Friday, June 22, 2007

Features of the week

What a week it's been.

Subprime mortgages and collateralized debt obligations made waves on Wall Street as two Bear Stearns hedge funds collapse under the weight of their subprime-heavy CDOs. Meanwhile, the financial community worries that banks, pension funds, and hedge funds owning these instruments will have to write down the value of their holdings, spurring fears of a broader fallout from the ongoing subprime deterioration.

Violence rocked the Middle East as a sort of civil war rages on in Gaza between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. Meanwhile, a suicide truck bombing of a Baghdad mosque has left many dead and injured as the survivors wonders who is to blame for the divisive attacks.

Plus, Blackstone goes public (slightly ahead of schedule) and proceeds to surpass its $31 offering price by 13% during the first day of trading.

Read on for news of all these issues and more, as we list our features of the week.

1. Blackstone Group cashes out of its private-firm status as it lists on the NYSE for its first day of public trading. Forbes asks if buying into Blackstone now means "buying high", or near the peak of a private equity cycle.

2. Private equity firms will continue to go public, despite recent concerns over changes in tax laws which currently favor them. See, "Private equity IPOs unfazed by tax man".

3. Bear Stearns attempts to bail out one its money-losing hedge funds as worries over subprime lending and the opaque nature of the CDO market come to public attention.

4. Jim Rogers talks to Maria Bartiromo about China and commodities in this recent CNBC interview clip, courtesy of Tangibulls.com

5. Marc Faber says, "sell your Warhols and buy dollars", in a recent FT commentary. See also, Marc's recent contribution to AME Info, "Old violins are playing the last waltz".

6. Warren Buffett in a recent conversation with Charlie Rose at the recently revamped Charlie Rose website.

7. Divide and conquer: as suicide bombings in Iraq continue to take their deadly toll, Iraqis are left to wonder who is sowing the seeds of strife.

8. Rethinking crop biofuels. Plus, FT's Doug Cameron examines ethanol subsidies in the US.

9. The Economist uncovers, "The truth about recycling".

10. "China bulldozes its urban heritage". An FT Weekend report.

11. Bloomberg takes a look at the modern methods of insider trading.

12. Wilbur Ross talks about debt creation, corporate defaults, and "risk-ignored rate of return" in a recent Bloomberg interview.

13. Value investor Mohnish Pabrai recently joined Bloomberg TV in the studio to talk about his investment philosophy and the merits of investing in Berkshire Hathaway.

14. "Music & Life". Alan Watts relates music to life's "journey" in this animated clip produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Thanks, Wayne!

Have a great weekend, everybody.