Oct

19

One of the litmus tests of liberals is that they think that all individual differences are caused by nurture. They have to believe that all success is due to environment and circumstance and all people would be equal if they had the same environment. But the facts are similar to the influence of the market on individual stocks. About 50% of the variance in individual stocks is due to the market. The equation r(o) = a + b ( m(i) is more in its explanatory power to intel (i) = a + b (giq) where giq is general IQ. The studies of Galton, Burt, and Jensen clearly demonstrate this. Identical twins raised apart have the same difference in their scores as the same person tested twice. The more culture free the test, the greater the genetic component. A good review of this is in Jensen's books and papers and Herrenstein.

Here's an update of Burt and Galton's studies.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Then there is baseball. Yogi Berra, who knew a bit about the game, always said that his older brothers Mike and Tony were much better athletes than he ever was. But, he was lucky enough to come later and have them teach him this American game.

Oct

18

 Let's have some more father sibling stories. My 6 daughters are very special although none of them had a natural left. All of them made their racket teams in secondary school and several turned out to be drs. and several of them can do pinky jams.

Steve Ellison writes: 

I may be better known on the List for my kids than for anything else. I taught both of them to read before their fourth birthdays using Siegfried Engelmann's book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. When my son was still in preschool, the kids liked to pick a book from the shelf and ask a teacher to read the story. If the teacher was too busy, they brought the book to my son and sat in a circle while he read the story.

In 2006, we moved to Reno, Nevada so they could attend the brand new Davidson Academy of Nevada, which billed itself as the first public high school in the US for profoundly gifted students. I have a fraternity brother who graduated from Stuyvesant High School, so I knew better.

My daughter matriculated at MIT at age 16. Today she is a team lead at Boston Consulting. She wears glasses and ties her hair back severely so none of her underlings will guess that she is only 26.

My son went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is now, at age 24, a developer for Amazon.

They live far away now, and I don't see them as often as I would like, but we had a fun weekend in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Oct

17

Will someone besides Rand Paul make the moral case for not taking accumulated wealth from people and then talk about the practical dimunition of incentives for everyone, and how if 5 people vote to take away from the richest among them it's stealing as in a democracy

With one democrat in the debate after another opining on taking away from the rich, against cap gains, and for a wealth tax it's a bad backdrop and could take a day or two for the market to countenance all the agrarian reformers without the agrarian

More important, the dead ball is effecting the Yankees already even before 2020

If the four poor ones take out a gun and shoot the wealthy one and steal his money everyone aside from the agrarians would say that it's wrong and evil and should not be allowed. But if the 5 of them vote on it, and take it away from the wealthy one, it's not wrong to most people

Guaranteed to happen "a variant of your own man says you were out" will soon transpire. Warren Buffet will say along with his fellow travelers that the wealth tax is good and fair and we fellows are in favor of it

With the republican so closely knit together we are really missing John McCain to be "your own man says that the wealth tax is good and his family of billionaires support him and the Sage in this 1000%"

Good for all and a nice answer to wealth taxes and socialism: "The March of History: Mises vs. Marx The Definitive Capitalism vs. Socialism Rap Battle"

Like night follows the day, the democrats have hauled out their first exampled of "your own man says you're out" as a refresher in street games all over, when a dispute arises the opposing team loves to haul out someone on your own team that agrees with them your team is hosed

The markets had a very dull day and it seems like a good time to apply the insight from sports betting and sports to markets. There is much complaining about the reffing in football. The face mask penalty even had a "your own man" on Greenbay saying it wasn't fair.

Sharps note that the home field advantage is going away. 75% of the NFL images had the visiting team beating the spread. One is reminded of the reffing on arbitrations involving market disputes. Many accounts will not be opened unless you agree to arbitrating with the NYSE arbs.

These arbitrators are on average 70 yrs old and are selected by the NYSE based on how they opine against the big firms. I had a lock case against a broker who backed out of a trade. With bravado I told the arbs that they should give me nothing if they agreed with broker

Fortunately they had pity on me and opined that I should get zilch but they didn't hold me responsible for costs. With all the brokers giving 0 commissions these days it is incumbent to look at the ways they have to insure the house always wins. Paying for orders ranks high

"Billionaire Tom Steyer says he'd tax the rich, roll back Trump-GOP cuts": here's the first of the flood of "your own man said you're out" that will be coming down the stream. How long will it be till the Sage from Neb joins in the chorus? Do I have a square on the other side of that?

As I look back on my 60 years in Wall Street I am reminded of many pleasant interludes. My remembrance of visiting the Sherry where the boy wonder committed suicide brought back the pleasant memory of Abe descending the stairs. (Hopefully I will revisit the stairs on my Tokyo visit)

My experiences in the arbitration brings back a scene from Nock's Memoirs of a Superflous Man. In Berkeley in the old days, it was common to buy votes (the great Herb London told me it is still very common. Nock noted a poor sinner outside the Wigwam who jauntily sang "Marching Through Georgia ". He always got through the first stanza and then lapsed into a drunken stupor

I listen to "Marching Through Georgia" in fond memory of Albert Jay Nock, Herb London, and rigged city elections all over

And I was reminded by the Hurrah that Granpa Martin was Irving Berlin's bookkeeper and asked his secretary to marry him on her first day, and all the Niederhoffers came out of that to say nothing about the many pleasant moments that Martin shared with the honeys of Jesse: "Collins and Harlan sing Irving Berlin' My Wife's Gone To The Country Hurrah! Hurrah!"

That's it on Tweets for the day. I will devote the rest of day to Niederhoffer analysis of Japanese prices. But at least one can give a good instrumental version of "Georgia" in hono

Oct

16

Good to listen to: "The March of History: Mises vs. Marx - The Definitive Capitalism vs. Socialism Rap Battle"

Oct

16

 "Baseball is Going Back to the Dead-Ball Era"

This trend brings one back to the useful idiot Paul Volker, the great scholar and lover of baseball Larry Ritter, and Kora Reddy's excellent study, and our own work proving that doc Greenspan was no doc.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Jared Diamond knows as much about baseball as he does about "steel". The spirit of Larry Ritter–Bless Him–has to be laughing.

James Goldcamp writes: 

I still recall fondly reading a worn copy of The Glory of Their Times as a young boy in the car on the way to my cousins in eastern Ohio. The old timer stories were mesmerizing. A copy of a more recent edition of that book still sits buried somewhere on an end table in my living room. It was probably the first non-fiction book I ever read.

I recently finished reading The MVP Machine which centers on the tech wave of player development which has swept over baseball (down to the "Hit Traxx" at my son's 11 year old team's training facility and the now banned for patent infringement Zepp sensor at the end of my son's bat). This wave has finally fully swept up on my shore as the hero of the aforementioned book Trevor Bauer is the centerpiece of my hometown team's starting rotation and the founder of Driveline baseball has been hired to run pitching.

One hopes the wave of technology adopted by baseball ends better than the hordes of hedge fund-ists and investors who found system trading or smart beta just before the long extended bull run in stocks.

anonymous writes: 

Our daughter is an ambidextrous natural athlete who was accurately described, by the mother of a teammate on the 4×50 12 Under Relays as a "mound of muscle". By age 12, she was able to practice driving our "field car" by sitting in the passenger seat and steering with her left hand. We made her play basketball, run track and swim competitively because otherwise there was no living with her; to this day, if she does not have a 45-minute workout every morning, her excess of physical energy and the impatience that it brings with it is downright scary. For a few months earlier this year, we thought we had seen nature come to our rescue. Her now 9-month old son has the same internal combustion engine. His nickname, Whumpa, was acquired before birth; and, while other infants seem able to be awake without needing to do calisthenics, Whumpa has only two speeds: Full Throttle and Full Stop. For a while it looked like Walter was actually wearing his mother down. But that was only a phase. The two of them now happily go off to exercise together.

I mention this to give you all the background to my only disappointment as a father. It was the day, when she was 6, that, after playing catch with me with a tennis ball, using first the left and then the right hand, she announced, "this is no fun; let's go running." Like John Kruk I am not and never have been an athlete, I love baseball and I have always hated running.

Congratulations to JG on having a baseball player and an athlete and embracing the technology that is making modern baseball such a marvel. 

James Goldcamp writes: 

Anonymous, the last part (the Kruk quote with which I'm familiar and use sometimes) resonates with me. I'm one of the coaches on my son's team. At various tryouts for our teams I'm notorious for wanting to get past the timed running from home to 1st, 1st to third, etc. that is typically part of an evaluation and "just see them hit live pitching". I was pleasantly surprised while watching a Ted Williams biography hear recounted a story where some players or coaches were discussing the intricacies of a pickle or some such situation, apparently Williams was claimed to have said, when asked to ponder this, something like "#@#! it , let's go hit". Bill Beane was also purported to have said (as recounted in Moneyball) that we usually no player is too fat for us to draft, though we made an exception for Prince Fielder, and we were wrong.

Oct

16

 Where is John McCain when we need him to play "your own man says you were out" and be the moral conscience that the agrarians haul out to show the wealth tax is good.

The sage is losing his credibility on that front as he's on the other team.

Oct

16

 I also have a son. He doesn't listen to me about anything including squash as he says I'm like the buffalo. Extinct. And I don't know anything about the modern game. I think the racketball strokes have more to teach squash than the usual coaches. My son's recent distinction is he started an affinity group that he moderates that has one poster from every country. He is like the baseball savant I met at Cooperstown that knows the batting averages of every player who played the game. He likes to ask anyone to name any country and he will tell you 3 facts about the country most likely their GNP and their demography.

Larry Williams writes: 

We all have the same son.

Kim Zussman writes: 

Our "son", Snakie, (5 year old Gophersnake but don't tell him. He lives in a Russian apartment in the kitchen) has a large number of very small sharp teeth. They are not for chewing, but for gripping a murdered rodent. And guiding him back to his duty as nutrient to an anachronistic dinosaur who still knows how to make a living.

Carpe dentum.

Gyve Bones writes: 

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is/ To have a thankless child!

[Shakespeare, King Lear, I., iv., 280]

Oct

11

 I took off my hat when Tuesdays market decline surprised me taking a page out of Tom Wiswell's epitaph: "I've lived my life, I've done my work, now I'll take off my hat and go". The time has come to develop 50 more uses for a hat

I've found wearing a hat prevents head injuries, is good for carrying things, great for having people remember you, ideal for tipping in respect for a woman, good for covering the dead, great for shielding from dust and rain, excellent for keeping warm, great for hustling

I used the hat to hustle Bobby Riggs to a match, my hat against his sneaker with a pink ball, excellent for hailing taxis, good for letting kids and family know where you are, great for preventing injuries especially assaults on the head, fine for holding bets, showing you're in, great for fashion, showing you non-conform, excellent for meeting people (I like your hat), excellent for horseshoes, and pitch the penny. What other can you come up with?

The one downside. My grandfather Martin once traded with Jesse Livermore (who went bankrupt 4 times and who I hate to have my book EdSpec compared to Reminiscences since he was a born loser because of vig and big asked.)

