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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


The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled What Caused the Financial Crisis?

Photo Credit: Alane Golden || Sad but true — the crisis was all about bad monetary policy, a housing bubble, and poor bank risk management======================There are a lot of opinions being trotted around ten years after the financial crisis.  A lot of them are self-serving, to deflect blame from areas that they want to protect.  What you are going to read here are my opinions.  You can fault me for this: I will defend my opinions here, which haven’t changed much since the financial crisis.  That said, I will simplify my opinions down to a few categories to make it simpler to...
(343 days ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled The Balance: Short Selling Stocks- Not for the Faint Hearted

Photo Credit: Heather Wizell || Ah, Wallstrip with Lindsay Campbell (look at the microphone…)===========================================Here’s another article that I edited at The Balance: Short Selling Stocks- Not for the Faint Hearted.  The original author started out conservative on the topic, and I took it up another notch.For this article, I:added the information about changes to the uptick rule (which did not reflect anything post-2006),corrected a small math error,made the example more realistic as to how margin works in this situation,added almost all of the section on...
(354 days ago)

The Aleph Blog wrote a new blog post titled The Balance: Are You a Speculator or an Investor?

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg. NZ || Ah, Hong Kong. Home to speculation and Investment.==========================One thing to do at The Balance is fix old articles.  This article compares speculators and investors.  What I brought to this article was the following:Change the phrasing from trading to speculating to be more pointed.Add more and better criteria to what an investor does.Added the entire section “What To Do”Added a picture and more links.  Corrected grammar in a few spots and tightened up some language.The main reason to edit this article as I did was to give readers...
(357 days ago)


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.