Monthly Archives: March 2020

That’s A Bunch Of…

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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. 

Magnitude & Velocity

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In my experience, the velocity of change is much more impactful than the magnitude.  Most systems, companies, species, can adjust to most changes if provided enough time.

Climate change on the scale of centuries is manageable.  Climate change on the scale of years is much more problematic.

It’s the velocity, then, that has the more significant impact.  If the change happens too fast to adapt, then you have issues.

The velocity of the economic impacts of the coronavirus are almost incomprehensible.  It’s been so fast, there’s barely any real data available yet.

Act accordingly…

Extrapolate This

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You don’t see trends like this every day.


I’m not sure what it going on, but something isn’t right: 41% discount to NAV; 120% yield.


Proving the Negative

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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

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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.


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Patience is not a virtue I possess in great quantities.  However, I’m working on it.

It’s hard.  Things are happening fast.  And look like big moves.

But are they big moves?

Right.  Patience.  Working on it.

Chart Source:

Pink Sky In The Morning…

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I’ve been through some interesting times. That trend seems to be continuing.

1999 – Moved to San Francisco and worked for a software company through the bursting of the .com bubble (commute times got significantly better).

2000 – Sold some stock and paid off my first car (only good trade I made that year – still have the car!).

2001 – September 9th – Flew to Australia to work for an extended period of time (airport security was much stricter on the way home).

2005 – Bought my first house (Federal Hill area of Baltimore).

2006 – Sold my first house (whew!).

2007 – Moved over the Leverage Finance team from Corporate Investment Banking (had a front row seat to a credit market meltdown).

2008 – Moved over to team managing some institutional CLO assets (at least we had work to do until our employer collapsed).

2010 – Joined a private equity backed business (figured it would be a two year stint).

2017 – Sold private equity backed business.

2018 – Joined SaaS based software company (I just follow bubbles around).

2020 – Global pandemic…?

Influential Reads – February 2020

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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:

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.