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some optimism on the anniversary of lehman

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September 15, 2009 – Comments (23)

A year ago the collapse of Lehman began the fear and capitulation phase of one of the scariest times in the lives of many.  The phase where people pretty much gave up on claiming things were OK, and panic began.

So thats not good.  I thought I would offer a couple of things that have genuinely moved me, a couple of examples of how extraordinary the human animal can be.  Riding a bike and singing aren't, I guess, really important in the grand scheme.  But its not possible to post a youtube video highlighting a struggling entrepreneur following a long and winding path to what he/she hopes will be success, and a youtube video can't really capture kindness or laughter, or the feeling of seeing a newborn baby for the first time.  

But, if you can watch these movies and not feel a little bit optimistic, you should ...  well, you're more jaded than I am.  

 

Vid 1, Danny Macaskill riding a bike in ways that just shouldn't happen.  A sports video set to one of my all time favorite songs.  The sound of Band of Horses combined with a kid all alone doing bike stunts that defy reality somehow just messes with me.  I can't even begin to imagine how much trial and error went into all of that.  And thats kind of us at our best... we're a stubborn species, we never really quit until we win.

 

And #2, you gotta love an underdog.  Who, before it aired the first time, saw that coming?

a better link that won't allow embedding...  

People will live to shine another day.  :)

23 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 15, 2009 at 1:15 AM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

"darkness has a hunger thats insatiable, while lightness has a call thats hard to hear"

thats a quote from "closer to fine" by the indigo girls.  

That song is responsible for one of the most unique moments of my life.  In my life i've been to many bashes parties bars and whatever, and i've heard boys break out in song when something comes on dozens of times.  To ACDC, to Metalica, to Pearl Jam, to some rap or other,to whatever.  But only one time in my life did I hear an entire room full of girls break out in song, and it was to "closer to fine".  At a party somewhere in Minnesota, someone played it, and the whole room full of girls from a church college broke out in song.  It was a truly memorable moment etched most clearly in my mind.

But anyway, the quote has broad basic truths.  Optimism is rarely heeded, good news rarely sung.  But negativity, fear, bearishness, panic, hurt, ... these things resonate through the halls of news, blogosphere, conversations over beers.  We as a species are drawn to fear for some reason, and negative persons tend to be far more vocal than optimistic or productive ones. 

Bears in stock blogs are loud, vocal, forceful, they state their opinions as fact incarnate, they insult others routinely (i have been called names on this site many times by bears when bullish, for example), they fume and rant and repeat.  We ARE going to die, and soon.  And those big bearish blogs get sooooo many rec's. 

Bulls are far more quiet.  Besides GNE, was any blogger really optimistic through all this?  (googgle "good news economist" and you'll find GNE, he also blogs here from time to time).  How many hundreds of bloggers rose to some level of internet fame touting the end of days, doom and gloom?

Where are we today?  Are we 30+% down from the market highs of 9 years ago?  Yes, and thats not good, this is one big, bad, prolonged bear market.  

Are we up 50+% from the march lows?  Yes, and thats good, this is one hell of a move.  

Alot of what we read and see and hear is joy and pain from being in for this monster move or missing it.  Those ont he wrong side of a +50% move get not happy, those watching itmust feel some sense of loss, and those in it and on a really good side of it feel some sort of amazed joy that borders on overpowering, perhaps.

But through it all, as participants in the greatest show on earth (which markets are, imo), it may not hurt to take a moment and consider that when markets crash real people suffer greatly.

So i'll drink 1 beer as a toast, for whatever its worth, to everybody pained by this monstrous crash which is still far, far below where it began.

g'night all

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#2) On September 15, 2009 at 2:41 AM, uclayoda87 (29.32) wrote:

The events of the last two years were painful, but not without some redeeming value.  When life is too easy for too long we can become complacent and not appreciate what we have and what we may lose.  As we learn ways to survive these unstable times, we will have the opportunity to mature and gain the wisdom, which was last seen in the Greatest Generation.

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#3) On September 15, 2009 at 3:04 AM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

good comment, ucla.

 

I sent this letter to my whole non-work inbox today:

I just thought I'd offer some thoughts to commemorate the anniversary of Lehman Bros.  Maybe some of you don't know, but Lehmans fall was the catalyst for the life-changing crash in the market last year and the resulting recession.  It wasn't the cause, but its bankruptcy played a role in why some of you can't find jobs easily, why some of you saw your 401k's crash, and why some of you have made multiples of your money listening to stock advice from some Norwegian farm kid. 

Its late and i'm tired, and I'm about done surfing for the evening so this'll be quick.  All I want to say is that someone once said that the only thing thats certain in life is death and taxes, but that guy was silly.  Those things may be certain, but another thing that is absolutely positively certain is change.  What is today will not always be.  No way to know what the change will be or when or how, but its absolutely cast in stone that what your life is today will not always be. 

