Month: September 2014

The Shot Heard Round The Valley World: WORRY

The greatest issue facing Silicon Valley is the one thing many newly minted and aspiring entrepreneurs have taken for granted: the money.

Many believe this gravy train of a never-ending Venture Capital/Angel Investor class will not only always be there, but the ranks will swell becoming even larger with burgeoning pocketbooks filled with their own newly minted IPO greenbacks.

Problem is for a great many, they have never seen the real Jeckyll and Hyde personality of “investor funding.”

Initial Public Offerings (IPO) has been the rallying cry for many over the last 5 years to the detriment of what it really means to be an entrepreneur. (i.e., creating something that becomes bigger than one’s self)

The term has now morphed into something akin to: I’m going to push this idea, get it funded, IPO it, and cash out! Rinse – repeat. For I’m a “Trep!” (For those not familiar with the term, it’s the newest self-appointed moniker for the person who seems to be following this pattern of entrepreneurship.)

For what it’s worth, this style of thinking about entrepreneurship from my perspective is very worrisome. The reason? It’s only about the “Benjamins.”

Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. However: If your purpose was to bring a real company, (what ever the field,) run and grow it to its full potential you’ll find too your detriment – money alone will not do it. Regardless of how much.

And, if your sole focus for your existence hasn’t been on sales, customers, and net profit. Or, you’ve been lackadaisical in any other manner because the dominating thought in your mind is – “I just need to get another round, then I can IPO and be through with this?” Your time is probably up.

Come this October the Federal Reserve will make its final tranche of QE available. The amount assumed by many is that it will be 50% larger than what we’ve seen over these last years. ($15 Billion as opposed to $10)

One may see an increased flurry of buying into anything and everything that has even the slightest possibility of making a profit. Or, what Wall Street cares about even more; a growth story that can be perpetuated via financial engineering that sticks during earnings seasons.

But, one shouldn’t read into this as “confirmation” the risk appetite story is not only alive but growing. For that is all about to change.

Once the Fed. shuts down the section of QE that has been pumping Billions upon Billions of dollars every month – it’s over for a great many of today’s Wall Street darlings.

Think of it this way: Who is going to fund your next round when they no longer have access to the Fed.’s piggy bank? Let alone pump more money into older start-ups that just haven’t produced any real money (as in net profit,) but have produced nothing more than great new employee digs or benefits?

Tack along side this the culture shock in what will seem near instantaneous with the shunning that will take place of any business resembling the, 3 employee, menial customer base, Zero if not negative profit margin businesses formed with the implicit intent as to be bought up or “acquired” for Billion dollar pay days.

These will be the first to go. That formulation is going way of the now infamous Pets dot-com sock puppet. This will be the first true shock to Silicon Valley culture that hasn’t been seen in many years. And it will be far from the only one.

Many will point directly at the darling of both Silicon Valley as well as the touchstone of riches for aspiring entrepreneurs; Facebook™ (FB) as proof this line of thinking is off base. And why shouldn’t they? The price has never been higher.

Yet, what many shield their eyes from and a great deal more turn their heads from entirely is what I and very few others have been arguing: “It’s all been possible via the Federal Reserve’s interventionist policies.” And the greatest source of that inflow of cash made available via “investors” is about to be shut down.

Let me go on the record here and point out what I believe will prove my point in the coming weeks and months.

Currently Zuck and crew have been lauded over with the prowess in its acquisition choices. You will know everything has changed when the calls to rescind Mark Zuckerberg’s authority in having carte blanche via not needing board approval for acquisitions going forward is demanded by Wall Street.

And that won’t be the only monumental shift coming. Maybe, one at an even faster pace: The meaning of IPO.

IPO is not going to have the same term of endearment it now has. I believe it will turn into the last and most dreaded three-letter acronym no one ever imagined in Silicon Valley.

The IPO screams of joy will turn into wails of terror when those VC “angels” meet at many “treps” desk and state – they’re IPO-ing.

No, not getting one set up for the big pay-day. No IPO will mean: “I’m pulling out.” i.e., “Have a nice day. Where’s the rest of my money?”

The once renowned purchases of “Billion dollar babies” will prove out not to be worth two cents in this environment.

Valuations will get crushed and people will be shocked at just how fast a company touted across the financial channels and other media as “fantastic buys” are flogged and fleeced when Wall Street comes back for their “investment.”

If the story or the numbers aren’t there – neither will these once darlings of Wall Street. Regardless of size or stature.

