September 20th, 2011

A Little Advice about Financial Engineering

If someone tells you that something you cannot make any sense out of (especially if you can't make sense out of because it is "proprietary) is (a) low-risk (b) predictable and (c) bears a well-defined relationship to something you _do_ understand, you should Stay Away.

If, on top of it, a bank says they can charge pretty amazing fees (because it's Versatile! We can make it do Anything! For a price) without getting into scarily risky territory, regulators really ought to be hearing warning bells. We've been through variations on these theme several times now, and it just seems to always turn out to be a leverage, lying, or, usually, both. Which is boring, and not any of the things that we were told it was.

Electric Car Sales

There's a lot of silly (I wrote "horrifyingly stupid" earlier and have since thought better of it) electric car sales commentary. The big problem is that talking about sales without talking about availability is Not Helpful.

This is more helpful, but we really won't know anything useful about true demand for a while yet. Which this article points out. Because there really aren't that many cars out there yet. Which we were expecting to be the case at this point.

http://venturebeat.com/2011/06/01/nissan-leaf-volt-sales/

In case you are thinking, oh, those greenies, they'll take any excuse.

http://www.dnj.com/article/20110920/BUSINESS/109200325/Fast-chargers-Leaf-owners-trickle-into-state

_Four month wait_ to purchase one.

I've been suffering new car itch for months now, and waffling between replacing my Fit with another Fit (with a navigation system) and getting a Leaf (I don't want a Volt). I had new car itch for years before buying the WRX, and for years before buying the Fit, so it is unlikely that I will take action any time before the Leaf becomes widely available in 2013 or thereabouts. But I'd also be okay with getting a new Fit and switching to the Leaf after the charging infrastructure is more built out. It's an open question how well the Leaf would work for going up to Mayberry for book group, especially during cold weather.

I'm a big believer in stalling when it comes to technology (because successful stuff gets cheaper and better, and I avoid getting stuck in cul-de-sacs like the Newton). Perhaps if I wait long enough, I'll be able to buy an EV Fit.

http://gas2.org/2011/09/18/honda-shows-its-plug-in-prius-fighter-the-fit-ev/