Monday, November 30, 2015

Batman vs. Superman

Superman is a hero for bright eyed optimists and youngsters, but Batman is the real deal. He's far more human than Superman - well actually he is human, and Superman is really an alien from the planet Krypton. As a human Batman doesn't really have any powers, unlike Superman whose powers are so fantastic and unbelievable that they appear comical at best. Batman has to deal with his human limitations and fragile vigilante psyche in order to mete out vengeance on the bad guys, but Superman is never really at risk. He can crush criminals with trivial use of his powers, and not even break a sweat. The only trait they really share is that of extreme loneliness. One torn asunder from his native planet and fellow beings by a planetary cataclysm. The other driven into isolation and paranoia as a child by the tragic death of his parents at the hands of street thugs. What's the point here? Stick with Batman. He's complex and conflicted like the rest of us. He's estranged from others and alienated from society, but still wants to right wrongs and make a difference. Superman is just being righteous while cleaning up the bee hive.



Sunday, November 01, 2015

Gambling and other Myths

There are many who ridicule casino gambling by saying, "I've got better things to do with my money".  Ironically, a few of those will lose their assets through unethical, and risky venture capital schemes. Another eschews the stock market as a glorified ponzi scheme, and invests heavily in Gold as the ultimate protector of wealth. Gold has had a sell off akin to a major stock market crash. The Stock Market has rebounded nicely in recent years thanks to aggressive Federal Reserve policies, but it still hasn't regained a decade of losses. At one time owning a house was as close to a sure bet investment as anything, but we all know what happened in the 2008 financial crisis, and the ensuing melt down in housing prices. All sorts of investment vehicles have been promoted over the years with varying degrees of success. It seems that markets reel from one bubble to the next, with each bubble usually exacerbated by leverage and debt. The famous economist John Galbraith in his book "A brief history of financial euphoria" readily describes the common features and circumstances that have given rise to some famous financial bubbles including the Tulip Mania of Holland back in the 17th Century. History it seems, has a bad habit of repeating itself. 

What then is the answer to creating and preserving wealth? Forgive the following sermon, but it still comes down to a vocation that pays, common sense, diversification, and a bit of luck or good fortune in life. You also have to avoid the scammers and get rich quick schemes along the way. Greed and ignorance will generally get you in trouble, although there are many "legitimate" ways to lose money too, as already mentioned.

Don't fool yourself, investing is still gambling, although some bets are better and more informed than others. Sometimes a casino bet has much better odds than more traditional investments.  At least in a casino you can generally calculate the odds against you. There are more than a few companies that have had their stock prices drop to zero - a few of them have been Dow Index companies. Thus investing, speculating and gambling are all part of the same spectrum. Perhaps a successful professional poker player isn't really a gambler, but a seasoned investor. Things are not always what they appear to be based upon their labels. Good Luck and Good Investing.