People will continue pointing at FB and others as proof that this whole idea of what I’m professing is off base. Again, they’ll point to the stock prices and say, “Look! During the recent sell off some they went higher! This proves, blah, blah, blah.”

What it proves is this in my opinion: It’s a last gasp effort to have exposure in these companies during this newest round of earnings season. i.e., As to have the possibility (more inline with hope) of any earnings windfall, whether it be real, or financially engineered. Because: There isn’t going to be another shot after this one. The money to take these stylized chances will no longer be there. Period.

I watched and read many viewpoints on what has now been circulated throughout Silicon Valley as the “tweet storm” unleashed by well-known Silicon Valley sage Marc Andreessen where he ended his views with the word “WORRY.” I believe he is spot on.

Many in the so-called “know” of any and all related to Silicon Valley pontificate that his alarm bells are a little “over the top.” Some have stated in rather condescending tones that “It’s not like the current crop of Silicon Valley has never had issues with funding. I mean, it was hard in 2009.”

Oh yes, it was – for about a week!

I would remind everyone to remember what took place in 2009? The birth of QE. Then it was off to the races. Or should I say “coding?” And as of today there has been no need to look back. Until now.

This next bout of what I believe to take place will not be limited to just the small-sized, or start-up class. It will be just as abrupt of a sea change for the current crop of Wall Street darlings that have produced what many have seen as “skeptical” results. e.g., FB, Twitter™, Pandora™, LinkedIn™, et al.

They are going to face harsh skepticism this earnings release period. Far more, and certainly more harsh or critical than any previous in my opinion.

The reasoning is: With no more “free money” pouring in from the Fed. for “investors” to slap around anywhere and everywhere in the hopes of something sticking. They’re going to do what anyone would do. Buy Nothing – Sell Anything and everything that isn’t making real money. For they are well aware their bankers or margin clerks – don’t accept “likes” as legal tender for deposits in their accounts either.

One last thing: If you think all this “worry” stuff is just nonsense. Let me leave you with this one line…

Yahoo™ just announced it’s interested in AOL™.

Feel better now?

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Adventures In Stupidity: Feedback Surveys

There is probably one topic that for my money shows the abject, blatant, willful, useless, (OK I’ll stop there for my own blood pressure’s sake) thought process and lacks critical thinking more than various surveys I receive on a near daily basis from companies I do business with.

These aren’t “random” surveys I may find when interacting anonymously (as in not logged into) a web site or other portal. (Although I have a pet peeve with many of those also. e.g., please fill out the brief 146 page, 3528 questions in detailed form, etc.) The ones that can tick me off and stick in my craw because they show just how clueless and moronic the department as well as the management all the way up the chain of command are – the ones I receive directly from companies I deal with that have all my information on file.

Here’s the rub: If you are sending me ( a customer that spends quite a sum of money buying your products and services) and ask me, “you would appreciate if I could take the time and fill out a brief survey to help your company improve their customer service” and the first question to be filled in is MY NAME ? You have proven either you really don’t give a crap. (strong language yes, but I believe it’s warranted) Or, your customer service management team is being run by morons. Period.

As the old saying goes, you may only have one shot at making a first impression. However, it not only takes one shot to shoot yourself in the foot with foolishness, but rather, the ricochet effect can kill your business just as fast. Or, at the least, wound it where the scars left are always visible. And, if that scar is visible, what can be more painful than the original injury is having to explain it to every potential, as well as current client, exactly how you acquired it.

And I’ll bet that’s a survey you’re never going to want too partake in.

Remember tools are useful, but in the wrong hands or deployed willy-nilly they can turn into weapons used against you that can ruin what sometimes is more dear than reality. i.e., A customer’s perception that you are as good, as you think you are. Or, that you actually do care as much as you say you do.

We all make mistakes. We all stumble. It’s a part of business and hopefully we learn from things, get better, and move on. But, (and it’s a very big but) leaving a bucket and mop in the middle of a freshly washed corridor with the lights out only to be tripped over causing an injury will never be seen as “they were really into clean accommodations for customers.”

Think about it.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Some Exciting News

Just thought we’d share some news. Mark was approached by Investing.com to carry his articles in their Opinion & Analysis section. Their site averages 5.5 million visitors monthly with over 16 million views.

Here’s a portion of their request:

“The editorial team at Investing.com has been following your articles at your website and we believe your work would be a great fit for our Opinion & Analysis section.

We are the definitive resource for traders and investors, offering free tools and real time quotes relating to every facet of the global financial markets…”

Mark accepted and many of his articles should start appearing there soon and views the offer as a true compliment and honor. Remember, Mark is neither a Wall Street professional trader, financial adviser, nor has he worked on, or with, what is typically known as the Wall St. elite. Just someone pointing out what he believes the so-called “smart crowd” is missing – continually.

