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Hello, dummies It's your old pal, Fuzzy. As I'm sure you've all noticed, a lot of the stuff that gets posted here is - to put it delicately - fucking ridiculous. More backwards-ass shit gets posted to wallstreetbets than you'd see on a Westboro Baptist community message board. I mean, I had a look at the daily thread yesterday and..... yeesh. I know, I know. We all make like the divine Laura Dern circa 1992 on the daily and stick our hands deep into this steaming heap of shit to find the nuggets of valuable and/or hilarious information within (thanks for reading, BTW). I agree. I love it just the way it is too. That's what makes WSB great. What I'm getting at is that a lot of the stuff that gets posted here - notwithstanding it being funny or interesting - is just... wrong. Like, fucking your cousin wrong. And to be clear, I mean the fucking your *first* cousin kinda wrong, before my Southerners in the back get all het up (simmer down, Billy Ray - I know Mabel's twice removed on your grand-sister's side). Truly, I try to let it slide. Idomybit to try and put you on the right path. Most of the time, I sleep easy no matter how badly I've seen someone explain what a bank liquidity crisis is. But out of all of those tens of thousands of misguided, autistic attempts at understanding the world of high finance, one thing gets so consistently - so *emphatically* - fucked up and misunderstood by you retards that last night I felt obligated at the end of a long work day to pull together this edition of Finance with Fuzzy just for you. It's so serious I'm not even going to make a u/pokimane gag. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue. It's in the title of the post. That's right, friends. Today in the neighborhood we're going to talk all about hedging in financial markets - spots, swaps, collars, forwards, CDS, synthetic CDOs, all that fun shit. Don't worry; I'm going to explain what all the scary words mean and how they impact your OTM RH positions along the way. We're going to break it down like this. (1) "What's a hedge, Fuzzy?" (2) Common Hedging Strategies and (3) All About ISDAs and Credit Default Swaps. Before we begin. For the nerds and JV traders in the back (and anyone else who needs to hear this up front) - I am simplifying these descriptions for the purposes of this post. I am also obviously not going to try and cover every exotic form of hedge under the sun or give a detailed summation of what caused the financial crisis. If you are interested in something specific ask a question, but don't try and impress me with your Investopedia skills or technical points I didn't cover; I will just be forced to flex my years of IRL experience on you in the comments and you'll look like a big dummy. TL;DR? Fuck you. There is no TL;DR. You've come this far already. What's a few more paragraphs? Put down the Cheetos and try to concentrate for the next 5-7 minutes. You'll learn something, and I promise I'll be gentle. Ready? Let's get started. 1.The Tao of Risk: Hedging as a Way of Life The simplest way to characterize what a hedge 'is' is to imagine every action having a binary outcome. One is bad, one is good. Red lines, green lines; uppie, downie. With me so far? Good. A 'hedge' is simply the employment of a strategy to mitigate the effect of your action having the wrong binary outcome. You wanted X, but you got Z! Frowny face. A hedge strategy introduces a third outcome. If you hedged against the possibility of Z happening, then you can wind up with Y instead. Not as good as X, but not as bad as Z. The technical definition I like to give my idiot juniors is as follows: Utilization of a defensive strategy to mitigate risk, at a fraction of the cost to capital of the risk itself. Congratulations. You just finished Hedging 101. "But Fuzzy, that's easy! I just sold a naked call against my 95% OTM put! I'm adequately hedged!". Spoiler alert: you're not (although good work on executing a collar, which I describe below). What I'm talking about here is what would be referred to as a 'perfect hedge'; a binary outcome where downside is totally mitigated by a risk management strategy. That's not how it works IRL. Pay attention; this is the tricky part. You can't take a single position and conclude that you're adequately hedged because risks are fluid, not static. So you need to constantly adjust your position in order to maximize the value of the hedge and insure your position. You also need to consider exposure to more than one category of risk. There are micro (specific exposure) risks, and macro (trend exposure) risks, and both need to factor into the hedge calculus. That's why, in the real world, the value of hedging depends entirely on the design of the hedging strategy itself. Here, when we say "value" of the hedge, we're not talking about cash money - we're talking about the intrinsic value of the hedge relative to the the risk profile of your underlying exposure. To achieve this, people hedge dynamically. In wallstreetbets terms, this means that as the value of your position changes, you need to change your hedges too. The idea is to efficiently and continuously distribute and rebalance risk across different states and periods, taking value from states in which the marginal cost of the hedge is low and putting it back into states where marginal cost of the hedge is high, until the shadow value of your underlying exposure is equalized across your positions. The punchline, I guess, is that one static position is a hedge in the same way that the finger paintings you make for your wife's boyfriend are art - it's technically correct, but you're only playing yourself by believing it. Anyway. Obviously doing this as a small potatoes trader is hard but it's worth taking into account. Enough basic shit. So how does this work in markets? 2. A Hedging Taxonomy The best place to start here is a practical question. What does a business need to hedge against? Think about the specific risk that an individual business faces. These are legion, so I'm just going to list a few of the key ones that apply to most corporates. (1) You have commodity risk for the shit you buy or the shit you use. (2) You have currency risk for the money you borrow. (3) You have rate risk on the debt you carry. (4) You have offtake risk for the shit you sell. Complicated, right? To help address the many and varied ways that shit can go wrong in a sophisticated market, smart operators like yours truly have devised a whole bundle of different instruments which can help you manage the risk. I might write about some of the more complicated ones in a later post if people are interested (CDO/CLOs, strip/stack hedges and bond swaps with option toggles come to mind) but let's stick to the basics for now. (i) Swaps A swap is one of the most common forms of hedge instrument, and they're used by pretty much everyone that can afford them. The language is complicated but the concept isn't, so pay attention and you'll be fine. This is the most important part of this section so it'll be the longest one. Swaps are derivative contracts with two counterparties (before you ask, you can't trade 'em on an exchange - they're OTC instruments only). They're used to exchange one cash flow for another cash flow of equal expected value; doing this allows you to take speculative positions on certain financial prices or to alter the cash flows of existing assets or liabilities within a business. "Wait, Fuzz; slow down! What do you mean sets of cash flows?". Fear not, little autist. Ol' Fuzz has you covered. The cash flows I'm talking about are referred to in swap-land as 'legs'. One leg is fixed - a set payment that's the same every time it gets paid - and the other is variable - it fluctuates (typically indexed off the price of the underlying risk that you are speculating on / protecting against). You set it up at the start so that they're notionally equal and the two legs net off; so at open, the swap is a zero NPV instrument. Here's where the fun starts. If the price that you based the variable leg of the swap on changes, the value of the swap will shift; the party on the wrong side of the move ponies up via the variable payment. It's a zero sum game. I'll give you an example using the most vanilla swap around; an interest rate trade. Here's how it works. You borrow money from a bank, and they charge you a rate of interest. You lock the rate up front, because you're smart like that. But then - quelle surprise! - the rate gets better after you borrow. Now you're bagholding to the tune of, I don't know, 5 bps. Doesn't sound like much but on a billion dollar loan that's a lot of money (a classic example of the kind of 'small, deep hole' that's terrible for profits). Now, if you had a swap contract on the rate before you entered the trade, you're set; if the rate goes down, you get a payment under the swap. If it goes up, whatever payment you're making to the bank is netted off by the fact that you're borrowing at a sub-market rate. Win-win! Or, at least, Lose Less / Lose Less. That's the name of the game in hedging. There are many different kinds of swaps, some of which are pretty exotic; but they're all different variations on the same theme. If your business has exposure to something which fluctuates in price, you trade swaps to hedge against the fluctuation. The valuation of swaps is also super interesting but I guarantee you that 99% of you won't understand it so I'm not going to try and explain it here although I encourage you to google it if you're interested. Because they're OTC, none of them are filed publicly. Someeeeeetimes you see an ISDA (dsicussed below) but the confirms themselves (the individual swaps) are not filed. You can usually read about the hedging strategy in a 10-K, though. For what it's worth, most modern credit agreements ban speculative hedging. Top tip: This is occasionally something worth checking in credit agreements when you invest in businesses that are debt issuers - being able to do this increases the risk profile significantly and is particularly important in times of economic volatility (ctrl+f "non-speculative" in the credit agreement to be sure). (ii) Forwards A forward is a contract made today for the future delivery of an asset at a pre-agreed price. That's it. "But Fuzzy! That sounds just like a futures contract!". I know. Confusing, right? Just like a futures trade, forwards are generally used in commodity or forex land to protect against price fluctuations. The differences between forwards and futures are small but significant. I'm not going to go into super boring detail because I don't think many of you are commodities traders but it is still an important thing to understand even if you're just an RH jockey, so stick with me. Just like swaps, forwards are OTC contracts - they're not publicly traded. This is distinct from futures, which are traded on exchanges (see The Ballad Of Big Dick Vick for some more color on this). In a forward, no money changes hands until the maturity date of the contract when delivery and receipt are carried out; price and quantity are locked in from day 1. As you now know having read about BDV, futures are marked to market daily, and normally people close them out with synthetic settlement using an inverse position. They're also liquid, and that makes them easier to unwind or close out in case shit goes sideways. People use forwards when they absolutely have to get rid of the thing they made (or take delivery of the thing they need). If you're a miner, or a farmer, you use this shit to make sure that at the end of the production cycle, you can get rid of the shit you made (and you won't get fucked by someone taking cash settlement over delivery). If you're a buyer, you use them to guarantee that you'll get whatever the shit is that you'll need at a price agreed in advance. Because they're OTC, you can also exactly tailor them to the requirements of your particular circumstances. These contracts are incredibly byzantine (and there are even crazier synthetic forwards you can see in money markets for the true degenerate fund managers). In my experience, only Texan oilfield magnates, commodities traders, and the weirdo forex crowd fuck with them. I (i) do not own a 10 gallon hat or a novelty size belt buckle (ii) do not wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about the price of pork fat and (iii) love greenbacks too much to care about other countries' monopoly money, so I don't fuck with them. (iii) Collars No, not the kind your wife is encouraging you to wear try out to 'spice things up' in the bedroom during quarantine. Collars are actually the hedging strategy most applicable to WSB. Collars deal with options! Hooray! To execute a basic collar (also called a wrapper by tea-drinking Brits and people from the Antipodes), you buy an out of the money put while simultaneously writing a covered call on the same equity. The put protects your position against price drops and writing the call produces income that offsets the put premium. Doing this limits your tendies (you can only profit up to the strike price of the call) but also writes down your risk. If you screen large volume trades with a VOL/OI of more than 3 or 4x (and they're not bullshit biotech stocks), you can sometimes see these being constructed in real time as hedge funds protect themselves on their shorts. (3) All About ISDAs, CDS and Synthetic CDOs You may have heard about the mythical ISDA. Much like an indenture (discussed in my post on $F), it's a magic legal machine that lets you build swaps via trade confirms with a willing counterparty. They are very complicated legal documents and you need to be a true expert to fuck with them. Fortunately, I am, so I do. They're made of two parts; a Master (which is a form agreement that's always the same) and a Schedule (which amends the Master to include your specific terms). They are also the engine behind just about every major credit crunch of the last 10+ years. First - a brief explainer. An ISDA is a not in and of itself a hedge - it's an umbrella contract that governs the terms of your swaps, which you use to construct your hedge position. You can trade commodities, forex, rates, whatever, all under the same ISDA. Let me explain. Remember when we talked about swaps? Right. So. You can trade swaps on just about anything. In the late 90s and early 2000s, people had the smart idea of using other people's debt and or credit ratings as the variable leg of swap documentation. These are called credit default swaps. I was actually starting out at a bank during this time and, I gotta tell you, the only thing I can compare people's enthusiasm for this shit to was that moment in your early teens when you discover jerking off. Except, unlike your bathroom bound shame sessions to Mom's Sears catalogue, every single person you know felt that way too; and they're all doing it at once. It was a fiscal circlejerk of epic proportions, and the financial crisis was the inevitable bukkake finish. WSB autism is absolutely no comparison for the enthusiasm people had during this time for lighting each other's money on fire. Here's how it works. You pick a company. Any company. Maybe even your own! And then you write a swap. In the swap, you define "Credit Event" with respect to that company's debt as the variable leg . And you write in... whatever you want. A ratings downgrade, default under the docs, failure to meet a leverage ratio or FCCR for a certain testing period... whatever. Now, this started out as a hedge position, just like we discussed above. The purest of intentions, of course. But then people realized - if bad shit happens, you make money. And banks... don't like calling in loans or forcing bankruptcies. Can you smell what the moral hazard is cooking? Enter synthetic CDOs. CDOs are basically pools of asset backed securities that invest in debt (loans or bonds). They've been around for a minute but they got famous in the 2000s because a shitload of them containing subprime mortgage debt went belly up in 2008. This got a lot of publicity because a lot of sad looking rednecks got foreclosed on and were interviewed on CNBC. "OH!", the people cried. "Look at those big bad bankers buying up subprime loans! They caused this!". Wrong answer, America. The debt wasn't the problem. What a lot of people don't realize is that the real meat of the problem was not in regular way CDOs investing in bundles of shit mortgage debts in synthetic CDOs investing in CDS predicated on that debt. They're synthetic because they don't have a stake in the actual underlying debt; just the instruments riding on the coattails. The reason these are so popular (and remain so) is that smart structured attorneys and bankers like your faithful correspondent realized that an even more profitable and efficient way of building high yield products with limited downside was investing in instruments that profit from failure of debt and in instruments that rely on that debt and then hedging that exposure with other CDS instruments in paired trades, and on and on up the chain. The problem with doing this was that everyone wound up exposed to everybody else's books as a result, and when one went tits up, everybody did. Hence, recession, Basel III, etc. Thanks, Obama. Heavy investment in CDS can also have a warping effect on the price of debt (something else that happened during the pre-financial crisis years and is starting to happen again now). This happens in three different ways. (1) Investors who previously were long on the debt hedge their position by selling CDS protection on the underlying, putting downward pressure on the debt price. (2) Investors who previously shorted the debt switch to buying CDS protection because the relatively illiquid debt (partic. when its a bond) trades at a discount below par compared to the CDS. The resulting reduction in short selling puts upward pressure on the bond price. (3) The delta in price and actual value of the debt tempts some investors to become NBTs (neg basis traders) who long the debt and purchase CDS protection. If traders can't take leverage, nothing happens to the price of the debt. If basis traders can take leverage (which is nearly always the case because they're holding a hedged position), they can push up or depress the debt price, goosing swap premiums etc. Anyway. Enough technical details. I could keep going. This is a fascinating topic that is very poorly understood and explained, mainly because the people that caused it all still work on the street and use the same tactics today (it's also terribly taught at business schools because none of the teachers were actually around to see how this played out live). But it relates to the topic of today's lesson, so I thought I'd include it here. Work depending, I'll be back next week with a covenant breakdown. Most upvoted ticker gets the post. *EDIT 1\* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
