Freaky Friday Potpourri: Six in the City!

By Todd Harrison  MAR 13, 2009 10:03 AM

Classic game of hoops at the Garden paves the way into the weekend

 


They say timing is everything.  After a strenuous stretch of incessant work, there couldn’t possibly have been a better time to catch a classic at the world’s most famous arena.



After I had tickets only to see them fall through, I got the call 30 minutes before tip-off.  Third row, courtside, the twentieth-ranked Syracuse Orange against UCONN, the fourth-best team in the country, in an epic Big East battle. My school, my city, my goodness - game on.

The numbers were staggering. Six overtimes, 3 hours, 46 minutes and a combined 244 points (102 of which came after regulation) in a game where Syracuse never led in overtime prior to the sixth extra period. Eight players fouled out, 6 scored double-doubles and the Orange hit 23 of 26 from the stripe in overtime (40 of 51 overall).

Some have already said that it was the greatest college hoops game ever played.
For me, it was a welcome reminder that the purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

“Shaking in the desert, wherefore do you cry?  Here there may be rattlesnakes, to punch you in the eye.” 
-
Grateful Dead

We subtly segue this morning's missive toward a dose of reality. Truthfulness. Full disclosure, if you will.

I posted the following on the Buzz & Banter yesterday at 3:00 p.m.:

Missed It By THAT Much!                                       

And so it is, the mere anticipation of a shift in mark-to-market accounting -- coupled with a massively oversold market -- has put some serious pep in Hoofy's step. This catalyst has been circled on our screen for some time, yet we're left with very much the same dynamic: An anticipation of a seismic shift from the Beltway as a "kick-save" from the cumulative imbalances.

We're nothing if not honest in the 'Ville and I would be remiss if I didn't share that I missed today's move in it's entirety. Yes, it's frustrating given 1) I was lugging alotta exposure into Tuesday and 2) I was "out there" yesterday (and this morning) offering near-term upside vibes. If I write about opportunity cost being the other side of discipline, however, I must practice what I preach.

To be fair, my reticence to toss chips on the table today had nothing to do with operational procedure. I was simply too busy scribing vibe and working on Minyan initiatives to give risk its proper respect. If I've learned anything through the years, it's the basic assumption that the party on the other side of my trade is 100% focused and anything less on my part puts me at a natural disadvantage.

I've made a conscious decision not to attempt to make up for missed opportunities with an hour left in the session. I'm gonna let the tape play through with the understanding 1) tapes that are strong (heavy) all day with 2:1 internals tend to end that way and 2) S&P 800 looms large overhead. I know one thing - the market will be open tomorrow, fresh with opportunities when and if I'm properly focused.

Fare ye well into the bell, Minyans, and remember to leave emotions for weddings and funerals.

It’s not fun to miss a move -- particularly one that you’ve publicly anticipated -- but rather than sweep it under the rug or pretend I profited, I openly communicated where I was and what I did (or didn’t do, as the case may be).  Soon after the market closed, I received the following email:

As the leader of Minyanville, you do your subscribers a disservice by being distracted by your various commitments. Just as you refrain from trading under these circumstances, you should refrain from commenting on [ the Buzz & Banter]. Your ego is getting in the way.

The knee-jerk response was easy enough. It flowed from my fingers as many things do, with more empathy than acrimony.

My friend,

Ego has never gotten in the way, not on the upside, not on the downside. So it's said, what I was doing, rather than trading to profit in my own account, was writing for the benefit of Minyanville. The "other" activities are all consistent with building our platform and extending the brand shadow, so lest there is any confusion, I hope this addresses it.

Have a great night.

Toddo

Now, I get a lot of emails from all kinds of folks. I take them all with a grain of salt and each one is duly noted at some level. It would be easy to lose patience or fire back, but that’s not a solution. That is, by definition, part of the problem.

I share this with one purpose in mind and that is through the lens of social mood.  It’s one thing to offer views and be held to task. It’s another thing to put it out there -- correctly, mind you -- and catch heat for what you didn’t do. 

The populous opinion is rarely the profitable one. In this case, it was neither.

Seems Like Old Times

Fast forward to an early dinner I had last night with my friend who is a well-known fund manager.  I hadn’t seen him in 6 months and he chose a midtown haunt to catch up.  The place was filled with hedge fund folks incessantly focused on the next best trade. I couldn’t help but think that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Every one of them -- every single one -- was obsessed with the quarter-end letters they must write to their anxious investors. That reinforced our sense of performance anxiety and the notion that buyers are higher and sellers are lower. Each conversation was the same, every question intense. They were holding on too tight, but they couldn’t see it.

They were on the aggregate still quite bearish, citing fundamental downticks, Eastern European risk and “sandbagging” by the banks. While I agree that these issues are real (we’ve been talking about all of them in the ‘Ville), I couldn’t help wonder how many of them were pressing - and how many are getting the pulp squeezed out of them.

When they asked me my take on the tape, I communicated what I’ve written on Minyanville these last few weeks. I’ve traded from the long side and kept my risk leash tight while leaning against S&P 600 with a longer-term lens. The bungee, I told them, was the easy trade (with the benefit of hindsight) and while there’s room to S&P 800, I’m wary of bears on either side of the weekend.

I’ll pick this up on the Buzz -- as we do each day -- so lemme cut myself off and grab another cup of Jo.  Before I do, please make sure you catch this article citing concerns by the Chinese Premier regarding the safety of their assets in the US -- food for thought into the final fifth of this freaky week.

Good luck, Minyans.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

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