State of the Senate

It is fascinating to me how these Senate races have turned. RCP now has the Senate going GOP even giving Georgia to Nunn (the Dems) and NOT counting Kansas at all (so if KS goes Dem it would be 51-49 Repub). This also assumes NC stays with Hagan, where most do believe Tillis has a CHANCE to pull that off for the Republicans. So how is this math even possible? Colorado, Iowa, and Alaska all going Repub (along with, of course, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the obvious ones).

Bottom line: We can still fail to cross the finish line. And if we do need Louisiana to do it (vs. having it regardless) we probably are going to need until December to know. Pat Roberts should be utterly ashamed of himself for leaving us in this position in Kansas. I would rather talk about age limits than term limits, but I don’t really mean that. Kansas. Can you believe this? Kansas. Of all states, Kansas might keep us from a GOP Senate majority. Dear Lord.

Iowa is not out of the woods (could go against us) and Georgia is not a lost cause (I still believe Perdue could protect that seat). I’m optimistic enough to say we could win with 53 and I’m pessimistic enough to say we could be stuck at 49. This is going to be a wild ride for the next ten days. At stake is the role of Harry Reid in the governance of this country. No intelligent or decent human being could be comfortable with that kind of implication.

2014 Comprehensive Bahnsen Viewpoint Voting Guide

Mid-term elections can often be more fun than Presidential elections, mainly because more interested and informed voters participate and often there are more consequential things to be voted on (both in the candidate and proposition category). 2014 is no exception. What I have done here is dig into my personal ballot in its entirety, and then spread the research a little outside my ballot to cover various other races I think folks may care about. Should I miss a congressional, ballot, or statewide race you have on your ballot that I don’t cover here please feel free to send my way if you can’t figure it out on your own and I suspect I will be able to uncover some points for your consideration. As much as possible below I have tried to partner my recommendation with a rationale but in some situations for the sake of time it is in a mere list format. Please vote (if you are informed and will be voting with principle, vs. voting like a whore hoping someone will give you something). The latter crude parenthetical is at the heart of all plaguing our democracy: the idea that elections are to deliver us toys instead of more principled and effective governance. Sermon over. Off we go.

California Governor - it is, of course, irrelevant. Jerry will win and win big. The only reason I hope you will vote for Neel Kashkari is that the lower Jerry’s margin of victory proves to be, the theoretical case exists for more restraint from the Governor in a second term. We are a ways off from the GOP playing competitively in a CA Gubernatorial race.

On the Lt. Governor front, the same thing is true (Gavin Newsom will handily beat Ron Nehring). But vote for Ron Nehring, who is articulate, capable, competent, and should have been our guy to lose on the top of the ticket. We do not want a tool like Gavin Newsom going into 2018 with claims of a 20-point win on his resume.

Pete Peterson is our best bet for a statewide GOP win in the Secretary of State race. He is a strong candidate and has a solid shot to win believe it or not based on a lot of complexities in that race and the utter corruption the Dems have brought to that fray. This race means more to me than any of the other statewide races.

I certainly recommend Fresno Mayor, Ashley Swearengin, for statewide controller, but Ashley is not a perfect candidate (who is?). Her support for the High Speed Rail debacle is most unfortunate, but she would be nice to have in that board of equalization spot (likely a tiebreaker).

Ted Gaines as Insurance Commissioner would be the most intelligent GOP member to be in statewide office in over a decade, though he has a tough battle to win this race.

In the Treasurer and Attorney General races, vote for the Republican (who will lose in both cases). Pray that Kamala Harris gets caught in a sex scandal as most abusive Democrat attorney generals do before 2018, because if this person is ever my Governor, I may have to re-visit my Scottsdale real estate agent’s office once again.

Whoever the Board of Equalization candidate is in your district, vote for the Republican. I can see a possible 3-2 win for the GOP here but at worst case a 2-3 minority which is better than 1-4.

As for U.S. congressional seats, Mimi Walters will be a great replacement to John Campbell for those living there, and if you are in the 48th just pray that Dana retires in two years and someone else runs. It is sad that the 48th is in this position, but Dana will win, and that’s that with that. One day it will be different. If you are in north county Ed Royce is one of the best representatives the Congress has.

