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On the occasion of the Trump inauguration

(Update: Trump may well go down as the most divisive, two-faced president in our history. Praise then insult peppered with insult then praise. Not convincing. He actually smiled – a real smile – a few times during the day. He will stand in front of a mirror for a few more hours and fix that though. What have we done to ourselves? Not me, but the conned ones.)

It is now D-Day minus one. I feel that I must write this because I fear our country is in grave danger. Regardless of the party, having control of the oval office, both houses of Congress, soon the judiciary, and a majority of governorship’s is a disaster waiting to happen…and we won’t have to wait long.

Besides running an unconventional (to say the least), campaign that brought out the worst in America and raised the fears of the founding fathers. Is this finally when the ‘Great Experiment’ fails? For the sake of my children and especially my grandchildren I hope not.

What has happened to decency?…or as the song from Chicago goes: “whatever happened to class”. Sadly, having class today is measured by wealth…in the billions, not millions, ad it is arguable that despite all his bluster, Trump is only a billionaire on paper, not on TRUE NET WORTH. This could be a major reason he will not release his tax returns.

Congress was derelict in not demanding he do so by January 2nd. Not a peep from then, until the confirmation hearings began and then almost in whispers. Where are the leaders? Of the GOP: they are groveling before this mysoginistic, narcissist that is also a pathological liar (meaning never admitting when he is wrong…about anything…and WE let him get away with it).

My wife and I have travelled extensively in Europe the past couple of years and I can’t tell you the number of people who have stopped us – on the street, literally – to say how pleased they are that Obama had restored dignity to the presidency. This followed G.W. Bush’s senseless invasion of Iraq, failing to stop ISIS in its infancy (this according to two CIA analysts who were stopped in their tracks by Cheney), and creating unrest throughout the Middle East.

On Inauguration Day, let’s not forget the fake injury of Dick Cheney so he did not stand for the swearing in, or Mitch McConnell saying on the first day that their job was to make Obama a one-term president. Regarding the first, Cheney was being disrespectful of the office, not Obama and McConnell was showing a level of immaturity as a representative was to later do at a SOTU address when he yelled out ‘Liar’ to Obama. How dare they call themselves the “Party of Lincoln”, the are the farthest thing from it.

Obama was elected with a true mandate: both popular and electoral majorities. Trump only had the electoral vote, same as G.W. Bush in win over Al Gore. In both cases, the winners swept both houses of Congress too, and for the GOP this time, a majority of the state governorship’s.

A democracy is about balance. It is requisite. In Obama’s first term the electorate reversed it’s mandate (sic) two years later, and with the newly created Tea Party wing of the GOP, made gridlock the norm. That is why the people are angry and their actions were ignored leading to the election of the renegade Donald Trump.

Let me say that BOTH parties let us down – miserably. Clinton should never have been the Dem candidate and sadly the one who should have been, Joe Biden, was still distraught over the loss of his beloved son, Bo. He would have been a ‘walk-in’ and now we are going to pay for it.

I have often said that the internet was a Pandora’s Box and once opened would never be shut again. It has done some wonderful things but it has also empowered every individual that wants to speak their mind for better or worse.

Tom Friedman wrote in “The Earth Is Flat” of this empowerment and the problem is we begin to believe what we say is fact, and followers believe it too.

So the disgusting comments Trump tweets, and even says, have become part of the lexicon. This is not what I want for America. Nor do I want a nation of ‘Fake News’. What has happened when people don’t believe what they hear or read in the mainstream media, and instead, rely in the Internet and some unseen friend on Facebook…who is perhaps not a friend at all.

Then there is usurping powers of the president while still president-elect. Talking with foreign powers, thwarting policy and relations with our allies, this is ‘unpresidented’. Yet we let him get away with as we do with all of our politicians who stray from the trodden path. There is no political downside for anything they can do, even as they attempt to weaken ethics rules, and pave the way for their return to the private sector. Wait, whoever said they should make a career in the nation’s capitol? Certainly not the founding fathers.

