Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Blog! What are you thinking?

Hello reader. Let me describe for you what has inspired me to create this blog. I currently work in the financial service industry, under a license to a particular organization and therefore must remain anonymous. During the past two years, I grew more and more concerned about the economy I was observing from my office. I felt alone in my concerns since there was almost no visible sign of concern from most corners in my industry. The companies with huge financial stakes seemed to be missing in action, making no effort at describing their economic perspective in any manner that I could support. There is now, was then, and always has been the same old story of keeping "a long-term perspective" and ride this out. The firm I work with was in this group. I shared my observations with a friend/colleague who I respect a lot for his business sense and economic awareness. We discovered that we were both of the same mind and were relieved to find this out. We agreed that these times are not ordinary times, for example just another business cycle. We believed we were watching the beginning of an economic crisis developing, a perfect financial storm. We quickly decided to meet more often and discuss the results of our mutually independent research. As a result of this collaboration, when the credit crisis mushroomed in September 2008, I was already somewhat better positioned than most of my peers were. I was also much quicker to offer recommendations to move from investments into cash, at substantial sacrifice to my gross income for most of 2009. This did not help me manage my panic at the daily occurrences in the financial markets. But what could?

Since then, my friend and I continue to meet and share notes. We have identified sources of knowledge that have been very helpful and would have been very important to have found before 2008. So many financial and political leaders are using the cliche, "nobody could have seen this coming". Well, the fact is there were a number of bloggers, academics and money managers saying the crisis was developing and a few actually described the events that would unfold, in advance. In other words, they called the corner pocket and made the shot. Most notable of these people are Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at New York University who has been tagged as Dr Doom; Robert Schiller, Professor of Economics at Yale University; Bill Gross, Managing Director and co-CIO at PIMCO Investments (bite my tongue); and David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist with Gluskin Sheff and Associates in Toronto to name only a prominent few.

I now find myself, with my friend and several others, asking where do I look for trustworthy, helpful information. The answer is not suprising. Today there are many sources of trustworthy information. Just not in the customary places. The new found sources do not represent formerly trusted commercial brands. They represent themselves or in select cases, they are individuals who are allowed creative freedom by the branded entity that employees them, and therefore represent the brand too. Unfortunately, a sprinkling of that undesirable human feature, skepticism, can have an important role in this environment. I treat skepticism like brussels sprouts. Small sprouts are easily tolerated and the larger sprouts are more bitter.

And so I have come to conclude that there is a need for me to consolidate the sources I frequent for other like minded people to benefit from, to make a record of my observations and comments and to ask for your helpful contributions. My aim is to locate, organize and digest the multiple sources of interesting information I now find myself giving attention. As this occurs, I hope to see comments from people who stop by and make their own helpful observations. By the way, helpful does not require being in agreement. It does mean making your point, or contribution, respectfully to the readers here as well as yourself. Violaters will be blocked as soon as I learn how I can do that.
Thanks! Scanner