I am not a fan of investing games and contests.  Here are my reasons:

  • They are too fast.  Investing is a slow process; games make money far more quickly than markets do.
  • They are biased toward winning.  Many games have a positive bias built into them, returns are far higher than are commonly attainable.
  • Contests encourage undiversified portfolios.  The only contest I have seen that did not do that was the Value Line Contest in 1984, where everyone had to pick ten stocks from ten buckets going form low to high price volatility.  Great contest — I was in the top 1%, but did not win.
  • Good investing is boring.  It is work.  Most of it is not a game, though I will admit there is some game in buying and selling — gotta beat the algorithms at their game.
  • Games are not as robust as the markets.  The markets serve up all manner of surprises, while games typically mimic the past.

Here’s what I can endorse, if done fairly: paper-trading.  As with any sort of self study, if you want it to be valuable, you have to be a strict cop on yourself.  I papertraded a number of times in the 80s, and I always did well vs the market.  My porfolios typically had 40-60 companies, but they always did well.  As a TA in Corporate Financial Management, I would share my ideas with students, who liked my enthusiasm.  The professor was a EMH devotee, who when he heard that my paper portfolio was up 40% while the broad market was up 20%, said, “Oh, you pick stocks that have a beta of two.”  I tried to show him that was not the case, but “you can’t teach a Sneech.”

Paper-trading moves at the speed of the market.  It is close to real.  It shows you how difficult it is to make money.  I recommend it to all of my readers.


  • God gave proverbs to the Jews; Epigrams were of the Romans. Now we do the same through tweets, why do I sense bad omens? #badpoetry Feb 02, 2013




  • One of Warren Buffett’s Greatest Trades http://t.co/wnU2g1z4 Comparing Buffett winding up his partnership to lack of distressed opps now $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Be Very Afraid When Fear Disappears From Markets http://t.co/t8wKalsQ Low implied vols, low yields, High Q-ratio & CAPE10 $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • How a $91 million loan on the Marlins ballpark will cost Miami-Dade $1.2B http://t.co/F2u2rZbP Poway-style debt in Florida $$ cc @munilass Jan 31, 2013
  • Big, Rich, and Wobbly: Wall Street Banks Are Still Sicker Than You Think http://t.co/irKmQqLy Mohamed A. El-Erian explains the problems $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • In US Debt We Trust- The Transfer from Private to Public Debt http://t.co/2nq1pGCn Total debt hasn’t declined much from peak, gov debt up $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Chavez’s 681% Returns Mean Socialism Buoys Goldman http://t.co/IYPD6fEJ Give Chavez credit, at least his country paid what they owed $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • 4 Reasons the Junk Bond Rally Will Continue in 2013 http://t.co/r7SF05NJ Check my comments. I like this site, but disagree w/the thesis $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Pimco to DoubleLine Leveraging as Yields Retreat http://t.co/LBUsmfQ6 Here comes leverage; PIMCO and Doubleline gear up to get returns $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • US Not So High Yield Bonds : “It’s Starting To Feel A Lot Like 2007” http://t.co/PZ0dOyzC More like 2005-6, we need more leverage 4 2007 $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • The US High-Yield Corporate Bond Conundrum http://t.co/w0wlsn7s & this leads to buybacks & M&A. It all depends on how aggressive it gets $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Investors Pivot Back to Banks http://t.co/ixvSSGf8 Bank bonds are likely safe, the stocks r another matter $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Too Soon to Celebrate for Europe’s Banks http://t.co/cKT6OXli Let them deal with the mountains of bad debt & restructure them $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Can anyone tell me why HY loan defaults are up, while HY bond defaults are down? http://t.co/gxfVA5za Usually they move in tandem $$ Jan 29, 2013
  • And very few LP CEFs at discounts, which is also true for HY bond CEFs. Preferred funds look a little more promising, but still pricey $$ Jan 29, 2013
  • Looking at bank floating rate closed end funds, a few r at high prems 2 NAV, such that if u bot the trust 2 liquidate would get 0% return $$ Jan 29, 2013




