Please Stop Disparaging Casinos

It is popular sentiment to compare Wall Street to a Casino and that is grossly unfair and inaccurate. If the Bellagio acted as Wall Street does, one would witness the following:

1. At the poker table there would be one player working for Goldman Sachs(GS). The dealer would be working for GS as well and the rest of the players at the table would be the retail investors. Now the dealer would be a pro mechanic; he would toss the GS player all the great cards. The player from GS would be given a line of credit from the dealer and would be allowed to bet $50 for every $1 he had. Now the player from GS would win almost every hand but the mechanic would sometimes get unlucky. Occasionally a retail player at the table would draw a straight flush beating the regular 4-of-a-kind that the player from GS would get. The player from GS would of course call all in and lose 50 times what he had. Because he couldn’t pay he would get the casino staff to shakedown every retail player in the casino as well as every citizen of Las Vegas to make up the loss he just incurred allowing him to continue playing. On top of that he would take a percentage of the shakedown as his bonus at the end of the year.

2. The blackjack table is being run by an employee of Morgan Stanley(MS). There is also a player at the table from MS. The dealer shuffles the deck but instead putting it face down he gets to see every card that is coming. When he sees that the cards will be good for the MS player he nods once. The MS player puts all his chips in. When he sees that the cards are going to be good for the dealer he nods twice the MS player puts a token bet on and the dealer takes the money from the retail players. When he sees that the cards favor the retail players, he reshuffles.

3. At the roulette table the croupier would be named Bernie Madoff(BM). Now in this casino the roulette tables are independent of the casino. They are overseen by the casino to make sure they are honest but they are independent. At BM’s table there is a 3 foot blinder around the roulette wheel and no one can see where the ball lands. BM attracts you to his table by saying nobody wins more than at his table. People place their bets but there is one rule, once they place their bets they can’t have the winning back for a year. True to his word though everyone wins. They place their bets, he rolls the wheel looking over the blinder and announces that there is a winner. There is rarely a loser and in fact, at one point on 1 wheel spin with 1 ball, 4 numbers win. Now the Casino does have cameras watching every roll of the wheel but they don’t mind. BM pays them 10 times the amount the other roulette tables pay so they don’t care. Even when the blinder accidentally falls and BM is proven to be cheating, the reports to the pit boss fall on deaf ears.

4. The sport book table is run by Citibank(C). Here retail gamblers would place their bets on the data they knew about the horses. They would study which ones were fastest in their previous races, which ones ran better in the particular weather of the upcoming race and which jockey had a history of doing well in the particular situation. Some folks call this sort of analysis fundamental analysis. They would look at the balance sheet of each horse and bet on the appropriate one. After the race starts, the most bets would be on horses 3, 5 and 9 for example. No one would bet on horse 2 because his balance sheet was confusing and appeared toxic. On the back straight horse 2 would enter into a stunning full sprint and at the halfway point take the lead only to completely shut down at the final turn and actually fall over and die before crossing the finish line from a toxic overdose of some performance injection the jockey gave him at the start of the race. The race would finish 5, 9, 3 and the retail gamblers would think they have won. But no, the casino changed the rules of the race right after the start and as it turns out the race was cut to the halfway point whereas it happens horse 2 was in the lead. All those who bet on 2 won and everyone else paid up. The fact that the race would be changed and the horse would be injected with coke, adrenaline and heroin was not public knowledge. As always though, the only guy going to pay out window with the winning ticket would be an employee of C.

5. This casino would have a new type of gambling area where a retail gambler could bet on the performance of other gamblers, or the performance of a group of gamblers. This area is run by JP Morgan (JPM). What JPM would do is pick a few gamblers off the street and give each of them a low interest loan to gamble with. Some of these people would be homeless, some would be uneducated and some would be non-English speakers who didn’t know how to play any gambling games. JPM would create pools of these gamblers that were completely opaque. Then they would get the casino risk staff to provide a “free casino” ratings assessment on the pools of players. Invariably the odds of these pools failing were small because not everyone would lose in this casino right? The pool would be given a rating by the casino, the highest being triple AAA. At the same time, the JPM guys would be taking the other side of this bet betting that their handpicked members would fail completely. They’d also bet with leverage so that they didn’t care if their seed money was lost, they would win multiples more betting on the loss. Of course, occasionally one of these pool members would bet everything on the highest odds return possible and hit it. JPM then would be insolvent but the casino would do another shakedown of the floor and make up the loss. And again the JPM bonus would come from the money extracted on the shakedown.

6. Finally the casino would grow to be so large and have external investments in Vegas that if it failed it was sure to take Vegas down with it. If it came to pass that all their “risk management” failed they would just order the politicians that represented them, which was all of the politicians, to either print new dollars or increase taxes to make up the loss.

