Tom Brady Privately Talks to Patrick Mahomes After Patriots Win AFC Championship

FILE - At left, in a Nov. 19, 2018, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles. At right, in a Dec. 30, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass. It seems football fans everywhere are suddenly on the Chiefs’ bandwagon, enthralled by their record-setting young quarterback and exciting offensive playmakers while hopeful that their amiable old coach can finally win the big one. Then again, maybe they’re just fans of anybody facing New England.(AP Photo/File)

Uncredited/Associated Press

After an incredible duel between elite quarterbacks in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, New England Patriots star Tom Brady wanted to show some respect to his counterpart. 

According to Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com, Brady found Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for a one-on-one conversation after the game.

“Tom Brady just quietly approached a security guard waiting outside the Chiefs’ locker room — and asked if he could see Patrick Mahomes. Brady was escorted into a room where he spoke briefly with him. A very clear display of respect from one incredible quarterback to another.”

The two quarterbacks battled in a 37-31 overtime win for the Patriots, with 44 of the 68 points coming in the fourth quarter or overtime. They each led scoring drives in the final minute of regulation to force the extra period.

It was the second time these teams faced each other this season. In the first meeting back in Week 6, New England came away with a 43-40 win in another dramatic battle.

While Brady is the more accomplished player with five Super Bowl wins, three MVP awards and 14 Pro Bowls, Mahomes seemingly made an impression on the veteran after throwing seven touchdown passes in two games against the Patriots.

Although we might not ever know what the two said to one another, perhaps Brady’s words will further motivate Mahomes to build off his breakout season.

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Why the Quants aren’t adding up

Fancy math can’t mask the fact that quantitative investing strategies essentially rely on pattern recognition: Models look to correlate past periods of superior returns with specific factors including value, size, volatility, yield, quality and momentum.

Once the latter are identified, fund managers construct portfolios with specified return and risk parameters consisting of securities that match those optimal characteristics.

Other techniques exploit short-term dislocations between individual prices and comparable securities or the broader market, betting that the relationship will eventually revert to normal.

Such approaches have several fundamental weaknesses. First of all, quant investing is tainted by hindsight bias – the belief that understanding the past allows the future to be predicted.

Given enough time, money and computing power, a strategy predicting high returns can be found and validated using back testing to check its historical performance. But this heightens the risk of overfitting, or adjusting the model to suit a specific set of historical conditions.

Those may look like a winning recipe, but could turn out to be a historical fluke.

Modelling is also affected by practical matters, such as what data is or isn’t available. London Business School researchers found more than 300 factors that could be used to develop potential strategies, heightening the risk of an overfitted model. There is in addition the problem of ergodicity – that is, the lack of a truly representative data sample.

It’s important to remember, too, that financial eras are characterised by specific policies, market structures, instruments and investors. Unique conditions that shape returns, volatility and correlation may change.

While models create an illusion of sophisticated certainty, they can’t capture the full range of events that produced a particular outcome and could perform poorly where a paradigm shift occurs. Modern markets may simply be too complex to be modelled accurately.

Quant strategies naturally lack transparency, given that asset managers are reluctant to disclose too many details and lose their competitive edge. This, however, increases the risk of gaming.

A low-volatility fund, for instance, might buy illiquid assets whose prices change infrequently, thus giving the illusion of stability. Some strategies, such as selling options, might produce a lot of small gains but be vulnerable to large losses if market conditions change.

Complex strategies

Increases in funds under management may create competition that reduces a strategy’s expected return. Where the size of funds increases, the strategy could become crowded, making trading difficult and creating unpredictable profits and losses.

At their most basic level, quant funds are selling hope with a financially catchy name.

Investors disillusioned with below-expected returns are switching to low-cost index products.

To counter this trend, fund managers have sought to seduce investors with complex and opaque black-box strategies, made credible by the rocket science on which they’re supposedly based.

Fund managers can then collect their high fees (the standard 2 per cent on assets under management plus an additional 20 per cent of outperformance) on the promise of future performance.

While there will always be some standouts, it’s not clear why so many managers can claim sustained superior performance. The basic technology, data and expertise is readily available.

Logically, the anomalies that the strategies rely on should dissipate. There is an inherent contradiction in that the approach exploits inefficiencies, but requires market efficiency to realign prices to generate returns.

