Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Testosterone and Risk
from NY Magazine
By Sheelah Kolhatkar
"Early in the morning on a typical weekday, men can be seen resolutely streaming down lower Broadway, braced against a pulverizing wind. They are preparing to enter their office buildings, put on their headsets, flick on their Bloombergs, and go to war. And if they look miserable—or weary, frustrated, angry, or petrified—it’s because they have one of the most emotionally taxing jobs in the world. Playing the market is a constant ricochet between panic and euphoria. There’s a reason the burnout rate is high. But the formula for succeeding in a high-stress financial environment is simpler than you might think. If you ask a trader, or someone who studies them, what the single most important factor is in determining whether a person will be good at trading, they will say that it’s the ability to control one’s emotions.
The trouble for all those men pouring into the trading desks is that recent studies suggest purely rational behavior may not come as naturally to them as gender stereotypes would suggest. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, the investment-management company Vanguard released data showing that men were more likely than women to sell stocks at the bottom of the market. Could it be that the fairer sex is better able to ride the ups and downs of Wall Street without letting their emotions get in the way?
“There were always very few women on the floor of the exchanges,” says a hedge-fund manager named Henry Lee, who spent years on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. “But the women who were successful at it were unbelievable.”
Lee is sitting at a trading desk with his friend Harley Evans, a derivatives trader at a firm called Mako Financial Markets, talking about gender differences in their line of work. “They never got ruffled, never got upset,” Lee continues. “Losing their temper? Never.”
“I think women can be very emotional, too,” Evans says, not entirely convinced.
“Women respond to stress differently,” Lee says. Rather than throwing the phone across the room, “women cry.”
“Well, I’ve cried, too,” Evans says.
“Not that I’ve seen. You cried alone in your closet,” says Lee.
“I cried in my beer.”
“The notion of taking chances is definitely more male,” Lee says. “Look, men are much more willing to take a shot on something with incomplete knowledge.”
So, I ask, how would Wall Street be different if there were more women making decisions? Lee offers an analogy based on the fact that he’s going through a divorce: “I would say that when you’re married, your life is much more level,” he says. “And when you’re single, you tend to experience many more swings. For example, you might not go skydiving if you’re married, or go out drinking all night with your buddies, or you may not pursue that Ironman.” Having women around, in other words, “prevents extreme behavior—or irrational exuberance.”
Despite what we’ve been led to believe, the market isn’t rational or efficient at all—it’s all about feelings. The major plot points of the crisis largely turned on emotion: Dick Fuld was too egotistical to sell Lehman Brothers when he had the chance, so his pride drove it into the ground; Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers lost huge sums of money on subprime mortgages despite the fact that they suspected the worst (“I’m fearful of these markets,” Ralph Cioffi e-mailed a colleague back in 2007); Merrill Lynch was the “fat kid,” as the investor Steve Eisman has put it, so desperate to be like Goldman Sachs that it barreled into every dumb investment imaginable and had to be bailed out by Bank of America. Almost every single bank chief doubled down on mortgage junk at exactly the wrong moment. Emotions led otherwise intelligent men—because, let’s face it, all of them were men—to make terrible decisions.
According to a new breed of researchers from the field of behavioral finance, Wall Street’s volatility is really driven by our body chemistry. It’s the chemicals pulsing through traders’ veins that propel them to place insane bets and enable bank executives to make risky decisions—and those same chemicals tend to have the same effect on everyone, turning them into a herd of overheated animals. And because the vast majority of these traders and finance executives are men, the most important chemical in question is testosterone.
Here are a few things we know about testosterone: Both men and women produce it, but men make fifteen times as much of it as women, on average. It causes all sorts of physical differences—in body hair, muscle mass, jawlines, and so on. Behaviorally, it does all the things that one would expect: It is linked to increased aggression and dominance, confidence, hostility, violence, sensation-seeking, and the searching out of mates (“I felt like I had to have sex once a day or I would die,” Drew—formerly Susan—Seidman told The Village Voice, after having testosterone injections as part of his transformation from a woman to a man). One of the most fascinating things about testosterone is the way it can be influenced by the environment. A man who stays home with his kids, for example, is likely to see his testosterone level drop over time. Testosterone varies throughout the day, peaking in the morning and gradually ebbing through the afternoon. Perhaps not surprisingly, single men have higher levels than married men. If you eat more meat, it tends to be higher. As it does when a man is in the presence of an attractive woman, or looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Or in a highly competitive environment with other guys, like a rugby game—or the Bear Stearns trading floor."
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Let's all celebrate Dolly's Woods and their emergent quarter-life crisis by retelling one of my favorite blonde jokes...
A college student goes back to her dorm and says to her blonde roommate, “I slept with a Brazilian man last night.” Her roommate replies, “OMG, you slut! How many is a Brazilian??”
And by the way, my old U.S. History teacher went to high school with Dolly and says her "dollies" are completely real... the debate continues!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
"Janelle: Hey dude, Jason is having a fucking awesome party tonight at some loft in Bushwick. Wanna get there early? Like 1 a.m. or somethin’?
Tyron: Sorry, lady. I have to study.
