Abnormal Returns is on a bit of a respite this week. That does not mean that we are content-free. As we have done in previous years we asked a panel of highly respected independent finance bloggers a series of (hopefully) provocative questions. Below you can see the blogger’s name, blog name and Twitter/StockTwits handle. We hope you enjoy these posts as much as we do. Feel free to jump in the comments with your own answers to the questions.

Question: What are you jazzed about that no one else is talking about? That could include a book, blog, Twitter feed, song, movie, app, online series, etc… (Answers in no particular order.)

David Shvartsman, Finance Trends Matter, @financetrends:

Well, I am pretty jazzed about the following books and blogs, which are a bit under the radar:

a) Currently re-reading The Greatest Trade Ever, by Gregory Zuckerman (2009). One of the best books (IMO) of the post-crisis period, and a well researched precursor to Michael Lewis’ more famous book on the same subject, The Big Short.

b) Allocating a good deal of time to reading + sharing ideas with 2 of my favorite trading scribes, Olivier Tischendorf at the Tischendorf Letter and Charles Kirk at The Kirk Report. Learned so much about trading and personal growth, psychology from these guys.

c) The rise of podcasts, e-books, and livestreaming video, which will ramp up the available info on trading, investing, and entrepreneurship to whole new generations of listeners. This is the future of the internet and it will boost the DIY culture. Everything from music and film to startups and investing will be influenced by this personal publishing boom, and there will be an unprecedented array of viewpoints and expertise available to all, worldwide and on demand.

Conor Sen, Conor Sen, @conorsen:

As I believe with rate hikes underway we’re in the late cycle in the US, I’m trying to think ahead to what the next cycle’s boom will be. At the moment from a tops-down perspective in the cycle from…I don’t know…2018-25? — I’d love to be in companies that are using some combination of data/analytics/information/automation/robotics, sensors, solar energy, and transportation to solve problems for consumers. More capex-heavy, less trivial app-conomy stuff.

Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker, @reformedbroker:

My colleague Michael Batnick is in the early stages of a book idea that’s going to blow your heads off. Stay tuned.

Robin Powell, The Evidence-Based Investor, @RobinJPowell:

For me there are two really exciting developments in investing at the moment. The first, as you might expect me to say, is the growth of evidence-based investing; the second is the surge in popularity of ethical investing. What really excites me is the point at which those two developments meet. In other words, how do we maximise our expected returns for the level of risk we are willing to take, while doing so in a way that reflects our personal values — who we are and what’s important to us? I’m expecting plenty of activity in that area in the years ahead.

Jeff Miller, A Dash of Insight, @dashofinsight:

I need to get out more!!

David Merkel, Aleph Blog, @alephblog:

Scholarship on the New Testament has improved dramatically.  The Gospels are written as recent eyewitness history in a way that average Romans and Greeks would have understood.  See the book “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” for more.  Also, the book of Acts follows a similar vein, and a closer understanding of the history of the times reveals why the historical claims of Jesus made such a large impact on the Roman world.  See the book “World Upside Down” for more.  These books should end the idea that the New Testament is less than historical. It was written early, by eyewitnesses.

Robert Seawright, Above the Market,@rpseawright:

Season 4 of The Americans is starting up. It has never gotten good ratings but it’s the best show on television.

Howard Lindzon, Howard Lindzon, @howardlindzon:

On inclusion I think Robinhood is the first product to really make it easy for anyone …man, woman to invest. It’s going to still take time but never been more social or private to buy 1 share of favorite brands and just start. That’s the real exciting part.

James Osborne, Bason Asset, @BasonAsset:

At the risk of sounding like an old man (wouldn’t be the first time), audio books! For me, audio books are like podcasts except rarely annoying and always (when well chosen) provide great learning opportunities.

David Fabian, FMD Capital, @fabiancapital:

The Stocktwits community is one of the most undervalued resources for both novice and professional investors. I continue to be impressed with the depth of knowledge that is shared on there in real-time. It provides an excellent source of community and market sentiment as well.

Wayne Lloyd, Dynamic Hedge, @dynamichedge:

The blockchain has caught my attention recently in a big way, but everyone is talking about the blockchain. One product that is a bit under everyone’s radar is Ethereum. If Bitcoin was a great proof of concept and an interesting idea, Ethereum is the complete package. I could go on at length about the project, but I feel that you should do yourself a favor and research Ethereum. It was developed by a Peter Theil Fellow (the fellowship introduced by Peter Theil, legendary Paypal founder and Facebook investor, that encourages talented young people to quit post-secondary and pursue a big project).