The sad thing is that there are at least three fact-checking organizations on the Internet. The liars say they have a political agenda, either left or right wing. But all three have a different approach yet come up with the same results. Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, and Snopes.com. Is your country worth so little you that you believe in negative statements and emails without bothering to spend five minutes knowing the truth. Worse, to send it on to your contacts without checking it out. Out of decency, when I get one of these and find it to be false, I send the link back, but only to the sender rather than embarrass them by hitting ‘reply all’ – which as a good American I should do. The good news is that it has reduced the number of rubbish emails I get…but are they still sending them to others?

You may agree with me or not, that is your prerogative, but I am not going to even watch the inauguration tomorrow. It would make me sick and considering what Cheney, McConnell and other GOP leaders (sic) did to Obama on day one, I feel justified.

My  mind is now at ease as I have done what I believe is my duty as an American.

TB

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I am not updating the blog…perhaps until next year. Merry Christmas!

If you are interested in all things wine, go to Trader Bill on Wine

All the best!

TB

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11/28/16…Kellyanne? You’re FIRED!!!

Not quite, but…

She made two cardinal sins on Sunday talk shows: first, she thought she knew

The Donald’s mind without checking in the last half hour (joke), but seriously, she claimed she had talked with him about the President-elect and he had no problems with her comments on him…hmmmm. Secondly, purportedly at least, The Donald is trying to ‘make nice’ because he knows he needs all the help he can get.

It didn’t take long for word to get out that Trump was pissed! Damn, if she leaves, is there anyone else he can grope or find attractive enough to? (“Donald, stop that…oh, okay…). That was not fair besides she is a mother of four and 49 years old…way to old for him. Note to Melania: at 46, you are on borrowed time, wheras he told Howard Stern, Ivanka was a “nice piece of ass” and at her optimum age of 35…at 45 they start walking. Good advice, no? Oops, Melania, remember when you were pregnant and he called you a “monster” and a “blimp”. Don’t worry, those are just his ‘pet’ names, right??? Right???

Word in D.C. is he is having problems filling 2nd and 3rd tier jobs…you know, the ones who do the heavy lifting, not just titular heads. Why on worth would you want to be in THAT cabinet? To save him from himself? That familiar “you’re fired!” could ring out loud and often but hey, when you’ve been elected dictator, who cares.

But this isn’t Trump Enterprises where there was no one to say that Trump Wine, and the infamous Trump U. were bad ideas…hence a misogynist, narcissist, with delusions of grandeur. But there is Congress and that honeymoon, even with his own party in control, could be very short, i.e. over before he even is sworn in?

Listen to Ted Cruz: during the battle he called him a ‘pathological liar’, no argument there because he never  backs down from a statement no matter how strong the proof. Another mark of a narcissist, because they never want to lose and his sister, the former appellate judge for New Jersey (appointed a federal judge by Reagan and to the appellate court by the evil Obama). Now he says it was ‘just in the heat of battle’. Hey, Ted, you might get that Supreme Court seat yet! Ah, but once there, in decisions he can say what he really thinks, IF he follows the Constitution, not the party.

Okay, I had some fun…factual fun, though. Now for my real thoughts (note that I voted for Clinton as the lesser of two evils since both parties let their constituents down): he has no moral compass, no compassion, cannot tell a lie…oops, truth, is crude, disgusting, and a pompous ass! He will destroy relations with our allies, and has already started by telling the Brits who their Ambassador to the U.S. should be…and he still has ‘elect’ after his title.

Ah, those poor people in manufacturing jobs and especially coal…you see, it is Obama’s regulations that are killing….killing I (he) say! Well, guess what, Donald? It’s called technology and alternative fuels (not alt, like alt-right), natural gas is an easy substitute for coal in power generation, and has fewer emissions. Oops, Donald, forgot that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. Well, hate to tell you this but solar and wind power are growing by leaps and bounds and if Congress would ever clamp down on auto industry think where we would be?

