Some things and ideas: April 2023
Some random thoughts on articles that caught my attention in the last month. Note that I try to write notes on articles immediately after reading them, so there can be a little overlap in themes if an article grabs my attention early in the month and is similar to an article that I like later in the month.
My monthly overview (Monthly recurring piece)
I consider YAVB my “empire” with four core pieces: this blog / substack (the free side), the premium side of this blog, my podcast (also on Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube), and my twitter account. You can see my 2022 vision and goals for the empire here. If you like the blog / free site, I'd encourage you to check out the pod, follow me on twitter, and maybe even subscribe to the premium site!
I try to be as helpful as humanly possible to anyone whose research / writing I enjoy. In almost every post I do, you'll notice I link to other subscription services or investors who I like. I don't get referral fees or anything for that; these are almost always organic links and highlights that I do not because I was asked to but because one of my goals with the (very small) platform I have is to shine light on other people who are doing good work and make sure they have a platform big enough to encourage them to keep doing good work!
If you're launching a subscription service, or a new blog, or you're an investor who has done some really good research and wants to get some more eyeballs on it, please drop me a line and let me know. If the quality is there, I would love to link to your blog post or subscription service or research (and if the quality isn't there, I'm happy to provide feedback! I have done so with several services and I think my advice is good / appreciated / helpful!), and I'd love to have you on the podcast to talk about all of it. I can't promise anything, but most podcast guests / people I've linked to have been very happy about the reception / feedback they've gotten (I've even been called the king of the sub bumps / almost as good as Twitter / a big sub bump, and I've generally heard from investors with LPs who come on the podcast that they're delighted by the response). My DMs are always open, so feel free to slide into them if I can be helpful!
A bonus note: I get asked from lots of people about how to break into the finance industry. I detailed it more here, but my top advice would be to go out and start a substack (substack recently gave me a referral code if you start one; if you use that, awesome! But I’ve been recommending starting a substack long before they offered referrals!)
I know Buffett has two t’s
Gotta say, I was shocked at the response to my April Fool’s day post on Berkshire.
No fewer than 35 people felt the need to email me that Buffett has two T’s. Yes, I know…. that was part of the joke (though please tell that to ZION’s chairman!).
Two people sent me lengthy diatribes on why copying Silicon Valley Bank and investing all of Berkshire’s cash into long dated treasuries is a bad idea.
It was also the biggest day for email unsubscribes the blog has ever had!
Even worse, a few of the responses got very personal.
Given the combo of all that, I probably won’t be doing sarcasm / satire posts any more. And if that’s the response an obviously hyperbolic post about Buffett generates, I’ve got quite a bit more respect for the people who write satire around more charged topics.
State of the markets (Monthly recurring piece)
I admit: I’m pretty perplexed by the markets right now.
On the one hand: almost every company I’m following is reporting generally good (or better!) earnings. Gaming? Boyd just reported great results, “led by record performances in our Las Vegas Locals and Downtown segments.” Travel? Hilton just raised their full year outlook. Basics? US Steel noting a “healthy market backdrop” in reporting “strong” Q1 results.
On the other hand: we have a slow moving banking crisis. FRC is getting seized as I write this, and that seizure marks just the latest in a slew of major bank failures. The debt ceiling battle is pretty visible and I’d guess it gets solved as it’s literally the dumbest thing we could possibly fight over…. but there is some tail risk there and I think the fact we keep coming to the brink on the debt ceiling shows how close to ungovernable America’s becoming under the current structures and incentives for politicians. And there’s an ongoing land war in Europe! Sure, all of those things seem controlled, but the world is a complex place and it doesn’t take much for any of them (or a thousand other things) to spiral out of control.
Anyway, I have no idea. Small caps have been absolutely shellacked by large caps over the past two years; if you combine that with some of the valuations I’m seeing I’d suggest it’s a relatively attractive time to invest / there’s opportunity out there….
But I’m also a little surprised by the seeming lack of concern to all of the tail risks I mentioned above.
FinTwit NYC board game night (Monthly recurring piece)
I am an absolute board game nut, and I’m guessing some of my readers are as well, so I’ve started hosting a FinTwit board game night. We’ve done three so far, and all have been a blast!
Note that you don’t need to be a crazy active person with 500k followers on TWTR to be invited. Anyone in the NYC area who’s interested in investing (so pretty much anyone reading this email!) and board games is welcome to come.
General idea is simple: we’ll meet up at my office (it’s in the Nomad area) around 6, play some board games, and have a good time. I’ll likely order a few pizzas for the crew, and everyone is welcome to bring some drinks if they’d like to!
Anyway, if you’re interested in joining, feel free to send me an email or slide into my DMs and drop me your email there. I’ll send an email out to everyone who’s interested later this week or early next week to plan a game in the middle of the month.
If all goes well, I plan on turning it into a bi-monthly thing, so no worries if you can’t make this one!
Nerd Corner (Monthly recurring piece)
There’s no hiding it; I’m a massive nerd. I read 3-4 fantasy books a month, my favorite pastime is playing board games with my wife and friends, and I religiously watch every new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and listen to fantasy show recaps on Binge Mode (so much so that I even did a Twitter Space talking about the MCU!). Plus, I was an eager supporter of the Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter (yes, I splurged and went for the hardcover books).
Anyway, I figured a few of you are nerds like me, so I’m starting this segment to give recs of what I’m nerding out over currently, with the hope that you’ll either try it and enjoy it or recommend me similarly nerdy things that I’ll enjoy. This month’s recs:
Absolutely could not put down Will Wight’s latest book, The Captain. It’s the first in a new series; I read it in ~48 hours. I will caution that it is very fantasy / action heavy, but man did I enjoy it.
PS- outside of my monthly recs, I constantly get asked what my favorite fantasy books are. So I’m just going to throw this list out monthly:
Kingkiller is probably the best series I’ve ever read; waiting for the third is agony.
Gentleman Bastards is right up there with Kingkiller; the mix of fun and world building is outstanding.
Red Rising series is more sci-fi, but my god is it good. I would literally stay up all night to read every book the day they came out (note: I’ve only read the first trilogy; I’m going to read the second when the last book comes out later this year).
If you’re looking for something a little more under the radar (most of the books above are widely regarded as some of the best fantasy books / series ever), the Licanius Trilogy was fantastic.
First Law trilogy is excellent. It can get a little brutal / graphic though; there are a bunch of sequels and spins, but I’ve never been able to finish them because one of them got so brutal I just put the book down and never picked it up again. But the first trilogy is really, really great.
The Cradle series probably isn’t as “good” as the books above, but I binged them and every fantasy fan I’ve recommended them to has said something along the line of “I read all ten books in two months after I opened the first one.”
I’ve also really enjoyed that author’s newest series, Last Horizon!
Some things and ideas