First, let's start with a little confession.
The due diligence required to identify the Gadfly Trade of the Week could have been a little more robust this week, but our minds were on other things. In fact, it's remarkable that there is any production coming from the Gadfly team at all, since we all became quite distracted and humbled this week to discover a journalist who is, without exaggeration, America's greatest living newspaper columnist.
Again and again septuagenarian columnist Emmet Meara of Maine's Bangor Daily News has scooped and schooled us younger go-getters on some of the most important topics of the day. Just peruse his recent headlines and see for yourself. On demographics: "The older I get, the better my bed feels." On the consumer economy: "A new pair of jeans can empty your wallet." Even on the timeless human struggle with mortality: "Sudden love of vegetables made me wonder if I was dying" and "I'm not dead yet but here's my obituary."
It's a remarkable output for a man who spends 12 hours a day in bed, snoozing and listening to Bill Simmons podcasts. Hats are fully tipped in your general direction, Mr. Meara.
Anyway, the markets aren't quite dead yet, so here are the runners up for Trade of the Week:
1. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon dumped about a whole year's pay -- $26.6 million -- buying shares of his own company. As Emmet Meara might say, "the lower this stock goes, the better it feels." Nice whale trade, Jamie, but you do realize you could've financed it by pairing it with a short on Deutsche Bank CoCos, right? Then again, negative deposit rates could be right around the corner, so you gotta park that cash somewhere.
2. Gregory Ruehle, an unregistered broker in Oceanside, Calif., was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of selling $1.9 million worth of fake stock in a medical device company and using the cash to pay back gambling debts. Wait, this is illegal now? Thanks, Obama.
3. Something we don't quite get about some egghead proving Einstein was correct about something regarding gravity moving in waves or whatever. (Note: the Bloomberg article on this has a trippy video that's a lot cooler if you mute it and play some Pink Floyd in your headphones instead.) True, this is not a "trade" per se, but all the best traders these days are reformed physicists, so we imagine this means something to them. And certainly, gravity has been moving in waves through the world's stock markets.
Speaking of physics, however, the winner of the Trade of the Week is obviously value-investing legend Bill Miller for his his plan to start a hedge fund with an earth-shaking strategy.
Miles Weiss's article about this scheme is the best one we read this week. If you haven't yet, it's worth your time to read every single one of the nearly 1,000 words about Miller's plan to avoid market meltdowns by using computer models originally developed to predict earthquakes.
But if we had to boil it down to a few snippets, the best lines are these:
“This has the potential to help Bill avoid big mistakes, which is one of the downsides of his investment style,” said a former colleague. Ha, fair enough.
"Some scholars dismiss the idea of applying an earthquake model to stock-picking."
Pshaw. Scholars. What do they know? They're all busy trying to confirm stuff that Einstein figured out a century ago. The rest of us need solutions RIGHT NOW to play these shifting tectonic plates in financial markets, so get on with your bad self, Bill Miller.
Laugh all you want at this plan, but the joke's really on all of us who think we have the markets figured out. Miller is one of the most famous, longest-tenured fund managers out there, so you have to assume he's heard pitches from every door-to-door algorithm salesman from Bangor to Baltimore. And when it was time to pull the trigger on one, he decided his best shot was to go with the earthquake guys.
As Emmet Meara wrote: "Laughing with (and at) friends is one of life’s great pleasures."
We'll see if Miller gets the last laugh.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Michael P. Regan in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.org