The original guide that was recently deleted here:https://www.reddit.com/studentloandefaulters/comments/cg1fd7/student_loan_default_a_guide/ I take no credit for this post, just happened to have it saved in a document and thought I'd be doing an injustice by not sharing this information once I saw the original post was missing! All credit goes to the original author, and without further ado... Student Loan Default: A Guide I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time, and seeing that person be in $500,000 of debt and no one really helping him on studentloans, I felt it was time to summarize everything I’ve learned. While there is great information on this sub, it is not centralized. It requires some digging. I hope now to bring all of it to the surface. Definitions: Strategic Default: When a borrower realizes that he or she can spend less money by not paying a loan. The borrower waits out the statute of limitations and then either settles or waits the debt out. Shills: People who are paid to prevent the spread of student loan default information Statute of Limitations: The number of years your state requires before a debt can no longer be collected. Cosigner: The poor person who is just as legally required to pay your loans as you are Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion: A tax rule that states any US citizen can earn up to about $100,000 a year in another country and report their US taxes as 0. Fraudulent Transfer: When a party tries to move assets to someone else in order to avoid a lien on their property. Lien: Essentially when the government slaps a bill onto your property forcing you to pay off a debt before you can sell the property. Income Based Repayment (IBR): Federal loans can be paid with 15% of your discretionary income (money earned after taxes) instead of a higher, unpayable amount Aggregate Student Loan Limit: The total amount a student can take out before the federal government or a private lender stops authorizing new loans Wage Garnishment: When a court forces your employer to take out a certain percentage of your paycheck to pay back a debt Bank Levy: When the government or a court takes all of the money directly out of your bank account to pay a debt Private Loans: Loans that originate from anyone but the federal government. These loans have a statute of limitations and less power but higher interest rates. Federal Loans: These loans have no statute of limitations, the government can collect anything you earn to get these back, and they come with IBR which is manageable Sallie Mae: The worst private lender on the market. They only offer deferment for four short years. Forbearance: A period where you do not have to pay your student loans, but interest accrues. Deferment: A period where you do not have to pay your student loans, but interest does not accrue. Credit Score: A number that tells people how responsible of a borrower you are. Student Loan Tax Bomb: After you have paid for 10 - 25 years on your federal loans, you are forgiven the rest. That is considered income by the IRS. You then add this “income” to your regular income for the year and pay the tax. It can be over $10,000. Insolvency: When you are unable to pay your debts. This works well for defusing the student loan tax bomb. Public Service Loan Forgiveness: If you work for 10 years at a government job, you can get your entire federal student loan balance forgiven. In 2019, the feds are making it near impossible to collect. This could change. A note on cosigners before we begin: Look, your cosigner is probably going to be very mad at you. Prepare for your relationship to be strained. You need to try and get them on the same page as you, and I do offer a tactic here to at least shift all of the financial burden off of your cosigner below. If you decide to do any of these tactics without getting your cosigner off the hook, there could be more risk involved if you or your cosigners have a lot of assets. Strategy Student loan default is a strategy. And to have a good strategy, one must plan as much as possible. You have to know all of your options. While strategy is your overall game plan, tactics are the individual options you have to get your strategy accomplished. Below are the tactics that you can employ to beat the student loan companies. Tactics Paying Your Loans: [low risk] In the rare chance you have anywhere between $1,000 to $20,000 in federal student loans and you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you should probably just pay the damn loans. All you have to do is set up an auto debit and forget about it. It will be about 15% of your income. You really want to try and avoid consolidating if you can, because it will count against some of your IBR payments. You would also lose your grace period if you did this. At the end of 10 to 25 years, you will be forgiven all of the loan amount you did not pay. That forgiven amount is considered income by the IRS, so you will be put into a higher tax bracket. I would get an accountant when this comes. In your case, your tax bomb will be low enough where you could probably just pay it. If you want to really shake things up though, you are welcome to try either the Asset Creation Tactic or the Madlad Method below. Here is more information on Income Based Repayment: https://www.studentdebtrelief.us/repayment-plans/income-based-repayment-plan/ Default Private IBR Federal (Staying Put): [low risk] The standard strategy here on studentloandefaulters. As mentioned above, for the federal loans, it’s best to just IBR and automatically debit your bank account each month and forget about it. For the private loans, this is where the game begins. Your overall plan here is to default, wait out the statute of limitations in your home state, and either settle the debt for less than 30% or just hope they leave you alone and you don’t pay at all. From this moment on, whatever you would have paid for your private monthly bill, sock that money away. Once you go past 120 days of no payments, you are in default. This is where the phone calls come in. They will start to harass you. They will call your work, your cell phone, your cosigner, etc relentlessly. Most likely, they’ll start doing this before you get to default. As they call you, you can either just give them the cold shoulder or start immediately acting like you do not own the debt. Never admit that you own the debt. Tell them you think they are crazy and have the wrong person. Inform your cosigner to do the same. Once your loans are sold to a collection agency, wait until they call you and ask for verification of the debt. If they do not provide it, you won. Chances are, they will be able to verify it, so just make sure you never admit to the debt on the phone or make a payment. If you make a payment, you’ll reset the statute of limitations. Do not give them five dollars, two dollars, a penny. If they do sue you, show up for court. Get a lawyer if you can afford it. You have to show up to court, or they win automatically. Even if you don’t have a lawyer in court, you need to make them verify the debt. You could still lose here. If you do lose in court, go to my tactic of “The Cat and Mouse Game.” They are playing a numbers game, and if you are harder to sue than John Smith down the street, they may prey on him or her instead of you. Now, there are four states in the United States that do not have wage garnishment: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. You could move there, and if you have barely any assets, you are considered judgement proof. This means you’re not worth the time to be sued, because you have nothing to take and cannot be garnished. Moving is hard, though, so that’s a personal decision. Also, from what I understand, if you do move to these states, you can switch your statute of limitations over to their states which may be less time until you cannot be sued anymore. If you do lose and just want to stop here, you could get your bank levied and you could be slapped with up to a 25% wage garnishment until paid in full Clarification: a lot of people do not ever get garnished, and bank levies are rare (they are non-existent on federal loans). Do not let this freak you out!. I repeat this is super rare and not likely to happen. Anyways, you have options at this point. If it does happen, try another tactic like leave the country or cat and mouse below. Default Private Default Federal: [medium risk] Some of the wilder people have attempted to default on both federal and private loans in order to do a cash settlement. The same strategy above in Default Private IBR Federal applies, but realize that the US government could just step in and do an administrative garnish on you eventually. If you were living some sort of cash existence, you could potentially avoid them and then write them a money order and settle for 30% or something. This way, you avoid the tax bomb and would probably pay a lot less interest overall. If you do this and it works, I would love to hear about it. Cat and Mouse: [medium risk] So, you want to avoid getting sued or you lost a judgement? You don’t have to sit back and take it. u/nowaysalliemae has successfully avoided being sued by essentially going on the run. You see, to be sued successfully, they need to know where you work. If you get sued, move to another state, and switch jobs, they have to do the entire process over again! This means find you, verify the debt, sue you, etc. You can essentially do this until your statute of limitations runs out. And then, you dispute the debt on your credit score. They take it off at that point, and you just saved a lot of money. I decided to put this as medium risk, because moving around a lot would require some luck. Especially since you would need to work wherever you go, there are a lot of moving parts here. I think it is totally doable, and if you are an adventurous personality type, it could be a lot of fun. This only works for the private student loan side, because the US government has a lot more power. You would still IBR your federal loans on this tactic. For more information, go through nowaysalliemae's post history. Leave the Country: [medium risk] What if you want to avoid all of this altogether? Do you want a reset button on your life? You can just leave the country and start over. Seriously. Your credit score does not follow you across countries. The federal government cannot garnish your paycheck if you work internationally. You are not a criminal doing this. Furthermore, there is something called the Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion. Since you will still IBR your federal loans on this plan, as long as you make less than $100,000 in another country, your US income is zero. This means you just got a free education while you make money in another country. Once you pay zero for 25 years, you will have to defuse your student tax bomb. Tactic Below. Private companies do not stand a chance here. There are countries in the commonwealth such as Australia and Canada that are more willing to take you in if you meet certain requirements. You could teach English at a bunch of places. You could apply for residency at these places or be a perpetual tourist. A perpetual tourist is someone who essentially moves to a new country, goes to a neighboring country for a weekend, and then goes back to that new country they are trying to start a new life in*. This in no means you have to go back to the U.S. Ever. For example, you want to live in Panama forever, every 90 days, you take a weekend trip to Nicaragua. You come back to Panama after the weekend is over and get another 90 day pass. Rinse and repeat. This gives you another 90 days in your country of choice. If you make money on the internet, this strategy would work pretty well. You can just be a perpetual tourist or marry someone in another country and start a new life. This will not be a good fit for everyone, but there’s something exciting about this. If you are young, single, and restless, this could be the adventure of a lifetime. Here's more info on being a perpetual traveler and the FEIE: https://www.escapeartist.com/blog/perpetual-traveler-us-tax-code/ Suspend Payment Without More Debt: [low risk] So recently, it has been brought to my attention that there is a community college, Luna Community College (in Las Vegas, NM), that has tuition so low you could go half time all year for about 684 dollars. They have a small amount of associate's degrees. If you just want to stop paying without taking any more loans, this would be the way to do it. You could do this for many years. Luna Community College's tuition matrix: https://luna.edu/tuition_matrix Convert Private Loans to Federal: [low risk] From this point on, these are my special tactics I’ve been thinking about. They might work really well for some people. So, you have a bunch of federal loans and a good amount of private loans. You don’t want to fight debt collectors or move around. Try this. This plan only works if you have a bachelor’s degree though. Anyways, there is a special loan offered by the US Federal Government called the Graduate Plus Loan. This loan is incredible, because there is no aggregate student loan limit. In other words, you can borrow as much money as you want here. Even a million dollars no questions asked. All you need is no delinquency or default on your credit report. If you do have these things, you can get a cosigner in on the plan. They won’t ever be responsible anyways because you will defuse the tax bomb at the end. This works to your advantage, because you could go back to school at the graduate level, get a diploma mill master’s degree online, use your room and board payment to start paying off your private loans ASAP. Just make sure you are doing whatever your school considers half time enrollment in order to avoid student loan payments while doing this. Once you’ve gone to school long enough and converted all of your private loans to grad plus loans, you could just go on an IBR plan. This will at least make your life manageable. You would have to defuse your student tax bomb once this is over. Tactic below. Convert Federal Loans to Private: [medium risk] So, what if you wanted to go the opposite way? Maybe you want to convert all of your federal loans to private ones, default, and then leave the country? Hey, maybe there are reasons you want to hurry up the settlement process. You could essentially do the same strategy as above, but instead just borrow from Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo, etc until all of your federal loans are paid off. Then, either cat and mouse or leave the country. I don’t think a lot of people would find a use for this, but hey who knows? Asset Creation Method: [high risk] What if you wanted to not just pay off your loans but get ahead in life? Maybe you feel like using your student loan debt to your advantage. Thanks to the work done by u/BinaryAlgorithm, you could really come out on top here. Remember those Grad Plus loans we were talking about? Well, there’s nothing stopping you from continually borrowing all year on these loans, investing the room and board, and acting as if you do not have the debt in the first place. While I had originally said that rental property does not count as income, I cannot find any documentation proving this. You can still invest this money however you want, and you just defuse the tax bomb at the end (if anyone can find that documentation, please let me know). I did find that rental properties offer a lot of ways to reduce your adjusted gross income (management fees, advertising, etc), and these could reduce your income closer to zero. We’re not done here. Moreover, you could get a job that qualifies for Public Student Loan Forgiveness, enjoy your investments, and then pay for the 10 years. Be sure to convert all loans to federal before starting this tactic. I only put this as high risk, because the whole plan falls apart if Grad Plus loans get capped. Will they? Probably not, because those are the loans doctors and lawyers take out to go to their professional schools. It would take an act of congress to change the way the law stands now, but still, you should know that. This plan spans decades, so a lot can change. Also, having this many installment loans may lower your credit score over a multitude of years, but based on what everyone has found out here, it's not by much. For more information, go to this subreddit's search bar and type in "aggregate" and go look at BinaryAlgorithm's two posts on the subject. Defusing the Student Tax Bomb: [low risk] So lucky for you, I talked to an actual lawyer and an actual IRS agent about this. This is completely legal and doable. Okay, so you were a good person and paid your IBR for 25-30 years. What now? Well, you’re about to be hit hard with a tax bomb. All of that money that is now forgiven counts as income on your taxes. This could mean a bill in the tens of thousands if you combined this with any of the other methods here—or just borrowed a lot to begin with. Luckily for us, there is something called insolvency. This means you are unable to pay your debts, and there is a really simple formula for whether or not you are insolvent. As long as you have more liabilities than assets at the time of student loan forgiveness, you are considered insolvent. In other words, right before you are about to be forgiven, like year 24 out of 25, you would take out a loan on something. All you would need to do is buy a house, buy a car, or buy something with a huge price tag. As long as your liabilities are way higher than your assets (like aim for 100K or something more), you are considered insolvent and you don’t have to pay any of the tax bomb. Boom. The IRS agent said this is fine. The lawyer said this is fine. I cannot believe this is fine. Where could you get the money to borrow for a house? Check Asset Creation method above. You could always sell the asset after the tax bomb is dealt with. For more information on defusing the student loan tax bomb: https://lawyerist.com/defusing-student-loan-interest-tax-bomb/ Getting Your Cosigner Off the Hook: So 90% of us have cosigners based on some statistic I read. These people are going to pissed at you, because they get harassed. If you have a lot of time to plan your strategy out, you can simply convert all of your private loans to federal ones. They are no longer responsible. The plan is above. Check out “Convert Private Loans to Federal.” Furthermore, if you are attempting to go the default route with private loans, you could potentially get your cosigner off the hook by refinancing your student loans without the cosigner. After you refinance, you could just default then. You would need good credit and meet certain requirements for this. Also, if you plan on defaulting, you might want to get your cosigner to transfer their assets to their spouse or someone trustworthy. Even though liens are rare, this could give you some peace of mind. As long as about 3-5 years go by, this is no longer considered a fraudulent transfer. Your state will have certain rules about this. If you are from Florida, apparently houses are untouchable there. You will need a lawyer to plan the asset transfer. At the same time, you may not be able to get your cosigner off the hook. Make peace with that. Student loans are brutal, so all you can really do is educate yourself and your cosigner and hope you come out on top. Madlad Method: [high risk] Now, here comes my personal plan. This is what I’m doing, because I want to live a life on my terms and not really work for anyone my entire life. I’m also not a normal person, so this will probably appear crazy to some or most of you. So at this point, if you understand all of the methods before you, you are a powerful player in the student loan circus. You can do anything from fight the man to maliciously comply and bankrupt the system while becoming upper-middle class. I don’t really care for any of that. I want to go to a tropical paradise and make music for 20 years, so here is my interpretation of everything. I have some federal loans and private loans. I net about 25K a year through the Grad Plus loans, and I work about 4 hours a week in the online classroom. I take that federal loan money, and I sock away a few hundred every month to save up for my private loan settlement in about five years. Since I save 300 every month, I’ll have about 18K in 5 years when I go into default. I will settle ASAP. At the same time, I will continue to go to diploma mill universities, get master's degree after master’s degree, and move to a Latin American country where the cost of living is even lower. This way, my 25K a year puts me in the upper class of that country. I can live where I want and really do whatever I damn well please for as long as the Grad Plus loans are around. As an added bonus, I will already be starting a new life in another country where I can make connections and maybe even get married. I studied linguistics, so I know how to teach English. I can do that if I want a source of income anywhere. So there is my plan, and honestly, one day we might get someone in office who just wipes out all of this debt anyways. If that’s the case, I can just play the waiting game until all of this is over. Here are the rules on adverse credit history and Grad Plus loans: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/plus-adverse-credit.pdf Final Thoughts: Defaulting on student loans is not immoral or a sin. It is a business decision. Everyone else gets bailouts, why should student borrowers be any different? You’re going to have to ignore the people who tell you why they think you should be a good little slave and pay your loans. Those people are not your friends. Those people are not on your side. Some of the best advice I ever received in life was you have to do what’s best for you. Also, if you have anything you would like to add to this or would like to challenge, please let me know. I want this to be as accurate as possible. I will be looking at this perpetually to make sure there are no errors. Take care. Good luck. You can do this.