See friends, the casinos used to be run by the mob and it was bad business to cheat on a grand scale. Sure they cheated but one still could walk into a casino and walk away a winner. One could also enter card games that were casino neutral with pretty good confidence that the game wasn’t fixed. Because if it ever came out it was fixed the casino would lose business. And the mob took care of situations that prevented good business the mob way, so this problem never existed for long.

On Wall Street the game is rigged beyond the retail investors ability to comprehend. Goldman Sachs just reported that their trading operation profited every single trading day of Q1:
Goldman Sachs, which makes more money from trading than any other Wall Street firm, also disclosed that its traders generated $100 million or more on 35 days during the first quarter and lost money on no days. The firm set a record when it made $100 million or more on 46 days in the second quarter.
This is statistically impossible. Goldman invests with information and technology that the free market doesn’t have. It invests with tools that are supposedly against the rules according to the mythology of law.

See on Wall Street democracy is not threatened, it has been done away with. The rules of Wall Street are made and changed by the Goldman Sachs-es. They employ the members of the US Government to make the masses, the retail investors, their liquidity think that it’s a fair game. And when the curtain comes down and it’s obvious beyond a shadow of doubt that the entire game is rigged, the reality is so horrifying that the populace fervently rejects it because it means there is no democracy. The notion is so repulsive that the circuit breakers in their brains go off and each person reverts back to their ideal of what our democracy is and rejects the reality of what they just witnessed. They fall back to the comfort of blaming the other party for the country’s ills and worshiping their own party members. This only further erodes any hope of justice and liberty. It also opens the door for tyranny.

It’s a funny realization; the mafia for all its ills and gore does provide it’s people with certain things. There’s security; there’s business opportunity; there’s justice. Generally speaking when a mafia member becomes too greedy to the point of threatening their system, that member is eliminated. There are checks and balances.

Our government has no such system. The Executive and Legislative branch have been purchased by Wall Street. The Supreme Court is on its way to being purchased. The reality is that Wall Street owns our government, or better put, Wall Street is our government. To call Wall Street a casino is wholly inappropriate. Casinos have rules; Wall Street does not.


Edward said...

This is funny, but you forgot the other major players in all of this, you see Goldman runs the poker tables and they want to reduce their risk that someone is going to come in and clean them out. Not a big risk, since they rigged the game in their favor, but a risk none the less. So in walks AIG and says hey we will insure Goldman against the very small chance that they will run into a ringer and lose, again since the risk of this happening is very small, we won’t charge you that much. AIG built the model that defines how much to charge in premium based on the fact that there are no ringers in the world.

Goldman dealers then are out having a smoke break, free smokes are supplied by BAT, and they start talking to Morgan Stanley about this insurance thing they just bought from AIG so then everyone see’s the benefit of buying insurance from AIG. JP Morgan see’s this and say’s wait a minute, we can build models like AIG and why should AIG be the only one getting all these premiums for something that will never happen. So they start offering insurance, they tell the other’s they will do it for less than AIG, not everyone trusts a single insurance company so they all start selling each other insurance.

Meanwhile back at the Goldman table they realize that if they are allowed to buy and sell insurance to reduce risk that they could buy insurance on the Blackjack table without running the table, this is fabulous. Now Goldman decides to buy insurance on all the other games.

In the dungeons of accounting at the casino there is this guy who looks at the models everyone is using where there is no ringers and says I know this guy who is a teacher out in California and he is a ringer, the models are wrong. So this guy Taleb knows that Thorp is on his way to the casino. So he sells all the insurance he can on all the games.

Thorp get’s to the casino and beat’s every game, every game is on the verge of bankruptcy and they all call AIG to get their insurance but AIG says it didn’t keep the money because the risk of a ringer never came into their minds, so AIG is on the verge of collapsing and they call the U.S Government. The U.S Government says it doesn’t have any money and then start’s to look into what would happen if they let the casino go broke. Again the casino only controls about 20% of the wealth in the world, not that much really. Then AIG admits that it made so much money from selling insurance to the casino that it started selling insurance on other things and if it goes broke it’s going to take the whole system down. The government run by former casino owners and employee’s panic and says it will bail out all the casinos and their insurance companies. But wait the U.S Government doesn’t have the money, but it has a printing press….

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Anonymous said...

You should:
a) take a Stats course, or
b) Look up 'impossible' in the dictionary.

Negocios Loucos said...

Anon, 'Impossible' in the hyperbole sense of the word. I realize that if it were truly impossible it wouldn't have happened.

I give most readers more credit for understanding our use of exaggeration to express a point. The point wasn't the statistical significance of the event, it was that obviously HFT and insider info has impacted the success of the connected Wall Street firms because they are performing like no Wall Street firm have performed in history.

Scopelabs, I'll check it out.

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