Markets

[NOTE; This information does not constitute investment advice whatsoever. It is intended for education and entertainment only. Investment decisions should be made with the personalized attention of a professional] Stock markets follow patterns because people in groups follow patterns. One very reliable such pattern is that during major market corrections, the indexes tend to drop and then correct (bounce back) 50% before they resume the downward trend. That’s where we are now. Note the bounce is almost exactly half the distance back to the highs . The market dropped and just completed a 50% retracement or bounce. If a larger correction is coming, this would be the time to step aside. But you don’t get to know in advance. Today’s action is pretty weak and

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[Author’s Note: this year marks my 25th anniversary] Until I saw the date, February 2, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my “birthday” again. This birthday–which is more of an anniversary–marks for me the first day of uninterrupted sobriety 22 years ago. It hadn’t seemed like a very important day at the time; in fact, if anyone had asked then, I would have said it was the worst day of my life.  I was bloated and quaking. My eyes were yellow like a cat’s–from jaundice. And my store of courage was so low I had to be led around like a child. There’s no question that on that day, my second life began. It would help to note here that I am not

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Markets

[NOTE: The following does NOT constitute investment advice of any kind. It is for education or entertainment only]  ‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld 2002                  That the stock market fell does not surprise me: I have wondered how the rally could continue before the long list of threats to the global economy would reduce share prices. But I was surprised that it happened so abruptly.  I should not be surprised at that, however, because markets generally fall much faster than they rise: investors often “get in” in increments and “get out” in a cataclysm.  And while stocks only

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  WHAT HAVE YOU done for me lately? I find tremendous irony in the fact that the US president was the star of a reality show where he was surrounded by less-than-brilliant sycophants and presented as the epitome of  business success in charge of a thriving empire (though it turns out his decision-making often led to bankruptcy). The  climax of each episode was when he got to pronounce to a hapless contestant “You’re fired!”  The irony makes an entrance in that he is now at a point in his tenure where the party that embraced him (only after they realized that he could get them power) may soon make a similar pronouncement to him.   Almost two years ago on this blogsite, I posted that

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Movies

  Like past comedy talents such as Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, Steve Carell continues along the path toward rebranding himself as a “serious” actor. In the brand-new film Welcome to Marwen, he gets a role and a movie that should garner some Oscar attention. The film has all the ingredients of a Best Picture nomination: it has a socially prominent issue, an innovative format, and strong and diverse female roles. Based on a true story, “Marwen” very artfully follows themes and threads woven between two worlds: the real, small-town world of a disabled man and the handful of people (mostly women) invested in his well being, and the quasi-real, delusional, fortress realm he creates and catalogues through the lens of his disease-and-drug-fueled imagination. Leslie

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StickyMore

She is Winter      by William Hecht Deep December night and she is spent. She is consumed–like the fields after a greedy harvest. She slumbers—as does the world. Only her essence is sentient, aware. It is a spell: cast in the light of the great moon, it will break with the first rays of the equinox sun. Her hair is black. It is a wave of boreal night that flowed through the glass, swept down her  cheek, and spilled on a pale shoulder.  Things made of night are smooth–and softer by far than anything made from day. She dreams—as does the world–of light and warmth, of aromas and twitching roots, the vibration of launching sprouts: calls to life. If I could dream with her, I would

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Movies

Movies are more than entertainment. While film is one of the most powerful mediums for storytelling, movies can inform and inspire. First of all, Movies—the good ones—are part of our culture. Once a movie is established as “good,” it conveys some valid message about the human experience. What people watch is important—just as it is important what they read and listen to.

Movies inspire, too. When I see  an impassioned performance or notice an exceptional display of cinematography, it makes me want to try and create art.  Great stories are there to ask us if we, like the hero and heroine, could rise to become our best selves when a lot was at stake, or when no one else would do the right thing.

So do I watch movies at home?  Yes, but the movie theatre, as Joseph Campbell noted, was like a temple. Moviegoing is a ritual. We go there to receive the potent “myths” of our time, and we hope to walk away slightly charged with purpose or reminded of what it means to be human—which is why we should be seeing movies at the theater, with strangers, humans.

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Markets

The markets are probably more interesting than the movies. After all, every day billions are pilfered in elaborate schemes, the equivalent of warfare takes place in the currency and equity markets, and heroes and villains make the headlines.

Aside from the drama involved, the spectacle of crowds in action is something to behold. The average person sees little more than the change in the value of their stocks or funds at the end of the day. But imagine watching a few bankers at the Federal Reserve change a couple words in their statement, only to add or erase half a trillion dollars in global values of bonds and stock.

Macroeconomics is essential. And the history of markets is priceless—people repeat the same patterns for centuries.

Does it matter that we use computers or smartphones to buy stocks? No.

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…and More

I have taught for about fifteen years now. But I got lucky. I was offered the chance to teach classes in world religions, diversity, economics, finance and Africa—to name a few.  The value for me was to see how those subjects interrelate.

I do not see political parties, or terrorists, or despots or ideologies any more: I see power structures and patterns. History did not have much value for me in high school or college—oh, it was interesting, but I did not see the usefulness. I see it today.

People have not changed in ten thousand years. They were just as smart then as we are today. And when they get together in groups, they do the same things. Over. And over.  Africa, for example, is a study in power structures. First tribes, then empires, then colonial powers, then religious influences, then Cold-War rivalries.

The world is anarchy. In anarchy, power is king. Watch the power. It’s a little like “follow the money.”

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