Ladies and Gentlemen….The Inoculated Investor!

inoculatedinvestor's picture

Hello. My name is Ben and I am a value investor. Given the backdrop of a market in which bankrupt financial companies dominate day-to-day volume and an S&P index that is trading somewhere around 140 times trailing earnings, I understand why some would feel  that being a value investor is grounds for institutionalization. Or at least some sort of rehab or support group meetings. However, I promise you that I am not insane. I may be somewhat prone to believing wild conspiracy theories but based on the absurdities we all have witnessed over the last few years, who can blame me? The truth is I like to think of myself as a voice of reason during uncertain times. My inherent skepticism and contrarian nature provide me with grounding that I hope leads to uniquely rational commentary. I don’t believe this is any time to engage in hyperbole. Financial market participants and newly interested Main Street occupants have been through enough recently. There is no reason to exacerbate the currently tenuous situation by overstating the relevant data.

I currently run a modest financial blog called The Inoculated Investor from my hideout in sunny southern California. The name of the site stems from a quote from Seth Klarman of the Baupost Group in which he paraphrases Warren Buffett:

    “Warren Buffett once wrote that value investing is like an inoculation--it either takes or it doesn’t--and when you explain to somebody what it is and how it works and why it works and show them the returns, either they get it or they don’t.”

My official inoculation occurred as I was reading Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor. Something about the way that Graham approached looking for hidden value among financial assets resonated with me. My long-term goal is to become an expert on the philosophies and techniques of value investing, and one day to use those skills to protect and build the wealth of my clients.

As you can plainly see, I do write under a pseudonym. The fact that some people in the financial press and the blogosphere feel this is some sort of attempt to escape accountability has been well documented and as a matter of fact, overly discussed. Accordingly, I am well aware of the immediate skepticism regarding the credibility of those who choose not include their social security numbers with their blog posts. However, I use a pseudonym because the blogosphere is a wild and crazy place and because I would rather have readers focus on the content and the sentiment than on my background or personal information.  If you really want to find out who I am, my guess is that you will have no trouble. In all honesty, I have nothing to hide. But, as Zero Hedge has highlighted numerous times, a desire for anonymity should not be confused with a desire to hide from criticism. I personally am dedicated to being accountable and transparent when it comes to my opinions and analysis.

Unlike the infallible super humans who run the major financial institutions in this country, I admit I am apt to make a mistake every once in a while. Therefore, I encourage readers to point out any flaws in my arguments or incorrect representation of data. All I ask is for civility in the process. My stated goal is to write about somewhat complex financial and economic events and dynamics in a way that is accessible to everyone. With that objective comes a large dose of humility. I don’t write because I like to see my thoughts disseminated throughout the blogosphere. I care not for fame or recognition. The gratification I get from writing comes when my readers tell me that I have aided in their understanding of the financial markets.

So, over the coming months you will see a number of different types of posts coming from me. First off, I am a securities analyst so every once in a while I will post my thoughts on specific companies or sectors. However, given the Zero Hedge forum, my primary focus will be on the relevant macroeconomic and high level topics that I believe will impact the financial markets. Through link aggregation and additional commentary regarding my primary sources I hope to flesh out the pertinent ideas in a way that strips out all the noise. CNBC and the rest of the financial press produce enough distorted content. I just want to help people see through the fog.

Finally, I promise to produce a good deal of smarmy observations regarding the US and world economies that I feel fits within the Zero Hedge manifesto. However, my cynicism is not a part of some constructed persona. Rather, I have legitimate concerns about the path the leaders of the US have chosen in numerous arenas. If you want a flavor for my style and choice of topics, check out a piece I wrote about the impending health care and education bombs. I like to think it is a no-nonsense, non-inflammatory assessment of just how dire the situation could become unless we can reverse course now. In any case I look forward to having the opportunity to share my views with Zero Hedge readers and receive feedback on my posts. I hope my value investing-centered perspective along with my unwillingness to take superficial content at face value will lead to commentary you find insightful.

With that, I will leave you with some wisdom from the irreplaceable Bruce Greenwald of Columbia University and First Eagle Funds as you approach the trading day:

    "There are no bad days in the market. When the market is down, you’ve got bargains, and it’s lovely to think of what you are buying at low prices. When the market is up, the bargains have gone, but you’re rich.”

Your humble analyst,

The Inoculated Investor

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Anonymous's picture

Welcome. Looking forward to reading your stuff

casey's picture

The type of graduates America needs more of - engineers and scientists are not going to appear any time soon.  The work required to get through a top engineering program and PhD program is extremely difficult and the monetary rewards just aren't there.  Going through an MBA or law program is a walk in the park in comparison and all the money in this finance-obsessed economy goes to them.

Furthermore, most Americans aren't even aware that all the great advancements that have made them wealthy:  computers, internet, laser-technology...are the product of scientific and engineering research and development.  The country that produces and nurtures their scientific talent, will be the big winners in the future.

As long as America only worships the financial engineer, they are on a one way trip to the bottom.

Bear's picture

You're absolutely right ... You've got my vote for Schrool Czar

Anonymous's picture

What year did you graduate from Columbia's value investing program?

Gunther's picture

Value investing at an average P/E of 150 - you picked a hard task.

Good luck.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe he means perceived-value-investor?

Anonymous's picture

Great to have a value investor posting. But on an aggregate
level, the last time the SPX had any hope of "potential" value was when it was 666 and heading south. Now it's
just another bubble, and a third-rate one at that.

Anonymous's picture

Great! Hopefully your erudite comments will include something for some of us who have become accustomed if not addicted to a certain Victoria's Secret caste to the best and most precosh...precosis....prekosh....smartest of the
ZH contributors.

Pondmaster's picture

Inoculate -


Welcome -

I get John Mauldins reads - early last year I replied to one of his Outside the Box posts . In a kind way calling him Pollyanna about his THEN views of the economy and its direction . I developed my views from blogs like this (ZH) .  He over the months has changed his bright cheery comments to reality comments, not pollyanna anymore  . Wonder if he is also to be considered a value investor for his clients . I look forward to sane realistic commentary on whats going on around us. Good luck 

Bear's picture

Thanks for your post II .. I read your post about healthcare and education ... I agree with you on education but in CA the average cost per student is $5000 PER YEAR; how do you get $10,240 for K-College for US?

On healtcare; obesity is not as much of a problem for the individual as it is for US Gov ... compare individual obesity growth with Gov obesity growth ... Who wins? ... Gov 28% of GDP = me at 5'7'' at 410 lbs.

Welcome to ZH, good luck with this crowd.


Ben Graham Redux's picture

Damn, until I read that you're from Cali, I thought I may have blacked out from too much Southern Comfort and Vicodin and wrote this myself.  I look forward to reading your thoughts.

And by the way, maybe you can remind Warren Buffett what it means to be a value investor once again - he seems to have gone over to the dark side.

Bear's picture

I think Warren Buffett has decided to make friends instead of money ... but he's pretty smart, so maybe it's who you know and not what you know in these 'new' times.

percolator's picture

looking forward to your posts