Monday, October 31, 2016

Finance: About Stock Markets And Quantum Physics

(Drivebycuriosity) - There is an old controversy whether stock markets behave randomly or if they reflect the fundamental facts. I think both approaches are correct, it depends on the time horizon.

In the very short run - daily or intraday - stock market movements are random, they are driven by noise (random news) or purely coincidental. If you take a longer term, the picture gets clearer the longer the time span goes.  Over 10 years and more the random aspects - flash crashes, intraday reversals, late nosedives and such - mostly disappear from the picture.

                                               Heisenberg`s Uncertainty Principle

This reminds me of physics. If you observe very small objects - electrons and other elementary particles - you get random movements, which are described by Quantum Physics. Experiments have shown that the behavior of particles like electrons is unpredictable. This is described for instance by the famous Heisenberg Principle, named after the physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg:  "The more precisely you know the position of a particle, the less precisely you can simultaneously know the momentum of that same particle" (physics). The behavior of these particles is uncertain ( and they "act" strangely & weird. Some particles  "disappear and reappear according to the strange laws of quantum mechanics, where everything that exits is never stable and is nothing but a jump from one interaction to another", writes  the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli (driveby). He adds "some "elementary particles vibrate and fluctuate constantly between existence and nonexistence and swarm in space". I think this describes intraday movements on the stock market as well.

The strange behavior does not apply to big objects, or does it? Heisenberg doesn`t apply to things like cars, washing machines, TV-sets. They behave mostly predictable - even that they can break down unexpectedly. If you look on very large objects - our sun system, galaxies, the cosmos - you can exactly predict how they will behave next year or in a million of years. Very big objects follow laws described by Newton & Einstein and not by Quantum Physics.

What we can learn from that?  Stock market movements can be interesting in the short run - and sometimes thrilling - but they are of no use for investment decisions. But Heisenberg doesn´t apply to long term trends. Investors do well if they ignore the random & noisy short term moves. The University New York calculated that since 1928 the US stock market (S&P 500) created an average return of about 10% p.a (dividends reinvested investopedia). So, investors with patience and a long term horizon get plentiful rewarded for the daily risks and the stress caused by all the noise.

PS  For illustration I used a painting by Jackson Pollock, called "Autumn Rhythm", which seems to reflect the random behavior of particles & stock markets.

Contemporary Art: The Viehof Collection @ Deichtorhallen, Hamburg

(Drivebycuriosity) - If you are a connoisseur of contemporary art and you are in or near Hamburg you should visit the museum Deichtorhallen (kunsthalle). They are showing now the Sammlung Viehof/Viehof Collection (through Januar 22, 2017). Over 600 works by 75 artists transformed the place into a temporary museum of contemporary art. Recently my wife and I used our stay in Hamburg for a short visit (driveby).

The show reminds me of the "The Broad" in Los Angeles which also displays works amazed by one private collector (driveby). The Viehof family made their money with groceries which apparently got partly invested into a collection of inspiring artist´s works. 

The collection focuses on German artists, but you can find some Americans too. I display here my favorites, a very subjective selection as usual. Here you can read some interpretations by the curators (in German viehof)

                                                       Alternate Worlds?

Above this paragraph you can see some images by Neo Rauch. The artist, born in 1960, grew up in the communist Eastern Germany, influenced by the so-called socialist realism, a style of realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union, and studied figurative painting (artinamerica). I love his paintings because he mixes realism with fantasy and  plays surrealist games on canvas. Maybe he shows alternate worlds. According to Wikipedia his "paintings mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte" (wikipedia).

"Männer mit Flugzeugen/Men with Airplanes" (2012, oil on canvas) followed by "Der Geborgene/The Salvaged" (2010, oil on canvas) & "Rauch" (2005, oil on canvas). It seems he portrayed himself as Elvis. Funny, isn`t it?

Above some images by Sigmar Polke another favorite of mine.The German artist, who lived from 1941–2010, was one of the most voraciously experimental artists of the 20th century. Here my report from the huge show @ New York`s MoMa 2014 (driveby).

"Weißer Raum/White Room" (1995, synthetic resin, varnish on polyester fabric). Maybe a reference to a song by Cream;
"Der Ritter II/The Knight II2 (1994, synthetic resin and varnish on polyester textile).

Above another star of the German art scene: Jörg Immendorff`s "Café Deutschland" (1962, oil on canvas) part of a series of 16 large paintings (wikipedia).

                                                          Minimalist Elegance

Above "This is Shahnoza 3" by Julian Opie ( 2006, Vinyl on wooden stretcher). I have to confess, I have never heard about this artist: But I like the minimalist elegance of this painting.

What the heck? This is "MK IV, 1995" by Peter Olin Doig (1982, mixed media on paper).

