Trying to do my Peace


There was a time, not that long ago, that I actually cared.

I spent considerable time and effort advocating for equitable health care. I actually put my Masters in Public Health to reasonably good use, but then I joined the dark side.

I decided that I really needed to make some serious money and did so for nearly a decade, until I realized that I could make some serious money without really working.

But as a member of The Chosen, I carry guilt with me regardless of the decisions made, trying to somewhat assuage those feelings by supporting varied charities and then calling it a day.

If I made profits from shares on options on Altria or Philip Morris, you guessed it, Easter Seals and American Heart Association erased some of the guilt at only a small fraction of the profit.

These days,  I sit, I watch TV, I trade and then I shake my head in disbelief watching the world’s news unfold before my now passive eyes. I don’t really think about such heady issues as international conflict and world peace, although I do occasionally recall a long ago forgotten solution offered for achieving world peace.


Dean MartinMany years ago, and I do mean many, I had a comedy album, that I think was called “The First Family”. Regardless of the title, the album was about the Camelot presidency of John Kennedy, with the premise being that all of his high level cabinet appointees were Hollywood celebrities, portrayed by the impressionists of the day.


For me, the most memorable moment was the press conference question posed to Secretary of State Dean Martin.

 “Mr. Secretary, what is your answer for achieving world peace?”

 Secretary Martin replied “Wheat’s the answer, man. We need more wheat all over the world. ‘Cause the more wheat we grow, the more booze we gonna have. And if everybody’s drinking all the time, won’t be any fighting. Just hugging and kissing. Good night, everybody.” 

Well, yesterday was one of those days that I sat vacantly and did nothing but trade.

The market opened up with a bang. One blink of the eyes and we were already in triple digit terrority.

Thanks to E*Trade’s finally supporting weekly options trading my own trading activity has changed significantly. Rather than being concentrated to the first couple of days of each options cycle and then looking for opportunities to buy back and eventually resell those same options, I now can find opportunities nearly every day.

Best of all, when a position does get exercised, I suddenly find myself flush with cash to open up new positions or expand existing ones.

That was the situation today, on this first trading day of a holiday shortened week. I lost some shares in Freeport McMoRan, some Spiders and British Petroleum.

I took the opportunity to pick up some Praxair, which goes ex-dividend in a couple of days, new shares in Freeport McMoran, Research in Motion and Microsoft.

I know that those sound like odd choices.

If you follow the blog, you know that I like Microsoft, even if it moves nowhere. Selling call options ad nauseum and collecting its ever improving dividend is fine by me. Plenty to gain, with little to no risk.

RIM may be a value trap, but I think it was hit unduly hard yesterday due to Nokia’s troubles and besides, it has a nice call option premium. It will probably flame out one of these days though and maybe then Microsoft can get its phone strategy working

Why buy back Freeport McMoran? Because it is one of my favorite stocks always providing a thriling ride and rewarding options premiums, that also happen to come in the weekly variety.

So what’s today’s point, as I seemingly ramble?

There was really only one interesting news story today and like so many recently, it painted Goldman Sachs in a bad light.

This time, news came out that the Libyan Sovereign Fund, which was a Goldman Client lost about 98% of its value, as it was very heavily invested in financials, at the worst time you could pick.

Okay, the Libyans are big boys, but for some reason Goldman went through any number of potential permutations to make the Libyans whole again. Even for that very brief period of time when Qaddafi ostensibly behaved himself, I doubt that anyone in the world would shed a tear over their financial loss.

Now I’m really not that interested in the origins of Goldman Sachs. I’m currently long shares and have been so, off an on for about 3 years. In fact, I’m pleased to take a 10% hit in its recent stock price in return for Libya’s 98% hit.


However, I can guess that most people, especially the anti-Semites out there, fervently believe that the firm has Jewish roots. There’s certainly been no shortage of anti-semitic comments about Goldman’s role in the financial meltdown.

As I thought about Libya’s relationship with Goldman, I juxtaposed that with Saudi Prince Al-Waleed, referring to ex-Citibank “big macher” Sandy Weil, as his “good, dear friend”. I also recall the not so secret trip Weil made to Saudi Arabia at the depths of Citigroup’s own crisis.

Funny how money brings people together.

Sworn enemies, Jews and Arabs, bought together out of a mutual love of profits.

Obviously, the answer to world peace is prosperity. Okay, maybe a little wheat based alcohol, as well, but prosperity trumps everything.

As I sit and trade, my guilt is disappearing. I’m spreading prosperity one trade at a time.

The dark side is not so dark after all. It can be a fairly prosperous environment if you only let it be so.

Just doing my peace, is all.