After he served as bookkeeper for Irving Berlin's firm, he applied some of the Boy Wonder's techniques to trading and lost everything in the Oct 1929 crash. But he started me out in trading and bought me my first stock (it helped me get into Harvard as they mistakenly thought I would be a big contributor.)

In any case the first stock he bought for me was "Hat Corp of America". This was in 1950 and hat was about 30, "it's a staple and a necessity." Look at any crowd from the turn of century to now. It has so many uses it will always grow and hold its own.

Further, it has the unique equipment to give it comparative advantage in manufacture. It's integrated also with its own retail stores. From that time on, Hat slowly descended into 1 in price, and bankruptcy. No one wears a hat anymore outside of horse and rodeo riders and ropers from the West.

When I go into a restaurant chances are they'll ask me to remove it. I leave out of deference to Martin and Riggs and the 50 uses I still have for it. I hope to be buried with it at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. That's another use. My enemies will say "hurry up " and use the hat there.

Messrs. R Walton and Coconut Trader respectfully disagree that Livermore's book is a disaster and he was womanizing and drinking his life away and that the lessons from his book will ensure you go bankrupt if you follow them. The venerable Jon Markman wrote a great book on him

Let us ask Markman if it's true he left 5 million to his kids. Last I heard he violated the term of his trust with his fifth wife and bankrupted her also. Please someone contact Markman to settle the divergence.

I came across my review of Reminiscences including his suicide at the Sherry Netherland (I always cross the street to the park when passing it) and his debts of many millions when he died. (I sold my copy of his last unsuccessful book to Mr. Tudor Jones)

But there is a fourth part of the story, which happened after Lefevre wrote Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. Markman fills in the details. Livermore went bankrupt for at least the fourth time in 1934. His excess liabilities of $2 million included promised payments to the dancer

Mr. Walton and I rarely disagree and I admit his insights but on this we disagree. He committed suicide because there was nothing left and he owed money to one of his floozies Ms. Ballantine.

What I found particularly reprehensible was his womanizing and sailing while losing his fortune for the umpteenth time and that of others. To say nothing of his suicide in the men's room of Sherry Netherlands which I visited several times not without a ghostly feeling.

Follow @VicNiederhoffer on twitter for more

Oct

11

 Nobody asked me but the hat is the cowboy's best friend besides the
horse. And it has 100 uses for me. It protects from dust, rain and sun

Here's my fav 10 uses. You give me 100 more.

1. Protects from rain,
dust, sun.

2. signals cabs.

3. covers up old age.

4. protects from head
injuries.

5. allows friends, family to find you.

6. good for drink of
water.

7. carries things.

8. gallantry

Thank you to those who submitted additional uses of a hat on twitter. Your suggestions are compiled below:

9. Fan the flames

10. distract a bear

11. hold a drawing

12. collect donations

13. emergency pillow.

14. Surf in Texas.

15. Doff it when passing by some honeys

16. Fly Swatter

17. Can feed my horse out of it

18. Fan a bucking horse

19. Put on a stick and wave it to attract an antelope

20. The brim keeps bugs out of my eyes when riding a bike/motorcycle

21. Allows me to "read" the water better when sailing

22. Signal the dogs it’s time to walk (they know before you do, but hey, icing on the cake)

23. A good one will give you everything expressed in this fine song that all should take a a few minutes to listen to from one of the best

24. Keeps your head warm. Covers your eyes so you can sleep day or night. Keeps your sleeping bag and hood clean.

25. hair loss fake job.

Follow @VicNiederhoffer on twitter for more

Oct

7

Picture of 3 great board players: T. Wiswell, J. Leopold and A. Bisguier

Nobody asked me but the proverbs of Tom Wiswell reminds one of Beethoven or Jefferson

Nobody— here are four proverbs of Tom Wiswell that seem particularly relevant today

1. When your opponent offers you a free piece, it might be wise to "just say no"

2. Smart gamblers never gamble and when a master sacrifices a piece, you can prepare to resign

3. When your opponent (the market) allows you to make an inviting move, remember the story of the spider and the fly

4. Learning how to refuse proffered material is an art, cultivate it

I have posted a picture of Jules Leopold. He was a great man, a genius, and an inspiration to all games. One of his businesses was solving puzzles in newspapers. He'd go to the location of the paper, and then solve the problem and sell the answer to the subscribers.

In my day, these contests were very common. And I often bought what turned out to be Jules's solutions with an expectation similar to day trading against the hfq traders. He often played Tom Wiswell at my establishment. With very good results. He often played me also. 

Tom would hover over the board and after 40 moves or so. He would say to Leopold "give him a draw" but Leopold never yielded and if the game took an hour, he would refuse to give alms to a poor player like me. Jules was also an expert in electronics and ran a successful business

At the age of 80 Jules liked to race walk and while the traders jogged and raced for exercise after the market closed Jules would keep up with us. He was very generous to checker players and sponsored Derek Oldbury to take a tour of the US among other bequests

Here's one of Jules's books. Even non-checker players will see his genius in it. One of his favorites was a position he'd put on the board. It's your move, "I bet you you cant win or lose with it"

Tim wrote about 15,000 proverbs about checkers, markets and life. for our traders. He liked to say "I've written 22 books and this will be my best and last" "I've lived my life, I've done my work, now I'll take off my hat and go"

But before he'd go, he'd look at Susan hovering over the trading floor with a kid in tow. And he'd say "the one thing I'm most sorry about my life is that I didn't marry a girl like Susan." Strangely, many of the bachelor visitors to my house, often when they left said the same

but as Elmer Kelton said "sometimes I wish I didn't have a perfect wife, especially who always knew what I thinking or hoped"

but Tom as you'll see from the pic didn't take off his hat. He liked to wear a dodger hat. And he'd say "but then again if I married a girl like Susan, i wouldn't have written 22 books." He kept at it until 85 when he came up to our office the 2,000th time, and he said "Victor"

"I couldn't remember what floor you were on. I keep going back and forth." That was the beginning of the end as he liked to say

Follow @VicNiederhoffer on Twitter for more

Oct

6

Pseudoscience in Annals of Internal Medicine article debunking association between red meat and reduced longevity. Attitudes are taken into account. More important is report by Elmer Kelton that ranch men prefer goat meat to beef and mutton because it lies in the stomach easier and tastes better.

Oct

4

 Of all people those on spec list should be against the crazy idea that a double blind study is appropriate and necessary for decision making. That seems to be the long and short of the annals study. They throw out millions of observations that show tremendous differences of 20% in the hazard rate for all studies because they're not double blind. And the idea of forming 8 groups to debunk supposedly neutral in their conclusions is ridiculous. It's obviously a planned hatchet job on vegans and that's why the annals published it. The study reminds me of those who would throw out the studies of the triumphal trio and Lorie Fisher because of current turbulence in the market which leads them to the bear view. Like that crazy Doyne Farmer who's now publicizing himself at Oxford.

Sep

27

Intro to a great book: Dan Schneider on The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton

Sep

27

 The movie Hustlers shows white men and wall street men as crooks and ridiculous innocents.

The women strippers are depicted as sisters and justified in stealing and humiliating their poor victims.

There were 5 coming attractions shown with this picture.

All depicted a woman of color justified in violence against people of no color.

Sep

22

 A query to Elmer Kelton at 80 by a kindergarten class he lectured at to make ends meet. A six yer old asked him, "when you were my age were you good with the girls?"

He was sheep and goat reporter and his said sheep were much more profitable for ranchers than cattle. He won the spur award from 1852 to 2007 as best western novelist. He admired Louis L'Amour who sold more westerns than all the western writers combined from beginning of time.

Highly recommend any of his 50 novels which he wrote in evenings and weekends. He liked to write about subjects where there was change in the air and the heroes and badmen had there were neither black or white.

Victor adds: 

If Elmer Kelton wrote easterns not westerns he would be lionized as one of our greatest writers. As it was he never made more money from his books than his sheep and goat reporting for a local news weekly. [Here is a New Yorker article on him].

Laurence Glazier writes: 

…but the world would have been the poorer.

Sep

18

Spiders are quite deceptive (the 8 legged arthropods) and the kind that track the S&P. Jim Lorie always said that if you try to time them you miss the drift which is now 50,000 fold a century but was not quite that much in his noble days. I owe everything to Jim and I grieve for him every day.

Sep

10

Brittany Runs a Marathon is right out of The Fountainhead. It’s the kind of movie that Dominique would have taken Gail Wynand to instead of no skin off my nose. The Asian girl is the only person of color not shown in a heroic light. The squad could use it as their theme song.

Sep

6

I relate a checker story with market implications on vicniederhoffer@twitter.com. The story is from Sea Biscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, a very excellent book. Pollard the jockey saw a kid lose a checker game and the older jockey flipped over the board and started pummeling the kid. Pollard was also a boxer and made the offensive jockey promise never to do it again to a kid or opposing jockey.

Aug

26

 Some recent tweets from @VicNiederhoffer on being "aggro":

Nobody asked me but you can learn a lot from "aggro". Steve Irwin, google, and doomsdayers come to mind. 

Steve Irwin's favorite croc was named "aggro". He liked him because he was the feistiest and cageyist in the zoo. Steve had caught him and "aggro" remembered this and as always ready to hide and spring at him. 

As is well known crocs have great memory and because of this no fisherman fishes in the same spot twice. The crocs remember where the anglers were the last time they ate (about a month ago) and they come back for the kill. 

Because of this no spec should try to make money the same way twice in a row. Humans and the collective zeitgeist have good memories also. 

In a recent article in "Wired": they refer to amazon as "aggro" in contrast to google which is benevolent in all ways as you see the founder of Google was an adviser to Hillary's campaign so he couldn't be "aggro". 

But all fellow travelers are "aggro" when the market goes down big the hope for renewed panic selling as this would reduce wealth for everyone and this would be good for the agrarian reformers who did so much more for Hillary than the Russians did for Trump. 

The downside is hoping for a decrease in everyone's wealth creates a horrific sense of life. It also prevents you from participating in the drift which I have been emphasizing for the last 150 pts in S&P and elsewhere in my books.

Aug

17

There has recently been some gossip about treasury bills outperforming stocks. It is normal if you take the top x % of stocks away to come up with lack luster returns. It’s a property of random ensembles perhaps a pareto cross section. It is a worthless meaningful conjecture to take a 1% a year return and show how its higher than a 10% a year return compounded. Other worthless demonstrations for 1 being higher than 10 could be made.

Aug

16

 We all know that Mr. Mill is a master of checkers, building, collecting and hum drum observations on the daily vicissitudes of life. I have been playing checkers to improve my humdrum activities in life which requires binary thinking like checkers in so many situations. I frequently use that thinking in @vicniederhoffer on twitter to predict the market. Recently I talked of all the games that have a man down but winning with a good foundation like the last week after Mon.

I would now request a favor which I don't ordinarily do. I used to be a benevolent man who had a uplifting effect on all who came into contact. But now I am just an ordinary man. (See My Fair Lady). The favor is this. Would Mr. Millhone kindly send my recent tweets about his sagacity to the ACF people. And ask them to favor me with a game from time to time even though they are much better than me. This will improve me and keep my stroke from deteriorating at an appreciated rate. Thanks.

