Truffles to Hot Dogs to Burgers: There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
by Damianista | Fan Fun with Damian Lewis | April 9, 2018
Talk about twists and turns — Billions is on fire!
As Ira and his fiancee are having dinner at Craft, the new Halls are sitting at the next table recording their conversation. We do not know if it is her ordering of $14 a gram white truffles, 20 grams of them, on her Tagliatelle with Guffanti Butter from Emilia Romagna — the region of Italy which I believe has made the most sacred contributions to human kind: prosciutto, parmigiano-reggiano, and balsamic vinegar — but Ira hesitates to propose because of the financial mess he is in. Since he has lost all his savings, he cannot give his fiancee the wedding she deserves, cannot take her to the honeymoon they discussed and cannot even afford the engagement ring he has picked for her. He can barely give her truffles! Ira is in love and probably expecting his girlfriend to say she would marry him no matter what, but guess what, she wants to wait.
While one couple cannot get married because of financial problems, another couple is talking about financial problems as they are ending their marriage. Their faces speak volumes as Axe and Lara are signing the separation agreement. Bach says it will take up to four months for the agreement to get finalized and I am still behind my words these two will get back together before that! As Lara thanks Axe for honoring what they always said they would do in case of a separation, splitting the assets 50-50, Axe is genuine when he says they built it together.
Yet, he is concerned the government may find a way to stain all his money that has been through the banking system and the amount he is sure that they cannot touch is about $320 million. The two of them putting aside the separation immediately and thinking about the money is beyond me. Axe should have more the government cannot see and he has an idea.
He finds Raul Gomez, the head of the police pension fund, at the shooting range where Raul practices to keep his certificate even though he is retired. Someone who still practices in retirement should understand how Axe cannot give up trading, right? But Gomez resists when he realizes Axe is there to ask him to move the pension fund’s $2.2 billion to one of his satellites. The police cannot risk a whiff of impropriety at the moment even Axe makes sure there is no connection between him and the fund who will invest the pension fund’s money.
But a man needs to provide for his family and Axe sees an opportunity in Michael Panay’s fund that is going down.
Axe meets Panay at the new Whitney Museum. Panay is selling everything and will walk away with $40 million which he believes he can live on. Axe does a quick calculation for him: Only his debts and his properties require $10 million a year. Add to that his new home office with a lease and an analyst or two, the private school for his kids, his daughter’s horse, and by the way, will he start flying commercial with the mortals or what? Yes, he may even need to give up on his personal driver. Yikes! Panay is ready to give an inch off his dick to get his life back and Axe may have an orphaned $2 billion looking for a safe home.
Who knew Chef Ryan would be critical in luring Raul Gomez into business? Ryan is tasked with replicating the burger Axe, Wags, and Raul had at Ann’s Snack Bar, a small restaurant in Atlanta famous for their burgers, when they were down there to see Killer Mike‘s R.A.P music release party. Raul moved an extra half billion from his fund to Axe Capital right after that night so who knows the burger may do the trick again! Chef Ryan follows the original recipe, and tries his version on Axe and Wags. While Axe thinks it is very close to the original, Wags does not find it good enough and goes ballistic on Ryan that they may need to fly Chef Ann’s sister (the chef died in 2015 and his sister and brothers are running the restaurant) with her vat of original cooking oil to make the burger for them. When Axe WTFs him, he spills the beans: Taylor is looking for “quants” aka the rocket scientists of Wall Street, who use mathematical models, rather than traditional research and intuition, to trade securities. Wags believes, since the Dutch East India Company first offered shares to the public in 1602, many smart mathematicians tried but could not solve the markets. Besides, Billy Beane never won a World Series. Moneyball, anyone?
While Wags does not believe in quants, the PMs at Axe Capital seem to be intimidated by them. Mafee is talking about the computers taking over the world like in The Tommyknockers which Rudy is quick to point out that is about aliens, not computers. Mafee feels he got into the sector a generation too late like Tony Soprano did into his sector, and Ben Kim regrets he did not listen to his mother and did applied mathematics rather than coding at Stanford. The only PM who seems to have no fear is Dollar Bill! The man is not uncertain that computers cannot do the research he does and, well, he certainly has a point.
Taylor sets up a two-step quant interview that starts with the interviewee being given a cardboard they need to make a box out of, followed by a verbal part where they need to convince Taylor of their approach to the markets. The first guy cannot turn the cardboard into a box and fails the verbal part, too, because all he wants to do is to model Taylor’s thinking process while Taylor wants an algorithm that works better than their own brain. The second guy gives in to his emotions and ruins the cardboard when he cannot turn it into a box.
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