BART Rush Hour Tip

October 28, 2008

For those who work in San Francisco, especially the financial district, you can find it to be quite a hassle to comfortably get onto a BART train heading out of SF on the Pittsburgh, Richmond, or Fremont line.  This is especially true for those who are boarding from the Embarcardero station (final SF station) to make the trek across the bay.  If you simply get onto the BART line going in the opposite direction one or two stations to Montgomery St. or Powell St., you should be able to comfortably exit to the BART train on the other side of the station to get a seat going back toward the east bay.  This also mitigates the risk of not being able to board the BART train in general during the busiest commute times of the day.

This trick only works under the conditions that:
a) You are traveling to the east bay during the peak traffic times on BART (probably around 4-5PM)
b) You intend to board on the later stops in San Francisco (Montgomery or Embarcardero) and would be willing to time the trains to back track one or two stops to ensure a seat for the duration of your 30+ minute ride to wherever your final destination is (the farther you’re traveling, the more this makes sense)


Things that are worth more than GM

October 9, 2008

Today, GM (GM) shares tumbled 31%, after tumbling for the past several weeks. GM’s market value is now 2.7 billion.

Here are some fun things that are worth more than GM’s market cap:

American Insurance Group
Dollar Tree
Facebook earlier this year, by some accounts
Family Dollar Stores
Goldman Sachs
Honda Motor Company
Iceland (for now)
Morgan Stanley
Red Hat Linux
Wachovia Bank
YouTube, almost

…and much more, but this is a little depressing.

The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer

October 7, 2008

It is times like these that millionaires are made. If you have ever been scared by P/Es over 10 or wanted to buy a stock only to find it shoot up like a rocket before you put in your buy order, then this is the time for you. In times of recession, the ones that make out are the big kahunas with lots of cash. A CEO of a prominent tech company told me serveral times that “Cash is Queen”. If you ever had to startup a company, you learn that cash is your lifeblood. Whether your company will survive till the next month or how good of a deal you get on your later rounds of funding are dependent on cold hard cash. The banks failed because they didn’t have enough cash. If you can’t pay your immediate obligations, you have no choice but to file bankruptcy or find someone willing to let you borrow money. The further in the hole you are the more expensive it is to borrow money. The banks were in a deep hole from losses in mortgage backed securities. The other banks with more cash were able to survive and pick up the banks that failed for cheap. The investors and companies with the most cash will make out like bandits during this financial crisis.

What does this mean to you?

This means you’re not going to have many choices to where you put your money. There will be a point in time where you can count all the banks on the fingers on your hand. Since you’re not going to have much choice for banks, so that means the consumer loses out.

What to do in the turmoil…

October 1, 2008

I read some good advice in BusinessWeek today. It’s a quote from Richard Thaler, a professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business: “My advice has always been to choose a sensible diversified portfolio and stop reading the financial pages. I recommend the sports section.”

Many people are trying to time the market bottom and invest accordingly, but in the end, for the long-term investor, there is little to be gained from that. A well-diversified portfolio will ride out the current roller-coaster, and in the meantime, chasing the market will just cause undue stress. So, I guess I should take this advice and go focus on my research for awhile!