Aug

16

 The ridiculous nature of the 7 occasions of yield curve inversion would be clear by reading David Hand's book The Improbability Principle.

Much more relevant is the level of interest rates with the short term rates declining not rising.

Also would Dr. Brett kindly reprieve the gist of his prize winning contest entry about the wild dancing in Ibiza.

.

Aug

16

Would someone perform either of these 2 tests:

1. The tendency for devastating moves in one direction to be required by mirror image moves in the opposite direction. I am offering a $1000 reward to this.

2. The tendency for S&P moves to be highly positively correlated with yearly home run totals.

Aug

8

 1. The bookstores in major universities are bereft of books. At a recent visit to Duke book store in August I found just 1 test book for sale.

2. The American Tobacco Company has numerous buildings, warehouses, and apartments in Durham. At their entrance is a beautiful garden with the prominent sign: "no smoking". The downtown areas of big cities like Pittsburgh, Durham, and Buffalo featured expansive granite and stone office buildings in the 1920s. Every one of them is being torn down or renovated for startups and condos.


3.
The drift in the S&P, i.e its expected rise is significantly better than 10% a year during periods when they are in a declining qualitative rate excursion like they are in early August, 2019.

4. The systems and wise maneuvers for making money in sports betting are much more sophisticated, clever, and better researched than those in markets. And the 5% vig in sports betting is much less than the vig in futures markets now that they are dominated by high frequency trading.

5. The key to success in trading is to not get in over your head and the best way to do this is to have a good credit line to draw on when the top feeders in the markets try to devour the bottom feeders by forcing them out of positions through exacerbated and temporary moves which the bigs are able to withstand.

6. The stock market tends to go up inordinately in times when the home runs in baseball are higher than average for a season and after a down previous year.

7. The main reason that stocks go up more than bonds is the higher return on capital than companies show growth. The differential after a reasonable period of years becomes considerable because of compounding. This is the main reason that the Fed Model shows sensational returns.


8.
A trader should always prepare at least 1//2 hour in advance of his first trade of the day and never rush into a trade without preparation.

9. The main reason that NY basketball has been so bad is because of the higher service rates there and the pall left on the team by Ewing.

10. The fallacy of thinking that the odds of a rise or fall change after a long run is no fallacy. The principle of ever changing cycles makes the odds shift in to a reversal.

11. A good book on evolution and ecology is a great way to provide a foundation for market people.

Aug

2

I once did a study of changes in direction, i.e the discount rate. I found that the average duration of such changes in direction was 10 years and 4 changes. It would be nice if someone updated that study. The deceptive call of "once is enough" is good for ageist people of humans but is ridiculous when compared to the record I think. But the Fed model becomes even more bullish as worked on by Doc, Mr. Downing and me and it would be nice to update that. In 2008 the bank earnings brought the actual earnings for the year down but it would be good to work with projections or directions of change in the quarterly earnings to make the study completely scientific.

Jul

30

 Pickleball. The game is growing. I saw about 1000 players on 40 indoor courts at the Johnson convention center in Pittsburgh. The play is fair with the received rushing the net on all serves and the average duration of a volley is about two hits as the passing shots are very fragile. The game is growing like racketball in its early days and is much easier than tennis or platform tennis.

Jul

30

 A fabulous testament to the entrepreneurial spirit was visited by Aubrey and Susan and me during our trip to Pittsburgh. The complex was started by the Smuckers in 1911 as a farm producing swiss cheese where the Smuckers emigrated from Switzerland. It has since grown to a smorgasbord with an average of 500 diners a day, a magic show, a hotel, a bakery and an entertainment complex featuring mini golf and the history of the Amish and the Mennonites. It is worth a visit as all the operations grew out of hard work and ingenious reactions to the changing times. They were hit hard by 9-11 and the recession of 2008 but each time bounced back with new highs in revenues and profits.

Jul

27

  The 3000 level exerts its gravitational constructal pull and like a tree the roots hold it in place and provide for the nutrients and water that the price needs for sustenance until further growth occurs.

Jul

14

This is a disturbing article: "The Books of College Libraries Are Turning into Wallpaper"

Zubin Al Genubi writes: 

I prefer reading Kindle on my phone to a book. I can carry 20 books at a time, and get them on the go. I can read at night, and low light. The print is bigger. I find books hard to read, hard to hold, smelly, heavy, print too small, expensive. I do buy some of Chair's technical book recommendations that are not available in digital format.

Jul

9

In checking the old saw that a big rise through the first 6 or 9 months of the year is bull for the remainder of the year, I find an inverse relation i.e. the bigger the rise in the first 6 months the more bear it is. Conversely when big declines the first 6 or 9 months it's very bull for the remainder of the year. Of course there have been only 1 or 2 declines in the first 6 months during the last 20 years… would someone check the relation going back 75 or so years. Of course for once, you will probably see % changes rather than algebraic changes.

Jeffrey Hirsch writes: 

I ran the numbers on this for the blog.

Here's the copy. Check the tables on the link.

The market just put on its best first half performance for the Dow since 1999, the S&P 500 since 1997 and NASDAQ since 2003 – and that's a pretty decent omen that market will tack on additional gains. Performance below following first-half Dow and S&P 500 gains greater than 7% and NASDAQ Composite gains greater than 10% shows a solid history of gains for the second half – after a tepid market action in Q3.

Modest gains of about 1% continue into July, but gains little ground during the rest of Q3, which should come as no surprise given the infamous negative history of August and September. On average the market was unable to match first half gains during the second, though the across-the-board 7+% gains over from July to December is still solid. The Dow's second half win ratio following jumbo gains like 2019 is a rather impressive 85.3% – S&P's win ration is 80.0%, NAS 73.9%. Full-year gains are virtual lock.

But The Chair has a point the biggest gains – the handful or so larger than this year had rough second halves.

Jul

4

Two Duke to be students in med school and law school celebrate their wedding two days before the constructal 3000 is hit.

Appropriately, the constructal theory was invented at Duke by our friend Adrian Bejan: "Dr Adrian Bejan: How Cooling Laptops Led to the Constructal Theory"

Doubtless there is constructal confirmation in this as Dr. Bejan introduced this to us two years ago when the S&P was 2000 and the youngest progeny going to Duke at S&P 3000.

There is also a branching constructal in progeny ending at Duke and never even considered.

.

Jul

3

 Along comes a history of tennis from its beginnings in 1870 when Major Walter Wingfield invented and patented it until 1996 shortly before the author's death. The author believes that the upper class is necessary for a good civilization and good tennis. He deplores the growth of pro tennis and modern stadiums especially Flushing Meadow and believes that the quality of the game has declined form the glory days of the 19th century when the twins Renshaw, Doherty and Battersly won 80% of the Wimbledon singles and doubles titles during the first 30 years. Particular mention should be noted of Arthur Wentworth Gore who entered Wimbledon 35 times and won the singles title 3 times and again in 1908 at the age of 40 and won his last singles match there at 55 years.

The author was a sociology professor at Penn who deployed quantitative analysis and his analysis and predictions of the declining level of the game and the declining sportsmanship has proved completely wrong as have most of his analysis. Yet he should have known better because he was number 1 man on the Penn team in 1937 when Tukdeb was at his height.

The book was fascinating to me as many of the tennis players moved over to squash after their tennis career had waned and I knew many of them, and there are more interesting anecdotes and record in this tennis book than any other. Some examples: shortly after tennis's founding Oxford had 66 grass courts and they were all occupied by students. The Doherty brothers won Wimbledon singles and doubles 10 times in the 1900s and probably are the third and fourth best tennis players ever. The Sears family won the US national championships 12 times and Eleonora Sears, their daughter, won the national doubles 6 times. Tilden won a 6 and under championship at the age of 8 (with future national champions entered into it). The Titanic had two two survivors who played Davis Cup for the US Narsi Williams and Karl Behr who played the one and only squash match on the boat before the water reached the tin.

*Baltzwell considers Tilden the best player ever and there are some beautiful anecdotes of how the French 4 horsemen studied his game in the 1920s and then beat him soundly by hitting the ball on the half volley. They were helped in the Davis cup when Coceh was a referee of the Tilden Lacoste game and refused to call a Lacoste shot out in the win for France. The Dwights and Davis and Fred Taylor (the founder of scientific management were the best American players in the 1900s and ruled the game Perezs of the USLTA for 30 years. They lived across the street from each other on Beacon Hill and always wore bachelors button.) The Newport tennis casino was founded by William Bennet after he was thrown out and fought a duel with his would be bride's brother for drunkenness on the wedding day. (to be continued)

Jun

10

Dr. Morton, a Hartford dentist, developed the first practical use of anaesthesis and went to Dr. Warren who is generally classified as the first man of Harvard Medical schools having founded Mass General and Brigham…but he was quick to lead a chorus of "Bah Humbugs" for Dr. Morton when he presented the discovery at a round at Harvard medical. But 5 years later he amputated a leg and Dr. Warren cried knowing that he had been all wrong in opposing this life saving technique: "this isn't humbug" he said and cried.

Jun

7

 Does anyone have some tips for teaching a 9 to 11 year old checkers and chess from a beginner/intermediate level? Thanks.

Victor Niederhoffer writes:

I would suggest checkers as much better relevance to logical thinking and binary decision making the crux of all electrical circuits as a foundation for decision making in life. Chess is a contrived world relating to warfare in the old days. As to how to learn checkers, I would load checkerboard program onto their computers and play against the engine. Tom Wiswell wrote 22 books that are good and some of them are for beginners. You might read Edspec the chapter on Tom's proverbs of life: "Checkers and Markets". Playing with one's father or mother is very resonant in life. Good luck.

JayJay Hales writes: 

Go is a nice boardgame as well. Although in general not as popular in the west, it has a bit of a foothold among mathematicians.
 

May

16

 Jaquith Industries is a 100 year old company in Syracuse that has saved many lives. They produce the support poles for all lights at all 2000 airports. The poles buckle at the slightest test and yet can withstand hurricane winds of 150 miles an hour. They also produce the barriers concrete forms on highways. Their high tech poles recall a time I bought a lunch with Wilbur Mills at the congressional offices which were very Southern in wait staff. Wilbur had just returned from the scandal with Fanny and all the congressman came to see him. I bought the lunch because he was chair of the tax writing committee and I wanted to get him to tax unrealize profits from a high basis. The day I came back to NY was a stormy one and the plane just missed one of the poles. Everyone on the plane clapped for the escape. The next day a plane crashed into the same pole and all 250 passengers were killed. Thus became the mandate for Jaquith Industries.

Apr

27

 Books I have read recently while waiting for the ideal time to reconnoiter:

Elmer Kelton's Sandhill Boys: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer is his bio and his best novels are The Good Old Boys, The Time it Never Rained, Cloudy in the West, Bitter Trail. I read them all and listen to them on audible. He was voted the best western writer 5 times by his colleagues and he rivals Jack Schaefer in his insights into family life. He served as a sheep and cattle reporter for 25 years and knows his subject perfectly. Speaking about authors who know their subject well, I always reread and listen to Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. It was dubbed the best historical novel ever. And you don't have to be nautical to be amazed with the skill of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin–modeled after Horatio Nelson and Charles Darwin.

