Wanted: Humble Investment Experts

Goldman Sachs back 8-10 years ago charged ahead with superior profits and assembled a super duper hedge fund team led by Mark Carhart. They called themselves the Global Alpha team, sounds so Fantastic Four like. 

If you are Mark Cahart, you almost have it all your way for most of your life. Mark Carhart looks out over the packed New York conference back in 2005 and tells investors that Warren Buffett has it all wrong. Carhart, 40 then, co-head of the quantitative strategies group at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., uses his July speech to poke fun at Warren's penchant for investing in market-leading brands like Coca-Cola and Gillette. He cites study after study showing that big-name companies with high price-earning multiples or rapid growth rates make poor bets. Traditional stock pickers like Buffett, a fabled raconteur, do have one redeeming quality, Carhart jokes: ``They tell great stories.'' (Lesson - Don't fuck around with people who have done better and longer than you)

Carhart is one of the world's most successful money managers, a mastermind behind Global Alpha, a US$10 billion hedge fund for wealthy clients and employees of Goldman Sachs. In 2005, Carhart and co-manager Raymond Iwanowski, 40, notched a 51 percent gross return at Global Alpha. Posting that kind of gain requires taking risks -- and last year, Alpha lost 6 percent, its first deficit since 1999. Carhart, a former assistant professor of finance at the University of Southern California, helps oversee other hedge funds, four mutual funds and scores of separate accounts. In all, he and Iwanowski have US$101.5 billion at their command. Carhart and Iwanowski use math-heavy trading tactics that fund consultant Sol Waksman likens to counting cards in a casino. The two lead a corps of computer-loving traders, statisticians and finance and economics Ph.D.s. (Lesson - If you have the scores of Phds, math wizards and other brilliant minds at your disposal, you should generate superior returns... NOT! Be humble with financial markets, once you think you have mastered it, you are fucked. If you approach with the attitude that the more you know, the less you know of it, you stand a better chance of not have egg on your face, and live to fight again.)

Their team makes -- and sometimes loses -- millions of dollars a day. At the heart of their empire is Global Alpha, which generated about US$700 million in fees for Goldman Sachs in fiscal 2006. This money machine hums mostly behind the scenes. Carhart and Iwanowski, friends since their days at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, oversee about 10 other Goldman hedge funds, too. Together, they trade everything from Japanese stocks to U.S. soybeans, to Israeli shekels. Global Alpha is part of the richest hedge fund empire the world has ever seen. Last year, Goldman Sachs eclipsed D.E. Shaw & Co. and Bridgewater Associates Inc. to become the largest hedge fund manager, with US$29.5 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2006. That figure excludes Goldman's proprietary-trading funds and its funds of hedge funds.

Carhart and Iwanowski hunt for market variables called risk factors that often lead to excess investment returns, or premiums, according to people familiar with the fund. Some, such as a measure called the value premium -- the difference between the return of a group of stocks with high book values relative to their prices and that of a group with low book value-to-price ratios -- have been used by other money managers for years. Goldman Sachs has identified more than 20 new risk factors, which it doesn't disclose, even to its own investors. Carhart never reveals the secrets. Old friends and people who've invested in the fund say they're not really sure how it works. (Lesson - Once you think you have found the key, it will evaporate right in front of you.)

On any given day, Carhart's team of 50-60 investment professionals uses Global Alpha's factors to deploy 20 trading strategies in markets the world over, according to an investor in the fund and Global Alpha documents. During 2006, the fund's picks ranged from Japanese and Dutch stocks to bets on and against the Polish zloty. At the center of the Global Alpha story are Carhart and Iwanowski, devotees of quantitative analysis, or quants, who came to Goldman Sachs from opposite ends of the financial world.

Carhart first turned heads in money circles as a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago and later as an assistant finance professor at the University of Southern California's Gordon S. Marshall School of Business. Iwanowski, by contrast, has spent his entire career on Wall Street. What unites them is that they're quants, who put their faith in data, rather than human judgment, when deciding what to buy or sell. To money managers like them, what you think about a company's management or products doesn't matter much. ( Lesson - Quants take the human element, the human judgment out of the equation.... well, you can't and shouldn't.)

