Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finney whistles while he works

Sidling up beside me on Spring Street today was a whistling man, it was a familiar tune and it turned out to be a familiar face, none other than market maven Kizziah Finney. "Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer'. That's my market forecast mate. How ya doing." Finney was in stride, in voice, and in character. "The market is lazy, those low volume days, it's hazy, no one can see beyond their nose and you may not be able to see that far, and it's crazy, 1% up, 2% down, 2% up, 1% down, on good days the media lets happy people talk and on the bad days they let the grim people talk. Unfortunately the down days seem to be wearing down the ups little by little."

Finney walked with a bounce in his step and continued without interruption. "Hey I'm the Irish Nat King Cole. 'Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies, and on the beach you'll see the girls in their bikinis' or something like that. We need diversion because this market is giving me a heat rash."

At this point Finney's raucous voice seemed to be attracting some attention from the curious, a little unusual in New York where being anonymous and ignored is generally viewed as one of our civil rights. I suggested that we duck into Spring Lounge for a soda or beer, and a break for our feet. Finney welcomed the idea and continued his monologue as we ordered refreshments.

"You may not know that I'm on my own now. Clients were driving me nuts. The market's up and they buy, the next day they're panicked. What do you say. Now I guess you could say I'm starting a hedge fund, whatever that means. I don't even have a name for it yet. Lots of folks use their street names, or should I say lane names, from up in Greenwich, but me, you know Avenue B Capital doesn't sound so reassuring, better than the old days but still a little edgy for the conservative types. You got any ideas just pass them on."

I asked Finney what he was investing in now and started him off again as he drained his mug and called for another. "Same old, for what it's worth. U.S. small caps which have lost a lot of liquidity for now so they're stalled, whatever the offshore Chinese seem to buying as a long term opportunity, some cloud computing technology stuff, and I'm still hopeful on the U.S. infrastructure plays because it's going to be a necessity someday before everything just falls apart. Emerging market corporate debt is risky but has good yields and perhaps better prospects than any U.S. stuff. Since I now have this hedge fund status I'm shorting any finance company that is regional and doesn't have critical mass because all of these new regulations may just increase their overhead and crimp their products. Shorting some European banks as well, French and German mainly, as European credit issues are not going away anytime soon. That's about it other than a sizeable amount of cash on the sidelines in boring short term Treasuries. It used to be munis but that stuff scares me now. Overall I'm just building and maintaining a portfolio for the long term but that's not completely reassuring as the long term is really just a series of short terms. Lazy, hazy, crazy now, the picture will become clear later in the year I guess."

I had an appointment to keep, so with apologies wished Finney well, finished my soda and headed off into the Soho streets with the tourists and shoppers. Finney hoisted his beer in a goodbye and shouted after me, "Call me with some names, I can't be No Name Partners".


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