Oh, and you have truly pissed off the alt-right (neo-nazi’s, KKK, etc.) by not prosecuting Hillary, even though you have no power to try or not to try. If you think those election night and the next few days, protests were bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…and that, Mr. Trump will be your bad!

But Mr. Trump, and I hope that President-elect is as far as you go (see last column on Dec. 19th and the electoral college, aka the 12th Amendment!). You have no credentials to be president: zero, zip, zilch, yet you continue to tell the American people how it’s gonna be.

You have cast doubt on our elections, the hallmark of any democracy, by making insane comments before the election about voter fraud, and saying you will keep us in suspense whether you will challenge the election…but not if you win.

Well, guess what Donald? You are winning, and as Judge Judy tells people who are winning: shut up! You can only hurt yourself. Yet because Clinton shows a 2 million vote lead in the ‘meaningless’ popular vote and is joining Jill Stein in a possible recount of three states, you just can’t help yourself. Now you are screaming…literally, the millions of voters were illegal. That is tantamount to treason because you are once again challenging the very backbone of America and democracy that we have preached to other nations. Also, you, Rudy Giuliani, and Kellyanne should shut up about people who backed Hillary being “cry babies”, telling Clinton and Obama to stop the protests, yet you claimed to be unaware of any alt-right hate crimes that have escalated after the election and when she pressed YOU to do something, you said, in a monotone that lacked conviction: “stop it now.” Yes, daddy!

Well, I guess I’ve got it off my chest now but i am speaking as an American, not a Republican, Democrat, etc. but as someone who thanks to you has lost all faith in our political parties…perhaps that is your rationale for becoming Dictator-in-Chef.

A disgusted TB.

 

 

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11/25/16 TRUMPED! The GOP

‘The Donald’ has ‘trumped’ the GOP (Grand Obstructionist Party), and the man who let it all happen was…drumroll please…REINES PRIEBUS. But what the hey, he got his reward.

Anyone recall him saying on MTP when he was challenged for letting Trump, a former Democrat, friend of the Clinton’s, and never a ‘Reagan Republican’ or even conservative (his demeanor alone tell you that!), run ‘because we are a big tent’. Ain’t that the truth and you, Reines, let the camel put his nose under it.

Me a GOP hater? No, a life-long Republican, as were my parents and the rest of my family. Until…John McCain, went against all advisors and chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. That did it for me, and I voted for Barrack Obama…twice. This time, I held my nose and voted for Hillary, because I thought of Reagan’s deep respect for the office and Trump’s total contempt for it and for trodding on common decency AND the U.S. Constitution: the ultimate ‘Flim-Flam Man’.

Does anyone recall the Robert Redford, Paul Newman movie, The Sting? At one point, newbie Redford asks Newman why he is a con man…for the money? To which, Newman responds, “it’s to see the look on the face of the mark, when he realizes he has been had.”

You..some of you…certainly not me or the 2 million that cast their votes for ‘crooked Hillary’, as the ‘devil you know’, while polls showed many preferred ‘the devil THEY don’t know. Now that he has won, or has he…won’t know for sure until Dec. 19th…he is showing his largesse (large ass?), by saying he won’t prosecute her. Once again, he didn’t bother with the details like not being the one who can appoint a special prosecutor, OR tell the FBI and Justice to drop the charges. Furthermore, as will undoubtedly happen with all, he is breaking his campaign promises (panders!), he made to the voters, his constituents, the party, and our country. Good luck, America…you elected a liar, thief, tax dodger as ‘your’ (not my) president. As George H.W. Bush once put, “this will not stand!”

Since penning the above, in an unprecedented move, Jill Stein, a physician and the Green Party candidate, has raise funds for a recount in those three three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida). So while the odds of 21 ‘renegade’ electors is slim, the odds are diminished by a possible change in the electoral vote.

