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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 Operating vs Financial Cash Flows

Photo Credit: Daniel Broche || To the victor goes the spoils, or, does a victory get spoiled?====================================I was at a CFA Baltimore board meeting, and we were talking before the meeting.  Most of us work for value investors, or, growth-at-a-reasonable-price investors.  One fellow who has a business model somewhat like mine, commented that all the money was flowing into ETFs which were buying things like Facebook, Amazon and Google, which was distorting the market.  I made a comment that something like that was true during the dot-com bubble, though it was direct then,...
(3 days ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled The Best of the Aleph Blog, Part 30

Photo Credit: Philipp Messner || Every culture should learn their alphabet =========================================In my view, these were my best posts written between May and July 2014:Look to the Liabilities to Understand the AssetsWhy do new asset classes work very well for a time and then fail?I Have My DoubtsLearning to live with uncertainty and thrive amid it.Asset Value IllusionPeople don’t need assets as much as they need streams of income derived from the assets (dividends, capital gains) that allow them to purchase the goods and services that they want and need.  (Low...
(10 days ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled Arconic Arguments

There’s a lot of bits and bytes spilled in the war between Elliott Associates (and those that favor their position) and the current board of Arconic.  I want to point out a few things, having held Alcoa since prior to the breakup, and added to my positions in both new Alcoa and Arconic post-breakup.Profitability will likely improve more if Elliott’s nominees are elected to the board, and Larry Lawson is CEO.The existing management team does not deserve credit for the recent rise in the stock price for two reasons: a decent amount of the rise in Arconic’s stock price...
(26 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.