Jokes aside, Carhart would do well to heed two Buffett rules. No. 1: Never lose money. No. 2: Don't forget rule No. 1. In 2006, Global Alpha went wrong when just about everything else at Goldman Sachs went right. After a roller-coaster ride that included a 10 percent August plunge, Global Alpha ended the year down 6 percent, according to an investor in the fund. The loss, the first since 1999, came in a year when Goldman earned US$9.54 billion, the most in Wall Street history. The investment bank made headlines by earmarking US$16.5 billion for salaries and bonuses, including a record US$53.4 million bonus for Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein. Carhart and Iwanowski declined to comment for this story, as did other Goldman Sachs executives. It was a rare misstep for Global Alpha. The fund skated through the 2000-02 U.S. bear stock market without a down year and posted an annualized return of 19.75 percent, after fees, from Dec. 4, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2005, according to Global Alpha's 2005 annual report. The average hedge fund returned an annualized 9.1 percent from Dec. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2005, according to Hedge Fund Research. Shares of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway rose a mere 5.9 percent during the period.

Only now, Carhart and Iwanowski are in a hole. Like most hedge funds, Global Alpha charges an annual management fee of 1.5 percent or 2 percent and takes a 20 percent cut of any profit. Before the fund can take its 20 percent in 2007 -- assuming it makes money -- its quants must first make up the 2006 loss.
One of the most-surprising things about Carhart is that for a guy in an industry known for big money and bigger egos, it's hard to find anyone who'll say a bad word about him. Former colleagues, classmates and teachers remember him as one of the smartest people they've known. After graduation, Carhart headed for Yale University, where he majored in economics and served as managing editor of the Yale Economics & Business Review. He also began dabbling in the markets as a director of the Yale College Student Investment Group. After Yale, Carhart set to work on a doctorate in finance at Chicago. He studied under finance professor Eugene Fama, best known for his work on the efficient-market hypothesis, which holds that prices reflect all there is to know about stocks or other securities.

Global Alpha doesn't merely bet on the direction of stock or bond prices. It bets on differences between those prices. Global Alpha employs seven strategies in the bond markets alone, according to Goldman Sachs Global Alpha Fund Plc's June 30 semiannual report. The simplest of them is to buy government bonds of one country while shorting those of another. In the U.S. stock market, Global Alpha might buy oil and insurance stocks and simultaneously bet against semiconductor shares. The fund also allocates part of its US$10 billion to something called ``global event anomalies,'' according to a November 2001 prospectus. With this strategy, the fund attempts to make money from corporate stock buybacks and divestitures and from changes in how market indexes like the S&P 500 are calculated. Carhart and Iwanowski also employ a commodities strategy and an asset-allocation strategy that bets on various mixes of investments: stocks, bonds, currencies and beyond.

Global Alpha quants have designed their fund so that if things go wrong, the probability is low that the 20 strategies will lose a lot money at the same time. That, anyway, is the idea. In the 2005 report filed with the Irish exchange, Global Alpha reported a gross return of 51 percent for the year. The report says only two strategies -- global anomalies and the country bond selection -- suffered losses of more than 1 percent. During the first quarter of 2006, Global Alpha rose a net 9.5 percent. The next quarter, a bunch of the fund's strategies soured. Global Alpha lost 3.5 percent during the period. Its ``developed equity country selection'' fell 2.5 percent, hurt by bad bets on Japanese and Dutch stocks. Its developed country currencies strategy sank 1.9 percent, whacked by a wrong-way wager on the dollar and another against the pound. Emerging market currencies strategy sank 1.7 percent, nipped by short positions in the shekel and zloty.
Piecing together the second half of 2006 is harder. A Global Alpha investor who asked not to be identified says the fund's roughly 10 percent slide last August mostly reflected bad bond market investments. Global Alpha also bet that stocks in Japan would rise while those in the rest of Asia would fall -- wrong; that U.S. stocks would stumble -- wrong; and that the dollar would rise -- wrong again. Global Alpha finished November down 11.6 percent in 2006.

Trees don't grow to the sky. Neither do hedge fund returns. Superman exists only in comics.