Above some paintings by Georg Baselitz who is seen as a pioneer of German Neo-Expressionist paintings: "Ornamentale (Remix)" (2005, oil on canvas) followed by "Meine Eltern von Dix (Remix)/My Parents by Dix" (2005, oil on canvas) & "Der Wald auf dem Kopf (Remix)/The Forest on the Head" (2005, oil on canvas)

 Funny coincidence. Some days later I saw more works by this artist @ one of Gagosian`s Manhattan dependances (driveby).

Aren´t they beautiful? Abstracts by Georg Herold: "Ägypten/Egypt" (1985, dispersion on canvas) & "Gott kennt keinen Unterschied/God doesn´t know a Difference" (1984, roof battens, labeled, wire, chipboards, dispersion paint).

                                                           Blood On The Wall

Per Kirkeby did nice abstracts too: "Das Herabnehmen/The Taking Down" (1985, oil on canvas).

The show has at least one Austrian: Hermann Nitsch - an ambitious artist with a wild history (artnews). The artist became famous with his ritualistic performance art, most prominently “The Orgien Mysterien Theater" and made headline with "Dionysian performances are replete with religious sacrifices, mock crucifixion, blood, entrails, robes, dance and nude participants" (nitsch).
This painting is called "Schüttbild/Kreuzwegstation/ Poured Picture/Station of the Cross" (1961, Blood, color on burlap).

Yes German artists like to joke: Above Martin Kippenberger`s "Kulturbäuerin bei der Reparatur ihres Traktors/Culture peasant Repairing Her Tractor" (1985, acrylic and plasticine on canvas and fabric). The artist made fun of the propaganda in the now defunct GDR, the socialist Eastern Germany.

                                                  Discovery Of The Day

The discovery of the day was Daniel Richter. A Google research didn´t show any relation with the more famous Gerhard Richter. Above some Richter paintings, most are untitled


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Movies: The Handmaiden

(Drivebycuriosity) -  Park Chan-wook is a magician of cinema.  The Korean movie director has a reputation for complex and provoking movies and his masterpieces "Old Boy" and "Stoker" belong to the strongest movies of the recent years.

After "Stoker" Park Chan-wook (family name first) went back to Korea where he shot "The Handmaiden" which is now running in US cinema theaters (imdb). He used the novel "Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters and transferred the plot from the Victorian England into Korea under the Japanese occupation in the 1930s. A young woman gets a job as a handmaiden for a wealthy young lady as part of a scheme (this is a spoiler free blog). I was fascinated by the twists & surprises of the plot and cared a lot about the characters.

But what makes the movie really outstanding is its intoxicating visual power. In my opinion Park belongs into a league of visual masters like Kubrick, Lars von Trier & Paul Thomas Anderson. He - and his cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung - drove the intensity of Asian cinema to a new peak and cast a spell on the audience by a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of pictures. The film is highly erotic & esthetic.

I was amazed by watching the lead actresses Kim Tae-ri & Kim Min-hee and Jo Jin-woong as the dubious uncle & Ha Jung-woo as the greasy "count" will also stay in my mind for a while.

"The Handmaiden" is a milestone of cinema and I hope I will see more by the Korean master in the future.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Culture: A Visit @ Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg

(Drivebycuriosity) - If you are an art lover and you are in or near Hamburg you should visit the Hamburger Kunsthalle (kunsthalle).  The amazing place @ the Binnenalster spreads over 2 buildings and shows an impressing variety from old masters to contemporary art & avant-garde. I show here my favorites, a very subjective selection as usual.

Spotting the other visitors is (almost) as fascinating as observing the art works.

Above you can see "Veduta Ideale with Palace Staircase" by Bernado Bellotto, known as Canaletto (17,62, oil on canvas).

 Above "Flora" by Jan Massys (1559, oil on canvas) followed by "Young Lady with a Mirror and a Maid" by Paris Bordone (ca. 1535-40, oil on canvas). What`s going on here?


                                                             German Romanticism

Above an icon of the German Romanticism: Caspar David Friedrich`s "Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer/Hiker above the Sea of Fog" (around 1817, oil on canvas).

Above a view into the collection of Salonmalerei, paintings which hit the taste button of Paris` elite: "The Vintage Festival" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1871, oil on canvas) followed by "The Prayer" by Jean-Léon Gérome (1865, oil on mahagany panel) & "Phryne before the Aeropagus", also by Jean-Léon Gérome (1865, oil on canvas).

Above you can see that Edward Munch created more than just patterns for Halloween masks: "Madonna" (1893-95, oil on canvas) & "Girls on the Peer" (1901, oil on canvas).

The museum also has some interesting caricatural paintings & Expressionists : "John, the Woman Slayer" by George Grosz (1918, oil on canvas) followed by Max Beckman`s "Odysseus & Calypso" (1943) & "Sintflut/The Flood" (1908, both oil on canvas).

Above "Freundinnen/Friends" by Karl Hofer (1923/24, oil on canvas) & Lyonel Feininger`s "Mouth of the Rega III2 (1929/30, oil on canvas).

Above a view onto the contemporary art collection: "As for the Open" by Sam Francis (1962/63, oil on canvas).

The museum has much, much more to offer of course, highly recommended.