  • Newell Rubbermaid Goes After $127B Health Market http://t.co/lcarSSmS Interesting 2c consumer prods comps go after the healthcare mkt $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Chevron Realigns Its Gas and Midstream Organization http://t.co/u1WoIl2Y Sort of thing u do, prior to splitting co into 2 | FD: + $CVX $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Good 4 refiners $$ http://t.co/q3lVpoI5 US crude oil inventories are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year Jan 31, 2013
  • Container Shipping Faces Merger Urge as Money Dries Up http://t.co/7Kur08t6 Capital-intensive biz is tough when financing not plentiful $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Oh, Full disclosure two tweets ago, I am long Valero, $VLO Jan 30, 2013
  • $ACE ’s Greenberg Asks ‘Why R We Doing Guidance?’ http://t.co/dKtvopDX Evan has impressed me after leaving $AIG | Chip off the ol block $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Valero Looking at Rail, Barges to Ship Canadian Crude to Gulf http://t.co/diLQGBZC Cheap oil in middle of N. America wants2get2the Gulf $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Singer Chases Icahn With Stake in Cheapest Oil Company Hess http://t.co/Hk4ynp6q Worth reading 2 understand activist investors $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Fund Outflows? Blame the ‘Cliff’ http://t.co/QOq13Jn8 $TROW is a good firm. If anyone should not get fund outflows, they would b one $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Fannie To Allow Walkaways by On-Time Borrowers http://t.co/Nnx00VfR & so taxpayers will pick up the losses for walkaways on FNMA mtges $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Software Firms Find Tax Advantages http://t.co/5G2QXmmD A good transfer-pricing accountant is worth his weight in gold. $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Apple Reverse Convertibles: How Brokerage Firms Pervert Everything http://t.co/4ugTpgTe Don’t buy structured notes. Listen2 @reformedbroker Jan 29, 2013
  • How Apple’s Fall Bit Bondholders, Too http://t.co/60fmfhle Structured notes: Wall St. gives u a small increase in yield & lots more risk $$ Jan 27, 2013


Central Banking


  • Japan’s lessons for America’s budget warriors http://t.co/ftUKEJPa Think this might be the start of unsterilized monetary policy globally $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • What finally convinced me to sell my long bonds 30 bps lower than now was market’s reaction to the Fed in December. http://t.co/vQONtgBC $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • The Fed’s Actions Are Counterproductive http://t.co/THDwyijc If printing $$ or issuing credit could bring prosperity, it would be here now Jan 31, 2013
  • 2 early to celebrate ECB’s balance sheet reduction http://t.co/srQiQJ4Q @soberlook right again: off-Bal Sheet gtees dwarf BS improvement $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Fed Policy Is a Drag on the Economy http://t.co/T3Wx0ezh I have argued the same here: http://t.co/l7MyjNLM John Taylor 4 Fed Chairman $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Anyone else notice that all FOMC meetings are now 2 days long? Gives them more time to come up with creative errors in monetary policy $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • The Ghosts of 1994 http://t.co/Hdf2UFLi 2 things are different now: Fed was hawkish in ’94, few expected prepays 2 decrease so much then $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • What Happened To Markets The Last 15 Times The Fed Tightened… http://t.co/zq4TRGxg Long article, but instructive on tightenings $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • With Each Central Bank Move, Nations Are Impoverished More http://t.co/70lBSDeQ Combined actions of Central banks create global infation $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • USD-JPY: Short Term Reversal? – Hara-kiri http://t.co/K9N3Viom Japan leads the race to the bottom. Will they stop sterilizing asset buys? $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • There are two things lacking that were present in 1994: a hawkish Fed, and expectations that RMBS prepays… http://t.co/DHekaqIN Jan 29, 2013
  • The Unintended Consequences Of The Greatest Economic Experiment http://t.co/0hEH3VS1 The Fed won’t admit it, but it is flying blind $$ Jan 28, 2013


Rest of the World


  • Greek Companies Test Bond Waters as Exit Risks Fade http://t.co/fOgUn41S I guess every dog has its day. Sleep w/dogs, wake up w/fleas $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Best Stock Pickers Trawl Frontier Markets as US Funds Lose http://t.co/yfAKqI7t When mgrs seek unusual venues 4 investing, risk is up $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Deutsche Bank Improved Its Capital Ratio By Changing Risk Measures http://t.co/jWTc73pR Risk mgmt is easy when you can alter standards $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Spain’s crisis strategy under fire as economy buckles again http://t.co/Qeaeotx0 The ECB’s Mario Draghi is “itching” 2buy Club Med bonds $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Japan’s Government Proposes First Spending Cut in 7 Years http://t.co/DHpOH3II The journey to fiscal sanity begins w/a single cut $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Canadian Mega Housing Bubble http://t.co/GwbpWMGs Quietly, the average Canadian HH has accumulated more debt than US & UK HHs. Who knew? $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Chinese currency 2 loosen exchange rate: business chief http://t.co/q6zNLSGh Easier said than done; is China willing 2 absorb volatility $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Scandal of Italy’s Monte Paschi means questions for Draghi http://t.co/mufcYFkI Had some reg oversight over Monte dei Paschi solvency $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • The Super Bowl, Chicken Wings and the FED – a Risky Mix ? http://t.co/EDCV958k The Fed has no idea what it is doing, the same as in 2007 $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Why We’re at the End of Cheap China http://t.co/kSW2tbWG Argues there is more consumption going on in China, hidden in coprporate perks $$ Jan 26, 2013
  • The Biggest Housing Bubble in the World Is in … Canada? http://t.co/GgUfyM74 Interesting 2c France, Sweden, HK, & Singapore on the list $$ Jan 26, 2013




