December 4, 2015 § 1 Comment
A note heard can transform a day from the mundane into the awesome. Right now, on my iPhone, I have, in no particular order, a mixed selection of :
Pachobel’s Canon: both inspirational and soothing. I play it while shaving as I watch the razor glide smoothly over my face
JS Bach: a melody that takes you to heaven and back and then to heaven again
Maroon 5: their punchy classic, “Moves Like Jagger”, try n play that without busting a move!
David Guetta: time for some fresh French flair
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: every last syllable of his name resounds with genius.
The Art of McCartney: The best and most loved Beatle commemorated by a bunch of ind. ledges singing his tunes. Love-love-me do. Oh yeah.
Coldplay: edgy, melancholic, disturbing, soaring
Of course in these festive months I’ll also be tuned to the festive ditties. In spite of our ever-grinding world of cupidity and egoism, there are seasons where you’ll find even hedge funders turning warm. In days of winter my greatest comfort is resting beside the fireplace until I achieve somewhere in the region of 50 degrees C, supping on a Fortnum’s Gluhwein, listening to soothing winter music. Amongst my favourites are:
Michael Bublé : his version of Silent Night– sans doute, the greatest Christmas song they ever made.
Pavarotti: Ave Maria, I listen to this while driving home, try and hit the high note, you’ll tear open your larynx
King’s Choir, Cambridge’s carols. Ding-dong-merrily on high, ah those halcyon schooldays, toasting toes and marshmallows!
Chris Rea: Driving home for Christmas, try listening to this while driving, you’ll burst open your eardrums
Music, it’s what makes us human beings and joins us. I truly believe in its healing powers. In these days of trouble we need it more than ever.
So play on, let me have surfeit.
October 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
Many of you ask…
What do you do in these long moments of silence, Tim? The answer is I wait. I uncoil myself, stretch out into deep evenings of solitude and wait.
One of my favourite pastimes is to study the old masters. No, I don’t mean Rembrandt or Caravaggio. I’m talking Seth Klarman and Paul Tudor Jones. Klarman’s superb. Really superb. A genius trader who doesn’t shy away from indulging his genius. But he doesn’t need not to. His success speaks for itself. A thirty-year stretch of home runs that would make Babe Ruth quail.
I managed to get my hands on his book “Margin of Safety” published in 1991. If you haven’t read it do so. It’ll give you a new perspective on things. I now see intrinsic value in everything. I see food as calories. I see paintings as auction value. I see night as the absence of light.
Sadly I was forced to pay $15,000 for the book to an old lady from Nebraska. It took seven hours of hard, hard negotiation to get her down to that price. In the end I felt jaded. Still, I now own the book. Here’s a nugget.
“Investors will frequently not know why security prices fluctuate.”
How very true! Frequently doesn’t quite cover it.
There are, of course, certain things that even the great man gets wrong.
“Investment success cannot be captured in a mathematical equation or a computer program.”
I wonder if he’s heard of Jim Simons? Or the Medallion Fund? Or Steve Cohen?
My other pastime of late is to watch the 1987 Tudor Jones’s famous film “Trader”. If you haven’t seen it do so. It’s not that he calls Bruce Willis “a stud” while wearing his trainers that he bought at auction which he says are responsible for a 30 point pop in the stock market every time he puts them on. Or that he spends most of the film biting his nails and at one point actually breaks down in tears when he loses $5 million in a day (it was 1987, it’s understandable). It’s his incessant drive. His singularity of purpose. Whether it’s on the 1980s style exercise-bike-cum-rowing-machine, the red braces and oversized glasses, the Quotron trading machine or breaking down a multi-million dollar currency trade from his home phone while chomping on pizza, it’s all done with a maniacal, mouth-foaming intensity that we, of a lesser persuasion, can only watch and admire.
Of course you’ll be quite lucky to get hold of the film—he bought up and destroyed most of them soon after release. I had to purchase an old copy on VHS tape which cost me $12,000 from an old lady in Nebraska. Yes, it was the same one. This time she really took me to the cleaners—16 hours of incessant, turgid negotiations. At one point I spent a continuous stretch of 3 hours on the other end of a deathly silent phone after she fell asleep without telling me. That I had to shell out a further £212 for a VHS player only added to my invidious distress.
This Lady of Dark is called Miss Dorothy L Dickstein—if you ever come across this old crone, beware. She is the devil.
Anyway, as Klarman says, always have a margin of safety. Despite the pain I’ve been through I now hold two assets whose value will grow over time. Her’s is perishable.
October 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
There is a famous saying-
Sotheby’s will launder your sins for you.
Just today I was strolling round one of the London galleries glancing at the various pieces on show, distracted, rejected, ejected by the atropaic green dot—that is the green dot saying “sold.”
