Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Influential Reads – June 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

And the pendulum swings the other way…

We moved this month, which cut into my reading time and impacted what I was willing to read.  Also, the news is not terribly informative these days, since I am pretty sure nobody knows what is going on.

Updated stats through June:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August
September
October
November
December
Total60317

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. The next big problem for the economy – “Social distancing means financial Armageddon for commercial real estate and municipalities in coming months”.
  2. Don’t Lose the Thread. The Economy Is Experiencing an Epic Collapse of Demand – “Other data points to a severe but slower-moving crisis of collapsing demand that will affect many more corners of the economy than those that were forced to close because of the pandemic”.
  3. America is losing the stomach to fight Covid-19 – “So what is likely to happen? The most likely outcome is a second coronavirus wave in the coming months. Many assume the virus goes quiet when the temperature rises. There is no scientific consensus on this.”
  4. The Weekly Review: A template for this sacred ritual – “The most productive people practice a sacred ritual: The Weekly Review.”
  5. Farewell Yield – “After four decades of falling interest rates, it seems safe investments offering attractive yields have finally disappeared.”
  6. Beware Fed Bond Buying’s Unintended Consequences – “More than $1 trillion of investment-grade corporate bonds have been brought to market this year, at twice the year-earlier pace. High-yield issuance is running more than 50% higher, at $180 billion.”
  7. Don’t Return to the Office Until You Read This – “You should be identifying the core workers that you need to be physically present…Everyone else stays home.”
  8. A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Is Coming – “A run of defaults looks almost inevitable. At the end of the first quarter of this year, U.S. companies had amassed nearly $10.5 trillion in debt — by far the most since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis began tracking the figure at the end of World War II.”
  9. Trust Masters, not Models – “So look for those people in market space: the ones who can tell by the sound of the squeal what is really going on under the hood. They won’t always be right, but they will have the best guesses…especially when something unusual happens.”
  10. Higher Ed: Enough Already – “It’s time to end the consensual hallucination between university leadership, parents, and students that in-person classes will resume in the fall.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – May 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Crushing my book reading goal!  Also a high number of read monthly articles as I made a concerted effort to read some older stuff I had saved.

Updated stats through May:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August
September
October
November
December
Total60317

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. Getting Rich vs. Staying Rich – “Scrappiness and the ability to think differently turns into complacency and the desire to keep things the same.”
  2. Death of the office – “Offices have always been profoundly flawed spaces.”
  3. No Inflation For Years to Come – “In the meantime, Unemployment, food, and lack of rent payments are a much, much bigger issue than fear of inflation from the same people who have been fearing inflation for 3 decades.”
  4. Inflation Shocks, Inflation Vol Shocks, and 60-40 Returns – “the potential results are so asymmetrical”
  5. The Economic Recovery Rests on Getting Consumers to Spend. It Won’t Be Easy. – “The $22 trillion U.S. economy rests on people buying stuff; consumer spending accounts for 70% of total economic output.”
  6. Americans Didn’t Wait For Their Governors To Tell Them To Stay Home Because Of COVID-19 – “The Cuebiq data suggests that behavioral changes were largely driven by people making a voluntary choice to stay home rather than being forced to do so by a state-sanctioned stay-at-home order.”
  7. The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them – “It serves to highlight that being in an enclosed space, sharing the same air for a prolonged period increases your chances of exposure and infection” Stephen here: a glaring omission is airplanes?
  8. Work and the Deep Life – “If you subscribe to deep career thinking, by contrast, you focus intensely on training high-value skills, like an athlete looking to maintain an edge.”
  9. How I learned to be better at active listening as a manager – “Conversations are a tricky thing—especially when it comes to difficult topics, like receiving/giving feedback, or talking about a very personal topic. As a manager, this is the real work.”
  10. Nobody Knows What Is Going On – “If there’s one thing we know for certain about this pandemic, it’s that we know almost nothing for certain about this pandemic.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – April 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Four books this month.  No reason to read the news; nobody knows anything.  

