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CNBC’s Hedge Fund Trade of the Week (video)

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 2:26 am

A look at hedge fund trends, with Anthony Scaramucci, Skybridge Capital

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  • Peer to peer, financial style (Future of Investing series)

    Posted on August 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm UTC

    This post was originally included as part of an ebook that I published alongside the launch of my book, Tradestream, entitled “Tradestreaming and the Future of Investing”. The content was so good I wanted everyone to have access to it :-) .

    ***********

    What has the financial crisis taught us? What’s changed in our risk management? Our models? Nothing. Nada. The government pumped millions into the same old banks and financial institutions, practicing the business the same old way, with the same people. Frankly, politics changed more in the last 4 years than the supposedly technologically-advanced financial industry. Obama rose to power using social networks, the power of
    change and the power of the people but applied none of that to fixing the financial system. We need to use the advances in the internet, mobile, social networking and the rise of the real time web to fundamentally change the financial industry, creating more democratization, transparency, opportunity with improved risk management.

    As peer to peer lending takes off, we can imagine a world where this model is extended to everything from mortgages to currency trading. Your local mortgage provider of the 1950s, who knew your employer, your neighbors and the intricacies of your local housing market so he understood the risks was replaced by abstract CDOs with zero risk-correlation to the facts of your housing markets. Those CDOs will be replaced by Facebook and your social network who will understand your risk profile better than anyone? Why can’t corporations lend money directly off their balance sheets in real time instead of depositing them in banks, earning low interest and enabling the banks to give out risky loans at a higher rate? That is certainly inefficient and screaming for disintermediation.

    As I write these lines, I am reading about yesterday’s IPO of Financial Engines (Nasdaq FNGN), who uses technology and the internet to democratize the provision of financial advice to the “common man” and is up over 40% in its first day of trading. I read the FNGN article on Seeking Alpha who “gives a voice to 3000 contributors” who talk to any investor on the web about the stocks they own. Enough writing, I think I will go make a loan on Zopa, buy some Israel Shekels on eToro.com and tweet about it later.

    *—> Like what you see? Hey! Don’t forget to subscribe to the free Tradestreaming newsletter for updates, tips, and special offers.

    Michael Eisenberg is a partner at Benchmark Capital and has been a key figure in Internet and software investing in Israel since 1995. Prior to joining Benchmark, Michael was a partner at Israel Seed Partners for eight years. Michael joined Israel Seed in 1997 from Jerusalem Global, where he started and headed the firm’s successful investment banking group and partnership with Montgomery Securities.

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  • The real-time web and its impact on investing (Future of Investing)

    Posted on August 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm UTC

    This post was originally included as part of an ebook that I published alongside the launch of my book, Tradestream, entitled “Tradestreaming and the Future of Investing”.  The content was so good I wanted everyone to have access to it :-) .

    ***********

    The rise of independent publishers through blogging tools such as WordPress has been profound for the investor community.  With the integration of RSSCloud, PuSH, Twitter, and Facebook — blogs are now part of the real-time stream and are playing an ever large role in the day-to-day of the investors. I’ve seen firsthand two major trends that were previously unthinkable and nearly impossible to pull off. The first is the micro specialist blogger who focuses on a very niche topic — perhaps a single stock or a single bucket of previously uncovered equities.  The exposure and insight from these publishers has provided a key data point to investors, and provides content on topics that are not covered by analysts and the MSM financial publications.

    The second major trend has been the inclusion of bloggers covering seemingly non-financial content, but who are in fact informing investors with their coverage.  This trend includes fashion bloggers who impact investors covering retail, and local political bloggers who cover topics which impact energy markets, currency trading, and the like.

    Raanan Bar-Cohen has over 15 years experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in the digital media space.  Raanan currently serves as Vice President of Media Services at Automattic, which leads the WordPress Open Source publishing project and runs a number of online services including WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, IntenseDebate, and PollDaddy.
    Raanan blogs often @ http://raanan.com and can be followed @ http://twitter.com/raanan

    *—> Like what you see? Hey! Don’t forget to subscribe to the free Tradestreaming newsletter for updates, tips, and special offers.

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  • Best selling business books (NYT) August 1, 2010

    Posted on August 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm UTC

    Here is a short compilation of top investment books core to Tradestreaming (if you purchase off these links, my Amazon account gets credited a minute sum).  Hopefully, this is useful.  Some, if not all, of these titles should be on your nightstand.?

    Top selling business books according to the NYT Bestseller List (Hardcover), August 2010.

    Delivering Hapiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

    Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose -- Tony Hsieh

    The CEO of Zappos -- you know the great shoe company with kick-ass service bought recently by Amazon -- explains how focusing on corporate culture can lead to hugeness.  Good read.

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard -- Dan and Chip Heath

    I really enjoyed the Heath Brothers' Made to Stick.  Switch is made of the same engaging writing style that presents shared patterns of successful changes.  God knows I need this book in my life.