Lehman and the resulting aftermath changed and continues to change many lives.  100's of thousands of people have lost jobs, millions have lost large chunks of their retirement funds.  Others have siezed the opportunity and benefitted immensely, many benefitted from the crash, many benefitted from the beginnings of the recovery, several of those recieving this email I know are among those who have benefitted immensely.  Others recieving this email haven't benefitted, as i noted above.

Some of you know both >former biz partner< and I well and have an idea of how extreme the changes in our lives have been, others of you haven't experienced dramatic change in a long time, maybe some of you haven't yet, but I doubt it.  Jobs, new friends, love, waking up one day and realizing you're going to be a parent without ever planning for it, patent lawsuits, deaths, divorce, betrayals, accidents,  a plane crash, the lottery, selling a business, crashing market wiping out wealth or a soaring one handing it to you.  There is no limit to what kind or magnitude of change will come, but it will come, and thats not something you can prevent or avoid or dodge or control or predict, try as you may.  Sometimes it seems awful and ends gorgeously, sometimes you think you got a prize but the thing in your hand is anything but.  There is never any way to know until the whole scene plays itself completely out. 

What is today will not always be, and sometimes that begins with a bank you've never heard of somewhere in Manhattan, sometimes it begins with something else. 

And, ultimately, 1/2 of our lives are defined by our choices and plans, but 1/2 is defined by our reactions to the inevitable changes, our reactions to the black swans that happen to land in the yard. 

Best of luck to everybody in dealing with whatever changes come your way, hopefully they are profitable (even if not monetarily). 


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#4) On September 15, 2009 at 6:28 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

It's been pretty difficult to not "make 200%" since March 6 being long stocks that were "unpopular" at the time. The next few hundred percent might be slightly more difficult ...

My candidates are (as usual) in my list of calls. How about selling a few percent of your UNG calls (should be "in the green" by now) and buying some ATPG shares. I just had to mention that stock one more time ...

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#5) On September 15, 2009 at 8:25 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

United States Natural Gas Fund: Back in Business

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#6) On September 15, 2009 at 8:41 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

Ratio of Oil to Natural Gas Falls (12/14/08)

 

The Oil & Natural Gas Ratio Explodes In 2009 (08/26/09)

 

a "recent" chart of that ratio



enlarge

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#7) On September 15, 2009 at 8:49 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Heh, you remind me of me, before I figured out that the people in government weren't the same wonderful people that I spent my day to day life with.  That realization came after I left the bars and went to work for the government. I suggest you do the same.

I still love people, and I still have great hope for the individual. The individual always triumphs.  But I'm not a naive sap anymore.

David in Qatar

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#8) On September 15, 2009 at 11:41 AM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

David, you need to beware the trap of intellectual folly that is jade.  From college on through life I encounter people, probably teh preponderance of them are liberal, that present themselves as intellectuals. 

They tend to always quote and name names to support their statements, they tend to be jaded or cynical, they tend to gravitate away from risk and ambition and taking chances, they tend to cripple themselves withanalysis paralysis, and they tend to work themselves into a bit of a tizzy about it all.

see my posts about "coffee shop intellectuals" and "thinkers vs doers" scattered somewhere or other here on these blogs.  

don't be one of either, and calling me naieve can't undo all the successes that NOT being one of those has gotten into my life.  

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#9) On September 15, 2009 at 11:50 AM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

i don't know, porte.  I'm up on self managed money roughly 250% and 220% overall (all now self managed, but hasn't been all along) with all the money i ever made in my life, more or less, and from january not march (averaged in basically from late dec to early march).  And as thats better than any fund anywhere i'm aware of has done i'm willing to declare victory even if it wasn't "hard".

My UNG calls are up, my UNG short-puts are down, but I am holding them for a while.  

I own calls in ATPG from the other discussion.  i hate chasing shooting stars, and much prefer catching falling knives...  but i'll watch it if it comes back to earth.

I also added some real futures.

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#10) On September 15, 2009 at 2:22 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

sounds good. same here (self managed, better than all funds, preference for catching falling knifes). hope you are better at "rolling" those futures (if you do that) than UNG is.

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#11) On September 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

oh, forgot one more "same here". up roughly 250% since march low.

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#12) On September 15, 2009 at 2:26 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

and you are up 250% since november or december 2008? maybe i am just second best after all, hehe ...

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#13) On September 15, 2009 at 5:26 PM, TigerPack1 (86.81) wrote:

+220% in my biggest trading account from March lows.

However, I sold off some of my riskier plays, like LZB, way too soon.  I could have easily done +300% or better with some bigger balls.

-TigerPack

P.S.  Perhaps TigerPack, anticitrade, portefeuille and checklist34 should start the hedge fund together?

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#14) On September 15, 2009 at 7:15 PM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

porte, its all a function of a monster bet on financial stocks i judged to be hurt by mark to maket accounting.  insurance companies mostly, BDCs also, and much less banks.  + a monster stake in ashland chemical.

but i was down nearly 20% at the march lows, sucked.  and nicely over triple my money  now so 250% at least since the lows.