Janelle: What the fuck do you have to study for? You’ve been outta school for five years…
Tyron: The LSATs.
Janelle. Are you shitting me?
Tyron: Naw, I mean, this whole poet thing isn’t really working out. I mean, no one wants to pay me to write, so I figured I would, like, learn a trade.
Janelle: Are you going to be an LSAT tutor…?
Tyron: No, asshole. I’m going to law school.
Janelle: What the fuck? When have you ever expressed interest in the law? You don’t even like motherfucking Law & Order—and there’s like six versions of that show to choose from.
Tyron: Well, lawyers make a lot of money, which is something I don’t have. I can’t shelve books at an indie bookstore and do poetry slams forever, Jan. I can’t. I need stuff like, I dunno, a real bed. A room with walls. Last week I brought this chick home and she took one look at my so-called room—a shower curtain and bed sheets do not a bedroom make—and announced that she had to get up early. She’s a fucking freelancer. How many freelancers do you know who have to “get up early”? I can’t deal with this anymore, dude. I need to eat. I need to get laid. I need cash. I mean, yeah, I would probably have to wear a suit year-round to cover up my sleeve tats, and, sure, I would have to shave more often and probably move to Manhattan and drink with I-bankers at shitty places like Blondies, and I would most definitely have to pretend to get excited about sports and shit—but I can do it. I can suck it up. I’m almost 30. It’s time to get serious.
Janelle: Dude, you’re not going to get into law school. I mean, that’s just a stone cold fucking science fact.
Tyron: Why the fuck not? I got like fucking straight A’s in college.
Janelle: Well, for one, you majored in abstract sculpture and Victorian poetry, and two, the most experience you’ve had with the legal system was that time you got arrested for breaking into that construction site, getting smashed and passing out in your own vomit.
Tyron: Dude. That was like a fucking minor offense. Like, you know, a misnomer.
Janelle: Um. I rest my case."
Friday, March 19, 2010
OH, yes, Sandra B. Whether you're winning Oscars or kicking your lyin', cheatin' hubby out on his douche-bag dumper... you're always rocking our world. You're a Southern girl (who graduated from my Momma's alma mater, ECU!), a kick-ass, down-to-earth celeb, and we Rebel Debs salute you.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
"Shalom, Ya'll! L'Chaim and Eat Up!"
"Shalom, Ya'll! L'Chaim and Eat Up!"
Monday, March 15, 2010
Just discovered the following... nothing like a little redneck humor to brighten your bleak Monday morning!
I'm writing this slow because I know you can't read fast. We don't live where we did when you left home. Your dad read in the newspaper that most accidents happen within 20 miles of your home, so we moved. I won't be able to send you the address because the last West Virginia family that lived here took the house numbers when they moved so they wouldn't have to change their address.
This place is really nice. It even has a washing machine. I'm not sure about it. I put a load of clothes in and pulled the chain. We haven't seen them since.
The weather isn't bad here. It only rained twice last week; the first time for three days and the second time for four days.
About that coat you wanted me to send; your Uncle Billy Bob said it would be too heavy to send in the mail with the buttons on, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.
Bubba locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were really worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out.
Your sister had a baby this morning, but I haven't found out what it is yet so I don't know if you are an aunt or uncle.
Uncle Bobby Ray fell into a whiskey vat last week. Some men tried to pull him out but he fought them off and drowned. We had him cremated, he burned for three days.
Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Butch was driving. He rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in the back. They drowned because they couldn't get the tailgate down!
There isn't much more news at this time. Nothing much out of the normal has happened.
Your Favorite Aunt,
Friday, March 12, 2010
I don't know why. I just love anybody who reminds me of a Muppet. Oh, and did you hear she was dating the late Corey Haim up until he died? Those muppets are trouble, I tell ya! Trouble!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Eating disorders, ladies. They're serious (and sometimes deadly) business. Check out my article and read about how I overcame one of the biggest challenges facing young girls today...
Monday, March 8, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
In the words of my friend, Rachel: "I often ask myself, What Would Tim Gunn Do?"
Well, apparently, he would trash the Dash, referring to her style as having "a cheapness and tawdriness"... Um, yeah:
Needless to say, we Rebel Debs agree! It's *cool* to be sexy, Kim. But flashing your boobs all over Hollywood/the Internet/magazine stands nationwide? That's no way to keep it classy. In fact, that reeks of the kind of desperate, "famous for being me!" attitude made famous by Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and... well, almost every "socialite" with her own Reality TV show. Read Tim's comments and decide for yourself!
We salute you, Ellen Degeneres, for braving your first few months as the new sailor on the sinking ship that is "American Idol." This season of AI has gone straight into the toilet. On the bright side, you're here to make us all smile through our Titanic-esque tears. In fact, as a hard-working, ground-breaking celeb Rebel Deb, I consider you to be the best thing to come aboard that show since, well... the last thing that left:
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Forbes Magazine Becomes Just Another Victim of Culture *FAIL*
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Why, Facebook? WHY must you enrapture me within your all-consuming clutches?? Must... escape... but just can't find the strength!