Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 1:31 PM ET

Zagat's Muni Bond Ratings

Posted By: Joshua Brown

The prospects of a Municipal Meltdown are on nearly everyone's list of potential nightmare scenarios for 2011, but whose opinions can we trust?

Since we've already learned (the hard way) that the professional ratings agencies are hopeless, how about a different approach to municipal credit insights? What if we turned to Zagat for a state-by state outlook? Can't be much worse than the non-anticipatory, bought-and-paid-for research we're relying on now...

Here's how those Zagat-style muni bond reviews might look...

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  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 12:39 PM ET

The Rise of the Hedge Funds

Posted By: John Carney

Google n-grams shows the rise of public awareness of hedge funds. What seems clear, to me, is that hedge funds are getting far more attention than they deserve and investment banks not enough, given their relative importance to the broader economy.

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  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 11:59 AM ET

Gaming The Bank Regulation System: A Primer

Posted By: John Carney

It’s eye opening to reflect that the Basel III requirements are the joint production of more than 500 representatives from 27 nations, including top regulators and central bankers. They met dozens of times this past year. They produced 440 pages of new rules.

But those rules are just as open to regulatory arbitrgage—a fancy phrase for gaming the system—as ever.

Let’s take a quick example of how a banks can easily shrink the amount of regulatory capital they need for a loan, and subsequently increase their overall leverage. \(For real finance nerds, read the OECD paper from which this example is borrowed.\)

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  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 11:18 AM ET

10 Fun Reads for Today

Posted By: James Altucher

10 Fun Reads for Today:

1.Top Ten Finance Feuds of 2010 from The Reformed Broker including Whitney Tilson vs Netflix and Bob Prechter versus reality.

2. I don't know if this is good or bad for Playboy stock, but Hefner gets engaged to a 24 year old . Mazel Tov!

3. VC Bijan Sabet's best products for 2010 .

4. For everyone who really hates me: Why I'm an Optimist .

5. I'm sure a lot of you got an iPhone for Christmas. Here's essential iPhone resources .

6.This is a relief: Delinquencies will decline in 2011 . Take that foreclosuregate!

7.Can this really be true? Is Jessica Simpson a billionaire ?

8. For everyone who is trashing the US and capitalism, knock yourself out on the most important statistic there is .

9. Another important statistic: This is called a V-shaped recovery in jobs.

10. And finally, if education is so great then why didn't you ever learn where pasta really came from?

»Read more
  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 10:28 AM ET

Christmas in America, as Viewed From Taiwan

Posted By: John Carney

Ready to be offended? The Taiwanese news animators have created this video re-imaging the Nativity in contemporary America. Mary and Joseph live in a trailer park. In a tangled bit of Chinese nationalism, Mary is impregnated by a Chinese food delivery man. At various points, we catch glimpes of Oprah Winfrey, Julian Assange and a naked Charlie Sheen running through a hotel lobby.

In short, if you are easily offended, don't watch. Otherwise, enjoy this insight into how we're seen abroad.

»Read more
  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 10:01 AM ET

What to do on Blizzards

Posted By: James Altucher

This blizzard is pretty sick. 18 inches of snow. Blustery winds.

Source: freechristmaswallpapers.net

Freezing temperatures that make you want to avoid going outside and shovel. But the critical question is: should you trade on a snow day?

I did a simple study. I loaded up all the weather data for Central Park, NYC since WW II. I looked at every day where there was more than 5 inches of snow on the ground and asked the question: were those days up days or down days.

This is a critical question for my kids. They don't want me to trade on snow days. They want me to build a snowman. Should I?

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  Monday, 27 Dec 2010 | 9:03 AM ET

Unexpected Rate Hike in China

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Blizzar-caine NYC! (CNBC via AP) New York City gets over a foot of snow and 50 mph winds. The three major New York airports are still closed. Light trading volume is anticipated at market open. (Also, anecdotally, I've never seen lightning in a snowstorm before: At first, I thought a building was on fire in Harlem as the light flashed through my window.) "A treacherous commute of lashing winds, slick streets and low visibility buffeted workers returning Monday to their post-Christmas routines as a winter storm that dumped about a foot of snow on southern New England continued crawling up the East Coast, stranding thousands of airline, bus and rail passengers." Photo roundup — from the NY Post."

Khodorkovsky Found Guilty in Russian Court, Again \(Financial Times\) Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the richest man in Russia, was found guilty in a Russian court of embezzling funds from the now-defunct Yukos, and of money laundering charges. He has just been sentenced to six more years in prison. This was his second trial. Khodorkovsky has been in prison since 2003. "Reading the verdict in the politically charged trial of a chief Kremlin foe, judge Viktor Danilkin said the court had established that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev 'carried out the embezzlement of property entrusted to the defendants.' Enclosed in a glass-and-steel courtroom cage, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev pointed ignored the judge as he read out the widely expect guilty verdict, whispering to one another and reading books and documents. A crowd of a few hundred supporters outside the courthouse chanted 'Freedom!'."

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  Thursday, 23 Dec 2010 | 7:00 PM ET

Merry Christmas From Your Friends At NetNet!

Posted By: Ash Bennington
  Thursday, 23 Dec 2010 | 6:35 PM ET

The New Reality Of Christmas Shopping

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The sands in the hour glass are slipping away and the holiday shopping season for 2010 is about to wrap up. We saw the images of the throngs of people on Black Friday and three days later Cyber Monday hit an all new high and experts were excited about the consumer coming back. Sources tell me retailers are almost near pre-recession holiday hiring levels which bode well for the companies outlook this holiday shopping season.

But did the consumer deliver? The U.S. recovery is still far from over. The real unemployment rate is hovering around 15%. So which stores did shoppers part with their money and what was the mall traffic to bag ratio like? For all this, I asked, Brian Sozzi, Research Analyst of Wall Street Strategies who specializes in the apparel/hardline goods sectors of the retail industry.

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  Thursday, 23 Dec 2010 | 12:42 PM ET

Intrade Opens a Betting Line on Brian Moynihan's Head

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Brian Moynihan
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Brian Moynihan

As of this morning, you can now bet on whether the CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, will get whacked by his board of directors.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Moynihan.

Moynihan's future at BofA now joins bets about the weather, election speculation -- and the possible observation of a" hypothetical massive scalar elementary particle "called the Higgs boson."

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