In order to create an account on BitMEX, users first have to register with the website. Registration only requires an email address, the email address must be a genuine address as users will receive an email to confirm registration in order to verify the account. Once users are registered, there are no trading limits. Traders must be at least 18 years of age to sign up. https://preview.redd.it/0v13qoil3cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e6134bc089c4e352dce10d754dc84ff11a4c7994 However, it should be noted that BitMEX does not accept any US-based traders and will use IP checks to verify that users are not in the US. While some US users have bypassed this with the use of a VPN, it is not recommended that US individuals sign up to the BitMEX service, especially given the fact that alternative exchanges are available to service US customers that function within the US legal framework. How to Use BitMEX BitMEX allows users to trade cryptocurrencies against a number of fiat currencies, namely the US Dollar, the Japanese Yen and the Chinese Yuan. BitMEX allows users to trade a number of different cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, Tezos and Zcash. The trading platform on BitMEX is very intuitive and easy to use for those familiar with similar markets. However, it is not for the beginner. The interface does look a little dated when compared to newer exchanges like Binance and Kucoin’s. Once users have signed up to the platform, they should click on Trade, and all the trading instruments will be displayed beneath. Clicking on the particular instrument opens the orderbook, recent trades, and the order slip on the left. The order book shows three columns – the bid value for the underlying asset, the quantity of the order, and the total USD value of all orders, both short and long. The widgets on the trading platform can be changed according to the user’s viewing preferences, allowing users to have full control on what is displayed. It also has a built in feature that provides for TradingView charting. This offers a wide range of charting tool and is considered to be an improvement on many of the offering available from many of its competitors. https://preview.redd.it/fabg1nxo3cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6d939889c3eac15ab1e78ec37a8ccd13fc5e0573 Once trades are made, all orders can be easily viewed in the trading platform interface. There are tabs where users can select their Active Orders, see the Stops that are in place, check the Orders Filled (total or partially) and the trade history. On the Active Orders and Stops tabs, traders can cancel any order, by clicking the “Cancel” button. Users also see all currently open positions, with an analysis if it is in the black or red. BitMEX uses a method called auto-deleveraging which BitMEX uses to ensure that liquidated positions are able to be closed even in a volatile market. Auto-deleveraging means that if a position bankrupts without available liquidity, the positive side of the position deleverages, in order of profitability and leverage, the highest leveraged position first in queue. Traders are always shown where they sit in the auto-deleveraging queue, if such is needed. Although the BitMEX platform is optimized for mobile, it only has an Android app (which is not official). There is no iOS app available at present. However, it is recommended that users use it on the desktop if possible. BitMEX offers a variety of order types for users:
Limit Order (the order is fulfilled if the given price is achieved);
Market Order (the order is executed at current market price);
Stop Limit Order (like a stop order, but allows users to set the price of the Order once the Stop Price is triggered);
Stop Market Order (this is a stop order that does not enter the order book, remain unseen until the market reaches the trigger);
Trailing Stop Order (it is similar to a Stop Market order, but here users set a trailing value that is used to place the market order);
Take Profit Limit Order (this can be used, similarly to a Stop Order, to set a target price on a position. In this case, it is in respect of making gains, rather than cutting losses);
Take Profit Market Order (same as the previous type, but in this case, the order triggered will be a market order, and not a limit one)
The exchange offers margin trading in all of the cryptocurrencies displayed on the website. It also offers to trade with futures and derivatives – swaps.
Futures and Swaps
A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a given asset in the future at a predetermined price. On BitMEX, users can leverage up to 100x on certain contracts. Perpetual swaps are similar to futures, except that there is no expiry date for them and no settlement. Additionally, they trade close to the underlying reference Index Price, unlike futures, which may diverge substantially from the Index Price. BitMEX also offers Binary series contracts, which are prediction-based contracts which can only settle at either 0 or 100. In essence, the Binary series contracts are a more complicated way of making a bet on a given event. The only Binary series betting instrument currently available is related to the next 1mb block on the Bitcoin blockchain. Binary series contracts are traded with no leverage, a 0% maker fee, a 0.25% taker fee and 0.25% settlement fee.
BitMEX allows its traders to leverage their position on the platform. Leverage is the ability to place orders that are bigger than the users’ existing balance. This could lead to a higher profit in comparison when placing an order with only the wallet balance. Trading in such conditions is called “Margin Trading.” There are two types of Margin Trading: Isolated and Cross-Margin. The former allows the user to select the amount of money in their wallet that should be used to hold their position after an order is placed. However, the latter provides that all of the money in the users’ wallet can be used to hold their position, and therefore should be treated with extreme caution. https://preview.redd.it/eg4qk9qr3cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c3ca8cdf654330ce53e8138d774e72155acf0e7e The BitMEX platform allows users to set their leverage level by using the leverage slider. A maximum leverage of 1:100 is available (on Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash). This is quite a high level of leverage for cryptocurrencies, with the average offered by other exchanges rarely exceeding 1:20.
BitMEX does not charge fees on deposits or withdrawals. However, when withdrawing Bitcoin, the minimum Network fee is based on blockchain load. The only costs therefore are those of the banks or the cryptocurrency networks. As noted previously, BitMEX only accepts deposits in Bitcoin and therefore Bitcoin serves as collateral on trading contracts, regardless of whether or not the trade involves Bitcoin. The minimum deposit is 0.001 BTC. There are no limits on withdrawals, but withdrawals can also be in Bitcoin only. To make a withdrawal, all that users need to do is insert the amount to withdraw and the wallet address to complete the transfer. https://preview.redd.it/xj1kbuew3cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=68056f2247001c63e89c880cfbb75b2f3616e8fe Deposits can be made 24/7 but withdrawals are processed by hand at a recurring time once per day. The hand processed withdrawals are intended to increase the security levels of users’ funds by providing extra time (and email notice) to cancel any fraudulent withdrawal requests, as well as bypassing the use of automated systems & hot wallets which may be more prone to compromise.
BitMEX operates as a crypto to crypto exchange and makes use of a Bitcoin-in/Bitcoin-out structure. Therefore, platform users are currently unable to use fiat currencies for any payments or transfers, however, a plus side of this is that there are no limits for trading and the exchange incorporates trading pairs linked to the US Dollar (XBT), Japanese Yen (XBJ), and Chinese Yuan (XBC). BitMEX supports the following cryptocurrencies:
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Ripple Token (XRP)
EOS Token (EOS)
BitMEX also offers leverage options on the following coins:
5x: Zcash (ZEC)
20x : Ripple (XRP),Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Cardano (ADA), EOS Token (EOS), Tron (TRX)
HDR Global Trading, the company which owns BitMEX, has recently announced a partnership with Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a leading international high-performance trading software provider. The TT platform is designed specifically for professional traders, brokers, and market-access providers, and incorporates a wide variety of trading tools and analytical indicators that allow even the most advanced traders to customize the software to suit their unique trading styles. The TT platform also provides traders with global market access and trade execution through its privately managed infrastructure and the partnership will see BitMEX users gaining access to the trading tools on all BitMEX products, including the popular XBT/USD Perpetual Swap pairing. https://preview.redd.it/qcqunaby3cc41.png?width=672&format=png&auto=webp&s=b77b45ac2b44a9af30a4985e3d9dbafc9bbdb77c
The BitMEX Insurance Fund
The ability to trade on leverage is one of the exchange’s main selling points and offering leverage and providing the opportunity for traders to trade against each other may result in a situation where the winners do not receive all of their expected profits. As a result of the amounts of leverage involved, it’s possible that the losers may not have enough margin in their positions to pay the winners. Traditional exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offset this problem by utilizing multiple layers of protection and cryptocurrency trading platforms offering leverage cannot currently match the levels of protection provided to winning traders. In addition, cryptocurrency exchanges offering leveraged trades propose a capped downside and unlimited upside on a highly volatile asset with the caveat being that on occasion, there may not be enough funds in the system to pay out the winners. To help solve this problem, BitMEX has developed an insurance fund system, and when a trader has an open leveraged position, their position is forcefully closed or liquidated when their maintenance margin is too low. Here, a trader’s profit and loss does not reflect the actual price their position was closed on the market, and with BitMEX when a trader is liquidated, their equity associated with the position drops down to zero. In the following example, the trader has taken a 100x long position. In the event that the mark price of Bitcoin falls to $3,980 (by 0.5%), then the position gets liquidated with the 100 Bitcoin position needing to be sold on the market. This means that it does not matter what price this trade executes at, namely if it’s $3,995 or $3,000, as from the view of the liquidated trader, regardless of the price, they lose all the equity they had in their position, and lose the entire one Bitcoin. https://preview.redd.it/wel3rka04cc41.png?width=669&format=png&auto=webp&s=3f93dac2d3b40aa842d281384113d2e26f25947e Assuming there is a fully liquid market, the bid/ask spread should be tighter than the maintenance margin. Here, liquidations manifest as contributions to the insurance fund (e.g. if the maintenance margin is 50bps, but the market is 1bp wide), and the insurance fund should rise by close to the same amount as the maintenance margin when a position is liquidated. In this scenario, as long as healthy liquid markets persist, the insurance fund should continue its steady growth. The following graphs further illustrate the example, and in the first chart, market conditions are healthy with a narrow bid/ask spread (just $2) at the time of liquidation. Here, the closing trade occurs at a higher price than the bankruptcy price (the price where the margin balance is zero) and the insurance fund benefits. Illustrative example of an insurance contribution – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral https://preview.redd.it/is89ep924cc41.png?width=699&format=png&auto=webp&s=f0419c68fe88703e594c121b5b742c963c7e2229 (Note: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments. The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,978, representing $1 of slippage compared to the $3,979 bid price at the time of liquidation.) The second chart shows a wide bid/ask spread at the time of liquidation, here, the closing trade takes place at a lower price than the bankruptcy price, and the insurance fund is used to make sure that winning traders receive their expected profits. This works to stabilize the potential for returns as there is no guarantee that healthy market conditions can continue, especially during periods of heightened price volatility. During these periods, it’s actually possible that the insurance fund can be used up than it is built up. Illustrative example of an insurance depletion – Long 100x with 1 BTC collateral https://preview.redd.it/vb4mj3n54cc41.png?width=707&format=png&auto=webp&s=0c63b7c99ae1c114d8e3b947fb490e9144dfe61b (Notes: The above illustration is based on opening a 100x long position at $4,000 per BTC and 1 Bitcoin of collateral. The illustration is an oversimplification and ignores factors such as fees and other adjustments. The bid and offer prices represent the state of the order book at the time of liquidation. The closing trade price is $3,800, representing $20 of slippage compared to the $3,820 bid price at the time of liquidation.) The exchange declared in February 2019, that the BitMEX insurance fund retained close to 21,000 Bitcoin (around $70 million based on Bitcoin spot prices at the time). This figure represents just 0.007% of BitMEX’s notional annual trading volume, which has been quoted as being approximately $1 trillion. This is higher than the insurance funds as a proportion of trading volume of the CME, and therefore, winning traders on BitMEX are exposed to much larger risks than CME traders as:
BitMEX does not have clearing members with large balance sheets and traders are directly exposed to each other.
BitMEX does not demand payments from traders with negative account balances.
The underlying instruments on BitMEX are more volatile than the more traditional instruments available on CME.
Therefore, with the insurance fund remaining capitalized, the system effectively with participants who get liquidated paying for liquidations, or a losers pay for losers mechanism. This system may appear controversial as first, though some may argue that there is a degree of uniformity to it. It’s also worth noting that the exchange also makes use of Auto Deleveraging which means that on occasion, leveraged positions in profit can still be reduced during certain time periods if a liquidated order cannot be executed in the market. More adventurous traders should note that while the insurance fund holds 21,000 Bitcoin, worth approximately 0.1% of the total Bitcoin supply, BitMEX still doesn’t offer the same level of guarantees to winning traders that are provided by more traditional leveraged trading platforms. Given the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency market, there remains some possibility that the fund gets drained down to zero despite its current size. This may result in more successful traders lacking confidence in the platform and choosing to limit their exposure in the event of BitMEX being unable to compensate winning traders.
How suitable is BitMEX for Beginners?
BitMEX generates high Bitcoin trading levels, and also attracts good levels of volume across other crypto-to-crypto transfers. This helps to maintain a buzz around the exchange, and BitMEX also employs relatively low trading fees, and is available round the world (except to US inhabitants). This helps to attract the attention of people new to the process of trading on leverage and when getting started on the platform there are 5 main navigation Tabs to get used to:
**Trade:**The trading dashboard of BitMEX. This tab allows you to select your preferred trading instrument, and choose leverage, as well as place and cancel orders. You can also see your position information and view key information in the contract details.
**Account:**Here, all your account information is displayed including available Bitcoin margin balances, deposits and withdrawals, and trade history.
**Contracts:**This tab covers further instrument information including funding history, contract sizes; leverage offered expiry, underlying reference Price Index data, and other key features.
**References:**This resource centre allows you to learn about futures, perpetual contracts, position marking, and liquidation.
**API:**From here you can set up an API connection with BitMEX, and utilize the REST API and WebSocket API.
BitMEX also employs 24/7 customer support and the team can also be contacted on their Twitter and Reddit accounts. In addition, BitMEX provides a variety of educational resources including an FAQ section, Futures guides, Perpetual Contracts guides, and further resources in the “References” account tab. For users looking for more in depth analysis, the BitMEX blog produces high level descriptions of a number of subjects and has garnered a good reputation among the cryptocurrency community. Most importantly, the exchange also maintains a testnet platform, built on top of testnet Bitcoin, which allows anyone to try out programs and strategies before moving on to the live exchange. This is crucial as despite the wealth of resources available, BitMEX is not really suitable for beginners, and margin trading, futures contracts and swaps are best left to experienced, professional or institutional traders. Margin trading and choosing to engage in leveraged activity are risky processes and even more advanced traders can describe the process as a high risk and high reward “game”. New entrants to the sector should spend a considerable amount of time learning about margin trading and testing out strategies before considering whether to open a live account.
Is BitMEX Safe?
BitMEX is widely considered to have strong levels of security. The platform uses multi-signature deposits and withdrawal schemes which can only be used by BitMEX partners. BitMEX also utilises Amazon Web Services to protect the servers with text messages and two-factor authentication, as well as hardware tokens. BitMEX also has a system for risk checks, which requires that the sum of all account holdings on the website must be zero. If it’s not, all trading is immediately halted. As noted previously, withdrawals are all individually hand-checked by employees, and private keys are never stored in the cloud. Deposit addresses are externally verified to make sure that they contain matching keys. If they do not, there is an immediate system shutdown. https://preview.redd.it/t04qs3484cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a3b106cbc9116713dcdd5e908c00b555fd704ee6 In addition, the BitMEX trading platform is written in kdb+, a database and toolset popular amongst major banks in high frequency trading applications. The BitMEX engine appears to be faster and more reliable than some of its competitors, such as Poloniex and Bittrex. They have email notifications, and PGP encryption is used for all communication. The exchange hasn’t been hacked in the past.
How Secure is the platform?
