Posts filed under “Data Analysis”
The Gilder effect, as it was known in the late 1990s, was what would happen when George Gilder’s newsletter would recommend a stock, sending its share price surging to absurd levels. By absurd, I mean even relative to those heady dot com, bull market days.
By the late 1999/early 2000, we used to reliably fade (Short) Gilder picks after the first or second wave. It had to be done by scaling, cause you never knew how high these absurdities would run. But they eventually came crashing back down to earth. Many of them subsequently went bankrupt.
The key tell that his newsletter was a house of cards was that even Gilder himself would note that "He doesn’t do price." When you consider how utterly absurd that is for an investment newsletter, you can understand how totally out of hand things can get.
Gilder’s subscribers got utterly devastated in the crash: At one time, over 75,000 subscribers paid him good money for his picks; Today, fewer than 5,000 people subscribe (still a respectable number). Quote GG: "The trouble with my business is that everyone came in at the peak. The typical Gilder subscriber lost all his money and that made it very hard for me to market the newsletter." Gilder’s saving grace was he ate his own cooking, investing right along side his readers. The WSJ reports he "was as close to bankruptcy as you can get without filing."
I never liked Gilder’s approach or his "priceless picks," and I just found out why: He is a rigid idealogue. That’s a guaranteed recipe for stock market disaster.
How idealogically rigid is GIlder? Consider:
-He is a zealous advocate of "intelligent design;"
-He believes evolution is a myth;
-He helped found the Discovery Institute;
-He was an early proponent of supply-side economics;
-He was outspoken critic of women’s rights in the 1970s;
-He was a former Nixon speechwriter.
Even Gilder himself admitted "I did not put the companies through a rigorous financial test or filter. It was a real disaster. I was a naïve guy doing this. It almost didn’t matter what the hell I did when all the companies went bankrupt, there is no way to look good."
No shit. That’s got to be the understatement of the year. Additionally, it is horrifically irresponsible.
But understand my takeaway from all this; It isn’t about politics — its about being intellectually flexible and being able to adjust your thinking on the fly. Gilder is the poster boy for the opposite of that. Is it any surprise his readers and investors got demolished? They got suckered in at the top by someone who was unqualified to give financial advice.
What’s even more astounding is that there are still 5,000 people who continue to pay him for his "insights."
Where Are They Now: George Gilder
WSJ, May 8, 2006
Sales of existing homes surprised to the upside yesterday. But one data point does not make a trend. This is the first rise (sequential monthly change) after 5 straight months of falling Home Sales. And that’s before we examine the data.
Before you declare the end of the housing slow down, consider:
- Existing Home sales actually slipped vs. last year by -0.7%; The reported gain was over last month’s data;
- the Inventory of unsold homes soared 7 percent in March, hittting an all-time record; There are now 3.19 million existing homes for sale, or 5.5 months’ supply; That’s the largest inventory since July 1998
- Existing homes edged up 0.3% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of
6.92 million units; (we know that seasonally adjusted data is not always accurate)
- Year over year, the Northeast and Midwest gained, while the previously hot housing markets in the South and the West slipped;
- median home prices are still rising, albeit nmore slowly — up 7.4% year over year, to $218,000.
Here’s a data point that has me scratching my head: Why are there different numbers for the year-over-year changes for seasonally and not seasonally adjusted? Was this March somehow in a different season than last year’s March? I am perplexed.
Note that data for existing home sales comes from National Association of Realtors, a group that is certainly an interested party; Of course, as a homeowner, investor, and someone with a public bearish tilt for the second half, I’m hardly objective myself (hey, I try). But this oddity — down -0.5% for the not seasonally adjusted year over year versus down -0.7% for the seasonally adjusted year over year — is beyond my comprehension.
So much for the hard data on existing sales; Today, we get New Home Sales. Recall our prior admonishments that monthly New Home Sales Data are unreliable; look instead to a moving average.
Let’s move onto some anecdotal evidence. A friend writes:
"Flop! Wow, KB running blue light specials in California. Not surprising,
Chico area was rated one of the most overvalued markets in the country. Houses
in the $200k space. When was the last time you saw that in California? "
Here’s the sales pitch:
"Oak Knoll Place in Live Oak is located in a beautiful
community near the majestic Sutter Buttes. With easy access to Highway 99, it is
ideally located for easy access to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Reno and a wide
variety of recreational opportunities. Yuba City and Marysville are
approximately 10 minutes south, Chico is approximately 35 miles north and the
Gray Lodge Wildlife area is approximately 10 minutes west. Live Oak has a
quaint, small-town atmosphere with many nearby recreational water activities,
including the Feather River, Yuba River and Sacramento River. Prices starting
from the High $200′s."
I don’t know Live Oak, but houses like that in California are hard to imgaine . . .
More after the jump.
Existing-Home Sales Rise Again in March
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
WASHINGTON (April 25, 2006)
Existing Home Sales data
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS