Peter Schiff on Max Keisers The Oracle

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With this 6th episode, The Oracle is finally out of beta. The show is now well structured.

It is both informative and entertaining &#8212-and it has rhythm and style.

  • The TV show has 3 parts, as you all know, and each of these 3 parts focuses on one single issue. Excellent.
  • The interview of the main guest (this time, Peter Schiff) is well conducted and long enough so we can capture many insights &#8212-not just snippets.
  • The main guest is now a person of global stature &#8212-as opposed to the French, German and Arab guests (with strong foreign accents) we had to endure in the previous episodes.
  • Stacy Herbert (&#8221-The Queen Of Facts&#8221-) has finally been tamed. It was about time. (Women.) She now focuses on one single issue, introducing the issue of each of the 3 parts of the show.
  • Her &#8220-headlines&#8221- are now usable &#8212-they are now well readable on the TV screen. (She puts black headlines on a white screen, whereas The McLaughlin Group would rather put white headlines on a black screen. Both techniques are usable. It is a question of taste.)
  • She gave us a very good chart in part one. I want her to show one chart in each of the 3 segments of the show. I WANT CHARTS, STACY.
  • I never met Max Keiser in person. He was described to me as a friendly, low-key fella. But as soon as the red light flashes on the camera, he becomes another man &#8212-a funny, sometimes hilarious, financial animal, who immediately becomes the center of the attention. There is that expression in English that sums it up: &#8216-he is stealing the show&#8217-, literally. He expresses his contrarian arguments in a Daffy Duck-like voice, with some kind of exuberant body language rarely seen on TV &#8212-the fella is a spectacle by himself.
  • I hope that The Oracle (the disco machine that beams out the predictions) will be re-introduced in the show. It was a good gimmick.
  • I also hope they will feature prediction market charts, later on. :-D
  • Overall, the show is a very good piece of infotainment. I never quite saw this on TV before. There is the hilarity, but there is also the seriousness of dealing with the global banking, financial and economic crisis &#8212-quite not a laughing matter in the first place. Quite a mix.

Enough blogging.

Now, watch the show. :-D

Dealing with public perception and general anti-market sentiment

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I posted the following to the Cantor Exchange forum a couple of weeks ago. That same weekend, this piece by Zach Karabell appeared. We make some of the same points that are relevant in a generally hostile environment towards derivatives and markets.


Rich Jaycobs&#8217- expertise and realism on issues such as insider trading and manipulation are invaluable to the Cantor Exchange project, especially given the backdrop of the failure of the financial system. A letter from Max Keiser to the FT and related comments underline the challenge of knee-jerk public reaction to innovative contracts.

This is a typical reaction: &#8220-I can&#8217-t believe this. The financial mess we&#8217-re in right now is, in a very large way, due to this kind of crap &#8230- it&#8217-s simply gambling.&#8221- These sorts of claims need to be dealt with.

First, the contracts that are being proposed are traded on exchanges. As many, including myself and the CFTC have argued, lack of transparency in pricing was one of the main culprits of the financial meltdown. The surest way to deliver a shock, a high standard deviation move, to markets is to just not mark or otherwise mis-mark prices for a while. Without active trading, risk build-ups. Explosion and collapse follows.

Leverage also played a significant role in the crises. After all, without leverage, the bogeyman of derivatives is largely defused. Of course no CFTC-regulated contract, most of which allow for substantial leverage, has yet defaulted.

Nor would the proposed contracts suffer from the specific agency problems that infected credit markets and investment houses, so I&#8217-m not sure what &#8220-kind of crap&#8221- the commenter had in mind precisely. It is meaningless that the box-office contracts happen to be &#8220-derivatives&#8221-.

Max Keiser does propose a specific problem. What if a studio blows-up in the box-office market, forcing it into bankruptcy? This line of thinking quickly becomes absurd. If society were strictly bound to &#8220-do no harm&#8221-, nothing would ever get done. Even doctors do harm in the form of side-effects. They evaluate courses of action in terms of the expected net result and so should we in these cases.

