The Best of Beethoven

October 1, 2011 2 comments

At dinner this evening, Rocky’s daughter reminded her father that he’s been promising to buy her a CD with all nine Beethoven  symphonies — for months. Rocky’s a terrible procrastinator. Especially when it comes to spending money.

Admittedly, some kids want iPads. And some kids want  new cars. And other kids want a shopping trip to Abercombrie & Fitch.  Rocky’s daughter wants the complete symphonic works of Beethoven, which is both  financially much less demanding and slightly amusing.

But — it’s not so simple. There are actually more Beethoven recordings than Baskin & Robbins’ ice cream  flavors…

There’s Von Karajan — with his iconic 1963 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (digitally remastered so only one’s hair dresser knows for sure that it’s actually analog. )

And there’s Leonard Bernstein. With his “idiosyncratic” 1960’s recording with the New York Philharmonic.

And there’s John Eliot Gardiner with a 2010 recording by the Orchestre Revoltionnaire et Romantique.  (but that sounds FRENCH. Ugh!)

And the list goes on and on and on and on….Amazon has dozens of choices … Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, etc etc etc.


[Disclosure: Rocky picked  the Von Karajan Deutsche Grammaphon recording, and purchased it from a vendor who undercut Amazon’s price! P.S. Rocky’s daughter has no relation to Linus.]


How to prepare for financial armageddon? (Bring your own socks)

September 20, 2011 1 comment

In light of the ongoing European financial crisis, Rocky is pleased to learn that the European Central Bank now provides visitors to their headquarters with a “hard hat” at no cost! However, they do ask visitors to  “wear socks.”

No mention is made whether visitors must empty their pockets of spare change upon entering.

For a full text of the ECB’s dress code, see “What to wear” at:











Rocky’s (latest) view on gold

August 23, 2011 5 comments

Knowing that he’s been a gold bull for years, Rocky’s friends keep asking: “What you do think of gold, NOW?” (These people actually think that Rocky and certain other TV commentators can  predict the future.)

Rocky’s answer: “I have no idea, and have NEVER had any idea about what the price of gold will do tomorrow.”

But does he still own gold?

“Yes, and I also own some stocks. And I own some real estate. And I own some bonds. And I own a copy of last week’s People Magazine. And I have no idea what the price of these will do tomorrow either.  My experience has been that pundits who claim perfect knowledge of the future are generally either liars or idiots. (Whoopi Goldberg is the exception to this rule.)  What I’m doing is called diversification.”

But when will he sell gold?

“The PRICE of gold is irrelevant. As I’ve written on this blog, I will sell gold when the gold story (or more accurately, the market’s perception of the gold story) changes!  Gold’s ascent is a confluence of negative real interest rates; undisciplined central bank behavior; a growing loss of confidence in government policies and financial systems; loss of Swiss bank secrecy; an accumulation of economic wealth by individuals in parts of the world without stable property rights and rule of law. Can gold drop $100 tomorrow? Sure it can! Can gold drop $300 next week? Sure it can!  Can gold drop $1000 next year? Sure it can! But so long as these FUNDAMENTAL  factors remain in place, the underpinnings and demand for hard assets that are beyond the reach of governments will remain.”

“Almost all of my really smart friends are very bearish right now. They all think this move is idiotic. Many think this is a bubble. And eventually they will be right. But eventually could be a really really long time. And it could include a trip to unimaginably higher prices first.  Their skepticism is not predictive of anything.  And importantly, they are not betting that gold will decline either. All it tells you is that they aren’t long gold and missed this move.  I’ll admit that I get nervous when prices rise quickly.  And historically, buying after a sharp rally isn’t a good idea. But why should any of this market chatter affect my long-term porfolio construction/diversification?  After all, I’m not afraid to admit that I have absolutely no idea what prices will do tomorrow.”

[Disclosure: Rocky NEVER gives investment advice. He’s owned gold for a long time. And he owns some hedges that will protect him if gold drops sharply while he’s asleep. And some day, he will sell his gold. But whether it’s at $2,000/oz or $10,000/oz is out of his control. It’s in the control of  millions of other investors around the world, and how they react to the policies of their central banks and governments.]