As previously mentioned, BitMEX is considered to be a safe exchange and incorporates a number of security protocols that are becoming standard among the sector’s leading exchanges. In addition to making use of Amazon Web Services’ cloud security, all the exchange’s systems can only be accessed after passing through multiple forms of authentication, and individual systems are only able to communicate with each other across approved and monitored channels. Communication is also further secured as the exchange provides optional PGP encryption for all automated emails, and users can insert their PGP public key into the form inside their accounts. Once set up, BitMEX will encrypt and sign all the automated emails sent by you or to your account by the [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) email address. Users can also initiate secure conversations with the support team by using the email address and public key on the Technical Contact, and the team have made their automated system’s PGP key available for verification in their Security Section. The platform’s trading engine is written in kdb+, a database and toolset used by leading financial institutions in high-frequency trading applications, and the speed and reliability of the engine is also used to perform a full risk check after every order placement, trade, settlement, deposit, and withdrawal. All accounts in the system must consistently sum to zero, and if this does not happen then trading on the platform is immediately halted for all users. With regards to wallet security, BitMEX makes use of a multisignature deposit and withdrawal scheme, and all exchange addresses are multisignature by default with all storage being kept offline. Private keys are not stored on any cloud servers and deep cold storage is used for the majority of funds. Furthermore, all deposit addresses sent by the BitMEX system are verified by an external service that works to ensure that they contain the keys controlled by the founders, and in the event that the public keys differ, the system is immediately shut down and trading halted. The exchange’s security practices also see that every withdrawal is audited by hand by a minimum of two employees before being sent out.
BitMEX Customer Support
The trading platform has a 24/7 support on multiple channels, including email, ticket systems and social media. The typical response time from the customer support team is about one hour, and feedback on the customer support generally suggest that the customer service responses are helpful and are not restricted to automated responses. https://preview.redd.it/8k81zl0a4cc41.jpg?width=808&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e30e5b7ca93d2931f49e2dc84025f2fda386eab1 The BitMEX also offers a knowledge base and FAQs which, although they are not necessarily always helpful, may assist and direct users towards the necessary channels to obtain assistance. BitMEX also offers trading guides which can be accessed here
There would appear to be few complaints online about BitMEX, with most issues relating to technical matters or about the complexities of using the website. Older complaints also appeared to include issues relating to low liquidity, but this no longer appears to be an issue. BitMEX is clearly not a platform that is not intended for the amateur investor. The interface is complex and therefore it can be very difficult for users to get used to the platform and to even navigate the website. However, the platform does provide a wide range of tools and once users have experience of the platform they will appreciate the wide range of information that the platform provides. Visit BitMEX
What is SynchroBit Digital Assets Trading Platform All About?
About SynchroBit.io (“SynchroBit”) is a Centralized P2P Digital Assets Trading Platform for trading all kinds of listed digital assets with both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies. SynchroBit™ is service and platform of SYNCHRONIUM LLC, and as an official trademark of SYNCHRONIUM LLC. It is a part of its innovative ecosystem, the SynchroSphere. SynchroBit benefits from a wide range of new technologies for faster, smarter, cheaper, and better trading of digital assets and provides the users with integrated 24/7 customer support via phone, chat, and online ticketing systems. Registration on SynchroBit™ is free and open to everyone above 18 years old from non-sanctioned countries and territories by the European Union, and United Nations Security Council. SynchroBit™ is an evolving digital assets trading platform which will be developed and upgraded in various versions to provide the users with higher standards, faster, smarter, and better trading opportunities and options. What is the SNB Token? SynchroBit™ will use its own native cryptocurrency, the SynchroBit Coin (SNB) which is an ERC-20 Ethereum based token. Users with passing the KYC/AML process can participate in SNB Token crowd-sales on www.snbtoken.io, by considering the terms and conditions and reading the official whitepaper provided on the website. Based on the SynchroBit business policy, trading with SNB token on SynchroBit.io will be free and the holders will benefit from added-value services and loyalty programs which will be only available to use by SNB Token. In addition to SynchroBit trading platform, SNB Token will be integrated with other major platforms of SYNCHRONIUM to increase its popularity and applications. Why SynchroBit™ Digital assets trading is a fast-growing trend in the global financial market. A digital assets trading platform is an online platform which enables the users to trade various kinds of tradable assets and funds, including cryptocurrencies, futures, options, stocks, currencies, etc. With an overview of the existing major trading platforms, someone can observe a wide range of problems from the user’s point of view including (but not limited to);
• • Lack of adequate security for keeping valuable digital assets & funds
• • Lack of integrated fund management features
• • Lack of transparency in policies and strategies
• • Lack of socialization tools and solutions
• • Lack of diversity in trading techniques and tools
• • Market manipulation
• • Front running by the exchanges
• • Slippage in data
• • Lack of adequate user support and services
• • Inadequate liquidity
• • Lack of innovative trading solutions
SynchroBit™ is designed by an international group of experts from various sectors including digital assets trading, blockchain, programming, cybersecurity, digital marketing, financial services, and investment advisors to provide the users with innovative solutions and tools to minimize their risks and maximize their ROIs. SynchroBit™ aims to minimize the conventional boundaries and provide its users with a comprehensive platform for trading various kinds of digital assets in various trading ways including binary options, futures, options, and smart contracts. SynchroBit™ is a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) trading platform on which users are dealing with each other anonymously. Due to its P2P nature, users play a key role in the liquidity of the assets. However, SynchroBit™ will also provide the adequate liquidity for the trading of assets and funds in partnership with global liquidity providers. SynchroBit™ is a hybrid trading platform which benefits from the both technological features of centralized exchange (CEX) and decentralized exchange (DEX). Due to its innovative technology and features, users will experience leading-edge security, integrity, and functionality on SynchroBit™. SynchroBit™ aims to minimize the trading fees by introducing its own native monetary system via its token, SynchroBit Coin (SNB) token, by which the trading fees will be zero. SynchroBit™ is more than a digital assets trading platform and provides a wide range of innovative solutions and value-added services to its valuable users including advanced analytics, virtual trading, social trading, and many more through its upcoming new versions. SynchroBit™ is incredibly fast and its speed will be enhanced and improved through the next upcoming versions as well. Basically, SynchroBit™ can handle 1,000,000 TXP which means every TX will take place only in 40 Nano Seconds (40 billionths of a second) on SynchroBit™. SynchroBit™ APIs enable 3rd party developers to develop new applications and solutions to create new platforms and services. The core technology of SynchroBit™ synchronizes the integration of various trading solutions via hyper-secure connections. Diversity and Simplicity SynchroBit™ aims to provide its valuable users with a diversified range of features, options, tools, and solutions while keeping its simplicity of use and functionality. This is and always will be the essence of SynchroBit™ as a trading platform. SynchroBit™ initial version comes with innovative features for trading cryptocurrency assets with fiat and cryptocurrencies. While the keeping the core technology more advanced and secure, SynchroBit™ will continue to add new trading features and markets to provide its users with diversified assets and markets. 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However, due to our responsibility to our valuable users, their information and data will be always considered as classified information with the Confidentiality Rank of C4 (the highest confidentiality rank at SYNCHRONIUM® which mean such information only can be provided to courts and law enforcement organization through the legal procedures). A well-trained team of customer support agents, working under the supervision of well-experienced customer support managers will provide SynchroBit™ users with 24 hours, 7 days a week support to asking their questions, solving their problems, and providing them with useful information. SynchroBit™ Customer Service Center is a decentralized and globally distributed network with agents speaking English, Russia, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hindi, Spanish, Chinese, and French languages. Although SynchroBit™ user interface is in the English language, however, we’ll provide our platform in the other languages for our users which are mostly used by them. At this phase, since we are analyzing the most used languages by our future costumers and adding new languages will be accomplished gradually in the next versions on SynchroBit™. It’s important to note that by releasing SynchroBit™ Version 1.0, all major languages used by SynchroBit™ users will be available. SynchroBit™ Wallets SynchroBit™ users can enjoy the most diversified wallet features provided on any trading platform ever! As a P2P digital assets trading platform, SynchroBit™ has implemented all required wallets for the users. Cold Wallet Every SynchroBit™ user can easily integrate her cold-wallet with our platform. currently, we have cooperated with Trezor, which is one of the most popular and secure cold-wallet providers in the market. While trading, user just need to connect her Trezor cold-wallet and enable its integration with SynchroBit™, safely transfer their funds for trading and/or withdraw their crypto funds safely and directly to her old wallet! 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• • Depositing with PayPal (follows the terms and conditions of the service provider)
• • Depositing with Web Money (follows the terms and conditions of the service provider)
• • Depositing from Banking Account (follows the terms and conditions of the user’s bank)
• • Depositing with TransferWise (follows the terms and conditions of TransferWise)
Any deposit and withdrawals from the fiat wallets require the confirmation of SynchroBit™ for ensuring the security measures of user funds. Depositing on fiat wallets has zero fees, however, withdrawals may include charges and fees, depending on the bank, currency, regulations, and limits. SynchroBit™ fiat deposits and withdrawals are available in US$ and Euro, however, in the next versions, depositing more fiat currencies including Turkish Lira, GBP, AED, AUD, CAD, CHF, Rubble, JPY, and GEL. Diversified Markets SynchroBit™ will not be limited only to the trading of cryptocurrencies. Based on the roadmap, in addition to a diversified and comprehensive market for the trading of valuable and reliable cryptocurrencies, SynchroBit™ will add new markets including metal markets, energy markets, commodity markets, and other tradable digital assets in its upcoming versions. Diversified Trading Methods SynchroBit™ opens new horizons for the users to trade the digital assets in P2P manner. in addition to formal trades with the market price, setting limits and stop-limits, SynchroBit™ introduces Trend-Limit which is an innovative way of setting various stop-limits to minimize the trading risk. In addition to formal P2P binary trading, SynchroBit users will benefit from other trading methods including margin trading and features trading in the next versions. How to Help Us? Developing, maintaining and upgrading SynchroBit™ is a costly work that evolves an international team of experts. Interested people can participate in SNB Token ICO by visiting www.snbtoken.io and join our crowd-sales. The raised funds from the crowd-sales will be used by SYNCHRONIUM LLC to develop and launch the next version of SynchroBit. Need further information? To find out more about SynchroBit project you may visit www.snbtoken.io and read the final version of SynchroBit Whitepaper. In addition, our FAQ page may help you to get more information about SynchroBit, its features, functionality, and services. You may be interested to try the demo of SynchroBit and explore its features and functionality. Click here to explore how it works!
Futures Slide After US-China APEC Clash, Apple Production Cuts
After a dramatic end to the APEC summit in Papua New Guniea which concluded in disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history amid the escalating rivalry between the United States and China, U.S. index futures initially traded sharply lower as investors digested signs that America-China trade tensions are set to persist, however they staged a modest rebound around the time Europe opened, and have traded mixed since amid subdued volumes as a holiday-shortened week begins in the US. Last Friday, US stocks jumped after President Trump said that he might not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing sent a list of measures it was willing to take to resolve trade tensions. However, tensions between the two superpowers were clearly on display at the APEC meeting over the weekend where Vice President Mike Pence said in a blunt speech that there would be no end to U.S. tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways. “The comments from Trump were seen as offering a glimmer of hope that further tariff action could be held in abeyance,” said NAB’s head of FX strategy, Ray Attrill. “The exchange of barbs between Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping in PNG on the weekend continues to suggest this is unlikely.” US Futures were also pressured following a report by the WSJ that Apple has cut iPhone production, creating turmoil for suppliers and sending AAPL stock 1.6% lower and pressuring Nasdaq futures. Yet while early sentiment was downbeat following the APEC fiasco, US futures staged a rebound as shares in both Europe and Asia rose while Treasuries declined, the dollar faded an initial move higher as traders focused on the Fed’s new-found concerns over the global economy, and the pound advanced amid speculation that the worst may be over for Theresa May, since the potential for a vote of no confidence in May may be losing traction: the Sun reported that 42 lawmakers have sent letters of no confidence to Graham Brady, 6 more are needed to trigger a leadership challenge Asia took a while to warm up but made a strong finish, with the Shanghai Composite closing 0.9% and Japan's Nikkei 0.7% higher, helping Europe start the week off strong too as a 1 percent jump in mining, tech and bank stocks helped traders shrug off last week’s Brexit woes. At the same time, stocks fell in Australia and New Zealand, where the Aussie and kiwi currencies dropped after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attacked China at the weekend APEC summit. Telecommunications and construction shares pushed Europe's Stoxx 600 Index higher, along with stocks in Italy, where Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said the government is ready for dialog with the European Commission over the country’s budget, which however seems just more semantics as Italy refused to concede to European budget demands. Meanwhile, in addition to confusion over trade, the outlook for U.S. interest rates was also uncertain. While Federal Reserve policymakers are still signaling rate increases ahead, they also sounded more concerned about a potential global slowdown, leading markets to suspect the tightening cycle may not have much further to run and Morgan Stanley to write that "We Sense A Shift In Tone From The Fed." Goldman Sachs also chimed in, saying it expected the pace of U.S. economic growth to slow toward the global average next year. The bank now sees a broad dollar decline next year, and revised its long-standing bearish view on the Japanese yen and tipped Latin American currencies, the Swedish krona, the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars and the Israeli shekel to rise. “We see several changes to the global economic backdrop which, combined with a few negative medium-run factors, point to more downside than upside to the broad dollar in 2019,” Goldman economists said in an outlook report. Goldman's bearish tilt will focus attention on an appearance by New York Fed President John Williams later on Monday to see if he echoes the same theme. As Reuters notes, investors have already cut odds of further hikes, with a December move now priced at 73%, down from over 90%. Futures imply rates around 2.74% for the end of next year, compared to 2.93% early this month. As a result, yields on 10-year Treasurys declined to 3.08 percent, from a recent top of 3.25 percent while the currency market saw the dollar fade early gains while the pound rebounded from sharp losses last week as Theresa May prepared to appeal to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal as the premier fights almost insurmountable Parliamentary opposition. May said on Sunday that toppling her would risk delaying Brexit as she faces the possibility of a leadership challenge from within her own party. With both pro-EU and pro-Brexit lawmakers unhappy with the draft agreement, it is not clear that she will be able to win the backing of parliament, increasing the risk that Britain will leave the EU without a deal. Elsewhere, the Australian and New Zealand dollars held on to their declines after Mike Pence's attack on China this weekend fueled concern Sino-U.S. trade tensions will worsen; the yen neared a month-to-date high on the risk-aversion, onshore yuan weakened for the first time in five days. Treasuries slipped while European bonds were mixed, with core notes slipping and peripherals rising led by Italy. In the U.S., trading activity may be thinned before the Thanksgiving holiday later this week. In commodity markets, gold found support from the drop in the dollar and held at $1,1220.19. Oil prices suffered their sixth straight week of losses last week, but climbed toward $57 a barrel in New York on Monday. Bitcoin dropped further below $6,000, at one point touching a one-year intraday low.
S&P500 futures down 0.2% to 2,738.50
STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 359.37
MXAP up 0.4% to 152.43
MXAPJ up 0.2% to 488.43
Nikkei up 0.7% to 21,821.16
Topix up 0.5% to 1,637.61
Hang Seng Index up 0.7% to 26,372.00
Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 2,703.51
Sensex up 0.9% to 35,758.30
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 5,693.66
Kospi up 0.4% to 2,100.56
German 10Y yield rose 2.4 bps to 0.391%
Euro up 0.04% to $1.1419
Italian 10Y yield unchanged at 3.119%
Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.4 bps to 1.632%
Brent futures up 0.4% to $67.05/bbl
Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,219.37
U.S. Dollar Index down 0.1% to 96.41
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg:
Theresa May will appeal to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal, as she fights almost insurmountable opposition in Parliament and a possible leadership challenge. You do the math: Can May get her Brexit deal through Parliament?
Vice President Mike Pence sharpened U.S. attacks on China during a week of summits that ended Sunday, most notably with a call for nations to avoid loans that would leave them indebted to Beijing
An Asia- Pacific summit ended in tumult after the U.S. and China failed to agree on language in a final statement, the latest sign that a trade war between the world’s biggest economies won’t end anytime soon
The European Central Bank shouldn’t rush to spell out how long it plans to reinvest proceeds from bonds maturing under its asset-purchases program, said French policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau
President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t stop acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if he curtails special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
U.K. house asking prices fell from a year earlier for the first time since 2011, led by declines in London and among the most expensive properties.