The Statistical Analysis for Extreme Value by R.D. Reiss: A nice practical intro to how to use extremes in insurance and engineering.

Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman by Lee Owenfish: the best baseball mind ever who brought Jackie Robinson into the league and started the farm system, and more unimportant, took checker lessons regularly from Tom Wiswell.

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place by Janet Browne tells how Darwin prepared for and followed up writing the Origin. Gives a good insight into a true scientist and scholar and his friends.

A Splendid Exchange by William Bernstein: how the urge to trade created wealth and adventure Throughout the Ages.

The Economic Mind in American Civilization by Joseph Dorfman: how Ben Franklin and Hamilton created the economic world of the 18th century that we still live with today.

The Marketplace of Revolution by T Breen: how material good created the American revolution by creating trust and betterment.

My Years with General Motors by Alfred Sloan: the story of Durant, Chrysler, Nash and Ford and how they created the car industry that was making hundreds of millions of profits by the 1930's.

Also Tom Wiswell's books on checkers, My Best Games and Ten Easy Lessons. The former has commentary by Tinsely that is Bronsteinian in its mastery. A few others later.

Apr

13

 "The absolute worthlessness of the theory of conventional pursuit in life is indisputably written in the lives of great men who succeeded in their work in spite of all the dire predictions of conventionalists."

-William Ryan, in describing how a world class checker player in this case Yates became a third class doctor rather than a great checker player.

He uses the example of Audobon who spent three quarters of his life as a workman and only when he was 60 started painting.

Mar

9

"In life the intelligent man looks beyond the immediate effect he desired to produce to the more and more results that are likely to follow and studies them calmly and dispassionately" -Ben Boland, Famous Positions in the Game of Checkers.

Very good advice for the market in establishing a position. What if things go wrong and you are cornered. The roach motel, etc.

Jeff Hirsch writes: 

"Moses Shapiro (of General Instrument) told me: "Son, this is Talmudic wisdom. Always ask the question 'If not?' Few people have good strategies for when their assumptions are wrong." That's the best business advice I ever got."

- John C. Malone (Liberty Media, TCI, Fortune, 2/16/98)

Feb

20

What are the scans like for the last 30 trading days with p near 50%? Is this predictive? Sam liked to compute regressions of current forward 3 and 6 month as dep compared to most recent 12 months as independent. The gist was that the change in the last 3 and 6 months was highly pos correlated with the dependent. He was a great man rivaling Osborne in his case his layman's contributions.

Feb

16

Worse than jealousy is envy. A good precis of its horrible tentacles is Helmut Schoeck's book: Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour.

Jan

30

All of my losses were caused by not turning the right shoulder on the backhand. I didn't lose that much, perhaps 10 times in 17 yrs. A handful of losses were caused by sex when at the outset.

Jan

21

Stan and Ollie is a beautifully wrought depiction of coping with changing times, how fleeting is success, and the perils of lasting friendship.

Jan

20

  I have renewed my acquaintance with checkers in the last 2 weeks. I find checkers much more a real exercise in logic than chess. The moves of a binary nature right or left duplicate the logic gates that go into all arithmetic operations of computers. The rules are very simple and thus correspond with extensions to all binary decisions in life. We all know that Tom Wiswell has written 5,000 proverbs covering the relations of checkers to life and they are invaluable and worth an extensive publication and study. However, what I have learned is quite rudimentary and not for all posterity like Tom's. Briefly, here are some lessons:

1. Prepare before you play

2. Don't move in haste

3. Play only certain lines and leave off playing when you don't know

4. There is high frequency playing in checkers same way there is in our our markets. Don't play against the high frequency but play for the 30 minutes games/ the high freq people have better equipment that you can't compete against

5. Only play lines that you know and don't wing it

6. Write your major plays down before hand and play them only

7. There are some players much better than you. Don't compete with them

8. Your wins and losses tend to form clusters, i.e longer runs than expected. So don't play after two losses in a row 8. Exercise before you play for at least 10 minutes

9. Study the play that was good 100 years ago and use it

10. Don't do things by rote as things are always changing and your opp

11. The play in the morning is very different from the play in the afternoon. The players are different. I find checkers a good antidote to loss of memory and a good hobby which for me is resonant as my father played much with 10 Scotties and it brings back the glory days with my dad and Tom. Hobby for the old age.

Dec

16

December 2018

Dear son:

At twelve years old you are on the verge of adulthood with many years of a productive life ahead of you. You are a good boy now and I want you to become a good man. I love you very much and are very proud of your many accomplishments and interests and wanted from my 75 years vantage point for you to have a permanent reminder from me as to guide lines as to how to make your life good for the future. While you may not find many of these points of immediate value, I hope you will go back to them from time to time and find them of value.

Perhaps most important is to realize that conditions are always changing. To be successful, you have to be ready to adjust your activities to take account of the changes that have occurred and  that will come in the future. In business, that means don't go with the same trades as the past. That means be ready to quit while you're far ahead. And never make the same trades two days in a row.

Books going back to Greek and Roman times and from around the world will show you that people have always had the same problems and opportunities as in the present.  The books will make you fly to different places and time thereby expanding your horizons You can and should learn from them by reading widely and often. There has always been a big library in the Niederhoffer families and I hope you will continue the tradition by reading, widely and often. You should maintain a big library of your own.

There are also certain books that you should read as a foundation and beacon that will be resonant throughout your life. You were named after a hero of Patrick O’Brian who was modeled after Nelson and Darwin. He is said to be the best historical novelist of all times and you have a complete set of his books and it is a good place to start. Atlas Shrugged is a good book to give you a grasp of what the world is like.

Any list of the 100 greatest books is good. Here are some of my additions that I have found useful and resonant Memories of My Life by Galton, The Good Old Boys by Elmore Kelton, Atlas Shrugged, The Selfish Gene by Dawkins, The Far Side of the World by Patrick O’Brien, Count of Monte Cristo, The Eye of the Needle, Gone with the Wind, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer, Triumph of  the Optimists, Don Quixote, I, Claudius, Les Miserables, stories by Chekhov, Moby Dick, Candide, Call of the Wild, Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, Gulliver’s Travels, The Aeneid, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie, The Power Elite by Mills, The Structure of Scientific Revolution by Kuhn, Tale of Two Cities. To learn about Asia read Wild Swans and Shogun.

I would recommend biographies of successful people as an inspiration and a model. Biographies of the following greats are a good place to start. Beethoven, Caesar, Carnegie, Churchill, Darwin, da Vinci, Edison, Einstein, Feynman, Franklin, Galton, Jefferson, De Kruif (Microbe Hunters), Madame Curie, Pasteur, Shoenberg (Life of the Musicians), Steinbeck, Twain, Vasari (Lives of the Artists), and Washington are all inspiring and educational.  You can always profit and be inspired by reading them again.

All areas are connected and in order to be a complete and competent person you should have a knowledge of and study textbooks in accounting, astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, geography, investments, law, mathematics, music, physics, spatial relations, and statistics.

Try to learn as much as you can. You never know when you’ll be able to use a subject that you could have learned when you were young. You never can tell when a subject that you have learned will enable you to be productive and gain insights. Events tend to repeat and the same goals and problems arise whether in ancient or modern times so it’s good to know history. Historical novels are a good way to get a foundation.

Many of the things below are based on good and bad things that have happened in my life or those of my friends. I hope you will profit by avoiding the bad and emphasizing the good.

A good life should encompass a love of children, women, nature, books, music, sports, and art. To have a good life you should combine many areas of interest. Study computers and all of their aspects.

Don’t give up on things that you’re not expert on. Try to find a good mentor.

Listen and learn should be one of your guiding principles. Don’t argue about politics or religion.

Put in that extra effort when you’re good at something and emphasize it.

Take lessons from experts whenever you can. Research online to find out expert advice in fields you’re interested in.

It’s nice to have hobbies: checkers, chess, food, music, shells, a sport like squash or tennis, trees, mechanical things are good ones.

Read. Read a lot. Lots of topics, fiction as well as non-fiction. When in doubt, read.

At a fairly young age read L'Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man, Churchill (My Early Life) and Richard Feynman’s What Do you Care What Other People Think?

HEALTH:

Exercise every day. Keep your blood pressure down with a systolic below 110. Get a CEA test at 40 years old. Brush your teeth and waterpik twice a day. Don’t eat smoked food. Eat four times as much fish as meat. Get out in the sun at least 30 minutes a day. Get to sleep before 12 midnight. Don’t eat food after 9 pm. Try to get up with the sun when possible. Don’t be tempted to smoke or do drugs. A little exercise in the morning to start your day will make you more productive and healthier. Keep your weight down to under 3.4 pounds per. Cut down on eating red meat. A mile a day of exercise every day should be your goal. When traveling jog in a park or in the hotel exercise room.

Find a good doctor and treat him/her very well so that you receive special attention and advice.

Learn to breathe and run properly, especially on the balls of your feet.

PERSONAL:

Be good to Susan and your mother, be guided by Roy, and try to be friendly and appreciative with all your sisters.

Never count on friends when you are in a crisis.

Stay away from hoodoos.

Romance Advice:

Marry a woman who you like in everyday things. Be solicitous to your romantic partners. Always let your partner have a climax first. Never force your partner to do something she doesn’t want to do. All romance should be at least 10 minutes. When the brain in your penis and your head differ, go with your head. Always give your girlfriend more than she gives you. A good test of a girlfriend is to think about how you think she’ll behave in adversity. Never say anything bad about a friend’s girlfriend.

Look at your girlfriend’s mother before marrying her to see what her character and looks are when she’s 50 or 60.

Don’t spend more than an hour a day on computer games.

The best friends you’ll have are your relatives. They are the only ones you can count on.

Try to stay close in business and personal life with people who good things happen to.

You are not what you eat, or what you drive or where you live. You are you. And if that is not working out for you, changing your diet or car or home will not fix the problem.

Video games may not make you violent, but they certainly do not make you a better son, student or friend. Play them sparingly.

You only get out of something what you put into it, so are you spending time now on something that will give you back what you want?

Sleep will not solve all of your problems, but not sleeping will create new ones.

Never let your sisters down, they are irreplaceable and will be your longest friendship in life and, one day, will be the only people who remember your childhood.

Be the kind of boss, teacher, father, and friend that you had, or wish you had.

Choose your friends wisely. If they are jerks, you will not be far behind.

Try to spend your time with friends that you admire                                                                                                         
Calling your parents for no special reason is always a good idea.

Never assume anything about another person’s wealth, health or happiness.  All too often one is mistaken.

Remember that other people are the same as you. They have the same feelings and the same thoughts.

There are bad people. Avoid them. Don't let them engage you. Walk away.

It’s not enough to be smart. Work harder than the next guy, practice more, try harder.  When you’re young and smart everything seems easy and it can breed complacency.

Clean up your own house before you start criticizing anyone else or the world.

Remember not everyone thinks the same way you do: This isn't about opinions. It's about the ability to process information, debate, discuss. It's important to remember your mind may work differently than everyone else’s.

Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% in how you react. Be agile, open, and willing to understand that things don't end up how you might plan.

