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Seems Like Old Times


There is power in a collective thought process. There is education in differing points of view.


I met my old lover on the street last night
She seemed so glad to see me, I just smiled
And we talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some beers
Still crazy after all these years

(Paul Simon)

Yesterday afternoon, while edging through another day of minxy fray, we enjoyed a moment of reflection in the 'Ville.

While the markets meandered higher, as they are apt to do these days, I was reminded of the mountains and the memories they hold. I looked up from my eight screens of flickering green to see my good friends Jeff Saut and Tony Dwyer hashing out the hustle on CNBC. And then, in a blink of an eye, Jeff Macke was talking about the winners and sinners of the retail break-out.

And then my mind drifted.

First to Vail.

Then to Ojai.

And then to Crested Butte.

I began to think not only about where we've been, but who we've been there with. And why we've been there. I thought about the market junctures during our mountain sojourns. The virtues and vices. The opportunities and obstacles. The lessons and the losses.

I thought about how much I've absorbed and how much more there is to learn. I thought about what I've done well. And what I could have done much better.

Opinion, and by extension behavior, is shaped by collective perception. That is, in many ways, the genesis of Minyanville--human capital we can trust, skill-sets that complement our own and views that are stated as opinions rather than fact. I've long believed that the friction between the bull and bear is where true opportunity and education resides.

Not surprisingly, it's also where the toughest lessons tend to be taught.

I built my reputation by adopting and espousing an extremely bearish view in the early innings of 2000. I saw the train wreck on the horizon and told anyone who would listen to preserve capital and manage risk. It was fortuitous and serendipitous, both personally and professionally. It generated great wealth at my hedge fund and a stellar reputation on the Street.

I earned a reputation as being too bearish in 2003, fighting the tape all the way up and rationalizing the discipline it took me so long to learn. I lost a lot of money and was publicly emasculated in my inaugural Minyanville effort. It was a tough pill to swallow, as I had seemingly worked my entire life to arrive at that point. It was also, in hindsight, one of the greatest gifts I've ever received.

I learned many things that year, including my ability to absorb pain and the humility to ask for help. A community was born. Tony Dwyer dug in beside me. Then John Succo , who I've known since '91. And Scott Reamer. And Greg Roberts. And Pepe Depew. We watched each other's back, we were each other's ears and we helped each other grow.

There is power in a collective thought process. There is education in differing points of view.

Today, Minyanville is over 30 "professors" strong but the roots of our existence remains much the same. Nobody is smarter than the market and we are all pawns in the greater game. There is no shame in admitting it's hard and no benefit in faux bravado.

These are extremely tense times in the world, despite the message that the market proxies and mainstream media would have us believe. This is, in many ways, one of the most interesting junctures in the history of mankind.

We'll dig into the nuts and guts financial stuff over on the Buzz, as we do each day. The purpose of this column is slightly different but extremely valuable nonetheless.

Embrace change, understand risk and appreciate the potential for seismic shifts.

We began this community as a vehicle of financial education and 'infotainment.' Those lessons will be for naught if we fall into the trap of entitlement and take our future for granted.

Good luck today.

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