Mar

12

 I wonder if snow, for example the deluge on Feb 1, 2009, in New York has a negative impact on stocks. It had a positive influence on the ability of youngsters in the 1950s to buy stamps, as school was out and Nassau Street was accessible by train. Now you can't even find kids having snowball fights as they are all inside with Nintendo or Twitter or IM.

Paolo Pezzutti comments:

Last evening I left my girls to spend a few hours at some friends' place. I left them playing with a "Chinese" toy pen with very basic videogames such as bowling or skying in it. When I came back they were still playing with that silly toy. They were hypnotized, although sleepy, but they would not give up. What is the power of these applications — even as simple as this? We can track a parallel with a trading screen and its ability to hypnotize wanna-be traders (and not only them) creating a compulsive attraction and dark force to trade even when it is not the best setup.

I was somewhat nervous about my daughters because they were not stimulated to do something different. It seems that if they are not "educated" and addressed to healthier and outdoor activities kids (and adults too) in most cases prefer spending their time following action on a screen. This is what game companies and stock brokers exploit.

Michele Pezzutti adds:

 That's true. This is something I always think about when I reflect on the way kids are growing. I often wonder if the way the kids play today is healthy. I do not want to sound old-fashioned. I do not come from the 18th century. But are fantasy and creativity stimulated the same way by a computer game as they are by Legos, for example? I think that the problem is not in the technology itself but in the use we make of it as in everything else. Too much is poisonous. And I feel relieved when I see that my kids, when they feel like, can still play as only kids can do. From nothing they are still able to create their world and stories. They have plenty of imagination. Then my worries fade away as I can see in them the same kids we used to be. In the end, every new generation must have asked the same question.

Jim Sogi replies:

J SogiWhen my son was younger, we also worried that he also loved computer games and stayed up all night playing. I reasoned, better playing at home than out on the street. He was also an athlete who surfed, snowboarded, skate boarded. But the training he got playing games serves him well now in his new career in the financial markets. Is what we do 24 hours a day glued to a screen any healthier? I say no. It's really the future of work and communication and social structure.

Speaking with my daughter, we compared our contacts with old high school friends and family. She right pointed out that it is easier for her with IM, Twitter, email, sms, and use cell phones to keep in touch. Don't be old fashioned. It's a new world.

Alan Millhone writes:

 On the news tonight it was reported on a program in El Paso, Texas schools that has a regular exercise program in the schools that shows that regular exercise in youth produces better test scores, etc.

When I was a youth the neighborhood kids played outside till dark and our parents had to call us in for supper. In the Winter we built snow forts that we defended with snow balls against attackers. In the Summer if a new basement for a house was being excavated when the workers left we had dirt clod battles!

I began collecting stamps at age seven when that Christmas my parents gave me a Coronet stamp album and some stamps from H. E. Harris and Co. of Boston. In my early years they gave me sets of Lionel Trains (still have both sets in the original boxes ). We had no computers, cells, Ataris, etc. to fritter away our time and no TV for several years. We played board games, rode our Huffy bikes with a baseball card held in the rear spoke with a wooden clothespin. Modern technology is good to a point for youngsters. Much though that was good and wholesome has been forever lost. Just like the Checker players that at one time could be found on a daily basis in Central Park under the wooden canopied shelters. Tom Wiswell would not believe the changes there.

Jeff Watson comments:

I just got through watching the excellent movie Surfing For Life. Written and produced by David Brown and narrated by Beau Bridges, it chronicles the lives of people who are still surfing in the twilight of their lives. The movie took a sampling of notable surfers from the ages of 60-93, gave brief bios, and showed them surfing well as seniors. Surfing for Life is much more than a surfing documentary, it's a celebration of man's optimism and the results of living a life of optimism. It showed one particular surfer who visits senior facilities on a volunteer basis, and most of his charges are younger than him. It then cut away to him surfing a nice 6' wave. The central theme of this movie is that living a life with an optimistic bias will ensure personal happiness. My favorite scene is the closing where they show Doc Ball, 93 years old, riding a skateboard. Not only was he riding a skateboard, it was obvious that he was clearly enjoying it like a little kid. I've been told by many that I'm just like a little kid, and take that as a compliment whether they meant it as such or not. Little kids enjoy playing games, are optimistic by nature, and receptive to new experiences and knowledge. I'm of the view that trading is a game, an extension of the games we played as children. It can't be mere coincidence that a plurality of traders I know usually excel at one form of game or sport. Whether it's checkers, chess, poker, the racket sports, or surfing, these games played for a lifetime keep one's mind sharp, and mentally nimble. Game playing also keeps our competitive edge well honed, which serves us well in the markets. Surfing for Life is such a positive, uplifting movie that it should be seen by all, as it exudes optimism. It would be an interesting study to analyze the optimism/pessimism ratio for all market players. I have a hunch that the successful players would fall into the optimistic category. Optimism breeds self confidence.

Russ Sears says:

 When I hear tales of the freedom of youth my thoughts often turn me back to my 7th grade year, in Pauls Valley OK, where I delivered the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat door to door on a rusted out Schwinn bike I had spray painted baby blue.