For my Orange County friends, few races have people more fired up than State Assembly DIstrict #74. A Republican vs. Republican race features Keith Curry (Newport Beach two-time mayor and sitting city councilman and retired business owner) vs. Matt Harper (HB mayor; various local govt staff jobs over the years). This seat is as safely Republican in any year as any district in the country, but because I LOATHE cronyism in local and state politics – loathe it, especially from Republicans – and because I believe we need credible, serious, experienced, mature candidates to represent us in Sacramento, I urge you to vote for Keith Curry. I have barely heard a single honest thing said against Keith Curry throughout this campaign. What I know is that he has not lived at the trough of government paychecks throughout his life, and has absolutely no motive in seeking this seat other than making some difference in Sacramento. He is a Reagan Republican, which means he is both principled and pragmatic. Keith and I do not agree on every single issue, but I fear what happens statewide if we send less-than-credible candidates to Sacramento in the few seats we actually win. Matt has chosen for whatever reason to prosecute an entirely disingenuous campaign against Keith. Keith Curry will serve in statewide office in a manner that pleases conservatives, and doesn’t make liberals laugh at his antics.

Other statewide assembly or senate races outside my own district:

Mario Guerra in the 32nd (this would be a huge pick-up)
Pat Bates in the 36th
Young Kim in the 65th (for assembly); this too would be huge
Bill Brough in the 73rd
Ling Ling Chang in the 55th

I hope you will vote for Janet Nguyen in the 34th State Senate District, but I would be voting for the “Republican” after her name, not for her. It is a chance to take the super-majority level of the legislature from the Democrats, though I remain mystified that this was the best candidate the GOP could come up with to pursue this seat. It is a tight race, and we really would be better off with Janet than Solorio who is pretty much unbearable.

I have never voted for a Superintendent of Public Instruction my entire life as my kids are all in private school and always will be. However, Marshall Tuck is an absolutely special candidate (and I would add, a Democrat), fighting the oppressive evils of the state teacher’s unions day in and day out. He is an innovator, a fresh and principled thinker, and he could make a difference – albeit a small one – in that corrosive rot of a culture that is state education bureaucracy.

I am voting for Allan Mansoor over Michelle Steel in my County Supervisor race, though Michelle appears ready to win with a sizable margin. BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT is the 5th District County Supervisor race, where the Republicans have a chance to elect the most intelligent, principled, capable, honest, competent candidate to the county board we will have elected to ANY office in this county in twenty years: Robert Ming. Can I say that with any more force?

Newport Beach City Council races: For the love of everything you care about, vote for Mayor Rush Hill in the district 3 race. Diane Dixon is unopposed but will be a strong presence on the council. Tim Brown gets my vote in the 4th. Mike Toerge is a NO-BRAINER in the 6th district. I would be happy to entertain any private emails about why I feel so strongly about these races. None are more important than Rush Hill …

Judges:
Kevin Haskins in Superior Court #14

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 1
Alex C. McDonald– 9 (JI: 8, Q: 10) YES
Gilbert Nares– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 8) YES
Terry B. O’Rourke– 7 (JI: 6, Q: 8) YES
James A. McIntyre– 7 (JI: 5, Q: 9) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 2
Thomas E. Hollenhorst– 6 (JI: 5, Q: 8) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 3
David A. Thompson– 8 (JI: 6, Q: 9) YES
Richard M. Aronson– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Richard D. Fybel– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
William F. Rylaarsdam– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Kathleen E. O’Leary– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
Superior Court Judge; County of Orange; Office 14

I am voting for Webster Guillroy for Assessor behind the recommendation of the always-reliable John Moorlach. I hear good things about Claude Parrish too.

In Costa Mesa I pray you will vote for Jim Righeimer and Tony Capitelli

Measure Y in Newport Beach – yes, yes, yes, yes

State Ballots:
1 – Hardest one to vote on. I loathe everything about general obligation state bond borrowing. I have talked with a plethora of similarly anti-bond, pro-fiscal responsibility conservatives who support this bond, believing it to be one of the truly rare times a GO bond is for a legitimate public infrastructure project, vitally needed, with proper checks and balances in place. I am voting yes.

2 – NO
45 – NO !!!!!!!
46 – NO
47 – YES (may Republicans disagree)
48 – NO
E – No
G – Yes

For all others not on my ballot feel free to email me. I recommend a NO vote on every single school bond you see no matter what. They are killing our children as they delay the need for fiscal sensibility and a renewed commitment to quality and values. They are a drug. Just say no. This also includes the woeful community college bonds.

