Thursday, February 09, 2006
Skiing in Colorado last weekend was amazing, they had so much fresh snow in the week leading up to our trip that we had perfect conditions. The midnight drive from Denver out towards Vail on Thursday night was a little stressful, but the more important drive to the airport on Monday night was a breeze, so it worked out.
Tomorrow morning I head out to Chicago to visit the office of my new employer and then spend the weekend scouting neighborhoods and getting to know the city a little better. I spent a few days over the last week building an awesome spreadsheet to inform the rent vs. buy decision, which includes remarkably accurate estimates of state and federal taxes, investment returns, and so on. The conclusion is basically that it is better to buy as long as underlying home price appreciation is greater than about 2% per year. While that is below the 3 year Chicago average, certain areas that we’ve been investigating have experienced falling prices over the last year. I think in the end the decision will come down to whether we find a better property to rent or to buy, regardless of the financials.
Yesterday in class featured two of the best comments that I’ve heard in a long time. In Entrepreneurial Management in a Turnaround Environment we had the former head of the workout group for one of the largest national banks in class. This guy looks and sounds like he could be out repossessing cars, not whole companies, and had some interesting things to say. The best story: The manager at one company they were working with told him that they better treat the company well during the workout process, because he knew which busses the banker’s kids rode to school in the morning. The guy at the bank sent the manager a picture of the manager with his mistress with a note saying that if he even spoke with his kids then he would send the picture to the manager’s father-in-law. Can you imagine having an MBA from Wharton and working in a job where getting pictures of your clients with their mistresses was a normal part of the negotiating process???
Later in Investment Management our professor explained the short sale process using an analogy to Ultimate Fighting Championship. One fighter, Tank Abbot, used to be a street fighter in California. The inherent dilemma in street fighting is deciding who should hold each fighter’s wager on the match while they fight. Abbot’s solution was to give his money to his opponent, and then take it out of his pockets after he finished beating the guy into submission. Similarly, if you’re Tank Abbot you probably don’t need collateral when someone short sells a stock, but the rest of us do.