Odd Lots

Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so random weekly walk through hot topics in markets, finance and economics.




      What It's Like to Suddenly Become a Bond Manager in the Credit Crisis

      We talk a lot on Odd Lots about the idea of investing. But what's it like to actually have to put money to work in some of the trickiest investing environments in history? David Schawel was an equity analyst who suddenly became the manager of a portfolio of subprime mortgage bonds during the worst of the credit crunch. Now he manages fixed-income portfolios for New River Investments. We talk to him about what it was like to manage a subprime portfolio back in 2008, the differences between...



      Why Wheat is the World's Most Exciting Market Right Now

      Financial markets around the world are stuck in a long period of low volatility and boredom. But one pocket is seeing some wild action -- grains. Spring wheat (a form of high-protein wheat grown in the northern Midwest) has been on a tear, alongside action in soy and corn. What explains the whipsaw? Joe and Tracy speak with Tommy Grisafi, a longtime trader who works as a risk manager at Advance Trading, a firm that helps farmers take advantage of financial markets. Grisafi walks us through...



      How A Former Wall Street Trader Cracked The World Of Betting On Baseball

      It's no secret that a lot of people in finance like to bet on things. But how many of them take the time to actually beat the house in gambling? On this week's Odd Lots, we talk to Joe Peta, a former Lehman Brothers trader, and the author of "Trading Bases," a book about betting on baseball. Peta started focusing on baseball after a freak accident (getting hit by an ambulance) gave him lots of time to think about applying his trading knowledge to baseball. Eventually he launched a $1 million...



      Why a Natural Gas Company Is Shaking the World of Islamic Finance

      Earlier this month, Dana Gas, a UAE-based company, rocked the world of Islamic finance by announcing that one of its Shariah-compliant bonds was, well, no longer Shariah-compliant. On this week's episode of Odd Lots, we speak to veteran Dubai-based journalist Frank Kane about the rise of Islamic finance (what it is, how it works, why it's grown so fast) and why the Dana Gas announcement is such a big deal.



      This Is What a Real-Life Wendy Rhoades Actually Does

      On the TV show "Billions," one of the most important characters is Wendy Rhoades, the psychologist at Axe Capital who helps traders get out of their slumps. What viewers may not realize is that the job exists in real life. On this week's Odd Lots, we speak with Brett Steenbarger, a professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University and author of several books on trading psychology. Steenbarger, who has worked with several funds, explains to us what he actually with traders and how is work is...



      Inside The Booming World of Initial Coin Offerings

      By now everyone's heard of Bitcoin, and probably has an opinion on it. But the world of cryptocurrencies has a new object of fascination: ICOs. Whereas the tech boom in the 90s was characterized by an obsession with IPOs, these ICOs (initial coin offerings) are cryptographic tokens being sold onto the market for hungry investors eager to get in on new ventures. And while some ICOs are connected to companies, others are connected to "protocols" that aren't even recognizably corporations....



      The True Story Of America's Catfish Gold Rush

      America has had many well-known booms and busts in its history: Real estate, internet stocks, Beanie Babies... too many to list. But did you know there was once a catfish gold rush? Yep, starting in the 1970s, farmers in the south, in states like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas started devoting thousands of acres to catfish farming in the hopes that catfish would become America's next great white meat. Joining us on this week's Odd Lots is Mike McCall, the editor of the Catfish...



      Why Everyone's Talking About the VIX and 50 Cent

      For the past few years, everyone in markets has been talking about nothing. Market moves have been subdued and the Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, better known as the VIX, recently sank to its lowest in about three decades. We speak with Pravit Chintawongvanich, head of derivatives strategy at Macro Risk Advisors and an expert in volatility. He explains what the VIX actually measures, why it's so low, and how betting against sharp moves in the market became one of the...



      Poker Legend Phil Hellmuth Has Advice That Traders Should Hear

      Phil Hellmuth is one of poker's biggest stars. His success is undeniable, as he's won 14 bracelets at the World Series of Poker, more than anyone else. And his outsize personality at the table has earned him the nickname "The Poker Brat." But while Hellmuth may be known for his outbursts and colorful behavior, he's actually one of the most disciplined players the game has ever seen. On this week's Odd Lots, Phil explains how he manages risk, how he avoids going on "tilt," how he prepares for...



      What a 150-Year Old Indian Railway System Tells Us About Trade

      It's no secret that international trade has been criticized lately. But why exactly are countries generally happy to trade within their borders -- from one state or town to another, for example -- but more reluctant to trade across international ones? And why are countries so focused on making things domestically? On this edition of the Odd Lots podcast we speak to an over-achiever in the field of economics who specializes in trade and is known for rigorous research that has included poring...