I recommend a YES on Measure L in Anaheim. I certainly recommend a vote FOR Tom Tait, the fine mayor there who is leading a righteous cause against piggish cronyism …

In Irvine, of course I support the Great Park transparency measure. I also support Larry Agran being indicted.

Around the country, there are no races that I suspect will matter more than Ernst in Iowa and Tillis in North Carolina. I feel good about Cassidy in Louisiana, Cotton in Arkansas, Sullivan in Alaska, and even Gardner in Colorado. Anything can happen. Never forget: Cheaters usually win, and Harry Reid cheats better than anyone. We need a big enough margin everywhere, and period.

Gubernatorially, if the voters in Florida elect Charlie Crist that will pretty much ruin my plans to spend my retirement smacking mosquitoes off of my body, making hurricane preparation plans, and talking about the 4:30pm dinner special. Seriously, if that guy is elected, Floridians get what they deserve. Please don’t do it.

I think I have covered my bases here. I love the United States of America, I love the golden state of California that the unions have ruined, and I love the city of Newport Beach. I believe we are never too far gone to throw in the towel and never too far ahead to run a victory lap. And most importantly, I believe culture trumps politics. All my political friends are wasting their time as long as they believe these races will secure the societal improvement we want. They are but one piece of the puzzle – just one. The rest is where the low hanging fruit lies. Vote early, vote right, and vote with principle.

The Most Extraordinary Day of College Football perhaps ever – Musings, ASU Week

It is only because of my love for college football as a sport that I am taking a positive approach in titling this week’s musings, as if I kept the focus only on my beloved Trojans there would be far more angst, depression, and maybe even despair. I’ll get to that insane meltdown in the Coliseum and miracle finish for Arizona State in a moment. But I am always and forever a lover of the sport of college football, and this weekend’s activity essentially covered every single thing that actually makes college football the magical and superior sport that it is. I will spend much of my day today watching NFL football at an awesome neighborhood sports bar in the upper west side of Manhattan. It will be fun, and it will be exciting. I look forward to this day every year. But it will not be magical. Football is a really amazing sport; I could enjoy watching any level of it being played. But what the NFL could simply never re-create is the passion and insanity that we saw in yesterday’s college football action. Never. When the Giants win a Super Bowl it is not the greatest thing that has happened in New York City; but that Ole Miss win over Bama – well, it just might be the greatest thing that’s happened in Mississippi in a long, long time. The kids playing college football are hungrier, more desperate, more passionate, and all around more inspired/inspiring (even though they are not more talented). The NFL also cannot by definition have a small market team – the economics don’t even allow for some major market teams. But in college football there is not a farm, city, township, county, state, bridge, county, water tower in the country not eligible for the thrill of victory. It is not something that can be matched. And on Saturday we got it all in its glory, and in abundance.

It started Thursday night with Arizona’s win over #2 Oregon. I know Oregon’s offense is generally exciting and I know they are culture changers by wearing metro-sexual uniforms, but does anyone else care that they have been all sizzle, no steak, for years. Years! They can never close the deal, and they look less and less overpowering all the time. I imagine Duck fans (and I’m not referring to the Peking kind, of which I am one) are not so happy with the post-Chip Kelly era. The only thing I can tell them: It only gets worse …

I am very fortunate that I have been in NYC this weekend. If I were on west coast hours I would have missed the 4th quarters of the Alabama game, Notre Dame game, Oklahoma game, etc. I had business in New York City all the way until 6:30pm, and arrived at Tonic at 48th and 7th just in time to sit down at a table my myself in front of eight big screens, order a diet coke, and take all of the drama in. That the timing worked the way it did is another sign of God’s goodness being manifested through college football, but I digress. Ole Miss flat out won that game; Alabama didn’t lose it. They made huge plays on the ball, they ran extraordinary plays on the offensive side, they forced a huge fumble (as opposed to merely recovering one) – it was a sight to behold. And that celebration – oh that celebration. I assume it will be going on for another three days.

I won’t walk through each and every other game. Florida State obviously is in the driver’s seat, but I would not bet on them running the table even with that schedule. Why? Ummmmm, do I even have to answer that after this weekend?

