Friday, April 23, 2010

Henry Review Release Scheduled

The tax review will finally be released a week from this Sunday. Releasing a report on a Sunday is very weird. If that is meant to bury it, it could do just the opposite as there is less news on Sundays generally.

That's a hairy nosed wombat in the picture. Ken Henry, secretary of the Treasury and head of the tax review, is a big fan of these creatures.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another Interview

Yeah, another one. Sometime in May. Depending on ranking this is the top department in Australia. I think I need to do a different presentation than the one that failed to get a first round offer here. I think it is my presentations that are letting me down... The most impressive stuff I can show though is a very incomplete project. So not sure if that can work.

SMH Series on the Aussie Housing Market

The Sydney Morning Herald is running a series on the Australian residential property market. It looks like it will take a skeptical tone.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Europe 2010

We're beginning to make plans to go to Europe this year. Last year we planned but never went. First step is sorting out visa details for Snork Maiden. For the Schengen area we should have no problem. The French embassy website (we're not planning to go to France, or at least not mainly) says that spouses of EU citizens don't even need a visa. But even if we do it should be straightforward. We also want to visit Israel. Citizens of many countries can visit Israel without a visa. Unfortunately, citizens of Snork Maiden's country cannot. At least they have diplomatic relations with Israel... But she needs a passport valid for one year after the data of entry and so will need to apply for a new passport from her country's embassy here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Concrete Offer

So I met with the Director just now. He offered me a backstop one year regular teaching/research position if all three candidates accept the offers they made. It might take a month till we know what the outcome is. It will take about a week to get contracts to the candidates and then they will have 2-3 weeks to accept or reject...

Credit Suisse/Tremont Returns for March 2010

Credit Suisse reports similar results to HFRI for March.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Career Update

So 4 candidates were interviewed for 3 positions here in what I called my "dream job". And 3 offers have gone out but not to me! But I am still the reserve candidate if one of them turns it down. There is some possibility that two of the candidates could get other offers that they would prefer. I heard this from the "chairman" today. I know who all the candidates are and all their info and have some info on where else they interviewed. The "director" wants to meet me at 4pm tomorrow. I suppose he'll tell me this and then discuss again the possibility of some other job for me here again.

Tuesday, I had an interview in a more northerly city. Really don't know how I did and more people will be interviewed next week. There, more normally, there are 4 candidates for one position. I'm not keen on a move to northerly city to say the least. But if nothing worked out here it would be better than nothing. I'd need to get used to hot humid weather (north here of course is closer to the equator). The job also sounded very hard as they want high performance in so many areas. Top universities focus on research and low ranked universities on teaching. Each wants to see some activity in other areas but you can focus more. In mid-level universities they want excellence in everything yet your infrastructure on the research side is weaker than in the elite universities. I think it would be hard to attract good quality grad students to my area at that mid-level university, when there are only 2 people in my discipline in the huge department. Yeah, there's a business school also at the university but they don't have a grad program in econ either. At the interview I said I would look to collaborate with 2 other unis in the city on a grad program possibly and benchmark practice elsewhere. I don't think they liked that. But in the fields of the people on the committee their department might be pretty good and practices might be different than in my field. Interdisciplinary communication is always hard...

Payment Methods

I've recently done two small consultancies - one for an agency of the Cyprus government and one for a US government agency. The Cyprus people asked for my banking details and will make an electronic payment to my account (which happens to be in the US). This is the normal way of doing business in most of the developed world. The US people ask me to submit an invoice which doesn't include any banking information. So I guess they will send me a paper check all the way to Australia, which I will then have to mail all the way back to the US to my bank in New York. Two opportunities for it to get lost in the mail. Here in Australia, paper checks (or cheques in British) are very rarely used. Electronic payment through a number of methods is standard. While the US is on the cutting edge with many communications technologies this definitely doesn't apply to payment methods. Why is this? It seems that Americans think that asking for bank details is a sign of potential fraud. But I can't take money out of an account with just the account and branch number. So why would that be? And why aren't Australians worried about that?

Monday, April 12, 2010


The All Ordinaries Index is above 5000 for the first time since the financial crisis!

Friday, April 09, 2010

HFRI Preliminary Performance March 2010

It was a good month for hedge funds. The HFRX Daily Index reports a 1.38% gain for March. But the HFRI (which includes more funds) reports a 2.70% gain. The only HFRI strategy that lost money was short bias, while a couple of HFRX strategies had negative returns. Equity market neutral was a weaker strategy this month returning 0.69% (HFRI) or -0.04% (HFRX) as was merger arbitrage: 0.95% or 0.73%. All other major HFRI strategies returned from 1 to almost 4%

Another Interview...

I have an interview Tuesday in a northern state (there is only one northern state of course :)). They're putting me on a flight leaving here at 6:30am and arriving there at 8:05am. I am meant to give a presentation at 9:15am and be interviewed at 10:30am. Flight out is at 2:15pm. That's about the most rushed academic interview I will have been too. At the best of times I'm not much of a morning person. After getting up at 4:30am and flying across the country I'll probably be extra grumpy. I'm not very enthusiastic about moving to this location or this job anyway. I don't like hot and humid weather. Not if I have to get stuff done anyway. But as yet I don't have another offer and if one does materialize and this place makes me an offer it could be a bargaining chip.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

How Millennial are You?

How Millennial are You?. I only scored 19%. Which is exactly the expected score for my age (45). Having two blogs and LinkedIn and Facebook pages etc. didn't help me :( And I didn't read a newspaper in the last 24 hours. I did watch more than 1 hour of TV though. Snork Maiden scored 53% which is a year or two below the average for her age (34).

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Nicholas Retsinas on Whether to Buy or Rent

Very sensible article on home-ownership. Question is how it translates to the Australian context. House prices are extremely high here relative to incomes, but will they ever come down like they did in the US? It doesn't seem likely unless immigration slows and planning restrictions are relaxed. It's these two things that seem to be maintaining the high prices. But they could both happen.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Preliminary Report for March 2010

I might put some more numbers and charts up at the end of the month when all investments have reported, but here are numbers with some guesses included (in USD):

I still received just over two weeks salary in March and Snork Maiden got three salary payments. So current non-investment income (after tax) came in at $7,633. We spent $4,148 which is lower than last month but several hundred above our lowest spending months, when we can spend up to a thousand dollars less than this somehow or other :). Retirement accounts did better than non-retirement accounts but overall the rate of return in USD is estimated at 8.16% against 6.48% for the MSCI World Index and 6.03% for the S&P 500. Net worth reached $445k ($A485k). Our all time high was $482k, so we're getting back towards that range:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Moominmama Report March 2010

Moominmama had a positive month with good gains in stocks and commodities. The MSCI World Index rose 6.48% in March and the average equity return here about matched the index.