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STONKS - Part 1
This is not financial advice
Well, I’m back from Rwanda and that’s a saga that will be told in due time, replete with gallons of soup, knee-deep mud, chilly nights, and, of course, gorillas, but now I’m in Monroe, Louisiana which is remarkably hotter than the volcanoes of Africa. Next week, I’ll be in Hawaii. So, I’m been busy and continue to miss my self-imposed deadline for releasing these reports. Forgive me! I will redouble my efforts!
Here’s the beginning of a project that you may or may not have some relation to. Did you or someone you know by stock in GameStop a few years back? Did you have “Diamond Hands?” Did you take it “To The Moon?” Are you still “HODLing?” How’s that working out for you?
The series is coming out very soon, on a very well-known streaming platform, and will include narration written by your truly. Yes, I was fortunate enough to be invited to jump over the production line and join the post team as a narration writer. It’s been a fantastic experience! A veritable credited double-bill!
** Note - Because this show is still not released, I have redacted some parts.
Project: GameStop Series (redacted title)
Cast of Characters:
Theo - Director
Amy - Producer
Britton - Director of Photography
Bryce - Assistant Camera
Lily - Associate Producer
Mariko - Production Manager
May 2, 2021
Boomer Camps & Bread Houses
After a blissful night in Enfield, we made our way to the beach club, where the lake is manmade and it's always summer camp for boomers. Well, that's at least what Abbe told us. It did look well-attended and kind of like a national park campground on steroids.
Joe and Abbe, tucked into their awesome van, related their tale to Theo. There was much discussion of stonks, Vlad, Reddit, Discord, and everyone else who had a voice in the run-up. Including Elon. And there was a pillow.
Then we had lunch. I got the tuna wrap and that's just what it was. Tuna salad in a wrap. Having had low expectations, I was not disappointed. Britton was excited by the side order of cut-up carrots. And then the rain came for us.
Joe and Abbe were unfazed and despite much cringing by everyone else, Abbe sliced and diced with her power tools, often freehanded, always without safety. But, the van looks dope! After much discussion on the order of operations, we caravaned to Manchester but were too late to invade an actual working GameStop store. Alas, we settled for an exterior shot and a group photo from a ripped passerby.
Much to my dismay, we got to New Haven too late for me to get a clam pie from Pepe's, so I settled for some late-night Indian food from House of Naan around the corner. The vindaloo was tangy and spicy and the garlic naan baked just right. So, as far as real estate goes, that is a house I'd like to live in. Bryce said some folks went to Sally's for pizza, but he seemed unimpressed.
Tomorrow to Yale! Boola Boola!
May 3, 2021
Ponzi Rental Cars
The Graduate Hotel is like what I'd imagine a college dorm at Disneyworld might be like. A hyperreal facsimile of a collegiate gilded age, complete with pennants, hand-rubbed hardwood shelves, and lots of books. Worked for me! Although tempted to go full hobbit have a second breakfast at call time, I abstained but must confess to eyeing those parfaits all day.
First up was A. who gave us a master class in financial crises. He started with a personal story of his father and Bear Stearns and then went to the heart of short-selling. He was full of energy and came with three shirts to choose from. I'd love to take one of his classes; he teaches central bankers. Total pro.
Lunch was an audible play by Amy who deftly maneuvered us away from Atticus and towards B. Natural, much to everyone's delight. I got the Wild Salmon Bowl which was more flavorful than your average "healthy bowl" you might find on the road. Once I realized that the spicy maple glaze was on the bottom, and with a bit of stirring one could coax it upwards, it was a delight for the palate. I heard no complaints from other crew members. And the matcha latte was solid.
Post-lunch we were treated to the wisdom of R. So much to unpack here - Theo is going to have a challenge not wanting to use everything. If you look at a graph of GameStop it looks like a graph of Covid 19. It’s a contagion story. The Cryptocurrency revolution is narrative-based. The 1930s were actually fun times! People ought to enjoy investing; it's better than other hobbies. But, be careful as you might just be the sucker. Then again, it's better than roulette. Meanwhile, bucket shops are back. Charles Ponzi made his name in postage reply coupons. Theo and R. floated a whole new scheme involving the buying and selling of rental cars. R. needs to rewatch "The Big Short" and I need to take his free course on Coursera (full disclosure, I am a shareholder).
And then we were done! Goodbye, New Haven! Hello New York!
May 4, 2021
Dog Eat Hedge Fund
We arrived at Story Syndicate where we left off the night before. It was like coming home again.
