Friday, March 02, 2012

Contrapreneurship For the Lazy Ex-Financier

Making money the old-old fashioned way (manufacturing or providing a service to fulfill an under-fulfilled need) or even making money the old-fashioned way (honest-to-goodness lying, cheating, defrauding and/or insider-trading) has become either far too difficult in an era of heightened due-diligence, or is fast-becoming too legally precarious for most people (and many professional investment managers). But all is not lost. Some niches remain robust and ripe for the opportunist demagogue. Here's a shortlist of some easy and attractive money-spinners for anyone sufficiently lazy and light on conscience.....

1. Create a Financial Doomsday Website (with on-line retail affiliate),, UnderTheMattress.Com, BoomersGloomers&,,, all have the right cache to attract sufficient sympathetic eyeballs to get some sort of business rolling. The beauty of this is that you can sell all manner of related merchandise to your loyal following of paranoiacs – things such as Miracle-Fibre Dirt-repelling T-Shirts (with your logo) since in the feared dystopian future there will be no electricity to run your washing machine, and your gold or oil will clearly be too precious to trade for something as frivolous as new clothes. There are many teats to milk with this too. You can also sell off-the-grid technology, water-purification technology, surveillance and defense equipment, seeds and agricultural implements, remote seaside cottages with fishing rights in black-fly infested Labrador, as well as offering time-shares in your Swiss-bomb shelter (complete with bullion storage and assaying services).

2. Create a “Talk-My-Trading-Book” InfomercialAdvertorialSocialMediaWebChannelSite
We've come a long way since Wholefoods CEO John Mackey was busted dissing WildOats on Yahoo a message board.  Propaganda and disinformation are far more professional now, whether it is through commissioning of bespoke reserach reports or, in the macro world, through creating websites(s) with the right advertorial view. Conjure a good name. TheMacroChannel, SmartestTrades.Com, Best Informed Investor, Real Macro Research, AlphaSeeker, Divergent Perspectives, Deep Market Insider, Daily Dose of Macro, Base-Nine Scenarios or anything like that will do fine so long as it sounds professional. Get a front man and a web-designer. Pepper it with cross-links. Then use it a platform for talking your book. Be certain NOT to disclose your conflicts of interest, or if you must do, then bury them somewhere obscure in the smallest fine print possible. Be outrageous and provocative. Do NOT be held back by your lack of education or your degree from an on-line university. Do NOT be held hostage by the truth. Exaggeration and mis-information are your friends providing they are wrapped in plausible garb, and presented by a white-toothed, well-groomed spokespeople with conviction (and a book-deal). Whatever you do, DO NOT give attention to competing theses or points of view unless they are soundbytes by Al Sharpton, or someone from Brussels who looks shifty “and don't speak good English”.

3. Create Yet ANOTHER Online FX Bucket Shop
It is a fact that most retail spec FX traders are losers. I do not mean that in the pejorative by implying they are losers as in worthless human beings, rather just that, statistically, they are overwhelmingly long and wrong or short and caught-out, which when leveraged 100-to-1 is a ticket-to-paradise for whoever sees the flow and holds the account. Indeed, considering the average gross casino take in Vegas or AC is less than 5% across all games, systematically taking the opposite side against your retail FX Customers probably yields an edge considerably larger without the overhead and headaches. All you need is a fiduciary-sounding name containing “FX”, preferable a three-letter meaningless acronym, a colourful GUI, and some adverts featuring formula-one race cars (sorry NASCAR fans – wrong demographic) a few bikini-clad models, and you're off to the races (no pun intended).

4. Create a Stock-Market Trading System & Newsletter With a Cool Sounding Name 
Since most people have more difficulty, and know less about, choosing stocks than they do about choosing a bottle of wine (something that sufficiently mystifies most ordinary people into a state of ordering by colour or choosing the prettiest label), ANYONE who sounds authoritative, boasts of preposterously monstrous returns and statistically Madoff-like Win-Loss ratios will find a ready-made clientele desperately in need of help, to churn-and-burn. In areas of such confusion and innocence, people (especially trusting Midwesterners) NEED to be told what to do, and when to do it. It doesn't matter that the Pinata Method or the Fortune-Cookie Method would do equally-as-well, if not better. Some pointers are in order for the newbie contrapreneurial tipster: (1) Make it momentum-based. It just sounds better. Reversion, contrarian, or counter-trend sounds like an incurable disease or that you're a communist trouble maker; (2) Emphasise Trend-Following. Ameica is a don't rock-the-boat culture from its immigrant roots (despite current political polarisation). People have a natural tendency to want to fit-in and they want to be part of the trend. And, since most people possess sheep-like tendencies, they want to follow, and do not understand the power of contrarian thinking. (3) Choose Small-Cap, Low-Liquidity Near-Dead Stocks . And that's it. Now all you need is a website, purchase some banner ads on a relevant high-traffic site. Oh, and one more thing. If you really want to clean up, make sure you can borrow the stock, and do so BEFORE selling it to yourself from different accounts at different brokers. Then, sell your longs slowly to the pigeons as they come in to buy your recommendations, and buy in your shorts as they sell dispiritedly sell their longs. And to think some suckers actually WORK for a living...

