The Best of the Aleph Blog, Part 3

In hindsight, I’m not happy about what I wrote August-October 2007.  As the bubble built I criticized it in fainter ways than it deserved.  Given the implosion of money markets, I should have been more bearish.  Part of that faintness stemmed from the stigma that came to bears in that era.  But here are articles from that era:

More Slick VIX Tricks

Attempts to explain the relationships between implied volatility and equity, and also corporate bonds.

Speculation Away From Subprime, Compendium

Subprime was getting blamed, but there were many areas where markets were very speculative at the time.  I call them out here, and I was not often wrong.

The FOMC as a Social Institution

I got a lot of publicity over this one.  I may do another one in 2011.  It is important to understand that those on the FOMC are not geniuses.  They are bright, but slaves to a view of the world that is not accurate.  The Fed drinks their own Kool-aid.

The Current Market Morass

As the markets declined, there were a lot of signs of the oncoming trouble that were ignored.  Following market liquidity was an aid to avoiding some of the crisis that was to come.

The Collapse of Fixed Commitments

I anticipate a lot of what will happen in the next 18 months, while not taking that much action.

A Moment of Minsky?

I get some publicity for being a little ahead of the crowd in suggesting that Minsky was correct in the way he viewed economic cycles.  I also anticipate what will happen one year later.

Sticking with the Short End, or, The Short End of the Stick

In the midst of the money market panic, the Fed added liquidity, whether it was right to do so, or not.

The Four Rules of Currency Intervention

These are the rules regarding currency interventions, ignored by hubristic governments that go their own way, and lose value as a result.

Ten Years From Now

In this article, I attempted to estimate what variable drove stock market performance in aggregate ten years out.  I discovered:

My Upshots

  1. Note that it was a bullish period, and that stocks did not lose nominal money over a ten-year period to any appreciable extent.
  2. Stocks almost always beat bonds over a ten-year period, except when inflation and real interest rates 10 years from now are high.
  3. Investing in stocks during low interest rate environments can be hazardous to your wealth.
  4. Watch for inflation pressures to protect your portfolio. Stocks get hurt worse than bonds from rising inflation.
  5. Inflation and real rate cycles tend to persist, so when you see a change, be willing to act. Buy stocks when inflation is cresting, and buy short-term bonds when inflation is rising

If Hedge Funds, Then Investment Banks

I argued that if many hedge funds had mismarked assets, then many investment banks would as well.  Definitely worked out that way, but bigger than I expected.

Society of Actuaries Presentation

This was a forty minute talk that I gave to the Society of Actuaries at their Annual Meeting.  Very big picture, and very prescient.  Worth a look if you have 15 minutes sometime.  I put a lot of work into this one.

Stocks Don’t Care Who Owns Them; Social Insurance and Private Markets Do Not Mix

Every now and then, some crank like Bill Clinton comes up with the idea that “all we gotta do is invest the Social Security trust funds in the stock market, and the funding problem will go away.”  This is the antidote to that malarkey.

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But, as the markets approached their recent highs during this period, I was skeptical, but insufficiently skeptical.  Further, I blew it on Deerfield, National Atlantic, and my view of how FOMC policy would evolve.  So for this era of my blogging, I have my regrets — I should have done better, even though I got some interesting things right.