Streetwise Professor

December 17, 2009

Odd Sights, Rio Edition

Filed under: — The Professor @ 8:16 pm

Alternate title: Something to Do While Bored, Sitting out a Flight Delay in Rio.  This gives me some time to relate some odd sights from the last couple of days.

  1. On the tram to Corcovado, a statue of Jesus.  (Not the big one at the top–a small statue in a shrine next to the tracks on the way up.)  Yeah, I’m sure you’re saying: big deal, a statue of Jesus in a Catholic country.  Who ever saw one of those before?  But with a hockey stick in its hand?  In Brazil?
  2. Sitting in the hotel lobby, waiting for a cab to the airport, drinking a caipirinha (a discovery of this trip)–and watching a show on the History channel dubbed into Portuguese about Russian bodyguards practicing the martial art of  ÑÐ°Ð¼Ð±Ð¾.  It’s amazing how every scene in Russia, from the gyms, to the streets, to the apartments, just looked tired and worn and beat all to hell.  Also brought back memories of a trip to Moscow, and seeing all of the guys with bullet heads, 19″ necks, black turtlenecks, and sport coats (in 90 degree heat), lounging against expensive black automobiles in front of expensive and trendy clubs.
  3. A bus with an advertisement (in Portuguese) in the back window for Sidney Sheldon’s new book.  I mean, he’s like, you know, dead, so how new can it be?  And even when he was alive, he was Sidney Sheldon. I really wonder how that translates, not just linguistically, but culturally.  Maybe there is an appeal in a macho Latin culture, because Sheldon supposedly wrote about “determined women who persevere in a tough world run by hostile men.”  Or so says Wikipedia, because I can’t give you a first hand review.
  4. Guys putting bags of nuts on the side mirrors of cars stuck in traffic, presumably for sale, then running like hell to pick them up when the traffic starts to move.  In the rain.  Does anybody buy?  They must, as otherwise nobody would be doing that.  What is the mechanism for providing quality assurance?  Can reputation work?  What is the mechanism that prevents people from just driving off, or taking the bag, rolling up the window, and mocking the poor vendor from inside a locked car?  Maybe it’s better not to know.
  5. A guy in Ipanema dressed up as Pele juggling a soccer ball during red lights.
  6. Rio taxi drivers who are constantly stalling their manual transmission cars, even on level roads.  This happened repeatedly, and with literally every taxi I took.  I don’t drive a stick much, but after a little while to re-familiarize myself, I hardly ever kill it, even on hills.
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  1. Good to know that you had a good time. And for sure “caipirinha” is a hit!

    Comment by Yuri Kasahara — January 8, 2010 @ 5:58 am

  2. Sounds like a fun trip. I took a taxi in Morocco a few years ago and where a Catholic driver might have a picture of the Virgin Mary, he had a picture of Saddam Hussein. I only noticed after we set off that the car had no back window. In Russia I had a bodyguard pick me up (long story) in their version of a Hummer with a Kalashnikov strapped to the dashboard. Didn’t make me feel very safe at all !

    Comment by Airport Person — April 30, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  3. From Russia … Craig Pirrong and Barack Obama …

    Comment by Sergey Selyunin — August 16, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  4. @Selyunin-What took you so long?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 16, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

  5. One point about Zero Hedge you never flagged: The list of their “readers’ comments” is obviously bogus, because there is no way for any reader to leave a comment… Just search for “leave a comment,” or “contact us”, and you get zero, zip, nada.
    Since there’s no way for readers to leave comments, or even email them, obviously the comments are part of the fakery.
    JE, Montreal

    Comment by Joseph Escamillo — July 14, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

  6. Dear Craig,

    I’ve been following what’s happening in the wheat markets fairly closely and would be interested to hear your thoughts, not just on wheat but on other food staples too. It seems that a combination of factors (fertiliser, diesel, labour, finance, a poor wheat harvest in China, a drought in the prairies in 2021, Ukraine, Russia,.. there may be others) are pointing to a substantial increase in price and some scarcity of food. I can’t quite work out what the impact will be (Ags aren’t really my area) but it seems like there is a possibility of losing 10 of millions of tonnes of wheat this year off the back of lower than average inventory levels (need to confirm). And could lead to real hardship for millions of the world poorest.

    I’d like to think that governments are doing their part to reduce any frictions in the system which might be preventing farmers from planting but can’t help wondering if this requires a level of foresight rarely observed.But I would also be interested to hear your thoughts on what governments might be able to do.

    Thanks in advance,


    N.B. I’ve given some thought to what governments could do to take some of the risk off farmers and would be interested to hear your view on synthetic futures which combine a standard deliverable wheat contract with a cash flow related to diesel and fertiliser prices. A farmer could then sell the deliverable contract and receive a monthly payment to cover any increase in costs for diesel and fertilser, helping to lock in their costs when they enter the contract. The wheat contract would be exchange traded but the monthly payments could be OTC with a proxy for the government. I’m not suggesting this would be available permanently but could be stood up when the government needs to encourage planting by absorbing some of the risk

    Comment by Laurence — March 25, 2022 @ 10:03 am

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