Individual Investing Can Be Tough, Redux

Individual Investing Can Be Tough, Redux

I have many software robots that scan for responses to what I write.  Most come directly to me.  Some do not like this one at this one at Seeking Alpha:

Merkel’s reasons are, to be blunt, stupid.

Voss Capital is long Nintendo, Avid and Extreme Networks despite “Software bubble”

NintendoVoss Capital's Voss Value Fund was up 19.91% for the third quarter, while the firm's Voss Value Offshore Fund was up 19.88%. Both funds are now in the green for this year after erasing the damage that was done in March. Year to date, the Voss Value Fund is up 2.41%, while the Voss Value Read More

1: Its too crowded and there is too much competition: While his goals may be to outperform many of us just want to build wealth.
2: Too much information: Just ignore the stuff that is unimportant. More information the better it certainly beats how things were decades ago.
3: “We are in a macroeconomic environment where we are delevering. That is not the best environment for making money”
For someone claiming 20 years of experience that is incredible naive.

First, we build wealth in competition with others, and the competition has grown, not shrunk.  The anomalies the allowed smaller investors to prosper are for the most part well-known.  Whether they are over-fished is another matter.  I think that previously profitable strategies still have value to the degree that they are ignored as no longer valuable.

Second, yes there is way too much noise, and I even create some of it.  Yes, I try to filter the information I receive, but I receive a ton of it, and filters are not perfect.  Please tell me how to construct a perfect filter, because mine are imperfect.  If we could create perfect filters we would be very, very rich, unlike me and the commenter.

Third, I don’t get the last comment, except that the person does not understand that periods where lending is expanding usually offers the highest returns for risk assets.  Presently we are contracting.

If I am naive, it is that I am an idealist.  I want better economic policy, and see lousy governance at the Fed, Treasury, and State levels.  As a result, on average, I see low real returns for assets over the next 5-10 years, unless policy changes dramatically.


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David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.