Some things and ideas: September 2022
Some random thoughts on articles that caught my attention in the last month. Note that I try to write notes on articles immediately after reading them, so there can be a little overlap in themes if an article grabs my attention early in the month and is similar to an article that I like later in the month.
My monthly overview (Monthly recurring piece)
I consider YAVB my “empire” with four core pieces: this blog / substack (the free side), the premium side of this blog, my podcast (also on Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube), and my twitter account. You can see my 2022 vision and goals for the empire here. If you like the blog / free site, I'd encourage you to check out the pod, follow me on twitter, and maybe even subscribe to the premium site!
I try to be as helpful as humanly possible to anyone whose research / writing I enjoy. In almost every post I do, you'll notice I link to other subscription services or investors who I like. I don't get referral fees or anything for that; these are almost always organic links and highlights that I do not because I was asked to but because one of my goals with the (very small) platform I have is to shine light on other people who are doing good work and make sure they have a platform big enough to encourage them to keep doing good work!
If you're launching a subscription service, or a new blog, or you're an investor who has done some really good research and wants to get some more eyeballs on it, please drop me a line and let me know. If the quality is there, I would love to link to your blog post or subscription service or research (and if the quality isn't there, I'm happy to provide feedback! I have done so with several services and I think my advice is good / appreciated / helpful!), and I'd love to have you on the podcast to talk about all of it. I can't promise anything, but most podcast guests / people I've linked to have been very happy about the reception / feedback they've gotten (I've even been called the king of the sub bumps / almost as good as Twitter / a big sub bump, and I've generally heard from investors with LPs who come on the podcast that they're delighted by the response). My DMs are always open, so feel free to slide into them if I can be helpful!
A bonus note: I get asked from lots of people about how to break into the finance industry. I detailed it more here, but my top advice would be to go out and start a substack (substack recently gave me a referral code if you start one; if you use that, awesome! But I’ve been recommending starting a substack logn before they offered referrals!)
FinTwit board game night (Monthly recurring piece)
I am an absolute board game nut, and I’m guessing some of my readers are as well, so I’ve started hosting a FinTwit board game night. We had our first night in September, ~12 people came through, and it was a blast!
General idea is simple: we’ll meet up at my office (it’s in the Nomad area) around 6, play some board games, and have a good time. I’ll likely order a few pizzas for the crew, and everyone is welcome to bring some drinks if they’d like to!
We played Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride last month, but my interest in board games is very wide (true story: I’ve bought so many board games and they take up so much room in our apartment, my wife has forbidden me from buying more…. and that rule only gets broken once a month or so). We’ll likely try to get some 7 Wonders or other games going in the near future
Anyway, if you’re interested in joining, feel free to send me an email or slide into my DMs and drop me your email there. I’ll send an email out to everyone who’s interested later this week or early next week to plan a game in the middle of the month.
If all goes well, I plan on turning it into a monthly thing, so no worried if you can’t make this one!
State of the markets (Monthly recurring piece)
I know it’s silly… but the past few months I’ve included a “state of the markets” piece, and I’ve found it’s really helped me think through what I’m seeing. So I’m going to make this a monthly recurring piece.
Everything about September was “miserable.” My preferred index, the Russell 2000, was down ~9%, and to be honest it felt a little worse! In May / June, I was hearing some real distress / some people were despondent; a lot of that went away as markets enjoyed a mini-rally in July / August. I feel like a lot of the people I talk to are more despondent now than they were in May/June. I get it: rates are higher, markets are getting volatile to the point where it feels like things are “breaking” (the British Pension sell off / bail out being the headliner), and I feel like every person I follow on Twitter is prepping for a market crash or wondering if CS is on the verge of bankruptcy / poises a systemic risk.
Bottom line: people are fearful!
Again, I get it. Inflation is still high, and it seems like the fed is willing to overshoot to the downside to crush inflation. On top of the increasingly likely odds of a recession, the rise in interest rates seems like it’s revealing all sorts of weird correlations and vulnerabilities (like the British pension stuff above). I can’t tell you how many people messaged me about Credit Suisse’s CDSs over the weekend and how they could represent a “Lehman moment.” And, on top of all that, you have the rising risk of nuclear war!