Over time, the net benefit of well-regulated markets will be positive, but realism is needed to stand up to these essentially prudent concerns. It does seem to be the case, for example, that commodity futures exhibit structural influences on prices that are independent of usage-based supply and demand, and that may increase volatility. Whether that is more attributable to the existence of the contract or ultimately fiat money is debatable, but in any case, this should be much less of an issue in markets like the box-office contracts, which are settled objectively in a relatively short period of time. In contrast, the exact &#8220-meaning&#8221- of a perpetuity or commodity future is not clear.

We can imagine self-fulfilling prophesies and other possible side-effects, and of course there are some issues we aren&#8217-t thinking of, but the supporters of innovative contracts have to be on top of the foreseeable pathologies and engage critics in terms of specifics. Generic anti-market, anti-derivative carping is not an argument.

And remember that the eve of the French Revolution, no-one would have predicted Emperor Napoleon.


Yes, Napoleon later &#8220-blew up&#8221-!

HubDub CEO on Max Keisers The Oracle (BBC World News)

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Cory Doctorow likes Max Keiser&#8217-s TV show &#8212- I do too.

  1. Although I don&#8217-t agree with them politically, Max Keiser is exceptionally charismatic and funny, and Stacy Herbert is very lively and competent.
  2. Max needs to invite a guest who is as lively and as literate in finance than he is. Otherwise, &#8220-The Oracle&#8221- will remain his show, as opposed to a good show.
  3. The TV format is a winner. Max is on a path to stardom.
  4. Nigel managed to plug his prediction exchange. Good.

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The Oracle, with Max Keiser – BBC World News

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The Oracle (&#8220-a satirical look into the future&#8221-), with Max Keiser, on BBC World News.

I have just watched the first edition of this TV show.

  1. There is no mention of collective intelligence and prediction markets, alas.
  2. The format of the show is very well thought out. It is a winner. There is an intro with videos or charts, some cheap talks with the guests, and then &#8220-The Oracle&#8221- (a semi sphere at the center of the TV studio) beams out wildly and delivers a prediction, which the guests are invited to comment on.
  3. Max Keiser is almost awesome and Stacy Herbert (the co-host) is authoritative enough.
  4. It is infotainment &#8212-think of Max Keiser as the Michael Moore of Wall Street.
  5. It is leftist &#8212-that, you already knew.
  6. It is funny. The segment where Max Keiser impersonates Colin Powell at the United Nations is hilarious &#8212-in the new UN speech, Saddam Hussein is replaced by the bankers, and the WMDs are the financial derivatives. A must see.
  7. The guests for the first edition were Jacques Attali, who is a French fraud (along with Bernard-Henri Levy and Alain Minc) in my view, and a British actress known only to her family and friends. They were not stellar, but good enough.
  8. Next week, Nigel Eccles of HubDub will be a guest, I have been told.
  9. Max Keiser has a future in the televised infotainment industry. :-D

UPDATE: Episode One

Ex-HSX Max Keisers public campaign to destabilize the Cantor Exchange

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Financial Times:

After Enron, Hollywood bets on its own script for future profits

Published: December 20 2008 02:00 | Last updated: December 20 2008 02:00

From Mr Max Keiser.


The potential for mischief with Cantor’s new box office futures contracts is enormous (“All eyes on Hollywood futures”, December 13). When I was running the Hollywood Stock Exchange during the 1990s I was constantly approached by the Hollywood studios asking me to move up the prices of their MovieStocks to influence the perception of their films in the weeks just before a movie was released at the box office.

I believe that when these box office futures contracts become available these same studios will redirect millions of dollars they spend on marketing to buy and sell futures contracts in order to drive the price, and therefore perception, of their own and competing studios’ films, higher or lower.

