25 July 2012

Charles Biderman On the Markets and the Treasury Ponzi Scheme - The Speculative Life

I am not so sure the Bernanke put is dead. But this is certainly well worth watching.

I lost well over a million dollars, marked to market, underestimating Bernanke and Greenspan, and the government's willingness to whore out the public and the integrity of the markets in the most obvious of fashions once before, in the American housing bubble and fraudulent credit frenzy, whilst all the regulators, economists, and pundits stood aside and did or said nothing. Their hypocrisy knew no bounds.

I am not likely to do that again. That sort of experience leaves an impression. And I learned a great deal from it.

Traders will always tell you about their wins, but rarely about the losses. They think the wins are due to their superior intellect, and the losses are just bad luck. And it keeps them coming back for more, until most of them bust their banks.

I don't think you can really be called a seasoned trader until you have at made and lost a million and won it back again. Or more, if you are playing with Other People's Money. Most just lose.

But don't feel badly for me. I am well ahead of the game, in large part on the other ends of the same deals, both going in and coming out, and that I think is by the grace of God and not by my own devices.

I have made most of my money by taking a sound position and then doing nothing with it, not tinkering with it, or frittering it away in fees and small losses that add up over time. The mispricing of risk creates an enormous amount of transactional friction that is almost impossible to beat.

Investment is one thing, and speculation is another. One rises in wisdom by falling in folly.

The speculative life has a lot of volatility, too much my tastes now, although I have been a 'gamer' most of my life, from horsetracks to computer screens to casino tables. It is not for the money, it is for the effects of a game on a restless mind.

Although like the old dog that I am, I still rise to the hunt, just more slowly and quietly. But with much less interest, now that the markets are so obviously rigged. The Banks and wiseguys are destroying them with their excessive greed and cheating, as they have done so many times before.

When I first started trading many years ago the market was a dead fish, and no average person wanted anything to do with it. We will go back there again, if we are not there already.

As I told my son, who is going on so well at university through his diligent work and bright intellect, the speculative life is not a worthwhile use of one's time and mind, especially if I compare to to the creating of new products and technologies. Or even being a plumber, if one is a good one. They have my sincere admiration; water is unforgiving of error. Whenever I do it, it seems as though one thing always leads to another.

As Thomas More said to Sir Richard Rich, 'Better to be a teacher.' Speculators produce nothing, but a teacher can bring light to the darker corners of life.