Austin gave us a grand tour of the grand conspiracy of the grand unified theory of the end of the world prepper scenarios, wrapped in a GameStop SuperStonk Reddit all-night jamboree. It was glorious, and Theo was game to follow him down the rabbit hole right into the heart of freeze-dried food darkness. He explained how there are premiums to be paid for shorting stocks. But where are the physical stock certificates? And who was the "Bagholder?" Hedge funds should not own brokerages. Explore the fraud triangle. Citadel was fined 58 times. It's all just a big fake economy. Look into S3. Has Tesla been shorted by big oil? Guys, it's called a "Flash Crash." Are we actually in the middle of a financial crisis? Is GameStop is the linchpin? But, whatever, WallStreetBets is all about saving the apes now. F**K them, it's SuperStonks 4Eva. And growing CBD. Austin is NOT a pump and dump guy. No, he's more like Ahab and Blackrock is the Whale. So, Austin - will it be clam or cod?
And then, lunch. Or was it brunch? Whichever it was, it did come from Bluestone Lane, which is delicious and Australian. I copied Amy and had the warm chicken grain bowl and a matcha latte. Solid execution all around. And then I topped it off with two mint chocolate squares from the crafty bag. Decadence.
Up at MC, they have a secret room full of supplies. J., meanwhile, gave us a proseminar in distressed debt strategies. AMC had liquidity problems. As for GME, don't ask him, they don’t traffic short sales. AMC had the will to survive and Mudrick helped engineer a positive feedback loop. Theo pressed for the truth about Robinhood and Citadel, and Jason parried. Like two prizefighters, they circled each other, but no blows were landed. Look, hedge funds are really misunderstood and unappreciated. Like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect despite being fully aligned with the Reddit crowd. Every day, J. has a scorecard. He gets paid when they make money. It's real-time Darwinism and if you slip into the fourth quartile, you’re done. Malls are not going away. PF Changs is a bellweather. Dog eat dog eat dog eat dog.
Well, what can I say? They had Pelligrino water, chocolate, and mint lifesavers in the conference room. I'll lay down with those dogs.
S. Tomorrow! Once more into the breach!
May 5, 2021
Soap Opera Mystery Data Market
For once, I got to go up to the location in an office tower in the passenger elevator as opposed to the freight elevator, aka "the garbage chute." And the blessings just kept on coming once inside S. - we had bagels and hot drinks waiting for us! Despite my better angels' (Mariko) warnings about carbs, I savored that everything bagel with scallion cream cheese. There was even an extra sandwich there for Britton who regaled me with tales about the previous night's adventure with keys and batteries for the cargo van.
Once we settled in with B., we got a deep dive into information technologies and how they relate to the financial markets. Mutual funds have strict regulations, whereas hedge funds are more flexible. The Bloomberg "terminal" is essential and has never gone down in price or value. As for short selling - Theo wanted to know who would even make these bets? Well, insofar as hedge funds go, shorting allows you to mitigate risk with less volatile returns. But S. does not trade, no, they are in the information business. With their app, it's like you can binge all the episodes of "Tiger King" (yawn) in one place. They are the mapper of the maps, the Netflix of financial data.
That's the point when I realized why B. had all those Edward Tufte books in his office. S. stitches it all together, like a tailor making J's bespoke suits. And then, while still rolling, I remembered back to the early aughts when I talked my way into writing an enterprise intranet application for Citibank's Private Bank that crunched all their investment products' returns together into a searchable database for their bankers to use with clients. But that's another story that involves a temp agency, a fake insurance policy, Argentine hedge fund advisors, a "slush fund," and a tuna sub locked in a filing cabinet.
In a nutshell, data is what helps you make money. It gives you a sense of reality. So, start with first principal questions. Engage your curiosity. We're all prisoners of platforms, so good luck finding out Arnold Schwarzenegger's actual height.
Meanwhile, I got the suspicion that B. has been tracking our movements for days now. Why else would he float the SAME rental car scam that R. suggested? And then, why would he suggest the SAME thing that J. did - using satellite imagery to count cars in mall parking lots? Coincidence? I'm not saying there's a conspiracy, but there's a conspiracy. And if I'm wrong, well, then at least there's material for crosscutting animated sequences.
In conclusion, GameStop is just a financial soap opera. And like every good opera, someone’s gonna get killed. The good news is that one short-seller won’t bring it all down.
And then, lunch. It seemed to me like we all got the mystery market bowl, but perhaps I'm just a victim of the lunch platform. Which is to say, whatever was in that container in front of me, I happily shoveled into my head hole. There was kale, there were rainbow carrots, there was a grain and I was the grazing animal. Britton and I agreed that the cookie was amazing - the extra salt put it over the edge, in my opinion. In fact, we considered only ordering cookies next time. Satisfaction.
That's it for a couple of days! See you Saturday! And please, don’t blame the shorts. Hamilton started it.
Now, show me the dinosaur in the middle of the pond.
Also Of Interest
You may have a digital twin by the end of this decade.
Make AI-generated art with DALL-E mini. Like this “house made of naan bread:”
There will never be a self-driving Ferrari.
Did China detect a signals from an Alien civilization?
Is this Google AI sentient?
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All good thoughts,