Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I have also learned a lot about vulture funds and am disheartened and disgusted by the behavior that some hedge funds have taken against the poorest of nations. Over Thanksgiving week, 2 vulture funds were awarded a judgment summary of $20 million from Liberia. This is particularly disturbing because Liberia had previously participated in a debt buy back with the IMF and World Bank and were the model for how countries can change their economic future.
Friday, October 16, 2009
October 16th, 2009
Posted by: Felix Salmon
Remember the silly war on vulture funds being waged in the UK and, in the US, by Congresswoman Maxine Waters? Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that it’s making its way into the US Senate: Russ Feingold, the chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, is thinking of introducing legislation of his own. The good news is that his staffers are reaching out to people like me, and seem genuinely interested in trying to understand the issues and the potential negative consequences of any legislation.
I just had a pretty long conversation with three of Feingold’s staffers on this subject, and they were asking if there was any way that they might be able to introduce a bill which curtailed some of the most egregious actions of vulture funds while not going as far as the Waters bill. I told them that the short answer is no: debt markets would react very badly to any attempt to prevent or impede trading debt instruments in the secondary market. And what’s more, none of these bills would make the problem of developing-country debt go away: it would simply keep that debt in the hands of original creditors, who might well start employing more vulture-like tactics to get their money back if they were prevented from selling their claims.
Feingold is commendably concerned about the fate of small African countries, who might be in the position of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of debt relief from the US government, only to find that freed-up cashflow suddenly eyed by greedy vultures. And he doesn’t want hedge-fund types receiving any part of the money that Congress apportions to developing-country debt relief. I’m sympathetic. But the fact is that vulture funds have been having a dreadful time of it recently, and are losing cases much more frequently than they’re winning them. The total amount of money that’s at issue here is minuscule, compared to the enormous effect that it could have on the capital markets as a whole. The whole issue of vulture funds looks very much like a solution in search of a problem.
I told Feingold’s staffers that they should be sure to talk to a range of developing countries about their legislation — not just the poorest countries whose debt would be directly effected, but also richer countries who might see their credit spreads widen if Congress started messing about with the enforceability of sovereign debt obligations. Even the poorest countries aspire to tapping private capital in future, and might be very wary of legislation along these lines.
More generally, it might behoove market participants and industry groups to start talking seriously to Feingold’s office on this subject, especially if they can put together some hard data on just how much money we’re talking about here. It certainly makes sense to try to quantify the scale of the problem before putting a huge amount of effort, not to mention enormous knock-on consequences in the market, into some kind of solution.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
My direct supervisor, Julia and I often head up to the Hill and meet with Congressional Staffers to advocate (lobby without the salary) for The Stop Vulture Funds Bill H.R. 2932. Please read this explanation:
‘Vulture fund’ is a name given to a company that seeks to make profit by buying up debt in default on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar, then trying to recover up to ten times the purchase price, often by suing impoverished countries in U.S. or European courts.
Some vulture funds target failing companies, but Africa Action, Jubilee USA Network and TransAfrica Forum are focused on those that target the sovereign debts of impoverished countries.
These vulture fund companies tend to be quite secretive, and many of them are based in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands. Some are owned by large, often U.S.-based, financial institutions such as hedge funds. In other cases, there is limited or no information on who owns them. Often subsidiary companies are set up by these larger hedge funds simply to pursue one debt, then shut down after winning those assets.
I really like that I get to work on something that is truly an issue I can get behind as well as something that can make a difference in people's lives.
Friday, August 28, 2009
At 9:15 a woman comes in and says, "I have bad news, (I was thinking they were going to say I have to wait another day to have the surg) We need to move you into the hall since we need the beds and you are a non-urgent patient. So I sat on the stretcher from 9:15 until 1pm when the OR staff finally came to get me. I don't remember anything from the time they put something in my IV (anesthesia) until they woke me up in recovery.
I was really hoping to go home, but they kept me another night - woo hoo! I do not like staying in hospitals. My neighbor was a very strange and whiney and I almost told her to shut up, but she obviously needed the attention from the nursing staff.
I came home on Thursday afternoon and can't drive until the pain goes away, but I am hoping for that soon. So all things considered, I am doing just fine.
Hope all are well!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Great news: I got my internship with Jubilee USA and I am so excited. This is going to be a tremendous opportunity. I cannot wait!!!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
here are a few things I have learned:
I can navigate London, if you tell me that the place I am going to is a short distance from a tube station. Otherwise forget it.
I am crap with maps.
