The 10th Man, September 2019

Introducing… The Bond Masterclass

September 19, 2019

Hi everyone.

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time recently talking about bonds. 

How to Talk to Your Parents about Bonds

September 12, 2019

Baby boomers, man.

Before I begin, a good rule of thumb for anything I write: don’t take anything personally.

The Bond Q&A

September 5, 2019

I’m pretty sure this is the first ever Q&A issue we’ve done in The 10th Man. Since I started the Bond Series, a not insignificant number of emails have been landing in my inbox, week after week.

How to Build a Bond Portfolio

August 29, 2019

Since I started this 10th Man bond series, you guys seem to be split broadly into two camps.

Bonds and Bond Funds

August 22, 2019

Do I buy individual bonds or bond funds?

Dispatches From Bond-Land

August 15, 2019

By this point, you have probably heard that $15 trillion of bonds are trading with negative yields, which represents 25% of all sovereign bonds outstanding. Lots of people are indignant about this—but it’s no use getting mad at the market.

Take Small Bites

August 8, 2019

The first thing I read about investing wasn’t actually a book. It was a pamphlet that I got somewhere, 23 years ago.

Interest Rates Are Low

August 1, 2019

Interest rates are currently low. That was by far the biggest concern mentioned in the bond survey. People are drowning in worry about low interest rates and their effect on bonds. So let’s address that.

Survey Says

July 25, 2019

Thousands of you took my bond survey (thank you for doing that).

Many of you have been very naughty.

Shiny Rocks

July 18, 2019

I have always secretly wanted to work at a precious metals bullion dealer. I love gold. And silver and platinum. I love them philosophically, and I also just like shiny rocks.

But if you think about it, trading metals is a really weird business.

The Curious Case of the ZIRP NIRP Gold Bugs

July 11, 2019

President Trump recently nominated Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She is the United States director for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which I had never heard of until her nomination.

The Trump Train

June 27, 2019

Newsletter writers invite terrible peril when they mention Trump in an issue. He’s the most polarizing figure of all time. If you say something good about him, half of your readership will hate you. If you say something bad about him, the other half will hate you. It is a no-win situation. So newsletter writers, myself included, never write about him.

Yes, the Personal Finance Industry Is a Scam

June 20, 2019

I’m bouncing off of Kashana Cauley’s mini-rant in GQ about Suze Orman and the personal finance “industry” in general.

Piece of Crap Car

June 13, 2019

I have a new focus on dumb news. My new analyst, Joe Jones, spends an hour or two a day searching for the best in dumb news. I also think that USA Today is the best newspaper in the world. There is wisdom in idiocy.

Picking up Nickels in Front of a Steamroller

June 6, 2019

Income investing is hard.

Recessions Are Forbidden

May 30, 2019

We haven’t had a recession in a while in the United States. The last one was pretty bad, so it stands to reason we might want to avoid a repeat of that experience.

The F9 Problem

May 23, 2019

When you check your brokerage statement, how does it make you feel?


May 16, 2019

I want to talk about today is the concept of abundance, where there is always more than enough in your life. You have enough for the basics—food, clothes, a roof over your head. You have enough for some luxuries—a nice watch, a nice car, some toys. And you have enough that you can give lots of it away.

Retirement Idiots

May 9, 2019

Uncle Sam doesn’t give out too many freebies when it comes to tax time, except in the form of retirement plans.

Marriage and Money

May 2, 2019

People fight about money all the time. It has been quantified. A third or more of all arguments in marriages are about money.

I Will Never Retire

April 25, 2019

The inspiration for this week’s 10th Man came from Tyler Cowen’s book excerpt in the New York Post, titled “Why Capitalism Is Good For Your Health.” I suggest you read it.


April 18, 2019

It’s a holiday week, and the markets aren’t even moving a centimeter, so we’re going to do a little navel-gazing.

The Long Right Tail

April 11, 2019

Portfolio strategies like Modern Portfolio Theory and others tend to assume that market returns follow a normal distribution.

An End to Class Warfare

April 4, 2019

There is a lot of talk about socialism in the United States—much of it coming from people who are pretty well-off, relatively speaking.

People Watching from Mars Are Scratching Their Heads

March 28, 2019

Lot of strong feelings on gold. Some people think it has no utility and people only like it because it’s shiny. Other people have pretty reasoned arguments about how gold maintains purchasing power across the centuries.

