Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What Really Grinds My Gears #2 -- The Investment Markets

You know what really grinds my gears? The investment markets.

Look, I know that everyone hates the stock market now that it has gone down to 50% of its prior value, but I have always hated these markets. Why? They make no sense and they are so badly manipulated.

There are computer models of when you invest in the stock market or in a particular stock. These were used for years and years. I once asked a guy who made his living this way, "So you are saying that, regardless of current conditions, if something has happened in the past that I should bet on it to happen again in the future?" Yes. Exactly. "If Michael Jordan retires I should continue to bet on the Bulls to win 70?" Yes. "But doesn't that ignore the fact that his team will be way, way worse and won't win 70?" Yes. "So....?" Hey look, HM, what you are doing is betting on how other people will bet (buy or sell) so if a company has always gone to 50 after dropping to 40, people are going to start buying at 40, so you want to buy at 40. "But what if they should go to 30 or 20 based upon performance?" Doesn't matter. "That makes no sense." It makes a lot more sense that being out there alone trying to figure out their actual future financial performance. "Oh my lord."

And take the energy market in California. What did we learn from the "shortage"? That there was no shortage and the electric companies would intentionally not produce electricity so they could gouge the consumer. Same thing is going on now with gasoline and refineries -- price of gas should be 30 cents lower, but refineries have cut their production. People asked recently about why oil went to $150 a barrel -- answer -- "Because speculators realized they could drive it that high." Wasn't it supply and demand? "No, there was never any shortage of oil."

I now have a client who has worked in the financial industry. Every time I talk to him he always tells me, "Market will be down today because"..............(or very rarely) "Market will be up today because..........."

His reasons are NEVER what is reported in the media. Example -- he says, "Huge news to come out about AIG needing more money -- the market is screwed today." So the market goes down and the media reports "Markets down due to uncertainty over Obama stimulus." Well, Jesus. Come on. Why was it so easy for financial folk to get their cash and eff everyone else? Cuz they actually know what is going on!

So the investment markets -- that is what really grinds my gears.


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