Opinion

News as drama

News As Drama

Children have trouble focusing their attention.  To get my son to turn all his attention to his homework (since when do first graders have homework, anyway?), we often need to mute or turn off the TV.  Handheld screens are completely off the table for him unless we are on a long car ride.  He doesn’t have the discipline to choose substance over sparkle.  YouTube knows that he and his generation love unboxing videos and shoddy animation.  Don’t think the media isn’t targeting you the same way. As an adult, you should be immune to such base manipulation, right?  This is not the case.  Advertisers need to get you to self-diagnose moderate to severe Wandering Toe Syndrome and ask your doctor if Toeproxin™ is right for you.   How do they do that?  The adult version of unboxing videos is drama.  This used to be the domain of prime-time fictional television….


A warning sign to the rest of society.

Walk of Shame

Motivation Most people seem to be operating on the same social frequency.  I can see this, but I am unable to take part without tremendous effort that feels insincere.  Awkward conversation is my forte.  Hoping to improve, I observe and try to understand how people interact with one another.  One thing that has helped me in deciphering social interaction has been to recognize motivation.  Once you find out what drives someone, their behavior becomes easier to understand.  What is the most common motivator that I have seen? People like to feel important.  Everyone is the star of their own movie.  So when an airline looks for volunteers to give up their seats, they’re actually telling their passengers this: “There are four people more important than you who are getting on this flight.  How much do we have to pay you to admit that?” Before boarding, this is a glorified marshmallow test.  Delay…


Cleveland Bridge

Eventful 24 Hours

The last 24 hours have been eventful.  If you need yet another perspective on world events, keep reading.  If not, just skip to Other Stuff where it’s less serious. We launched missiles into Syria. This feels like the typical setup where the world calls on the US to act as the world’s police, our military is deployed, and the world decries our meddling in world affairs.  A dictator is butchering his own people, but no one is willing to do anything about it except us (sternly worded letters don’t count as action).  If we don’t do anything, we’re abandoning the region to nefarious powers.  If we go in guns blazing, we’re warmongers.  Ad hoc missile strikes seem to have minimal political backlash while still accomplishing a mission. If this doesn’t lay to rest the conspiracy theory that Vladimir Putin controls our executive branch, it certainly erodes its credibility. In one…


No Picture

Don’t Buy the Next Amazon

THIS STOCK COULD BE LIKE BUYING AMAZON IN 1997!  So reads the ad disguised as a headline on Yahoo Finance.  Here’s the thing: you don’t want to buy the next Amazon. Clicking on the ad takes you to a wall of text.  The performance is stellar.  The method is so easy an idiot could do it.  Two idiots say as much in quoted testimonials.  This is a no-brainer.  Then comes the catch – just subscribe to the newsletter. Disguising ads as news headlines is what finally pushed me off of Yahoo Finance.  I clicked the ad today (google took me to the site while looking for news on a company) because I’ve seen this same ad for years.  Either there’s a new Amazon every week or maybe, just maybe these guys are full of it. Don’t Buy The Next Amazon Amazon is up 43,000% (for real) since IPO.  Why wouldn’t…


Red Herring, Red Swan

Red Herring With headlines proclaiming the worst day for the stock market in 2017, you might think the market has plummeted in a bout of panic-selling.  This is a red herring.  The S&P 500 hasn’t been down more than 1% in over 100 days.  Of course we’re going to have another 1% down day some time, but the real story is the lack of big down days rather than breaking this streak.  I’m sure some poor souls are reaching out to their brokers to ask what they should do.  CNBC is shaking the tree with the noise around this ridiculous headline and brokers are happy to collect the commissions that fall into their laps. Red Swan The concept of Black Swans has been bastardized almost beyond recognition.  Nicholas Taleb put forth the idea of a Black Swan event being something outside the realm of normal expectation making a significant impact that…


Market

How ‘Bout That Market: 2/13/2017

How ‘Bout That Market?  This is a question I hear at social gatherings often enough that it makes sense to make it a regular entry on this website. The Market How is the market doing?  Before we get to the market today, let’s look at how the market was doing a year ago.  On February 11th, 2016, the market was off to its worst start ever, down over 10%.  This was it.  This was the other shoe to drop.  Except that it wasn’t.  2016 ended up 12% in spite of significant headline risk (Brexit, Trump, Cleveland sports successes, etc). How is the market doing today?  Twelve months after the market bottom, the S&P 500 is up over 27%.  The market continues to climb the wall of worry.  I don’t know when the march upward will end.  The only thing I would take as a sure sign of a market top…


German Shepherd

Doc Brown, Plans, Getting Punched in the Mouth

No ‘How Bout That Market’ post this week because everybody was on vacation last week.  The most interesting thing that happened was something that didn’t happen – the Dow didn’t hit 20,000.  Here are a bunch of random thoughts to start the year off: Back to the Future I keep coming back to the movie Back to the Future.  The Cubs won the World Series (Back to the Future II was only off by a couple of years).  Japan is the largest foreign holder of US government debt, reminding me of when it was all but carved in stone that Japan would rule the world.  There was even a gag in the third movie where 1955 Doc Brown and 1985 Marty discuss Japanese quality.  What really pulls me back to this series, though, is Doc Brown’s demand of Marty to prove he’s from the future: “Tell me, future boy, who’s President of the…


No Picture

HBTM: 12-27-2016 Dow 20,000 Edition

How ‘Bout That Market?  This is a question I hear at social gatherings often enough that it makes sense to make it a regular entry on this website. The Market The last week of the year is usually pretty sleepy.  This year’s final week is book-ended by holidays which means a terrific drive in to work for me as everyone takes advantage of long weekends.  I don’t usually expect financial news this week, but this year the Dow Jones Industrial Average is bumping up against 20,000 which is a MAJOR MILESTONE/PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIER.  Will we hit 20k?  It wouldn’t take much, but it really wouldn’t mean much either. 20,000 is just a number.  Don’t forget that the DJIA is just 30 stocks and the index is price-weighted rather than market cap weighted.  This means that even though Apple is the largest public company on the planet, eight other stocks have a…


No Picture

HBTM: 12/12/2016

How ‘Bout That Market?  This is a question I hear at social gatherings often enough that it makes sense to make it a regular entry on this website. The Market The stock markets have been going up since the election.  Is this a Trump rally?  I hesitate to say so as the election still looms large in the rear view mirror.  It’s also worth noting that this gets filed under Obama’s record.  The markets seem to be adjusting quickly to what they expect under a Trump administration.  There is a shift in sentiment from the tech sector to what I’d call Make America Great Again (#MAGA) stocks (industrial and manufacturing – financials, too).  This makes sense from the standpoint that the President-elect focused on these types of businesses during the campaign, but if protectionist policies are implemented, I would expect a negative impact on these companies.  But really, who knows?  What’s…


Filthy Casual

Filthy Casual

I am a gamer.  I like role-playing games like Fallout and Final Fantasy as well as real-time strategy games like Starcraft.  However, according to the internet, I play these games all wrong.  I like to take my time and get lost in the story.  This is not the fastest or most efficient way to beat a game which puts me dangerously close to being a ‘Filthy Casual’ in internet-speak.  That is, my goal is not to optimize my playthrough like a ‘Hardcore’ player might.  It could be worse.  I could be a n3wb. This really does tie back to investing, I swear. There are countless blog posts dedicated to crafting the most efficient portfolio.  Finance Twitter is full of people who will argue asset allocations past the decimal point.  Advisor forums are almost toxic with folks who belabor semantics, dredge up endless white papers, and worship at the altar of Modern…