  • Forget the ‘Rotation’, Here’s the Source of the Money Pouring Into Stocks http://t.co/tn4Dxs39 ~$30B of special dividends get reinvested $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • ML Fund Managers Survey – Jan 2013 http://t.co/GR19wML6 Professionals r hedging less equity risk, flexible capital increasingly committed $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Bill Gross: Be very afraid of the markets http://t.co/k7Ouhax3 Favors: Currencies of creditworthy countries, short bonds, gold, HQ debts $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Whan financial institutions start buying gold as an inflation hedge, only 2 possibilities remain: a top in gold prices, or hyperinflation $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • SP500 Earnings Optimisim : But let’s revise them lower! http://t.co/bPXqFSos We should expect actual earnings 2 come in below projections $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Upside Risks http://t.co/AuT58IEC @reformedbroker gives us the bull’s case; I’m agnostic on market direction; think long yields will rise $$ Jan 29, 2013


Market Dynamics


  • Goodwill Is Bad News for US Assets http://t.co/8ctt5UeQ Not all goodwill is bad; if it produces extra cash deserves 2b treated as asset $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • It’s the Stocks You Don’t Own That Matter http://t.co/M3pDaeFl @herbgreenberg talks about new Forensic Accounting ETF $FLAG | Good idea $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Your ETF Owns Too Little Amazon, &Other Index Quirks http://t.co/UOZINiEc Float-weighting underweights “owner-operators” which do better $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Asset Allocation & Rebalancing: (Still) Competitive Together http://t.co/FrLCygAY Rebalancing global value-weighted index: good strategy $$ Jan 31, 2013


US Economics


  • US GDP Q4 2012 Weaker with a Strong Mix http://t.co/ZmVlZZ52 In Q3, few talked about the weak mix, but yes, result better than headline # $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • U.S. Economy Unexpectedly Contracts in Fourth Quarter http://t.co/dmKSsHlf After getting upside surprises, shouldn’t we get one down? $$ Jan 30, 2013


US Politics


  • US government warns of hack threat 2 network gear http://t.co/lZvMgyOe Disable feature known as Universal Plug & Play on your network $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • How President Obama Lost His Shirt to John Boehner http://t.co/VZwfxqiw Interesting argument; not sure it’s correct. Seemed like a tie $$ Jan 28, 2013
  • Women’s Path to Ground Combat Strewn With Obstacles http://t.co/DkVG9UDM Only the strongest ~5% of women will be able 2b in combat $$ Jan 28, 2013
  • Bipartisan Immigration Plan Counters Republican Orthodoxy http://t.co/nL9Q8RFp Has some chance of passing 4 the 1st time in 6 years $$ Jan 28, 2013




  • Psst…This Is What Your Co-Worker Is Paid http://t.co/3lUOLmT9 I’m not sure this is a good idea. What someone is paid is personal $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Bombarded by Ads, Few Drivers Switch Car Insurer http://t.co/LsyjydyM Average ppl have an agent they trust until they get burned $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Backyard Farming Gets Fancy http://t.co/0FqwgxRr High-End ‘Homesteaders’ Want Pricey, Stylish Tools; The $1,300 Chicken Coop $$ #noway Jan 30, 2013
  • 15-Year-Old Creates Test for Pancreatic Cancer http://t.co/qrRalNtv This fellow beat the child of a friend of mine who came in third $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Derivatives trader: ‘The trouble is, regulators are idiots’ http://t.co/PTJpQe9G In general, true. This is why dumb regulation is better $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Liability Issues Create Potholes on the Road to Driverless Cars http://t.co/VDVux7vV If a driverless car has an accident who pays? $$ Jan 28, 2013




  • Wrong:Piracy and Fraud Propelled the US Industrial Revolution http://t.co/JONyDRPd Doubt that explains more than 3% of American Success $$ Feb 01, 2013
  • Wrong: Alan Blinder:Everything You Think You Know About the Crisis Is Wrong http://t.co/gTVjTm4t TARP a failure; encourages moral hazard $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Wrong: Morgan Stanley Buys Argentine Stocks as YPF Deal Lures BlackRock http://t.co/MdXXq1uu Until expropriation ends, avoid Argentina $$ Jan 31, 2013
  • Wrong: Bitcoin’s Gains May Fuel Central Bank Concerns http://t.co/bXNdgp9c Chart here: http://t.co/Xaz8cxbh Thin speculative market $$ Jan 28, 2013