I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

March 21, 2019

When properly motivated, people are capable of saving and investing. Almost nobody is motivated to do it at age 23. Pretty much everyone, at some point in their life, will end up in catch-up mode.

The Optimization Trap

March 14, 2019

You have some money. Do you pay down the mortgage, or do you invest in the stock market?

How Much Do You Need To Retire? Use The 30% Rule

March 7, 2019

How much money do you need to retire? Stop trying to think about retirement in terms of absolute numbers. It is all relative.

What Comes After a Trillion?

February 28, 2019

Headline in Bloomberg the other day: “Millennials Are Facing $1 Trillion in Debt.”

The Good News About Consumer Debt

February 21, 2019

I saw a headline last week:

“More Americans Are Behind On Their Car Loans Than Ever Before”

A Balanced Budget

February 14, 2019

The Green New Deal is silly and isn’t worthy of our attention. The broader point it makes—that we can have anything we want if the Federal Reserve extends credit—is.

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

February 7, 2019

Somewhere in the last 30-40 years, we have become economically illiterate.

How Not to Be Stressed About Money

January 31, 2019

People get really stressed out about money. Money makes people cry! Money causes people to lose sleep. Money causes marriages to hit the skids.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

January 24, 2019

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was signed into law by the Bush Administration in 2007. The idea was to give financial relief to people who had spent a lot of money on higher education, but chose to work in less financially-rewarding jobs. This included people at any level of government service, including 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations.

Which Debt Do You Pay off First?

January 17, 2019

Let’s say you are trying to get out of debt. What debt should you pay off first?

Get Your Act Together

January 10, 2019

I saw an interesting stat the other day.

According to Axios, “5% of Americans with checking accounts rack up more than 50% of all the country’s overdraft and bounced check fees.”


January 3, 2019

Buying a car is a pretty terrible experience. The last car I bought was in August of 2017—it took about six hours, the salesman was a bit like the pool boy in Extract, and I had to sit through the extended warranty rigamarole.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

December 27, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant busted his ass all year growing some grain to store for the winter, while the grasshopper was laying about, playing the fiddle.

We Are All Interest Rate Traders Now

December 20, 2018

I have said this before: the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is the greatest financial innovation of the 20th century. Perhaps of all time.

Unrealistic Return Assumptions

December 13, 2018

There is no shortage of stupid people tricks in the financial markets, but probably the worst thing people can do is to have unrealistic return assumptions.

Tipping for Dummies

December 6, 2018

Tipping is a personal finance topic that does not get a lot of attention. In fact, most personal finance experts turn people into lousy tippers. After all, if you go out to eat 500,000 times, and you stiff the server for $2 each time, you will have $1 million and can retire at age 35 and eat canned peaches. Or something like that.

The Smell of Money

November 29, 2018

I am the child of two public servants. Growing up, I thought making $80,000 a year was a big deal.

Use Your Imagination

November 15, 2018

The main problem with most investors is that they have a very small imagination.

Mutual Funds vs. ETFs

November 8, 2018

My name is Jared Dillian, I used to be a big deal in the ETF industry. And I’m here to tell you to that I like open-end mutual funds better than ETFs—mostly because ETFs are misused.

Do I Need a Budget?

November 1, 2018

Even though I am not high on budgets, I am high on radical saving, so I like a simple heuristic such as save as much as humanly possible or save until it hurts.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

October 25, 2018

Occasionally, friends or family want to borrow money. How should you handle this?

Financial Codependence

October 18, 2018

The goal is to be financially independent, right? By “independent,” we mean: not dependent on another person or another entity for our financial well-being.

The Great Rebalancing

October 11, 2018

A friend of mine from a former life resurfaced and asked if I would look at his portfolio, which I was happy to do.

Karmically Speaking

October 4, 2018

Let’s explore one of the most sensitive subjects in personal finance:

Charitable giving.

What Should My Asset Allocation Be in Retirement?

September 27, 2018

This question needs to be addressed, especially after a long bull run in the stock market. It was also asked a lot in the personal finance survey you guys filled in.

Semper Gumby

September 20, 2018

I have a huge desire for liquidity. Above and beyond the discussions we already had about cash.

The Horror of Passive Income

September 13, 2018

Passive income is an illusion that people will pursue until insanity or death.

