July 01, 2006
New Month Happy Birthday Thread
In keeping with tradition, an open thread for new readers to introduce themselves and ask questions. Regulars may continue wanking on in the usual fashion.
Also, July 4th is Aqoul's first birthday. Gushing praise and/or ideas for improvement are welcome. Real life permitting, I am planning a retrospective of sorts (most popular or controversial posts, etc). Readers are free to suggest their favourite entries, just drop me an email sometime this weekend.
Posted by eerie at July 1, 2006 10:40 AM
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born on the fourth of july, eh?
Posted by: Klaus at July 1, 2006 11:53 AM
coincidence? I think not.
Happy Canada Day!
Posted by: Ali K at July 1, 2006 08:37 PM
Mabrouk ya aqoul wa sanna helwa ya gamil
I have a question prompted by Lounsbury’s close reading of the FT, and his and other aqoulytes’ knowledge of how money and politics in the region are bound up.
A few weeks’ ago, the FT published a leaked email from the head of equity research at HSBC in which he said that many of his bank’s analysts did not deserve to be paid this year because of their often worthless output. The email generated a feedback from FT readers who use or produce equity analysis - http://www.ft.com/cms/6c2bf1ce-91b7-11da-bab9-0000779e2340.html?a=tpc&s=646099322&f=141094803&m=8711053231&r=8711053231 – and a vaguely humorous leader in the paper - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/df79152e-fd9d-11da-9b2d-0000779e2340.html.
Some of the points in the initial email seem fair enough; that flash notes are often retreads of company press releases is obvious. Some FT readers argued that equity research as a whole is useless, and is on its way out.
This may well be true in developed markets, where it is difficult for equity analysts to get new information or offer a new interpretation that will give investors an edge. But it seems to me that in emerging markets, in our part of the world (Morocco to the Gulf) in particular, good company analysis is invaluable, not only for neophyte investors from outside the region, but even for those in the region who kid themselves that they know what’s going on, but are really taking an awful lot on trust. By good analysis I mean good knowledge of the numbers, of course, with a willingness to question investor relations' bullshit, but also a grasp of the relationships behind successful companies (political and financial), the immaturity of regional markets, and of the bigger political economy picture. In short, analysis that requires detective work as much as number crunching.
What do you say? Is equity research still necessary? Is good analysis more necessary than ever from Morocco to the Gulf?
Posted by: Simon at July 2, 2006 06:19 AM
vaguely humorous leader in the paper
'Internet governance remains in US hands' is humorous?
Also, do you have a link to the original letter?
Posted by: dubaiwalla at July 2, 2006 08:56 AM
Interesting question. I had skipped over that, figuring I knew the responses and content before reading (which I did, but the context is important).
Off the cuff, it would seem to me that on one hand such research should be more useful given the lack of information (as opposed to the embarassement of information in developed markets), but on the other hand, getting that information is a pain in the ass. Do the I Banks actually ferret out info?
I honestly can't say yes or no - but in my own opinion the idea of Chinese Walls and all that is complete bollocks, anytime you have sell side married with research, you got shit. Stand alone is better, but one pays....
Posted by: The Lounsbury at July 2, 2006 09:10 AM
Here's the email in question, from Graham Copley, head of global equity research, HSBC
I am receiving calls of complaint from the sales and trading desks in London on a daily basis about the lack of product in London. We have dropped from what was already an unacceptably low average of around 30 pieces of research a week accross [sic] Europe - to a number that is less than half this average. Moreover, the mix - as I have indicated earlier - has become predominantly worthless flashnotes.
THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE
No good analyst needs to be pushed like this - most are self motivated and interested in driving their external market values. As tram leaders and managers, you have to take responsibility for you teams and for their motivation and production levels - this is what we pay you for.
As I look at the department today I have no concerns about meeting budget expectations at year end - one reason for this view is that many of tour analysts, and team leaders do not deserve to be paid this year.
Take some responsibility and push your teams. With the success we are having with Bangalore - we have no excuses with regard to resource.
