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Bram de Haas
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"One of the best ways to do well in this business is to go to areas that have been unexploited by research capability and work them for all you can." -Julian Robertson When subscribing to my Exclusive Research service: Off The Beaten Path you can expect to get access to incredibly... More
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  • THE TYRANNY OF THE COLLECTIVE

    I was browsing Nassim Taleb his Anti-fragile to find a few quotes I want to use in my next article. Can't help but get sucked into re-reading large passages. I have such a love-hate relationship with his work. Here is a weird but chilling, seemingly random, rant from it:

    THE TYRANNY OF THE COLLECTIVE

    Mistakes made collectively, not individually, are the hallmark of organized knowledge -and the best argument against it. The argument "because everyone is doing it" or "that's how others do it" abounds. It is not trivial: people who on their own would not do something because they find it silly now engage in the same thing but in groups. And this is where academia in its institutional structure tends to violate science. One doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Chris S., once came to tell me that he believed in my ideas of "fat tails" and my skepticism of current methods of risk management, but that it would not help him get an academic job. "It's what everybody teaches and uses in papers," he said. Another student explained that he wanted a job at a good university so he could make money testifying as an expert witness-they would not buy my ideas on robust risk management because "everyone uses these textbooks." Likewise, I was asked by the administration of a university to teach standard risk methods that I believe are pure charlatanism (I refused). Is my duty as a professor to get students a job at the expense of society, or to fulfill my civic obligations? Well, if the former is the case, then economics and business schools have a severe ethical problem. For the point is generalized and that's why economics hasn't collapsed yet in spite of the obvious nonsense in it-and scientifically proven nonsense in it. (In my "fourth quadrant" paper-see discussion in the Appendix-I show how these methods are empirically invalid, in addition to being severely mathematically inconsistent, in other words, a scientific swindle). Recall that professors are not penalized when they teach you something that blows up the financial system, which perpetuates the fraud. Departments need to teach something so students get jobs, even if they are teaching snake oil-this got us trapped in a circular system in which everyone knows that the material is wrong but nobody is free enough or has enough courage to do anything about it.

    Taleb is almost unbearable to read because he is so obnoxious at times and at the same time, his writing is also captivating because there is a lot of truth to it. I guess it is the tension between super interesting groundbreaking stuff and then strolls into insanity that make it so exciting. A similar tension can be found in Seth Godin's work who walks a fine line between happy-happy-self-help and genuine groundbreaking ideas. If I ever write a book I am studying these two guys and maybe James Altucher.

    Jun 18 9:28 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Exclusive Research Just Got A Whole Lot Better

    My Exclusive Research through Seeking Alpha (called Off The Beaten Path) is available to subscribers only. It is not for people who are looking for investment ideas in megacaps like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) or Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) (NYSE:RDS.B). Instead it is for people who are interested in extremely small companies that no one knows. That is exactly why there is value there. At this point there are 4 ideas available exclusive to subscribers. I consider them to be among my very best ideas.

    At $79 per year I offer pretty much the lowest priced Exclusive Research service on Seeking Alpha. Pricing it like that was a pretty big mistake because ironically even value investors confuse price with value!

    There are 4 great ideas there already and I am working every day to make sure my subscribers get ideas that are truly Off The Beaten Path.

    Ideas include a company that is priced like it is not worth the paper its shares are printed on but it has a greatly undervalued source of value on its books, a company with its extremely robust assets located in a (temporarily) highly disliked part of the earth, a real estate company that is trading significantly below the price of its recently appraised real estate but can not be acquired easily (actually it is very hard) and a special situation play on a stock that will be familiar to people who follow my writing.

    On top of all that Seeking Alpha now includes all my PRO research (embargoed and archived articles) with my Exclusive Research. That includes 70+ Must Read Ideas and 2 Top Ideas that are still very interesting.

    I did not know Seeking Alpha would include those with the Exclusive Research offer or I would have priced Off The Beaten Path much much higher. Subscribe now and lock in your value.

    Tags: RDS.A, RDS.B, AAPL, AMZN
    Jun 03 3:29 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Help Me Out If You Are Into Shipping

    I am working on several ideas right now that might deserve your future consideration for investment but one of them involves having to value several tankers. What do you think these babies are worth?

    Your brilliant ideas how to value ships as accurately as possible are very welcome.

    May 06 6:51 AM | Link | Comment!
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