Perception is the currency in Hollywood, and pricing perception, while putting the price discovery mechanism for perception into the hands of the same hedge fund and futures trading industry that has, by and large, been responsible for the mess the global financial system now finds itself in, portends a new kind of disaster film none of us wants to see.

How long before taxpayers in the US will be asked to bail out the Hollywood studios after they have bankrupted themselves making risky futures bets trying to influence the perception of their own and other studios’ films? Does the US really need a new way to destabilise its economy with more dodgy derivatives? I think I have seen this movie before. It was called Enron.

Max Keiser,
Paris, France
Former CEO and Co-Founder, HSX Holdings/Hollywood Stock Exchange

Financial Times: All eyes on Hollywood futures

Previously: Cantor Exchange

Previously: Should the Hollywood Stock Exchange become a real-money betting exchange? – 2007-10-04

The new Hollywood Stock Exchange website (recently redesigned) sucks as much as an indigestible fruit cake.

No Gravatar &#8212- I predict that somebody will soon register this domain name.

Many HSX event derivative traders have complained to me privately about the website redesign: they hate it more than they hate the recent financial bailout. One HSX trader went off on the Prediction Markets group discussion area at LinkedIn. Today, another HSX trader is writing a long prosecution of the HSX website redesign. Read it in all, and spot the many comments at the bottom, from fellow HSX traders.

The root of the problem is Alex Costakis &#8212-the director of HSX. My assessment of him is that he doesn&#8217-t get the Web. He is as clueless as a maggot trying to play Jazz. He is not an open person, and the Web is all about openness. This guy is a drag on HSX. I predict he will lead to HSX&#8217-s death.

The only 2 persons that could lead to a revival of HSX are Max Keiser or Nigel Eccles. Let&#8217-s hope that Cantor Fitzgerald will call them for help.

UPDATE: See the comments.

Max Keiser is going to practice (an entertaining form of) prediction market analysis for BBC World News.

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Max Keiser:


Max Keiser looks into the future every Friday on BBC World . . . coming soon

BBC World News is working with Max Keiser, the creator of the Hollywood Stock Exchange, to produce &#8220-The Oracle,&#8221- a weekly entertaining look into the future with the help of today&#8217-s headlines and prediction market charts.

The Oracle&#8217-s partners include Eldorado Pictures, the production company of Emmy award winning star, Alec Baldwin.

BBC World News Head of Programmes, Paul Gibbs, says: &#8216-If Max had been on our screens a year ago the current global financial crisis would not have been a surprise. It might not even have happened.&#8217-

Alec Baldwin, who has enjoyed a relationship, both personal and professional, with Keiser for nearly 30 years says, &#8220-I&#8217-m excited to be working with Max on The Oracle. Keiser combines blazing intellect, total irreverence and searing honesty to put forth news and commentary like no one else can.&#8221-

The Oracle is planned to air every weekend from early 2009 on BBC World News. Celebrity and expert guests join Max to pore over the prediction market charts to see where people are predicting today&#8217-s news might lead.

Max Keiser, has a long and amazingly accurate history of looking at market prices in order to predict the future.

As the creator of the world&#8217-s first prediction market, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, Max presented &#8220-Rumble at the Box Office&#8221- for NBC&#8217-s Access Hollywood accurately predicting box office.

Max went on to predict the present economic turmoil in a series of ten films for the Aljazeera English magazine series, People and Power.

As early as 2006, Max predicted in these films –

* the crisis in the global banking system to be triggered by subprime debts,
* the rescue of the financial system by wholesale government intervention,
* the rise in the price of gold,
* the Russian invasion of Georgia,
* economic meltdown in Iceland,

* and more.

Max continues to stay one step ahead of the game with his weekly radio show in London on Resonance 104.4 FM and in his writing for the Huffington Post and Intrade, the prediction market site.

The producers of the program will be in Mipcom and available for meetings.