Business Briefs


POSTED: Monday, October 06, 2008


Traders smiling through the pain

On Wall Street, a black day is almost always followed by black humor.

Over the last two weeks, in trading floor jokes, finance blogs, videos circulated on YouTube and doctored photos sent by e-mail between traders, Wall Street's tradition of gallows humor has been alive and well.

Here is one example making the rounds: “;What's the difference between a Lehman trader and a pigeon? A pigeon can still make a deposit on a Ferrari.”;

A 45-slide presentation of stick figures explaining the subprime mortgage, which first circulated earlier this year, has found renewed life on the Web, as has a video of the British comedians John Bird and John Fortune explaining subprime mortgages that has been a hit on YouTube. The skit features a fictional investment banker named George Parr explaining the mortgage crisis as bankers packaging “;dodgy debts”; and then selling them off as “;structured investment vehicles.”;

Cafepress, an e-commerce firm that allows users to design images and write phrases, then have them stamped on products like T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers and buttons, has reported a boom in the sale of bailout-related merchandise.

Some favorite phrases at Cafepress: “;Laymenoff Brothers”;; “;Lehman stockholder: will work for food”;; “;venti bailout, no froth”;; and “;Merrill Lynched me.”;

“;Until recently weeks, most of the activity was political,”; said Amy Maniatis, vice president for marketing at Cafepress. “;With the bailout talk, within the last week we've seen a huge surge in uploads in socialist references, like, 'People's Republic of Wall Street,' with Paulson at the center.”;


Air crashes affect stocks differently

A major crash usually weighs heavily on an airline's stock, but the impact is felt less heavily in the share price of the plane's manufacturer, according to a recent study.

Airlines typically suffer for up to three months after a major catastrophe, compared with only a week and a half for manufacturing companies, according to San Diego State University researchers. They also found that disasters have little or no effect on the long-term pricing of any stock, according to Kuntara Pukthuanthong-Le, an SDSU finance professor who led the study.

“;We were surprised that stock was impacted as much as it was in the short-term, especially in instances where the market should have recognized that it was an accident that had occurred,”; she said.

The declines are a result of investors' anticipation of legal liability claims, which the airlines are more likely to see than the manufacturers - even if the accident was the result of equipment failure, she said.

The study looked at a sample of 174 aviation accidents around the world between 1950 and 2004.


Game-geek stereotype dispelled

Just because you're into online role-playing games, it doesn't mean you're chubby, male and covered in pimples. The game-geek stereotype has come under fire from researchers at the University of Southern California, who found that gamers are older and fitter, and that the most hard-core players are women.

“;The players aren't radically different than the general population. They are us,”; says Dmitri Williams, an assistant professor who surveyed 7,000 players of the role-playing game EverQuest II.

Just 6.6 percent of the gamers were teens, while 37 percent were in their 30s. The gamers - who averaged 23 hours of play a week - were 10 percent leaner than most Americans and said they exercised “;vigorously”; once or twice a week, more than the average American.

But the gamers' lives are not completely rosy. Twenty-two percent are obese. On average, they are 20 percent more likely to develop a substance addiction and 50 percent more likely to get depressed, according to data from Sony, which makes the game.