Money Matters

Jen and Matthew

If you haven't been reading globe investor, Yahoo's or Google's finance pages, or been within 10 feet of a television while the news is on you may not know that over the last couple of day's the markets have slid a few dollars. It really hurts when thousands of dollars have been shaved off of your net worth, and companies that you once invested in are trading at lows not seen in 3-5 years.

I've always been a proponent to stop loss orders, and the market barged right through a lot of my 15% barriers. But, like an idiot, I just jumped right out of one burning car and into another one with another 15% stop loss in place, three days later: whoops, there's another one. On the plus side, I haven't lost as much as I could have, because of some covered call writing.

Everything has been flying towards the bottom. TSX is down over 11% from last week, and NASDAQ over 10% on the year. It's been great fun watching people scream about a recession, and the talking heads spouting everything from the worst is over, to the free market is over. I'm not in the boat that thinks that society is coming to an end, and I'm pretty sure we'll recover. If you peek at a nice long chart of one of the averages, you'll notice that it does move down quite a bit and even including the tech bubble pop earlier this century, it always goes back up. I have the time to wait this one out.

In the meantime, it's generating a lot of buzz. I had the best laugh about the markets when Mike showed me this video



Where the Money’s At


I've been sitting on the sidelines watching the phenomenon called the stock market, and the more time I spend doing it, the more amazed I become. This particular area of interest came from a particular financial company that I think is unfairly priced at the moment, and have been reading about what's been going on 'on the street'. Reading through some message boards the usual group of crackpots were chanting and forecasting and I found a little tidbit that I just continued to read into.

At first, it was a bunch of people hacking on Jim Cramer calling him the usual pile of names you'd expect. The people decried him for manipulating people, and saying one thing while doing another in order to sock in huge profits. The stories led me through a series of videos about naked short selling, and I noticed a commonality between some of the things I was reading, namely: hedge funds.

I wish someone would have told me about this 10 years ago. Looking at some information we can see that hedge funds make people boat loads of money. The top firms on that list at least doubled their client's money in two years, and the gentlemen behind the wheel made off with millions upon millions of dollars. Not only do I want to invest in a hedge fund, I want to run one.

These guys aren't the little market makers that spin around the bid and the ask price, these guys move the market. Some of the larger funds can buy and sell whole companies, and just the news of what these guys are doing can move stocks by double digit percentages. Who wouldn't want to have that kind of clout?


First Full Day in Europe

So Many Bikes

Morning came a lot quicker than I felt it should have. As soon as we were jostled from our sleep, I found that one of my eyes had a problem staying open. It knew the body should still be unconscious despite what my brain was telling it. I grabbed up my shaving kit, and went into the shower to wash off. The tiny stall didn't take that much getting used to, but a squeegee upon completion was required to ensure that others using the toilet wouldn't track water all over the apartment. I pried open my bag and retired my smelly clothes and started pulling out a fresh set.

It was at this point I realized I forgot to pack any pants. I remember pulling them out, and folding them into a pile. I also remember taking them and placing them in the pile of stuff I was going to stuff into my pack, but I can't remember the critical part of actually putting them inside the bag. It was little comfort that sitting on the bed back in Calgary were a couple pairs of pants and a pair of shorts. Plans were altered so that the shopping we planned to do would happen first thing after breakfast.

We sat to a breakfast of croissants with nice old cheese followed by a casual coffee. As soon as we were fed, we took the Tram to the Central Station, and had a bit of a walk about. We saw several small shops and bars, as well as a small market. Ingrid explained to us that a lot of pubs and cafes in Amsterdam have a resident cat that lives in the establishment. It was one of the small things that was pointed out to us, that you notice much more once you've been made aware. All sorts of small trivia was revealed to us. We discovered that blue license plates are only found on taxis, not that we needed the ability to find them, they cost 37€ per kilometer. We were also told that every building in Amsterdam has a gable with a hook on it over the tallest window. Since the hallways and stairways are so narrow, the only way one can moved into their apartment is to use a pulley on the hook and hoist everything up the front of the house.

We wandered about the red light district, and saw a sliver of how liberal Amsterdam is. We then looped back and caught a Canal tour where, for over an hour, we were exposed to some narrow canals and many of the sights. The expansive canal network as well as the narrow bridges and thick canal locks made me realize that the city had it's roots in defense. It would be very hard to invade a place like Amsterdam from either land or sea, and a few men could defend it against a much larger force.

After touring about for a while, I realized that living in Calgary has messed up my sense of scale on city maps. Amsterdam is a dense city, and you can cover a good deal of it quickly on foot. We worked our way into a shopping district so I could get some new jeans, which didn't take me very long at all. We had a nice meal at a pizzeria, and on our way back to the apartment we came across a casino. The place was quite a contrast to a North American casino, I would almost call it an arcade. There was no smoking, drinking or live dealers. The entire place was all electronic machines from the poker tables to the roulette tables. I couldn't even begin to fathom how much money you would make if you didn't need to hire any staff.

Back at Ingrid's apartment we planned out the next few days, being sure to include night photographic adventures, catching up with relatives, sight seeing and a visit to the zoo. Some plans were also made to allow me to purchase a second pair of European pants.