Seth Levine is a professional, institutional investor focused on selecting high yield bond positions for a financial services company. He is also the creator of The Integrating Investor where he blogs about macroeconomic and investment strategy related themes. Seth holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University and is a CFA charterholder. You can learn more about Seth at www.integratinginvestor.com and follow him on Twitter at @SethLevine2. Please note that any opinions and views he expresses are solely his own and do not reflect those of his current of former employers.
If there were a Word of the Year award in finance it most certainly would go to volatility. It seems like nearly every article you read makes some reference to it. Is volatility gone for good or is it just in hibernation? Did central bankers forever squash volatility, repress volatility for some time, transform volatility? Did structural changes in the macroeconomic landscape create a “new normal” with respect to volatility? Is volatility building beneath the surface of the markets planning its vengeful return? Is volatility volatile? Volatility, volatility, volatility! With all this discussion of volatility, one thing seems certain: there’s a bubble in volatility, as in the word itself.
I recently finished reading Edwin Lefèvre’s classic Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, marking my second time through the book. I first picked it up nine years ago on the recommendation of a former coworker who was a flow trader. A burgeoning credit analyst at a bulge bracket investment bank at the time, I was interested in learning more about the trading aspect of job and had asked for a primer on the subject. While initially confused to have received the historical novel as the answer to my inquiry, my sophomoric skepticism was completely reversed by its end. Though many of the book’s lessons were largely lost upon my younger self, it struck the older, wiser, and only slightly more profitable “me” like a thunderbolt. In this post I thought I’d do some reminiscing on Lefèvre’s “Reminiscences”, and add to the ever expanding tome on the subject.
Central bankers catch a lot of flak these days. To be sure, much of it is deserved in my opinion. However, there are two dominant trends in the market place – increasing allocations towards passive and private market investment strategies – where this ire might be misplaced. What if these developments, however undesirable they may or may not be, were merely part of the “natural” evolution of investment markets?
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