Updated stats through April:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August
September
October
November
December
Total60317

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. On Bridge Loans and Bankruptcy – “Using the bankruptcy code in this way would allow the United States to help firms (albeit, likely slightly larger ones than mom-and-pops) in a predictable, known, guaranteed way while also protecting tax payers from taking significant downside risk positions in an ad-hoc and convoluted matter via bridge loans (if they are feasible at all, which I doubt)”
  2. Why We Focus on Trivial Things: The Bikeshed Effect – “The Law of Triviality states that the amount of time spent discussing an issue in an organization is inversely correlated to its actual importance in the scheme of things.”
  3. Capitalists or Cronyists? – “CNBC/Trump want to protect current equity holders at the expense of future generations with rescue packages that explode the deficit.”
  4. The First Modern Pandemic – “It is important to realize that this is not just the result of government policies restricting activities. When people hear that an infectious disease is spreading widely, they change their behavior. There was never a choice to have the strong economy of 2019 in 2020.”
  5. You Should Do More $10,000 per Hour Work – “There’s one thing you’ll never see in a casino. A clock.”
  6. How to Be a Better Listener – “Pretend you’re doing improv, and that you can only react in the moment to what the other person is saying, rather than planning out the next three steps in the conversation.”
  7. What Would You Have Done in 2009? – “Have enough liquid reserves available but avoid an addiction to cash.”  SMS here: Would you say the same thing if you have gone through the Great Depression?  
  8. Victory is Inevitable (Part 2) – “Now is also a good time to be working, engaged in an activity that helps the economy and helps other people. Being busy at a time like this can be a blessing for your mental health. And its good to have money coming in to drip-feed into assets whilst they’re on sale…this won’t last forever.”
  9. Becoming An Investing Buddha – “Rather, it’s the ability to handle good and bad times with equanimity, combined with courage and decisiveness, that really matters in the long run.”
  10. Thoreau on Hard Work – “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Influential Reads – March 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two books this month.  And lots of articles. Apparently there was some stuff to read about going on.

Updated stats through March:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August
September
October
November
December
Total60317

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. To be free, stop caring what others think – “Tranquility comes when you stop caring what they say think, or do. Only what you do.”
  2. Bird in the Hand – “If you are able, increase your 401(k) savings to front load contributions for the year.”
  3. Why Leaders Need Meditation Now More Than Ever – “On the contrary, starting the day with a few minutes of meditation can help you center and calm fear-based thoughts.”
  4. Muni Bonds Have Started to Rally. Why You Should Get on Board — and Where to Find Bargains – “Muni yields are currently almost double those on Treasuries, a rare occurrence.”
  5. What’s in Congress’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package – “Democrats: Won language that would bar any business owned by President Donald Trump or his family from getting loans from Treasury. Businesses owned by members of Congress, heads of executive departments and Vice President Mike Pence also would be blocked.” Stephen here, good for them, but wondering if golf courses are considered essential businesses?
  6. The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming – “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”
  7. The Virus Infecting MLPs – “But the delevering of MLP CEFs has exacerbated the drop for everyone.”
  8. Calm also has a coefficient – “Being up-to-date on the news is a trap and a scam. Five minutes a day is all you need.”
  9. Flowing Uphill: Tips for Efficient Skinning – “The irony of efficient skinning is that you are practicing something as basic as walking uphill, but touring is a sport of subtleties and you get better with every step you take … just in very small increments.”
  10. Coming Back to Powerful Habits – “In fact, coming back to a habit might be the most powerful habit of all.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

That’s A Bunch Of…

Reading Time: < 1 minute

As an Associate in an investment bank more than a decade ago, I had to clear all trades with our compliance department.  If we started to do business with a firm, regardless of whether I knew anything about it, I could get locked into or out of a position indefinitely.  And trust me, about the only thing I was influencing was Excel.

Senators can’t rely on ‘my adviser did it’ excuse to dodge insider-trading questions

So, yeah.  This is total bullshit.

I would pay to see Martha Stewart go batshit crazy on these people. 

Proving the Negative

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Oh, just sitting around trying to prove the negative.