Where Is Mark Carhart and Global Alpha now?

Goldman Sachs shut down the fund in September 2011. The closure of Global Alpha is a striking reversal for a fund that was once the toast of Wall Street and spawned the careers of some of the most well-known quants in the business, including Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital, and Mark Carhart, the founder of Kepos Capital. Global Alpha gained prominence as high-frequency trading, in which computer models execute lightning-fast trades, became a common strategy among hedge funds.
Global Alpha was started in 1995 with just $10 million. Over time its results soared. At its peak in 2007, Global Alpha ran about $12 billion, although that number has dwindled to about $1 billion now in the wake of a number of wrong bets. The fund is also having a rough year, according to a person close to the firm, and is down about 12 percent so far for 2011.

In 2010, Carhart launched his own quant shop (Kepos Capital), now managing just $500m. Let's just say his fund's performance to date have been lukewarm.

Why Parents Shouldn't SMS

The Equaliser - Important Insights For Coffee Shop Talk

Casual conversations can sometimes elicit the roll of our eyes, and sometimes I have to stop myself wanting to explain an investing issue further among friends as it could drag on and on. However, when you can add logic and persuasion into an investing issue, we musn't be stingy. 

There are again two types of people in the world when it comes to knowledge and information dissemination. Group one are those who will try and get by by hoarding as much knowledge and information for their advantage (what the rest don't know would benefit me, I have leverage and the edge). 

Group one are also those who are likely to "lord over people" with their "extra knowledge and information". For example, they are the ones who may have a passion for wines and would read up voraciously on it, and in social settings will snigger and gently shake their heads at any faux pas or shallow commentary on certain wines - that's lording over people. Get me away from these types. 

No one is better or should be compared based on what they know, who they know, what jobs they do, how much they earn, ... we just are. Nobody will know everything, can the same wine expert tell me the difference between aMontecristo Edmundo and a Trinidad Robusto Extra? Or what's a kimedashi, okuridashi and oshidashi in sumo? So why lord over people in the first place?

The more you know, the more you realise that you don't know... in anything and everything.

Group two are those who will share their expertise, and are willing to be corrected, and learn from each other. I am sure you have worked for bosses/superiors from the two groups - one will only share only a part of what he knows, while another who will committ to telling and sharing everything. Naturally the second one will do much better in his life and career: the person who is more willing to share all will learn a lot more. Group one types lack confidence and has a low self-esteem, too cynical and probably a boot licker at every right opportunity, kowtow to the seemingly high and mighty - please .... 

My favourite word in English/French is egalite or egalitarian. Meaning:asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life. I don't lose out if others benefit, its all in your mindset, which is why I blog, I believe the internet is The Great Egalite (French), the great equaliser. 

Of course, equality is a desired quality to aspire to, and true equality must not be based on a desired quality as reality may dictate that the flip side is true. True equality can only be pursued when you are convinced that ITS TRUE, just existing gives you the "rights", that should be the entire argument and basis. Or if you are spiritually minded, the maker maketh, hence I am. No one can or should make another person anything "less". My blog welcomes group two types; if you are in group one, well ... , hope you grow up someday and you will lead a happier life.

How To Hire Well

Put about 100 bricks in some particular order in a closed room with an open window. Then send 2 or 3 candidates in the room and close the door. Leave them alone and come back after 6 hours and then analyze the situation. 

If they are counting the bricks.
Put them in the census taking department or the estimator for the number who turned out for Bersih.

If they are recounting them.
Put them as returning officers for election votes.

If they have messed up the whole place with the bricks.
Put them in MCA.

If they are arranging the bricks in some strange order.
Put them in Pemandu.

If they are throwing the bricks at each other, put them in MIC.

If they are sleeping. Put them in civil service.

If they have broken the bricks into pieces. 
Put them in ETP Tender Committee.
If they are sitting idle. 
Put them in VP positions of any top political parties.

If they say they have tried different combinations, yet not a brick has been moved. 
Put them in PDRM.

If they have already left for the day. 
Put them in VP positions of any top political parties.

If they are staring out of the window. 
Put them in MACC.

