielded well and batted brilliantly. This could not have come from anywhere else but their el Kapitan. His mere presence was like a tonic for all the Men in Blue.

I hark back to the 1998 series in Sharjah v/s Australia when Sachin played what was probably his best ODI innings ever. I remember Tony Greig going bonkers in the commentator’s box and gushing over and over – “Oh what a player. What a fantastic player.” It’s more that ten years (!) since that happened, but the admiration for Sachin has not dimmed one bit. ‘Soorya’ is 38 right now, and it seems like he could easily play for a decade more. Maybe Sachin’s (he’s only 34 :P) resolve to play in the next World Cup (in 2011 IN INDIA!) is not as unrealistic as some people are so eager to say. Here’s hoping that he plays on and on, and that the Indians keep on winning! 🙂

Written by sujaybedekar

May 15, 2008 at 11:54 am

Posted in cricket

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Kirket-Shirket haay rabba

with 3 comments

Random thoughts mostly disconnected regarding the ongoing IPL Twenty20 tournament:

The T.V. series ‘Heroes’ got it spot on when it urged people to Save the cheerleader. I say to Mallya – go one step forward and bring back the cheerleaders to Mumbai. Just can’t seem to get enough 🙂

SRK had said that if the Bongla Knight Riders screwed up, all he’ll need to do is dance in a few more marriages. Well …. mwuhhuhhaahaaaah *evil laughter*

Mumbai need to realise that Nehra has bowled his best, and should be dropped before he gets back to sucking and bowling low full tosses. They also need to realise that one cannot spread the cheer by having boys-who-look-girly gyrating to arbit songs.

(Ed: Nehra’s Man of the Match performance vs Jaipur notwithstanding, I still think he has been a bad buy)

Rajasthan is owned by the son of Rupert Murdoch, apparently. Smart people, these Murdochs.

(Ed: Jaipooriyans no match for Mumbaikars though!)

Chennai has all the batsmen money could buy, leaving no money to buy bowlers.

Delhi are nothing without Virender She-wag, Gambeer and Daa-won. McGrath is still a cut above everyone else.

The Deccan Chargers are like the Indian cricket team of 2001-02. Lots of stars, pathetic team overall. Rohit Sharma is truly magnificient – the best thing to come out of this whole IPL megashow. I still can’t comprehend why Mumbai didn’t pick him. Laxman’s renouncement of icon status proved to be Deccan’s stumbling block – you can’t but reward such a ‘noble’ gesture. But what this effectively means is that Laxman is a permanent fixture. And why they insist(ed) on picking Venugopal Rao is totally unfathomable.

Crybaby

Mohali KXP need to shield their players from Preity Zinta lest she satisfy her urge to bearhug everyone like one would coddle with a puppy. And Sreesanth needs to go and find his balls before bowling any – seriously? crying? And that too on Zinta’s arms?! And what’s this I hear about the junior players being shifted from a 5-star hotel to a local place to accomodate Preity’s friends? :O. Their cheerleaders are nice, though.

Almost forgot the Bengalurus (cricketers, that is)- probably because they are quite forgettable. The fact that Wasim Jaffer is one of their leading run scorers should be sufficient indication towards the misplaced ideas of Rahul Dravid. The story goes, The true Cheerleadersthat Mallya was congratulated by family and (girl)friends on assembling an awesome team, and was reminded that Twenty20 means that the entire team gets to play 20 overs, not 20 overs-per-player. On telling this to Dravid, Da’ Wall replied – “Anyone who can master test cricket can play in any format of the game. Twenty20 is all Moh-maaya. Pass the rasam.” Must mention that Katrina looks very pretty in Bangalore Red – it’s only the prospect of her coming on screen that makes me hope that Dravid slogs one over extra cover.

And lastly the most prominent aspect of the IPL coverage – the commentary! You aren’t allowed to say sixes – you have to say DLF Maximum Sixes, even if the ball barely clears the boundary. Every six is a contender for some DLF Super sixes contest which nobody really bothers to explain. When Sehwag hits a six, the commentator (Robin Jackman I think) goes – ” That’s the hundreth six of the … no wait … the sixth hundred of the … <blank>”.

The baap of all commentary gaffes / gems (depending on your PoV) has to be the wacky Paki Rameez Raja who can’t stop fantasizing about how bandied Mohd Asif is as part of his injury recovery. That is of course before he starts admiring Dwayne Bravo’s Complete Package. He doesn’t shy away from making up words when he says ‘XYZ is unorthodoxily built’. He greets Shoaib Malik’s boundary with this absolute gem – “He’s slapped one thorugh the offside… (pause) …of late I shouldn’t be saying that, slap has become controversial. He’s hit it hard through the offside.”

Arun Lal cannot make up his mind about which cliche to use, and ends up uttering the most arbit word combinations ever – “The Royal Challengers are doddering along like a dodo”.

Ravi Shastri elaborates on the enigma called Afridi who has been a teenager almost all his life until now, when suddenly the scorer says he’s 28! – “He made [the fastest ODI] 100 when he was 16 and then was in his teens for quite a while

And (I shit you not) Ranjit Fernando puts the icing on the foot-in-mouth cake when he says – “The Chennai bench looks very relaxed … blah blah blah …. they haven’t been pregnant for some time”.

Well, some one better do something to rectify that. After all, as the spot boy- turned leg spinner- turned commentator L. Sivaramakrishnan says – “it is a hard man’s game – that is why it’s a profession.”

I’m loving it 🙂

Written by sujaybedekar

May 9, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Sports, tv

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