One Sale People Avoid

People who know me well will tell you that I tend to get in a rut when it comes to food (I prefer to think of myself as consistent).  If I’m not going out to lunch on a particular day, one of my ‘rut’ foods is a pack of tuna with some lemon.  It’s easy and inexpensive - a beautiful combination to my way of thinking! What is also beautiful to a numbers guy like me is walking into the grocery store and seeing that one of my ‘rut’ foods is on sale. …Read more

What Cruise Ships Can Teach Us About Investing

My family and I took our first cruise over the Christmas break.  We have never taken a cruise before.  This is mostly due to the fact that my wife and I saw the Titanic movie.  Spoiler alert - it does not end well.  And if that wasn’t deterrent enough, earlier this year there was the now notorious sewage gate incident aboard a stranded Carnival cruise ship.  If you didn’t read about it, it involved a cruise ship that lost power at sea.  When the power went out, so did the toilets.  I will…Read more

Creative Destruction

A Fossil By My Driveway A while back, I was outside taking the trashcan to the curb when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye, something yellow and shiny in a plastic bag.  I went over and picked it up.  It was a book, and in it were names and phone numbers.  I believe people used to refer to it as a phone book. I think I would have been less surprised to find the thighbone of a Tyrannosaurus Rex sitting at the end of my driveway.  I expected…Read more

Just Say No to Goals

The Dark Side of Goals Over Christmas break I was watching my three-year-old nephew having a great time playing a game on an iPad.  That is, until my son got involved.  It wasn’t that my son was trying to ruin his younger cousin’s fun - he was actually trying to be helpful.  He simply told his cousin the goal of the game, which was to finish one level in order to move on to the next.  By moving through enough levels, he could eventually beat the game. Apparently, my nephew did not understand…Read more

Beware the Average

Recently, while on a family trip to California, we enjoyed some time at the pool. Watching our youngest son splashing around in the pool reminded me of how obstinate he was in learning how to swim. This wasn't for lack of ability -- he just flat-out refused to learn to swim (it’s possible he takes after his father in the area of stubbornness). Needless to say, it was nerve-wracking taking him to the pool before he learned to swim. What would you think if I told you that when we took him to…Read more

Lessons From a $2 Billion Loss

I would like to put forth my first nomination for the understatement of the year award. For this prestigious award I would like to nominate Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan. In response to a trading bet that lost $2 Billion (yes, that is billion with a ‘B’), Mr. Dimon said that the trading bet that the firm made was “poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored”. To my way of thinking, “poor” seems to leave the door open on the performance scale to something worse, like say, “terrible”. If a “poorly…Read more

What Viral Videos Can Teach Us About Investing

A few weeks ago in the ongoing international battle of “viral” videos, a new world champion was crowned in the five-day category. According to whoever keeps track of such things, the Kony 2012 video reached 80 million views in a mere workweek. According to the same people who keep track of such things, this video shaved off a full day from the time it took Susan Boyle (the former champion) to reach 70 million views in her video where she sang, “I Dreamed a Dream.” The producers followed up their Kony 2012 video…Read more

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Remember that old Steve Martin joke about the secret to becoming a millionaire?  "First, get a million dollars!" Perhaps Steve will change his answer after Facebook’s announcement yesterday that it will purchase a start up company called Instagram for $1 billion.  It appears that the new secret to becoming a millionaire is to start a business that is a threat to Facebook.  The really great news is that revenue is optional.  You see, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Instagram has no revenue! I think that what this provides us…Read more

No, Really, That Suit Looks Great on You!

We talked a bit in our last post about the importance of understanding how the firm that is managing your money is regulated and how it makes money. For those of you that zoned out a bit with the technical jargon, let me try to simplify this a bit since this is of critical importance when looking for someone to help you manage your money. Let me illustrate the difference in the Suitability Standard and the Fiduciary Standard using a much simpler product: men’s suits. Imagine that I need to buy a new…Read more

Goldman, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do!

Skeptical about whether gross conflicts of interest exist at the largest full-service investment firms? Reading an Op-Ed in the New York Times written by former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith might change your mind. A quote from the Op-Ed drives this point home: "I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact." While there is certainly no perfect,…Read more