Comments & Retweets


  • RT @japhychron: The Real, and Simple, Equation That Killed Wall Street | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network http://t.co/9YDmZu … Feb 02, 2013
  • RT @BankersUmbrella: @AlephBlog …buying on margin at 5y high in NYSE, fund inflows higher than just before techbubble burst, net sales … Feb 01, 2013
  • You can say that again $$ RT @paulnovell: @AlephBlog unless you own an east coast refinery. Mid continent refiners are killing it Jan 31, 2013
  • @GlennBusch I almost moved to Poway to work for the last remaining large life insurer in San Diego; Offer fell through, company failed later Jan 31, 2013
  • @steve13smith So how are you doing at Minyanville & otherwise? Jan 31, 2013
  • @steve13smith Are you my friend from RealMoney days? Good to hear from you. Yes, I signed up on a Wednesday. It’s a useful summary to me. Jan 31, 2013
  • You can say that again RT @credittrader: $SPY vs $VIX – oops – http://t.co/ARvpNfRP Jan 30, 2013
  • Feels like it to me. RT @StockTwits: Has Value Turned a Corner? http://t.co/GQnUMCcw via @eddyelfenbein $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • @RossJaklik I don’t market. People ask me to manage their money. They get a clone of how I invest my own money. If that is not legitimate… Jan 30, 2013
  • @RossJaklik @faithmight @abnormalreturns In order to receive fees for investing OPM, you must pass the regulatory hurdles Jan 30, 2013
  • @RossJaklik @faithmight @abnormalreturns And to manage OPM legitimately, u have to start a firm like $TROW $LM $JNS $BEN $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • @wesbury @cabaum1 I want to get rid of the neoclassical economics monoculture at the Fed, & replace w/Actuaries & Value Investors $$ #dreams Jan 30, 2013
  • @prchovanec Enjoy it, friend. I have 8 kids, 5 adopted. Every age is fun, & has sorrows. Enjoy your kids while u can; they grow up fast $$ Jan 30, 2013
  • Little kids r so cute $$ RT @prchovanec: 3-year-old son William on new twin baby sisters: “Can they talk? What did they say?” Jan 30, 2013
  • Thanks, have ~3 more to go $$ RT @BarbarianCap: Great “101-level” series in the last few days on insurance investing over on @AlephBlog #ff Jan 30, 2013
  • +2 RT @niubi: “@prchovanec: Twin baby girls Alice and Rachel Chovanec born at Amcare hospital in Beijing at 6:45am this morning!” Congrats Jan 30, 2013
  • premiums r so migh my nose is bleeding! $$ The RT @groditi: HY and Levered Loan CEF discount snapshot http://t.co/HH8tyX7x Jan 29, 2013
  • “You are not going to get as much from me, then. Not going 2 use Stocktwits as my Twitter client.” — David_Merkel http://t.co/78eWsIVF $$ Jan 29, 2013
  • +1 RT @allstarcharts: Here is one chart that bothers me: $IWM vs $DJIA spread peaked weeks ago as $SPY makes new highs http://t.co/Bt9c6mlB Jan 29, 2013
  • @aenbrnood @GuldbergPeter I think both of your ideas have merit, thanks Jan 29, 2013
  • “”As for the part of the budget that won’t take care of itself, President Obama fought an ugly and…” — David_Merkel http://t.co/ueQBGOkp $$ Jan 29, 2013
  • @prchovanec Leverage at each point in the chain of lending amplifies the impact of dodgy nonbank lending, esp when loans r short-dated Jan 29, 2013
  • A weakness in investment grade bonds RT @Convertbond: $DELL 5 Year CDS, Lesson on what an LBO can do to a credit.. http://t.co/foe7W2gf $$ Jan 28, 2013
  • @Danny_5079 That covenant is only common with junk bonds, though a few BBB bonds have it. That’s all. Jan 28, 2013
  • @Danny_5079 via arbitrage. Should have no effect on the deal, unless the bonds had a covenant requiring buying the bonds @ 101% in a buyout Jan 28, 2013
  • @Danny_5079 of the company & its pre-existing debt, thus leading to a decline in the value of debt, raising yield spreads. CDS reacts to it Jan 28, 2013
  • @Danny_5079 In a buyout debt is issued to finance the purchase that is equal or senior in terms of claim priority, reducing creditworthiness Jan 28, 2013
  • “They have to lure retail back in before the next bear…” — David_Merkel http://t.co/lCQ1ex1c Jan 27, 2013
  • “If the risk parity players r still levered long credit, then they r the CDO equity of this cycle. End will b ugly” http://t.co/uR8ji9Ty $$ Jan 26, 2013
  • My problem is this: we have a dysfunctional credit market where yields are too low, and protections are… http://t.co/7mYgP0VQ Jan 26, 2013


  • My week on twitter: 46 retweets received, 7 new listings, 87 new followers, 32 mentions. Via: http://t.co/SPrAWil0 Jan 31, 2013