CEO Scam

Very interesting article on French scam artist and Chinese Money Laundering efforts:

“The brain is the world’s most dangerous weapon,” Chikli said. “I learned not to control but to try to make someone believe that I was right. And from that moment, all the doors opened.”

Chikli calls this “the gift.” With it, extracting millions from some of the world’s best educated and most privileged can be a matter of a single phone call.


Machiavelli of Maryland

h/t @timferris for posting this article. Pretty fascinating look into a political & military strategist.

“strategy is about looking for turning points. Politics is too predictable. Look at Hillary. She is an empty carapace with ambition rattling inside. You can predict everything she does. Strategy is about being unpredictable.”

“But doesn’t that unpredictability become predictable?” I asked. “What happens when every army in the world abides by strategic logic?”

“But they never will,” said Luttwak, “because most people cannot master their emotions. Above all, strategy is about mastering your emotions.” And the emotions of others, he might have added.

“Abundance” All Over Again

@ReformedBroker piece entitled “Abundance” has really been resonating in my Twitter stream and for good reason. It’s an excellent piece but somehow oddly familiar to me. A little google search and I found it’s actually a theme written quite extensively by @todd_harrison from Minyanville.

His tag line is that we have deflation in things we DON’T NEED (TV’s, phones, NetFlix, Facebook) and inflation in things we NEED (education, healthcare, housing) He calls it “inflastagdeflation”.

That article was written in 2007 and he has continued to write about it, from 2014 with an excellent chart:


I’m still trying to wrap my head around WHY exactly this malinvestment occurs?

Edit: I wrote a long, winding hypothesis and decided to delete it. I’d rather hear your thoughts/comments/links. 

DrawDown Fever

Everyone, everywhere has no tolerance for draw down. More than rate of return, drawdown seems to be the ultimate optimization metric. “If I reduce the drawdown I can increase the leverage and viola!” This usually ends badly. I love this article because it shows that no matter who the manager is or what the strategy is, drawdowns are inevitable. Institutions manage money because they are supposed to be more sophisticated, only to do exactly what retail does (panic at the wrong time) and charge you a nice fee for it.

Middle Class Rage

Very interesting article from FT on middle class rage at elitism , 1%, yada yada yada. Ever see the movie Elysium? That’s what they are afraid of.

h/t @modestproposal on Twitter for posting

Here’s a summary from Karl Marx on failure of Capitalism:

1. Inevitability of monopolies, which eliminate competition and gouge consumers and works.

2. Lack of centralized planning, which results in overproduction of some good and underproduction of others, encouraging economic crises such as inflation, slumps, depressions.

3. Demands for labor-saving machinery, which force unemployment and a more hostile proletariat.

4. Employers will tend to maximize profits by reducing labor expenses, thus creating a situation where workers will not have enough income to buy the goods produced, creating the contradiction of causing profits to fall.

5. Control of the state by the wealthy, the effect of which is passage of laws favoring themselves.

Redistribution or war or Elysium. Welcome your thoughts!

Tidying Up

I read a lot in 2015, but this one was an odd selection for me. The target audience is obviously women in small, city apartments . But my wife read it first and said it helped so I gave it a shot. Basic premise is the following:

  1. Discard what you don’t LOVE.
  2. Fold properly.
  3. Most importantly, have an EXACT location for everything you own.

Simple enough, until you go through your things and say “I might need this sometime in the future.” “I wore this in High School, I can’t get rid of it!” Sure enough the book goes through many of the inevitable (and surprisingly rigid) excuses you will come up with to keep things.

I think knowing EXACTLY where to put everything – like a pair of socks, instead of throwing them on the floor next to the bed or jamming a random t-shirt into any available drawer – had a big effect on me. Before, I liked things “put away” which means I’d gather everything on the ground and jam it behind the closet door or take everything off the desk and put it in any drawer. It would be out of sight but I would know, behind this door lies a huge mess! More importantly, after about a month, I am continuing with the process, putting everything away where it’s supposed to go. An effort I had failed in the past.

I found the process a bit difficult but extremely worthwhile task. I can’t explain EXACTLY what changed but something did, perhaps a greater sense of order and calm? Whatever it did, it worked on me and I consider myself a fairly pessimistic individual. Try it and see what happens!

End Result. #Zen