Recall Trump being gracious in victory…always easy even for him, although he still was unconvincing when Leslie Stahl asked him to tell his supporters to stop with the racist and ethnic violence. Instead, he said he was ‘unaware’ of that even though he is a junkie on social media. So what did he say? Nothing of note ending with “stop it”. Stop it? Not Stop It! or the more appropriate, STOP IT…IMMEDIATELY!!! That is what parents tell their kids, right?

Thus there are two possibilities, one of which would result in Clinton being named President, and one in which the GOP House would select the President…hopefully not Trump but a more responsible, realistic individual…or even Pence. Time will tell, but remember, you heard it first hear IF it does happen.

Hopefully, based on his telling the UK who their ambassador to the U.S. should be which is totally unacceptable for a sitting President, let alone a President-elect. The furor it started in the House of Commons was not a pretty sight, especially their statements about the man’s racism. There seems to be a common thread on racism, doesn’t there?

Meanwhile the stock market is at record highs, but after the first surge not convincing and certainly not all sectors…especially bonds, the largest market in the world!

Hope you and your family were able to have a political free zone for Thanksgiving and that it was a good one for all.

Trader Bill

 

 

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11/23/16 The world according to Trump

Despite his BOLD statements we see a man who must rely on being outwardly aggressive in order to get his point across. To me, this alone disqualifies him as a presidential choice. His behavior in the debates (sic) was deplorable.

Then there was his disrespect for the Constitution on presumption of innocence in calling her “crooked Hillary” – even in the debates, and then adding “lock her up”! This incited the extremist ‘lunatic fringe’ much the way Adolph Hitler appealed to thugs. In addition to Clinton, who he formerly proud to claim as a friend, he has incited violence and hate messages to blacks, latinos, muslims, and jews (in this regard it is ludicrous that he tell the UK who their ambassador to the U.S., and it is one who has a record of racism per the House of Commons, and remember he is not even President yet. As the last missive stated, that could change on Dec. 19th, as a recount is being recommended by statisticians in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida (where the average margin of victory for either side has been just over 11,200 and in 2000 Bush ‘was declared the winner’ by just 363, an incredibly strong argument against winner take all electors!).

Are we so desperate for reform we have elected a man who never made a totally true statement during the primary and presidential periods, who had over 50% flaming lies, and has appealed to the worst elements of society as well as those who have been hurt by the economy (perhaps Hillary’s biggest blunder was taking them ‘deplorables’ which was a gross insult but pales in comparison to the names Trump has called some vets, gold star families, and those listed in the above paragraph?

But perhaps the worst thing is his selection of associates and now a cabinet of people who are against the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. But let’s get back to his statements on policy:

  • “I will build a wall and Mexico will pay for it, gladly.” – the only way he can do that is to withhold remittances to Mexico who would undoubtedly cancel theirs and along with his other assaults lead to trade wars.
  • “She voted to invade Iraq.” – hello? If you recall in Desert Storm, Dems voted against it and were accused of not being loyal in the next election. By the second Gulf War, they had learned their lesson when Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, lost Condi Rice’s support and caved, further he took their erroneous (putting it politically) intelligence (sic) and presented it over opposition from the two CIA analysts who prepared the talking points (they were changed by Cheney who was itching to invade Irag and that is what brought about the growth of ISIS which was in its infancy: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/announcement/on-may-17-frontline-investigates-the-secret-history-of-isis/ This overriding of a CIA plan that would have destroyed it, upset the balance of power in the entire Middle East, and we are paying for that hubris today. But blame Hillary and other Dems for voting for it?
  • “Believe me…: Whenever Trump says this he is starting to tell a lie, believe me!
  • “Greatest…people love me…I know more about ISIS then the generals…all politicians are stupid (since those in the GOP backed him, I will give him that)…I have a secret plan…” the list goes on and on…and they listen to him and trust him. Even when confronted with proof that he is wrong, he sidesteps it and never admits to being wrong…that is a trait of a narcissist…do you think he is?
  • “The election is rigged” – I am beginning to think he is right since he is winning  – so far at least, despite Hillary leading in the popular vote now by 2 million votes! What does this say about a man who will have to swear to defend the Constitution?
  • “I may challenge the results…I’ll keep you in suspense…I won’t challenge it if I win” WTF! This is a man running for the highest office in the most powerful nation in the world, good grief!