President Donald Trump said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied to him perhaps five times any role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the U.S. may never know whether he was involved in the murder
Trump’s famously opaque business will face a bracing new reality next year when House Democrats hit it with a flurry of subpoenas for the first time
The European Central Bank shouldn’t rush to spell out how long it plans to reinvest proceeds from bonds maturing under its asset-purchases program, said French policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau
The European Union is hammering out the first bloc-wide rules to prevent foreign investments from threatening national security, as Chinese acquisitions foster political unease
Hedge funds’ wagers against West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude soared for a seventh straight week, the longest global short-selling streak in data going back to 2011
Asian equity markets began the week somewhat cautious on lingering trade concerns and after disunity at the APEC summit over the weekend which failed to agree on a joint communique for the first time in history due to US-China tensions. ASX 200 (-0.6%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) traded mixed in which nearly all of Australia’s sectors were in the red aside from miners, while Nikkei 225 was positive as participants digested mixed trade data which showed a jump in imports. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.7%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.9%) were choppy amid trade-related uncertainty following the verbal jabs between US and China in which Chinese President Xi warned that countries which embraced protectionism were doomed to fail and US Vice President Pence later commented the US could more than double the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Finally, 10yr JGBs futures rose to match the YTD high as they tracked the recent upside in T-notes and with the BoJ also present in the market for JPY 800bln of JGBs in the belly to the short-end of the curve. APEC summit ended without an agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history after China refused to sign amid US-China tensions, while there had been comments from Chinese President Xi Jinping that countries which embraced protectionism were "doomed to failure" and US Vice President Pence later commented that he was prepared to "more than double" the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Top Asian News - China’s Ping An Buys Stake in German Fintech Incubator Finleap - Japan Bank Shares Fall Most in Month After U.S. Yields Drop - Asian Markets Come out of Their Torpor as Stock Gains Accelerate - An Accountant Stirs Debate as India Central Bank Board Meets Major European indices are in the green, with the outperforming FTSE MIB (+1.1%) bolstered by news that Luigi Gubitosi has been appointed as the new CEO of Telecom Italia (+4.3%). The SMI (-0.2%) gave up initial gains and is lagging its peers, weighed on Swatch (-4.0%) and Richemont (-1.4%) following unfavourable price outlook for both by Bank of America Merill Lynch. Sectors are mostly all in the green, with outperformance in telecom names, while energy names are lower given pullback in oil prices in recent trade and consumer discretionary names are weighed on by Renault (-7.0%), with the company shares extending losses following reports that Nissan’s boss has been arrested in Japan regarding allegations of financial violations. Renault shares are hit given the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Elsewhere, BPost (-5.7%) shares are hit following a downgrade at HSBC, while Tele2 (+1.8%), are near the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded at Berenberg. Top European News
Villeroy Sees No Need to Define Reinvestments Length in December
U.K. Housing Woes Deepen With First Asking-Price Drop Since 2011
EU Set to Tighten Rules on Foreign Investment to Fend Off China
New Telecom Italia Boss Deepens Activist Shareholder’s Clout
In FX, the Greenback has regained some composure following its downturn at the end of last week amidst soft US data and cautious if not concerned or outright dovish Fed rhetoric (Clarida conscious about contagion from slower global growth, Kaplan envisaging headwinds from rising debt and Harker opposed to a December rate hike), but the DXY remains capped below a key Fib level (96.590) and the Dollar overall is mixed vs major counterparts.
NZD/AUD/CAD- All on the back foot against their US peer and underperforming other G10 currencies, with the Kiwi retreating below 0.6850 and undermined by cross flows as Aud/Nzd rebounds further from recent lows towards 1.0700 and Aud/Usd holds above 0.7300 in wake of last week’s strong Aussie jobs data.
GBP- The Pound has derived some comfort, or is simply just relieved that the Tory uprising and challenge to UK PM May has not reached the minimum level required to trigger a no confidence vote and adding another potential spanner in the Brexit works. However, the situation remains far from stable and certain given that Parliament still has to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and the room for further renegotiation with the EU looks limited at best ahead of Sunday’s Summit and more meetings planned in the run up to try and sound out whether there is scope to tweak elements of the draft. Cable has tested and marginally breached last Friday’s peak at 1.2877, but far from convincingly amidst supply ahead of 1.2900, and with the 21 DMA also representing formidable tech resistance just above the big figure (1.2918-20). Meanwhile, EuGbp has not pulled back too far below 0.8900, as the single currency holds firm in its own right.
EM- The Rand has made an encouraging start to the week, with a break through 14.0000 vs the Usd exposing recent peaks and momentum to re-test 13.8700 ahead of 13.6000 (50% Fib).
In commodities, Brent (+0.5%) and WTI (+0.1%) are in positive territory, albeit off highs, following market expectations that Saudi Arabia will steer OPEC and Russia to cut oil supply. Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Novak said the country is planning to sign an output agreement with OPEC at their December 6th meeting in Vienna. Overnight gains in the complex were driven by reports that Saudi is said to want oil prices around USD 80.00/bbl. Elsewhere, Iranian President Rouhani emerged on state TV and stated that the US has failed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero and Iran will continue to sell their crude. Conversely, Gold (-0.2%) prices fell this morning, with traders citing profit taking from last week’s gains, while Palladium is nearing parity with gold as an all-time high of USD 1185.4/oz was hit on Friday. Separately, copper is lower following tension between the US and China at the APEC summit which ended without an agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history. It's a fairly quiet start to the week on Monday with the only data of note being the Euro Area and the November NAHB housing market index reading in the US. Away from that, the Fed's Williams is due to speak in the afternoon, while BoJ Governor Kuroda, Bank of France Governor Villeroy de Galhau and his predecessor, Noyer, will all speak at the Europlace Financial Forum. Euro Area finance ministers are also due to gather in Brussels to seek to make progress on Franco-German plans to shore up the currency union. US Event Calendar
10am: NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 67, prior 68
10:45am: Fed’s Williams Speaks in Moderated Q&Ain the Bronx
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Brexit was left in a bit of phoney war this weekend. We’re no closer to a leadership contest for Mrs May but it could still happen at any point. The Sun -citing their “extensive investigation” - has concluded that 42 lawmakers have sent letters of no-confidence in the PM (48 needed). Overall though more Conservative MPs are disliking the deal - and will vote against it - than will ask for a leadership battle in our opinion. The consensus that is forming amongst the Conservative MPs who dislike the Withdrawal Agreement is that it can be improved upon. This time next week we will have just had the Sunday EU summit to sign off their side of the deal but its not clear how meaningful tweaks could be made before this and before the agreement goes before UK Parliament in the next 2-3 weeks. The only thing that could be fleshed out is more on the future relationship between the UK and Europe as Mrs May travels to Brussels this week to try to progress on this. That might appease some MPs but likely not enough to help the vote pass. As such my personal view is that May stays on as leader, the EU offer no concession, the vote doesn’t get through Parliament and then the fun and games start. The UK may go back to Europe and ask for specific concessions at this point or we may end up with a path towards a hard Brexit or a second referendum. Quite binary options. For the EU maybe the gamble is to offer nothing and assume the UK Parliament eventually offers a second referendum and voters eventually decide to stay. This increases the risk of a cliff-edge hard Brexit but also one where no Brexit happens at all. This story has a lot of legs left in it. There was lots in the press this weekend about Brexit but interestingly for me as a credit strategist by day, there was also a fair bit of negative press about credit with some of the more sensational articles suggesting that credit could soon blow up financial markets due to (amongst other things) the weight of US BBBs about to swamp the HY market, record levels of Cov-lite issuance and due to record high US corporate leverage. For us there needs to some perspective. We have been on the underweight side of credit all year, more weighted to a US underweight of late but that’s been more of a valuation play than over too much concerns about immediate credit quality. The US economy remains strong and credit deterioration is likely to remain idiosyncratic until it rolls over. At that point we will have big problems though and last week’s activity made us more confident liquidity will be bad when the cycle turns as we moved a fairly large amount on nervousness as much as anything else. GE, PG&E, plunging oil and the factors discussed above provided a jolt but we don’t think this is enough for now to impact the economy so credit will probably stabilise. However once there is actual broad economic weakness, this last week will be a dress rehearsal for the problems ahead and there will be little two-way activity with spreads gapping wider. However that’s for further down the cycle. For now credit’s main problem has been it hadn’t responded enough to the pick up in vol. The good news is that this is starting to catch-up and correct. Last week, EU non-fin. IG spread widened by 13bps and HY by 45bps while those on US IG by 14bps and HY by 49bps. Big moves relative to a small down week in equities. Looking ahead to the highlights for this week, I’d imagine if you’re in the US this will revolve around family, friends and perhaps Turkey as you sit down for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Outside of that we get the flash PMIs around the globe on Friday which in a period of nervousness about the global growth outlook will be scrutinised in thin post holiday trading. Black Friday will also mark the start of Xmas shopping season for retailers. Also worth noting is the European Commission's opinions on the budget plans of the Euro Area countries on Wednesday. While the EC formally has three weeks to provide an opinion on Italy's new fiscal plan following their budget resubmission last week, it's possible that they will issue this for Italy alongside this and thus kick starting the EDP process. This morning in Asia, markets have kicked off the week on a positive note with the Nikkei (+0.48%), Hang Seng (+0.40%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.22%) all up along with most Asian markets. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (-0.33%) are pointing towards a weaker start. In terms of overnight data releases, the UK Rightmove house prices index fell -0.2% yoy (-1.7% mom), first dip since 2011, led by declines in London (-2.4% yoy). Japan’s October adjusted trade balance stood at –JPY 302.7bn (vs. –JPY 48.3bn) as growth in imports (+19.9% yoy vs. +14.1% yoy expected) outpaced the growth in exports (+8.2% yoy vs. +8.9% yoy expected). In other news, the US Vice President Pence delivered some sharp rhetoric on China over the weekend where he called upon countries to avoid taking debt from China as that would leave them indebted to China. He also added that the US wasn’t in a rush to end the trade war and would “not change course until China changes its ways.” Elsewhere, the APEC summit ended in disarray on Sunday after the US and China failed to agree on a joint statement, reflecting tensions due to the ongoing trade war. This is the first time since the summit began in 1993 that no joint statement was issued. Looking back briefly now to last week before we focus on the full day-byday week ahead. Friday was an eventful day for market-moving rhetoric from policymakers, highlighted by Fed Vice Chair Clarida and President Trump. First, the dollar shed -0.52% after Clarida discussed the global economy and said there “is some evidence it’s slowing.” Two-year treasury yields rallied -3.8bps (-11.0bps on the week) and the market removed 6bps of Fed hikes through the end of next year (priced out a total of 16bps on the week). This came despite Clarida’s other remarks, which emphasised the strong US economy and his support for moving policy to a “neutral” level, consistent with the FOMC’s projections. Later in the session, Chicago Fed President Evans said that he too wants to move policy to neutral, and then another 50bps or so beyond that level. Later on Friday, President Trump injected optimism on the trade policy front by telling reporters that China wants to make a deal and that he may not institute further tariffs. China has apparently offered a list of potential concessions, which could prove to be the basis of a trade deal at the 30 November G20 summit. Even though unnamed White House sources subsequently tried to soften expectations, the market rallied with the S&P 500 up +0.22% (-1.31% on the week). The DOW and Russell 2000 closed -2.22% and -1.42% on the week, though they both rallied on the President’s comments as well (+0.22% and +0.49% on Friday, respectively). After Pence’s weekend comments we should probably discount some of the above optimism. Other markets were already closed when President Trump’s comments boosted sentiment. The STOXX 600 closed the week -2.20% (-0.20% on Friday), while UK equities outperformed marginally, with the FTSE 100 shedding only -1.29% on the week (-0.34% Friday). This reflected the weaker pound, which retreated -1.13% versus the dollar (+0.41% Friday) and -1.83% versus the euro (its worst such week since July 2017, and -0.38% on Friday). Asian equities were mixed, with the Shanghai Composite advancing +3.09% (+0.41% Friday) on trade optimism and the Nikkei down -2.56% (-0.57% Friday). German Bunds rallied -4.0bps last week, while peripheral spreads widened slightly with Italy leading the way. BTPs sold off +8.8bps (flat on Friday) as the government continued to escalate its confrontation with the European Commission. It's a fairly quiet start to the week on Monday with the only data of note being September construction output data for the Euro Area and the November NAHB housing market index reading in the US. Away from that, the Fed's Williams is due to speak in the afternoon, while BoJ Governor Kuroda, Bank of France Governor Villeroy de Galhau and his predecessor, Noyer, will all speak at the Europlace Financial Forum. Euro Area finance ministers are also due to gather in Brussels to seek to make progress on Franco-German plans to shore up the currency union.