5. Promote and Trade PennyStocks
There are sufficient number of people in the world who sadly equate the raw price of the stock with its implied value, the same way they are drawn to 99-Cent Shops. If cheaper is better when buying flatware, why not stocks? Why would one buy just 1 share of Berkshire Hathaway (symbol=BRK-A $11,910.00) when one can buy 1,000,000 shares of Acme Superconducting Solar & Oil Exploration Research (Symbol=ASSOL) at $0.0119 cents???!? Dearie me. While this may be an intellectual affront to some of you ex-fixed-income guys, it is precisely these qualities that you will value and a cherish in a customer as a newly-minted penny-stock promoter. If you have a guilty conscience. Look at the bright side: you are redistributing the wealth from those that obviously have no ability to do so, to those that have only less of an ability, but will spend it on all manner of wonderful things with beneficial trickle-down effects such as Bentley's, Beach and Ski homes, and for the truly talented promoter, a shiny used least until the Feds catch up with you, if they can.

6. Write a Cantankerous Financial Best-Seller
This has been popular a popular way to raise your profile, and there are no shortage of topics or plausibly-culpable villains that will provide colourful and readily-marketable material. The Fed, Bankers, Congressmen, Lobbysists, Economists, Madoff, Detroit, Paulson, ex-Presidents, China, Japan, Insider Traders, Research Analysts, The Rating Agencies, Landlords, The Mafia, Immigrants, Rich People, McDonalds, The Plunge Protection Team, Real Estate Agents, Hedge Funds, Arabs, Jews, Oil Companies, Drugmakers, The Weather, Robert Mugabe, Sunspots, The Kennedy Dynasty, Saddam Hussein, and best and most stealthily of all, my fav, the Canadians, all make for excellent scapegoats for people to read about, rage and avoid introspection. NB: Avoid dissing Ronald Reagan (no matter how culpable you think he is) if you want to move the merchandise. NB2: Avoid blaming the readers themselves. HL Mencken made the mistake of rubbing his readers' noses in it, and he was completely and wholly despised thereafter since no one want to be told “I told you so”. So if you want to write (and sell copies) of another or a sequel, heed this important advice.

7. Author An Aspirational “How-To” Financial Book
There are many verticals in this already crowded but always buoyant market. And it is not very difficult- just look at Suze Ormond – so long as one slaps a suitably optimistic and aspirational title on the jacket. Some suggestions:
“10-Step Plan To Successful Insider Trading ”,
“Using Friends & Family to Build Your Own Expert Network”,
“Investing for the Very Very Long Long Long Run”,
“How to Get Truly Rich Without Luck, Brains or Money”
“Gold Coins and Precious Metals Investing for Dummies”,
“Chant Your Way To Financial Freedom: The Best Mantras and Affirmations To Help You Realize The Rewards You Deserve”,
“Rich Dad, Richer Dad, Richest Dad – Lessons From My Millionaire Father A Trustafarian”
“The How-To Book of Writing Successful How-To Books”,
“Pessimism is for Losers: Riding the Next SuperCycle to Dow 100,000 1,000,000”,
“Winner's Guide To Day-trading: Surfing the Momentum Wave”.
“From Tenement to Bel-Air in Twelve Months: How I Made Money in Real Estate (And YOU Can Too!)”
“Channeling Graham & Dodd – Investment Tips From Beyond The Grave”.
(NB to Publishers – These have all been copyrighted!!)

8. Give “5-Minute Abs” "How-To" Trading Seminars
“Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day...teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime”. Fishing is hard work of course, and ignoring the fallacy of composition with this parable, there appears to be no shortage of people who want to become self-sufficient the 5-Minute Abs Way, by attending your “Trading For Winners” Seminars or Seminar-Lite (sm) that you will give at cheesy airport hotel conference rooms all around the country. You can teach them about “CANSLIM”, golden crosses, gaps, volume surges, can't lose set-ups, Donchian channel break-outs, FX Carry, and perennially shorting the Euro and USD, so they can “earn BIG returns” and “make millions in up and down markets” in order to fulfill your their dreams. And for the true sheep, you can offer them your daily premium alert service where (for a not ungodly sum) you TELL them what to do – at least until they piss away all of their stake.