Just a final note: To any and all, whether new or been subscribers for a while, or readers who may be visiting for the first time as we reach an even greater audience. From all of us: Welcome!

V.V. -StreetCry Media

The 4C’s That Never Happened – And Those That Did

We didn’t get what I first postulated yet, what we did might be even more illuminating.

In my earlier article the 4C’s I set up the premise that if a Yes vote took place in Scotland there were possible ramifications within the markets than what was being expressed, as well as reported, throughout the financial media.

Well it turns out the cause for any worry has now been voted and booted away so far down the road it would make a can envious. However, what did we really get?

In my opinion we might have been shown there is even far more need to be concerned, for once again, the powers that be have seemingly demonstrate they truly are – the one’s in control.

What happened this week was exactly what a great many (including myself) expected out of the Federal Reserve’s meeting and press conference. i.e., Confirmation it was not only more of the same, but that the world was, and will be, “fine” under their guided hands of policy dictates. Strike a win for the first of the four C’s: confirmation.

However, for the remaining three? i.e., crisis, contagion, catastrophe? The markets were delighted to find any hints of turmoil now brushed firmly and neatly aside.

Crisis became calm. Contagion became cured. And last but not least catastrophe morphed into an even grander state of complacency.

On this note one could hear the call sounded Friday throughout Wall Street: Release the alogs! (I mean hounds) And tip the pool boys extra at our Hamptons retreat and tell them to keep the pool open for another week! For these are truly glorious times to be buying the all time highs!!! Forget dips. Who cares about dips – we don’t need no stinkin’ dips!

Although that’s tongue in cheek (not by much I’ll argue) it was the reaction.

Again this issue alone might become more informative as to illustrate why even more concern and prudence should be taken with everything we now know as “the financial markets.”

Today, just the calling to attention these or other varying types of systemic time bombs by people like myself and others is met with a sheer total and wanton disregard for any rationale push back. Now nearly any, if not all, is met with glaring scorn and worse. It’s as if 2008 never happened.

Let’s forget about the market maven crowd for the moment and view the way all of this is being sliced, diced, and served up to the public at large. i.e., Anyone not on some form of public assistance that are trying to keep, save, or build what they now have left. Whom I might add; are the real group of people who if something were once again to happen as it did in 2008 and they indeed do pull any remaining funds – there would be no need for 70% (if not more) of all the financial world as it is now known.

For who needs brokers, advisers, financial media outlets, High Frequency Trading companies, et al if the markets hiccup in a fashion reminiscent of 2008 – and nobody comes to the blue light sale? At any price.

The issue today where this meme of “All clear everything is ducky!” is in that: its more acute with the potential of causing exponentially even more damage to both the wallets and psyche of a great many that make the economy work than possibly before. i.e., Business owners, 401K holders, people both currently working as well as those actually trying to get back to work.

Again, even with a systemic issue causing an event only 2/3rds in size of the prior fall; now, at these levels, with what they’ve been told to believe as gospel? (i.e.,”it was a once in a generation event”) What few remaining holders of any worth would do near immediately (if not sooner) is too pull anything and everything out and as far away from anything Wall Street related for a minimum of a generation. Period.

What leads me to say what many in financial media would call “hyperbolic” “Chicken Little-esque?” Easy.

Just look at what is currently being portrayed as “financial analysis” and “instructive insights” across most of the financial media today.

If you have the tenacity or testicular fortitude as to dare state that regardless of what is being portrayed as an economic success: you are pilloried, denounced, and if your lucky – you get off the set before the tomatoes arrive.

It doesn’t matter if you can logically and methodically present the case why caution should be of the first order. Even when you preface your argument and viewpoint stating fully and honestly that you understand that as of today the market has proved you “wrong.” Expect no absolution to discuss any relevant points further. For you have now opened the doors  for an inquisition reminiscent of centuries past.

The only difference in days past and today is that now instead of being placed on “the rack” in helping to persuade one into accepting a canonized religion – you’re now placed staring down the hypothetical barrel of the Federal Reserve’s money blasting howitzer while trying tenaciously to hold onto what you believe is the equivalent of all you have left of your wealth (i.e., cash) while being asked by the inquisition panel led by Chair Yellen, “Well, do you feel lucky punk?”

Blatant examples of this thought process personified was seen on none other than the once darling of mom and pop 401K viewers CNBC™.

