The 10th Man

Keep It Super Simple

June 28, 2018

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

We have these debates—many of which you have been privy to, if you’ve been faithfully reading The 10th Man—like active vs. passive, the short volatility trade, risk parity, and things like that.

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The vast majority of people in this country do not give a flying squirrel about this stuff.

Should they care about risk parity? Maybe they would if it blew up the world—but it’s not like they can prepare for it, or even hedge. Most people need a set of principles that will help them invest in good times and bad.

But it goes deeper than that. Only about half of Americans actually have investments. Most people have more pedestrian concerns, like whether to buy or lease a car, which credit card to pay off first, and what to do when faced with an emergency expense.

Nobody gives a crap about the active vs. passive debate. Nobody. If you do manage to put aside some money for retirement, if you put it in something, anything, you are already doing better than the majority of people in the country.

If you like these debates, then you are what I would classify as a “finance geek.” And in The 10th Man, you can geek out about this stuff as much as you want. Use that big brain of yours. It’s fun. But nobody else cares.

Wall Street folks spend a lot of effort trying to sound smart. It is a great big contest to see who can blind the most people with science. I go on Twitter and see some of these dorks tweeting complicated nonsense that only 20 other people in the world can understand. And I say to myself, “Who is being helped by this?”

How is someone who is trying to better themselves by learning about finance helped by any of these doofuses blowing hot air?

They’re not.

     
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How It Started

I have been writing financial newsletters since 2008, when I started The Daily Dirtnap. Before that, I was writing market commentary at Lehman Brothers, starting in 2004.

But before that, in 2003, I thought about leaving Lehman to start my own financial newsletter. I envisioned it as an individual-oriented product focusing on very basic investing concepts along with some personal finance.

I thought I would sell this newsletter for a couple of hundred dollars a year and travel around and do seminars and stuff. I was motivated by a sincere desire to help people. I had learned a lot in just a short amount of time on Wall Street and I thought that ordinary investors could benefit from what I had learned.

Anyway, I ended up running the ETF desk and I took a different path, and I started writing about more esoteric stuff.

I still enjoy doing that, but I think about my 2003 idea a lot. I’ve been reading several of the major personal finance books out there. There is plenty of good advice. Some of it is bad. A lot of it is an oversimplification. The challenge is to pick apart where the oversimplifications are wrong, without making things complicated.

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I have a few unconventional ideas about how people should save and invest. I am not a quant—other people are better at numbers than me. I am good at understanding human behavior, which is what most geniuses fail to take into account when they write books telling people what to do with their money.

The Manifesto

Don’t worry, we’re not going to stop geeking out about stuff in The 10th Man. We’re still going to talk about inverse leveraged volatility ETFs with swaps and term structures and all that. But I have been accused in the past of baffling people with complexity.

From now on, I’m going to do my best to keep things as simple and easy-to-understand as possible.

You know, the genius of the late, great Stephen Hawking wasn’t his impossibly complicated theories about theoretical physics. It was that he could explain them in a picture book to a 10-year-old. So that’s the standard we will have going forward.

We’re also going to talk about people’s more ordinary concerns about personal finance. Personal finance is actually more complicated than institutional finance, because there are so many decisions to be made.

How much to save? How to optimize taxes? What mutual funds to choose and why? These are actually very difficult problems and stuff I find just as interesting as inverse leveraged volatility toxic waste.

And the most interesting aspect of personal finance? How it affects relationships. As you know, people argue about money all the time.

If you ever have a question on personal finance, feel free to write in to customer service and I will give you my 2 cents. I can’t give personal advice, but I could perhaps write about the topic for everyone in an issue of The 10th Man.

I’m excited beyond belief. Let’s see where this journey will take us.

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By the way, the manifesto extends to ETF 20/20 and Street Freak, although we don’t get too esoteric in either of those letters anyway. Because they both have specific goals (and because they’re not public), I get to give far more actionable information than is possible with The 10th Man.

ETF 20/20 gives you a safe-house portfolio and ongoing education on ETFs. The Street Freak portfolio aims to get you good returns while minimizing volatility.

Both letters help subscribers become more thoughtful investors. If just riding the index while it keeps going up is your thing, my letters are probably not for you. If you’re going to be an investor and not blow yourself up, you better treat it as a life skill. It takes work.

The Daily Dirtnap is a different animal, but I do guarantee you will learn more about how markets work than you will pretty much anywhere else, on a daily basis (I actually do – there’s a 30-day money back guarantee with this deal).

If you’re interested, you should come on in and geek out with the rest of us.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

 

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jandyo@yahoo.com

June 28, 2018, 4:50 p.m.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” - Albert Einstein

David Lunt

June 28, 2018, 12:52 p.m.

Good luck Jared.  I sincerely hope you are successful because this is what most ‘regular’ people really need.  Basic advice about how to invest in their 401k or whatever they use for retirement.  I’m 54 and have accumulated a decent amount of assets but most of the people I work with are 35 or younger and don’t have a clue what to best to invest in their 401k’s.  You have the potential to help a lot of people with this minor change in direction.  Give them the foundation to become a ‘finance geek’!

carl_rhinehart@hotmail.com

June 28, 2018, 10:13 a.m.

Appreciate your approach. Here’s a topic to try to present simply:
How to forsee an individual company’s meltdown, to divest or avoid in time.
(Thinking about cases like GE. GM. Kodak.
Thanks!