I am in London on Thursday and Friday of next week and am happy to talk this through in more detail with any of you. I am also available early Monday morning and some times on Tuesday by phone as I travel to and from Mumbai.
Posted by: Simon at July 2, 2006 12:14 PM
I believe the inaugural was a bashing of pundita, or someone similarly named? Might be good to reprint that, as a kind of declaration of why this place exists, as it were. The New York Times reprints the Declaration every Fourth, after all.
Posted by: pantom at July 2, 2006 12:56 PM
Oh my god - HAPPY BIRTHDAY US!!!
Posted by: secretdubai at July 2, 2006 05:05 PM
my god. i feel old.
E: have we spawned any aqoulettes yet? (ie: sites patterning themselves off aqoul)
i will to avail myself of this open thread to say thanks for the clueful angularity (at least from an American POV). The relatively small amout of time I've spent perusing this blog, as well as the links proffered, which i followed, have been illuminating.
Tonight's visit was enabled via a google search reagarding Turkish Wonk, Zeyno Baran. As has often been the case on this site, i was pleasantly surprised with the analysis. BTW, if you care, she may have fone over to the real darkside, jumping from the situationalist realism of the Nixon center, to the hammerheaded insanity as a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute.
i offer a link to a personal recent strident dissent to Guantanamo Bay, which is at its foundation, the unlawful and immoral acts of a tyrant:
I have vocally dissented, for almost five years now, and think there may be a wee bit of light in the darkness. far to long a duration for my countrypersons to shed blind vengence, and regain sensibility as well as humanity though. This has at times cause me to believe i was truly the ravering madman wandering in from the desert, or walkabout from the Dreatime America, warning of its imminent destruction, or worse living a nightmare reality from the insane writer Harlin Ellison's manufacturing, in a short story he titled, "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream."
but keep your cartridges dry.
Posted by: a_r_k at July 3, 2006 03:51 AM
It's possible, but I think we are still fairly unique (certainly from a design perspective -- hardly anyone bothers to go beyond standard blog templates). Most other blogs in this niche are country-specific or partisan or Islam-centric.
Of course, we are something of a spinoff ourselves. 'Aqoul was inspired by A Fistful of Euros, which has a broad regional mandate and a diverse group of authors.
Actually, I should look around and see if there's an equivalent for Africa (sub-saharan).
Recently there has been quite a lot of interest in Islam and Europe, so we may have to extend our mandate even further to incorporate "diasporas".
Posted by: eerie at July 4, 2006 04:54 PM
Well, on the Europe and Islam angle, I have always considered, esp for the Maghrebine diaspora that is dominant, European Muslim communities to be an integral part of the MENA dynamic.
Not the same issue as say North American, for reasons of distance if nothing else.
The Maghrebines return like lemmings every bloody summer, for one, and there is a lot of social cross-polination (as Shaheen can attest).
Posted by: The Lounsbury at July 4, 2006 06:33 PM
happy 4th of july. let's celebrate what it stands for: liberty & justice for ALL!
Posted by: raf* at July 4, 2006 06:48 PM
Well, idiots are still driving around honking their horns about their long (well, at least since Brazil was eliminated) beloved Italy's glorious triumph. I think maybe this crowd is the ones who had to hastily strip the Germany flags off of their cars and replace them with the red-white-and-green.
So, yeah, happy birthday yesterday.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at July 4, 2006 07:05 PM
I saw the Leb Slut TV focus on Brasil, fickle cunts, I would expect them to go for France....
Posted by: The Lounsbury at July 4, 2006 09:40 PM
ok, why are Lebanese women slutty? can someone fill me in, please. Have been on the wrong side of that joke for too long.
Posted by: Klaus at July 4, 2006 10:02 PM
L- France is old stuff in lebanon. You need to get with the times.
Posted by: Ali K at July 4, 2006 10:20 PM
all the leb sluts i know just drove around beirut waving italian flags.
and i was rooting for the germans.
i should also mention that searching for "leb slut" on google pops up L as the first three results. aqoul pops up on the next couple. impressive, L.
