Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/30/15

Pay down costly debt
Sinking fund for high yield bonds
Call junk bonds while cheap

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/29/15

Fed sees September
Rate hike noise pushing belief
Testing bond prices

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/28/15

Startup cash burn plan
Spend it all, then ask for more
Investors just laugh

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/27/15

Wild China trading
Beijing can't prop this market
Losing shadow wealth

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Limerick of Finance for 07/26/15

Greek faction had crazy bank plan
Parallel payments into a pan
Drachma would return
Greek savers would burn
No one in Brussels is a fan

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/25/15

When stocks roll over
Central banks will try to pump
All to no avail

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/24/15

Tweet a turnaround
One chief running two startups
LOL if they both merge

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/23/15

Find some real estate
No one needs a seminar
Cheaper ways to learn

Alternatives To Scott McGillivray's Real Estate System

I recently received an unsolicited postal mail invitation to attend a free Scott McGillivray real estate seminar in Burlingame.  I have no intention of taking Mr. McGillivray up on his offer of free stuff in exchange for an entire morning of my precious time.  I've been to enough free real estate seminars (okay, just a couple) to know how they work.  I can think of other ways to break into DIY real estate.

If I were serious about fixing and flipping properties, my first stop would be my local big-box home and garden retailer.  Those chains have free classes on rehabbing and they can help price out job materials.  Your helpful hardware dealers are always there for you because they want repeat business.

My next stop would be my local public library.  Have you ever heard of those?  They still exist in the digital age and the ones in San Francisco have excellent collections marked "real estate."  I would grab the most detailed tomes on home repair and maybe a book on appraising.  Speaking of the digital age, Zillow and RealtyTrac have all of the local market info I need to price whatever I want to buy or sell.

Automation has not yet obliterated local bank branches.  Every bank has lists of foreclosed properties they want to unload.  Loan officers are dying to talk to bank customers who walk in the door ready to take problems off the bank's books.  Federal agencies like HUD and the VA still have foreclosures available sometimes for those with the patience to navigate their systems.  I love it when a ready-made source for deal flow is near at hand.

Live seminars used to be good for a laugh when I needed free entertainment.  I don't need fast-pitch, high-pressure seminars to give me some negligible amount of real estate knowledge.  I can learn a lot more on my own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/22/15

Engage liberty
Proud civic obligation
Free people prosper

Liberty And Engaged Citizens

Prosperity and liberty go together well in cultures that tolerate experimentation and respect for the individual.  Writing about investment theories and market action is probably not enough to galvanize support for the enabling culture of economic prosperity.  Two writers who may be able to help have recently crossed my radar.  Charles Murray, author of By the People, and Larry Gerston, author of Reviving Citizen Engagement, recently spoke at the Commonwealth Club about how to re-energize Americans' concern for public life.  I will offer my own thoughts below.

Mr. Murray approaches freedom from the conservative / libertarian right.  Curtailing the intrusive power of government regulation would indeed be a boon to the US economy.  I suggest he put his ideas to the free market test and crowdfund his proposed legal defense fund.  I am generally not fond of those who thumb their noses at the rule of law, but Dr. Martin Luther King elevated it to a moral necessity in the face of unjust laws.  Funding his legal defense while he contemplated action in Birmingham's jail would clearly have been a morally correct action.  I must also caution those who think human history is an unbroken line of progress to higher states of maturity, freedom, and organization.  Things do collapse sometimes despite the best efforts of well-meaning leaders.

Mr. Gerston arrives from the progressive left to critique Americans' disengagement.  I agree with him that corporate tax loopholes and the erosion of economic security for workers are bad for prosperity and freedom.  I would add that they are just as bad as over-regulation.  I am totally on board with his idea for mandatory national service.  A couple of years in the US military or a community service program would teach many otherwise entitled Americans that their rights come with civic obligations.  Tax reform would work if it dramatically simplified the tax code but I doubt Mr. Gerston's proposed tax increase would pay for the unfunded GAAP liabilities of our entitlement programs.  He would benefit from reading David Stockman's critiques of income inequality before he offers solutions emphasizing wealth redistribution.

I recently blogged about what a just society means.  Real solutions throughout American history have come from both the right and the left at various times.  Diagnosing social problems and working for solutions requires a citizenry engaged in guarding its own liberty.  I would very much like to see my fellow citizens assume the task.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/21/15

Justice and fairness
Rule of law in republic
Best society

Brief Thoughts On A Just Society

I attended a lively philosophical discussion last night at the Commonwealth Club under the auspices of its Socrates Cafe.  We discussed what a just society meant, and many highly intelligent people weighed in on fairness, equality, and love.  I threw my own thoughts into the mix a few times.  I want to note a couple of things here that may benefit others who aren't privy to such discussions.

I believe John Rawls' A Theory Of Justice clarifies how modern societies can be fair to all of their members.  His two major principles address political liberties and socioeconomic opportunities separately.  The implied task for American citizens is to build a society that maximizes these two principles for as many of our fellow citizens as possible.  Building a just society along these lines requires metrics that show us what success will look like.  I believe the application of Big Data in a globalized economy now bring the just society within reach.

My longtime readers know that I use widely regarded development indexes to evaluate country-specific investment risks.  The best are Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index and the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.  I believe Transparency's index corresponds well with Rawls' first principle for political liberties and the Heritage index works for his second principle on economics.  In other words, these Big Data repositories enable Americans to benchmark their society's fairness against other countries.

We don't have to stop with two measuring tools.  The World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index supports stronger jurisprudence in countries with weak legal traditions.  The National Center for Access to Justice publishes a Justice Index for states within the US.  Our Constitution promises every state a republican form of government, implying a strong rule of law and a fair legal system.  Every American deserves to live in a society that delivers as much justice as is humanly possible.  Fixing our systems means first measuring them to see where they need repair.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/20/15

Portfolio skill
Combining asset classes
Generate alpha

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Haiku of Finance for 07/19/15

Pitch idea, team, market
Know competition