Calling for a Marshall Plan, not a Manhattan Project

Electricity too cheap to meter.  For many renewable energy advocates, that is the holy grail… new technology which will not only solve the problem of carbon emissions, but be so transformative that we no longer have to worry about turning off the lights when we leave the room. We could argue for days about the viability of any such technology, be it cold fusion, hydrogen, or photovoltaic nanodots.  I personally have strong opinions about the likelihood of any technology to produce energy so cheaply that it would not make sense to use some mechanism...

Short Demand for Cree High and Rising

I got a call from my broker this morning asking me if I'd be willing to loan out my shares of Cree, Inc. (NASD:CREE) to a short seller.  Since the only cost to me is that I will not be able to vote my shares, and I will earn 2.5% per annum on the value, I said "yes."  Normally, brokerages get the shares they lend out to shorts from margin accounts with a margin balance.  Since I never carry a balance (although I do have a margin account in order to trade options) they must ask my permission...

How to Buy Losers: Tricking Yourself with Cash-Covered Puts

It's that time of year again.  I've started studying for the third (and final) CFA® exam, and my readers are "treated" to my theories of the market and trading.  No stock picks today; put your thinking caps on!  CAPM: Nice Theory, Too Bad About the Market In Level II of the exam, we studied efficient-market theories, such as CAPM and APT.  I actually like an elegant theory (I spent nearly decade of my life studying mathematics), but as a market practitioner, I know the market doesn't work that way.  I learned this lesson the hard way.   Early in my...

Will Climate Advocacy Pay for Shareholders?

On Monday, we learned about big coal companies pushing back against the major US corporations of the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP,) which advocates for mandatory regulation of greenhouse gas with their own lobbyists.   Since I have advocated buying companies that take a proactive stance on climate change, I thought it might be instructive to compare the returns of the original ten members of US-CAP with the returns of the big coal coal companies (more companies have since joined,) over the six months since the Climate Action Partnership issued their Call for Action on Climate Change.   The Payoff ...

How to Beat the Market: Less Money and More Judgement

Last week, I looked at how a small investor could gain an advantage in the market by understanding the other players.  The most important other players are institutional investors such as hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds, and investment banks who have considerably more resources and valuation skills than the individual investor, and so trying to take them on directly to beat them at their own is likely to be an expensive exercise in futility. Two Exploitable Weaknesses On the other hand, I argued that institutional investors have certain handicaps and biases which do allow small investors to enter...

Beating the Market, Part I

Because I'm currently studying for the second (of three) CFA® exam, I'm going to take a break from my usual article analyzing some aspect of alternative energy.  This week and next, I'll take a step back and try to answer an existential question: How can I possibly hope to beat the market, when "the market" consists of professional money managers with resources far exceeding my own?  Every active investor should ask themselves this question: the answer will either make you a better investor, or save you a lot of time and money if you are humble enough to realize...

Preparing for Catastrophe: Is your global warming portfolio ready for rising sea levels?

A Worse-Case Scenario I believe that a large part of global warming denial is fear: fear that if we acknowledge that global warming is happening, we will be morally obligated to do something about it, and that the problem is too large for us to do anything effective.  I also believe that denying the problem is certain to render us all ineffective in dealing with it. But getting over our global warming denial is not the only obstacle in our way to dealing with it.  Global warming is already happening, and  future temperature rises are already inevitable given the...

State of the Union Address: Alt Energy Sectors and Stocks to Watch

So it came and went, the much anticipated State of the Union Address. While the pundits will inevitably focus the bulk of their attention and commentary on the Iraq question, there were undoubtedly some very interesting nuggets of alt energy info in that speech. Above all things, one crucial variable has changed from a year ago: Congress is now controlled by the Democrats and already the slew of alt energy and climate change proposals brought forth by various senators leads one to believe that, as far as the federal government is concerned, 07' should see more than just...