September 15th, 2011

rogue trader at UBS

I guess we'll be adding Kweku Adoboli to the list that includes men like Jerome Kerviel and Nick Leeson. UBS may have to declare a quarterly loss but says their capitalization is Just Fine, Thank You. Efforts to avoid additional regulation in the UK are likely to be impacted.

Here is Reuters coverage:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/15/us-ubs-supervision-idUSTRE78E40N20110915

But believe me, there's _plenty_ more where that came from.

Who is up the chain from the trader?

"Maureen Miskovic took over as chief risk officer at UBS at the start of the year. ... Miskovic, who is based in Zurich and directly reports to Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel, had been head of risk at State Street from 2008 to 2010. From 1996-2002, she was chief risk officer at Lehman Brothers ... Before that she worked at Morgan Stanley. ... UK citizen Miskovic replaced Philip Lofts, a UBS veteran who was promoted to head UBS Americas. She brought in Mark Sandborn as head of risk of the investment bank, who started in April."

Usually coverage of this kind of thing thins out after the first big announcement, but it is often worth paying attention to how the details develop.

ETA: Probably better coverage here:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b6274186-dfb1-11e0-8e15-00144feabdc0.html

http://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2011-09-15/ubs-compliance-trade

This one is cool, because it isn't _just_ unauthorized trades -- it's a more general list of errors.

http://business.financialpost.com/2011/09/15/list-of-worlds-biggest-trading-debacles/

And this one points out that like Kerviel, this guy worked in backoffice (as a trade support analyst -- Kerviel was actually _in_ the compliance department at SocGen, IIRC, prior to becoming a trader).

http://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2011-09-15/kweku-adoboli

There's probably a moral here somewhere.

learning express

My town's toy store is the first store for this company:

http://www.corporate.learningexpress.com/

Which has big, long-term expansion plans:

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150274648287893

Interestingly, the company has manufacturers direct-ship to stores, not to a distribution center.

My walking partner grew up with this store as the one she got many of her toys from. While I have a serious soft spot for Little Towne toys in Littleton and the toy shop in Concord, I like Learning Express, too.

digital fabrication anecdote

This kind of thing makes me a little crazy.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/09/15/part-8-will-you-soon-be-able-to-make-amazons-kindle-at-home/

Well, _that's_ a provocative headline. And that's about all it is. Here's a bit of wisdom from this source:

http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11307?pg=all

"At a research meeting in late 2010, a primatologist studying monkey genetics took a tour of a university’s digital fabrication shop. She mentioned that her field research had stalled because a specialized plastic comb, used in DNA analysis of organic samples, had broken. The primatologist had exhausted her research budget and couldn’t afford a new one, but she happened to be carrying the old comb with her. One of the students in the shop, an architect by training, asked to borrow it. He captured its outline with a desktop scanner, and took a piece of scrap acrylic from a shelf. Booting up a laptop attached to a laser cutter, he casually asked, “How many do you want?”"

That is an _insane_ amount of machinery to deploy to save a primatologist the $50 it would cost to replace the freaking comb.

At least, that's what I think it costs for one of those. Perhaps one of my readers knows otherwise.

I don't precisely disagree with the general point being made (mass customization leads to craft-manufacture-of-the-21st-century), just the specifics of how that's going to happen and whether that has anything at all to do with consumer goods like an e-ink reader or a tablet.

(Price on the comb depends on how many wells it was wide.)

ETA:

Here's a head-desk moment:

"In the same way that personal computers have turned us all into amateur computer technicians and software administrators, so digital manufacture has the possibility of turning us all into amateur engineers who rediscover the joy of making things."

There are _so very many questions_ that one feels almost compelled to ask. Almost. But I've had those conversations and they are _never_ rewarding. I am not that spectrum-y.