The reality is that any fund managers possessing a magic investment formula guaranteeing low risk and high returns would have no incentive to share the secret.

Successful firms such as Renaissance Technologies have closed some funds to outside investors, preferring to capture the returns for themselves.

As legendary investor Paul Tudor Jones once noted, if there was a single easy formula to follow, then all investors would already be rich.

Bloomberg

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Pro-Russian clerics resist official pressure to join new church

Kyiv, Ukraine – “It wasn’t a search, it was a sacrilege,” Father Anatoly Kaplyuk said, describing how police and intelligence officers interrupted service in his church in the northern Ukrainian town of Ovruch.

In early December, they entered the building that belongs to Moscow-affiliated Orthodox Church, one of Ukraine‘s largest religious groups, to look for “materials inciting religious hatred”, police said. 

The searches were part of mounting pressure on pro-Russian clerics that stems from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko‘s battle to break away his ex-Soviet nation from religious subordination to Moscow Patriarch Kirill, Kremlin’s ideological ally.

The officers looked everywhere – including the altar, an area no lay person is allowed to enter – and confiscated some booklets, Father Anatoly told Al Jazeera.

They then summoned him for questioning at the Ovruch office of the SBU, Ukraine’s main intelligence agency. The questioning hasn’t taken place yet, he said.

A dozen more pro-Russian priests throughout Ukraine have been questioned and had their churches or residencies searched as part of investigations into “treason” and “incitement of religious hatred”, the SBU said.

Priests and bishops are ready to go through interrogations, arrests and trials but maintain their reputation among their parishioners.

Nikolay Mitrokhin, Russian-Soviet sociologist

Several other pro-Russian priests posted videos of themselves online saying they were ready for questioning and will never sever their ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Within days, they were blacklisted by Mirotvorets (“Peacemaker”), an online publication with ties to security services that outs “Ukraine’s enemies” from separatists in rebel southeastern provinces to turncoat officials in annexed Crimea.

“I am proud to be on that list along with the Holy Synod” of the pro-Russian church, Father Hennady Shkil, a white-bearded priest from the southern Ukrainian town of Hola Pristan told Al Jazeera.

Even pro-Moscow church’s top hierarch was not spared.

In early November, a Ukrainian TV network showed what it claims to be the luxurious residence of Metropolitan Onufri, in his home village in southwestern Ukraine. 

It broadcast drone footage showing several large houses, a helipad and a hangar-like structure that hides either a tennis court or a swimming pool.

Onufri has long been lambasted for his pro-Kremlin stand.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine, he called them “brothers in faith” and bristled at Kyiv’s military operation against them.

During a parliament session in May 2015 to commemorate the servicemen awarded for fighting the separatists, the entire audience stood up – except for Onufri and his frocked subordinates.

Worshippers at the Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra, an ancient monasterial complex in Kyiv [Mansur Mirovalev/Al Jazeera]

But experts say that by cracking down on pro-Russian clerics, Poroshenko’s government inadvertently inspires resistance – just like Communist pressure on believers in the officially atheist Soviet Union.

“Priests and bishops are ready to go through interrogations, arrests and trials but maintain their reputation among their parishioners,” Nikolay Mitrokhin of the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu told Al Jazeera.

On January 6, President Poroshenko received a “tomos”, a charter issued by Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew, the most revered leader of the world’s 300 million-strong Orthodox Christian community, ending the dependence of Ukraine’s church from Moscow.

Predictably, the Moscow Patriarch condemned the move and cut ties with Constantinople.

“We are witnessing illegal meddling in the internal life of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, a rude, anti-canonical intervention in its area,” Kirill said in early January.

His Patriarchate claims more than 150 million followers in Russia and the ex-USSR, although polls and experts say that only a fraction of them are observant.

President Poroshenko congratulates newly elected head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox church Metropolitan Epifaniy (Dumenko) at the Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, December 15, 2018 [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Kirill coined the concept of “the Russian world”, or Moscow’s right to “protect” ethnic Russians outside Russia, and the Kremlin used the idea to justify its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support to separatists in southeastern Ukraine.

That’s when Poroshenko came to power after a months-long popular uprising overthrew his pro-Moscow predecessor. Poroshenko pledged to make Ukraine part of the European Union and NATO and repel the Russian aggression.

But by the end of his first term, his success is as modest as his single-digit approval ratings. He made church independence part of his campaign ahead of the March 31 presidential election, in which he is widely expected to run.

