Thursday, December 20, 2007

Racing fools

Bloomberg today ran a story about one J. Kyle Bass and his hedge fund Hayman Capital Partners. Bass is one of the truly smart guys who was ahead of the curve in sniffing out danger in the mortgage markets and took short positions in them in time to make lots of money from the current mayhem. The story tells of how -- as he did lots of hardcore due diligence on companies in the mortgage ecosystem -- Bass singled in on one mortgage lender he just knew had to mean trouble, Daniel Sadek of Quick Loan Funding of California. A key red flag for Bass was that Sadek funded a movie about car racing in which Porsches got busted up good.

The car racing connection took me back to the story of Centrix Financial of Denver, a subprime auto lender that took to sponsoring the Denver Grand Prix race before it ran afoul of regulators and subsequently imploded.

So is association with car racing Icarus-like behavior for the alpha set? Well, on the one hand, Paul Newman has yet to be singed by it. Then again, Jason Priestly messed himself up pretty good on a race track and Colin Powell, well, lets just say that his enthusiasm for the fast ones may or may not be correlated with his basically perjuring himself before the UN Security Council in 2003 with testimony that lent his then-considerable credibility to the Iraq escapade, which may prove to be the moment the United States ejected itself from the drivers seat of History.