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Some things and ideas: December 2022
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!)
Yo man; it’s not December anymore
I try to get these monthly links out at the end of every month…. but I was under the weather with an absolutely vicious case of the flu for ~a week and a half leading up to Christmas…. and then between Christmas, New Years, getting “southwest’d” (my hour and a half long direct flight turned into a three leg >12 hour travel day!), and an impromptu trip to see my alma matter in their first big bowl game in 80 years…. well, this post kind of fell through the cracks. But I like to stick to a schedule, so I figured I’d mail this one in for posterity’s sake and try to do better going forward!
FinTwit 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 two so far, and both have been a blast!
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!
I got swamped with work and unfortunately didn’t plan one the past few months, but I’m planning on getting this back up in the New Year!
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 monthly thing, so no worried if you can’t make this one!
State of the markets (Monthly recurring piece)
I know it’s silly… but the past few months I’ve included a “state of the markets” piece, and I’ve found it’s really helped me think through what I’m seeing. So I’m going to make this a monthly recurring piece.
As I write this, the “fear and greed” index over at CNN has markets in slight fear. That feels about right to me; last June, I thought there were opportunities everywhere. Today, I think there are still a lot of opportunties, but there certainly aren’t as many nor are they as deeply discounted.
It’s worth noting that the Russell 2000 (my preferred index) is down >20% over the past year and up <15% over the past five years (note that 15% is total return, not IRR!). The S&P is down ~the same amount over the past year, but is actually way ahead over the past 5 years (up ~42%). I know plenty of people who say things like “Of course we’ve got a big sell off on the heels of the massive bubble we went through,” and it’s definitely true that some pockets of the market (growth stocks, SPACs, etc.) got really bubbly for a second…. but if you look at the broader indices, and think there’s been a lot of stagnation over the last few years, and in general a down 20% year on the heels of weak-ish five year returns should suggest that you’re in a pretty good place for market returns going forward.
Anyway, bottom line: I’m optimistic on the market overall, and I’m finding several corners of value to explore. I look forward to sharing some of those with you in the near future!
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:
I started reading Mistborn book 7 / Wax and Wayne book 4…. and got two pages in before I realized I didn’t remember the series well enough to really enjoy the book. So I reread the whole Wax and Wayne Series (which consists of Mistborn 4, Mistborn 5, and Mistborn 6 (actually, I’m about 2/3 through #6). What a treat. The series is so good (as is everything Sanderson writes!). Looking forward to reading Book #7 this month!
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 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.”
Podcasts (Monthly recurring piece)
I launched the YAVP (Yet Another Value Podcast) in August 2020; the goal of the podcast is to do a deep dive into a high conviction idea from a sharp investor. No talking about the investor’s philosophy or history; just one well researched idea broken down (I provided a longer piece on my vision for the podcast at the start of 2021). They've been a blast so far.
A big update: I moved the podcast to a dedicated section of this blog. If you already subscribe to the podcast, no need to do anything. If you don’t….. well, you should!
Anyway, I used to link to the individual podcasts each month here, but I figure you can find them on your own at this point! Just keeping this bullet in here to point you to the podcast if you haven’t tried it yet; if you’re into deep dives on individual stocks, I think it will be right up your alley!
Other things I liked (Monthly Recurring Piece)
My friend Jon Boyar has released the Forgotten 40 again this year; it’s a nice tool for quickly getting up to speed on some good businesses that are trading at value prices.