During a segment interview the host Jackie DeAngelis unabashedly posed a rhetorical ambush styled question/statement to a well-respected Wall Street veteran Bill Fleckenstein.

In a condescending snark laced tone the seemingly sister in arms inquisitor asked, “At what point are you willing to concede that you’ve misunderstood monetary policy?”

The whole problem with both this show host and the people who think like her is: That question should be asked of themselves! For it is they who both believe and are acting as if this new religion of monetary policy is what should be canonized. And if you don’t convert? Let the inquisition begin!

Maybe if they televised those with questioning viewpoints either on a rack or hung from ceiling chains they could get their viewership numbers out of the gutter, but that wont happen if this is where their journalistic morals are going to remain. Just saying.

As blatant as the above was there was also just as an alarming exchange between host and guest that went unnoticed that occurred during this same week.

On Bloomberg Surveillance™ the host Tom Keene (TK being one of the few I have high regards for) asked a pointed question to then guest Frederick Lane of Raymond James™. The question was in relation to how investors feel about corrections in today’s markets and how many are now looking (or have the expectation) for a correction free market. The response was, in my opinion, a pure instructive lesson on how and why those on Wall Street are not breathing rarefied air – they’re sucking on their own exhaust.

Here are few takeaways that just left me slack-jawed.

First: As far as news related events? You can pay attention because its “interesting” and probably informative, but if there’s something traumatic that happens, fine, pay attention. If there’s really a sea change, fine pay attention to that, but (and it’s a very big but) He does not equate volatility and risk.

I hung my head and thought: Here, it comes….wait for it! And I was not disappointed. He continued….

Risk is about diversification, volatility is markets go up and markets go down. The investor needs to ignore that. ( I wonder what category the outbreak of thermonuclear war or Janet Yellen pulling the punch bowl away all at once fits into? I only need the category, for I know the effect is the same for Wall Street. But I digress.)

And the coup de gras? When asked about investors emotional state when dealing with markets like when the market is down 5 or 6 or 7%, and he hears from an investor “Oh my god I lost money!” he thinks that’s an “odd phrase” for someone who’s already made 20% or 30% or 40% by being an investor.

He goes on: “No – you didn’t lose money. You lost value.” Then proceeds to say later in relation to a point being made about “gloomy.” If you’ve been an investment banker from that perspective the markets haven’t been that gloomy. (Insert what should be the greatest thank you homily ever sung to Janet, Ben, and everyone at the Federal Reserve here)

Is an “investor” no longer the individual mom and pop, small business owned entrepreneurs, professional executives, dentists, doctors, lawyers, solo practitioners, and others that try desperately to sock away their hard-earned money in a 401K or other vehicle?

Or, are they just the schlub and schleps that make up the fuel for the “investment banker” to pool and use to their advantage and liking? I know – it’s rhetorical, and redundant.

I would suggest you take the time and here it for yourself rather than take my opinion. You can find the original broadcast via many venues at Bloomberg.com/podcasts/surveillance/. (The segment appeared Tue. Sept. 16th, 2014 titled “James’ Lane Sees No Other Place”)

Back in 2007 when the economy appeared to truly have legs, as always, Wall Street made their case why you, me, and anyone with a dollar should be “invested.” For it was expressed everywhere that the average Joe and Jane Schmo were the most important Wall Street players with their booming and ever-growing 401K’s.

Flipped a house? Got a raise? Sold your business? Put your profits here (on Wall Street) and do it again! Rinse, repeat seemed to be the new war cry. Then 2008 happened.

What were many told when in October 2008 when the markets first began selling off 5, 6, 7% ? You know it – the same as they’re being told to do today. Only then it was “average in” not the more common moniker it is known as today – JBTFD. (just buy the f’n dip!)

If you did follow that advice only 5 short years ago, you lost 50% of your money and wealth over the next 12 months. And that was if you were lucky. Some lost far more, and some lost all.

Oh wait, how foolish of me. They didn’t lose money – “they lost value.” Whew, thank the Lord for that, because the mortgage, car payment, kids tuition, ex-wife’s alimony, child support, not to mention the credit cards, and utility payments are all due. And being so close to retirement if not just retired they might be a little nervous when they look at their balance over those next 12 months or so.

Adding to this hypothesis in tone displayed where an “investor” is up 20, 30, 40% and is looked upon as speaking “odd” when they express concern when markets today seem to flutter. Ponder this:

You would have not only needed to have held on, but also had not taken a single penny out of that beleaguered nest egg that many thought would be available, and many depended on for income for nearly 4 years till you got back to “even.”