9. Become a Rage-a-holic Presenter on Fox News
There are few things more objectionable in the realm of non-violent crime than cynically preying upon the financially-ignorant for parochial gain. But toying with the real emotions of frustration and bewilderment that an increasing percentage of the American population feel in the face of globalization, increasing inequality, and falling real incomes, for financial gain and media market share, must certainly be one of them. But if you have little shame and even less scruples, then becoming a rage-a-holic media personality is a viable option. You'll probably have to start local, on radio, and work the graveyard shift. You'll need to hone an outrageous and angry persona , perfect the art of distorting facts, practice using innuendo, smear and ad-hominems against opponents and mis-characterization of their opposing arguments to discredit them in the minds of your listeners. It is arguably more difficult than selling Pennystocks, but for the truly misanthropic, far more rewarding.


Ritholtz said...

Ahhh, the new service economy -- everything you need to survive the ____.

I'd give you my title, but its the next book/blog/seminar and I dont want to give that away just yet !

Woland said...

It would be interesting to know how it came about
that the modern citizen of the developed world has
become seduced into participating in the agnotolog-
ical world of "investments," when all he or she really
ever wanted was a reliable way to store that portion
of "production' which was not consumed, i.e.
A financial system in which all wealth is either debt
or a credit derivative, equities included, and which
at best 10% of the general public have a rudimentary
understanding, is a natural killing field for the
financial predator. When looking to pin the blame
on those responsible, however, it should not be
overlooked that a systemic lack of a safe, universal
medium of savings understandable by the masses is
not a bug in the system, but its' core feature.
Such a medium would be a pure store of value, not
subject to public or private manipulation (TIPS). A
currency can never fulfill this role, because it will
always need to expand or contract (though mostly expand) with the credit cycle, which IS the business
I've made my choice, but I'll keep it to myself, as I
wouldn't want to shamelessly promote it to the
public in the hope of financial gain. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Right on the money. I always wondered what the person that selected the ticker symbol for Renesola Ltd.(SOL) was thinking. Perhaps they were trying to be honest?

"Cassandra" said...


I am predisposed towards recursive titles so in this vein, my title would be "How to Survive the Survival Economy". If you can't make that work, "Effective Tips for Tipstersing in the New Economy"

"Cassandra" said...


Nice of you to stop by. There are times when FWIW the utilitarian in me thinks "your choice" (AU) is the best. There are other times when this same utilitarian thinks reasonably OK whilst others moments when it is pedestrian, to hazardous. These utilitarian opinions are not limited to your choice, but as a wannabe-economist, are cursefully held on more or less all assets, investments, as well as many things not traditonally-deemed assets.

I view a unitary focus upon AU as the panacea. the same way I view my 12yo daughter's fixation upon chocolate.

"Cassandra" said...

Anon -

shit-outta-luck indeed!

Woland said...

Au, C, U let out my secret! Seriously, if I had my choice
of a vehicle to store wealth over time, the 2 most
obvious and in my mind incontrovertible candidates
would be the BTU and the Calorie, which are convertible
to one another, by the way. If I could only compress
into a modest size, suitable for a safe or safe deposit box, very large quantities of either calories or BTU's,
then that would be my ideal savings account. They
are necessary for just about every human need, even
your daughter's chocolate. The problem is in the
compression. I can't seem to find a way to do it.
Au, shucks, I'll just have to keep trying, eh? Cheers.

cpmppi said...


Anonymous said...

Right on, girl, tell it like it is. I've spent almost a year following gurus, websites, blogs, blah blah blah and come to the conclusion the only way to come up with a trading system is to 1) select market 2) select timeframe 3) study data on said market and in said timeframe 3)find a pattern 4) practice trading that pattern with tiny position sizes (no papertrading - it's gotta be real) and gradually increase position size as your profitability increases. I am not up to 500 bux per position. Doing ok. And guess what, super simple things like sell when it breaks the trendline, or buy at the bottom of the channel, and sell when it fails to break resistance or gets weak at the top of the channel, or buy the breakout, duh, do work if you take your profits like a sane person should, and sell when you know you should. C'mon, traders who let losses run: you know you knew when to sell - we traders *know*. Trading is not rocket science, and you don't need a guru!

Jesse said...

All these things are viable ways to scratch out a living, but still, it is best to be a banker, or at least a bankers faithful servant.