So yes, things are scary…. but the time to put capital work is when things are scary. There is a lot of value out there right now. It doesn’t take much digging to find companies that are trading for <10x free cash flow while buying back shares pretty aggressively. Will all of those companies do well? Nah, of course some of them will do poorly…. but it’s hard to imagine buying a basket of those companies and not doing well over a multi-year time horizon. The math is just too powerful.
Nerd Corner (Monthly recurring piece)
There’s no hiding it; I’m a massive nerd. I read 3-4 fantasy books a month, my favorite pastime is playing board games with my wife and friends, and I religiously watch every new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and listen to fantasy show recaps on Binge Mode (so much so that I even did a Twitter Space talking about the MCU!). Plus, I was an eager supporter of the Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter (yes, I splurged and went for the hardcover books).
Anyway, I figured a few of you are nerds like me, so I’m starting this segment to give recs of what I’m nerding out over currently, with the hope that you’ll either try it and enjoy it or recommend me similarly nerdy things that I’ll enjoy. This month’s recs:
Rhthym of War (Stormlight book 4): Spent the month devouring this beast. I’m obviously a Sanderson super fan, and this is the last of his books I hadn’t read. It’s incredible.
Now that I’m done with Sanderson, I’m moving on to some new series! I started Foundryside last night (will report back when I’m finished next month), and I’ve got a few other series lined up.
PS- outside of my monthly recs, I constantly get asked what my favorite fantasy books are. So I’m just going to throw this list out monthly:
Anything Brandon Sanderson writes; he’s by far the best fantasy author out there. I’d probably start with Mistborn.
Kingkiller is probably the best series I’ve ever read; waiting for the third is agony.
Gentleman Bastards is right up there with Kingkiller; the mix of fun and world building is outstanding.
Red Rising series is more sci-fi, but my god is it good. I would literally stay up all night to read every book the day they came out (note: I’ve only read the first trilogy; I’m going to read the second when the last book comes out later this year).
If you’re looking for something a little more under the radar (most of the books above are widely regarded as some of the best fantasy books / series ever), the Licanius Trilogy was fantastic.
First Law trilogy is excellent. It can get a little brutal though; there are a bunch of sequels and spins, but I’ve never been able to finish them because one of them got so brutal I just put the book down and never picked it up again. But the first trilogy is really, really great.
The Cradle series probably isn’t as “good” as the books above, but I binged them and every fantasy fan I’ve recommended them to has said something along the line of “I read all ten books in two months after I opened the first one.”
Podcasts (Monthly recurring piece)
I launched the YAVP (Yet Another Value Podcast) in August 2020; the goal of the podcast is to do a deep dive into a high conviction idea from a sharp investor. No talking about the investor’s philosophy or history; just one well researched idea broken down (I provided a longer piece on my vision for the podcast at the start of 2021). They've been a blast so far.
A big update: I moved the podcast to a dedicated section of this blog. If you already subscribe to the podcast, no need to do anything. If you don’t….. well, you should!
This month’s podcasts:
James Elbaor is investing in Bill Ackman at a Discount $PSH (podcast #124)
The CoVest Select Team on launching CoVest and their $OEC thesis (podcast #126)
Chris DeMuth's State of the Markets September 2022 (podcast #127)
Dave Johnson from Caligan Partners on Evolus (EOLS) (podcast #128)
Other things I liked (Monthly Recurring Piece)
Thanks Andrew, have a good month! Hopefully this one has more positive surprises than negative -- feels like we're overdue for good news. Cheers 💚 🥃
I live in an avid board game family. I have been becoming more appreciative of cooperative games. While difficult to find games for larger groups, we have recently purchased and been very happy with Flash Point. Consider trying if you haven't already. We have played many times and have yet to move to the more difficult level(s).