And then last but not least. If they are talking to each other and not a single brick has been moved. Congratulate them and put them in top management of any listed GLC.

Remi Gaillard's Funny Videos

He is creative and funny. He uses real life situations and basically inserts his own wackiness into that situation. Good stuff.

The first one sees him at a tennis exhibition match between Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte. He basically psyches himself up to go down to court and just wants to play a point or two with them. Great guts.

Its to create the Tour de France dream for normal people, and on a normal Sunday, he spots casual riders on their own and creates a scenario as if these people are about to cross the finishing line of a major cycling event. Tons of extras.

This is a brilliant spoof of Rocky, self explanatory.

Sometimes we just need to not take things so seriously, have a laugh or two, life is hard enough.

Its Friday

An Excellent Health & Beauty Blog

It is so hard to start a blog, do you have something to share, will you be able to post regularly, will you run out of things to say after a few weeks? I think 90% of all blogs close within 6 months, most will just give up. It takes passion but also a desire to share something. If it is just an ego trip, you will also tire of it easily as it takes a couple of years to build traffic.

I have know Fui Ping for a while. I know of her blog and have been reading it for some time. Its an excellent health and beauty blog. She takes care in research and uses the blog as a platform to sell some of the more effective products as well. This is obviously not her full time job and she handles the blog very well.

I have included just the front page of her blog's previous few postings, that in itself is so concise and thoughtful in its research. Check it out and do your own research as well, it is good to hear things from a very passionate person about health and beauty.


FRIDAY, 13 JULY 2012

Preventing Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon (large intestine) and rectum) is currently the2nd most common cancer among men and women. It usually starts as a polyp, which is a small growth in the walls of the colon. Most polyps are benign, but as they grow, can become malignant and develop into colon cancer.

Lack of Symptoms

Colon cancer can be deadly because it exhibits no outward symptoms in the early stages. By the time there are symptoms, the cancer has probably spread to other parts of the body. Detecting colon cancer at the early stage increases the chances of treating it.

Some Telltale Signs
  • Blood in the stools. Diarrhea or constipation for no obvious reason, lasting longer than 6 weeks
  • A feeling of not having emptied the bowel properly after a bowel motion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain in the abdomen (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, cramps)
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting
Risk Factors
  • Age - 50 years and above.
  • Family history - your risk is higher if your parents / siblings have colon cancer or polyps.
  • Unhealthy diet - high in fat and calories and low in fibre.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle - smoking, alcohol intake, sedentary lifestyle, overweight.
  • Personal history of cancer - women who had cancer of the ovary, uterus or breast are more like to develop colon cancer.

How to Reduce the Risk

  • Ensure regular check-ups if above 50 years old. Check-ups may include a physical examination, a faecal occult blood test, a colonoscopy, chest X-rays and lab tests.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. A balanced, nutritious diet will keep you healthy and cope with the cancer and side effects of treatment.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
Colon cancer is a preventable disease. Act now to prevent colon cancer.

(Source: Prevent gut cancer, Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, StarFit4Life 17 June 2012)

Any Preventive Solution? 

Check out this article, which gives you comprehensive evidence of the safest preventive solution I know, The Role of Lingzhi in Cancer Treatment.

Email me at laifuiping@gmail.com. to choose Lingzhi / Ganoderma as your answer to preventing colon cancer and all other types of cancer. Click here to refer to Shuang Hor company website for Product Description and Price.


Tired, Tired, Tired: Poor Blood Circulation

Hey guys, do you constantly feel fatigued? Do you suffer from shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, poor memory, lack of stamina or infections that are too slow to heal? You may be suffering from poor blood circulation.

What cause poor blood circulation?
Working long hours, constant pressure and stress, lack of exercise..

This condition was previously seen in mainly middle-aged men, and those with hypertensiondiabetes orarteriosclerosis. It is now increasingly seen in otherwise healthy younger men.

Symptoms of poor blood circulation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Frequent urination
  • Cold limbs
  • Lower back pain, chest pain, numbness and weakness in arms and legs, pain or cramping in leg and hip
  • Impaired or slurred speech
Ignoring these signs can lead to serious health conditions, including the loss of limbs,heart attack or stroke.