Okay, the election is past and he has chosen his 16-person transition team (4 of whom are his kids and son-in-law). His appointment of Bannon to a non-cabinet position thus not requiring Senate confirmation, and most of his others thus fare give little comfort to those who voted against him – and I suspect members of his own party. It is sickening to see people like Newt Gingrich reverse all of his stances in direct conflict with his own writings, and I won’t even touch Rudy Giuliani, who sounds more unstable by the day.

The point is that the world according to Trump is a very fluid world as his financial career has been, by a very vindictive man. Will he prevail? Only time will tell.

Trader Bill

 

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7/23/16 – what this election means to me

It has been 7 months and one week since my last post on this blog. Last week’s GOP Convention however brought me out of my reverie…it is NOT political as I have no love for either party and promise to do this again after the Dem’s have their confab.

Trader Bill

Old Folger’s Coffee ad: “as coffee merchant, John Arbuckle would say, “you get what you pay (vote) for” – or not!

Not long ago, my wife, Mb, had a thought due to some of the weird things Trump was doing: maybe he WANTS to LOSE this election? Could it be that since he didn’t think he had a chance it is now weighing on him of how long he will be out of commission, tied down to the Trump White House in D.C.?

At first, I thought naw, that is absurd with his monstrous ego that needs constant attention. But the more I thought about it and after watching  Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s…er…Trumps for three nights of ‘how not to run a convention, it dawned on me: he accomplished what he set out to do…and more. Odds of election for him are now at 20% but consider:
1. his oldest son declared him the candidate from New York; also gave a speech. Sat with Gingrich smiling on Tuesday night; sat stone-faced while brother Eric spoke Wednesday night (wonder what Pop thought about that?),
2. Eric, as mentioned above gave a speech on what a great dad he was,
3. Ivanka gave a rousing speech, billed as the best of the convention…on what a great dad he was; went to see him at construction sites! Woo Hoo!
But what did we learn? That most likely they had the same speechwriter (the one who plagiarized Melania’s speech – note no apology for saying “I wrote this myself'” – kind of like Trump on Art of the Deal (by the way his ‘co-author’ has denounced him!
The only thing we learned in the entire Trump Convention…sorry, GOP Convention, came from an unlikely source: Ted Cruz (Joe McCarthy reincarnated)…you didn’t think I would say from The Donald did you? PolitiFact ripped him to shreds on his ‘factoids’. No it was when Cruz failed to endorse him, but not to worry, The Newt took care of that saying Cruz left out of his speech that he endorsed Trump…a new low: putting words in one’s mouth for not saying what was written in a vetted speech. Oh, but it gets better: Cruz said he didn’t because, “this is personal”. Now we might have been proud of Sir Ted for this if it wasn’t that he was posturing for the 2020 election…as all the other former opponents who ‘appeared’ to have become Trump minions.
A special place for Gov. Pence. He showed just how humble a Rep/Sen/Gov can be…nearly crawling on the floor uttering words that only a political lackey could do (nevermind the media praise on an excellent speech…nevermind because it wasn’t. It was all that the electorate is tired of: promises….followed by that “you love me, don’t you?” smile. Don’t forget he is against open marriage (oh oh, opposition to Trump AND the GOP who wanted that in the platform but Trump and Co. toned it down. The rest was pure Trump…elect him and we get the Wall as Trump predicted BUT Mexico ain’t gonna pay for it.
Then there was The Donald who had to make his presence known each and every night from that backlit one of him as he came out to greet Malania following her ‘plagarization’ speech.