Not made money, not generated income for living expenses, but even. Not until near May of 2013 did the market reach prior levels. Hope you as an “investor” with money under management by this crowd didn’t have any “expenses” over those years. Oh wait – regardless how little was in your account balance in 2009 you might have stopped buying food to reduce expenses, but you would still be liable for their “fee.” Taking food off your table is one thing, but don’t you dare reach for the food on theirs.

This whole thing cuts right to the chase that is just a disaster waiting to happen by the very people who want to tell anyone with any common sense they don’t know what they’re talking about.

The issue is we do know we’ve been “wrong” and not afraid to admit or state it. However, we also know we’ve been wrong for all the right reasons. And: we can not only live with that, we can also function, feel more secure, and be financially stable investors, entrepreneurs, business owners, and mom and pops knowing it.

What we don’t need – nor want – is another bowl of the 2008ish tripe washed down with this years new flavored Kool-aid™.

Here’s what a few of us also know that we are not “wrong” about.

When a monkey throwing darts can outperform most of today’s so-called “best of the best” hedge funds – we’re going to put our money on the monkey, rather than putting it anywhere close to where these people can put their hands on it for their own personal self-serving monkey business.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Audio now fixed and the reasons for them for those who want to know

We’re re-posting the original audio post onto the blog and should be live shortly. (note-It now is) We thought we’d share what we found out as we panicked to find out why 3 computers played it fine, and 3 others didn’t while another showed the file as being “corrupt.”

Here’s what we found out and think it’s worth sharing for those who also have blogs, websites, etc.

The audio was originally loaded in MP4 format. No problem most would say (and so did we) yet what we found was for Mozzilla Firefox it doesn’t play. Safari, yes, Google Chrome, yes, but for whatever the reason Firefox doesn’t. It was one of those things we never even gave a second thought.

This is a great example of why (as Mark likes to say) we all need to shop our own stores the way our customers may and see if there are issues. This issue seemed non existent on some computers as we were bouncing back and forth between older audio and the new that was working fine till it was tried on another. i.e., The one running Safari was fine with both, the other running Firefox played one but not the other.

After some hair pulling and and desk banging it was finally noticed: “Did anyone check the format?”

Silence was all that was heard next.

To quote Forest Gump, “Stupid is, as stupid does.”

Thanks for understanding, and here’s to possibly saving someone from the same.

Cheers,

V.V. -StreetCry Media

Coming Soon To The Subscriber Only Section

People have been asking about the audio and other features that will be coming up in the “subscriber only” sections so here’s a sample. This is what the subject matter in “Thoughts For Today’s Entrepreneur” will be sounding like. They’ll be other forms of audio also, but this is just a start. I’ll post other samples as they become available. As always feel free to share however please – don’t/never spam anyone! When the subscriber sections become “live” they’ll be available to subscribers of the blog only, with no “sharing” features available.

Remember subscribing is easy and Free! And as a reminder: We wont sell, rent, or share your email. Period.

All you need is a valid email address, nothing more. But you will need to be a subscriber to access. As It’s been said many times and we wish to make it worth while, “membership has its privileges.”

Below is the first installment of what is coming soon. Thanks!

V.V. -StreetCry Media

Having issues seeing the audio player? Click here. TFTE-A Few Points MP3

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr in association with StreetCry Media. All Rights Reserved

Seeing Beyond The Curves

Back in May 2009 over 5 years ago I penned an article which at the time was met with cat calls and more.

As I’m currently working on my upcoming book and other projects I thought it would be fitting to re-post the article to demonstrate just how far ahead of the curve we can be at times. Remember, in 2009 the buzz word of the day was: Solvency.

No one (and I do mean no one) was considering or giving any credence to what is now the buzz word of today: Inversion. i.e., Moving the corporate headquarters to another country to avoid paying higher U.S. taxes. Now, it’s all you hear. Dunkin’ Donuts™ Tim Horton’s™ being the latest example.

 

America: Love it or Leave it…but what happens if they do!
May 12, 2009

Before anyone decides this is a column based on a Right or Left debate to stir up tensions, you would be not only mistaken, but foolish.

I want you to think outside the box because so many are finding themselves stuck inside the box. Such headlines as the above come from every direction that one no longer thinks about whether the questions are relevant.

I have said before that it’s up to you to decipher and put into context all the information or questions that you come across and see if you can use it, or just file it.

Just because the phraseology of a question might now seem politically incorrect you must still ask yourself: is it relevant?