(Source: Tired of being tired?, StarFit4Life, 10 June 2012)
Solution to get your energy back

There are scientific evidence to show that Lingzhi / Ganoderma has the effect in reducing blood pressure (click herefor article) and the ability to prevent diabetes (click here for article). 
All the fats and cholesterol that's clogging up your blood vessels will narrow the walls of the vessels, slowdown blood flow and form thrombo-embolism (which can cause stroke or heart attack).

Lingzhi / Ganoderma is able to dislodge all these dangerous garbage and henceimprove blood circulation. The good news is, as the mobility of the blood flow is improved, you will also feel more stamina and less tired.

Please email me at laifuiping@gmail.com if you want to buy Lingzhi as your solution.
Click here to refer to Shuang Hor company website for Product Description and Price.


What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and How to Prevent It

Fatty liver is expected to be a major health problem in Malaysia due to increasingly affluent lifestyles and poor dietary habits. These factors have led to the increasing prevalence of obesity amongst Malaysians. Fatty livers that are not well managed can progress to liver scarring, hardening and also liver cancer.

Fatty liver is a condition where excess fats are deposited in liver cells. Excessive accumulation of fats (where it exceeds 5% of the liver's weight) can lead to inflammation and liver tissue scarring (fibrosis).

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition when there are fatty deposits in the livers of people who never drink alcohol. Fatty liver a strong factor that puts such people at risk for cardiovascular or heart disease. The conditions of diabetes and obesity have strong links. Diabetics who have poor blood sugar control are at increased risk of having liver disease. People who are overweight and have high blood cholesterol also have a higher tendency to accumulate fat in the liver.

The widespread presence of NAFLD is disturbingly high worldwide, reported to be between 15% and 30% in Western countries (including Malaysia) and 18% to 30% in Japan. Unfortunately, most of the NAFLD are discovered incidentally e.g. when doctors find an enlarged liver or notice abnormal liver function test readings, in the course of looking for something unrelated. This is because the symptoms of liver disease are usually not obvious, e.g. tiredness, or a general feeling of being unwell.

There is no drug that can effectively cure NAFLD at the moment, even though some scientific studies are being done on tocotrienols from palm oil. While waiting for medical breakthroughs, a sensible solution is lifestyle modifications like exercising and watching one's diet.

However, there are over 30 scientific studies which have been published on the usage of ganoderma (lingzhi) in liver protection. Numerous statistical data have been collected from tens of thousands of people who showed improvements in their health after taking ganoderma. The advantages of ganoderma are well acknowledged in itsrole in protecting the liver.

Click here to read about the Research into the Effects of Ganoderma on Liver Protection.

E-liminating fatty livers, by Meng Yew Choong, StarFit4Life, 29 April 2012
Ganoderma the Ultimate Herbal Medicine, Chapter 4 by Dr Deng-Hai Chen)

Are you afraid of suffering from the complications of Fatty Liver Disease? Here is your solution - email me at laifuiping@gmail.com to buy. Click here to refer to Shuang Hor company website for Product Description and Price.

Inconsiderate Malaysians

Thanks for all the comments on rude Malaysians. I do agree, we can rid of most of the problems if we have strict enforcement and no bribing, much like Singapore. That will certainly cure the bad behaviour but it does not change the very make up of the person. 

Malaysians are generally the nicest people when you go to their homes, they make you feel welcomed. They offer you drinks and food even though you have obviously just eaten. They are the most gracious hosts. If you come into my circle of intimacy or closeness, be they family, friends of my kids, friends of my family ... and I have been introduced to you - we certainly treat you much better.

One of the issues lie with our neighbourliness. We sometimes rubbish some Western society for being overly friendly in striking up conversations with strangers, we seemed averse to bid a smile and wave to our neighbours even when we do not know them. Why is that? I believe Malaysians back in the 50s and 60s were much friendlier, yes, small towns even now are much much friendlier. There is more compassion, empathy ... in smaller towns you kinda know everybody or they would be somebody who knows somebody you know- hence the better behaviour? 

Cities are impersonal and cruel. Cynicism is rife, we tend to be too cautious. Naturally, our very bad crime rate causes us to be extremely wary of scams, strangers ... everyone thinking the worse of whomever they they come across. 