About myself Hello, I’ve been a long time lurker, but this is the first time I’ve actually decided to post something on Reddit, so apologizes if I’ve messed something up by making this post. After the hero and talent reworks from this last patch and the recent discussions about changes for Arthas and him being rather lackluster, I was inspired, and bored enough, to take a closer look at him and try to do one of my favorite video game characters some justice (or at least more interesting). Full Disclosure: I am not an Arthas “main; I am not a game designer or balance specialist; I have been rank 1 multiple times (currently climbing back after a losing strike) but have rather mediocre MMR (low diamond); I have been playing since the alpha and have about 2400 games, nowhere a huge amount; I am not a pro or even TL player; and this is my first and only MOBA (not counting the original Warcraft DOTA). Why a Talent Rework for Arthas? As evident by numerous other posts about the state of Arthas, his popularity across all levels of play, his win rate, comments by the Blues, and general perception, Arthas has fallen behind other heroes in the game and has done so for a long time. Arthas’, as one of the primer Blizzard characters deserves attention. While his kit is niche and arguably clunky, my goal is to improve Arthas almost solely through changes to his talents and to refine and reinforce his role there, so as to make his niche a desirable one while still being clearly defined and not meta-encompassing. Through focusing improvement via his talents rather than kit or heroics, Arthas will fundamentally remain the same, but will now offer kore choice in how he is played to suit different playstyles and contexts, and for the actually Blues, easier to make marginal adjustments to. The changes laid out in this proposal are not intended to drastically change Arthas into a new character or to make him the new OP, first pick/ban, although I have tried my best to be conservative with his power level and for this to result in a minor overall buff to him, as Arthas is by no means bad, only subpar and somewhat boring. Ultimately, the overarching goal of this proposed rework is to make Arthas a more interesting and enjoyable character to play. If a hero is fun and interesting enough, even if subpar, people will find ways and opportunities to use them (sometimes unfortunately cough Nova). While this rework does not address the largely problems that Arthas faces which are inherent to his kit, the greatest flaw with him currently is uninspired talents and a dearth of excitement, something which I hope will be changed though a revamping of his talent tree. Unchanged Talents For reference here is a link to Arthas’ current talents and kit: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculatoarthas As I decided to get rather extensive with my changes, for simplicities sake here are talents which are unchanged: • Rune Tap • Obliterate (D) • Army of the Dead (R1) • Summon Sindragosa (R2) • Immortal Coil (Q) • Absolute Zero (R) Talent Rework I have attempted to match the wording used by Blizzard in similar talents when possible, and to make the functions of each talent as clear and concise as possible, although I am sure that they are not all worded well enough. The names are completely subjective and again I have attempted to appropriately flavor them to match their function and the tone and lore of the character, so please focus instead on the actual workings on the talents rather than their names. Additionally, as stated before, I am no game designer, and so take the numbers when provided as approximations of balance, as in game testing at all levels of play, for each map, and with all compositions would be needed to determine actual, functional values. Level 1: • Bone Shield – Upon hitting an enemy hero with a basic attack, gain a charge of Bone Shield, which blocks 50% of the next heroic attack (an auto-attack or ability). Stores up to 3 charges. o A situational hybrid of block and spell shield, weaker than both separately, but with clever play can be very strong against enemy teams that don’t counter this. Emphasizes your role as the front line and makes you tankier the more aggressive you can be. Synergies with AA buffs to promote more comp considerations. Possibly leans too much on being aggressive and perhaps should be able to grant charges from auto attacks made on any enemies, not just heroes, however then that may be too powerful. • Death Strike (D) – Heal for 100% of the damage dealt by Frostmourne Hungers o Encourages greater thought on when to use your D (not getting around that phrasing), and adds some Blood DK fantasy to Arthas. Also gives you burst healing which scales very well with later talents. • Harvest Soul – Collecting Regeneration Globes permanently increases health regeneration by 2 and mana regeneration by 0.1 o A stronger version of Regen Master and Conjuror’s for a hero that wants both health and mana regen, however provides no burst healing. The 2 health regeneration is more or less equal to Regen Master with Amplified Healing, without having to also give that to Arthas and making him better with healers. The fantasy of Arthas should include being the sole source of his own healing and being forsaken by the light and healers, not getting healed more by them. • Immortal Coil (Q) (same) – Death Coil also heals when used on enemies. When used on self, the amount healed is increased by 50%. o A reasonable talent that tried to split the difference between damage and healing, but just resulted in being worse than both Frostmourne Feeds and Stoneskin, now gives you a reason to be casting Coil on yourself in the early game and lets you get more aggressive when ganking kills or laning, but doesn’t scale well with other talents until late in the game unlike other options. Level 4: Utility tier that gives you some options which help to round out your build, and adapt to the enemy team’s playstyle. • Cull the Weak – Deal 100% more damage to Minions and Mercenaries. Reduces damage taken from Minions and Mercenaries by 50%. o Helps Arthas with laning, mana, and thus lets him gank more. Reinforces the fantasy of being the Arthas that destroyed Stratholme, betrayed the mercenaries that fought for him, and lead the armies that killed most of the population of the Eastern Kingdoms (yay lore). Too strong on heavy rotation maps, maybe, but Arthas never had much trouble with laning besides mana and not being able to use his kit for what its intended for, and notably this does not affect map monsters (e.g. the Immortal or the Spiders) or structures. If Johanna can have this at level 1, why can’t Arthas get his own version at level 4 when he is more group focused? • Damnation (D) – Increase the damage bonus of Frostmourne Hungers by 25% for every 10% of life you are missing o A combination of Destruction and Embrace Death which makes Destruction, which was reasonable, more interesting, and Embrace Death, which was terrible, usable. This offers much more room for personal skill and reinforces the idea that you are a strong frontline and a killing machine. Perhaps you want to get focused and then surprise a greedy squishy. Also makes healing an Arthas more interesting by moving away from the idea that you must always heal a damaged ally, especially a tank, and providing for more big yet simple plays with good communication. The damage bonus is potentially too powerful, particularly when paired with shields, so more number crunching would be appreciated. • Might of the Frozen Wastes (W) – Howling Blast cooldown lowered by 3 seconds and is free when Frozen Tempest is activated. o It’s hard to make talents for Howling Blast, given that it is so binary: you either hit the root or you don’t, but it feels odd and makes an ability seem bad if there are no talents which affect it. Damage is in other parts of his kit and this can effect no one to the whole enemy team, and prevents them from leaving. This talent is simple, if boring, but does provide a solution to Arthas’ mana problems. See further before for a suggested replacement talent, as I personally feel this is on the weaker, and most importantly, boring side of my suggestions, however those who play Arthas would of course have a better idea on if this is the case or not. • [ Winter is Coming or Frost Presence] (E) – Frozen Tempest now applies its slow twice as fast. o Simple, but not boring, as often the slow applied by E goes unnoticed, this instead brings it to the forefront and enhances your ability to provide peel. Scales very well with your tier 13 talents. Punishes melee or those without escapes from getting caught with your E and helps Arthas a little bit with his issue of being kited, something which in principle seems silly for the Lich King. Level 7: Refinement tier where you get to choose a talent to enhance your decision at level 1, also Shadow Trap. • Rune Tap (same) – Every 3 Basic Attacks heal you for 3% of your max health. o Its Rune Tap. Previous Arthas’ only talented healing outside of Regen Master (which he couldn’t abuse without Amplified Healing) and Army of the Dead (an ult) this is unchanged as it still fits in with his Death Knight theme and self-healing. Significantly enhanced by addition healing and migration talents in the level 1 tier, and new tools for keeping enemies close to you within the tree help to offset the rather long amount of time needed to get any worthwhile value out of this. • Obliterate (D) (same) – Frostmourne Hungers also hits enemies near the target for 50% damage. o As with Rune Tap, this is improved by other new talents in the tree and still feels like an appropriate improve on his kit. With additional survivability options beyond Rune Tap in the early/mid game, this is now a more attractive option and fits into a potential D build or further enhances your mercing ability. • Chains of Ice (W) –Enemies hit by Howling Blast are also slowed by 40% for 1.5 seconds after the root expires. o As a replacement for Frost Strike, this maintains the same effect while moving it to Howling Blast to improve the game flow when used. When on D, often you would have already used W to catch them and the slow was either wasted or only secured another auto attack or so. Now, the slow more naturally fits into how you use your abilities and can effect groups of enemies, offering more value. W becomes more interesting as you can now either choose to use it primarily for the root, which requires you to be in close range for effective use, or use it as a long range slow, reaching your target once the root is expired but they are still slowed. Possibly annoying to play against, but also forces more decisive usage of one’s escape. • Shadow Trap – Activate to summon a Shadow Trap beneath a target which knocks back and deals minor damage after 2 seconds. Lasts 3 seconds. 60 second cooldown o A small size Wave of Force or a Tychus/Medic Grenade for those who never did the Lich King fight in WoW, but also the immediate mark of someone who knew the basics of positioning and someone who didn’t, something which fits quite well with Arthas’ kit. Very strong, perhaps too much so if used right, but serves to make up for his lack of hard displacement an effectively allows you to talent into an interrupt, something every other tank has besides Leoric. Possibly should activate after 1.5 seconds to force greater precision when used with Howling Blast (as the root would prevent the knockback). Would be too strong if directly attached to Howling Blast, as the two are de facto linked together in practice already, although if this is indeed too strong, a weaker version attached to W would be the place for this concept or even as a replacement for the base W itself. Helps to offset lackluster heroics with its innate, yet hopefully skill intense, power while also capturing more of the flavor from Arthas’ character history. Level 13: • Remorseless Winter (E) – Increase the radius of Frozen Tempest by 50% and the slow applied to up to 60%, but no longer deals damage. o The radius I am aiming for is approximately Azmodan’s Globe of Annihilation, so ignore the stated radius increase which is likely wrong. Talents which provide trade-offs between buffs and nerfs, like the old Cold Embrace, offer the chance to give grossly-powerful improvements at the loss of power elsewhere in the ability, something Cold Embrace previously failed at by over valuing range and undervaluing a team-wide 25% vulnerability debuff. Here, the trade-off is focused on team power vs individual power. A massive, largely unavoidable team-wide slow is very powerful, but is more palpable if the person providing it can’t kill you, or can’t kill you fast enough. Reflects the fantasy of Arthas not being dangerous solely because of his individual power, but also due to the power of the army (Team) he leads and commands. Potentially too annoying to play against with such a large slow, however given that all it does is slow and there are characters which can out range it despite its large size, it may be fair. Would be very interested in discussion about how slows in the game feel and how impactful they really are. • Biting Cold (E) – Frozen Tempest Damage increased by 50% and its slow lingers for 1 second on enemies leaving its radius. o A damage option for those who want it, but with the added change of helping you against kiting and peeling for your team safely. The buff to this talent is possibly unneeded and too much, however a straight damage buff by itself, while possibly impactful, is boring and does nothing to change your playstyle. If a tank is getting damage talents, they should also be doing something for their team, otherwise you simply turn into a tanky assassin and create confusion between your character’s role. Arthas may be a bruiser, but he’s a bruiser who slows and offers peel and these functions should be reinforced and reflected by his talents as appropriate. • Chill of the Throne (E) – Heroes and Summons affected by Frozen Tempest have their Attack Speed slowed by 40% o In refocusing Arthas around slows, attack speed should be included along with movement speed. This talent further punishes players for getting caught by Arthas, while improving his and his team’s survivability, and encourages Arthas to not be as scared to rush the frontline, and for the enemy team to try to bate him out of position and murder the backline. Helps players to learn the value of overextending and positioning and rewarding those that do so correctly. Likely too powerful at 40%, which was chosen to keep it in line with Imposing Presence, given the area it affects and ease of use, and I am likely overstating how this will affect the enemy team’s playstyle. • [Death Does Not Stop or Might of the Scourge] (D) – While Frostmourne Hungers is activated you are Unstoppable. o Another trade-off talent, giving you a vastly more powerful version of Relentless, and arguably Johanna’s trait given the potential uptime of this, in return for not being able to auto-attack and making A-clicking in melee very risky. Forces more strategy use of your D, reinforces the feeling of being an unstoppable (literally), evil, undead overlord, and solves most of your issues with kiting. Both helps and hinders your role of being the frontline, as you can approach and bate the enemy unheeded, but once you get to them you either have to give up being Unstoppable or not hit them or risk getting too close. A situationally more powerful Relentless that has (likely) lower uptime and requires self-restraint for proper usage. Has the potential additional benefit of lessening the important of Cleanse for Healers, as if you know how to use your D properly, you won’t have to rely on being Cleansed if you go too close to Zagara’s Maw, for instance. While very powerful on paper, I’m not certain of this being broken, given the lower uptime, self-limiting nature of it, and being able to be countered by staggered stuns from the enemy team. Level 16: • [On a Pale Horse or Invincible’s Reins] – Increase your Movement Speed by 10% and casting abilities no longer dismounts you (auto-attacks and your D will though). o Thematically appropriate for Arthas specifically and the Death Knight class generally, while also providing a fun visual and helping Arthas with mobility issues. The main benefit of this is solving the issue of Sindragosa being difficult to cast from the front, and thus does lower the skill needed in using Arthas’ abilities. However, by level 16 other heroes are getting talents that provide more than strict utility and quality of life improvements, and so by not offering any direct power beyond a moderate movement speed buff, this talent is hopefully still reasonable. • Death Pact – Activate to gain 40% of your maximum health as a shield for 5 seconds. Cannot benefit from external healing for 5 seconds. o This talent represents the opposite of the above talent, all direct power and negative utility, functioning as both a significantly better Stoneskin and as a significantly more punishable Stoneskin. In a QM and likely even a HL situation, this is strictly better, however in TL or in the presence of enough coordination and focusing by the enemy team, this can be countered and deny Arthas his healer(s) leaving him dead. Points for change on this talent include preventing Arthas from benefiting from any healing effect, increasing the duration of the shield and/or debuff, and increasing the shield and the extent of the debuff or a combine of such. Of the talents I have suggested, this seems to me the most unbalanced when taken in conjunction with Unstoppable on D, however I am not sure if Arthas would benefit if they were included on the same tier. • Succession (D) – Frostmourne Hungers cooldown lowered by 3 seconds. Takedowns reset the cooldown of Frostmourne Hungers. o Takedowns include both allied and enemy heroes who die. In order to allow the existence of D granting Unstoppable, Frostmourne Feeds had to be removed as an option, and so this is its conceptual replacement, which also seeks to add some more flavor to Arthas by reinforcing his patricidal and soul-devouring aspects. This can be either better or worse than Frostmourne Feeds, with its variability partly offset by the included cooldown reduction. If an ally dies, then this serves as a minor comeback mechanic for the fight, and if an enemy hero dies, as a win-more mechanic and an opportunity to get greedy with kills and chase. Given the potential to deny the enemy team a comeback, it’s possible that the cooldown reduction aspect should be removed or lowered, or for an internal cooldown to be applied to the reset effect. • Necrotic Plague (Q) – Death Coil will ricochet between nearby enemies, even when used on yourself. o Like Howling Blast, Death Coil is also difficult to create talents for. This is intended to amplify the healing done by Immortal Coil with the chain effect, while also providing another means of damage and displacement for Arthas, helping to create of rhythm of spreading out and grouping up when facing him, remanence of a raid encounter. Although this doesn’t really change how you use Coil, it does add some more prominence to the ability that it currently lacks. While effectively serving the same purpose as before, only doing it more so, this talent will now change how the enemy team reacts to seeing Death Coil and take advantage of the spell’s travel time. Plus, a bunch of evil skulls flying out of people would look neat, and sometimes that is reason enough for something that is otherwise boring to exist. Level 20: • Legion of Northrend (R1) – 3 additional Ghouls are created. Ghouls heal for an additional 25% more and no longer expire. o Swapped for the 5 second increased duration on the Ghouls for them being permanently, allowing for the banking of Ghouls. Forces greater emphasis on killing the Ghouls rather than just focusing Arthas, as if he lives he gets to keep them and has the potential to get 2 cooldowns worth up at once. In practice, likely nothing changes about how this talent affects the game and is more of a quality of life improvement over anything. • Absolute Zero (R2) (same) – Sindragosa flies twice as far. Enemy heroes are rooted for 2 seconds, and then slowed by 60% for 2 seconds. o Turns a lackluster ult into a very impactful one, no reason to change this as it serves its purpose. • [Wrath of the Lich King or Heroic Mode] – Take 25% less damage while above 50% health, and deal 50% more damage while below 50% health. o A replacement for Hardened Shield that fits the character better. Allows Arthas to tank when needed and to transition into a bruisedps when he’s close to dying, further reinforcing the fantasy of being an unkillable, unstoppable monster that deserves to be the single most hated figure in WoW. • There Must Always be a Lich King – Your Respawn Timer is reduced by 15 seconds for every other dead allied hero. o Made this solely for the name, and have no intention of this being a viable talent. Realistically, this provides a minor comeback mechanic in the vein of similar talents at 20 for Uther and Johanna, however requires your team to effectively be all dead for full value, and if you’re getting multiple full resets off of this, then at this point of the game a lone Arthas can’t stop the enemy team from destroying the core or capturing all the objectives. One additional talent that I couldn’t find a place for, but thought was an interesting idea. Can be slotted in to replace any of the above which may be too weak or too strong: • Forsaken by the Light – Increases self-regeneration effects and healing by 50%