I recently went back and visited the town 33 years later. The drugstore where my brother and I spent our share of the subscription price on comic books, baseball cards and soda fountains chocolate shakes had moved from across the street from the newspaper to the new Wallmart. Parts where still the same, with only a fresh coat of paint, others totally gone.

We had a great time "owning" our part of town. However, I think we were one of the last two kids to deliver papers this way. The only reason they gave me the job, since the Sunday papers weight more than me, was cause they were desperate. Few parents would let their kids do something like this even in small town mid late 70s. And thinking back, there were several times where I think "what were my parents thinking"… As I had a machete to my neck from a high druggie, learned where to drop my collection money off before I went to certain areas, and narrowly escaped a pedophile.

Bottom line is it's not all the kids' fault.

Anton Johnson writes in:

In addition to dirt clod fights, we would play king-of-the-hill on construction excavation mounds, resulting in the occasional emergency room visit. During spring-time we played Monkey-in–the–Middle and 500, honing our baseball skills, all the while dodging vehicles and swatting mosquitoes. On moonless sultry summer nights, we played neighborhood wide team hide-in-seek, some of us subtly maneuvering to get close to the object of our affection. Not even brutal winter weather could keep us inside. Often a dozen would-be Bobby Hulls would play ice hockey, taking brutal hits without pads (some of us even wearing figure skates). We shoveled our own rink on the lake, and hauled seemingly endless buckets of water to fill in ice cracks. Almost nothing could deter us, we played whether +40F or -15F degrees, sometimes coming home soaked after falling through the ice or occasionally with a frostbitten appendage. I wonder whether the electronic generation will reflect on their childhood with a similar nostalgia.


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12 Comments so far

  1. Paolo Pezzutti on March 12, 2009 5:57 am

    In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch writes:
    "It is not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead your life". As this is profoundly true, I would add: "with the curiosity to experiment and explore the dreams of a child".
    Only a child can have the wonderful and amazing ingenuity to blend real life, dreams, games. Their visions are the most fantastic worlds where everything is possible. And this is true only if you remain a child. Growing up we learn how to be afraid of our dreams and we see more obstacles and difficulties than there are actually. I like very much Jeff's comments: "Doc Ball, 93 years old, riding a skateboard. Not only was he riding a skateboard, it was obvious that he was clearly enjoying it like a little kid" and again "Little kids enjoy playing games, are optimistic by nature, and receptive to new experiences and knowledge. I'm of the view that trading is a game, an extension of the games we played as children". It goes to the heart of human nature and human behavior. It would be interesting to quantify if successful people are optimistic in character. The alternative view is that unhappy and never satisfied people are the most successful because they continue to strive for an objective that is always behind the corner but they never achieve due to their nature. The effort they put is much higher because they are never fully satisfied with what they get.

  2. Craig Bowles on March 12, 2009 7:30 am

    Iben Browning pointed out that almost all the major centers around the world are around 40 degrees latitude in both the northern and southern hemisphere. He also showed how periods of warming climate coincide with prosperity and cooling the opposite. He linked it to volcanic activity primarily. 2008 had 72 volcanoes, so most of this decade has been off the charts that have a range from 50-70. 1997 was close to 50 and temperatures peaked in 1998. Easy to grow food makes prices cheaper and allows more focus on luxury items. As for the daily impact, I haven't seen much in NYC. Maybe we need to take an average of daily weather in Tokyo, London, and NY to get a read on it.

  3. david higgs on March 12, 2009 12:25 pm

    when my son was a toddler still in later stages of diapers, we had Sesame Street CPU game. You had to move the mouse over the screen and all kinds of stuff happened. He loved it and got really good at it. Now at 14 he's cutting pasting and doing all kinds of impressive stuff on his "myspace". The earlier one starts the better they generally get. Repetition, repetition, muscle memory, muscle memory, be it gray or skeletal… there lies the success.

  4. Ken Drees on March 12, 2009 1:46 pm

    In the 1980’s I remember when the malls were built. All of a sudden you could travel to this huge super place and all the stores were there. The malls were almost sacred, beautiful in dimension, well lit with natual skylights and manmade lighting.

    Big trees were inside and fountains too! Garlands, bunting and even a sparrow or two could be seen with the eyes pointed up towards the second level.

    When you finally made your way out of Higbee’s right there was a record store with cassettes replacing the 8-tracks, and people–crowds and crowds of happy bustling people. There was Orange Julius with its humming chrome blenders, the Tinderbox where the wafting of strange odors crossed your nose as you went past. There were the fashion shops, Chess King for the guys who needed to buy thin leather ties and a hairdresser place right next door.

    You heard the toy store 30 yards before you got there–kids were usually just dropped off there as the Moms left to do the real shopping, “shop till you drop” was the popular phrase.

