Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Small Step For Bearmaidenkind

and um, that's about it. One small step.

I called in sick from my barelyhelping factory job cuz I just couldn't face the day ruminating over shit I don't have any control over. I'll go Friday, and spend the day. I also didn't go cuz I couldn't sleep last night. Well, I couldn't get to bed. And when I finally got there, the fucking cat got on my last nerve... padding noisily around the joint, jumping on and off the radiator, jumping on my bed (which drive me nuts cuz he leaves practically another cat's worth of hair everytime he does), skating on the rug outside my bedroom door. I finally had to get up and lock him out so I could catch a half hour of sleep. Cat gets mad at me when I do this, and now probably what he'll do, like any man worth his salt, is just go stay out all night upstairs at the neighbor's. SHE lets him do anything he wants. And he knows it, the fucker, so he'll probably stay up there with her tonight, blinking his green-eyed stare at me when I try to get him to come back downstairs.

Anyway. So I didn't go to the factory. And I slept in a little just until I could think clearly, and the voices began screaming "GET UP, GET UP, and go face that which you know has to be faced!". And I did. There was something outstanding that I had to deal with, that I've been putting off since August, that I knew was going to bring up all kinds of feelings but I took the first step today in dealing with it. One, tiny step.

*sigh*. Life goes on.

Next up... everything else.

11 comments:

KELSO'S NUTS said...

TBM: I mentioned it on RDB, but I am one of THOSE HEDGE FUND BASTARDS. I founded two funds: a Russian equity and bond fund, and a pan-Emerging Markets f/x, debt and derivatives fund.

I will gladly tell you all about my experiences. And although I've used the Caymans, BVI, Republic Of Ireland, the UK, Cyprus and Delaware as domiciles for various purposes, I have NEVER broken the law. Nor have I taken advantage of any US government giveaways. Nor have I oppressed anyone. Nor did I own a summer home (I rented a nice one in Southampton). The apartment where my ex and son live, I won't lie to you, is marvelous. I've done nothing illegal or immoral to society, any government or to my limited partners. On my mother's eyes.

Whether you believe private off-shore investment vehicles for qualified investors should exist at all is another question. It is one I'd gladly discuss with you at anytime.

As you know I believe in capitalism and basically share Torrance's views on most of these subjects.

At rock bottom, having had two great-great uncles who were Bolsheviks who fought the Tsar's army in Red Oktober, only to discover that Soviet communism was just as bad as the Tsarist monarchy, I have my views on the subject. I like much of Karl Marx's philosophical teachings like "dialectical materialism" and the "theory of surplus value" but I don't accept his overrriding ideology as valid or reliable.

My view on parlour-Marxism is more harsh. I think one should nail one's colors to the mast. If you're a capitalist, great. If you're a communist,, also great, but if you're going to be a communist, be a communist. That means do what Lori Berenson did. Go to Peru. Join the Sendero Luminoso. Get some guns and shoot paramilitaries.

If you can't do that you have to shut up about communism.

Cheers,

Kelso

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Ahh, one more thing. I'm not sure if I'm an actual BASTARD or not because I never saw my parents' wedding license. I think I am one. My sister, however, is not a bastard. My parents were married when they conceived her!

I was poor as a child, not that that means squat.

The Bear Maiden said...

Communism? Who brought that up? Though I grew up in a socialist country, and read Mao Tse Tung and a little Marx and in reality don't see an awful lot wrong with principle of Communism. The way I see it, people mess it up much like they mess up anything else. Cuz I generally think people suck.

And I never said those hedge fund "bastards" broke any laws when it came to the game they were playing. Matter of fact, that's the point. From what I saw they followed the law to the letter; it's just they figured out all the work arounds. Which is fine, I guess. On the one hand, I admired the hell out of them, on the other well, I can't see how they were living made them better or nicer people.

Cuz for the immorality/nastiness of some... hey. You're right... I can't speak for all, and I guess that's what I guess for generalizing, and if you're not like that then I apologize. And when you comment on Torrance's blog I often agree with you though I think you're a little too intense but whatever. So I can't say I thought of you as being one of "them", though I sorta figured you were doing hedge funds though I had somehow missed confirmation, so thanks for confirming.

