jm + finance   11

Can The Best Financial Tips Fit On An Index Card? : All Tech Considered : NPR
'A couple of years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack did an online video chat with personal finance writer Helaine Olen. The topic was how regular people get steered into bad investments by financial advisers. Pollack said that the best personal finance advice "can fit on a 3-by-5 index card, and is available for free in the library — so if you're paying someone for advice, almost by definition, you're probably getting the wrong advice, because the correct advice is so straightforward." After they posted the video, the emails started pouring in — people wanted to know, where could they get this index card? What was this fantastic yet simple advice for managing their money?'

These seem like pretty solid tips, and relatively portable to the Irish markets too. I need to take a look at this stuff...
finance  money  advice  npr  401k  pensions  financial-advisors 
18 days ago by jm
How the banks ignored the lessons of the crash
First of all, banks could be chopped up into units that can safely go bust – meaning they could never blackmail us again. Banks should not have multiple activities going on under one roof with inherent conflicts of interest. Banks should not be allowed to build, sell or own overly complex financial products – clients should be able to comprehend what they buy and investors understand the balance sheet. Finally, the penalty should land on the same head as the bonus, meaning nobody should have more reason to lie awake at night worrying over the risks to the bank’s capital or reputation than the bankers themselves. You might expect all major political parties to have come out by now with their vision of a stable and productive financial sector. But this is not what has happened.
banks  banking  guardian  finance  europe  eu  crash  history 
september 2015 by jm
Nanex: "The stock market is rigged" [by HFTs]
All this evidence points to one inescapable conclusion: the order cancellations and trade executions just before, and during the trader's order were not a coincidence. This is premeditated, programmed theft, plain and simple. Michael Lewis probably said it best when he told 60 Minutes that the stock market is rigged.

Nanex have had enough, basically. Mad stuff.
hft  stocks  finance  market  trading  nanex  60-minutes  michael-lewis  scams  sec  regulation  low-latency  exploits  hacks 
july 2014 by jm
Why dispute resolution is hard
Good stuff (as usual) from Ross Anderson and Stephen Murdoch.

'Today we release a paper on security protocols and evidence which analyses why dispute resolution mechanisms in electronic systems often don’t work very well. On this blog we’ve noted many many problems with EMV (Chip and PIN), as well as other systems from curfew tags to digital tachographs. Time and again we find that electronic systems are truly awful for courts to deal with. Why?
The main reason, we observed, is that their dispute resolution aspects were never properly designed, built and tested. The firms that delivered the main production systems assumed, or hoped, that because some audit data were available, lawyers would be able to use them somehow.
As you’d expect, all sorts of things go wrong. We derive some principles, and show how these are also violated by new systems ranging from phone banking through overlay payments to Bitcoin. We also propose some enhancements to the EMV protocol which would make it easier to resolve disputes over Chip and PIN transactions.'
finance  security  ross-anderson  emv  bitcoin  chip-and-pin  banking  architecture  verification  vvat  logging 
february 2014 by jm
Excel, untestability, and the reliability of quants
Wow, this is a great software-quality story -- I knew Excel was the most widely used programming environment out there, but this is a factor I'd overlooked:

In his remarks on the final panel, Frank Partnoy mentioned something I missed when it came out a few weeks ago: the role of Microsoft Excel in the “London Whale” trading debacle. [..] To summarize: JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office needed a new value-at-risk (VaR) model for the synthetic credit portfolio (the one that blew up) and assigned a quantitative whiz [...] to create it. The new model “operated through a series of Excel spreadsheets, which had to be completed manually, by a process of copying and pasting data from one spreadsheet to another.” The internal Model Review Group identified this problem as well as a few others, but approved the model, while saying that it should be automated and another significant flaw should be fixed. After the London Whale trade blew up, the Model Review Group discovered that the model had not been automated and found several other errors. Most spectacularly, “After subtracting the old rate from the new rate, the spreadsheet divided by their sum instead of their average, as the modeler had intended. This error likely had the effect of muting volatility by a factor of two and of lowering the VaR ...”

I write periodically about the perils of bad software in the business world in general and the financial industry in particular, by which I usually mean back-end enterprise software that is poorly designed, insufficiently tested, and dangerously error-prone. But this is something different. [...] While Excel the program is reasonably robust, the spreadsheets that people create with Excel are incredibly fragile. There is no way to trace where your data come from, there’s no audit trail (so you can overtype numbers and not know it), and there’s no easy way to test spreadsheets, for starters. The biggest problem is that anyone can create Excel spreadsheets -- badly. Because it’s so easy to use, the creation of even important spreadsheets is not restricted to people who understand programming and do it in a methodical, well-documented way.

This is why the JPMorgan VaR model is the rule, not the exception: manual data entry, manual copy-and-paste, and formula errors. This is another important reason why you should pause whenever you hear that banks’ quantitative experts are smarter than Einstein, or that sophisticated risk management technology can protect banks from blowing up. At the end of the day, it’s all software. While all software breaks occasionally, Excel spreadsheets break all the time. But they don’t tell you when they break: they just give you the wrong number.
excel  reliability  software  coding  ides  jpmorgan  value-at-risk  finance  london-whale  quants  spreadsheets  unit-tests  testability  testing 
april 2013 by jm
Colm McCarthy: This burden of bank debt is simply not sustainable
Powerful burn-the-bondholders editorial from Colm McCarthy in the Indo. 'No other eurozone member has incurred bank-related debt under ECB duress. There are no provisions in the Maastricht Treaty, in the Stability and Growth Pact or in any other pact or international treaty which grant this power to the ECB, nor was any eurozone member state ever asked to accede to such an arrangement. Commissioner Rehn's Latin phrase ("pacta sunt servanda") has no pact to refer to, insofar as these imposed debts are concerned. Ireland never signed a pact or treaty which empowered the ECB to behave in this fashion. One can only speculate as to the ECB's motives, since it does not deign to explain. European banks have come to rely heavily on unsecured bond financing and the ECB may have felt that no bank bondholder should suffer losses, in order to encourage the survival of this market in bank debt. If this was the motive, the policy is being paid for, not by the ECB, but by Irish taxpayers and sovereign bondholders and financed by European taxpayers and the IMF. There is no pact which confers powers of taxation on the ECB.'
bondholders  ireland  finance  colm-mccarthy  bailout 
march 2012 by jm
How would my finances change if euro collapsed? - RTÉ News
RTE's sketch of the repercussions of a Euro collapse for Irish consumers. basically: you won't have any finances, particularly if you have a mortgage
ireland  euro  disaster  rte  finance  money  mortgages 
december 2011 by jm
Permanent TSB's tracker-mortgage paydown option isn't such a good deal after all
'it might be in your interest if you have a tracker mortgage and are unable to get a better rate of interest on the €5,000 that you are being tempted to repay PTSB. You can get up to 4.2% from PTSB deposit accounts, 9.7% from 10-year Irish sovereign bonds, 9% from residential property. Yet PTSB is prepared to give you less than a measly 2% over a five year period on your €5,000 repayment.'
ptsb  permanent-tsb  finance  money  mortgages  tracker-mortgage  investment  from delicious
april 2011 by jm
Ross Anderson and Steven J Murdoch rip into Verified By VISA
'this is yet another case where security economics trumps security engineering, but in a predatory way that leaves cardholders less secure.'
verified-by-visa  security  phishing  web  banks  banking  money  authentication  finance  visa  3dsecure  papers  from delicious
february 2010 by jm

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