Don’t care what other people think. Live based on your value system and beliefs and ignore what other people think.

Pick a baseball team. Stay a fan through good, bad and ugly. Learn to love the game as it has much to teach you if your listen.

Be good. That’s what my father wrote to me on my 13th birthday. The Boy Scout creed, is a good place to start. Be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, cheerful, thrift, brave and clean. If you follow these guidelines along with the advice in this letter you will grow up to be a productive, healthy, and successful man.

FINANCE:

Never get in over your head. Never sell short. Buy and hold is the best strategy. Stocks have gone up 50,000 fold in the last 110 years so it’s a good place to put any savings. Get up early in the morning. Don’t do anything illegal. You’ll never be able to get restitution if you do. Always keep something in reserve. Beware of down Fridays. Count whenever you can. Be mindful of stopping when you have a good gain rather than what most people do in stopping at a big loss. Remember that you have to get out of an investment as well as getting in. That means that you have to take account of the liquidity of your position. When there is little liquidity the other side will often form pools and cliques against you. Take account of the vig or rake on all investments. That’s a constant. And you can’t overcome a big rake or vig of say more than 1/30 the of your expected gain or loss. Be mindful of ever-changing cycles. Read Bacon (Secrets of Professional Turf Betting). Remember deception is everywhere. Things are seldom what they seem. The spider and plants have a million ways of hiding the true or emphasizing the false. Human have all these deceptions plus what they have learned from nature, war, and politics.

Remember to put all deals in writing. Take account of the potential worst case scenarios and put what you’ll do (for example a buyout agreement) in writing.

Negotiate everything.

Don’t be concerned about the dollar or the clock but think for the long term.

When you lend money to a friend, don’t expect to get it back.

Don’t settle your disputes with litigation or lawyers as the bills will be greater than any expectation of recovery.

A good accountant is very helpful and knowledge of accounting is very useful.

When you buy collectibles as investments, always buy the best. Usually it pays to buy the more expensive items rather than the cheapest.

When you are way up, have a point where you would liquidate after you’ve lost a certain amount.

Make sure you value your time when taking into account the cost of any activity.

Learn about real estate as well as stocks.

Be generous and fair. Never cheat.

If a man can beat you, walk him, i.e. don’t play poker with a man named Doc.

Covering your tracks reveals a faulty character. Real men own up to their mistakes, apologize and try to put things right.

Boldness always trumps brilliance. Just make sure you can back it up – at least most of it.

It's okay to fail. Take lessons away from every failure and use it in future endeavors. All the best athletes have learned more from their defeats than their victories. See edspec on Lacoste for this.

Avoid local bias - remember that if two or three people tell you something, doesn't make it so.

Travel is good. It widens your perspective and give you new ideas. Leave the United States for at least a week every two years.

If you don't like your job, quit. Quit the moment you feel like you're only doing it for money. Don't waste your time and life (especially youth) on things that do not interest you. You'll find money elsewhere.

GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING. Don't start any job without a contract with terms in place. If someone owes you a debt, get a promissory note. Hard lesson to learn because you'll probably get hit once or twice before you learn this one, as I did.

Always ask “What’s in it for me?” Saying NO leaves you more power than YES as you can change a no to a yes much easier.

It's okay to fail. Take lessons away from every failure and use it in future endeavors.

The one thing that is constant is change. Be ready to adjust.

Remember, even though it sometimes I expect too much of you, I am proud of you and I love you very much.

Nov

28

The Prez was right with all his comments about Powell being hawkish and "not a little bit satisfied with Powell" and the markets all over the world gave everyone wealth. But now we shall have to hear about "succumbing" and "interference" and the inviolable "independence of the Fed being violated".

Pete Earle writes: 

Here is something I wrote a month or two back regarding the media assertion that the current President is conducting himself in manners vastly outside historical norms.

Nov

28

A person on twitter said it best: "the agrarians hate prosperity".

Kim Zussman writes: 

A note from a notable reform school:

"Raise Rates Today to Fight a Recession Tomorrow. A downturn is inevitable as asset prices fall. The Fed can prepare by continuing to raise rates now"

By Martin Feldstein Nov. 26, 2018 7:00 p.m. ET

Nov

28

A movie of the second best western ever: The Good Old Boys (1995)

Nov

28

 One thing to remember about buying art is that the vig is very high. It costs 15% buyers fee and 10% sellers fee. Plus the markets are generally wholesale markets so that what you pay for retail is likely twice the wholesale price. So you start out about with a 50% to 70% loss, it's greater for items that are 8 or less. You should think of waiting at least 10 years to get even.

Jeff Rollert writes: 

I find art (along with vintage cars) is best acquired from someone's near bankruptcy, as time pressures reduce shopping/selling opportunities. BK goes through the courts which permit other games. Of course, documentation must be present.

Also, if they are still alive, buy directly from the artist. 

Nov

22

November 22, 2018 (our annual article about Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is about sharing prosperity, and it's a good time to think about where
prosperity comes from. The Pilgrims figured it out in 1623. We'll retell
that story as we celebrate the way it lives on in countless U.S.
families and companies today. And in particular at one company,
McDonald's, that in its humdrum way beautifully
demonstrates the source of prosperity and the American way of life.

The Pilgrims started with so little. They had to hide in England
because the authorities considered them dangerous. They fled to Holland
but found themselves compelled to take menial jobs. On the way to
America, many of the company died. They lost their way to Virginia and
landed in Massachusetts just as winter set in. The Virginia Co., their
backers in London, went bankrupt and couldn't send relief supplies.

To cope with want, the Pilgrims made the same mistake that so many
countries do even today: They divided all their land, efforts, supplies
and produce in common, to each according to his need.

As always in such systems, need surpassed supply.

The Pilgrims spent their first three years in America suffering from
hunger, illness, cold and infighting. People stole from the common
stores "despite being well whipped," according to William Bradford's "Of
Plymouth Plantation."

Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, records what happened next:
"They began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could,
that they might not continue to languish in misery. After much debate,
the Governor decided that each settler should plant corn for
themselves."

Under the Land Division of 1623, each family received one acre per
family member to farm. That year, three times as many acres were planted
as the year before. Prosperity was not long in coming.

The Pilgrims turned from their Old World system of common ownership
to incentives. They didn't go that way out of ideological conviction,
but because they didn't have the luxury of waiting for support to come
to them.

How many families in America tell the same tale? "When we came here, we worked hard and our lives were better."

But that wasn't the end of the story. Before the switch to
incentives, the hungry settlers were at each other's throats. Hard
workers resented receiving the same portions of food as those who were
not able to do even a quarter of the work they did. Young men resented
having to work without compensation to feed other men's wives and
children. Mature men resented receiving the same allotments as did the
younger and meaner sort. Women resented being forced to do laundry and
other chores for men other than their husbands. Many people felt too
sick to work.

But when they were allowed to farm their own plots, the most amazing
thing happened. Everybody — the sick, the women and even the children —
went out willingly into the fields to work. People started to respect
and like one another again. It wasn't that they were bad people,
Bradford explained; it's just human nature. Adam Smith came to the same
conclusion later, and Friedrich Hayek updated Smith's ideas for the 20th
century. But we don't need to go back to New England for understanding.
Similar outcomes can be seen at McDonald's every day.

For centuries, people on the lower rungs of the social ladder weren't
able to eat meat. They ate grains and beans. But people like beef. And
chicken.

When McDonald's started popping up in every neighborhood, all of a
sudden there was an affordable place for families to eat. Previously,
one of the main differences between the upper and lower classes was that
the rich could eat out. Even if the poor could afford the tab, they
couldn't hire baby sitters, and they couldn't bring their kids to the
elegant establishments designed for the rich because they would have
disturbed the other diners.

Most kids don't like fancy restaurants anyway. They want fries, not
polenta with wild mushrooms. They want fried codfish, not turbot. They
want burgers, not lamb chops.

How many people has McDonald's made happy? How many families has it
brought together? How many Happy Meals have been eaten there? How many
kids have enjoyed the playgrounds? How many tired workers have been able
to catch a quick meal? How many women are able to pursue careers and
other productive activities and dreams because McDonald's has freed them
from the task of having to cook every night?

The Pilgrims might have served 200 or 300 American Indians at their
Thanksgiving feast. McDonald's serves 26 million customers a day at
13,700 U.S. restaurants.

For the traveler, McDonald's is a home away from home, offering so
much for so little. The restrooms are clean. And McDonald's serves hot
strong organic coffee in smooth cups of some wonderful material that
keeps liquids hot without burning the hand, shaped to fit into the cup
holders that just happen to be in your car, with carefully designed tops
that permit just the right amount to be sipped.

No regulator, no fascist dictator, no socialist planner decreed sip
tops or cup holders. But how many late-night drivers have died for the
lack of a good cup of coffee? What could be more munificent than saving
lives?

And the story doesn't end there. Consider the employees of
McDonald's. How many people have worked there and learned the most
important lesson in America: The customer is always right?

The anti-this-and-that people who demonstrate against profit
incentives and free markets like to single out McDonald's as a symbol of
modern capitalism. (They don't mean that in a nice way.) As the McLibel
Support Campaign puts it: "(McDonald's) has pioneered many business
practices that have been taken up by others, and have come to represent a
symbol of the way that society is going –'McDonaldization.'" But when
have you ever seen an unhappy customer at McDonald's? There couldn't be
too many of them, because about 10% of America eats there each day.
Given the choice of cooking at home or going to other restaurants — and
competition ensures that there are other restaurants — people go to
McDonald's because they trust they'll find good food, quick service and
value for money. What could be more munificent, more representative of
sharing the fruits of hard work than McDonald's?

McDonald's and the Pilgrims are the essence of America. The people
work hard, motivated by the chance for profits. They provide a welcome
to others, whether to Indians joining in harvest celebrations, or to
customers looking to satisfy their hunger. Their work results in high
quality, low costs and family togetherness.

Those humdrum, everyday attributes are what makes America great.
That's what we should be celebrating. It's the source of all our
munificence, from the first Thanksgiving to today.

Nov

18

 Gotham and New York: the Novel make a fine pair of telling the history of a great metropolis with many financial insights contained within. Both books are very informative and tell you everything you should know about the hi-ways and byways that led to current times. However, both books spend an inordinate amount of time on the plight of the 1% who did not prosper with the rising tide.

Henry Gifford writes: 

To the list of New York City books I recommend The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto.

Basically, in the 1970s, some government employees were throwing out boxes of junk from the basement of the NY State capital building in Albany, NY, and someone looked to see what was in the boxes and found old documents written in a language nobody could understand. Turns out the documents were written in old Dutch, which very few people can understand, but someone found a translator and a non-government-employee wrote some checks to get the translation done.

The documents were basically the history of NY City when it was a Dutch trading post.

As a trading post it wasn't a country or a colony, but something that perhaps doesn't have a well-matching modern equivalent. New Amsterdam, as it was called then, was run by a governor, but many people from all over passed through or lived there. One description from the time said something like:

"Mine eyes hath never seen such a place so full of people from all over - Africans, Europeans, Natives, Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, etc., each of which has a place where they worship and at least one place where they eat (and I think drink) - all living in harmony. Such happiness and prosperity I have never seen anywhere else."