So look at the question again and think with this mindset: As a business owner, entrepreneur, CEO, or multinational company ( or just fill in your own ) would you still be, or stay Head Quartered in the USA if – you could move your business anywhere in the world, and your customers would not know or probably even care?

This question is very important if not crucial for where you need to position yourself for the upcoming business future.

For those who think they can wait, might I remind you that over the last 18 months the business future that you believed to exist is now…GONE. The banking system, the financial vehicles, the corporate governance, political meddling, and on and on, are forever changed…Period!

If you haven’t been up at night sleepless at times, or overcome with confusion of where or what you need to do in order to move ahead, I’ll assume you’rer either not in business, or you don’t understand the real depths of what has transpired over the last 18 months.

What happens to your thought process as a business person once you learn your business taxes, or other mandates could be raised to a point your business might either be hindered, or unable to compete – at any time!

Do you close your business? Pass on the expenses? (yeah that’ll work….not!) OR? Move!

Just liked conditions have changed at a breathtaking pace, the technology that allows companies and people to be global in reach and presence has also. So why wouldn’t a company strategically think about utilizing all the tools available to compete?

Take myself as an example to qualify my questions. I could be writing this article as I’m sitting in an airport in Singapore half way around the world. I could call you later this evening from my hotel room in Hong Kong and you wouldn’t know, or most likely, not even care because I could conduct business with you in the same manner as if I were in my office in the United States.

So once again it begs the question: If it can be done, and done easily -why wont it be done? And done quickly if it can mean profits, or could stave off bankruptcy?

All questions have answers, it’s up to you if they’re relevant.

By the way….How do you say ….I have to leave in Mandrin?

wǒ děi zǒu le

© 2009 – 2014 Mark St.Cyr

This Week: 4 C’s That Could Change The Financial World As We Know It. Again!

Those 4 C’s are: Confirmation, Crisis, Contagion, Catastrophe.

What type of confirmation could send the financial markets into such turmoil it could rock the very bastions of finance as we now know it?

First: Scotland votes yes to leave the U.K. If this turns out to be so, it could send shock-waves throughout the markets that run the world. i.e., Forex or World currencies.

No one with any financial acumen can look seriously at the markets as they stand at the time of this writing, and seriously argue the markets are prepared for such a resolution happening this Thursday.

If Scotland truly does vote Yes and confirms independence from the U.K. the initial shock-waves in my opinion that will hit the markets will be akin to the video we’ve all seen 1000 times when a nuclear device is unleashed with a house being obliterated. Or, the one where trees are bent over near flat to then reverse back the same.

In my humble opinion this could be a metaphor of what could take place. The reason is simple: By proof of the markets as they stand today, it is proof prima facie that everyone (especially so-called “smart crowd”) thinks it won’t happen. And the odds via polling alone show it to be the equivalent of a coin toss!

If this happens it will also confirm something just as real, and quite possibly far more instructive: With both a Federal Reserve meeting being held just days prior to such an event, the language out of this meeting could not be more important.

If it’s some revised boilerplate “till conditions improve, extended period, blah, blah, blah” based press release and conference, it will again confirm what many believed from the start, The Fed is both deaf, blind, and ill prepared to handle what might be an event such as this. An event that has the potential to make the crisis of 2008 the equivalent of a firecracker as opposed to what might be unleashed if Scotland does indeed secede.

The ramifications are truly unknown, unquantifiable, and what might be worse – unmanageable.

Then we move to crisis.

Just how does the Federal Reserve handle such a dilemma of this scale? I use the word “scale” for good reason. As many may know the Forex markets dwarf what the lovingly referred to as “mom and pop investor” believe it to be.

The saving of the “stock market” (aka the Equity Markets) in 2008 vs a Forex market crisis is the equivalent of bailing out a local bingo hall as compared to dealing with such a crisis on the scale of Las Vegas casino.

If the Forex market suddenly gets rocked with a clear fundamental breakdown and breakup of everything now known as the E.U. Along with all the tentacle entangled carry trades? Crisis might be an understatement.

Contagion across the Forex exchanges will not only wreak havoc from within it will also spread directly to the Bond markets. (which many don’t realize is also considerably larger themselves than the equity markets)

Such sweeping turmoil will most assuredly plunge the equity markets themselves into complete and utter chaos as money managers, market makers, margin executives and more decree: “Sell Everything, Close Everything, Now!”

What chaos might also be unleashed as the High Frequency Trading (HFT) algos are set loose selling anything and everything into a market where it’s suddenly revealed via news reading computers that the jig is up?

