Friendly Competition

I must be fixated on “oxymorons,” just having written about them a few days ago.

Had it not been for a Tweet from Marek Fuchs of regarding his attendance at a Fordham versus Harvard college basketball game in the Bronx, I’d never have known about the event, despite the fact that I’m an alumnus of both.

On the other hand, I did know that CNBC was broadcasting live interviews from within Goldman Sachs and was wondering whether a high school classmate, CFO David Viniar, would appear.

To his great credit, absolutely nothing untoward was ever said about him throughout the slew of slings and arrows directed at Goldman’s higher offices. Sometimes, keeping a very low profile is a good thing, so it’s not overly surprising that he didn’t make an appearance.

Fuchs, who somehow finds the time between filming his entertaining and educational series “They Just don’t Get….” for and his parental responsibilities, Tweets with regularity. At last night’s game his Tweets ranged from wanting his money back, despite the fact that his ticket was free and it being one of the most exciting games he’d ever seen.

He also was the halftime entertainment and penned an article for a local newspaper, while simultaneously putting out a fire in the Village of Tuckahoe.

Really. That’s the name. Tuckahoe.

Oh, and did I mention that he was an author?

My guess is that somewhere along the line either the ecstasy kicked in or the game got competitive. I doubt that the halftime sermon alone would have moved him to hyperbole.

G. Gordon LiddyWhen I went to Fordham, there was a general understanding that Fordham alumni went, in disproportionate numbers into the service of the FBI and CIA and in turn, spent an inordinate amount of time investigating Harvard graduates.

Competition. Think G. Gordon Liddy and then think dirty competition.

Great mustache, just nasty competitor who believed that in order to protect our nation from its enemies you had to use the U.S. Constitution for personal rectal hygiene.

Friendly competition is more like the sort Inspector Clouseau engaged in with any of the adversaries that he faced, yet nonetheless, respected.

The adversaries, in turn, received amusement for their troubles.

I really don’t know who won last night’s competition, but I doubt that it was friendly.

There’s a big schism between “The Bronx” and Cambridge. “Jenny from the Block” and William F. Buckley are reasonable poster children of their respective homes, just add some needle tracks to the former and ample elbow patches to the latter’s images.

Whereas the stereotype of the Harvard man would have him asking “may I top you off, my good fellow?” the Fordham man was just as likely to ask “Yo, you gonna finish that least slice, or what, Mofo?”

With the  conclusion of the Iowa Caucus, whatever that is, it’s clear that the competition for the hearts of living room ballot casters, was anything but friendly.

Newt Gingrich, given plenty of opportunity to soft peddle his assertion that Mitt Romney was “a liar,” acted in a very unpolitical way. He repeated that Romney was a liar and that he lied everytime someone asked him what he had meant.

I’m not certain that the latter was necessary, as being a liar requires the actual lie, but the emphasis was there for good measure.

That’s very different from the Newt Gingrich of the early debates, when he castigated moderator Brian Williams for seeking to foment dissent among the candidates.

Imagine that? Trying to elicit differences from among the debaters. How un-American is that? At the time, Newt embraced a “Kumbaya” approach to competition, just like in T-Ball.

Everyone is a winner. We’re all Charlie Sheen, at least until the caucus results are in.

A few weeks ago, as Newt was just beginning to show some slippage from the suprising rising poll numbers, he implored his followers to show the world that negative ads don’t work.

For a guy who takes every opportunity to let the world know that he’s an “historian,” he certainly got the history of political ad campaigning wrong, in addition to the historical facts regarding his own past.

So the competition just turned a bit less friendly.

Not able to stand the heat, or perhaps realizing that God really didn’t support her candidacy, Michelle Bachman dropped out of the GOP race.

In a related statement, God, when asked for a comment simply said that “It was him, not her.”

I’ve never been an overtly competitive sort, although my Sugar Momma tells me that I’m fiercely competitive.

Not wishing to fight that assertion, I’ll go along with her assessment of things and instead count on some level of passive aggressiveness to get back at her.

But forget that. These days, the competition in trying to beat the market is all I need.

What makes it especially appealing is that the opponent is nameless and faceless.

Unless I’m in a state of total fiction, I seem to remember that a few years ago there was a website that the user, for a fee, was able to control a gun and then aim and shoot at something. Maybe even a human target, who can remember these sort of fictional memories? I think it was a deer or a feral cow, actually.

The point is, what kind of guilt would you have shooting an individual in total anonymity?

Isn’t that what drives most criminals? At least their expectation that their anonymity will be maintained until the very second that they’re caught.

Each and everyday there’s an objective way to measure how you did in the market, in what really is a friendly competition if done properly.

As opposed to real life, in the market, there’s no reason to really think that there’s a Zero Sum game involved. There’s no reason to think that your fortune is matched in quantity elsewhere, only in an opposite direction.

There’s a commercial that I see on CNBC with some regularity, yet I have no clue what company is behind the ads. But in a nutshell, it’s some sort of hand holding trading academy where you can learn the trade of the trade.

Near the end of the commercial, where the student completes a profitable trade, the instructor says “now imagine how the guy on the other side of that trade must feel.”

All of a sudden, its become less friendly or at least a face has been put on the loser. For me, that would kill it.

Would you really eat veal if you could see the face of that cute calf right in front of you? Okay, maybe that’s not a good example, because veal is so delicious.

But in most everyhting else, anonymity is great. How else do you explain the popularity of the “glory hole?”

But there’s a problem for everyone else that comes along with anonymity.

If an unwarranted rumor causes a crash in the forest and you’re not there to hear it, did it really happen?

Misinformation, disinformation and unverified information are all tools of unfriendly competition that can hide behind the cloak of anonymity or disengaged responsibility.

Today, for example, one of the Najarian brothers, and I will never be able to tell them apart, was referring to the sudden uptick in Netflix, based on the purchase of a large number of forward month call contracts. He then commented how Netflix shares were working their way back from their disatrous fall into the $40’s.

That comment, may or may not have gotten anyone to make a trade, in one direction or another. More likely, the comment by Gene Munster of Piper Jaffry & Co., just a short time earlier that suggested Yahoo!, which also announced just earlier that it will be under the new leadership of Scott Thompson in just a couple of days, was a potential buyer of Netflix.

Problem is, that Netflix never made that drop into the $40’s, although at its nadir following the subscription pricing fiasco, it did get down to $62. Further complicated by some pretty out there speculation.

Now, I’m not saying that there was any vested interest or any personal gain from streaming bad information, but who gets hurt?

Certainly not like the case a couple of weeks ago when Dennis Gartman frontran his clients and announced that he was out of gold, whereas their accounts could only be traded at the end of the month.

Equity go poof.

As far as the promulagtor knows, the victim is usually no one that he’ll ever know, because he’s allergic to pine trees and knows better than to enter into the forest. He’ll never know, that is, unless some aggrieved lunatic confronts him. However, if that person traded merely on the basis of the bad information, he was a lunatic to begin with.

In trading, everyone is your competition and yet no one is your competition.

Why in the world would anyone give away their proprietary secrets, insights or knowledge other than to help push outcomes in the direction of their hopes?

Okay, so that guy is your competition and his clone is on some other station, so escaping them is not that simple.

Whereas in a basketball game ignoring the point guard may carry perilous cost, I increasingly believe that ignoring the Talking Head is necessary for avoiding the same.

It’s not the competitor you know, it’s the one you don’t.



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January 4, 2012 ZSL Option STO Monthly