Till Death Do Us Part

September 6, 2018

If one person in a marriage is a CF and the other is a high roller, you might say they have different philosophies on money.

Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich? (Part 2)

August 30, 2018

Last week, we said we were going to talk about prepaying mortgages. So let’s talk about prepaying mortgages.

Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich? (Part 1)

August 23, 2018

Is your home an investment?

Some say yes.

Some say no.

CFs and High Rollers

August 16, 2018

The following are both true statements:

  • You should save until it hurts.
  • Money is meant to be enjoyed.

Debt Is the Enemy (Part 2)

August 9, 2018

Let’s think about what debt is, philosophically speaking.

Debt allows you to enjoy a higher standard of living today, at the expense of having a lower standard of living tomorrow.

Debt Is the Enemy (Part 1)

August 2, 2018

Debt is bad. The interest you pay is unproductive. It is flushing money down the toilet. Flusssssshhhhhhhhh.

The Things You Can Do With Cash

July 26, 2018

First, we are going to talk about actual hard currency. I am an advocate of having more.

They Give You Cash, Which Is Just as Good as Money

July 19, 2018

Let me uncomplicate things for you. For the majority of people, all you need is a bank account. And yes, majority means >50%.

Bigger Better Faster Stronger

July 12, 2018

Last week we talked about wanting to make money. Let’s say you have the desire. How do you go about doing it?

You Have to Want It

July 5, 2018

Most people want more money. More money is better than less money, right? That is the conventional wisdom.

Keep It Super Simple

June 28, 2018

We Wall Street folks are the world’s most out-of-touch people.

The Allegory of the Sandwich

June 21, 2018

Donald Trump is proposing really big tariffs, and the stock market doesn’t like it.

Speechless in Seattle

June 14, 2018

Seattle is being mismanaged. Readers from Seattle probably know what I am talking about. Conservatives (I suppose you could include me in that category) would say that Seattle’s city government will send them down the path of Detroit, but I think it’s a little more complicated than that.

Next to Normal

June 7, 2018

All we get is whining and complaining from the bears all the time. What is it they want?

Wall Street Fired Too Many People

May 31, 2018

Everyone knows that Toys “R” Us went bankrupt. Very sad. And largely preventable (we will save the private equity conniption for another week).

When Rates Go Up, Stuff Blows Up

May 24, 2018

I’ve said the title of this issue a few times before in The 10th Man. When rates go up sharply, stuff blows up, because lots of people are negatively exposed to higher rates.

The Liquidity Problem

May 10, 2018

Individual investors generally don’t think about liquidity. You send a market order for 200 shares of something, it gets filled instantaneously, no problem.

The Taxi Driver

May 3, 2018

I read a study once that showed that cab drivers usually go home at the end of their shift. Given the opportunity to keep driving and make more money, they almost never do. Once they put their 8 hours in, they are done and they go home.

Double Leaning Jowler

April 26, 2018

The conventional trading wisdom is that you’re supposed to add to winning trades and cut losing ones.

A Below Average Market Call

April 19, 2018

Back in June of last year, I called the top of the stock market. Right here. As you know, it was not the top. The top happened about seven months (and 16%) later.

Bull Market Music

April 12, 2018

In 1999 I was driving back and forth between school, the trading floor, and work. I had a CD Discman that I hooked up through one of those adaptor things to the cassette player in my 1995 Toyota Tercel. The Discman and a bunch of miscellaneous CDs sat on the passenger seat, and if I hit the brakes, all of it would go crashing onto the floor

Human Behavior

April 5, 2018

There are few things better than 1990s-era Bjork. Every late-wave Gen Xer’s crush. With the passage of time, she gets better and better. Her song Human Behavior should get you warmed up for this week’s issue.

Peninsula College

March 29, 2018

If you are a trader, you love volatility. You need things to move around a lot, so you can buy low and sell high, and buy low and sell high, and do it over and over again. This seems obvious.

Lucky Rabbit’s Foot

March 22, 2018

First, thanks for all the comments you sent about last week’s video issue of The 10th Man. I’m glad so many of you found it helpful. Normal service resumed this week, so let’s talk… baseball!

When the Trend Is No Longer Your Friend

March 15, 2018

Special edition this week—the first-ever video issue of The 10th Man!

Angry Analytics

March 8, 2018

Usually I don’t put explicit trade ideas in The 10th Man, because, well, you should pay for ‘em! This idea is free, so it is probably worth what you paid for it.