But as for my opinion of the ones I worked with???? I remain steadfast in my opinion. Nasty. Did anything they wanted and treated people any way they wanted cuz they could. Left a really really bad taste in my mouth for human beings and that industry in particular. Maybe it's just the bunch I was working with. And I'm not talking about generalized stuff. I know what I saw, I know what I heard, I know what I could and couldn't do for various reasons, I know how I and others working there were treated. I saw what they did when they partied. And I know what some of them were doing and some of it wasn't entirely legal. And maybe the bigger hedge fund players were playing by the books, but I know that certain other folk who were doing the back-office stuff were NOT. Could I prove it? Of course not. And when I left I had to sign a paper that promised I'd keep my mouth shut.

There's NO WAY I could debate the industry with you or politics cuz that's way over my head. You and me talking are like two opposite ends of the spectrum. So I can only tell you what it looks like from the bottom of the heap. It's kind of like what the slaves overheard and felt about the big wig plantation owners. The owners thought so little of the servants that they blabbed off about a lot of stuff within earshot of them cuz they took no notice of the peon fanning them, or serving them mint julips.

You're going to have a whole other point of view and justification because of where you sit. And I completely defer to your knowledge of what you do, cuz obviously you do it well. So it's not something I could really have a conversation about.

But I'm honored you stopped by :) Check back tomorrow when I describe what it's like to sit in the Food Stamp office. That's something I know all about...

Oh, and P.S. the definition of "bastard" I was using was "2. Slang. a. a vicious, despicable, or thoroughly disliked person" NOT the child of an unmarried union. But you knew that, didn't you?

KELSO'S NUTS said...

TBM: Of course, I knew what you meant by "bastard." I use the word that way all the time. I just happen to be one and a fund-manager, so I thought it was funny.

You didn't have to APOLOGIZE! I wasn't offended in the slightest. That you think I'm "too intense" is maybe a little personal but I'm not offended by that either because I'm Russian and we're intense. I'm also neither trying to impress you nor flirt with you so as long as you're not TOO critical, you have wide leeway with me.

When I was hustling I was considered very relaxed and NOT INTENSE at all for a fund manager or a professional gambler. But depsite having had a wonderful education which my father really pusheed me to get, you've heard my voice on the radio show with Torrance, I don't sound like the Duke Of Northumbria! In a lot of ways I'm kind of feral when it comes to competition and everything I've ever done has been this competitive challenge so intensity is really the only way I know. The money environment is intense intellectually and emotinally. Being liked on blogs is not a huge priority for me. Being respected for a having a good and creative opinion is. Maybe too intense for blogs but put me down in any country and I'll survive.

There are thousands of hedge funds.

The two I co-founded are run pretty lean we have the back-office stuff in one of them done i Ireland. In the other, a well-compensated office-manager handles it. I'm now a satellite coupon clipper who's available for analyses in my specialties. I work at home in Panama.

I agree with you in terms of how fund managers behave especially when they're drunk and doing coke. They are mostly greedy boneheads. I'm a pretty nice, though not very nice, not too greedy bonehead.

Both of the funds I was part of GP of were founded with an intellectual concept: the Russia play was obviouos for a millio reasons but we made our name by doing the best writing and analysis as well as returning the LPs a lot of money. I used to be a regular writer for RISK MAGAZINE in the UK on oil, debt and derivatives. Another partner wrote on Russian politis for Foreign Affairs. Another put out an international tax and corporate structure newsletter. The f/x, debt and derivatives was super-quant based.

We do a lot of conference speaking and stay Sarbanes-Oxley waived, smallish and when I was doing it day to day I wore shorts and t-shirts when it was hot and jeans and sweatshirts when it was cold. We all did. Had you worked for us, and you were interested in the subject and had developed a strategy for trading or investing, you would have been given your shot to manage a portfolio and get an objectively-calculated bonus and be on a partner track if you were any good. We're not snobs.

