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Showing posts from February, 2009

Palan-doozan at the Helm

In Farsi, palan–with two long ‘a’s, like the French pronunciation of Sagan – is the saddle for donkeys. Saddle for horses is zeen. Zeen is a noble product, made of leather by skilled craftsmen. Palan is made of cloth and, being exclusively for donkeys, does not require much skill. In fact, you don’t really makepalan. You sew it, stitch it from rough cloth. That is the job of a palan-dooz (plural: palan-doozan), someone who stitches palan. It is the lowest of the specialized jobs, just one notch above the unskilled laborer.

In Divan-e Shams, Rumi asks the rhetorical question: What does a palan-dooz do wherever he goes? Why, he stitches palan; that is all he knows.

Geithner is now at the Treasury. The New York Times described his plan for rescuing a banking and financial system that is brought to its knees by the over-supply of junk securities purchased with 95% financing at low interest rates: The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve plan to spend as much as $1 trillion to provide…

Indices Gone Wild

Here is a news story from the Feb 12 Financial Times about the West Texas Intermediate no longer being a reliable measure of oil prices:The global market’s most important pricing benchmark, the West Texas Intermediate crude contract, was criticised yesterday for “sending mixed and misleading price signals, not only to the market but to economic forecasters, government officials and policymakers”.

The International Energy Agency warned that “deterioration in the fragile WTI pricing mechanism would only serve to reinforce the view that the crude has become an irrevocably broken benchmark”. The damning verdict on the WTI contract, which is traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the energy watchdog of the developed world reflects concern among analysts, traders and investors in commodity indices.

Mike Witter, global head of oil research at Société Générale, said: “Brent is more representative of the global market right now and the disconnect between WTI and Brent is an issue.”Here i…

A Change in the Order

Since early January, I have been working on Vols. 4 and 5 of Speculative Capital, putting hundreds of pages of disjointed writings into a recognizable manuscript form. This is the most time-consuming part of writing a book for me, where the broad outline of the book, the title and order of the chapters, takes shape. The process involves incorporating hundreds of “notes to myself”, references to books and newspaper articles and random thoughts jotted down over the years into a coherent ensemble with well-defined chapters. The last part is especially challenging because many thoughts, at times expressed in tens of consecutive pages, could be placed under different headings with equal justification. It requires long, concentrated hours to determine the chapter headings and the text that should come under it.(It is said of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music that the scores in all his musicals are interchangeable. I would take no offense at similar charge pertaining to the text in Speculative Cap…