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Some things and ideas: March 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)
Man what a month. I like to use the fear & greed index to show what’s going on the market; it’s showing up on the low end of neutral currently, which is probably about right…. but also probably doesn’t do this month justice. A week ago we were solidly into fear; a month ago we were into greed. And I’d argue two weeks ago (right when FRC seemed on the verge, CS was imploding, and SIVB had just disappeared) we were approaching extreme fear.
What’s weird about the market is under the hood. Big tech absolutely raced this month, which really supported the indices. Small cap stocks got crushed (and banks got absolutely hammered).
I kind of get the theory behind that: a banking crisis should send interest rates lower, which benefits growthier tech stuff. Plus, tech generally has net cash balance sheets and a lot of the very large tech companies are pretty economically resilient. Still, feels strange….
I talked a little bit about the banks here. I think, for the most part, banks are a “no go” right now: costs are going up (they’re going to need to pay more for deposits and regulatory costs going up), and I’d guess earnings are coming down (banks will need to hold shorter term and more liquid assets on the heels of multiple runs). Just a tough spot to be. And while I still can find several pockets of value / stocks I like, having ~5 banks fail inside of a month is pretty damn scary. I’m surprised the market seems so sanguine right now….
I have an imposter
One of the most frustrating things about Twitter is that if you have any type of following there are constantly bots that impersonate you and try to run crypto scams on your followers. I am a true minnow in the world of twitter followers, yet I still probably get two or three bots a week that I need to report… and the reporting process is really onerous and doesn’t always work. Very frustrating; I’ve been tempted to pay for Twitter blue just to cut back on the impersonators but have not pulled the trigger so far (if someone tells me it’s worth it, I’ll probably pull the trigger this afternoon)
Anyway, someone took the impersonation to the next level and used my name on a recent Aimia conference call. Aimia is a company I’ve followed for a long, long time, but I haven’t been involved in years and that certainly wasn’t me on the conference call.
Honestly, I feel like I’ve made it just a little bit that someone felt using my name on a conference call would lend an air of credibility to a question. So, to whoever asked that question under my name…. thanks? But let’s make this a one time thing; please stop!
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:
Honestly, I started a few books, and got halfway through them and realized I didn’t like them. And when you’re not liking a book, you tend to just read less. So no recommendations for this month; don’t want to rec anything I wasn’t loving!
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.”
Other things I liked (Monthly Recurring Piece)
little click-baity to me, but I’m invested in a few energy companies and I 100% believe the returns from returning cash are much better than exploration and think companies are just rationally responding to incentives by returning cash.
I love Brandon Sanderson and honestly a part of me wants to challenge the author of this story to a honor duel
Here’s a more balanced profile (in my admittedly biased view)