However, many of the rude behaviour cited in the previous posting was not due to the above reasoning. Its plain selfishness, its pure "what I can get away with mentality". First, lack of punishment and enforcement, we take our chances, chances of getting caught or fined is so remote. We cannot really take the law into our hands and smash the windows of the double parkers, can we, then its two wrongs. 

People in L.A. behave better, but not because they are nicer, its because if you anger some motorist, they could have a gun in their glove box and we know what could happen next. Fear is certainly not the way to go.

It all goes back to how we were brought up. If you have kids in the car and they see you double park, tailgate or road hog ... what do you think they will learn? The bad behaviour is all a reflection of bad parenting mainly, or rather ineffective parenting. Some parents will say ... well, friends' influence is also important when they get to their teens. Every layer shoulders some blame I guess. 

There is not enough peer pressure from the 'good guys'. I mean when someone does not give up their seat for the elderly or pregnant woman, there has to be sufficient "peer pressure" from the good guys around that fucker that would cause him/her to do so. But we fear we get ourselves into trouble.

Its the same mentality that has driven us to doom in politics, but when enough 'good people' do something, we get Bersih. If we see someone doing the "right stuff", stand up alongside that person, to let him/her know he/she is not alone. Power in  numbers. No point just whining and bitching, do you stand up with your fellow man? The "bad ones" may threaten one good guy, but not when a few more just step up and join forces. We must reward good behaviour to encourage good behaviour. We cannot stand by the side and then whine and complain.

Why is a person considerate? Being nice is a fucking burden in a soul-less city. But we try to be considerate because its the right thing to do, because you know if everyone does not do likewise, we will have anarchy. Good social behaviour has a lot to do with ethics, or rather self-imposed ethics. That kind of behaviour will translate to other aspects of society and economy.

I don't think I am exaggerating when I say, the proliferation of bad behaviour socially is but a reflection of similar bad behaviour in politics, in the boardroom, in the corporate world, even in personal relationships, in some lawyers or accounting offices, in HR, in the police force, in the legal system, etc... 

Fuckers using mobile phones in cinemas .... they are probably the same kids that parents allow them to do texting n play games on their phones 99% of the time when they are dining out with their parents. 

Are you a good person? What is a good person? Have a heart, have a decent heart, empathise ... You are not a good person just because you don't steal, kill or maim. You do not have a decent heart when you only are nice when it suits you.

Why We So Like Dat?

US Healthcare Index Breaching All Time Highs

This is an indication of how IHH is being viewed by global market players.

Health Care is breaking out to new all-time highs. The S&P 500 Health Care Index is breaking out to new all-time highs above the December 2000 high near 445. Unlike the S&P 500, which is 14%-15% below its all-time high of 1576, Health Care is breaking through the upper end of its 11-to-12-year trading range and has the potential to establish a new secular bull market trend. Health Care joins Consumer Discretionary and Consumer Staples as the only three sectors to reach new all-time highs in 2012. Prior to that, Health Care broke above the highs from 2007 near 425 � the only other sectors to break above 2007 highs are Discretionary, Staples and Technology.

Taking a look at the S&P Healthcare index (a defensive sector) versus SPX we can see how this sector underperformed (trended down) during the October � April advance in the S&P 500 just as we would expect it to during a market rally. We can also see how it turned upward at the April top in the S&P 500 and broke out from a descending trend channel. It has even been outperforming during the post-June advance! A simple measured move from the breakout implies that outperformance in healthcare still has a big move ahead.
gspa vs spx 2011 to 2012

Dilbert@CIMB On IHH Listing Day

Do You Know What Happens Inside The Olympic Village???

Halfway through the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney, American target shooter Josh Lakatos and teammates had finished their events, and the US Olympic Committee and team officials had ordered them to hand in the keys to their three-story house and head back to the States. But Lakatos didn't want to leave. He knew from his experience four years earlier in Atlanta, where he had won silver, that the Olympic Village was about to erupt into a raucous party. So he asked the cleaner at the emptied-out dwelling if she would kindly look the other way as he tampered with the lock. "I don't care what you do," she replied.