Every employee shared in the year end bonus pool and all had freedom to come and go as they pleased so long as their work was done. No founding partner ever spoke disrespectfully to any employee. When one developed bi-polar disorder we took care of him, his wife and family and still do. And he was "just" back-office!

I came from very humble beginnings and never think of anyone as a "peon." I was lucky and reasonably smart and had parents who pushed me. Deluxe BlueCross/BlueShield for EVERYONE including psychiatric and dental.

Our goal was to figure it out and get it right. We all still live relatively modestly. I don't have a car. I don't have jewelry. I never did. Partners all the same way. Very modest in appearance.

My proudest moment was being called an "elegant futures and debt analyst" by James Grant of GRANT'S INTEREST RATE OBSERVER. Meant more to me than money. That's where I'm at.

There are plenty of bastards in the game whom I wouldn't work with if you put a gun to my head: Leon Cooperman, Leon Levy, Joel Leff, Keith Gollust, David Gerstenhaber, David Sherman, Bill Browder Kerr Neilsen, Bjorn Carlson, Debra Schinasi, Kyle Brandon, Alan Carr, Louise Gibney, Victor Huaco, Boris Jordan, Beth Hebert, Igor Lossavio, Yuri Milner, Jeremy Barnes, Michael Katz, Al Cooper, and especially not Louis Bacon, Victor Neiderhoffer, or Randy Katzenstein.

I would be honored for the opportunity to work with John Meriwether, Myron Scholes, Barr Rosenberg, Gregory Hawkins, Dick Leahy, Doug Hirsch, Daniel Nir, George Geis, Ed Thorpe, Jim Chanos, Adam Elstein, Carsten Hoegh, Martin Stokes, Fred Berliner, Peter Kizenko, Mary Ginsberg, Julian Robertson, Peter Bernstein or Louis Ranieri.

Any of those ring a bell? I don't know how ANY of those people feel about mint juleps, however. I like mint juleps. My friend Eric from the gambling world used to throw a great Kentucky Derby party every year. He'd make homemade crawfish etouffee and serve amazing mint juleps.

Those are old school names, mostly debt, derivatives and emerging markets. I hate equities. I came of age during the Strauss-Meriwether days, when to prove yourself you had to know bonds and derviatives.

Everybody knows tax-haven work-arounds because we're dealing with very high-end international clientele. Especially with the Sarbanes-Oxley waiver.

I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I made sure the two times I started them, I was one of the bosses. I bridle under authority. Again, too bad in an earlier life you didn't interview at one of my shops. You wouldn't have been treated well, paid well, and given a shot if you were interested.

I'll stop by to say "hi" but not for tales of the food stamp office. I had my fill of chicken hearts on toast or sardines on toast and grape soda for dinner when I was a latchkey kid!

The Bear Maiden said...

You're funny, and I like you. And intense, too but that's OK cuz folk tell me I am, too.

Had I interviewed at one of your shops I probably would still be there, cuz the lure of HUGE money at the time was extremely appealing. That was the best-paid job I ever held, and everyone told me I was crazy to walk off. Which I did. It was truly, truly awful. So awful I'm actually afraid to name names, though they probably would never in a million years find me nor care to. I can't say anybody you mentioned rang a bell, but it could be that I've blocked them all out, lol. It was that painful. It was my first nervous breakdown :) The only one I do remember was SAC because I was setting them up as I was leaving.

The name Jim Kelly ring a bell?

...my sister and I joke that my mom knew 365 ways to cook sardines... I'll never eat another sardine no matter how broke I am.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

TBM:

SAC and Jim Kelly don't ring a bell. I'm guessing it stands for "Strategic Asset Corporation" if it was a Delware-domiciled Advisory or C-Corp. Could be after my time. I'm 47.