Perpetual Option: Och-Ziff Capital Management Group (OZM)
In his book, You Can Be a Stock Market Genius, Greenblatt talks about using LEAPs to make leveraged bets. The book included his trade in Wells Fargo (WFC, another topic for a future post, I suppose). But sometimes, stocks get down so cheap that they become priced like options. In the Genius book, the WFC LEAPs were priced at $14 while the stock was at around $77. Here, we have a hedge fund manager trading less than $3.00/share, which is a typical price for regular options, not even LEAPs. Of course, all stocks are options on the residual value of businesses. But sometimes things are priced for either a large gain or zero, just like an option. I call this a perpetual option, but that reminds me of those lifetime warranties. Like, who's lifetime? The manufacturer's? The store's? Yours? Nothing is forever, so I guess there really is no such thing as a perpetual option. But anyway... Och-Ziff IPO'ed in 2007 at $32/share and traded in the mid $20's right before the crisis, then down to below $5.00 during the crisis and back up to the mid-teens. I've been watching this since the IPO and looked at it again when it was trading around $10/share. It's down quite a bit since then. I didn't own it back then but I did take a small bite down at $5.00/share. I have mentioned other private equity and hedge fund managers here in the past but haven't owned most of them because of the amount of money that seemed to be going into alternatives. I was just worried that the AUM's of all of these alternative managers were going up so quickly that I couldn't imagine them earning the high returns that made everyone rush to them in the first place. Look at the presentation of any of these alternative managers and their AUM growth is just staggering. Extremely Contrarian We investors walk around and think about all sorts of things; look at store traffic, taste new foods/restaurant concepts, count how many Apple watches people are wearing (I recently biked around the city with my kid (Brooklyn to Central Park, around the park (around the big loop) and all the way downtown back to Brooklyn (30+ miles) and I think I counted two Apple watches that I saw compared to countless iPhones. And this was in the summer so no coats or long sleeves to hide wrists). And a couple of the things that we tend to think about are, What does everybody absolutely love, and what are they 100% sure of (other than that Hillary will win the election and that the market will crash if Trump wins), and What do people absolutely, 100% hate and don't even want to talk about? In the investing world right now, it seems like the one thing that everybody seems to agree with is that active investing is dead (OK, not completely true because we active investors never really lose faith in it). The data points to it (active managers underperforming for many years, legendary stock pickers too not performing all too well, star hedge funds not doing well etc...). The money flows point to it (cash flowing out of active managers and into passive funds, boom in index funds / ETFs; this reminds me of the 1990's when there were more mutual funds than listed companies. There are probably more ETFs now than listed companies). Sentiment points to it (stars and heroes now are ETF managers, quants etc.). By the Way Oh, and by the way, in case people say that it is no longer possible due to this or that reason for humans to outperform indices or robots, I would just say that we have seen this before. Things in finance are cyclical and we've seen this movie before. From the 1985 Berkshire Hathaway Letter, Most institutional investors in the early 1970s, on the other hand, regarded business value as of only minor relevance when they were deciding the prices at which they would buy or sell. This now seems hard to believe. However, these institutions were then under the spell of academics at prestigious business schools who were preaching newly-fashioned theory: the stock market was totally efficient, and therefore calculations of business value -- and even thought, itself -- were of no importance in investment activities. (We are enormously indebted to those academics: what could be more advantageous in an intellectual contest -- whether it be bridge, chess or stock selection than to have opponents who have been taught that thinking is a waste of energy?) What Do People Hate? So, back to what people absolutely hate. People hate active managers. It's not even stocks that they are not interested in. They hate active managers. Nobody outperforms and their fees are not worth it. What else do they hate? They hate hedge funds. I don't need to write a list here, but you just keep reading one institution after another reducing their exposure to hedge funds. There is a massive shakeout going on now with money leaving hedge funds. Others like Blackstone argues that this is not true; assets are just moving out of mediocre hedge funds and moving into theirs. This is a theme I will be going back to in later posts, but for now I am just going to look at OZM. OZM OZM is a well-known hedge fund firm so I won't go into much detail here. To me, it's sort of a conventional equity-oriented hedge fund that runs strategies very typical of pre-Volcker rule Wall Street investment banks; equity long/short, merger arb, convertible arb etc. They have been expanding into credit and real estate with decent results. But a lot of their AUM is still in the conventional equity strategies. What makes OZM interesting now is that chart from the Pzena Investment report (see here). These charts make it obvious why active managers have had such a hard time. The value spread has just continued to widen since 2004/2005 through now. Cheap stocks get cheaper and expensive stocks get more so. You can see how this sort of environment could be the worst for long/short strategies (and value-oriented long strategies, and even naked short strategies for that matter). Things have just been going the wrong way with no mean reversion. But if you look at where those charts are now, you can see that it is probably exactly the wrong time to give up on value strategies or value-based long/short strategies; in fact it looks like the best time ever to be looking at these strategies. Seeing that, does it surprise me that many pension funds are running the other way? Not at all. Many large institutions chase performance and not future potential. Conceptually speaking, they would rather buy a stock at 80x P/E that has gone up 30%/year in the past five years that is about to tank rather than buy an 8x P/E stock that has gone nowhere in the past five years but is about to take off; they are driven by historic (or recent historic) performance. OZM Performance Anyway, let's look at the long term performance of OZM. This excludes their credit and real estate funds which are doing much better and are growing AUM. This is their performance since 1994 through the end of 2015: OZM fund S&P500 1994 28.50% 5.30% 1995 23.50% 27.40% 1996 27.40% 23.00% 1997 26.70% 33.40% 1998 11.10% 28.60% 1999 18.80% 21.00% 2000 20.60% -9.10% 2001 6.30% -11.90% 2002 -1.60% -22.10% 2003 24.00% 28.70% 2004 11.10% 10.90% 2005 8.80% 4.90% 2006 14.80% 15.80% 2007 11.50% 5.50% 2008 -15.90% -37.00% 2009 23.10% 26.50% 2010 8.50% 15.10% 2011 -0.50% 2.10% 2012 11.60% 16.00% 2013 13.90% 32.40% 2014 5.50% 13.70% 2015 -0.40% 1.40% 5 year avg 5.85% 12.57% 10 year avg 6.69% 7.32% Since 1994 12.05% 8.87% Since 2000 7.59% 5.01% Since 2007 5.14% 6.53% So they have not been doing too well, but it's really only the last couple of years that don't look too good. Their ten-year return through 2013 was +8.2%/year versus +7.4%/year for the S&P 500 index. It's pretty obvious that their alpha has been declining over time. For those who want more up-to-date figures, I redid the above table to include figures through September-end 2016. And instead of 5 year and 10 year returns, I use 4.75-year and 9.75-year returns; I thought that would be more comparable than saying 5.75-year and 10.75-year, and I didn't want to dig into quarterly figures to get actual 5 and 10s. OZM fund S&P500 1994 28.50% 5.30% 1995 23.50% 27.40% 1996 27.40% 23.00% 1997 26.70% 33.40% 1998 11.10% 28.60% 1999 18.80% 21.00% 2000 20.60% -9.10% 2001 6.30% -11.90% 2002 -1.60% -22.10% 2003 24.00% 28.70% 2004 11.10% 10.90% 2005 8.80% 4.90% 2006 14.80% 15.80% 2007 11.50% 5.50% 2008 -15.90% -37.00% 2009 23.10% 26.50% 2010 8.50% 15.10% 2011 -0.50% 2.10% 2012 11.60% 16.00% 2013 13.90% 32.40% 2014 5.50% 13.70% 2015 -0.40% 1.40% 2016* 1.10% 7.80% 4.75 year 6.53% 14.58% 9.75 year 5.48% 6.72% Since 1994 11.68% 8.92% Since 2000 7.29% 5.27% Since 2007 4.82% 6.86% So over time, they have good outperformance, but much of that is from the early years. As they get bigger, it's not hard to see why their spread would shrink. They are seriously underperforming in the 4.75 year, but that's because the S&P 500 index was coming off of a big bear market low and OZM didn't lose that much money, so I think that is irrelevant, especially for a long/short fund. More relevant would be figures from recent market peaks which sort of shows a through-the-cycle performance. Since the market peak in 2000, OZM has outperformed with a gain of +7.3%/year versus +5.3%/year for the S&P, but they have underperformed since the 2007 peak. A lot of this probably has to do with the previous charts about how value spreads have widened throughout this period. I would actually want to be increasing exposure to this area that hasn't worked well since 2007. Some of this, of course, is due to lower interest rates. Merger arb, for example, is highly dependent on interest rates as are other arbitrage type trades. (The less risk there is, the closer to the short term interest rate the return is going to be.) One thing that makes me scratch my head, though, in the 3Q 2016 10-Q is the following: OZ Master Fund’s merger arbitrage, convertible and derivative arbitrage, corporate credit and structured credit strategies have each generated strong year-to-date gains through September 30, 2016. In merger arbitrage, certain transactions in which OZ Master Fund participated closed during the third quarter, contributing to the strategy’s year-to-date gross return of +1.3%. Convertible and derivative arbitrage generated a gross return of +0.5% during the third quarter, driven by gains in convertible arbitrage positions, commodity-related volatility, commodity spreads and index volatility spread trades. Year-to-date, convertible and derivative arbitrage has generated a gross return of +1.3%. In OZ Master Fund’s credit-related strategies, widening credit spreads and certain event-driven situations added +0.4% to the gross return within corporate credit during the third quarter, while in structured credit, a +0.9% gross return during the quarter was attributable to the realization of recoveries in certain of our idiosyncratic situations. Year-to-date, the corporate credit and structured credit strategies are each up +1.2% on a gross basis. Gross returns of less than 2% are described as "strong". Hmm... I may be missing something here. Maybe it is 'strong' versus comparable strategies. I don't know. Anyway, moving on... Greenblatt Genius Strategies Oh yeah, and by the way, OZM is one of the funds that are heavily into the yellow book strategies. Here's a description of their equity long/short strategy: Long/short equity special situations, which consists of fundamental long/short and event-driven investing. Fundamental long/short investing involves analyzing companies and assets to profit where we believe mispricing or undervaluation exists. Event-driven investing attempts to realize gain from corporate events such as spin-offs, recapitalizations and other corporate restructurings, whether company specific or due to industry or economic conditions. This is still a large part of their book, which is a good thing if you believe that the valuation spreads will mean revert and that Greenblatt's yellow book strategies are still valid. One thing that may temper returns over time, though, is the AUM level. What you can do with $1 billion in AUM is not the same as when you have $10 billion or $30 billion. I don't think Greenblatt would have had such high returns if he let AUM grow too much. This seems to be an issue with a lot of hedge funds. Many of the old stars who were able to make insane returns with AUM under $1 billion seem to have much lower returns above that level. Here is OZM's AUM trend in the past ten years. Some of the lower return may correlate to the higher AUM, not to mention higher AUM at other hedge funds too reducing spreads (and potential profits). Just to refresh my memory, I grabbed the AUM chart from the OZM prospectus in 2007. Their AUM was under $6 billion until the end of 2003 and then really grew to over $30 billion by 2007. Their 10-year return through 2003 was 18%/year vs. 10.6%/year for the S&P 500 index. From the end of 2003 through the end of 2015, OZM's funds returned +7.2%/year versus +7.4%/year for the S&P 500 index. So their alpha basically went from 7.4%/year outperformance to flat. This is actually not so bad as these types of funds often offered 'equity-like' returns with lower volatility and drawdowns. The long/short nature of OZM funds means that investors achieved the same returns as the S&P 500 index without the full downside exposure. This is exactly what many institutions want, actually. But still, did their growth in AUM dampen returns? I think there is no doubt about that. These charts showing tremendous AUM growth is the reason why I never owned much of these alternative managers in the past few years I've been watching them. The question is how much of the lower returns are due to the higher AUM. Of course, some of this AUM growth is in other strategies so not all new AUM is squeezed into the same strategies. Will OZM ever go back to the returns of the 1990's? I doubt that. First of all, that was a tremendous bull market. Plus, OZM's AUM was much smaller so they had more opportunities to take advantage of yellow book ideas and other strategies. Boom/Bubble Doesn't Mean It's a Bad Idea By the way, another sort of tangent. Just because there is a big boom or bubble in something doesn't necessarily make that 'something' a bad idea. We had a stock market bubble in the late 1920's that ended badly, but owning parts of businesses never suddenly became a bad idea or anything. It's just that you didn't want to overpay, or buy stocks for the wrong reasons. We had a boom in the late 1990's in stocks that focused on picking stocks and owning them for the long term as exemplified by the Beardstown Ladies. Of course, the Beardstown Ladies didn't end well (basically a fraud), but owning good stocks for the long haul, I don't think, ever became a bad idea necessarily. We had a tremendous housing bubble and various real estate bubbles in recent years. But again, owning good, solid assets at reasonable prices for the long haul never became a bad idea despite the occasional bubbles and collapses. Similarly, hedge funds and alternative assets go through cycles too. I know many value investors are not with me here and will always hate hedge funds (like Buffett), but that's OK. We've had alternative cycles in the past. Usually the pattern is that there is a bull market in stocks and people rush into stocks. The bull market inevitably ends and people lose money. Institutions not wanting to lose money rush into 'alternative' assets. Eventually, the market turns and they rush back into equities. I think something similar is happening now, but the cycle seems a bit elongated and, and the low interest rates is having an effect as alternatives are now attracting capital formerly allocated to fixed income. In the past, alternatives seemed more like an equity substitution, risk asset. Valuation OK, so what is OZM worth? Well, a simple way of looking at it is that OZM has paid an average of $1.10/year in dividends in the last five years. During the past five years, the funds returned around 6%/year, so it's not an upside outlier in terms of fund performance. Put a 10x multiple on it and the stock is worth $11/share. Another way to look at it is that the market is telling you that it is unlikely that OZM will enjoy the success even of the past five years over the next few years. Assuming a scenario of failure (stock price = 0) or back to sort of past five years performance ($11), a $3.00 stock price reflects the odds of failure at 73% and only a 27% chance that OZM gets back to it's past five year average-like performance. Of course, OZM can just sort of keep doing what it's doing and stay at $3.00 for a long time too. There is a problem with this, though, as the dividends don't reflect equity-based compensation expense; OZM gives out a bunch of RSU's every year. To adjust for this, let's look at the economic earnings of the past five years including the costs of equity-based compensation. Equity-based compensation expense not included in economic income is listed below ($000): 2008 102,025 2009 122,461 2010 128,737 2011 128,916 2012 86,006 2013 120,125 2014 104,344 2015 106,565 It's odd that this doesn't seem to correlate to revenues, income or AUM; it's just basically flat all the way through. If we include this, economic income at OZM averaged around $520 million/year. With fully diluted 520 million shares outstanding, that's around $1.00/share in economic earnings per share that OZM earned on average over the past five years. So that's not too far off from the $1.10/share dividends we used above. One of the interesting things about investing is when you find alternative ways to value something instead of just the usual price-to-book values, P/E ratios etc. So how would you value this? What about adjusting the implied odds from the above. What if we said there's a 50/50 chance of recovery or failure. Let's say recovery is getting back to what it has done over the past five years on average, and failure is a zero on the stock. 50% x $0.00 + 50% x $10.00 = $5.00/share In that case, OZM is worth $5.00/share, or 70% higher than the current price. You are looking at a 60 cent dollar in that case. Let's say there is a 70% chance of recovery. 