If you are waiting for a bus here in London, it will inevitably not show up. For instance, when we went to see Katy Perry, there was a tube strike. So we waited 45 minutes for a bus that never came.
Brits have terrible taste in music. I always have the DUMBEST songs stuck in my head.
I have adopted certain phrases and they will probably stick with me such as, "that is lovely" or saying "proper" a lot.
I love this city. Living here permanently is not going to work for me. Their beer is never cold enough, nor is there is solid drinking beer like yuengling or miller lite.
What is with the no free refills and the miniature drinks?
I love how accessable Europe is from London. It is so wonderful.
I will miss London desperately, but can't wait to try something new.
Baltimore and DC here I come...
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Strange as it may seem, I really want to get back to a job. While not working has been extremely relaxing, it is also boring! I also miss the steady cash flow. I am ready to leave London in that regard as well.
This weekend Lauren, Ilani (a co-worker of Lauren's who has become a wonderful friend) and I are going to Paris for a short trip. It is hard to be so close to the city and not go. After that, just a short week until I go home, oh and a U2 concert!!!!! (My tickets arrived and I am STOKED).
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
For 2 two weeks in July, the Schuster family descended upon the shores of Italy for what may be our last family vacation for quite some time. I am not sure if all of my readers know, but my sister has joined the US Air Force and will be leaving sometime soon. I am so proud of her, but will miss her terribly! We had a terrific time spending 5 days in Rome, 3 in Florence and 4 in Venice. I was really excited to see all of the ancient places I had learned about in history class as a kid. I have always wanted to see the Colosseum. I am so facinated by the sheer age of some of these building and how in the US, nothing man-made comes even close to being that old. Sure, we have found Native American artifacts that are 10,000 years old - but no stuctures that are still standing after 2,500 years - and functioning to boot! The Pantheon with its open roof and original floors were astounding. Just to think of all the famous men and women who walked the roads of Rome and worshiped either gods in ancient times, or were part of the Holy Roman Empire. It is pretty cool to think about.
I am still waiting to hear about an internship - so please keep your fingers crossed for me. I am really hoping I hear soon, a few of the places I applied to had a deadline of 7/31 - so that is tomorrow. I still really would like to work with Jubilee and hope to hear from them.
Hope all are well!
Friday, July 3, 2009
The economics class on the other hand was extremely enjoyable and useful. I loved every second of the class and am sad that I will not be able to continue on to the next section the school presents. I appreciated the fundamentals that were taught to give me a more solid economic background as I prepare for my thesis.
My time here in London is winding down and I can say that I am sad. LeighAnn came over 2 days ago and it has been so nice to see her. We are meeting mom and dad in Italy on Wednesday the 8th and touring the country until the 21st. Leigh leaves London on the 23. Not much longer and I am going home too. With the heat the way it has been, I will not miss the lack of AC that London has.
I am patiently awaiting to hear about my internship for the fall. I really want to work with Jubilee as I know that I am perfect for them, and I will learn so much about debt cancellation there. I would really like to know soon though so that if it is a no, I can try and find another one....
Hope everyone enjoys their 4th of July Holiday!
Miss you all!!!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It has been some time since I last blogged, so I thought I would give an update. I have been having a wonderful time here in London. Last week Korissa came to visit and being the excellent hostess, we went on a whirl wind tour of London. We hit up pub tours, market, museums, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and even went to see the changing of the guard where the band played Thriller by Michael Jackson. HILARIOUS!!!
It was so nice to have some one from home to see and she brought me shoes, so I was extra happy. We had a great time shopping and laughing.
This weekend Lauren and I are off to Salzburg, Austria! We will not let the rain spoil our fun!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I decided that since the sun was actually shining, I was going to take my lunch and a book to the park for a while. Now I am used to the wildlife at Regent's park as there is a large water foul population that people like to feed. There are a million pigeons as well. But today was a bit different. I am sitting on my towel, chomping away on my Asian slaw and a squirrel comes rather close to my towel and looks at me as if to say, "May I have some?" (he says "may" instead of "can" because he is British). I look and the thing and yell "SHOO!" He moves to the back of the towel and basically stalks me for 25 minutes. I am threatened because I have nothing to throw at him and he could have rabies or something. Finally, after much shooing, he winds up in my grocery bag. Unfortunately for him, there was only toilet paper in the bag.
Here is a picture of the little stalker:
Friday, June 5, 2009
- The history. I love being in buildings that are 1000 years old. It amazes me, when the oldest buildings in the US are at best 400 years old.
- The skyline. Looking out to see Parliament and St. Paul's is just really good for the soul.
- Elderflower water.