Or, what no one ( and I mean no one!) thought possible till this week. What if this was the week HFT decides to not skirt the laws, but to now – obey them?! i.e., CME Rule 575 as explained by ZeroHedge: These Kinds Of Market-Rigging “Practices” Will No Longer Be Allowed On The CME

 This could make the current Ebola crisis and concerns about the speed and severity of contagion look like the sniffles in a Kinder Garden class.

The panic, fear, mistrust, alienation, ___________(fill in the blank) that holders of what once believed were liquid assets on their books will find out rather quickly nothing runs quicker down the drain than paper gains and wealth.

If all this plays out, what will follow will be a blow to the IPO market and all it has morphed into these last few years with “free money.” So much so that one will think they actually saw Thor’s Hammer. Alibaba™ stands to be “the” poster child for top ticking headlines like never before.

Friday their stock hits the market in what has been touted as one of the most sought after and highly demanded offerings. So much so that they were able to wrap their road show early.

All this in an era of low if not non-existent GDP figures of recent memory. Along with real unemployment, and other metrics screaming recession, however these are adjusted, tweaked or adulterated so much so – it would make a vocal harmonizer jealous.

If Alibaba finds itself trying to release an IPO in this potential melee it will have ramification not only for its own offering, but for every single current high flyer in the markets from now until who knows when. The issue is not just if this happens, but what happens for everything else -if?

A catastrophe is quite possibly in the making. But it is still all in the hands of nothing more than the odds in a flip of a coin. We’ll know more Thursday when Scotland votes. Until then what we truly know is less about what if, and more about – if not.

However we do know a couple of things today that we didn’t know just 5 years ago.

First is, we understand the markets are not what people think they are. Second, the Fed. is not as omnipotent as most believe. Third, 70% to 80% of what the “mom and pop” 401K holders think are trades in the markets, is an illusion. Fourth: Everyone, including many of the very professionals that work and breathe Wall Street have learned absolutely nothing since the Lehman crisis.

And what’s maybe more important than all of those combined?

They believe the chances of it repeating are not only nil, they’re betting it wont. Besides they still believe: “The Fed’s got their back!”

Problem is – will the Fed. be able to save its own rear end if it does happen? Let alone theirs.

We’ll know soon enough.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

One Size Fits All aka Methodology Stupidity

One of the first signs that someone is caught up in their own world rather than trying to understand and fulfill a real need, is when you hear something along the lines of canned answers or responses. This is when you’ll observe they can address, supply, and fix your issue (or any issue) in one fell swoop before you’ve even finished describing it.

We’ve all heard them before and some of you are doing it unknowingly. It goes something like this:
You’re part of a conversation and someone says, “My purchasing manager and operation head just don’t seem to be getting along…”

Near immediately you hear, “I have just what you need for that! I developed this program called ‘Leadership Synergies.’ I believe this will address most of your problems. Why don’t I send you a proposal in the morning and you can look it over?”

Then you can’t seem to either get away, or shut them up. It’s like blood in the water for this person. And, they will not relent till they are convinced you understand why they are an “expert” on synergies.

It’s at times like these I’m wishing or praying there’s a “synergistic” trap door button.

Let me give you an example of this in greater detail.

Let’s say you have a department where frustration between executives and subordinates is always present. Tempers always seem to be on edge, inter department collaboration to resolve common issues is willfully absent. People just seem to be on edge most of the time and as an upper level executive you can feel it when you visit this department. Everyone is polite, but you know there’s just something not quite right.

This is also backed up by empirical evidence through reports that cross your desk where mistakes are being made and not corrected in timely manners, which in turn are causing more trouble down the line within other departments. e.g., The payroll department is making far too many errors and not just in getting the checks out on Fridays which in itself is causing consternation throughout the entire company.

What happens next is usually right on par whether you meet by chance, get cold called, are at a networking event, ________ fill in the blank.

While you’re speaking to someone this issue is raised or addressed in conversation. It sounds something like this: “I don’t know what is going on within one of my departments. Both the leadership teams as well as their subordinates just seem to be on edge and not working together as a cohesive department…”

Then the “methodology salesperson” chimes in: “Obviously it must be a leadership issue. Most issues are from the top down and it sounds like your department heads need additional training to work these issues out. I have a 2 day, or weekend, or whatever program that helps leaders become better. It’s called ‘Leadership: Stop Complaining And Start Hugging Program.’ I can tell by what you saying this is the right program to help in such things, blah, blah, blah…”

Then they go on, and on trying to box any and all questions into such things like: “Well, we can both agree if the leaders aren’t responding with the proper feedback to subordinates that can cause issue, wouldn’t you agree?” yada, yada, ya…..

