Some things and ideas: August 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!)
State of the markets (Monthly recurring piece)
Last month, I said for the first time since I’d started writing state of the market pieces (in the summer of 2022) I was feeling like things were “stretched”. I wish I had traded that feeling, as markets took a pretty nasty selloff before grabbing a nice bounce at the end of the month!
So it’s not like we had a massive selloff….. but on the whole things feel a little more balanced now. The fear & greed index is tilted firmly into neutral, and the air has come out of a lot of meme stocks. I don’t think there’s huge pockets of obvious value sitting out there anywhere, but I don’t think there ever should be huge pockets of obvious value unless we’re in a complete panic! Still, I do think wide swaths of the market (offshore energy, banks, cable, and more) are quite interesting, and on the whole it’s hard for me to say the market looks crazy expensive or cheap. That’s probably for the best! Fear and greed says the market is in neutral, and that feels about right to me.
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 four 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’m planning on hosting the next one in mid-September
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:
Someone just please read the Wandering Inn for me. I got obsessed with this series ~a year ago. I’ve read all nine of the kindle books that have come out; that might not sound like a lot, but each book is well over a thousand pages (the ninth book comes in at a brisk 1,652 pages!). I’ve been hesitant to recommend it on the blog because it is such nerdy fantasy, but the world building in the book is absolutely unbelievable and I really just need some people to read it with me. I will admit the first book starts a little slow, but I’ve now given it to about 10 friends and I’d say about 7 of them got quite hooked after they got through the first ~150 pages (one managed to read 4 books in 10 days!).
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!
Other things that caught my eye / links
Inefficiencies in small banks
A write up on Haier D shares (waiting for these to collapse has truly been waiting for Godot for some investors)