Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tatters and Fringe

When you cannot tell the difference between the carpet and the carpet fringe, the carpet is in tatters. I used to describe the process of asset allocation as "managing the edges", the fringe, if you will. Adding value through small adjustments to the portfolio kept costs low, minimized tax erosion, and gave the largest allocations time to perform. While the board debated between strategies, it was not realistic to choose only growth, or only value; only equity or debt; only public or only private, only alternative or traditional managers. Ranges for each source of return were set and then we "managed the edges" to achieve the best relative return possible.

The great assumption was that the strategies were uncorrelated, and would not all move in the same direction at once. If they did it was called an anomaly and discarded as an unreliable data point. Its remarkable how many investment advisors still subscribe to this. In fact, investment advisors who don't are regarded as "the Fringe".

Today managing the edges is not enough. There are no edges to manage, and its time to reweave the carpet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Must Read


Michael Hudson gives us a terrific history lesson and view into our future in this analysis. I urge you to read this and think beyond relative returns and spreads, beyond probability theory, and consider the writing on the wall.

Here's a notable excerpt:

In the Great Depression, high finance and other investors lost fortunes (paper fortunes, to be sure) as stock market and real estate prices plunged and debtors defaulted. But there was a silver lining. The liquidations of wealth wiped out debts. This freed the economy from interest and principal obligations, enabling recovery to take place. But unlike the case in the 1930s, today’s 1% are unwilling to absorb a loss. They have used government agencies originally created to regulate high finance to enforce harsh creditor terms and make the economy’s nonfinancial sectors absorb the losses, partly by foreclosure and partly by taking bad debts onto the government’s balance sheet (“taxpayers”). As a bonus, banks (most notoriously Bank of America) and A.I.G. received long-term tax credits that render them largely tax-free institutions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Traffick, inc - An awesome awareness project

Awareness Works

Over 300 children are sold for sex in metro-Atlanta for an estimated revenue of $100,000 per day, $3 million per month, $36 million per year. If we can bring ourselves to talk about it, it will go away. Talking about it is like turning lights on. If you turn on the lights, the cockroaches run, and so do criminals. Help me turn on the lights -

Traffick, Inc. Trailer from Brian Davis on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I am listening to unspoken words I do not want to hear

Its never easy to be honest with ourselves when confronting the truth. We rationalize, we deny, we look for our happy place, that fantasy based environment called Mayberry or Lake Wobegone. After all, its not really our problem, is it? We escape to our drug of choice, some form of consumption; be it drugs, food or alcohol, or worse, credit. That escape has now become our norm, where it no longer is an escape, but a prison, where our future seems forever limited.

Many of us have recognized this trap for what it is, and are looking for a way out. Some will blame those who have, others will blame those who have not. Some will continue to focus on their personal Mayberry and like ostriches, choose to avoid the truth. The Matrix, if you will.
Like Morpheus, I am choosing to pull my head out of the sand, and unfortunately, I am listening to unspoken words I do not want to hear.

What I mean may be best understood by asking the right questions.
1) Is it merely coincidence that the head of Wikileaks and the head of the IMF were accused of essentially the same crime?
2) Why is it that the media can find every dirty secret about Presidential wannabee's but they seem to know nothing about the dirty secrets of Wall Street?
3) Since 99% of the US equity markets are owned by pension funds, and the 1% makes 100% of the decisions for those funds, how is it that the 1% is so offended by the rising of #occupy?
4) Why is there a shortage of storage vaults for physical gold?
5) Why is it that gold leasing has gone from a positive to a negative carry?
6) Why isn't the Defensive Authorization Bill of 2012 troubling every American? In the name of anti-terrorism, American citizens can now be held indefinitely without trial. Yes, this is the law of our land.
7) The European banking system has 40 Trillion of assets, 25% dollar based. They can't create dollars so how will they pay a return in dollars? Best guess is to borrow them from the US Fed. How do they do that? They borrow our gold, sell it forward 3 years out, and hope they can settle with paper money. If the buyers want physical gold, too bad. In the meantime, dollars have been generated to pay current obligations.

In the words of the greatest technology investor (Roger McNamee) in our nation's history:

“The country has been stolen,” says McNamee bluntly. “I expect to be involved in getting it back for the rest of my life.” http://tinyurl.com/7x986ce

Roger is right. The country has been stolen. Lets get it back. Start listening to the unspoken words and prepare yourself.