Within hours, word of the nearly vacant property had spread. Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the summer Games and 2,700 at the winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world's most exclusive clubs. Popping up once every two years, it's a boisterous city within a city: packed with flats, mid-rises and houses as well as cafes, arcades, discos and TV lounges. The only thing missing is privacy - nearly everyone is stuck with a roommate. So while Lakatos claimed a first-floor suite for himself, the remaining rooms were there for the taking. The first to claim space that night were some Team USA track and field athletes.
My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend - big mistake. Now I'm single, so London should be really good. 
"The next morning," Lakatos says, "the entire women's 4x100 relay team of some Scandinavian-looking country walks out of the house, followed by boys from our side. And I'm just going: 'Holy crap, we'd watched these girls run the night before."'
'Get drunk and do some groping' ... Australian soccer player Alicia Ferguson says athletes are told to 'party hard' at the closing ceremony.
'Get drunk and do some groping' ... Australian soccer player Alicia Ferguson says athletes are told to 'party hard' at the closing ceremony. Photo: Getty
And on it went for eight days as scores of Olympians, male and female, trickled into the shooters' house - and that's what everyone called it, Shooters' House - at all hours, stopping by an Oakley duffel bag overflowing with condoms procured from the village's helpful medical clinic. "I've never witnessed so much debauchery in my entire life," says Lakatos.

It was in 1992 that the image of a celibate Games began to flicker when it was reported that the Barcelona Games' organisers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms weren't enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.

It's clear that, summer or winter, the games continue long after the medal ceremony. "There's a lot of sex going on," says women's football goalkeeper Hope Solo, an American gold medallist in Beijing in 2008. "I'd say it's 70% to 75% of Olympians," agrees US world record holding swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will be in London for his third Games.
Sex in th open ... Hope Solo.
Sex in the open ... Hope Solo. Photo: Getty
The games begin as soon as teams move in a week or so before the opening ceremonies. "It's like the first day of university," says US water-polo captain Tony Azevedo, a veteran of Beijing, Athens and Sydney who is returning to London. "You're nervous, excited. Everyone's meeting people and trying to get together with someone."

Which is perfectly understandable, if not to be expected. Olympians are young, supremely healthy people who have been training with the intensity of combat troops for years. Suddenly they are released into a cocoon where prying reporters and overprotective parents aren't allowed. Many are full of excess energy because they are maintaining a training diet of up to 9,000 calories per day while not actually training as hard. The village becomes "a pretty wild scene, the biggest melting pot you've been in," says Eric Shanteau, an American who swam in Beijing and will be heading to London.

The dining hall is among everyone's first stop. "When I walked in for the first time in Atlanta," says US women's football player Brandi Chastain, "there were loud cheers. So we look over and see two French handballers dressed only in socks, shoes, jockstraps, neckties and hats on top of a dining table, feeding one another lunch. We're like, 'What is this place?"'
The Olympic Village at the Olympic Park.Click for more photos

London Olympic Games Village

The Olympic Village at the Olympic Park. Photo: Getty
Many liken it to a school cafeteria, "except everyone's beautiful," says US football player Julie Foudy, who has two golds and one silver from playing in three Olympics. "We'd graze over our food for hours, watching all the eye candy, wondering why I got married."

From one end of the village to the other, flags hang from windows and music blares from balconies. "Unlike at a bar, it's not awkward to strike up a conversation because you have something in common," Solo says.

American BMXer Jill Kintner, who won bronze in Beijing, thinks the Italians are particularly inviting: "They leave their doors open, so you look in and see dudes in thongs running circles around each other."
Naked lunch ... US footballer Brandi Chastain.
Naked lunch ... US footballer Brandi Chastain. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
On the way to the training grounds, "the girls are in skimpy knickers and bras, the dudes in underwear, so you see what everybody is working with," says Breaux Greer, an American javelin thrower. "Even if their face is a seven, their body is a 20." "As far as best bodies," says US gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, "it's swimmers and water polo players, because that's an insane workout."

