Letting My Inner Tech Geek Speak

November 19, 2014

Over the weekend I penned a column for nationalmemo.com on the issue of Net Neutrality.  I’m not sure why it became a controversy, other than the simple reason that everything becomes a controversy these days…. I wrote it because most of the opinions expressed seemed to miss what was actually at issue.  A lot of the misunderstanding stems from an overly simplified analogy that gained wide acceptance.

Understanding Net Neutrality: We Need A Better Analogy

Faced with the profound issue of net neutrality, America’s consumers still struggle to understand its complexities. Part of the problem may be the usual analogy of express lanes on a highway.

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Getting Real

November 7, 2014

OK, now it’s real.

On the right hand side of the Mind on Money screen, there are now links to the print and ebook versions of Finance Monsters.  I hope everyone who reads it enjoys the story, and comes away really understanding the meltdown.  As I was telling a friend earlier today, to understand it, you have to understand the people who made it happen and the technology that enabled it.  Without that deep understanding, it can still be too distant for most of us to see how something that affected us all came to fruition.  That’s why I had to write this book.

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Question for those with Ipads, Kindles and Nooks

November 7, 2014

I’m at a fork in the road on Finance Monsters, and it affects how I list the e-book version.

I have two choices. First is to make the e-book a photo-like image (pdf) of the print book. It would have page numbers and lay out just like the print book. That includes a feature I put into the print version where I put a text box with a definition on the page where I first use a specialized word or acronym. All the definitions are also gathered into a glossary at the back of the book.

The way I designed the “e-book only” file is to let the pagination happen however the device sets it up, and for each of those definition words, I put an internal document hyperlink to the entry in the glossary, and then another link (btt) to take the reader back to the text at the end of the glossary entry.

For those who’ve downloaded files with pages (basically images of the print book) and files specifically for e-readers, which is preferable?

A Review of Finance Monsters

November 6, 2014

From an old friend who read an advance copy:

In Finance Monsters, Howard Hill provides us with an insightful, fast paced overview of the mortgage securitization industry and of some crucial factors that brought down the financial system in 2008.  For over 20 years, Mr. Hill had a ringside seat in the U.S. fixed income market, and mortgages in particular.  His experience includes sell and buy side, both sides of Wall Street, and as the financial designer of ground breaking mortgage products.

Finance Monsters will appeal to anyone interested in how mortgage markets grew and crashed, along with economy.  Though devoid of equations, many chapters could fit well in a graduate class on mortgage credit and securitization and would sharpen skills of professionals.

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I Was There First (I Think)

October 31, 2014

When I came to the Street, my friends weren’t surprised because I had been interested in markets for years, even trading stocks and options while there were still fixed commissions and you had to go down to the brokerage office to watch the ticker tape go by as an electronic “crawler.”

They were surprised when I didn’t have anything for them when they asked for stock tips.  In fact, I was spending every waking hour working on systems and deal structures in mortgage land, so even my own money stopped being in stocks, and just sat in money market funds.  But they kept asking, assuming I must be a stockbroker.

After a year or two of patiently responding that I didn’t and couldn’t pay attention to stocks, I came up with an answer.

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How appropriate!

October 31, 2014

It had barely become Halloween when I pushed the fateful “enter” button to get my galley proof of Finance Monsters.

In a parallel effort, I also submitted the e-book version for Amazon review.

The two versions are different, but only in the presentation.  IMVHO, one of the best parts of the book is the glossary.  All those words we use in structured finance (including multiple ways we use the word “underwrite”) can be intimidating. No doubt that’s part of the reason people think it’s some kind of black magic…. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Guarantee a Meltdown

June 27, 2014

Just keep doing the same thing you did that caused the last one.

And if the people who bailed you out say you have to follow new rules, make sure those rules never get put into effect.  Witness the latest on derivatives regulation from our esteemed Congress:


By the way, I wrote the article.



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