“We are finally gaining spiritual independence that can be compared to the political independence,” Poroshenko told a church council in late December.

His words are echoed by the so-called Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate that broke away from Moscow in the early 1990s and whose clerics mostly formed the new, Constantinople-recognised see after merging with another, smaller Orthodox sect.

“As a church, we try to be independent from Moscow not because we don’t like Russia,” Archbishop Yevstraty Zorya told Al Jazeera. “But we see how the Russian Empire has for centuries used the Orthodox Church in our land as a tool of imperial policy.”

The pro-Ukrainian and Russia-affiliated churches share the doctrine of Greek Orthodoxy that split from Catholicism in 1054. They are equally opposed to same-sex marriages, abortions and birth control.

The Russia-affiliated church insists that its ties to Moscow are nominal and “spiritual,” and that Poroshenko’s government violates its own commitments to multiculturalism and religious tolerance.

Weak support

Despite growing pressure, less than 100 of about 12,000 Russia-affiliated parishes joined the new church, officials admit.

The issue keeps Ukrainians polarised – while 43 percent of them support church independence, 22 percent are firmly against it, mostly in the Russian-speaking eastern regions, according to a poll by the Kyiv-based Rozumkov Center conducted in late December.

Meanwhile, 47 opposition legislators accused Poroshenko of violating the cornerstone of any Western democracy – separation of church and state.

They complained to the Constitutional Court in mid-December about his government’s violation of “religious freedoms and peace among confessions” by urging Bartholomew to recognise the independent Ukrainian church.

Some average Ukrainians are baffled by too much ado about religion as the country struggles with corruption.

“Maybe, we should be teaching our children biology, chemistry and economics,” Olena Meshko, a 37-year-old bookseller, told Al Jazeera. “Instead, we’re moving towards the Middle Ages.”

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Oxfam says world wealth gap widening, advocates fairer taxes

Wealth inequality around the world is “out of control” and doing particular harm to women, anti-poverty campaigner Oxfam warned Monday ahead of the annual gathering of business and political leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Oxfam, which has for years been trying to bring attention to the issue ahead of the World Economic Forum, said in a report that billionaire fortunes increased by 12 percent last year — the equivalent of $2.5 billion a day — while the 3.8 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half saw their wealth decline by 11 percent.

“This is not inevitable, this is unacceptable,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In the report, which is based on figures from Credit Suisse’ Wealth Databook and Forbes’ annual list of billionaires, Oxfam said the number of billionaires has almost doubled since the financial crisis a decade ago yet tax rates on the wealthy and corporations have fallen to their lowest levels in decades.

“While corporations and the super-rich enjoy low tax bills, millions of girls are denied a decent education and women are dying for lack of maternity care,” Byanyima said.

Oxfam said making taxes fairer will help address many of the world’s ills. It said getting the world’s richest 1 percent to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth could raise more money than it would cost to educate the 262 million children out of school, and provide lifesaving health care for 3.3 million people. It also suggested governments look again at taxes on wealth such as inheritance or property, which have been reduced or eliminated in much of the developed world and barely implemented in the developing world.

“Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and investing this money in free health care and education that meets the needs of everyone — including women and girls whose needs are so often overlooked,” said Byanyima.

Byanyima, who has been a regular participant at the Davos gathering, defended the organization’s continued participation at the World Economic Forum despite mounting evidence of growing inequality.

Byanyima said “the people in Davos” have the power to be “the solution to end extreme inequality.”

“The solutions are there and that is why we come to Davos, to remind these leaders that you have made the commitment; now get on with the action. The policies are there, the solutions are proven.”

———

Joe Mwihia in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

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Hayne royal commission could trigger overhaul of hiring practices at banks

Colin Heath, the firm’s banking and capital markets leader, said banks will find it harder to assess staff based on more subjective attributes compared to the hard outcomes contained in many key performance indicators (KPIs) but they need to try. Digital literacy, global awareness and creativity will also become more important traits for budding bankers, who will need to display an ability to understand customers, ask probing questions and speak-up when they see problems, he said.

Bank CEOs are trying to pre-empt the final report’s recommendations by highlighting the need for cultural changes to staff. For example, Westpac Banking Corp chief executive Brian Hartzer led a project, known internally as “Navigate”, in the second half of last year based on concerns bad news was not being communicated to senior management.