But to prove the GOP has a big tent….huuuuuggggeeee in fact…they had Duck Dynasty, a kick boxer, and oh so many low-life’s made …well…bigger than LIFE! It was a show to remember: Produced by Donald Trump, Directed by his team (there is no ‘i’ in team but Trump proposes changing the word to ‘i-team’ or ‘me-team’ so there still will be no ‘i’.
Okay, now that I have covered why Trump wants to win on to Hillary. What??? She wants to lose? No, but she has tried awfully hard. On every challenge her mantra is deny, say okay but just a little, let it drag on for months, and never admit that the original rumor was true (for the record, as proven by the GOP Benghazi Report, she was NOT responsible – that friends falls on the military and Ambassador Stevens who was warned by the military not to go to Benghazi but he felt he had to wave the flag (for a last time?). But again she lied…just like Susan Rice did being briefed hours before having to appear on the Sunday talk shows. Of course, the other issue with Hillary is the one that the laws don’t apply to ‘us’ which has happened again and again, and make no mistake about it, the missing appointments in her books and records, and the amazing (a Trump superlative) support for the Clinton Foundation of which Chelsea is Chairman (by the way the rumors of her 900k salary by Politico are false and proven by the financials and tax records…you know the things Trump refuses to release).
Ahem…now to get back on point: Hillary wants to WIN…BILL WANTS HER TO LOSE! What???
Think about it: what kind of politician would meet with the AG on her own plane simply due to a coincidence landing at the same time in Phoenix while an investigation is going on? Only a very stupid one…and Bill is not stupid.
But the one that gave me this theory was his coming out a day before Hillary chose her running mate (Tim Kaine, Gov. Virginia), and saying ‘if the choice was up to me, my pick would be…Tim Kaine). So…less than 48 hours later Hillary names her man…drumroll please…Tim Kaine. Once again proving to Clinton haters that Bill wears the pants in the family…Hillary wears the pantsuits!
Has it occurred to Bill who will be 70 on August 14th, is not fond of the idea of being the first ‘first man’, but more importantly being under full scrutiny by the media and smothered by Secret Service agencies for at least the next four years…and ‘possibly’ the next eight? Bill ain’t that kind of guy so something must be done…but while offering full support (and knowledge) to his wife. Voila! He found it…prove that HE, not Hillary, will be president…don’t you remember during the scandal (the first one), his remark, “you get two for the price of one”? But that was with her being the junior…not him. If she gets sick, will he sit in for her at cabinet meetings and security briefings as proxy?
While long, I hope that was unbiased as I intended it and to those readers who stuck with me to the ‘bitter end’ (which in Naval terms means, the end of the rope…er ‘line’), I do solemnly swear to uphold my pledge (not both of these candidates have already violated the one to support the Constitutioin), of a castration…er…synopsis of the Dem Convention. But I do offer this suggestion to the Democrats: put levity (as I have attempted here), into the convention, be self-deprecating (can a Clinton do that? Is it part of their genetic code?), and do not mention the name TRUMP. Don’t say a word about them…don’t give them prime air time, instead focus on what your party will do for America. Avoid negativity, and make them love…or at least like…the party. Don’t let it be as Don Merideth used to sing on Monday Night Football: “the party’s over…”

If you are still with me, my humblest apologies, but as ribald comedienne Belle Barthe would say: if I embarrass you, tell  your friends! Joan Rivers would say similar but in four letter words.
Trader Bill 

 

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2/5/16…my introduction to ETF’s

(Note: I originally wrote this for a post on seekingalpha.com, but it wasn’t submitted and it is probably better suited to this venue. The follow-ups hopefully will be posted there.)

