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While You Were Working – August 17

Terror on Las Ramblas, hedge funds dabbling in sports betting, quant fund crisis alert, and how renewables have become just like TARP.

4 min read

Modern Money

Las Ramblas

A tragic day on Las Ramblas (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Barcelona … mes que un cuitat

Halfway through today I was all set to write a cheeky post about Barcelona and the growing disdain the locals have for all the tourists that flood the city.

And then this happened.

Suddenly a story about locals throwing eggs at Segway-riding tourists seems plain silly.

Mrs. WYWW and I used to live in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The flat where we lived is located about 100 meters from where today’s attack took place on Las Ramblas. So yeah, I know the area very well. It is a vibrant area full of locals, immigrants, tourists, street performers and commerce. And today it is full of blood.

Nice … London … Stockholm … Charlottesville … and now Barcelona. The simplicity of these terrorist attacks makes them almost impossible to prevent. Just like it is almost impossible to prevent hate. Everyone is capable of hate. It is human nature. But the world would be a better place if everyone realized three things about hate: It should be earned. It should be personal. And it should be fleeting.

Back in 2006, my wife and I spent an amazing evening celebrating FC Barcelona’s victory over Arsenal in the Champions League Finale on the exact same stretch of Las Ramblas as the van traveled today. It was so packed with revelers that we couldn’t even make it to Plaza Catalunya. Everyone –  locals, immigrants and tourists – was celebrating together. There was no hate – just joy.

FC Barcelona’s motto is “Mes que un club,” which means “More than a club.” It is a reference to the fact that the club is about more than soccer. It is about a proud heritage and traditions that stretch far beyond the soccer pitch.

Just like Nice, London, Stockholm and Charlottesville, I expect Barcelona will bounce back from this tragedy. If anything, I think it will bounce back faster than most of those other cities. That’s because Barcelona is a magical place. The locals know it. The immigrants know it. And the tourists know it. They all know Barcelona is mes que un ciutat.

Hedge funds made a move into …. Sports betting?

It turns out some hedge funds are researching the prospect of sports betting becoming an asset class. If a fund has an algorithm that can beats the odds, then I guess it makes sense to bet on sports. Priomha Capital, one of the funds in the sports betting world, is starting to build an impressive track record:

“Priomha’s longest-running fund posted a 10.1% return—before fees—in its latest financial year, a period during which an index of global hedge funds compiled by Hedge Fund Research fell by 5.7%. As it hones its algorithms, Priomha hopes for returns of 17% in the medium term—ie, close to the targets aimed for by private-equity investors.”

Brendan Poots, Priomha’s founder, also points out that sports aren’t susceptible to the same kinds of political or economic threats that often affect regular financial markets. These days protection from those kinds of events might be just what conservative investors are looking for.

How renewable energy is just like TARP

Bankers, their lobbyists and their friends in the policymaking sector love to justify the Troubled Asset Relief Program (the government bailout that rescued many a bank during the financial crisis) by explaining how the banks have paid back the money. They even claim the government made a profit off the program.

However, when it comes to renewable energy subsidies, some of those very same individuals show much disdain for money that has been used to boost the nascent markets for wind and solar. Well, now those markets have paid for themselves … and then some. Well isn’t that an Inconvenient Truth.

On the next quant fund crisis…

Here is an interesting analysis about how the next quant fund crisis will take shape. It is pretty ugly stuff. However, it also offers a solution for how to prevent (or delay) such a crisis. And no, the solution doesn’t involve betting on sports.

WYWW Appetizers