Downside scenarios

The violence in the Ukraine leaves me with an incredibly numb feeling in my stomach. To some older folks it may appear like a flashback from the time when the Soviet Union disintegrated amid strife in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Yet this also seems like a slow-motion train crash people feared but never really thought possible. In this it reminded me of another event in the post-Soviet space.


Painted tanks near the Great Patriotic War Memorial, Kiev 

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As evident from the flurry of posts put up here over the last couple of days (buildings, Puerto Madero, Torre Dorego, Museo Xul Solar, Clorindo Testa and MAMBA/MACBA), my wife and I just got back from ten days in Buenos Aires (plus a short stopover in Lima on the way back). This was my second time in this fascinating city and country. Below some personal observations.


Veronica di Toro, Simetrica No. 16, 2009, on display at MACBA

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Social Impact Bonds

I don’t get many comments on this blog but one of the few I did get urged me to look at social impact bonds (SIBs). It came in response to a critical post I wrote on impact investing. SIBs are a potentially major instrument in impact investing in which payback is linked to a pre-defined (social) outcome. Most of them don’t deserve the name bond as they exhibit more option-like characteristics. But that is not the only source of my theoretical confusion surrounding SIBs.


Again for a lack of a better photo – view down Broad Street, downtown Manhattan

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Global Frontiers Inc.

One of my favourite aspects of working in emerging market fund management was the frequent travel across the world for on-the-ground research. I would meet thoughtful people and return home with lateral insights, helping our team invest more profitably at less risk. A former business contact of mine set up a business that designs such trips for institutional investors. I joined him a few weeks back.

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Impact investing

Triggered by a visit to a recent meet up here in New York, I have been thinking about the impact investing industry. In one way or another, much of my finance career had something to do with it. The question now – is it the future and worth much more of my personal focus? I can’t help but being skeptical of the industry. Some pointers on why below the jump.


For lack of a better photo (?) – Kashgar cattle market, western China, 2004

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Part of the past occupation series: My predecessor in the asset management job had a penchant for all things Turkey and correctly predicted the constitutional court’s verdict on the AKP closure case back in 2008. So I kind of had to follow the country closely, also given the long-term EU convergence bet that is very popular in emerging market fund management. This resulted in three trips; all memorable and all quite meaningful given the institutional intelligence we had built over the years.

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