Someday when you're over the experience, we'll joke about the spots you worked and see if we knew anyone in common. You definitely would have enjoyed working at either of my places. Very laid back and as I said, it was all merit-based. You could be doing filing and clerical stuff but if you came up with a good idea which you had back-tested we'd have given you a portfolio to run and the money if you were any good would have been beyond your imagination. If your thing got a big Lipper or Micropal placing, you would have been made a partner. I'm not gassing you. NOne of us grew up with money. We were all high achievers in school and built these from scratch. Really scratch. We started the first one at the Columbia Business School library when we were 31 or so (one of the partners was a Swiss national in Hong Kong in his 50s) and a guy's apartment, and each borrowed $65,000 we didn't have at 9% non-recourse with Julius Baer et cie (Zurich) based upon the infamous Marc Rich's having taken a grandfatherly shine to us! Needed it to make our GP's capital contribution. Then we were off to the races! The GRANT'S PIECE and an interview on the WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT with the five of us plus a front page squib note in the WSJ gave us all the marketing we needed to cap the first one.

I'll save all the funny stories for another time, but believe me the business lives on and it still has the scruffy DIY style with everyone playing their favorite music and guys smoking weed during slow times and stuff like that.

And a lot of people have moved up from back office and clerical to be full-time money managers. Let's put it this way: I know I'm not saving the world but no one was ever unhappy working there and no one ever felt like a servant or a peon. We'd all do stuff like play cards or chess with everybody. Take the whole crew out to Pravda for champagne and caviar -- yes janitors, too. We'd drink at a bar that used to be in the 50th & 7th Ave station which had a great punk and vinrage hip-hop on the juke and 99c Rolling Rocks.

The only requirement for moving up was that you had to know your shit because we were perfectionists. I'd really be tough on the math. Another guy would be really tough on the historical analogs. Another guy would be tough on tax and corporate work-arounds and so forth. But we'd always let people study to get a shot in the office if their work was done. One guy who was a temp ended up managing a huge small cap Candadian metals and mining fund. One woman worked out a black box system for Central Asian Currencies. No dress code. No behavior code other than when investors showed up. Adn everyone had to get along and be polite.

One of my partners was kind of a martinet and insisted on a deluxe office. I just sat in the open space area,as did the other founding partners except the guy in Hong Kong and the guy in Russia of course. When it needed to move to London to trade, I just did it out of my flat.

As far as I know all the Americans there voted for Obama. We only hired one Republican in all the time I was there. But he was more of a libertarian. Voted for Reagan and Bush, Sr, Clinton, Clinton, Nader, the libertarian guy, and Barr this time, I think!

Trust me, if you had worked for us, your view of hedge-funds would be radically different. You wouldn't have started at less than $75,000 and if you were any good at either sales or trading you'd be up to $300,000 in short order.

I know how weird some of these places can be. A friend of mine had a horrible time at Tudor. They threatened him and his wife. I understand. But we were just like brainy adolescents really. Not mean or demanding at all. IT wasn't a real big priority for us so long as we had Bloomberg and Reuters and our laptops. Oh, there was a ton of travel.

We flew economy most of the time but stayed in nice hotels. It was always about the work and maintaining the reputation as "the intellectual Russia fund" or the "intellectual emerging markest derivatives fund". We kept the capital bases relatively small figuring we wanted small less liquid markets where our study could really pay off.

We may have been asshholes for other reasons but we never looked down on or mistreated our staff at all ever. My one quirk was in interviewing people I was very biased against people who used the word "my career". It sounded like they were not trustworthy to me and were unteachable. And I always liked candidates who would offer opinions and would hire them if I thought their math was sound. I was a nice boss in the sense that I never yelled at anyone nor asked anyone to pick up my suits at the dry cleaners and everybody could listen to whateve music they wanted on their computers. I'd never get mad. I'd get disappointed if I felt someone was insufficiently rigorous.

Depending what happens over the next year or so, I might get back into the game with them from here doing a Latin f/x debt and derivatives fund.

So, have I made the case that not all hedgefunds are alike? I know I was never nasty or immoral.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

sounds like u needed the rest sister

The Bear Maiden said...

@ Kelso Oh yeah you made your case. Wish I'd met you back then;my life would have been very very different. And Tudor rings a bell... I actually want to write about that job now but another time...

@ Torrance: I did. But I don't feel any more rested :) Just slightly accomplished.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

TBM: If you like my intensity check out my comments on Torrance's last post "Coming Round The Mountain".