The challenge athletes face is what to do with their urges and when. "If you don't have discipline, the village can be a huge distraction," Solo admits. Some swear off sex until their events are done; others make it part of their pre-event routine. American shot-putter and silver and bronze medallist John Godina says he had never seen anything like the dorm room in Sydney he shared with Greer, which became a revolving door of women without back stories. Each day, Greer was visited by three Olympian women, sometimes just hours apart. When his event did come around, Greer pulled off Athens' longest throw in preliminaries before a knee injury sidelined him. "I was a happy man going into competition," he says. "If you find somebody you like and who likes you, you compete well."
Some coaches try to limit late-night activities by enforcing 11pm noise curfews, banning alcohol consumption or, in the case of USA Swimming, forbidding cross-gender visitation in bedrooms. American Amanda Beard, with two golds, four silvers and one bronze medal to her name, was in a relationship with another swimmer during the 2000 Games but says: "People would walk around for miles to try to sneak somewhere." Many athletes maintain that they're driven by a simple human need: intimacy. For most Olympians, the ramp-up to the Games is lonely. Not unlike movie stars on a far-flung movie shoot, Olympians are presented with the perfect opportunity to find a partner who understands where they're coming from. "Think about how hard it is to meet someone," Azevedo says. "Now take an Olympian who trains from 6am until 5pm every day. When are you supposed to meet someone?"

Beautiful people ... Swimmer Ryan Lochte.
Beautiful people ... Swimmer Ryan Lochte. Photo: Getty
The Olympic Village becomes the site of an uneasy dance between athletes on a post-competition bender and those who have yet to compete. As Swiss swimmer Dominik Meichtry explains: "I'd get home from the clubs at 6am or 7am and I'd feel bad for the track and field guys. They're getting on a bus and we're intoxicated." As the curtain falls on more events, the action accelerates. "Athletes are extremists," Solo says. "When they're training, it's laser focus. When they go out for a drink, it's 20 drinks. With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it's sexual, partying or on the field. I've seen people having sex right out in the open."

Once all the events have been completed, there's one party that can't be missed: the closing ceremony. "They basically throw us all in a stadium and say: 'Just go for it, party hard, get drunk and do some groping,"' says Australian footballer Alicia Ferguson. The tournament for the US women's football team runs the duration of the Games: "This is our chance to let loose," Chastain says. "We're leaving the next morning, and we're going to enjoy our last 24 hours." After the Beijing Games, Solo recounts finishing the tournament with a group of celebrities: "Vince Vaughn partied with us, and Steve Byrne, the comedian. And at some point, we decided to take the party back to the Village, so we started talking to the security guards, showed off our gold medals, got their attention and snuck our group through without credentials - which is absolutely unheard of." And, she adds, "I may have snuck a celebrity back to my room without anybody knowing, and snuck him back out. When we were done partying, we got out of our nice dresses, got back into our stadium coats and at 7am, with no sleep, went on the US show Today, drunk. We looked like hell."

And then it's over - for most Olympians, anyway. On a United Airlines flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in 2000, nearly 100 Olympians were among the passengers, causing the flight attendants to begin the flight with a warning: "Ladies and gentlemen, anybody who wishes to sleep, trade seats with someone in the front of the plane. Everybody else to the back with the Olympians." Greer ended up in the bathroom with a famous Olympian and they "accidentally turned on the assistance light". But once Greer assured the flight attendant of their Olympic credentials, they were able to return to their business. "And we stayed in there a long time," he says.

'Dudes in thongs' ... Jill Kitner with her Beijing bronze medal
'Dudes in thongs' ... Jill Kitner with her Beijing bronze medal Photo: Getty
It's tales like these that have London-bound Olympians dreaming of the possibilities. "My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend - big mistake," Lochte says. "Now I'm single, so London should be really good." So is US runner LaShawn Merritt, the reigning Olympic gold medallist in the 400 metres. "An Olympics to remember has to have those stories," he says. "I was too locked in in Beijing. This time, when I'm done leaving my legacy on the track, I'll make sure London remembers me."

- Guardian News & Media

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/off-the-field/squatting-in-the-village-and-naked-lunches-athletes-come-clean-on-olympics-debauchery-20120724-22lrg.html#ixzz21VgFUwNK