Westpac and the other big banks want to create safe environments for customer-facing staff to report poor practices and policies up the line. This is necessary to ensure senior executives and bank directors comply with the government’s Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR), which gives the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority the power to levy fines and kick senior bankers out of the industry if they can’t grasp key risks and operations.

Hiring more staff from technology companies – which the majors are doing to lift capability in data analytics – will not provide the solution, PwC suggests. “Many bank insiders today believe their first priority is to recruit from companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft,” the paper says, but “unfortunately, there are no superheroes that can fly in to save the industry”.

Advisers expect the final report of the royal commission to presage widespread changes to staff assessment processes in banks, including the introduction of team-based, rather than individual, financial targets for front-line staff and the possible removal of sales-based benchmarks. “The simplest and most comprehensive severance may be the adoption of a flat share of a variable pay pool that varies with overall entity performance,” the interim report suggested.

PwC points to the growing body of work in experimental psychology and behavioural economics demonstrating traditional performance assessment frameworks “can not only incentivise dysfunctional behaviour and organisational dynamics, but can also inhibit individual and team performance”.

It suggests “intrinsic rewards need to be more deliberately offered to foster a culture based on personal attributes, for example, providing employees with a sense of meaningfulness and purpose.”

Banks have also been accelerating cultural reform in the wake of the prudential inquiry into Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s governance, which followed revelations it didn’t do enough to prevent its ATM machines being used for money laundering. Anti-money laundering specialists have become some of the most sought after and highly paid compliance professionals in banking, PwC said.

But “at its core, AML is a job for the entire organisation and everyone in it, it’s not just the responsibility of the compliance analyst,” it said. “AML is the art and discipline of understanding customers, asking questions, connecting dots and speaking up.”

The Hayne royal commission could trigger an overhaul of hiring practices at the major banks. JOEL CARRETT

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Tom Brady’s Heroics Send Patriots to Super Bowl 53 over Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with center David Andrews (60) after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

It’s getting difficult to remember Super Bowls without the New England Patriots.

New England clinched a spot in its third straight Super Bowl with a 37-31 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. This will be the Patriots’ ninth trip to the Super Bowl since they drafted Tom Brady in 2000.

Brady played the role of hero yet again, picking apart the Chiefs secondary on the game-winning overtime drive before Rex Burkhead plunged in for the touchdown. It mirrored New England’s final drive of regulation, when Brady set up Burkhead’s touchdown with a 25-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski before Harrison Butker forced overtime with a 39-yard field goal. 

Brady prevailed in the quarterback showdown with Patrick Mahomes, finishing 30-of-46 for 348 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Kansas City’s signal-caller went 16-of-31 for 295 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he was unable to cap his potential MVP campaign with a conference crown.

           

The Legend of Tom Brady Somehow Continues to Grow

Quarterbacks with five Super Bowl titles, three league MVPs and 14 Pro Bowl nods on their resumes aren’t supposed to add legacy-defining moments at age 41.

Nobody told Brady that.

No. 12 faced three 3rd-and-10s on the game-winning drive in overtime. Each time, he stood strong in the pocket and delivered to Julian Edelman twice and Gronkowski once for crucial first downs before Burkhead put the finishing touch on the win.

That came after another incredible drive near the end of regulation, which made it all the more special.

The Chiefs went up 28-24 after a Damien Williams touchdown run with 2:04 remaining, but Brady connected with Edelman, Chris Hogan and Gronkowski with 10-plus-yard strikes to set up Burkhead’s first touchdown. While Brady needed a little luck—he had an interception overturned because Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zonehe took advantage down the stretch.

The AFC Championship Game felt like a potential passing of the torch with Mahomes primed to take over the league as the likely MVP, but Brady made clutch throw after clutch throw and won a shootout with Mahomes for the second time this season.

The 38 combined points in the back-and-forth fourth quarter was similar to New England’s 43-40 victory in Week 6, and Brady added yet another nerve-wracking win to his all-time great legacy.

Sunday’s game may not reach the level of the 28-3 Super Bowl comeback over the Atlanta Falcons whenever Brady retires, but it was a reminder to Mahomes and the rest of the league’s young quarterbacks that he remains the king until further notice.

                

What’s Next?

The Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

             

This article will be updated to provide more information soon.

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