Then for whatever the reason, fatigue, alcohol , hostage taking, or just banging someone’s head into submission, the deal get’s done and the program implemented.

And here is where everyone gets jaded. Why?

First, the people who need to attend usually have never been consulted, they’re just told “You need to attend this.” So the very people one wants to influence are now in varying states of aggravation. As far as they’re concerned, they don’t have time for this stuff. They have real work to do and taking time out for this “hug fest” is just ludicrous in their minds.

Second, It will be a waste of money for the company because it won’t address the real underlying issues because – the true issues or challenges were never discussed. It was purchased as some generic tool under the guise of specific implementation.

And finally what is probably even more damaging?

The very people who need a resolution won’t get one. And the people who are in positions to implement anything further will not seek out anything for fear of, once again, buying stuff they are more convinced than ever “doesn’t work.”

You may very well have a methodology that can produce certain results for specific issues. However, you can not implement strategy nor give advice if you don’t know the real issue. And that takes asking questions, some form of scope work to prove assumptions or accusations, and more. And what can be the real underlying cause just might be something so simple, a two-year old can spot it.

Think I’m off base?

What if the above scenario was caused by something no one ever thought, nor paid any mind to?

What if the real underlying cause was something as simple as the bathrooms on the floor of this department were constantly under repair forcing everyone to walk 4 floors up or down to use the facilities in another department? What if that other department was where all the top management were located? And for people not wanting to be seen as “not at their desks,” the next stop is 6 floors or the next building over? Think something like this would cause issues? Is methodology the answer here?

Take the time to ask the questions and have faith in your abilities to offer remedies that are truly needed. Sometimes the answers can be as clear as day but no one can focus because…      (think about it!)

What most companies don’t need is some form of an out of the box methodology training seminar. What they just might needed is a plumber.

Charging for the recommendation of a plumber, and not the seminar is worth far more while needing far less of a work load to produce true improvement for all involved.

What’s best is you will be seen as someone who truly can fix issues and will garner recommendations and referrals, rather than the vitriol and disdain that will be received by the “hug fest” leader.

So: How much is that worth?

© Mark St.Cyr

Competition?

Everyone wants to argue about salary from the entry-level to the CEO level. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has an opinion. However, having an “opinion” is far different from being the person that needs to ensure that opinion/paycheck actually clears the bank. They don’t have luxury of fulfilling opinions. If they can’t afford it – they wont hire. Simple as that, no opinion, that’s fact. Everything else in regards to this subject currently is so far removed from reality it makes one’s head spin.

A while ago I wrote an article on why people who get it at their core and understand true entrepreneurship or the entrepreneurial mindset have the greatest opportunities today to push far ahead of most of the competition. Just on the mere fact alone if they understand it’s about what they can offer in value as opposed to asking for some arbitrary salary you win. Where you as an individual are a business unto yourself and choose the company you wish to work for, rather than the other way around.

This is where one shows their value and professes to be paid accordingly because they can demonstrate it. They can prove the why one would be crazy as to not hire them, rather than asking pretty please.

Today what I also see that’s become even far more prevalent is what I like to call: The Disillusioned.

Below is an actual question asked in earnest from someone looking for guidance so they could find work. So illustrative is this example when I saw it I immediately saved it. It’s from over a year ago but it shows the mindset of many today. Again, this was asked as to get help in forming one’s resume. Here’s the part of their question that just caught me broadside.

From: The Columbus Dispatch in the column for Resume’ Solutions with Samantha Nolan

“I am 27 years old, and while I still do not know what type of job I want, I need career-level pay. I think my best chances of securing such a job are finding something in line with my communications degree.”

Look closely and ponder deeply the mindset. i.e., 27 years old. Still doesn’t know what type of job they want. However, needs “career level pay.” (What’s that, 100K or so I guess?) And, they “think” maybe something within their degree choice in “communications.” Which they’re probably now saddled with student debt acquiring it.

One might think I’m picking on this person, and I’ll assure you I’m not. What I am trying to show is there are far more 26 – 35 year old’s with this mindset (if not more so) than anyone ever imagined. And what I’m trying to express to anyone that will listen is this: This is your current competition.

Stop making excuses and get out there and compete. Your competition is waiting for the world to come to them. If you shake off your own disillusionment and see the world for what it truly is. You can seize it.

But you have to get up, go out, and reach for it. The opportunity and breaks you’re hoping for are all there, but you must be the one that initiates the process. If you wait, you’ll only learn what “career-level pay” is for waiting. And to my knowledge, that pay scale is still set at zero.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr