The Best of the Aleph Blog, Part 14

This period of the Aleph Blog covers May through July of 2010.  The one big series that I started in that era was “The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager” series.  The idea was to describe how a neophyte was thrust into an unusual position and thrived, after some difficulties.

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part I

How I learned the basics, and survived 9/11.

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part II

How I learned to trade bonds, and engage in intelligent price discovery.

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part III

What is the new issue bond allocation process like, and what games get played around it?

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part IV

On the games that can be played in dealing with brokers.

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part V

On selling hot sectors, and dealing with the dirty details of unusual bonds.

The Education of a Corporate Bond Manager, Part VI

On dealing with ignorant clients, and taking out-of-consensus risks.

Then there was the continuation of “The Rules” series:

The Rules, Part XIII, subpart A

On the biases the come from yield-seeking.

The Rules, Part XIII, subpart B

Repeat after me, “Yield is not free.”

The Rules, Part XIII, subpart C

Reaching for yield always has risks, but the penalties are most intense at the top of the cycle, when credit spreads are tight, and the Fed’s loosening cycle is nearing its end.  It is at that point that a good bond manager tosses as much risk as he can overboard without bringing yield so low that his client screams.

The Rules, Part XV

Securitization segments a security into liquid and illiquid components.

The Rules, Part XVI

Governments are smaller than markets; markets are smaller than cultures.

A fundamental rule of mine, but one with a lot of punch.

The Rules, Part XVII

On the differences between panics and booms.

The Journal of Failed Finance Research

Much research fails quietly, but other researchers don’t learn about the dead ends.  Better that they should learn of the failures, and avoid the dead ends.

How I Minimize Taxes on my Stock Investing

Sell low tax cost lots and donate appreciated stock to charities.

Place Political Limits on Overly Compliant Central Banks

Gives a simple rule to control central banks so that they avoid the present troubles.

Yield, the Oldest Scam in the Books

Yes, offering yield is the oldest way to trick people into handing over their money.

A Summary of my Writings on Analyzing Insurance Stocks

A good place to get started if one wants to get up to speed on insurance stocks, but there is a lot there.

Economics is Hard; the Bad Assumptions of Economists Makes it Harder

Going over Kartik Athreya’s letter criticizing nonprofessional economics bloggers.  Why the math behind macroeconomics and microeconomics doesn’t work.

Why Are We The Lucky Ones?

When you are a part of a small broker-dealer, all manner of harebrained deals get offered to you.  This explores three of them.  Note: management did not ask my opinion on the fourth deal, and that is a large part of why they no longer exist.

One more note: the guy who was going to pledge $5 million of stock in example 2 for a $1 million loan?  The stock is worth $7,000 today.

Watch the State of the States

The economics of the states tells us a lot more about the national health because they can’t print money to buy national debts.  (Though they can can raid accrual accounts…)

We Might Be Dead In The Long-Run, But What Do We Leave Our Children?

My view is that neoclassical economists are wrong.  Aggregate demand has failed for four reasons:

  1. Overleveraged consumers will not readily buy.
  2. Citizens of overleveraged governments will not readily spend, for fear of what may come later from the taxman, or from fear of future unemployment.
  3. Aggregate demand is mean-reverting.  It overshot because of the buildup of debt, and is now in the process of returning to more sustainable levels.  The same is true of private debt levels, which are being reduced to levels that will allow consumers to buy more freely once again.
  4. When the financial system is in trouble, people get skittish.

The Market Goes to the Dogs, Which Chase Their Tail Risk

Complex and expensive hedging solutions, many of which embed some credit risk, can be less effective than lowering leverage, and (horrors) holding some cash.

Fishing at a Paradox. No Toil, No Thrift, No Fish, No Paradox.

This one had its detractors, because I believe the paradox of thrift is wrong.  Too much aggregation, and it does not allow the dynamism of the economy to adjust over time, even from severe conditions.