Cullen Roche, Pragmatic Capitalism, @cullenroche:

I am excited about how great the future is going to be. We live on a rock spinning 1,000 mph through space in a universe where we might be the only creatures fully aware of it. The whole human existence is a miracle that should have us all waking up in the morning screaming “holy crap, this is amazing”.  Instead, we are caught up in this delusion about never having “enough” and feeling like we need to make everything “great again”.  The future is going to be great.  I am just excited to experience a small slice of it.

Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D., Alpha Architect, @alphaarchitect:

In general, over the last few years, we’ve been pretty cynical about opaque conflicts of interest associated with bank-affiliated financial advisors. But it looks like there is change on the horizon. The Department of Labor is proposing a new fiduciary standard rule that will apply to brokers at the banks and how they service retirement assets. Under this new fiduciary standard, it will be more difficult for the banks to offer conflicted advice, and to maintain platform revenue streams which, while good for the banks, tend to come out of the pockets of investors. We think this is a pretty big change, and may be the start of more change to come, which will ultimately benefit investors. The financial blogosphere is obviously all over this, with a leading charge from the Ritholtz gang, but I would like to see more of this discussion in the main stream press…

Tom Brakke, the research puzzle, @researchpuzzler:

Professionally, I think that there is not nearly enough attention to the weak state of investment organization due diligence.  (I’m talking my own book, since I provide related services.)  Personally, having gone through health problems over the last few months, I’m “jazzed about” the new ideas and perspectives that I gained from the experience, and wondering what they will mean for how I live the rest of my life.

Cam Hui, Humble Student of the Markets, @humblestudent:

Catching the likely market top this year and preparing the severe bear market that follows:

Why the next recession will be very ugly

Eddy Elfenbein, Crossing Wall Street, @eddyelfenbein:

A few things. It looks like an ETF based on the Buy List will become a reality. We’re still in the planning stages, but it looks promising so far.

Another idea that’s bouncing around my head is the relationship of different market groups to each other. For example, why do bonds follow stocks for a while then break apart.

There’s been some quant work here (multi-dimensional scaling, etc). I think this is an unexplored vein, and it could reveal some important insights on the market.

Michael Batnick, The Irrelevant Investor, @michaelbatnick:

This is well documented but I’m really into the new television experience. I never channel surf anymore and I’m wasting very little time in front of the TV. My efficiency and productivity has increased exponentially thanks to Netflix and the rise of quality television.

Ben Carlson, A Wealth of Common Sense, @awealthofcs:

Books: Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg is a great book on understanding motivation and productivity. His first book the Power of Habit is also really goodt. The Institutional ETF Toolbox by Eric Balchunas is a must read for anyone in the investment industry. For fiction, I’m addicted to everything Lee Child, C.J. Box or John Sandford write.

Tech: OneTab is a great little tool for people like me who always have 20-30 tabs open at once on their Internet browser. And I’ve made the switch in the past year to reading almost all of my books on a Kindle Paperwhite. It takes some getting used to but the fact that you can highlight text and then view those highlights from any web browser is very useful. It also makes traveling much easier.

Under-rated TV Shows: Married, Togetherness, Last Man on Earth, Catastrophe, Master of None, Bosch, Love, Bloodline, House of Lies.

Under-followed Twitter accounts: @south1, @EricBalchunas, @MylesUdland, @awardsdarwin.

Jeff Carter, Points and Figures, @pointsnfigures:

I am really jazzed about artificial intelligence that helps organizations wade through all the regulations that have been added to the general register.  Bots can go through them and use AI to make sure orgs are dotting I’s and crossing T’s.   Huge opportunity here in all kinds of verticals.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Millenial Invest, @millennial_inv:

I love to read, and always will, but I am excited to read less in my field and more around it this year. I’ll still read and recommend books, but for big, interesting problems I am going to try to reach my own conclusions first, working with raw data rather than with other people’s research and conclusions. Schopenhauer put it best:

“much reading robs the mind of all elasticity, as the continual pressure of a weight does a spring, and that the surest way of never having any thoughts of your own is to pick up a book every time you have a free moment. The practice of doing this is the reason erudition makes most men duller and sillier than they are by nature and robs their writings of all effectiveness: they are in Pope’s words: For ever reading, never to be read…Reading is merely a surrogate for thinking for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts. Many books, moreover, serve merely to show how many ways there are of being wrong, and how far astray you yourself would go if you followed their guidance. – You should read only when your own thoughts dry up, which will of course happen frequently enough even to the best heads; but to banish your own thoughts so as to take up a book is a sin against the Holy Ghost; it is like deserting untrammeled nature to look at a herbarium or engravings of landscapes.”

I’ve deleted social media from my phone five times, because it gobbles all free thinking time. I hate it. I hope I can keep it off my phone for a while.


Thanks to everyone for their participation. You can also check out yesterday’s edition as well. Stay tuned for our answers to this week’s batch of blogger wisdom questions.

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