    But down one of those side concourses of the mall, down by Mr. Pretzel, home of the giant dough pretzel was a new store– THE GAME ROOM. Dollars got fed into small cigarette type machines, kids lined up in front of a closet sized window to change quarters into tokens. Tokens got fed into machines so fast that you had an attendant sweating in the A/C moving from machine to machine opening the door with his magic key and filling up the buckets with spent tokens, then he would shut the door of the machine–a big door like a safe after resetting the machine with some sort of commands that he only knew. Then the kids rejoiced as a fresh token got dropped in and the game began again.

    That was the beginning, today’s yesterday. Who knew that Pac Man would now be called Nintendo DS, or that Asteroids would morph into a cell phone, or that PONG would transform into IM.

    We are deep into this–kids today must live in the real world. And if you don’t have fast internet then you are not cool.

  5. vic niederhoffer on March 12, 2009 4:20 pm

    yes, but would someone get the snow statistics daily as it probably has more of an impact than the reprehensible studies on the effect of rain and sunshine and moon phases and might actually be useful next jan and feb. vic

  6. Rocky Humbert on March 12, 2009 7:37 pm

    Daily Central Park snowfall (and other) weather data can be purchased from
    http://weather-warehouse.com/

    They have hourly data from 1973 to present. And daily data from 1902 to present.

    It’s rumored that the NY Public Library also has this sort of information for free.

    Unlike rainfall, cloud cover and sunshine, snowfall is cumulative. Hence one may want to consider the accumulation and melt over a multi-day period before reaching any conclusions.

    As an active natural gas trader, I pay considerable attention to temperature trends, HDD’s and CDD’s. But I’ll leave the predictive signficance of Frosty The Snowman to greater minds…

  7. Ken Drees on March 12, 2009 8:08 pm

    Let's keep it on topic and focused on the money making edge we all crave: I remember hearing about a study on cloudiness and its effects on Wall Street. The bottom line is that cloudy days lead to below average returns — who knows, maybe I read this in Education of a Speculator?
    ken

  8. Adam Kretschmann on March 12, 2009 8:33 pm
  9. Leon Mayeri on March 12, 2009 9:25 pm

    The generational groups that followed the boomers include gen x, gen y, and the echo boomers. These three combined are known as “gamers” primarily because of their shift from old media to new, which claimed a different aesthetic disposition toward interacting with the world on virtually all levels.

    My 14-year-old son, who makes up a yet-to-be-titled generation (suggestions? ADHD’ers?), takes the tech proliferation to new levels. His compulsion to texting, incessant online activity, and aversion to reading mark a seismic shift from what I grew up with during the sixties. I recently suggested that he read during his spare time and he said, rather emphatically, “I loathe reading.”

    My 7-year old son is on the cusp. Reading is still a joy, basketball and baseball are daily exercises, and intellectual curiosity prevails. The old school can still work wonders, but the magnetic lure and dynamism of point and click addictions hangs heavily, threatening to disrupt the sanctity of his grandfather’s life and teachings, a man born 104 years prior to his birthday, who still whispers deep, contemplative words of wisdom to both of us.

  10. vic niederhoffer on March 12, 2009 10:40 pm

    why else did a seasonal day like march 2 2009 break the mold and 700 at the same time except for the snowstorm? vic

  11. Chris Monoki on March 13, 2009 1:05 am

    Perhaps New York weather had an impact on trading volume, and thus stock prices 40 years ago. But today, the market has greatly expanded. Market participants come from anywhere. The NASD is less at whim to physical location. Electronic trading see less snow. And globally, it doesn’t snow over the entire planet.

    More sadly to us that grew up with Downtown as the financial capital of the world, that mantle’s height has been cut down a bit. If yesteryear’s 5-inch snow fall in Manhattan resulted in X-1 trading volume, today it might result in x-0.25 volume.

    Keep pressing,
    Chris Monoki

  12. Craig Bowles on March 23, 2009 6:17 am

    There is a 7.6-year cycle for NY barometric pressure that signals stormy weather. 1970, 1977, 1985, 1992, 2000, 2008, 2015. A problem for many of these cycles is that they worked better before the late 1950s when the Fed became so active. Last night’s 3 eruptions of Mt. Redoubt gives us 7 active volcanoe’s in the jet stream. This should support grain prices and could have a big effect this summer. Raymond Wheeler found that climate has four phases over a 70-120 year period. The last 50 years from 1948-1998 appear to have been the warm-wet period and warm-dry period. 1998-2023 would be the approximate time for the cold-wet period and 2023-2048 would be cold-dry. It would seem to have something to do with the Pacific/Atlantic Ocean occillation and volcanic activity combined. In any case, the two cold phases are tougher conditions to grow crops among other things. Joe Bastardi says the last 10-15 years of the cooler Atlantic ocean cycle that we’re in now is historically quite eventful. The 9.3-year wheat cycle should be getting near the lows since mid-2000 was the last time wheat was under $2. Corn hit a high June-08, so the 3.5-year corn cycle suggests the next high around the end of 2011. So, maybe 2009 will be a dud but the grains being so cheap in gold terms and being 11 years into the cold-wet period suggests this area requires more attention for all of us. Washington obviously hasn’t factored any of this into their planning as they’re still talking global warming rather than global food shortages.

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