Maybe still a decently fitting description.

Not many people liked the governor, who was a bit of a jerk, and who broke the law requiring doing what can be done to avoid war with the natives - the law required fair trade, whatever that meant. But, he was appointed by the powers that be in Holland, so there wasn't much anyone could do.

But a Dutch lawyer by the name of Adrien van der Donk, who was living in New Amsterdam, formed an advisory council, elected I think, who advised the governor. They had no official power, and the governor had no obligation to listen to them, but he didn't get to be governor by not being an astute politician.

I won't spoil the rest of the story for anyone, but the book makes a good case that democracy started in New York City, while the pilgrims who landed in Massachusetts were interested in anything but freedom.

anonymous adds: 

The Plymouth Pilgrims were very much interested in liberty. They were superceded by the Massachusetts Bay Colony that had the Royal Charter and, therefore, the sole legal authority; but they never surrendered fully to the Puritans belief in witch hunting and one almighty pulpit. The Mayflower Compact is the foundation of the American notion that the People, as individuals and not merely as a class or estate, are Sovereign. The Pilgrims and the Hugeunots and the Jews - refugees all - brought their ideas of freedom to Holland. They and the native Dutch created the amalgam of open outcry trade and commercial credit by contract whose rewards we all live by and exported it to the New and Old Worlds.

As Shorto's book and others demonstrate, New York became the center of Amercan commerce rather than Boston because, as Harvard daily reminds us, the Bay Colony was more interested in theocracy than free enterprise. The Anglicans in the Duke of York's Crown charter wanted the same monopoly for New York that the Congregationalists had established in Boston, but they always had to struggle against the melting pot that the adventurers from Holland had already set to a rolling boil. To the extent that the Royal authority did take hold in NY, the city lost out to Philadelphia (Franklin, with his eye for the main chance, chose Philly, not NY, when he left Boston). How Gotham became #1 again is the story of how the Dutch and others took hold once again after the British Crown was evicted.

Nov

4

 How many of the activities of spying with their misinformation, dangles, floaters and honeytraps, emphasis on the false, and hiding of the true, in general, have counterparts in markets?

I was led to consider this by a reading of the excellent book The Spy and the Traitor. Perhaps most resonant to me was the warning against seeking confirmation from a third party of something you already believe. The false confirmation that the D-Day bombing would be at Calais and the false belief that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the belief that an imminent nuclear attack on Russia were 3 examples cited by Macintyre in the book. The idea of searching for regularities among market moves that you know will confirm the regularity is horse from same garage.

Jim Sogi adds: 

Spycraft, a meticulous attention to details of deception, is important to spies and traders.

Never brag of success. Don't trust those who do.

Place orders in hidden unexpected places and disguise them and the size.

Use the element of surprise when entering a market.

Test the waters or market before committing all the way like the Commodore in Lefevre.

Never listen to the disinformation laid like traps.

Be prepared for pain under torture.

Understand the triple cross and the double cross always at play and how to use it against your counterparty.

Yeah, I read lots of spy books.
 

Peter Ringel writes: 

Great one-liners. The double/triple cross reminds me of myself searching for a bottom.
 

Nov

1

Mark Twain's Roughing It has a 200 page description of a silver boom in 1867 that contains all the hopes and agonies and easy money of many booms and busts since then and is a better description of great rises like Nasdaq in 1999 and bitcoin in 2017 than any other work. It is strongly recommended.

Oct

19

 The history and events of the battle of Chosin during the Korean War has been described as the best depiction of a battle ever.

Michael J. Edelman

TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE

5.0 out of 5 stars

A superb, literate, popular history that illuminates the greatest battle of the Korean War

August 17, 2018

It's not often that you come across popular history that reads like good literature. On Desperate Ground follows the First Marine Division from their landing at Inchon to their legendary route at the Chosin Reservoir, and manages to be both detailed history and gripping narrative. Author Hampton sides provides a detailed look at the men, the commanders, the strategies, the terrain, and the politics for not just the Marines and allied Korean and UN troops, but also their North Korean and Chinese opponents.

If there's a hero in this book it is Marine General Oliver Smith, commander of the First Marine Division and architect of the Inchon landing. It was Smith who turned MacArthur's plan- "We will land at Inchon"- into reality, and it was Smith who led the breakout and retreat from Chosin, managing to extract the 100,000 soldiers of the American X Corps and Republic of Korea I Corps along with nearly 98,000 citizens, surrounded by 120,000 soldiers of the Chinese PLA. Smith's nemesis was his direct commander, Major General Ned Almond. Almond was one of MacArthur's inner circle of trusted aids, or as others often characterized them, toadies. Almond had an undistinguished career in WWII, and blamed his poor performance leading the 92nd Infantry in Italy- which he blamed entirely on his African American soldiers. His racism extended not only to his troops, but to Filipino troops who were part of the UN forces, and to the Republic of Korea troops, who had shown themselves to be fierce fighters in the battles to retake the South. Alexander Haig, who was an aide to Almond in Korea, wrote that "[Almond] was not a believer in the racial integration of the Army, and thought those of us who were, such as myself, were in the need of education, or perhaps something stronger, to wake us up to reality."

Having secured Inchon and driven the North Korean soldiers from South of the 82nd Parallel, MacArthur decided to push North to the Yalu, and chose Almond to lead that campaign, much to the dismay of Smith and others. Almond had his forces advance along narrow roads, making resupply or reinforcement difficult or impossible. Smith and others warned that Almonds plan was a dangerous division of forces, to which Almond maintained that North Korean forces would not put up a fight. Almond also echoed MacArthur's opinion that, contrary to intelligence assessments, China would not intervene, and even if they did, they were not a significant fighting force. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of PLA soldiers were preparing a trap for invasion forces.

The results of MacArthur's grand strategy and Almond's ground tactics are well known. UN forces encountered a massive PLA force, and despite superior tactics, weapons, and experience, found themselves outnumbered and encircled. Author Hampton Sides follows the progress of the battle and retreat through the eyes of commanders and individual Marines, soldiers, and airmen. It's a powerful, realistic, narrative and a book I recommend highly to anyone with an interest in the Korean war.

It depicts the arrogance of General Douglas MacArthur very well and provides a nice example of how arrogance and self promotion can lead to terrible consequences.

One anecdote is priceless. The US Marines called for ammunition which they nicknamed tootsie rolls. The headquarters in Japan thought they wanted the candy rather than ammunition. Tens of thousands of tootsie rolls were delivered and the tootsie rolls were used by the engineers to plug holes and as an adhesive and became the most desirable currency of the engagement.

Oct

19

The most sensible thing out of the Fed in years.

"There's a New Bullard Rule That Finds No Need to Raise Rates"

By Steve Matthews (Bloomberg) –

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard is proposing a new monetary policy rule — effectively the Bullard rule — that updates popular policy guidelines such as the Taylor Rule and concludes there's no reason to raise interest rates further.

Bullard's benchmark adjusted the Taylor rule for developments in the past two decades, such as the weak link between the unemployment rate and inflation, the aging of the U.S. population and low inflation expectations.

"Incorporating these developments yields a modernized policy rule that suggests the current level of the policy rate is about right over the forecast horizon,'' or the next several years, Bullard said Thursday in a speech in Memphis, Tennessee. The Federal Open Market Committee discussed raising rates to a "restrictive'' level, or a rate that would slow growth, at its meeting last month, according to a record of that debate released Wednesday. Fed officials projected that rates would rise to 3.4 percent by 2020, their latest forecasts show. The Fed has raised rates three times this year and has penciled in a fourth hike, which is expected in December.

Bullard has been the most dovish Fed official the past two years. He's argued that the U.S. economy has been saddled with persistently low growth, so there is little need to raise interest rates much. His development of a rule is an effort to provide some academic justification to his viewpoint. "The modernized version of the Taylor (1999) rule recommends a relatively subdued policy rate path over the forecast horizon — similar to the St. Louis Fed's recommended path,'' Bullard said.

The Taylor Rule was developed by Stanford University professor John Taylor, who has preferred his original rule as a guideline for policy, which suggests further rate hikes are necessary.

Cagdas Tuna writes: 

He can always find an excuse for not raising rates!
 

Oct

2

The moves from the open to key afternoon hours can be thought of as a lever. The fulcrum would be say, the 1:00 pm price. We can either be above the fulc or below the fulc.

Effort is the move from the open to key afternoon price.

Sep

26

 The great Sam Eisenstadt ran a predictive regression with the future S&P changes highly correlated with the direction and magnitude of the preceding 12 months cumulatively. Right now he'd be forecasting another 10% rise or so for the next 3 months. I did something like this last year where I looked at the performance of the last 3 months based on the previous 9 months. As I recall it was very indicative of a good Oct to Dec when the first 9 months were up substantially… could someone update that study? I don't have the resources and haven't unpacked my books from my move from NY to Conn yet so I can't look at the S&P Security Price Record.

Steve Ellison replies:

Using SPY (adjusted for dividends) data since 1993, I find a
positive slope for the regression of the previous 9 month's net change
with the next 3 months' net change with a t score of 0.79 and p=0.43.
The scatter diagram is attached. Here is the data I used.
Date        Adj Close  9-month change   next 3-month change
 12/31/1993  29.473475           5.2%             -3.7%
  3/31/1994  28.371059           0.8%              0.4%
[.....]
12/29/2017 263.41486          14.9%             -1.0%
  3/29/2018 260.79306          10.4%              3.6%
  6/29/2018 270.0575           9.5%              7.7% (to 9/25/2018)

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Sep

16

  The Count of Monte Cristo has numerous financial data and speculations in it that shows that during the Napoleonic years there was active speculations. For example when Villefort learns that Napoleon has escaped from Elba he immediately tells his wife to sell french government bonds. Eventullly the count destroys the betraying Danglars by selling all the stocks he owns short. I am listening to the Bill Homewood reading of the story and his narration makes the story exciting.

Sep

13

 1. All non-scheduled announcements will go against the trend of the stock market, i.e. if the market is going up the announcement will be bearish.

2. Big market declines on Friday have an inordinate tendency to continue as gov over the weekend don't have time to get their act together.

3. All the fact checking reports are biased to say what the fact checkers wish politically. The fact check on the senator who passed away is a case in point.

4. The lynch pin of the market and the economy is corporate profits. Profits get back to consumers via capital spending, dividends, stock market increases, higher salaries, more hiring, and other areas.

5. The market is at a very halcyon state as 30 year yields are near 3% and the forecasted earnings price ratio is way above.

6. Markets that are up in the first 8 months of the year tend to have a fine last quarter the four musketeers take turns in joining the fray.

7. The Westerns of Louis L'Amour all have a boxing match by a man who has the build of Louis, and there is always some sign reading and advice to read books, especially Plutarch and Blackstone.

8. The rules against spoofing tend to prevent the deception in order placement price and size that are necessary for an active trader to overcome the vig from front running by the high frequency firms.

9. The second best trader I know recommends that all his people start out by reading The Godfather. I would suggest Monte Walsh and Atlas Shrugged and a good book on survival statistics and ecology.

