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June 12, 2014

Goldman's top minds tackle the World Cup

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Talk about timely....

Below, excerpts from a June 5 Bloomberg Businessweek story.

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As chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, Peter Oppenheimer typically meets with central bankers, government officials, and other financial luminaries. A May 8 sitdown was considerably more enjoyable: Oppenheimer interviewed four Brazilian soccer stars for a special Goldman report on the World Cup, a quadrennial publication eagerly anticipated by clients and bank employees alike as a break from the usual econometric fare.

"I explained to them that I wasn't from a normal press outlet. I work for a bank, doing research, looking at the connectivity between markets and football," Oppenheimer says of his chat with the athletes known as Ramires, Oscar, Willian, and David Luiz. A snapshot in the report shows David Luiz, the Brazilian vice captain, with his arm around the suited, beaming banker.

The 2014 report, the fifth Goldman has released, weighs in at a substantial 67 pages. Published on May 27, The World Cup and Economics 2014 is partly tongue-in-cheek, partly rigorous, and entirely entertaining to Goldman’s international clientele. There's a "stochastic model" that predicts the final score of all 64 World Cup matches, based on a data set of all international play since 1960, as well as analyses of the athletic and economic strength of each country — mixing observations about Croatia’s hard currency debt liabilities and superstar Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Goldman rates host nation Brazil as the heavy favorite with a 48.5 percent chance. It says it will beat Argentina 3 to 1 in the final on July 13.

Most Goldman research publications are available only to paying clients. The World Cup report is posted as a free download online. "I can tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing that we write over four years gets as much attention and exposure as this publication," says Alberto Ramos, the bank's head of Latin American economic research, who wrote profiles of Mexico and Brazil.

The treatise is especially popular abroad, Hatzius says. "In Latin America, of course, it's huge," he says. "The main Brazilian evening news had a two-minute segment, which is a little scary, frankly, because now we feel like we're on the hook if Brazil ends up not winning this thing. I worry about my next trip down there." Some concern is warranted — Goldman has so far gone 0 for 4 predicting the champion.

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To reiterate, the report is free (the way we like it).

June 12, 2014 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

iKettle — "World's first WiFi kettle"

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"Boil your kettle

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using your smart phone 

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from anywhere in your home."

$167.29 (phone not included).

June 12, 2014 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Napoleon's Nightshirt

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Below, excerpts from Elaine Sciolino's May 14 New York Times story.

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A stained, V-neck cotton night shirt [above] has set off a heated family battle in France.

That's because it was worn by Napoleon Bonaparte during his final hours in May, 1821, in exile on the remote South Atlantic island of Saint Helena. The garment, which is monogrammed in red silk with a three-pointed crown atop the letter N, was preserved by Achille Archambault, the Emperor's faithful servant, along with other personal belongings, including a lock of Napoleon’s hair cut the day of his death and two monogrammed cloth bandages.

Now Archambault's descendants are at odds over these remnants of Napoleon’s final days. Just hours before they were to be auctioned off, with much fanfare, in Fontainebleau last March, one faction won an injunction preventing the sale. They claimed that their ancestor had stipulated in his will that the articles were to be kept in the family, and that Annonciade Martelli, their 83-year-old cousin, who kept them in the family home in Corsica, had no right to sell them.

The stakes — and potential profits — are significant. In the last several years, objects linked to Napoleon have attracted global interest and exorbitant prices at auction.

In 2007, a gold-encrusted sword Napoleon wore into the battle of Marengo in Italy was sold for more than $6.4 million, quadruple its estimated value, by the Osenat auction house. That same year, a letter written by Napoleon to his then-lover Josephine (later the Empress of France) sold at Christie’s in London for $556,000, five times more than had been estimated.

Despite his inglorious end, the French have long been obsessed with Napoleon, lauding him as a brilliant military and diplomatic strategist, alliance-builder, communicator and myth-maker. Every year in June, several hundreds of Napoleon fans from all around the world bring their costumes and horses to Waterloo in present-day Belgium to re-enact his defeat in 1815, from which he never recovered. And every August 15, the residents of Corsica celebrate the anniversary of Napoleon’s birth in Ajaccio, the island’s largest city.

This year, Napoleon-mania is as strong as ever. It is the 200th anniversary of his defeat at the hands of a grand coalition of several European armies; his abdication at Fontainebleau; and his exile to the island of Elba. Earlier this month, 400 enthusiasts dressed as Napoleon-era soldiers re-enacted the emperor’s arrival on the island. The British director Rupert Sanders is working on an epic about Napoleon for Warner Bros. that will portray the Emperor more as a gangster boss than a strategic genius.

"The name of the emperor remains associated with a militarily glorious time that survives as an epic despite his ultimate defeat," said Lionel Jospin, the former prime minister of France, who recently published a book on Napoleon.

June 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Microwave with AccuPop takes stress out of making popcorn

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From Popular Science: "Making popcorn is stressful: A few extra seconds and you have inedible charred chunks. Sound sensors in the new Whirlpool measure the duration between pops and adjust cooking time to ensure the perfect batch every time."

$469.

June 12, 2014 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Writing of Stones (11)

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June 12, 2014 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rubik's Cube Light

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Fully playable.

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Rechargeable via USB.

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Stays bright for two hours on a single charge (alas, not nearly long enough for me....).

$50.19.

June 12, 2014 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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