Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

That’s A Bunch of…

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I was watching a little late night television on Youtube the other week and was surprised by something.  The show I was watching, Late Night with Seth Myers, had some clips of a Fox News segment with Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

The segment was basically Giuliani making some claims that he had interviewed some (unidentified) doctors who said Former Vice President Joe Biden had several hallmarks of having dementia.

Well, if Biden has dementia, that is newsworthy.

What isn’t newsworthy is Giuliani’s statement. It’s a bunch of baseless bullshit. 

What’s even more out there on the bullshit continuum, is a media outlet presenting that as news.  

You know I have some news too.  I firmly believe that in a former life, Mrs. SFTE starved to death.  This is based on how much food we take on camping trips and interviews with several doctors1 who “told” me that she has all the hallmarks of someone who has starved to death in a former life.  

  1. By doctors, I mean two of my daughters stuffies – J.J. the bison and Pollie the polar bear.  And now this article is sourced 1000% better than the Fox News segment.

That’s A Bunch Of…

Reading Time: < 1 minute

In a popularized line of bullshit that hits close to home, it’s not the politics impacting the coal and oil industries.

Democrats struggling to face fact that their plans would all but end fossil fuels

It’s economics.  

Solar energy reaches historically low costs

Covid-19 is accelerating all the trends Big Oil was dreading

So, yeah.  Put that in your pipe…and don’t do anything to release carbon into the atmosphere.

Influential Reads – September 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As an antidote to current events, I was forced to go on a Carl Hiaasen binge.  

Updated stats through September:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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

  1. Pandemic trends – “Really, if we are going to get through this without psychological damage, we need to maintain some semblance of social contact. In other words, would it kill you to say, “It’s a beautiful day, eh? Have a good one.”
  2. It’s Time to Narrow the Income Gap. Future Prosperity Depends On It. – “The answer is debt. The only way that workers can sustain consumption growth when their incomes are stagnant is by borrowing, either directly or through the government’s budget deficit—which is exactly what the data show.”
  3. Credit Is Tightening. Why That Matters for the Economic Recovery – “But away from the capital markets, there are signs of tightening credit, according to a report from Macro Intelligence2 Partners. Banks have been imposing more stringent standards for borrowers, especially for consumers, a change borne out by the Fed’s Senior Loan Officer survey.” – How does this end you ask?  The answer lies somewhere with credit.
  4. Small-Business Failures Loom as Federal Aid Dries Up – ““Why didn’t we use the time that P.P.P. bought us to design the kind of program that would be commensurate with the national challenge that we’re facing?” Mr. Lettieri, of the Economic Innovation Group, asked. “That’s all P.P.P. was. It was a mechanism to buy time. It was never the long-term solution.”
  5. The Next Frontier – “We argue that before World War II dramatic reductions in transport costs expanded the supply of land and suppressed land prices.”
  6. What comes after Zoom? – “I think this is where we’ll go with video – there will continue to be hard engineering, but video itself will be a commodity and the question will be how you wrap it.”
  7. This Meditation Exercise Builds Mental Muscle and Cures Procrastination () – “The reason this meditation exercise will work for many of you is because it trains a really specific mental skill, the Awareness-Focus Loop.”
  8. Foreign Stocks’ Lost Decade – “As it turns out (and as should be no surprise) differences in earnings growth explain most of this gap.” – Wait, earnings matter?  Tell that to Pets.com.  Oh wait…checks notes…uh oh, I think I’ve been doing this wrong.
  9. Simple trick can deliver outperformance in emerging markets ETFs – “Active emerging market equity managers are potentially able to systematically beat the flagship indices by using one simple trick — avoiding state-owned enterprises.”
  10. A Lesson From TR & Taft on Pursuing a Life You Like – “Throw off your Taftian insecurities and fully own and embrace what you personally enjoy.”

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 – August 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

August 2020

Good month all the way around.  I have re-made my commitment to stop scanning the major news sites.  They give me anxiety for a variety of reasons.

Updated stats through August:

ArticlesBooks
January794
February781
March962
April964
May1273
June493
July780
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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

  1. An expert on human blind spots gives advice on how to think – “And so consequential decisions tend to be the ones we don’t have experience with. They’re exactly where there’s stuff we don’t know, and that’s exactly those types of situations where we should be seeking outside counsel.”
  2. The End of the Beginning – “Economic policy will hamper mean reversion.”
  3. Where to find the hours to make it happen – “The hours don’t suddenly appear. You have to steal them from comfort.”
  4. Why Would Anyone Own Bonds Right Now? – “There are no easy answers in the current low rate world we’re living in.”
  5. Why Markets Don’t Seem to Care If the Economy Stinks – “The most visible and economically vulnerable industries are also among the smallest, based on their market-capitalization weight in major indexes such as the S&P 500.”
  6. The Times that Try Stock-Pickers’ Souls – “There is no new era.  Stocks are still worth the present value of their future cash flows.”
  7. What, Us Worry? Lack of New Stimulus Hasn’t Roiled the Markets – “As pointed out here a few weeks ago, the unprecedented $5 trillion in fiscal and monetary aid pumped into the economy during the second quarter exceeded total gross domestic product for the period.”
  8. Staying Focused with a Simple Method – “When you notice yourself avoiding something hard or uncertain … the method is to turn towards it.”
  9. Focus Week: Rediscover Depth – “For the sake of concreteness, here is one specific strategy among many that I’ve found to be effective: read two chapters from a book every day; with at least one of the chapters read in a scenic or otherwise interesting setting.”
  10. 51 Years Later, the Cuyahoga River Burns Again – “Late last year, the Trump administration made changes to the Clean Water Act that strip its protections from 60 percent of streams in this country, along with 110 million acres of wetlands.”

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 – 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
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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
August933
September593
October
November
December
Total75523

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.