70% x $10.00 + 30% x $0.00 = $7.00/share. That's 130% higher, or a 40 cent dollar. By the way, the AUM averaged around $37 billion over the past five years, and remember, their return was around 5.9%/year so these figures aren't based on huge, abnormal returns or anything. As of the end of September 2016, AUM was $39.3 billion, and this went down to $37 billion as of November 1, 2016. OZM expects continued redemptions towards year-end both due to their Justice Department/SEC settlement and overall industry redemption trends. The above ignored balance sheet items, but you can deduct $0.60/share, maybe, of negative equity, or more if you think they need more cash on the balance sheet to run their business. Preferred Shares As for the $400 million settlement amount and preferred shares, the settlement amount is already on the balance sheet as a liability (which was paid out after the September quarter-end). The preferred shares were sold after the quarter ended. They have zero interest for three years so I don't think it impacts the above analysis. You would just add cash on the balance sheet and the preferreds on the liability side. If you want to deduct the full amount of the settlement of $400 million, you can knock off $0.77/share off the above valuation instead of the $0.60/share. Earnings Model The problem with these companies is that it's impossible, really, to predict what their AUM is going to be in the future or their performance. Of course, we can guess that if they do well, AUM will increase and vice-versa. But still, as a sanity check, we should see how things look with various assumptions in terms of valuation. First of all, let's look at 2015. In the full year to 2015, a year that the OZM funds were down (master fund), they paid a dividend of $0.87. Adjusted economic income was $240 million (economic income reported by OZM less equity-based comp expense) and using the current fully diluted shares outstanding of 520 million, that comes to $0.46/share. OK, it's funny to use current shares outstanding against last year's economic income, but I am trying to use last years' earnings as sort of a 'normalized' figure. Using these figures from a bad year, OZM is current trading at a 29% dividend yield (using $3.00/share price) and 6.5x adjusted economic income. This would be 8.3x if you added the $0.77/share from the settlement above. OK, so average AUM was $44 billion in 2015, so even in a bad year, they made tons in management fees. Fine. We'll get to that in a second. AUM is $37 billion as of November 2016, and is probably headed down towards year-end. 2016 Year-to-Date So let's look at how they are doing this year so far. Fund performance-wise, it hasn't been too good, but they do remain profitable. These fund businesses are designed so that their fixed expenses are covered by their management fees. Big bonuses are paid out only when the funds make money. Anyway, let's look at 2016 so far in terms of economic income. In the 3Q of 2016, economic income was $57.4 million. Equity-based compensation expense was $18.3 million so adjusted economic income was $39.1 million. Annualize that and you get $156 million. Using 520 million fully diluted shares (share amount used to calculate distributable earnings in the earnings press release), that comes to $0.30/share adjusted economic income. So at $3.00/share, OZM is trading at 10x arguably depressed earnings. (This excludes the FCPA settlement amount). If you include $400 million of the FCPA preferreds (total to be offered eventually), then the P/E would actually be closer to 12.6x. For the year to date, economic income was $195 million, and equity-based comp expense was $56 million so adjusted economic income was $139 million. Again using 520 million shares, that comes to $0.25/share in adjusted economic earnings per share. Annualize that and you get $0.33/share. So at $3.00/share, OZM is trading at 9x depressed earnings, or 11x including the FCPA preferred. OK, so maybe this is not really 'depressed'. With still a lot of AUM, it is possible that AUM keeps going down. AUM was $37 billion in November, but let's say it goes down to $30 billion. That's actually a big dip. But let's say AUM goes down there. And then let's assume 1% management fees, 20% incentive fees, and economic income margin of 50% (averaged 56% in past five years) and the OZM master fund return of 5%. In this case, economic income would be $300 million. Equity-based comp costs seems steady at around $100 million, so we deduct that to get adjusted economic income. This comes to $200 million. That comes to around $0.40/share. At $3.00/share, that's 7.5x adjusted economic earnings, or a 13% yield, or 9.4x and 10.6% yield including the FCPA preferreds. So that's not bad. We are assuming AUM dips to $30 billion and OZM funds only earn 5%/year, and with that assumption the stock is trading at this cheap level. Things, of course, can get much worse. If performance doesn't improve, AUM will keep going down. You can't really stress test these things as you can just say their returns will never recover and that's that. On the other hand, any improvement can get you considerable upside. If assets return to $40 billion and returns average 6% over time, economic income margin goes to 56% (average of past five years), adjust economic income per share is $0.76/share and the stock could be worth $7.60/share for more than a double. Here's a matrix of possibilities. Skeptics will say, where are the returns below 5% and AUM below $30 billion?! Well, OK. If returns persist at lower than 5%, it's safe to assume that AUM will go down and this may well end up a zero. That is certainly a possibility. It wouldn't shock many for another hedge fund to shut down. On the other hand, if things do stabilize, normalize and OZM recovers and does well, there is a lot of upside here. What is interesting to me is that the market is discounting a lot of bad and not pricing in much good. This is when opportunities occur, right? 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10% 30,000 $0.45 $0.52 $0.58 $0.65 $0.71 $0.78 35,000 $0.56 $0.64 $0.71 $0.79 $0.86 $0.94 40,000 $0.67 $0.76 $0.84 $0.93 $1.01 $1.10 45,000 $0.78 $0.87 $0.97 $1.07 $1.16 $1.26 50,000 $0.88 $0.99 $1.10 $1.21 $1.32 $1.42 55,000 $0.99 $1.11 $1.23 $1.35 $1.47 $1.58 60,000 $1.10 $1.23 $1.36 $1.49 $1.62 $1.75 The row above is the assumed return of the OZM funds. The left column is the AUM. Assumptions are 1% management fee, 20% incentive fee, 56% economic income margin (excluding equity-based comp expense) and $100 million/year in equity-based comp expense. It shows you that it doesn't take much for adjusted economic income per share to get back up to closer to $1.00, and can maintain $0.45/share even in a $30 billion AUM and 5% return scenario making the current stock price cheap even under that scenario. Conclusion Having said all that, there is still a lot of risk here. Low returns and low bonuses can easily make it hard for OZM to keep their best people. But if their best people perform, I assume they do get paid directly for their performance so that shouldn't be too much of an issue. A lot of the lower returns in recent years is no doubt due to their higher AUM. But it is also probably due to crowding of the hedge fund world and low interest rates leading to an overall lower return environment for all. If you think these things are highly cyclical, then you can expect interest rates to normalize at some point. Money flowing out of hedge funds should also be good for future returns in these strategies. The part of lower returns at OZM due to higher AUM may not reverse itself, though, if OZM succeeds in maintaining and increasing AUM over time. But even without the blowout, high returns of the 1990's, OZM can make decent returns over time as seen in the above table. In any case, unlike a few years ago, the stock prices of many alternative managers are cheap (and I demonstrated how cheap OZM might be here) and institutional money seems to be flowing out of these strategies. So: OZM is cheap and is in a seemingly universally hated industry Money is flowing out of these strategies, particularly performance chasing institutions (that you would often want to fade) there is a bear market in active managers and bubble in indexing (which may actually increase opportunities for active managers) value spreads are wide and has been widening for years making mean reversion overdue etc. These things make OZM a compelling play on these various themes. I would treat this more like an option, though. Buy it like you would buy an option, not like you would invest in, say, a Berkshire Hathaway. There are a lot of paths here to make good money, but there are also plenty of ways to lose. If you look at this like a binary option, it can be pretty interesting! Posted by kk at 8:11 PM No comments: Links to this post Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels: OZM Saturday, October 29, 2016 Gotham's New Fund Joel Greenblatt was in Barron's recently. He is one of my favorite investors so maybe it's a good time for another post. Anyway, this new fund is kind of interesting as I am sort of a tinkerer; this is like the product of some financial tinkering. I don't know if it's the right product for many, but we'll take a look. But first, let's see what he has to say about the stock market in general. The Market Greenblatt says that the market is "expensive". The market is in the 21st percentile of expensive in the past 25 years. Either a typo or he misspoke, he is quoted as saying that the market has been more expensive 79% of the time in the past 25 years. Of course, he means the market has been cheaper 79% of the time. The year forward expected return from this price level is between 2% to 7%, so he figures it averages out to 4% to 6% per year. In the past 25 years, the market has returned 9% to 10%/year so he figures the market is 12% to 13% more expensive than it used to be. He says: Well, one scenario could be that it drops 12% to 13% tomorrow and future returns would go back to 9% to 10%. Or you could underearn for three years at 4% to 6%. We're still expecting positive returns, just more muted. The intelligent strategy is to buy the cheapest things you can find and short the most expensive. But... Immediately, bears will say that this 25 year history is based during a period when interest rates went down. The 10 year bond rate was around 8% back in 1991, and is now 1.8%. In terms of valuation, this would have pushed up asset values by 6.2%/year ($1.00 discounted at 8%/year then and $1.00 discounted by 1.8% now). Declining rates were certainly a factor in stock returns over the past 25 years. Of course, the stock market didn't keep going up as rates kept going down. The P/E ratio of the S&P 500 index at the end of 1990 was around 15x, and now it's 25x according to Shiller's database (raw P/E, not CAPE). So the valuation gain over the 25 years accounted for around 2%/year of the 9-10% return Greenblatt states. Here are the EPS estimates for the S&P 500 index according to Goldman Sachs:
2016 $105 20.4x 2017 $116 18.5x 2018 $122 17.6x Earnings estimates are not all that reliable (estimates have been coming down consistently in the past year or so). But since most of 2016 is done, I suppose the $105 figure should be OK to use. I don't know if it's apples to apples (reported versus operating etc.), but if we assume the 'current' P/E of the market is 20x, then the valuation tailwind accounted for 1.2%/year of the 9-10%. But then of course, even if this was a fair comparison, there is still the aspect of lower interest rates boosting the economy by borrowing future demand (and therefore overstating historical earnings). In any case, one of the main bearish arguments is that this interest rate tailwind in the past will become a headwind going forward. Just about everyone agrees with that. But as I have mentioned before, calling turns in interest rates is very hard, Japan being a great example. If you look at interest rates over the past 100 years or more, you see that major turns in trend don't happen all that often; it's been a single trend of declining rates since the 1980/81 peak, basically. What are the chances that you are going to call the next big turn correctly? I would bet against anyone trying. OK, that didn't come out right. I wouldn't necessarily be long the bond market either. Gotham Index Plus So, back to the topic of Gotham's new fund. It is a fascinating idea. The fund will go long the S&P 500 index, 100% long, and then overlay a 90%/90% long/short portfolio of the S&P 500 stocks based on their valuations. The built-in leverage alone makes this sort of interesting. Many institutions may have an allocation to the S&P 500 index, and then some allocation to long/short equity hedge funds. The return of the Gotham Index plus would be much higher (when things go well). I think this sort of thing was popular at some point in the pension world; index plus alpha etc. Except I think a lot of those were institutions replacing their S&P 500 index portfolios with futures positions, and then using the cash raised to buy mortgage securities. Of course, when things turned bad, oops; they took big hits in S&P 500 futures, tried to post cash for the margin call and realized that their mortgage funds weren't liquid (and was worth a lot less than they thought). Or something like that. There is risk here too, of course. You are overlaying two risk positions on top of each other. When things turn bad, things can certainly get ugly. I think Greenblatt's calculation is that when things turn bad, the long/short usually does well. I haven't seen any backtests or anything, so I don't know what the odds of a blowup are. Expensive stocks tend to be high-beta stocks and cheaper stocks may be lower beta, so in a market correction, the high-beta, expensive names may go down a lot harder. To some extent, lower valuations may reflect more cyclicality, lower credit risk / lower balance sheet quality too so you have to be a little careful. In a financial crisis-like situation, lower valuation (lower credit quality) can tank and some higher valuation names may hold up (like the FANG-like stocks). But Greenblatt's screen is not just raw P/E or P/B, but is tied to return on capital, so maybe this is not as much of an issue compared to a pure P/B model. The argument for this structure is that people can't stay with a strategy if it can't keep up with the market. Here, the market return is built in from the beginning and you just hope for the "Plus" part to kick in. In a long/short portfolio, the beta is netted out to a large extent so can lower potential returns. This fixes that. But there is a cost to that. In any case, I do think it's a really interesting product, but keep in mind that it is a little riskier than Gotham's other offerings. Oh, and go read the article on why this new fund is a good idea. Greenblatt is always a great read. Chipotle (CMG) Well, Chipotle earnings came out and it was predictably horrible. The stock is not cheap so it hasn't been recommendable in a while, but I really like the company. There was a really long article on them recently which was a great read. It didn't really change my view of them all that much. I think they will get a lot of business back, eventually. The earnings call was OK, but what was depressing about it was that they decided to ditch Shophouse. I don't think any analysts asked about it so it was a given, I guess. I had it a couple of times in DC and liked it and was looking forward to it in NY, but I guess that's not going to happen. As an investor, that was not baked into the cake, I don't think, even though there was probably some hope that the CMG brand can be extended into other categories. This puts a lot of doubt into that idea. Someone said that brand extensions in restaurants/retail never work, and that has proven to be the case here. I wouldn't get too excited about pizza and burgers either. Burgers are really crowded now and will only get more so. If CMG has to look to Europe for growth, that is not so great either as the record of U.S. companies expanding into Europe is not good. I would not count on Europe growth. Anyway, this doesn't mean it's all over for CMG. I think they will come back, but there are some serious headwinds now other than their food poisoning problem; more competition etc. They were the only game in town for a while, but now everyone seemingly wants to become the next Chipotle, so there are a lot of options out there now. As for Ackman's interest in CMG, I have no idea what his plan is. There is no real estate here as CMG rents all their restaurants, and their restaurants had high 20's operating margins at their peak. I don't know if they will ever get back up there, but it's not like these guys don't know how to run an efficient operation. Maybe Ackman sees SGA opportunities, but pre-crisis, SGA was less than 7%, so there wouldn't be that much of a boost from cutting SGA. Or maybe he thinks it's time for CMG to do what everyone else is doing and go for the franchise model. Who knows? I look forward to seeing what his thoughts are; hopefully some 500 page presentation pops up somewhere... McDonalds I don't want to turn this into a food blog, but I can't resist mentioning this. I have been a lifelong MCD customer; I have no problem with it. OK, it may not be my first choice of a meal in most cases, but it's fine. And when you have a kid, you tend to go more often that you'd like. But still, it's OK. It is what it is, right? I like the remodelling that they are doing, and the fact that they have free wifi is great too. But here's a big clustermuck they had with their recent custom burger and kiosk idea. I walked into a MCD without knowing anything about any of this recently. A lady said I can order at the kiosk and I said, no, I'll just go to the counter, thank you. And I waited 10 minutes or so in line, looking up at the tasty looking special hamburgers on the HD, LCD menu board. It was finally my turn at the cash register and I said I want that tasty looking hamburger up there on the screen. And the lady said, oh, you can only order that at the kiosk. I was like, huh? That was really annoying. So I wait all this time and I can't get what I want; I have to walk all the way back and get in another line again? Come on! At that point, I didn't want any other burger so I just ordered a salad (and the usual for my kid). OK, so it's my fault, probably. User error. But as a service company, as far as I'm concerned, that was a massive fail on the part of MCD. OK, Now That I started... And by the way, since I got myself started, let me get these two out too. Yes, I spend too much time at fast food joints. Guilty. But still, here are my two peeves related to two of my favorite fast casual places: Shake Shack: Being dragged there all the time, I have learned to love the Shack-cago hot dog. Chicken Shack is awesome too, in case you don't want to eat hamburgers all the time. But I can't tell you how often they get take-out and stay wrong. I had a long run where they didn't get it right at all and had to ask for things to be packed to go. It is really annoying and wastes everyone's time. Chipotle: This hasn't happened to me the last couple of times, but this is the usual conversation that happens to me just about every time I go to Chipotle. CMG: "Hi, what can we get you today?" (or some such) Me: "Um, I'll have a burrito..." CMG: putting the tortilla in the tortilla warmecooker, "and would you like white rice or brown rice? Me: "White rice is fine" CMG: with tortilla still in the cooker, "and black beans or pinto beans?" Me: "black beans". CMG: laying a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter and placing the tortilla on it, moving over to the rice area, "Was that white rice or brown rice?" Me: "white rice" CMG: sliding over to the beans, "and black beans or pinto beans?". Me: "black". I can't tell you how many times this exact thing happened to me. If you can't remember what I say, don't ask beforehand! Just ask when we get to whatever you are going to ask me about! This is not rocket science, lol... Incredibly annoying. Anyway, I still love CMG and will keep eating there. Oh, and to make things interesting, I decided to post a contact email address in the "about" section of the blog. I will try to respond to every email, but keep in mind I may not look in that email box all the time. I will try to post more, though. http://brooklyninvestor.blogspot.com/2016/11/perpetual-option-och-ziff-capital.html (read original with tables)
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