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Publication Name: The Aleph Blog

Brief description: Helping Institutions and Ordinary People Invest Better by Focusing on Risk Control

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Owner Name: David J. Merkel

Joined: August 20th, 2011

Activity

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled “Bank” Some of Your Gains

Photo Credit: Scoobyfoo=======================Recently I read Jonathan Clements’ piece Enough Already.  The basic idea was to encourage older investors who have made gains in the risk assets, typically stocks, though it would apply to high yield bonds and other non-guaranteed investments that are highly correlated with stocks.  His pithy way of phrasing it is:If I have already won the game, why would I keep playing?His inspiration for the piece stems from a another piece by William Bernstein [at the WSJ] How to Tell if Your Retirement Nest Egg Is Big Enough.  He asked a question like...
(23 hours ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled The Many Virtues of Simplicity

Photo Credit: Christopher || Maintaining a marriage is simple… if you do it right…==============There are at least eight reasons why taking a simple approach to investing is a wise thing to do.UnderstandableExplainableReduced “Too smart for you own good risk”Clearer risk managementLess tradingTaxes are likely easierNot TrendyCheapUnderstandableYou have to understand your investments, even if it’s just at the highest overview level.  If you don’t have that level of understanding, then at some point you will be tempted to change your investments during a...
(10 days ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled Book Review: The Best Investment Writing, Volume 1

I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to contribute a chapter to this book.  I am going to encourage you to buy this book, but let me give some of the reasons not to buy this book:Don’t buy it to give me something.  I don’t get anything from sales of this book.  Neither does Mebane Faber, who is giving all of the profits to charity.Don’t buy it to read my article.  You can read it for free here.  Better, you can read the updated version of the article, which I publish quarterly, here.  (Those reading this at Amazon, there are links at my blog.  Google “Alephblog The...
(13 days ago)

About:

David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments.  It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately.

From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities.  I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies.

Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm.

From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website RealMoney.com.  Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better.  I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution.  After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that.

Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life.

My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog.

I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.

Blog Objectives

My objectives in this blog are relatively simple:

  • To further flesh out my thoughts from RealMoney, and provide for a greater degree of interaction with readers there.
  • To interact more broadly with the blogosphere, adding my own distinct ideas to the mix.
  • To develop an investment management shop. Initially, this would be institutional money management on a “long only” and hedged basis. Eventually, I would create a mutual fund so that smaller retail investors can invest with me. I would try to buy up a failed mutual fund shell, allowing a way in that is cheaper, and providing tax-sheltered gains to early investors. But all of this is a dream that might not be realized. Until then, I can tell you about managers who manage money in a way similar to mine.
  • All of these goals rely on the help of Jesus Christ and my readers. I thank you for taking the time to read what I write.