- The parks.
- How conscious stores are of organic, vegetarian and fair trade items. I think that they are far more social-minded here. We are working on it at home, but here the organic milk and regular milk are right next to each other in the market (no gallon sizes here).
- Wagamama, Hummus Bros., Brick Lane Curry, Camden Market, Ping Pong (the restaurant, not the game).
- The beautiful parks: Regent's, Hyde, St. James, Green - there are so many to choose from.
- My bed.
- Iced Tea - I think it woul be blasphemous to even ask for it here.
- Large drinks (or free refills for that matter)
- Potato Rolls
- Ground chicken, do you know how hard it is to cook without one of your staple ingredients!?
- other food that I am used to having or cooking with- like pasta sauce - I have had to make my own just sheerly based on the pint sized bottles of sauce they sell here. I have no idea how people with families do it. I guess they make their own sauce too.
- My family. between the time difference and the cost of calling, it isn't as frequent as I am used to. Same goes for my friends - that god for technology!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"Do people really take Fox News seriously?" (it isn't a comedy channel)
"Aren't you excited to have Obama as president?" (I hadn't really thought I was excited about it)
Other funny questions include:
"What is Philadelphia known for?" To which I respond with, "In what sense?" "Well, did anything happen historically there?" (yes, we cracked a bell and then ate cheesesteaks.)
And my personal favorite:
"I've heard that most Americans do not have passports, is that true? Do you know how many do?" (actually, of the 307,212,123 Americans, about 104,008,105 have passports, though some have expired.)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I am still in search of a job, after I realized my mobile # was wrong on my CV. I just do not understand why, if you have a sign stating you need a waitress, you haven't called me yet (and yes I fixed the phone # issue at this place.) I just want to be able to enjoy myself and not worry about budgeting my funds, as well as have something to do every once in a while.
Tuesday I went to Stonehenge and Salisbury, nice to see, but no need to go back.
Classes have been going well - it is fun to switch up the nights that I attend to get a different perspective from the different groups of people that go to each night.
All for now, hope everyone is well! Miss you all.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I then went up to check out the shoe boudoir. An appropriate name because the shoes in it were so costly, that it felt almost sinful to touch them! There was Chanel, Prada, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin, *sigh*. If I were rich!
Last evening, Lauren and I traveled to Shepard's Bush to see a sold out Taylor Swift show. Pretty amazing given that she is a country artist making it big in the UK. Not exactly cowboy country. We waiting outside the venue for 1/2 hour before getting inside. There were a ton of teenage screaming girls who were so excited to see "Tayla, Tayla, Tayla!" There were also a lot of older men, not all dads, who knew every word to every song. Kind of strange. She performs very well and really rocks out. It was a good time all around.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
As we were walking through Bath, we saw two Hen parties pass by. The Hen party is the British equivalent to the Bachelorette party, but a million times more silly. One group was dressed as Sandy and the Pink Ladies from the last scene of Grease. The other was dressed in some sort of crappy 80s attire. I totally want a fancy dress bachelorette - totally ridiculous and WAY more interesting!
We walked a lot and by the end of the day were quite tired. For those of you not on facebook, here is a link to my pictures on shutterfly... http://londoncallingforjen.shutterfly.com/
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday night I had my first class, Economics with Justice. I loved it, I could seriously take that class every day and be completely happy. We have barely scratched the surface of what we will discuss in the weeks to come, but I am loving it. I am a bit less certain about the Philosophy class that I am going to tonight, we are discussing how ancient philosophers are their thought are still applicable today. Interesting...
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was amazing. They had the coolest exhibits that were unlike any history or art museum. I spent literally an hour in the Jewelry exhibit that had jewelry dating back to 1500 BC! It was spectacular. There was an exhibit with costumes from plays and concerts that was really fun as well.
Random note. They pick up trash like 6 times a day here. Weird.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
So I arrived safely in London yesterday morning and was met by a driver with a sign "Jennifer Schuster" to take me to Lauren's flat in style, an Audi! It was very nice and much more comfortable than the plane. Oh how I wish I could travel in business class with their reclining seats.
So I unpacked and do think I brought entirely too many things, mainly clothes, because I was very good about the shoes. We went to Wagamama for lunch, see the picture for my lunch.
We came back to the flat and were totally engrossed in the Top 50 Number 1 of the Century So Far. This is what I have learned... the Brits LOVE singing groups, not bands. Take That, Westlife, Girls Aloud, Sugababes, S Club 7, the Spice Girls, you name it. Most have never crossed the pond but are TREMENDOUSLY popular here. The LOVE dance music. In the 90s, when the US was grunging it up, the Brits were dancing their pants off. It just amazed me that nothing in the Top 10 was from earlier that 1990 - what century were they looking at? Strange.