 

Tiger, I've thought about things like that.  There are alot of smart people here that have clearly done really well in all of this chaos.  

It remains to be seen if I can perform in normalized times.  I made the proper moves of

-this is the big one.  buying into a monster market crash when everyone was panicking.  can't guarantee i'll get another chance at a crash this monstrous.

-buying more the more the market tanked

-shuffling alot of things into one big bet against the tide of mark-to-market accounting destruction on insurance and BDC balance sheets

-taking huge stakes in ASH and TCK at the bottom

I made the mistakes of:

-over diversifying -vs- all in on my 20 best bets.  i had too many positions at hte bottom and should have taken larger stakes in fewer things

-some badly botched moves in MTW and DOW

-underestimating the rally and taking a bath on some covered calls in april

 

We'll see if opting to wait and hold a while partly for tax reasons proves a big mistake.  We'll see if taking significant hedges recently proves a big mistake.  And We'll see if RJET proves a good call.

I could have done much better without some basic novice mistakes, even not knowing what I know now.

 

But can Checklist_34 adapt and outperform in a normal market where mega-bargain stocks don't exist?  We'll see, I think have some basically riskless strategies worth about 20% but ...  will I try for more or take that?  

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#15) On September 15, 2009 at 7:18 PM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

i've only been at this for about 10 months. 

we'll see how I do over the longer term.  only significant "new" bets I have are on RJET and natural gas.  I suppose its always just about watching markets and catching falling knives.  

 

But in any case, I really do think that there are several folks on here who could probably run a pretty mean fund...  at least if the fund wasn't huge.  If you tried to run a billion dollars into alot of the penny stocks I and porte and others have rec'd and bought you just couldn't do it I don't think.  

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#16) On September 16, 2009 at 7:08 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

Natural Gas: Sell Producers, Buy UNG

(the exact opposite of my proposal ...)

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#17) On September 16, 2009 at 10:02 AM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

i want the commodity itself, and if I was aware of a perfect vehicle for it I'd take a monster stake. 

my logic is, generally, porte, that the stocks

A)  have already appreciated considerably even as the commodity fell.  they are the shooting star, gas itself is the falling knife

B)  are subject to being drug down with the market itself in corrections, etc. so

C) gas can provide a non-stock-market-related position for me while the stocks themselves can't

thats my logic.  we'll see who's right, lol

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#18) On September 16, 2009 at 10:22 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

i want the commodity itself, and if I was aware of a perfect vehicle for it I'd take a monster stake.

-----------------------

Mad Hedge F...:
The Mad Hedge Fund Trader
    
jjgn Since I have had such a hot hand in natural gas (see my call to sell at $4.30 in June by clicking here ), many have asked me to comment on yesterday’s surprise announcement that the ETF, UNG, finally got permission to issue new shares. The easy answer here is that UNG will crater. There is no reason for the fund to trade at a premium, whatsoever, which at one point traded as high as 20%, an overvaluation you normally only see in closed end funds at bear market bottoms. These ETF’s are simply pass through vehicles which make it easier for investors to own NG in stock form when they are legally unable, or too lazy to open a futures trading account. They should never trade more than 1% out of line with the underlying to account for the admin and execution costs of running such an instrument. The people who made the killing here were the handful of hedge funds that were able to borrow UNG shares, sell them short, and go long the futures, locking in a guaranteed 20% spread. They will cash in their profit next week. Something similar is still going on where smart industry players have locked up salt caverns to store gas, buy it cheaply on the spot market, and sell it forward. This is possible because yesterday you could buy October at $3.25/MCF and sell it for April delivery at $5.32, giving you an annualized return of 127%. Leverage that, and you are talking about some serious money. If you were wondering where the money was coming from to buy those G5’s, this is it. The fundamentals for the industry are still terrible, and there is a risk that the market could completely grind to a halt when the country runs out of storage, so the volatility will remain huge. This week’s explosive 44% move from $2.40 to $3.44 was nothing more than pure short covering. I expect a quick double in NG once the storage issue is resolved, and the cheapest, cleanest, and most liquid way to participate is through the futures. If you need help in how to

Sep 14 10:00 AM

-----------------------

(from here)

 

So rent a cavern and fill it up!

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#19) On September 16, 2009 at 10:23 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

... or buy ATPG shares. They have the gas in their "caverns" already ...

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#20) On September 16, 2009 at 10:26 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:



enlarge

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#21) On September 16, 2009 at 12:13 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

Expectations for Natural-Gas Stocks Seem Inflated

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#22) On September 16, 2009 at 1:59 PM, checklist34 (99.71) wrote:

atpg is that shooting star i'm loathe to chase though, porte, i just have a hard time doing it. 

maybe thats a psychological problem I need to deal with. 

if it corrects I'll take a stake based on you and awall only with no research myself.  I'm all researchd out but you guys seem to do pretty well.  thats alot of pressure on you 2!  j/k

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#23) On September 17, 2009 at 10:40 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

UNG: The Best Way to Invest in Natural Gas

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