10. The move of down 150 on Monday, February 5th was twice as great as ever had happened before and for those who didn't have one or two days to meet the margin calls it was catastrophic.

11. The real estate market in New York and London is forecasting hard times for the stock market as it tends to lead.

12. The idea that core price indexes which take out energy and food are better at describing and forecasting the economy is un-tested and wrong.

13. There is hardly any lobbyist who deals with foreign clients who would not have similar rule infractions to Manafort.

14. It is highly unlikely for someone with a strong bias to make an impartial finding nor can an individual who knows of an acquisition to be announced to sell the stock or advise others to do so. The refraining from selling is enough to create an imbalance on the buy side.

15. The idea that it is better to wait for a down day to buy rather than an up day is invalid for many markets for all time and for most markets in recent times.

16. The movie Papillon is very well acted and exciting and is worth seeing.

Sep

7

 Never go back on a trail the same way you entered.

When defending against an enemy stay away from the same place.

Where it's most unlikely to be an ambush, the Apache and others will attack.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.

A good beginning makes a good end.

A wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat.

The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.

A ship does not sail with yesterday's wind.

I really learned how to write from Robert Louis Stevenson, Anthony Trollope and de Maupassant.

Knowledge is awareness one is led by something felt in the wind, something seen in the stars, something that calls from the wasteland to the spirit.

To receive the message, the mental pores must be open.

"Yo Bolson"

May there be a road.

Sep

1

Notice how the bearish announcements that are uncertain as of time all come after a good to great stock market.

Steve Ellison writes: 

I wonder if there will be mischief related to Turkey or Argentina during the extended US market closure this weekend.

Sep

1

The flexion of the day stayed in Germany [8/30/2018]. Note how the Dax is down 110. Apparently they left for beer at 11. And the bunds are up 78.

Anatoly Veltman writes: 

Note the reluctance to discuss or contemplate LEADING indicators that actually present economic sense. For example: everyone knows that EUR currency is associated with economic development and "order". While Swiss currency is associated with defensive posture and "calamity" hedge. The EURCHF pair doesn't move as much as other pairs in FX, because both currencies in the end are European currencies. Yet the pair has reversed since yesterday's SP record, and managed a straight 1% drop since…Now(?) Steve here is raising a possibility of a calamitous announcement over the weekend, but he wasn't raising it "before" the SP moved lower?

Cagdas Tuna writes: 

Average short interest % to floating shares in FAANG is 1.64% and if we exclude Netflix it is 1.07% Does that kind of statistics provide any hint to market tops or bottoms? 

Bill Rafter writes: 

In our shop we have done a lot of work with short interest (SI). First, we noted that THE expert on SI (Erlanger) first identified "stocks to buy" and then screened them for any added benefit that could come from SI. Next, we worked the research from the opposite angle. That is, we first identified stocks with good SI potential, and then went on to screen them.

We were wrong. Apparently half of the stocks with high SI are truly good shorts. Of the remaining a relatively small percentage became good short-squeeze candidates. The others just went nowhere.

However we went further, studying stocks with extremely low SI. The theory is this: If you have a stock that even a damn fool idiot will not short, it probably means something. Assuming that certain fundamentals are unknown, we came to believe that it reflected on the quality of management. Of course we have no way of proving that, but still consider extremely low SI as bullish sentiment. That's intuitive, but at least we have some research to back it.

Aug

22

The market is amazingly resilient today [8/21/18] vis a vis the two decisions on cases. All the Asian Markets are strong as a stone wall. And eminis are down only 7. We will see if the European markets can hold up especially since they have been very strong the last two days. I would posit that a bad market would show that Trump is good for markets and this would keep him in the battle.

Kim Zussman writes: 

A hostile deep state bringing felony convictions (with ridiculous sentences compared to violent youth's) of associates in order to upend the presidency in the name of Russian collusion will bring great succor to the Russians. And it would seem to put the finishing touches on anyone who isn't completely cynical toward all forms of aggressive government.

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

KZ's basic point is incontrovertible. Manafort was and is guilty of the counts on which he was convicted (tax evasion, bank fraud, failure to report himself as a lobbyist); but the sentencing is out of all proportion to what other taxpayers would receive in a "normal" case.

One of the many, many things the List and our Host have taught me is to trust the verdict of the markets. What they seem to be saying today is that Mueller has yet to lay a legal glove on the Great White Hope.

And now for another message from the past:

"The Tenure of Office act, it will be remembered, was passed in 1867 for the express purpose of preventing removals from office by President Johnson, between whom and the Congress a quarrel at that time raged so bitter that it was regarded by sober and thoughtful men as a national affliction, if not a scandal.

An amusing story is told of a legislator who, endeavoring to persuade a friend and colleague to aid him in the passage of a certain measure in which he was personally interested, met the remark that his bill was unconstitutional with the exclamation, "What does the Constitution amount to between friends?" It would be unseemly to suggest that in the heat of strife the majority in Congress had deliberately determined to pass an unconstitutional law, but they evidently had reached the point where they considered that what seemed to them the public interest and safety justified them, whatever the risk might be, in setting aside the congressional construction given to the Constitution seventy-eight years before.

The law passed in 1867 was exceedingly radical; and in effect distinctly purported to confer upon the Senate the power of preventing the removal of officers without the consent of that body. It was provided that during a recess of the Senate an officer might be suspended only in case it was shown by evidence satisfactory to the President that the incumbent was guilty of misconduct in office or crime, or when for any reason he should become incapable or legally disqualified to perform his duties; and that within twenty days after the beginning of the next session of the Senate, the President should report to that body such suspension with the evidence and reasons for his action in the case, and the name of the person designated by the President to perform temporarily the duties of the office. Then follows this provision: "And if the Senate shall concur in such suspension and advise and consent to the removal of such officer, they shall so certify to the President, who may thereupon remove said officer, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint another person to such office. But if the Senate shall refuse to concur in such suspension, such officer so suspended shall forthwith resume the functions of his office."

On the 5th of April, 1869, a month and a day after President Johnson was succeeded in the presidency by General Grant, that part of the act of 1867 above referred to, having answered the purpose for which it was passed, was repealed, and other legislation was enacted in its place. It was provided in the new statute that the President might in his discretion, during the recess of that body, suspend officials until the end of the next session of the Senate, and designate suitable persons to perform the duties of such suspended officer in the meantime; and that such designated persons should be subject to removal in the discretion of the President by the designation of others. The following, in regard to the effect of such suspension, was inserted in lieu of the provision on that subject in the law of 1867 which I have quoted:

"And it shall be the duty of the President within thirty days after the commencement of each session of the Senate, except for any office which in his opinion ought not to be filled, to nominate persons to fill all vacancies in office which existed at the meeting of the Senate, whether temporarily filled or not, and also in the place of all officers suspended; and if the Senate, during such session, shall refuse to advise and consent to an appointment in the place of any suspended officer, then, and not otherwise, the President shall nominate another person as soon as practicable to said session of the Senate for said office."

Grover Cleveland (Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa) made this speech to the Princetonians after leaving Presidential office (for the 2nd and last time).

anonymous writes: 

A hostile deep state bringing felony convictions (with ridiculous sentences compared to violent youth's) of associates in order to upend the presidency in the name of Russian collusion will bring great succor to the Russians. And it would seem to put the finishing touches on anyone who isn't completely cynical toward all forms of aggressive government.

Aug

22

 By using the same techniques and statistics that are generally used to describe and forecast markets, i.e. means, measures of variation, and bootstrap estimates, based on prices, and balance sheet and income sheet data, you will be beating down a well traveled path. There are approximately a hundred articles a quarter, and numerous textbooks that use these methods. Chances are that as soon as a paper is published, the non-random effect will be dissipated by copying or the theory of ever changing cycles. Thus, I have turned to methods that are used to study the dynamics of insect and vertebrate populations. In particular, I have found the following books very helpful for thinking out of the box:

Ecological Methods by Southwood and Henderson

Game Theory and Animal Behavior by Dugatkin and Reeve

Individual-Based Models and Approaches in Ecology by DeAngelis and Gross

I will review some of the novel methods and approaches in this books when a calm in markets prevails.

Aug

15

 The book Biological Invasions by M. Williamson contains many topics of interest to market people interested in the impact of one major move in one market on other markets. The book case studies of invasions of fulmars, rabbits, and impatiens. It describes the spread with chronological maps. Topics covered are the process of spread, contagion, diffusion, rate of natural increase, pests, spread, and interaction with the food web. There is a brief introduction to the mathematics and statistics of invasion. I find the book relevant to big moves in one market, say, wheat and its effect on say, the stock market, and the effect of an usual move in one market on another. The book is full of examples of invasion with their ecological effects; Williamson posits a rule of 10% to describe the 10 % of invasions that last, and describes the reasons that they fail and diffuse. The framework could be very useful for thinking about invasions in life and markets.

Jim Sogi writes: 

I live in Hawaii. About 8 years ago a handful of coqui frog came on some plants in a container and landed in Hilo about 90 miles away. A nursery 5 miles away brought to this side of the island. Over the next years they slowly but surely moved down and have invaded my land by the hundreds. They are very loud at night. In the dry season, they dry up and go dormant. As soon as it rains they return.

About 80 years ago a friend's grand father, who was a missionary, brought a few seeds of tussock grass from Africa. When he planted it and saw it spread, it tried to burn it, only to discover burning is what it needed to germinate. About 30 years ago, it only appeared in a few spots along the road. Within the last ten years, what was one bare black lava, is now completely covered by this grass as far as the eye can see over the entire West Hawaii region.

Amazon might be a good analogy. Available in 2008 for $8 its now taken over the entire retail landscape and a global shift. Look a Apple and iphones, valued at over a trillion, and the largest cap ever. It grew until now as far as the eye can see, everyone has one in their hand and is mesmerized by the device. These invasive ideas have the potential to change the world.

Several billion years ago, small microbes that ate carbon and produced oxygen changed the atmosphere to an oxygen rich environment where life as we know it began.

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

The precursor to our species relied on a similar invasion–the rise of flowering plants.

Plesiadapiformes

"Primate Origins Tied to Rise of Flowering Plants"

anonymous writes: 

Although I don't agree with deep ecologists that humans are an invasive species, the spread of humanity over the earth's surface is impressive.

Steve Ellison writes: 

Cheatgrass, which originated in Russia, similarly displaced many of the original native grasses in the US Mountain West. Cattle grazing of the original grasses by early American settlers weakened those grasses and encouraged the spread of cheatgrass, which was unappetizing to cattle. Cheatgrass's high flammability also aided its spread once established.

When my daughter had a project to collect seeds of original native grasses for the local university, she went to the cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada, once a silver boomtown and now a tourist trap with a small fraction of its 1860s population. The sacred ground of the cemetery had never been grazed, and the original grasses were still flourishing within its fence.

 

Aug

13

A case study in multiple comparisons and a warning against using cart for market prediction:

"Exercising for 90 Minutes Or More Could Make Mental Health Worse, Study Suggests"
by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

Steve Ellison writes: 

A statement by Mark Hulbert in Sunday's Wall Street Journal raised my suspicions. He said that the percentage of household financial assets invested in stocks had an R-squared of 61% since 1954 in forecasting the net change of the S&P 500 over the next 10 years.