Have to finish a paper before classes start on Tuesday! EEKK
Sunday, April 19, 2009
My last day of work is on Wednesday and I am SO excited to leave workers' compensation but sad to leave the people I have grown to love. I am scared as hell to be quitting my job, and the security I have become accustomed to. Most of all, I am broken up about leaving my family, since I graduated from college, I have lived with them and really gotten close to them - more so than when I was a kid. I love and appreciate the unwavering support and unconditional love they have provided me with and I will miss them desperately. They are my rock and while I am so happy to be setting my feet upon the road to begin the rest of my life, I am sad to leave without them.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Here is what I do know:
I believe in God and pray often.
The God I believe in doesn't judge people based on their race, sexual orientation or system of belief.
This God made humans in its likeness, and therefore we are all the same.
This God also gave humans intelligence and the ability to create things to help others, we should embrace this search for knowledge and not fear it.
I believe that God entrusts humanity to humans, and we are to help our fellow man.
I believe that the Lord has been trying to tell me what I should be doing with my life for a very long time, it has just taken me a long time to hear the message.
I believe in the possibilities of Christianity and am frightened by the limitation and prejudices that organized religion puts into place.
I think that sometimes religion gets in the way of God.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Going to Ukraine was truly an amazing experience. It was so interesting to see a nation trying to move and grow. Kiev was a cool city, but Crimea was the most beautiful place. The mountains literally dropped off into the sea and the air was crisp and cool.
Of all of the things that I liked about Ukraine, was the warmth of the people who lived there. Our 1st tour guide, Anastacia showed us the cutest group of seniors dancing on Sunday night in the subway station. They were so sweet!
When we got to Yalta, the cook in the hotel was so concerned that we hadn't eaten enough breakfast. Igor, our tour guide, brought me flowers on my birthday. We went to dinner at a Georgian restaurant and the staff was so sweet to us, so much so, that when we returned on Thursday night and they were closing - coats on and ready to go, they opened their doors and cooked a whole meal for us. The extreme warmth of these people is over whelming and amazing, and a sad commentary on the lack of this in Western Culture
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing....
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on
What you got they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on...Stay safe tonight
You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom
Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can't sell it, can't buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight
And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Home, hard to know what it is if you've never had one
Home, I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is
I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme.
Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi
Friday, February 27, 2009
We are taking Dad to Fogo De Chao for his birthday Saturday night. It will be interesting to see, 15 different meats on a stick brought to the table, I will of course skip this and rock out with the reportedly incredible salad bar. I saw a picture on the website and it looks pretty awesome.
I am starting to get really nervous about the next several months of my life. Only 55 days until I leave work, 57 until I fly to London. I am so excited to spend the time in London, especially with Lauren. It is just so nerve wracking to quit and uproot my life. But it is so exciting at the same time. I am on an amazing journey and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Anyway - I spent a lot of time thinking about my top 10 all time favorite songs, and I think I got it right.
1. Bad- U2
2. In Your Eyes- Peter Gabriel
3. Gimme Shelter -The Rolling Stones
4. Come Undone - Duran Duran
5. Babylon - David Gray
6. Under The Boardwalk - The Drifters
7. Under Pressure - David Bowe and Queen
8. Once in a Lifetime - The Talking Heads
9. London Calling - The Clash
10. Everlong - Foo Fighters
There are more that round out the top 20...
I am obviously procrastinating.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Therefore, I am starting a blog to document my travels and thoughts!
I hope you enjoy.
Bad - U2
If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, you know I wouldIf I could, I would let it go
Surrender, dislocate If I could throw this lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you break, break away
Into the night through the rain
Through the half-light, through the flame If I could through myself
Set your spirit freeI'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light, through the day
So let it go, and so fade away
To let it go, and so to fade away I'm wide awake
I'm wide awakeI'm not sleeping
Oh, no, no I'm not sleeping
If you should ask well maybe They'd tell you what I would say
True colours fly in blue and black
Bruised silken skies and burning flak
Colours crash, collide in blood shot eyes
If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would let it go
This desparation, seperation
In temptation, isolation
Desolation, isolation Let it go, and so to fade away
To let it go, and so fade fade fade away
Not fade away, hey
Not fade away, no no Not fade away I'm wide awake
I'm wide awakeWide awakeI'm wide awake
Wide awakeI'm not sleeping
Oh, no no I'm not sleeping