Cool Stuff

Get yourself a golden parachute: you know that you are leaving a firm, go to My Resignation and sell the information to executive recruiters the Kickstart Consultancy. For more information contact Paul Chatfield.

The pay scale is:

500GBP for positions with basic salaries from …..40,000 to 60,000GBP

750GBP for positions with basic salaries from …..60,001 to 80,000GBP

1,000GBP for positions with basic salaries from … 80,001 to 100,000GBP

1,500 for positions with basic salaries above 100,000GBP

Talk to the hand (this is soooo cool)

Came across this on Wired News: an email rejection service for those sticky moments. The service sends out a standard rejection to those you spurn. What’s even funnier is the blog that they catalogue the best emails received.

Text of their standard response

Subject: Nice to hear from you

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, this is a rejection letter. The person who gave you this email address does not want to have anything to do with you.


This is probably bad news, and many people cope with bad news in phases: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Let us help you through these:

“It must be a mistake”: Nope. You got an address in the form or, right? Well, all we here at do is send rejection notices. If you got this email address, it wasn’t an accident. No, you’ve definitely been rejected.


“Why is this happening to me?”: Well, there are two main points. First, the person you wrote to obviously had this email address ready to give you, so they probably get hit on a lot. Second, for whatever reason, that person would rather let you get this rejection letter than reject you in person. So who should you be mad at: all the other creeps who have hit on this person before you, ruining your chances; or you yourself for being too intense or scary to be let down gently? Either way, you really shouldn’t be “angry” at anyone – what good does that do?


“I promise I’ll do better next time”: Fine, great, but just not with this same person, okay? The message being sent here is pretty clear. Besides, it may not even be your “fault” – as we pointed out above, this person was hit on enough to memorize long before you came along. Maybe you’re just out of your league here. Maybe this person’s has built up walls around themselves that are just too thick to breach. Either way, don’t try again. If you do, you’re just going seem like a stalker… or worse! Go ahead an clean up your act if you think you should – just be sure to find a different audience to try it out on.


“I don’t care anymore”: Aw, we can’t leave it like that! Buck up, little nipper! It isn’t all bad! At least you were rejected in the privacy of your own email account; you had no chance to do or say anything that you would later regret; and you’ve saved the time and effort of pursuing a no-chance relationship.


Besides, you didn’t just get rejected – you’ve learned about a great new tool: After all, this is nothing personal to us. We have no beef with you, and we’d be just as pleased to serve your rejection needs as we are to serve anybody else. So if you ever need to reject somebody, be sure to tell them to write to you at


How’s that? All better now? Good. And good luck to you, buddy. Maybe next time you will get a real email address!








Video Howlers

First up old black and white TV spot for Winston’s cigarettes which must have sponsored the Flintstones cartoon on US television. Now repeat after me children “Winstons taste good, like a cigarette should” (beats the pants off Barney the Dinosaur).

The second one: well lets just say that no introduction can do this film clip from the marketing people at Rockwell Automation justice. Unbelievable.

Windoze Meeja Playa req’d

Big shout out to Ebaums World.

Security Guard with the Mirthless Smile

Comic geeks and RPG(role-playing games) dweebs are working themselves into an online frenzy because of a posting on a message board by someone with the psuedonym Mephron. RPG comic strip Maiden with the Mirthless Smile is a danger to national security because like other subversive publications like Sports Illustrated and Maxim it has a scantily clad woman on the front cover. At least this was the line fed out by a security guard who was checking baggage of ferry passengers.

Not too sure if this is part of the military/Halliburton/christian alliance conspiracy to use the cloak of terrorism to assault the comic book industry or just some tin-hat minimum wage pr!ck who got up himself. Taking comics off other people should be left in the schoolyard dude, – if they are not reading comics how will know to treat them like the social pariahs that they are. It would be worse if they were all swatting up for the Microsoft certifiable exams.

Mephron’s original posting is here, all hail the alpha dweeb.

Who is Gary Winnick (and why I am writing about him?)

You may not know Gary Winnick, but at one time the fund manager who looked after your pension probably knew his name. For two decades Gary worked at the sharp practice end of capitalism. In the 1980s he worked with Michael Milken Drexel Burnham Lambert (Drexel) selling junk bonds. These were used to finance some of the most savage slash-and-burn management takeovers in modern history.

Here’s a simplest version of it:

The ability of a company to get credit to grow depends on a number of factors including market sentiment towards the company, its industry sector and its credit rating. Junk status when a company is viewed to have fallen below investment grade material by a credit ratings agency such as Standard & Poor or Moodys.