There have only been 6 non-overlapping 10-year periods since 1954. I have not gotten around to getting the data for household financial assets, but how could any factor possibly have an R-squared of 61% with any significance after 6 observations?

I will grant that the indicator makes some intuitive sense from the perspectives of "copper[ing] the public play" and waiting to buy until the old men are hobbling on canes, but I question the statistics.

Link and relevant excerpt below:

The most accurate of the indicators I studied was created by the anonymous author of the blog Philosophical Economics. It is now as bearish as it was right before the 2008 financial crisis, projecting an inflation-adjusted S&P 500 total return of just 0.8 percentage point above inflation. Ten-year Treasurys can promise you that return with far less risk.
Bubble flashbacks
The only other time it was more bearish (during the period since 1951 for which data are available) was at the top of the internet-stock bubble.
The blog’s indicator is based on the percentage of household financial assets—stocks, bonds and cash—that is allocated to stocks. This proportion tends to be highest at market tops and lowest at market bottoms.
According to data collected by Ned Davis Research from the Federal Reserve, this percentage currently looks to be at 56.3%, more than 10 percentage points higher than its historical average of 45.3%. At the top of the bull market in 2007, it stood at 56.8%.
Ned Davis, the eponymous founder of Ned Davis Research, calls the indicator’s record “remarkable.” I can confirm that its record is superior to seven other well-known valuation indicators analyzed by my firm, Hulbert Ratings.
To figure out how accurate an indicator has been, we calculated a statistic known as the R-squared, which ranges from 0% to 100% and measures the degree to which one data series explains or predicts another.
In this case, zero means that the indicator has no meaningful ability to predict the stock market’s returns after inflation over the next 10 years. On the other hand, a reading of 100% would mean that the indicator is a perfect predictor.
Since 1954, according to our analysis, the Philosophical Economics indicator had an R-squared of 61%. In the messy world of stock-market prognostication, that is statistically significant. Our analysis begins in that year because that is the earliest date for which data are available for all of the other indicators that we studied.

Jared Albert writes: 

As I understand the statement, the R**2 is generated from the correlation between the end of one ten year period and the end of the other.

Is this a fair model:
1) Use the annual returns for the SP500 for the period 1954-2014 broken in the 6 decade buckets.
2) Use the standard deviation of returns for each of those 10 years periods (STD calculated on only 10 yearly values for simplicity).
3) Generate a random return value from a normal distribution for the end year of each period
4) repeat the above for cash and bonds
5) create the portfolio ratio of stocks:bonds:cash
6) calculate the r**2 value between every 10 year period for stocks
7) do this 1000 times and calculate the summary stats for the R**2

Is this the way to build the model? I may do this later, if I can quickly find the cash and bond return. Thank you,

Aug

4

From Jan to April 10th there were 46 half hour moves of 15 big points or more in S&P, from April 10th to July month end there have been 3 moves of 15 big points or more.

Jul

23

 Listening to Gunsmoke: 50 selected episodes on radio is a pleasant divertiment from the market and statistics and teaches one about aspects of life. The series was the longest running show on radio and television and spanned almost 50 years. Most of the time it was the #1 rated show. The episodes were written by John Meston who wrote about 200 episodes for radio and tv.

The shows depict a very high minded and fair Marshall Dillon, very loyal to his friends the doc and Katie. Most shows start with Matt or one of his friend being caught by bad men or falsely accused of some crime. The criminals are usually overconfident or too eager for a quick kill, and Dillon by being careful and methodical and usually with some trick catches the criminal.

Dillon hates shooting and tries to solve all the crimes without bloodshed. He approaches the bad guys without guns most time. The shows are augmented by good sound effects that are very realistic and good music. There is a museum in Dodge, the Boothill Museum that has many of the relics of the shows. It provides a good window to a simpler time in the last half of the 20th century when people admired and empathized with a good man who did his job well without ambivalence.

The one defect of the shows is that often a rich cattleman turns out to be evil and greedy and takes advantage of a poor farmer who can't defend himself against the businessman.

Jul

9

 1. He was a stock speculator and made successful trades in many railroad stocks as well as consuls.

2. He died with an estate of 700,000 pounds equivalent to 30 million today.

3. He spent his last years studying worms and the roots of plants and became a part of the nature that he loved.

4. He was a good father, husband, and master.

5. He kept double entry accounts of all expenditures and balanced books at the end of each year.

6. He played 2 games of backgammon each evening with the wife Emma and he was up by 2800 to 2600 in games when he died.

7. Emma and the son-in law played Mozart trios and Beethoven second movements to create harmony.

8. He had 10 children and they all contributed to his researches and books.

9. A Mr. Rich who he had never met bequested 15,000 pounds to the kids just as a gesture of tribute for the contribution that Darwin made.

10. He exchanged numerous letters with Wallace and arranged for Gladstone to give Wallace a pension of 500 pounds a year, which Wallace needed because he was a Hoodoo who whenever he bought a stock it was bound to crater.

Jul

3

 The book The Last Cowboys by John Branch introduces us to the modern world of rodeo and the declining world of the old west. It cover the dynasty of the Wright family of John Branch. Introduces you to a vanishing way of life in the mid-sized cattle business and a very common way of life in mid sized professional sports, in this case saddle bronc rodeo.

The world of rodeo is like the world of satellite tennis and squash tournaments and many other sports where it costs almost 50% of the possible prize winnings to endure a season. But it is unlike any other because you are forced to overcome hundreds of injuries to compete. It is part Monte Walsh as it describes the current business of cattle raising for middle sized owners as they struggle with a declining opportunities and interference from the government as well as competition from the big operators.

It provides a vista to the Wright family, a Mormon family that has been operating a mid-sized cattle business for 150 years but is faced with the problems of making ends meet in modern times. The Wright have dominated saddle bronc rodeo competition with frequently 7 of the top 10 finishers descended from Cory Wright, two time world champion, his brothers and his sons and grandsons. Cory still competes at the age of 40 and is in the top ten.

There is a window provided to the bad refereeing in the tournaments and how you have to travel often for 72 hours and 20,000 miles to win $100. It is highly recommended to bring you to a vanishing way of life peopled by a heroic family.

Larry Williams writes: 

 Tonight the Red Lodge Rodeo "Home of Champions" begins and I only wish I could ride bareback one more time. Certainly the toughest sport I ever tried. Each ride, and you have to ride to win, flirts with injury ft not death. But what an exhilarating feeling when that gate opens and all hell busts loose as you find that 8 seconds is much longer than you ever thought it could be.

In the back of the chutes tonight cowboys (some who do not ride, they just rodeo) will start stretching, then slip into leather gloves, light up rosin* to drip onto the gloves for sticking power, the climb up the chute to settle on top of trouble.

Speculators and rodeo stars are cut from the same cloth; we only get paid if we win. You get tossed off and you get nothing but the bumps and bruises and hopes you will hold on for the next ride. Where else to entertainers not get paid for performing?

Here are a few of the best rodeo songs I know.

* I had too much rosin on one time and could not get out of the handle (suitcase grip) horse dragged me all over the arena before I popped out; pretty embarrassing!

Let 'er buck!

Jun

23

 I am reading Ken Follet's book Fall of Giants.

It is eye opening as to the mixups that caused the WW1.

It also has many facts that explain the particular weaknesses and strengths of the parties that led to the way.

It also contains a discussion of the fog of way, and the confusion that the Parties to it felt that is reminiscent of trading the market.

I would recommend the book to all who wish to be educated about war and people.

Jun

23

 The idea that Peter Strzok while hoping and insisting that Hilary would win could make a impartial determination of whether Hillary violated the law is ludicrous. How often does one determine an activity of the one you are desperately rooting for is wrong. Consider a ball game and a close call. How often do the fans of the home team agree with a ref's close decision for the away team?

Jun

13

 As usual and as predicted, no sooner was a deal with Korea made then every media rushed in to say that it was totally worthless and meaningless… what is the appropriate Aesop's proverb that captures this situation? Tom Wiswell always said something appropriate when a kibitzer told him how he could have won the game in a much easier fashion then he did.

anonymous writes: 

Hillary's first missed Nobel.

Jun

10

 I have read the book Scale by Geoffrey West and I find many of the charts tautological and suffer from the part whole fallacy. I wonder how many of the scaling relations are predictive and not related to the physical dimensions of weight and height of the many species he approximates with algorithmic charts that are consistent with random numbers.

Leandro Toriano writes: 

West's stuff is poorly regarded among technical people–it pops, but power laws can be made to look like they fit too many things. (There are a few critiques on arXiv, iirc.)

Recently I came across Indra's Pearls by David Mumford, Caroline Series, and David Wright. They do hat-tip Mandelbrot's Hausdorff (fractal) dimension, but don't fall into trendy theory. Easily makes my top 100 of all time, and probably top 3 mathematics books for non-mathematicians. In it you'll find more reasonable discussions of this stuff than elsewhere.

Koebe 1/4 on youtube has a good video of Curt MacMullen speaking on Renormalisation.

Jun

7

 What can we learn about the market from the recent playoffs?

1. A team that is behind near the end takes desperate shots and loses by an even greater score, i.e when the market is down near the close any rallies are ephemeral.

2. Ephemeral shots like those of Curry are very erratic compared to LeBron and Durant and can't be relied on… short term spikes are not sustainable.

3. A team with many scorers is much better than a team with a concentrated few and this will tell at the end of a game. The beard and the boaster from Cleveland both fell by the wayside in crucial moments at the end. A sustained move requires confirmation from related markets and will not stay if it is just its own.

4. Erratic players who have problems with the intake of substances will lose at crucial times, i.e. don't drink or take drugs while you are trading.

5. The difference between the winning team and losing team is like the battle between up and down. When a winning team is ahead near the close it is usually not overtaken. Indeed the lead tends to increase as the other team tries desperation shots.  

6. The stats on basketball are much more valuable than what we use for markets, i.e. the % of shots scored off the dribble versus catch and shoot and the % of hits from each sector of the court.

7. What else?

Jun

5

On employment day:

up at 820, up 820 to close: 17

up at 820, down 820 to close: 16

down at 820, up 820 to close: 30

down at 820, down 820 to close: 24

(Note: the announcement occurs at 830)

Peter Pinkhasov writes:

With the following, I am very much at risk of misunderstanding the Chair or to expose my ignorance. Yet I think Vic's numbers and my brief research suggest no leakage.

- The pre-release movements do not seem to anticipate the quality of the NFP headline number.

- A case for leaks can be made, if the quality of the NFP headline number is ignored, but then what was leaked? -> The Bond momentum starts during the globex session

- Maybe the leaker uses a sub-component of the report ?

- Potentially no NFP-day drift in equities similar to Fed-days

- (But: N is small)

- (But: I took the numbers by hand - potentially with some errors).

My table:

Victor Niederhoffer explains: 

My numbers suggest that there are leaks but that those who aren't privy to the leaks can't profit from them. The real problem is that so many people get the numbers in advance and that this creates a movement in the correct direction. This is an endemic and terrible problem.

keep looking »

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