Thursday, March 6, 2008

Its Thursday already

This week has been a blur.

Last week was pretty intense out in Phoenix. It was awesome meeting the family of investors, friends and portfolio company founders surrounding Knight's Bridge Capital Partners and Lindzon Capital Partners.

They were an awesome group. I can only hope that my circle of friends is as much fun in 15 years when I am 40. My hope is that we all have kids and that we aren't boring by that age. Anything above and beyond that will be a miracle.

I learned a couple of things out in Phoenix.

1.Its 80 degrees in late February/ early March.
2.Always wear sunblock.
3.Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Arizona are really spread out compared to New York City.
4.Never underestimate the power of golf. I sucked, but I actually had a great time playing.
5.The landscape of the Southwest is breathtakingly beautiful. I had the opportunity to check out Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West - it was Boss.
6.New York rents blow hard. I can get a new 2 bedroom/2 bathroom for $1000/month out in Phoenix with Pool and jacuzzi. The security deposit is only $300 and there is absolutely NO greedy sleazy brokers fee.

But getting back has been great. The weather in New York has been pretty good (except for a slight flurry of rain) and the weekend is almost here.

Time really does fly.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jonathan Richman: Funny and Lyrical

Last night I had the pleasure to see Jonathan Richman (guitarist, singer and songwriter) and Tommy (his drummer) live at the Music Hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

You might recognize these guys from the movie "There's Something About Mary" as the singing duo that hangs out in trees, in front of buildings and all sorts of odd locations whenever something odd happens throughout the film.

It has probably been 10 years (give or take) since I last saw that movie, but Jonathan has lost none of his vigor or talent.

There were a number of songs dedicated to artists, like Vermeer, Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso (my favorite). He was also adept at singing songs in multiple languages (Spanish, Hebrew, Italian and English). It was pretty awesome all the way around.

Its not just his virtuosity that rocks, its his storytelling capability. Jonathan crafts the oddest descriptions of events to make us (the audience) understand where he is coming from.

Springtime in New York has lyrics like "3 feet of snow on the sidewalk" and "the smell of sewage in the gutter along the bowery". He rhymes about prostitutes in Tijuana in another song (sung in Spanish) "Get him another drink. His eyes stare towards the Exit sign".

Dancing in a Lesbian Bar. Awesome. Virtual Stockpicking

The truth of the matter is that as of today I do not have one-million-dollars. It would be really sweet if I did, but what I do have is a virtual portfolio that starts me off with $1,000,000 big ones.

TheUpDown is a pretty cool concept. I first joined back in September and have spent a minimal amount of time on the site since then. My basic strategy for investing is through following trending (both up and down) stocks. Plus I look at myself as a long term investor rather than a short term day trader (that takes too much time/effort/stress).

This company allows its users to watch, chart, analyze and follow stocks, ETFs and fellow traders.

In the seven months since I first joined I have bought and sold only three stocks, while retaining shares in REITs (SLG, VNO) and precious metals (GOLD, IAU). My strategy has been simple: Find all-time highs and ride them.

Half the virtual money I have made so far has been through shorting REITs. Real Estate Investment Trusts just do not have what it takes to weather the recession in which we have found ourselves. Two years ago the housing market was seeing the first signs of depression. Two years ago REITs were beginning to reach their all-time highs. Even last year REITs were performing strong. However, as the recession is settling into the foreseeable horizon and more jobs are cut, it will be harder and harder for the REITs to squeeze out their profits.

Companies are shedding employees, companies are merging (Doubleclick/Google and Yahoo/Microsoft). These companies are seeking efficiency. That means slashing jobs and freeing up overpriced real estate. We will see these REITs and others take greater hits over the next 9-18 months as we weather inflation, sub-prime BS, globalization and $100/plus barrels of oil.

Alternatively, I have used the UpDown to model what would happen if I bought gold six months ago, before we were certain about this recession ( Can't believe that Bernanke and Bush deny any economic slowdown = idiots). I had a gut feeling that as inflation took hold, investors would be comfortable in the gold standard (why did we leave it by the way?).

The shares I bought have shot through the roof. GOLD has risen from $24.66 to $54.18 since I bought it in September (a gain of 120%). This is crazy and awesome. Too bad its not real money that I am playing with.

My virtual annualized returns are at a whopping 44.26% . I have turned the $1 Million into $1,254,640 .

The weirdest part about this service is that I can make some real money through my virtual trades. I am not sure where this money is coming from, but I have been paid through paypal $50.37 for having a good portfolio and continually checking in on my portfolio.