In the beginning, there were no ETF’s…there was no indexing. Then along came the Efficient Markets Hypothesis, aka the Random Walk, and modern portfolio theory was on its way. That led to many events both good and bad due to faulty constraints and conditions, and misinterpreting the theory.
The worst case of it and most public was by a Nobel Laureate of all things who played a major role in the development of the theory, Myron Scholes. That involved the formation and collapse of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM). LTCM was headed by John Merriwether, who had been a professor and left to run the risk-arbitrage desk at Salomon Brothers. After being involved in a scandal of fixing ‘non-competitive’ bids in U.S. treasury auctions, he decided to use his options theory and start what at the time became the biggest trading company of all time. The firm had a load of PhD’s, including Merriwether, two Nobel Laureates, Robert C. Merton and Myron Scholes, who were the experts in options theory. It’s collapse in September 1998, was the biggest in history and threatened the entire financial system . In the long lead up to the collapse, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, the ‘maestro’ took a laissez faire approach as he did with a total of three crises on his watch. However, just after he was appointed in 1987, came the dotcom bust, which he handled brilliantly. His explanation for doing nothing in the others was that you don’t know you are in a bubble until it busts. That from the Fed Chairman. Myron Scholes was dumbfounded at what went wrong, and reportedly Merton said to him, “Myron, it’s just a theory.” That is exactly what the Efficient Markets Hypotheses is.
Among the faulty assumptions in the Random Walk Hypothesis are: 1. All information on a stock is known by all market participants, therefore the price of a stock at any time is the equilibrium price; 2. There are no short trades; why did it take so long for ‘geniuses’ to realize there are faulty assumptions?
It is the very assumptions in the Random Walk Hypothesis that gave an impetus to portfolio indexing and ultimately to ETF’s. Professor William F. Sharpe, PhD, and now emeritus at Stanford University, began consulting with Wells Fargo Investment Advisors in the 1980’s. In 1986, the management was hired away by a New York bank setting up an investment operation in San Francisco. Wells hired a colleague of mine Frederick Grauer, PhD (and only one of two Phi Beta Kappa’s I have ever run across int the investment business), at Merrill Lynch. He was promised a significant bonus if he could simply maintain the assets at their current level plus more if he could grow the assets, which he did. Grauer was the most brilliant person I have ever met in 43 years of investment experience. At Merrill, we figured he would be there for a year and then come back to mother Merrill. How wrong we were.
The first thing he did was to create what I believe was the first index fund in a bank (the prior management had done a lot with beta’s). I know this because I set up the first account for him at Merrill Lynch to use U.S. Treasury Bills as a way to ‘park ‘ funds until securities were purchased. Rather than a sales force, he made the heads of five different divisions the sales force and with his knowledge of how to present a case they were all very successful. He pioneered the use of this method as a way of adding value during the month, but always back in the market by month-end, something many indexers do today (a perfect example is what happened on last Friday’s month-end which culminated in a sharp rally in the final half hour of trading with large volume on the close).
Grauer hired an executive secretary, Patricia Dunn, who he mentored and who would eventually head up WFIA when Grauer retired. She was college educated and a quick study (not just a secretary as Carly Fiorina would say who started the same way and who Dunn would eventually replace as CEO at Hewlett-Packard).
When WFC sold the fund management group to Barclays Global, Dunn became CEO and came up with the idea of the ETF. Products similar to ETF’s had been attempted in the early 1990’s but were eventually abandoned, but Dunn came up with a way to resurrect them in the form of an ETF which she developed (I verified this with Grauer, who said the idea was all hers). Using sales techniques that had been designed by Grauer, a force of institutional salesmen was formed in 2000 to educate investment managers on the use of ETF as a tool in portfolio management. ETf’s were off and running!
As head of the fixed income department at a San Francisco investment advisor, one of my colleagues handed me a notice he had received on the new fixed income ETF’s which I was unaware of but called them. They were under the name iShares and I arranged a meeting with a representative and was sold on it right then. Later, I was invited to participate in a focus group on them and found that already some managers were using them for 100% ETF portfolios.
The attraction for small advisors was cost. Less money and resources spent on research and much lower transaction costs to develop a portfolio. Larger advisors, like mine, balked at the idea as they felt they were paid to ‘manage the assets’. While I tried to convince them otherwise, it was futile. I finally gave up and started my own company…one man, and made good use of ETF’s.

Part Two will cover how ETF’s work and what caused the rapid growth of them and eventually resulted in such broad acceptance that roboadvisors came into being many of them making use of them. Of course with every new product, abuses occur and funds are created which are not suitable for investment accounts.

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