The coicidences that arise between Torrance and me are just more and more bizarre.

His theme was Ron Brown's plane crash in Croatia in 96. It so happened that a friend of mine at the EBRD was also killed on that plane. We were young guys who had just gotten there. He had gotten the US directorship of the EBRD and my first fund was established. The guy's name was Lee Jackson. We were both in London for a while at the same time and became friends.

Seemed on the thread that Torrance had a personal connection to the event through Ron Brown and I did through Lee Jackson and then there was No_slappz the clown trying to needle and cajole people and get them mad and there were all of these theories of a coverup of the crash or an intentional murder of Brown. I was so distraught with Lee "merely" dying that I stopped paying attention to the story in 1996 and really hadn't thought about him in 8 years.

But this wasn't speculation either on Torrance's or my part. We had stakes in this, although it was hardly my place to turn into Lee Jackson's avenger. If I thought the USA was behind it I don't know how I would have dealt with it then.

Having to ponder that now long after the fact, is making me very upset. I'm furious with that fool No_slappz for attacking in a situation he knows nothing about but in which a real live friend of mine who was fun and did me a few favors and I did him a few and all that, just as I had gotten to be a serious player on the money side and he had on the government side.

Nobody else had any connection to these people. It could have been Ron Brown, Lee Jackson or the Bourne Supremacy for all anyone knew or cared.

I was psychologically able to turn that memory off for 8 years and now it's all I can think of. It would have been nice just in a human sense for someone who was treating this like MADDEN '08 to drop a tiny comment to me of "sorry, it must hurt to remember this." Or to Torrance as well.

If I thought about it and studied the evidence and it led me to the conclusion that Lee Jackson's death was collateral damange in a USA originated murder conspiracy for profit or public relations, how can I feel anything but hatred for America even today? How can I not hate all Americans? In a spot where people should care, Lee Jackson was meaningless.

But he wasn't. Aside from being a good guy, he was the first AFrican-American US Director of the EBRD. That's not Barack Obama but it's not bullshit either. But the title is meaningless to me. His perosnality was not. He was fun. He was the only US government person in the FSU/Eastern Bloc government banking side who was fun and interesting and lively and not all full of his own importance.

These guys are usually not intellectuals and real stuffed shirts besides. Lee was interested in all aspects of his job but more than that he liked a good joke and could tell a good joke. Both of us could pretty much get along with anybody.

Celebrity culture the USA. Guess it always will be and Lee Jackson just was not a name when he died and it doesn't mean shit to anyone that I liked him a lot. He could be dead or alive for all anyone cares. It's about whether Clinton "did it" or the Repubicans "did it" or the Serbians "did it" or the US Military "did it" as a cassus belli. I tuned out of all of that in 1996. Just the idea of him dying in an accident because of heavy rain hurt plenty.

And fool no_slappz turning this like everything else into an attack on Barack Obama of all people!

Disgraceful.

The Bear Maiden said...

I just checked in over there and yeah, there's a lot. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. And it sucks when people go suddenly like that. And then to have it re-hashed by people who don't really know anything about it.

When I was a kid I had a freind--not a close freind but someone who's name I knew, was friends with his girl, traveled in the same circle with--who was beaten to death. He probably could have survived the beating but he was also a hemophiliac. It made the news. A lot of people had a lot of things to say. Years and years later I ran into someone who didn't know him, but only the news reports and came at me with a story so jumbled and wrong it took me aback. It was an odd feeling.

So I can imagine you feel something like that, on a much larger scale, cuz ultimately what you remember--what's important is the person's smile, or that they liked to draw or a joke they told you. And the fact that they never got to grow up, or fulfill their promise in life.

Don't let the idiots rattle you. It's just they have nothing better to do...

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Thanks. And especially thanks for sharing your own story. Political debate is one thing; discussion of news events are one thing, but you're so right about the little things that make a friendship.

Funny you should mention a smile. He had an infectious one and I remember being in some super-serious meeting and seeing him smile and I was about to burst out laughing, so I excused myself.

I'm a free-speech absolutist and believe debate is healthy. But it all looks different when you know the people.