Generation Gap

March 1, 2018

There is a generation gap in finance. You might immediately think of Neil Howe’s work on generational studies, with Generation X and Millennials, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

Hedge Fund Guys

February 22, 2018

Hedge fund guys aren’t well-liked, which I find interesting. Most people don’t even know what a hedge fund is. And if they knew, they probably wouldn’t care. Who cares about running money for Richie Rich?

The Return of Porkulus

February 15, 2018

As most of you know, I used to be in the Coast Guard. I served from 1992-2001, closely coinciding with Bill Clinton’s time in office.

You Can’t Unring the Bell

February 8, 2018

Let’s talk about the crash, or the mini-crash, or the dislocation, or whatever you want to call it. Six percent intraday is getting close to crash territory, especially when you’ve seen no volatility over the last two years.

There Won’t Be Three Rate Hikes This Year

February 1, 2018

Now would be a good time to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already, because stuff is about to get real.

The Nifty 500

January 25, 2018

There was a big bull market in the early 1970s, led by a group of fifty large cap stocks known as… drum roll… the “Nifty Fifty.”

Memories from the Last Bubble

January 18, 2018

Longtime readers know my timeline by now. I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1996, went to sea for two years, and then settled in the San Francisco Bay Area to work on the Coast Guard Pacific Area staff and go to grad school.

Stock-Picking Contests

January 11, 2018

This is a story I have never told before and will never tell again.

The Beginning Of Your Investing Career

January 4, 2018

I got a call from my former assistant a few weeks ago—she’s off working at an accounting firm, after successfully completing a year of service at The Daily Dirtnap. She’s saving real money for the first time, in her 401(k), and wanted to know what to invest in.

2018’s Number One Risk

December 21, 2017

To find the market’s biggest weakness, a good place to look is at the most crowded movie theater with the smallest exit.

The Upward Sloping Demand Curve

December 14, 2017

Demand curves are usually downward-sloping because people will buy more of a product when it is cheaper and less of it when it is more expensive.  See, you just passed 11th grade Economics.

Nature or Nurture

December 7, 2017

Some people are better with money than others. Is it nature or nurture?

The Ant and the Grasshopper

November 30, 2017

I’m sure you’ve heard the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant busted his ass all year growing some grain to store for the winter, while the grasshopper was laying about, playing the fiddle. When winter came around, the grasshopper had no food, so he went to the ant’s house to beg for some. The ant told him to beat it, and the grasshopper starved to death. The end.

Pay Down Your Mortgage

November 16, 2017

The latest issue of Street Freak came out on Tuesday. Street Freak is a bit of an aggressive stock-picking newsletter, where we come up with a new idea every month. I try to keep the ideas a secret—if you want them, you have to subscribe! But I’m going to let you in on this month’s idea for free. Are you ready?

The Evidence Is Piling Up

November 9, 2017

I have been a bond bear for a while. Back in the summer of 2016, I spoke at a small conference out in San Diego. My topic: how interest rates were going to go up.

The Powell of Positive Thinking

November 2, 2017

Jay Powell has been named the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Provided he survives the confirmation process, it is a done deal.

Long the World

October 26, 2017

I am going to melt your brain today. Vanguard has an ETF that allows you to get long world stock markets. The ticker: VT.

The Hard Way is the Right Way

October 19, 2017

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six weeks talking about ETFs.

Was It Worth It?

October 12, 2017

On the grand scene of financial innovations, the exchange-traded fund was fairly innocuous at first. It took a good 15 years of slow realization for people to figure out how disruptive they would ultimately be. “Exchange-traded fund” isn’t even a very good name, since closed-end funds were also exchange-traded.

What the Hell Does “Smart Beta” Mean?

October 5, 2017

My first encounter with a smart beta ETF was a WisdomTree product over ten years ago. As you may know, WisdomTree uses index weighting methods other than market capitalization for its ETFs. This one in particular was weighted by earnings or dividends—I can’t remember.

Throwing Wet Paper Towels Against the Wall

September 28, 2017

There are currently about 2,000 ETFs in existence. Many of them are useless.

Nothing Costs Nothing

September 21, 2017

As you might have heard, there is a massive price war going on in ETF-land. Issuers are falling over themselves in the race to the bottom in fees.