Odd Lots

Bloomberg News

Podcast Overview

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

Podcast Episodes

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 baseball betting fund that returned 14 percent in a year to his investors. On this episode, Peta talks to us about why baseball is uniquely suited to data analytics, how he was able to exploit market inefficiencies, and what sports betting can teach us about market structure.

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 similar to and different from the fictional TV character.

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. Confused? You're not alone. On this week's episode, we talk to Chris Burniske of asset management company Ark Invest to talk about this fascinating new world.

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 Journal, and the author of "Catfish Days: From Belzoni To The Big Apple," to talk about how the boom happened and why it eventually collapsed.

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 hottest and most lucrative trades around. We also talk about "50 Cent." That's not the rapper, but the mystery buyer who's been bucking wider trend and buying volatility protection at a consistent clip.

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 big tournaments and how he keeps a fundamentally optimistic outlook on life. He also offers three simple words of advice for everyone who trades.

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 over railway records from the British Raj era in India. Dave Donaldson is the most recent recipient of the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal awarded to economists under the age of 40. He speaks about what he learned from studying trade across history and what exactly it has to offer in modern times.

How Instagram Turned Into a Giant Market for Food

Avocado toast, unicorn frappuccinos, and kale salads. Taking photos of your food and putting them on Instagram is a now a huge trend that's transforming markets in more ways than one. In this edition of the Odd Lots podcast we talk about how photogenic foods are impacting commodities prices, and how the retail market is actively courting Instagram 'influencers' who can promote their business. We speak with Amanda Topper, a food blogger who works as associate director of foodservice research at Mintel, as well as Julie Verhage, a Bloomberg reporter who's written about the impact of Instagram on commodities prices.

How a Fund Manager's Trying to Fix Some of the Mideast's Issues

When you think about the Middle East what springs to mind? Perhaps oil, maybe political instability, terrorism or even war. On this week's episode of the Odd Lots podcast we speak to someone who's trying to tackle the region's biggest issues in new and creative ways. Emad Mostaque is the co-chief investment officer of Capricorn Fund Managers Ltd. and a long-time specialist in Gulf markets who successfully predicted the collapse in oil prices that's currently causing a headache for many Middle Eastern economies. He talks about his proposal to give OPEC a brand new tool to control the crude market in the face of rising U.S. production, as well as a new project to use big data and technology to fight Islamic extremism and help Syrian refugees find jobs.

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