Some things and ideas: June 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 noted I was pretty perplexed by the markets right now (that was the second month in a row noting that). I’d basically jsut say ditto to that; certain pockets of the market are in complete euphoria, and some pockets of cyclicals are showing a coming boom….. while other cyclicals are forecasting a deep recession.
I continue to spend most of my time on banks and cyclicals. I’ve also been spending a lot of time looking at international markets; in particular, there are companies that trade in London that trade for maybe half the multiple of similar companies that trade in the U.S., and from my seat the main reason they trade at such a discount seems to be that they don’t trade domestically!
The “fear & greed” index, which I like to track as a shorthand for how the market is performing, is flashing “extreme greed.” I don’t think we’re quite there; broadly, valuations today seem reasonable to me. But one thing I’m certainly thinking about as we head into the back half of the year is reunderwriting all of my positions, making sure I really like everything I own, and feeling comfortable running with a little cash or taking advantage of very low volatility levels to buy some “disaster insurance”. It does sound a little silly to write “make sure I like everything I own” (when should you ever own something you don’t like?), but it is easy to buy a stock and have some thesis drift as you continue to hold it, and I just want to make sure I’m actively choosing to hold everything I own right now.
PS- I went on my friend / editor’s Bobby Kraft’s podcast to discuss what’s happened so far in 2023 and outlook for the back half of 2023
FinTwit NYC board game night (Monthly recurring piece)
The fintwit board game night has been on semi-hold for the past few months, as I temporarily let my WeWork where I host these lapse. But I plan on bringing it back this month before earnings season kicks off, so let me know if you’d like to be included!
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:
I’d say the best book I read this month was Babel. It was really different than most of the fantasy books I read. I’m still not sure how I felt about it; I was fascinated by the word and language based “magic”, and any time they went into the etymological roots of words I was hooked. But I found the characters pretty flat. I could see some people loving it (several of my friends did), which is why I mention it here…. but I was neutral!
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
I used to watch every episode of Jeopardy; for a long time in my prior role I thought about taking a three month leave to focus on studying for Jeopardy and prepping for an appearance on the show.
As someone with an ad supported podcast, I 100% agree and honestly would encourage everyone to direct all of their marketing budget to sponsoring YAVP.