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Walking the Plank

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Remember, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

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Good morning and welcome back to the land of the pirates. With the storming seas brewing in the south pacific, it's once again time to climb aboard the ship of fools and stake our claim to the treasure chest. After yesterday's nifty heist, the bears have erased most of the "historic" January gains and, in the process, lowered the boom on the blind ambition crew. Can Captain Hoofy navigate his way through the uncertain outlook or will Boo (wearing an eye patch) shiver me timbers and stash the loot? The Buc stops here, cookie, so batten down the hatches and let's ride that Raider wind.

During the last few years, the Minx has made life miserable for almost every walk of life. Horror stories are old hat in retirement circles, "smart" hedge funds close their doors daily and layoffs are a rule rather than the exception. It's the inevitable ebb to the bubbly flow but, for those who are suffering, explanations are empty. People are angry and they want answers-and if they can't find answers, they want someone to blame. It's nasty out there, boys and girls, and you'd better get used to it--it's only just begun.

I'm not saying this to scare you (although I admit to being slightly scared myself) and this particular article is not a short-term market call. I'm a pensive guy and, as I'm now the proud owner of a financial dot.com and a hedge fund, trust me when I tell you that I have an active interest in the state of affairs. To add extra drama to the mix, I've been a big picture bear for a few years now and if I'm correct in my assumption of where we're headed, my situation reeks of potential irony.

The answer-and yes, I've had this conversation with myself-is that running away isn't going to solve the problem. Quite the contrary, understanding the forces in play is the only way we'll find our way through this mess. If we embrace the problem and place more of an emphasis on learning why the market acts the way it does and, more importantly, what that potentially means going forward, we've taken proactive steps in bettering our lives--and there's an inherent value in that.

This game is far from easy and the last thing from fun. My goal, when starting Minyanville, was to balance salient, value added content with goofy smiles and an occasional belly laugh. This is a serious business and the stakes are high-but that doesn't mean it has to be a painstaking task from soup to nuts. Balance brings perspective and perspective leads to a better decision making process so understand that, while I may seem unconventional at times (read: weird!), there's a method to the madness.

I know these are difficult times, my friends, and trust me when I tell you that if there was a magic button, I'd have already pressed it. The truth is that if we're going to get through this, we've got to hunker down and make some conscious choices. It's impossible to protect your portfolio while having maximum exposure and, conversely, you're not going to make money unless you take a little risk. That fine line is distinct for each Minyan and you're the only person who knows how to walk it. Make your decisions, stay adaptive and don't look back and beat yourself up...that's wasted energy.

I'll circle back in a bit with the daily missive but these are important points that I felt needed to be made. I've always had a special connection with my readers and I sense that angst levels are redlining a bit. If you're gripping the handlebars too tight, chances are that you'll get tossed with each bump. It's a long ride and it's only going to get trickier, so take a deep breath, surround yourself with good people and, above all else, remember to think positive.

Good luck today.

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