Making one head(s) spin: the US credit rating

July 26, 2011 5 comments


Rocky penned the following brain-teaser for the pages of an august publication — and wants to share it with his loyal readers…as it highlights an important market foible:

“I’m sure that we’ve both noticed  that whenever Moody’s or S&P release a bearish
press release about the sovereign AAA rating, the stock market gets whacked by
1+%, but the US bond market hardly moves (or even rallies). One can explain the
downward move in stocks by observing that “in times of uncertainty, people
reduce their risk and seek the safety of riskless investments.” But is this
rational? Here, the increased uncertainty is arising from the RISKLESS asset.
So, if the riskless asset is becoming more risky, must it follow that the risky
assets are proportionately more risky? That is, if you sell the risky asset
because you’re scared of the riskless asset, does it follow that you should buy
more of the riskless asset even though it’s becoming more risky, and that’s
what made you sell the risky asset to begin with?

[Disclosure: Rocky expects that if Congress  raises the debt limit without substantial spending cuts,  bond yields  will rise sharply….]

Danger: wild animal prowls hedge fund capital

June 10, 2011 1 comment

“Cougars”  routinely prowl the bars of Greenwich, Connecticut, a town with more hedge funds per capita than any other US city.  However, Rocky suspects some cougars have mutated into mountain lions — which pose a far greater threat:

From the Connecticut State Department of Environmental Protection:

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced it is cooperating with the Town of Greenwich Police Department to investigate recent sightings of a large cat in the King Street area of Greenwich. Based on photographs taken of the animal and other evidence it appears that the animal is a mountain lion that has been held in captivity and was released or escaped. There is no native population of mountain lions in Connecticut and the eastern mountain lion has been declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anyone that sees this animal should not approach it and immediately call the local police and the DEP 24-hour Emergency Phone Line at 860-423-3333.

The full press release can be found here:


[Disclosure: Trophy Wife brought this development to Rocky’s attention.  She assured Rocky that if she sees the mountain lion, she won’t offer the animal any leftover Frappachino from the Greenwich Starbucks.]

Trivia triggers technology titillation

May 27, 2011 7 comments

After Rocky finishes reading the National Enquirer, he turns to the Guinness Book of World Records to find investment themes.

Question: What technology company and product holds the Guinness World Record of being the “fastest selling consumer electronics device ever?”  [Hint: it happened in the past 12 months.]

Answer: Click here for the answer.

[Disclosure: Rocky never provides investment advice, but he admits that he has started purchasing shares of the company that manufactures the Fastest Selling Cosumer Electronics Device EVER! ]

Lady Marmalade

May 19, 2011 2 comments

Skinflint. Miser. Penny-pincher. Frugal.  Tightwad.

All of these adjectives describe Rocky in most matters. However, Rocky throws open his wallet and spares no expense for three important purchase categories:  automobile tires, bath towels, and orange marmalade.

During her recent two-day trip to London, Trophy Wife’s marching orders were clear: find a jar of Fortnum & Mason’s finest Orange Marmalade, and carry it home for Rocky’s (discount) crackers and crumpets. 

Trophy Wife scored a bottle of “Wake-Up Marmalade”  early in the day, and all was well until Heathrow Airport Security seized the jar from her luggage as a “security threat.” Horrified, humiliated, and fearing the “Wrath of Rocky,” she ran to the Airport’s Duty-Free Shop, where she fortuitously found the marmalade section next to the Cuban cigars and over-priced single malt scotch. Unfortunately, the Duty-Free Shop’s marmalade selection was sparse, and she  selected a jar of Sir Nigel’s Orange Marmalade.  (Fortnum & Mason produces more than 40 marmalade varieties.)

From the marmalade bottle: “Noted 1920’s actor-manager, Sir Nigel Playfair was used to getting what he wanted – like the thick-cut, tough-guy marmalade remembered from his childhood rather than the effete flapper versions fashionable at the time.”

After sampling the marvelous marmalade on generic Stop&Shop water biscuits, Rocky agreed that he would no longer consume “effete” American marmalade . A tough guy like Rocky deserves  a tough-guy marmalade. But in a show of tenderness, Rocky thanked Trophy Wife profusely for her valiant efforts, and gave her a sticky peck on the cheek.

[Disclosure: Terrorists should note that airport security will detect explosives dissolved in blood orange marmalade . ]