  • That I do not have the novel corona virus.
  • That none of my family has the novel corona virus.
  • That the economy is not falling off a cliff.
  • That the world is not ending.

Proving the negative is very difficult. Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

Lots of Fear

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We flew from Columbus to Salt Lake City on Saturday.

I think Mrs. SFTE and I did a decent job of evaluating the risks and potential scenarios and making a rational decision to go on Spring Break.  We’re prepared to be stranded here in Utah. We didn’t count on all the ski resorts closing. Still waiting on the news that they’re closing all the country clubs and golf courses too.

Ironically, I think we’re safer here for the moment.  We’re much more socially isolated than if we were home.  Picture snotty nosed neighbor kids knocking on my back door and asking my daughter to play.  Good luck stopping that one. And I am not going into work – probably the second riskiest action aside from my daughter going to school (I think the latter won’t be a problem for the rest of the school year). 

Side note:  Figure out which insurance companies provide private school tuition insurance and short the #$%@ out of them.  You know I’m reviewing that contract when I get home.

The fear is palpable.  That’s a cliche. But a true one.  Don’t cough on the plane. You’ll be treated like someone wearing a turban on a flight back in the early 2000s.

Lots of suspicion behind everyone’s eyes.  That’s all you could see on us. We wore surgical masks.  We know the experts said you didn’t need to. We figured they just said that because there weren’t any masks to be had (or hoard). 

Instead, please hoard toilet paper and water.  Rookie preppers. Now the rest of the country knows what it is like to prepare for a hurricane.

I do not mean to marginalize anything here.  These are historic times. Another cliche. I commend the public officials taking bold actions.  I don’t even mind that you cut my ski season short (I was going to get 30 days in this season). 

However, it does demonstrate the downside of deploying a policy of saying whatever you feel like will get the response that you want.  It’s called an erosion of trust. Nobody believes a word you say. Or maybe more precisely everyone knows that every word that comes out of your mouth is based on your own personal agenda of getting what you want at that moment.  But might not be grounded in any truth or facts. Thank you, Mr. President.

Unfortunately, we need truth and facts right now.  Or else the fear is going to escalate.

Influential Reads – February 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Read another book – look at me: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  I owe you a book report.

Updated stats through February:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August
September
October
November
December
Total60317

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus – “The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus.”
  2. This Is What You Should Read Every Day – “The other “book” I pick up each day is a journal.”
  3. Is PE Having Its WeWork Moment…??? – “Without capital for a new fund, you need to have an actual third-party monetization event—either a sale to a strategic or an IPO.”
  4. What If The Key To Performance Psychology Is Spirituality? – “When progress is measured in terms of learning and development, there is no longer the same ego-attachment to short-term financial returns. The goal becomes learning and improving.”
  5. Amid All the Good Economic News This Week, Beware This ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ – “Helicopter money will work for Joe Sixpack much more effectively than it will for Mike Moneybags—and so it will be much more widely popular,” Edwards contends.
  6. Don’t Just Memorize Your Next Presentation — Know It Cold – “Knowing it exceptionally well paradoxically frees you to be more natural and responsive in the moment.”
  7. The 3 Simple Steps to Stopping Negative Self-Talk – “But stopping negative self-talk can be hard. It’s a pattern of thought that’s likely very well established in your brain and follows a track of well-worn ruts”
  8. AirPods, Azure & Auschwitz – “Facebook’s eager willingness to continue the spread of lies, coupled with a business model built on algorithms that amplify rage, threatens our society. Technology has given a 35-year-old the singular ability to monetize propaganda by antivaxers, climate change sceptics, and Holocaust deniers. To lack the will to reign in Facebook, is apathy that enables tyranny, much less the spread of polio in Pakistan.”
  9. The Case for Generalists – “It takes time — and often forgoing a head start — to develop personal and professional range, but it is worth it.”
  10. Digital Minimalism for Parents – “Any successful attempt to instill in your kids a healthier relationship with technology has to start with modeling this relationship in your own life.”

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.