"Soda Makes you Fat" and other Warning Labels
"Oh so pretty and witty and gay!"
Hi Todd/Jeff, it was great meeting you guys in person last evening.
Todd, you hardly looked like the behemoth you claim to be in your writings! You don't sound as bearish in person either :)
Jeff, you look and talk like you are made for TV. You can also double as Dr. Evil. LOL.
Anyway, you guys keep up the tremendous work! Also thanks for the drinks and look forward to more Minyanfests in SFO :)
- Minyan Shashi
First of all, it was great meeting you and all the other Minyans who came out to our Minyanfest at Perry's in SF. I was a bit tweaked going into the event. It's often been my experience that I don't relate well to "people", particularly in person. My fear was ridiculous and I had a fantastic time, two facts that I'll ignore in favor of getting needlessly tweaked prior to the next fest, I'm sure.
Second, you're half right with your Todd-O take. Though with its connotations of power "Behemoth" is not as technically correct as "Fleshy", it sounds much nicer. So behemoth is the description we'll stick with. In support of that stance, suffice it to say that my tweaked state wasn't helped by having to strain with his corset all afternoon.
That said, you were right on his general market stance. Todd-O, along with many of the other fellow Professors purported to be perma-bears, is actually more of an opportunist than Boo-Like, in his trading life. It's not that they/we are bury-gold-in-your-bombshelters bearish, it's that we stare in horror at the shiny happy markets, riskless view of the world that seems force fed into our culture.
To truly understand markets (or anything else) you need to see and understand the bad, as well as the good. Given the all-but naked self-interests at work, there is plenty of available material that has a universally positive take on markets "in the long term". On the other hand there is a dirth of material which seeks to educate about risks and their relationship with reward.
Given the state of reportage it seems that anyone who puts the risk on your radar gets branded a bear. I know Prof. Succo got a bit raked over the coals, for instance, when he noted the "virtual selling panic" in vol after the bombings last Thursday. The notes suggested that, by explaining how cheap volatility prices increase market risk, Succo was making a bearish market call.
He was not. Panicky vol selling is a near term bullish catalyst which, almost neccessarily, increases the downside risk. Being aware of that relationship doesn't prevent you from being long stocks, it just informs your decision through the prism of an insanely good and experienced market player. That information is of enormous value, regardless of your personal positioning.
Sympathy for the Devil
Which brings us to the least important, most self-indulgent portion of my response; the whole TV thing. I've been mentally gumming "you look and talk like you are made for TV. You can also double as Dr. Evil. LOL." for a couple weeks now and I'm still not sure how to feel about it.
I'm demonstrably a hussy for TV gigs so I won't bother defending myself. I enjoy it, it's good for the Ville and they keep asking me back. Those are the super-cool parts.
The weird part is being known as a "TV person". I mean... I'm (90%) sure you meant my "looking and talking like (I'm) made for TV" in the nicest possible way but... uh... the #1 suspects for the crime of "stuffing shiny happy market world views into our culture" I mentioned are pretty much considered to be the people on TV.
On the surface it would seem my stance is akin to that of Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket, with a peace pin on my sleeve and "Born to Kill" written on my helmet.
The difference is that I'm fully on-board with the program, looking for the big win. I'm not suggesting anything Jungian about the duality of man by doing TV despite, as was recently suggested, "seeming to be a reasonable, non-stupid, person".
I think the problem with financial television is mostly a function of the fact that the "money professionals" who come on are selling you something, in a very large sense. Think about it, you run a mutual fund which focuses on small-caps. CNBC calls to book you. This is good news for your business, which you likely believe in. You are going to have an "agenda" of promoting small-caps as an asset class and your fund in particular when you are on the air.
"I'm out of ideas and, frankly, think it's time to take the money and run on these small caps" is something to be mulled with your priest, not on television with David Faber.
I'm guilty of it as well but what I'm selling is the Ville. I'm "selling it" (to the extent possible) in a literal sense by wanting to drive subs, of course. But the goal is to sell the message, above all. It's to attempt to bring some reality to the air by pulling back the curtain on the process, if there is one, to why something is a "screaming" buy or sell.
I don't mind being a "TV person" as much as I don't want to be thought of as fitting the reputation of that avocation. If that leaves me ambivalent about the experience I take comfort in knowing that my dissonance has long been shared by prostitutes with hearts of gold and nice lawyers and others who strive to be walking contradictions.
"Homer Simpson, eh... I'll have to remember that name" - Mr. Burns
At the risk of sounding like Johnny Depp whining about his 21-Jump Street, bubblegum fame, I literally woke up this morning to the sound of Maria Bartiromo pronouncing my name "Jeff Mack".
The unadulterated weirdness of the experience has echoed through my head all day.
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