Klaus - it's not so much how they act as how they dress, which can include a fairly wide variety of more makeup than really necessary, high heels, and various bits of tight and/or short clothing. (Or the always-popular bikini-and-high-heels beachwear.) This gets picked up and disseminated by the TV stations, where a lot of the fluffier talk shows have Lebanese women in finest Leb Slut (tm) fashions hosting (and then of course there are all the music videos). From there, the sensibility has passed on to women in the other Arab countries - cf some of L's notes about his office (tho in the second instance the woman in question was actually Lebanese, I guess).
Posted by: Tom Scudder at July 5, 2006 02:57 AM
If you want a visual to accompany Tom's excellent explanation of The LebSlut, you might go to YouTube.com and search for Nancy Ajram, Ruby, Mariam or Haifa, or simply "sexy arab pop stars."
Posted by: sp at July 5, 2006 12:10 PM
The Maghrebines return like lemmings every bloody summer
Hah! Never saw it through that angle, but it's definitely a good metaphor.
BTW, the Maghrebine community is the fastest growing in francophone Canada, and the lemmings pattern is the same.
Issues though different from Europe's do overlap.
As per the videos topic. I don't know what had those Lebanese women deserve the title of sluts. Their clips seem quite innocent. If you want something kinky, try this:
And that my friends, is not even the uncensored version. Now, those women are just doing their job the way you gentlemen would do it, or having pleasure the same way you'd have it. "Slut" carries a bit of an unfair value judgement, doesn't it?
Posted by: Shaheen at July 5, 2006 05:18 PM
Slutty by MENA standards, I suppose. Now, the current generation of Europeans growing up is the first to have been exposed to porn since the age of... very little. Generation Internet Porn. Pop music has picked up on that, of course, including MTV. Singing strippers, fuck me, I'm a whore fashion. For MENAs moving to Europe, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea of the Decadent West. Youth culture has finally reached the level of Brave New World.
Posted by: Klaus at July 5, 2006 06:07 PM
bes hadha'l vidyo bil inglizi wa nihna na'arif inna kul al nisa al ghurbiya are that way. If it's nice arab girls singing in Arabic, that's, like, different.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at July 5, 2006 06:26 PM
My Leb Slut phrase derives from my old fund offices which featured several Shami-Leb girls whose dress style was pure Pop Tart, despite our ostensible financial sector image.
My old archives from '03 should reflect that.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at July 5, 2006 10:23 PM
mind marking that NSFW next time? my company is hip, but not that hip.
i wonder if that DJ does parties.
i agree with Klaus. "Slutty by MENA standards"
The Leb slut, hard to define. The leb popstar is actually only a subsection of the leb slut, marked by extensive cosmetic surgery and heavy use of soft focus, as anyone can judge from their videos. What defines a leb slut is two things: always appearing overdressed for no occasion (eg wearing tight red trousers for work and low cut blouses presenting the news) and the other thing is the abundance of 'dala3' (loosely translated as attention seeking and flirtiness) which is an ambivalent quality in arab society.
Posted by: Ali K at July 6, 2006 02:29 AM
Klaus and Drdoug - quit it, there's no use comparing.
There's an airhead stereotype in every country.
Posted by: Ali K at July 6, 2006 02:55 AM
Happy one year of success. Many of the posts and commentary are stimulating.
Posted by: Kaleidoscope at July 6, 2006 10:07 AM
ali k: i know valley girls quite well. my cousin is the airhead variety and my mom was the 60's highly independant variety. essex girls, on the other hand, i try to stay far away from.
And let's not forget the Guidettes some of us have known, if not always loved.
Posted by: Eva Luna at July 6, 2006 12:45 PM
anyone know this?
Posted by: Klaus at July 7, 2006 01:08 AM
I heard about that movie. Apparently it has a gay journalist character who murders his lover, a corrupt politician, a battered wife, and other 'unsavoury' things about egypt. It is based on a best seller novel of the same name. The yacoubian building, by the way, is real.
Posted by: Ali K at July 7, 2006 06:32 AM
on the sweeping cultural force of the leb sluts...I think:
Posted by: Klaus at August 14, 2006 07:37 PM