As my own eye shifted warily from piece to piece, I was struck with one thing. How ludicrously expensive it all was. Something’s wrong when you’re paying £1 million for a Taylor Shinbone eggbox.
But it had all been bought by fellow hedge funders.
Waking out of the gallery on this cold and frosty Autumn afternoon, my main take away from the experience is that art continues to increase in price even as the rest of the market shuffles towards the abyss. Why?
It is impossible for a canvas brushed with paint, a marble statue with no arms or a steel and metal monolith with upraised girders in the shape of tubes and a mesh world signifying banker’s excess, to have an intrinsic value of a hundred million dollars. These are not tangible assets like those of a company, say, for example, VW.
For hedge funders, the value of art it isn’t governed by tangible assets. But by jealousy and desire.
Art is an object that provides social currency today. It knits together a select group of global nabobs and those who want to be seen sharing economic and cultural rank with them. They gain from it a thin veneer of respectability that they plaster all over their faces like stage make up.
Look at the Qataris. Who took them seriously until they bought that Cezanne? I knew they had money, but did I know they were going to use it like that? Fuck.
This currency of art gives you access to the dominant economy. It’s a symbol of your membership of a global class of the world’s elite. In the cold nuclear freeze of economic crisis, it is far less important that it can be bought or sold but that you have it. People will follow you, regardless. For the man with the last Leonardo is vinci. In the land of the blind, the trompe l’oeil is king.
Anyway read the next excursion of “Anatomy” here.
September 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
What is a crisis? Is it losing a leg? An arm? An arm and a leg? Being the biggest investor in Glencore? Or is it being unable to afford your next car? Or maybe it’s your mortgage payment going into arrears?
The Greek word krino meant separate, judge or decide, and from it came the nouns krites “judge” – from which we get critic, and kriterion, a test to judge by.The related word “krisis” signified the preference of one alternative over another. The Day of Judgement is hemera kriseos. Most commonly, in English, the word signifies the climax of a disease. The point after which the patient recovers, or does not.
In 2008 the “crisis” involved a minor reshuffling of finances. It was a wound which led to a small death (cf Lehman). But the patient at large got up and recovered. Civil unrest, mass fomentation and revolution–these did not happen. Governments were not overthrown. High net worth wealth rose.
Now talk comes of another crisis, another disease, brought to us by the circling winds. China is battered and our Great Yellow Hope is going belly up. Greece, the cradle of all Western civilisations, falters. The Middle East remains a hotbed of infamy. And the Fed might raise rates.
But no, none of these constitute a crisis, dear readers. What is the real crisis? It’s the crisis that never ended. Debt.
Since 2008 debt to GDP levels have not shrunk. From Q4 2007 to Q2 2014 the global amount of debt outstanding increased from $142 trillion to $199 trillion. Household debt has grown at annual compound rates of 2.8%. Government debt is up 9.3% acr. It is a global credit bubble. And this is bigger than the last one.
But why are you getting so technical, Tim. This isn’t like you. We want to hear more about girls and murders.
Well let me ask you this–if it was debt that got us into trouble the last time, then what will happen now? This crisis is about not being able to afford your next meal. Not having a bed to sleep in overnight. Not being able to clothe your baby. It is a sickness, a disease, a lingering malady from which there will be no revival. Our real hemera kriseos. And if that doesn’t lead to murder then what will?
Change, revolution, deconstruction–whatever you wish to call it– it is coming. There are no tools to stop it.
In the meantime read the next instalment of “Anatomy” which details everything much more poetically.
September 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’ve been inundated with press calls. Bloomberg, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the NY Times they’ve all been jumping down my throat. Asking about the precise mechanics of the trade. Who is this Whale. Everyone wants to know.
Although I would normally turn down request from the media actually, right now, I’m open to comment. As is:
You will soon find out.
September 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
The Anatomy of a Trader– Part II
“I glance out of at the street, where men walk around with their umbrellas up, guarding against a chance of drizzle and the blackening sky’s lit by globes of lamplight, it makes the evening vague and dark and not a little sad. Seeing this gloom my mind is truculent. Like days, nights, are sucked up into a void and I feel there’s a gaping hole inside. It seems to me like something’s missing.”
So far the comments on this have been unashamedly homogeneous. Thank you. Nothing pleases me. Except more.
September 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
A long time have I been away. Things, as you know, have not been easy. The world turns in circles, but life has never spun more quickly. I apologise to those who’ve waited days for my release. Who’ve written to me demanding how I am. I couldn’t reply. You’ll soon understand why.
The following is my story, an explanation for my absence– my memoir, if you will. I would like you, my faithful followers, to read. To witness the depths I’ve plunged. The horrors I’ve seen. The style, you’ll find, is different. In reality I’ve worked with a ghost writer. If there’s any discrepancy please blame him. But the tale is all mine. Darker and more twisted than any you will have read.
I have smelt blood. I have drunk.