A bond is piece of paper that can be bought and sold like a company share, however it is really an IOU, a company sold the bonds to raise money and promised to pay a set amount of interest on that money and repay it at a set time in the future. They are used by companies and governments to borrow money (you may have heard of them mentioned as gilts or t-bonds, in the UK premium bonds are a government loan but with the interest divided out via a lottery selected by a computer called ERNIE), government bonds are commonly used in a portfolio as a low risk strategy or to hedge against interest rate declines.

From a practical point of view junk status means that credit becomes more expensive, the company is considered to be a higher risk loan. Consequently, companies seeking credit and having junk status generally had a low share price and relied more on the bond markets to provide their capital requirements. Investors generally seek a higher return for higher risks so bonds from junk status companies (junk bonds) are also known by the more benign name of high-yield debt.

Anyway, somewhere along the line some bright spark (possibly Milken himself) realised that just because a company had junk status, it did not mean that it would disappear overnight. Many large household names and solid industrial performers had junk status, because they were steady but unspectacular performers. This meant that there were bargains to be had, investments providing high returns because of an unfair high risk status. Junk bonds became the new HOTNESS.

The outcomes:

– There was blood in the water and Milken was eventually prosecuted for massive corporate fraud, after Ivan Boesky ratted him out rather than take the full rap on a number of insider trading charges

– Many companies were gutted by modern-day robber barons who borrowed money to buy companies, and then paid back the debt through the placement of junk bonds and asset stripped the company. Books that outline this include Barbarians At The Gates

– Savings and Loans scandal – S&L are kind of equivalent to mutual building societies in the UK and Ireland. During the 1980’s, they were deregulated and their money poured into the stock market. This deregulation fuelled a feeding frenzy causing many S&L collapses due to fraud and speculation. Since there were regulations still on what S&l’s could invest in, merchant banks put together complex financial instruments (derivatives – so called because they are derived from something else, like orange juice and pork belly futures in the film Trading Places) that would allow them to get into the ‘high-yield debt’. Initially the idea of these derivatives was to bind just enough government investments like T-bonds (treasury bonds) into the deal so that credit ratings agencies like Standard &Poor would not rate the derivative as a junk status investment. These instruments (known as derivatives) were very arcane and complex making it virtually impossible to understand their true investment value or how they would be impacted by changes in the market. Think of the childrens story The Emperors New Clothes. If you would like to know more read Liars Poker by ex-derivatives trader Michael Lewis. The S&L mess was bailed out by the Fed.

Global Crossing

Winnick parted company with Milken before Drexel flamed out and set up an unspectacular investment company called Pacific Capital. In the mid 1990s, Winnick saw the telecoms gold rush and founded Global Crossing.

The telecoms goldrush came about due to a number of factors:

– Deregulation allowing competition in the telecommunications sector

– The rise of the Internet created an increased demand for new networks

– Sustained economic growth in the developed world and a collapse in some emerging markets and Japan meant that there was too much money chasing too little investment opportunities. Winnick raised and destroyed some 20 billion USD. Much of which would have come from pension fund managers in the US and Europe, or was invested into similar companies like Worldcom or RSL Communications (RSL COM).

– Companies pay to get their credit evaluation from the likes of Standard & Poor and Moody

Grow and the profits will come became a mantra for bankers, VCs, analysts and business leaders due to cheap capital and as a way of keeping the castle in the sky; making it exceptionally easy to sell in a new business strategy

The telecoms market came apart because:

– Too much telecoms capacity was supplied as companies rushed in to profit from the gold rush. Global Crossing and its peers built out network capacity first and thought about getting customers later

– Technology, competition and excess supply drove down prices to make the industry less profitable

– Many of the companies had the same disease of corporate corruption and creative accountancy that occurred in the 1980s in S&L and junk bonds; inflating the value of deals, booking sales before the money was in (when is a sale a sale is a question that has been of interest to accountants for years) or fabricating them as inter-carrier deals

– Accounting techniques were shockingly useless allowing Winnick and Co to distort reality

– Equity analyst hyped stocks that they privately admitted were dogs

– High yield debt was being used to finance a low-yield industry

– Much of the growth was promoted through equipment-vendor financing, which allowed the likes of Lucent, Nortel and Cisco to bill higher than normal growth-figures and artificially inflate share prices. A friend of mine who was a telecoms analyst at a brokerage in the city of London at the time of the bust was afraid that Cisco would get severely damaged because of vendor financing. He outlined an allegation that new IP-based carriers were being set up by people close to the Cisco channel, financed by equipment for equity as part of a glorified Ponzi scheme to inflate the value of Cisco

In Global Crossing, Winnick managed to extract his own position two weeks before the firms lawyers stopped internal share trading due to the companies terminal financial decline. Winnick is back in court this week and you can read all about it here. Many see Winnick as a criminal, he sees himself as a business visionary.