    Tradestream your Way to Profits

    TradeStream Your Way to Profits -- Zack Miller

    Yes, it's a shameless plug for my own book but it really is the best resource to put all of these strategies together and help investors become smarter and make more informed, more accurate investments.

    There is a bull market in financial content -- Tradestreaming teaches investors how to use it.

    Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

    Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us -- Daniel Pink

    Ever notice how popular business books only contain one word?  Drive is a sort of Dan Ariely/Nudge type book that emphasizes how workers crave autonomy, mastery and purpose.  The rest, as they say, is in the details.

    Rework

    Rework -- Jason Fried

    I've been a big fan of Jason's and his firm 37signals, a software development firm and couldn't wait to read about the core of 37signals' success.  Do less and create more.  I like that.

    Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today's Profit and Drives Tomorrow's Growth

    Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today's Profit and Drives Tomorrow's Growth -- Inder Sidhu

    Newcomer on the NYT Bestseller list and this one's a keeper.  There's so much in here that it's impossible to list them all but it focuses on being able to be everything at once: sustaining and disruptive innovation, existing and new business models.  It's sort of a rebuff to Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma.

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  • Insider buying trends (SINLetter.com)

    Posted on August 1, 2010 at 11:29 am UTC

    Asif Suria has done great work over the past couple of years.  Check out what he does at SINLetter.com.

    He publishes an Insider Weekend which runs down insider buying/selling trends (a Tradestreaming hallmark) and highlights specific names that are seeing significant insider activity.  Here’s the current installment.

    Insider buying rebounded last week with insiders purchasing $13.42 million of their stock last week when compared to just $3.4 million in the week prior. Selling picked up pace with insiders selling $498.22 million worth of stock.

    Suria compares buy/sell ratios to previous weeks’ activity:

    The Sell/Buy ratio this week compares favorably with the week prior when the ratio stood at 98.64 (51.13 without the AutoZone sales).

    On the notable buy/sell side, Suria calls out activity in Blackrock (BLK) and Eagle Bancorp (EGBN) among others.  Check it out.

    —> Like what you see? Hey! Don’t forget to subscribe to the free Tradestreaming newsletter for updates, tips, and special offers.

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  • How to make Betterment better (Hint: truth in marketing)

    Posted on July 30, 2010 at 11:58 am UTC

    Sometimes, it’s worth reading the fine print — especially, when it comes to financial products.

    I was interviewed by Mint.com recently about my thoughts on Betterment, a startup that performed pretty well at recent tech conference, TechCrunch Disrupt (see, Betterment wants to be your new, higher-yield savings account).

    What is Betterment?

    Well, it’s really an investment advisory service that masquerades as being a better savings account.  By removing much of the jargon (the site doesn’t even mention securities by name), Betterment removes many of the barriers to putting money in the market.  As I said in the Mint interview:

    For most people, opening an online trading account and figuring out what to buy and who to listen to, there’s so much noise out there.

    And that’s true: how many individuals really understand asset allocation, diversification, risk when professionals have such a hard time defining them?  It’s kind of like I know it when I see it.  Betterment provides a usability layer that requires only one decision point: what percentage of my money do I want in the market?  That’s it.

    Removing the confusing jargon and the pain points associated with complicated concepts is ultimately a good thing.  I can just picture my grandparents trying to navigate an E*Trade account trading screen.

    Oops, it’s not actually a bank account

    While pursuing a noble end (making investing easier for the mass majority), Betterment stumbles when it positions itself as an alternative to a savings account.  It is most definitely NOT a savings account.  Money in Betterment is split between Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), one of which will include U.S. Treasury Bonds if you allocated to that.  That means, an account holder

    • risks losing some, if not all, his money
    • will see fluctuations in the account
    • will have investment-level taxes on gains

    I was quoted in the interview:

    “They took a process that’s inherently scary and overwhelming for people and used technology to simplify it,” says Miller. “I think that’s an honorable thing. But to market it again and again, to talk about a savings account, is just disreputable. It’s scary, actually.”

    Though it appears that they’ve toned it down recently, there’s still just too much talk/discussion on the Betterment website about safety and savings.  Betterment may be a great product to *invest* spare cash just sitting in a savings account (much like ShareBuilder used to be).

    Just don’t compare it to the savings account.  At 90 basis points (.9%), it’s also expensive.

    —> Like what you see? Hey! Don’t forget to subscribe to the free Tradestreaming newsletter for updates, tips, and special offers.

    Source

    A Better Savings Account? (Mint.com Blog)

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About Tradestreaming

Tradestreaming is a community of investors learning directly from experts. I’m Zack Miller, investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Tradestreaming.com and I literally wrote the book on how to invest in the age of Facebook and Twitter. Tradestreaming is the resource I’ve created to help me become a better investor.  I believe it will help you … Continue Reading