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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not Just for Kittens Anymore

At the bail hearing, Mr. Sorkin, Mr. Madoff’s lawyer, said other packages had been sent to Peter Madoff, Bernard’s brother, as well as an unnamed couple who live in New York but were vacationing in Florida. He said many of the items were relatively inexpensive, including a pair of $25 cuff links and $200 mittens.
The New York Times, January 6, 2009

$200 mittens? Are they made of Uranium?

The news is disturbing. Forget, for the moment, the hard-earned life savings vanished into the Ponzi-esque ether of Bernie Madoff's "investments." What about the children? Think of those countless unsuspecting tykes waiting for the school bus, countless (times two) mittens clipped securely to the puffy sleeves of countless winter coats. Will it be long before organized crime-lords see the opportunity? Before the evening news is filled with reports of mitten-snatch-and-grabs and images of red-fingered youngsters? And, frankly, we will all be relieved if that's as far as it goes. If less honorable thieves get wind of this, we will surely find rural roadsides littered with discarded little hands hacked off of those who dare to resist their plunderers.

Something must be done.

$200 mittens! Not even gloves! For that kind of money, each finger should be swathed in velveteen luxury. But no. By the Solipsist's (admittedly rough) calculations, that works out to $50 per thumb and only $18.75 per finger. And herein we gain some insight into Madoff's failings as an investor: Failure to diversify wisely. He put all his money into thumbs! Anyone with a pulse could see that fingers were the way to go. Seriously, the thumb market has been trending downward since the 70's, as evidenced by continued weakness in the hitch-hiking derivatives market.

Herewith, then, The Solipsist offers some investment advice for his loyal readers (all three of you): Distribute your cash evenly over all your digits, so to speak. In these tough economic times, a sturdy pair of gloves provides far more security than a glamorous set of mittens.


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