The Virtue of Lunch with Friends

I really enjoyed being an investment grade corporate bond manager.  I enjoyed interacting with credit analysts and sales coverages, and the hurly-burly of price discovery in markets that were thinner than optimal.  My credit analysts were professionals, and I never went against them; at most, I would explain to them why market technicals favored a delay in the action they proposed.  But I would never permanently disagree.  What they wanted to buy I would buy, and sell I would sell, eventually.  The level of communication evoked greater effort from them.  Machiavelli was wrong.  It is better to be loved than feared, at least in the long run.  I have gotten more out of associates and brokers by being altruistic than through transactional constraint.  People will give far more to someone that cares for them, than someone that threatens them, in the long run.  (The short run is another matter…)

Now, this is not my character.  I tend to be shy, and constant interaction pushes me out of my comfort zone.  But when others are depending on me, I push myself harder, and do what needs to be done for the good of others.  I can’t let down those who rely on me.

Yesterday I had lunch with three friends and a new friend.  Two were sales coverage, and two from the firm that I used to work for.  It was fascinating to hear the tales of woe in the structured securities markets (worse than I expected, and I am cynical).  It was also fascinating to consider why investors for a life insurance company, which has a liability structure that would allow them to buy and hold temporarily distressed assets, does not do so.   A lot depends on how short-term the investment orientation of the client is, and this client is definitely short-term oriented.

I talked about my new CDO model, and about what I write about for all of you who read this blog.  The summary of our discussions is that it is a tough environment out there, and one that is particularly not kind to complex securities.  After the lunch, which the sales coverages generously paid for (at present, I don’t know what I can do for them), I went back to the office of my old friends, and reacquainted myself with one of the best consumer/retailing credit analysts period, who is a very nice woman.  I also talked with my former secretary, who is sweet, and was always a real help to me and all of the staff.

Friends.  I am richer for them.  I am richer for being one.  Beyond that, it is excellent business to live life in such a way that your business dealings leave people happy for having dealt with you.  I am truly blessed for all the business friends that I have gained.