Saturday, April 19, 2014

Recent Wisdom From Financial Fools

I have learned about as much from watching stupid people do dumb things in finance as I have from formal education and autodidaction.  Fools are better teachers than they will ever realize.

Leveraged funds continue to use high-frequency trading strategies even though large institutions increasingly route their orders to negate the HFT advantage.  All of the computational horsepower devoted to HFT will gradually lose its reason to exist as large block trades in dark pools go elsewhere.  Math wizards earning huge sums in hedge funds will wonder where it all went.  Hedge fund fools are not prepared for the next financial crisis.

Crypto-nerds still love Bitcoin even though its exchanges are collapsing.  The myth of anonymity dies hard but the magical thinking of child-like Bitcoin fans is an impenetrable shield against real-world hardship.  I really think a lot of these people live with their parents or have marginal careers.  There is no other way they could have the free time to jerry-rig video cards that mine Bitcoins.  Digital currency fools are not prepared for the real-world consequences of shady financial dealings.

Retail investors still love actively managed mutual funds.  They ignore the preponderance of evidence for the advantages of low-cost index funds.  The siren song of outperformance dies hard in the minds of people disinclined to think critically.  Investing fools don't mind throwing money away on costly, underperforming financial products.

A handful of prominent San Franciscans still find the phony tales of a Stolen Valor con artist to be enthralling.  Evidence and facts count for less than emotions when naive people commit their prestige to a charlatan's schemes.  Google searches make due diligence easy but some business "leaders" would rather not take the time.  I guess keeping up appearances at the City Club matters more than integrity.  Elite fools will be blindsided by subpoenas even though they had plenty of warning.

I laugh at fools and I avoid making their mistakes.  I love it when humans who have learned nothing make the same mistakes over again.  It is too easy to outperform investors who play weak hands.