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Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart
discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, fudge factor, George Gilder, index arbitrage, Internet Archive, margin call, Ponzi scheme, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, South Sea Bubble, The Predators' Ball, walking around money, zero-coupon bond
He had transferred the growing funds from his individual account to the new corporate entity's. He had also taken the opportunity to withdraw $30,000 in $100 bills, which he had stuflfed into a plastic shopping bag for transport back to the U.S. He carried it around with him, spending the cash on restaurants, clothes, taxis, gifts. The cash seemed to give him confidence. It was, he told Wilkis, his "walking-around money." Gleacher liked to haze his new recruit. Soon after Levine arrived at Lehman, Gleacher called him into his office and announced that a Lehman client was about to make one of the largest tender oflFers in history. Levine had never heard of the target. Gleacher wanted Levine to find an example of a similar tender offer. Levine was at a loss. He rushed around the office, frantically looking for help.
At the time, in mid-1984, no place in New York was "hotter" than the River Cafe, an elegant, exorbitantly expensive restaurant located on a barge tethered to the Brooklyn waterfront. Restaurants had suddenly become the new theater for rich New Yorkers, most on expense accounts. They were the places to see and be seen, to display the latest fashions, to impress each other with the ability to get the right table. Levine loved the trendy spots, loved using his "walking-around money" to secure the best tables. That afternoon he got a table with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline across the East River and waited for his friend. "I'm testing your loyalty," Levine began when Wilkis arrived. "Are you paying?" Wilkis nodded, feeling he had no alternative. "Good." Wilkis could easily afford it. He'd recently visited the Cayman Islands for the first time since shifting his account, and his bankers had been all smiles.
But Levine greeted the news with contempt. A half million dollars, in his eyes, wasn't nearly enough to support his newfound standard of living. From the outset, Levine had preached to other members of the ring that their spending, consumption, and lifestyles should be modest, so as not to raise questions about their incomes. But he had begun violating his own strictures almost immediately, first with his withdrawals of "walking-around money," and later with purchases of ever more extravagant status symbols. His top-of-the-line BMW had already raised colleagues' eyebrows, and that was only the beginning. Levine and his wife became regulars at many of Manhattan's most expensive restaurants. Levine usually paid in cash. He also bought her a diamond necklace. His father, Philip, received a new Jaguar. Levine began frequenting expensive, snobbish art galeries, where he was an easy target for sharp and sophisticated dealers.
Rigged Money: Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game by Lee Munson
affirmative action, asset allocation, backtesting, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, buy low sell high, California gold rush, call centre, Credit Default Swap, diversification, diversified portfolio, estate planning, fiat currency, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, follow your passion, German hyperinflation, High speed trading, housing crisis, index fund, joint-stock company, moral hazard, passive investing, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, random walk, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, too big to fail, trade route, Vanguard fund, walking around money
To put a capstone on this though, let’s take a look at the polite response from billionaire Warren Buffett who once said, “You could take all the gold that’s ever been mined, and it would fill a cube 67 feet in each direction. For what that’s worth at current gold prices, you could buy all—not some—all of the farmland in the United States. Plus, you could buy 10 ExxonMobils, plus have $1 trillion of walking-around money. Or you could have a big cube of metal.”1 I would like to add that the 67 cubic feet of gold could easily be one cubic foot, 100, or 1,000. The amount is not important here; it is the lack of production of food, useful commodities that produce energy, and money to spend on stuff. Remember that we still need dollars to buy a gallon of milk and fill our tanks at the convenience store. We can still use gold to do this, but we must first convert the gold into the home currency, or risk getting a blank stare from the guy behind the cash register.
Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
“The killer broke into his desk, as well. Pried open one of the drawers.” “The bottom drawer?” “Yes. How’d you know?” Think fast, Dave. “It was where he kept his spare cash.” “Who else would have known that?” “I don’t know.” It was of course where Shel kept the other converters. Someone else was in on the secret! “How much cash did he keep on hand?” Dave shrugged. “Just small bills. Walking-around money. It wouldn’t have been worth a break-in. Certainly not killing someone.” “You’d be surprised how little a life can be worth, Doctor. Would there have been anything else in that drawer?” “I don’t know.” “Well, whatever the killer was looking for, he found it.” “Why do you say that?” “The other drawers were untouched.” My God. A maniac loose with a converter. “Are you okay, Dr. Dryden?”
Armed Humanitarians by Nathan Hodge
Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, European colonialism, failed state, friendly fire, IFF: identification friend or foe, Khyber Pass, kremlinology, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Potemkin village, private military company, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, walking around money
A few months after the ceasefire, a fragile sort of normalcy had returned to the area, and the U.S. military had begun aiming a firehose of development funds at the southern quadrant of Sadr City. In the eleven months since the arrival of the Third Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, in Baghdad in early 2008, the unit had spent around $72 million on public works projects in and around Sadr City. It hired local contractors to pick up trash, clear backed-up sewer lines, and repair downed power lines. On patrols, infantry officers were given “walking-around money.” They were authorized to hand out $2,500 microgrants to jump-start local businesses that had lost inventory during the fighting. Seventy-two million was an astonishing amount of development money to focus on one section of one neighborhood. The United States had spent roughly the same amount on aid to all of Botswana in one year, 2008. But the “save Sadr City fund” did not end the violence.
Red Moon Rising by Matthew Brzezinski
Korolev trusted him implicitly, and on more than one occasion he had proven his loyalty and courage. Once, when a launch had misfired and the live warhead had been dislodged from its missile, dangling precariously over the pad, everyone had frozen in panic. But Voskresenskiy had calmly told Korolev, “Give me a crane, some cash, five men of my choosing, and three hours.” With wads of vodka-walking-around money bulging out of their pockets, Voskresenskiy’s men safely dismantled the one-ton warhead, after which they got royally drunk. Like a great many test pilots and other people who push safety envelopes for a living, Voskresenskiy was deeply superstitious. So when the next R-7 failed to start, not once, not twice, but on three consecutive days before sputtering out with a smoky cough on the launchpad on June 11, Voskresenskiy decided it was cursed.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
So these days I rarely left Ludus at all. I was stuck here, and stuck at third level. Having a third-level avatar was a colossal embarrassment. None of the other gunters took you seriously unless you were at least tenth level. Even though I’d been a gunter since day one, everyone still considered me a noob. It was beyond frustrating. In desperation, I’d tried to find a part-time after-school job, just to earn some walking-around money. I applied for dozens of tech support and programming jobs (mostly grunt construction work, coding parts of OASIS malls and office buildings), but it was completely hopeless. Millions of college-educated adults couldn’t get one of those jobs. The Great Recession was now entering its third decade, and unemployment was still at a record high. Even the fast-food joints in my neighborhood had a two-year waiting list for job applicants.
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein
affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, East Village, European colonialism, full employment, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, immigration reform, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, indoor plumbing, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Monroe Doctrine, New Urbanism, Own Your Own Home, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, walking around money, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog
After failing to bribe the front-runner out of the race, Joseph Kennedy called in a chit with William Randolph Hearst to keep the man’s name out of the newspaper. Another candidate, a city councilman named Joseph Russo, lost ground when Joe Kennedy hired a custodian with the same name to file. Jack Kennedy’s opponents pinned $20 bills to their lapels—“Kennedy buttons.” The joke was too cheap by more than half: the real amount of “walking around” money per Kennedy man was $50. And they called Dick Nixon the dirty one. They weren’t unfriendly, these two young Turks of the Eightieth Congress; they weren’t unlike each other. Both had lost an older brother (the charming one, the one originally destined for greatness). Both were ideologically flexible except when it came to hunting Reds; both had run as World War II veterans. When Kennedy acceded to the Senate in 1953, he drew an office across the hall from that body’s constitutional officer, and they grew friendly.