None of the teams who lost their first game this weekend – Alabama, Oregon, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, etc., etc. are out of consideration for the playoffs. This should be obvious as the tragedy of a loss is diluted when everyone else gets one with you. The remaining undefeated teams have very little chance of remaining undefeated. MAYBE a repeat of last year’s title could happen, but Auburn running the table is hardly guaranteed (or even likely). Notre Dame is not good enough. Michigan State could win their remaining games as a Big-10 team (where me and my high school basketball friends would only lose one game), but they would lose big in a playoff, and of course already lost big to Oregon. I am pretty sure Eastern Carolina might soon be like the #4 team in the country if all this keeps up (not literally). It is WIDE open, and I actually think there is a very good chance one or more of the teams in the playoff final four may have TWO losses. Awesome stuff.

So let’s talk about my Trojans. I am typing this less than 12 hours after the painful conclusion to that game, so emotions are still raw. However, I don’t feel irrational or lacking in judgment or objectivity about this loss. Poise and sober-mindedness are usually quite lacking from the cyber world, especially right after a loss. I feel like what I am about to say reflects how I truly feel.

Sark is highly unlikely to make it at USC, and that is not because I am mad about one loss. He is responsible for the loss, but a lot of coaches have messed up and lost games for their team. I am saying that because I feel reasonably confident by the David Bahnsen Index of Coaching Longevity that he is not the man for this job. If I am wrong I will be happy, and if I am right I will never celebrate. To really upset the chorus of negative idiots who permeate USC chat boards, I also am not going to root for him to lose or obsess over his imminent failure blah blah blah. I am merely making the observation that he has been a head coach for a long time now, and been in football coaching for his entire adult life, and that kind of three-minute meltdown cannot happen at the hands of someone who will eventually pull it together. Again, maybe I am wrong. But the insane amount of penalties (getting worse, not better), the long pass conversions given up by the defense on third and fourth downs, abysmal clock management, and simply inexplicable play-calling at certain key moments, these are all characteristics of guys who are not wired to be a head coach in an 11 or 12 win paradigm.

I believe most of the negative jackasses who spend more time bashing Haden and Sark than rooting for the men of Troy are in perfectly understandable territory … It is a defense mechanism. Fearing a future painful loss, they can prepare themselves emotionally by gearing up for the classic, “well, look at that – I told YOU, didn’t I?” moment. So let me be clear – I do not think Sark will make it at USC, and I am disgusted by what I saw last night, but I am not going to harp on it. I will call out bad coaching when I see it, but I am not rooting against Sark until he is no longer the head coach at our beloved university. Period. I think it was probably a bad hire. Some folks have pointed out that he is playing with the schollie limitations, which is true enough,. The problem is that the items I highlighted above have nothing to do with that. Others point out that Pete Carroll went 6-6 in year one at USC, which is also true. However, he was playing with Sonny Byrd at running back, and a team with maybe 20% of the talent that this team has (though his secondary was probably not as bad as this secondary). I think losses to better teams, and occasional losses to worse teams, just plain happen in college football. The whiners who scream for perfection are childish, and I would point out were calling for Pete Carroll’s head too after certain losses (the architect of the greatest dynasty in the history of college football). What I am bemoaning is not the mere existence of a loss (or two), but the manner by which they take place: Penalties, Long conversions forfeited, leads given up, and in the case of last night, embarrassing clock management and game time leadership.

Buck Allen ran downhill much of the second half last night, which made up for a mediocre game from Cody Kessler (he had a MAN’S run for a touchdown, and made some good throws, but he also was inaccurate much of the night, compounding the problem of his receivers dropping numerous balls). Nelson Agholar had some moments, as did Randall Telfer. The way Sark handled that final possession was pretty much unforgivable. But the defense is another story.

I didn’t know enough to bemoan the Justin Wilcox hire when it happened. What I do know, now, is that Sark’s judgment doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. He voluntarily hired Nick Holt at Udub. Wilcox is not responsible for some of our corners being mediocre, nor is he responsible for Josh Shaw being gone. But their inability to prevent two 50+ yard pass plays in under three minutes is not on the players. Seymour gets picked on ALL THE TIME, and yet Sark talks at MMQB like he is a really good DB. Last week Sark bragged at MMQB at our preparation for the successful first half Hail Mary on the offensive side of the ball (showing us the practice footage of them working on it. Where was the preparation for the defense against the Hail Mary? Dear Lord. I see players regressing under this defensive leadership, namely Hayes Pullard, and when I see that I blame coaches (I saw it for three years under Paul Hackett as high school star after high school star struggled at USC then went on to excel in the NFL). I know we’re young on the offensive line and other parts of our team, but we are unprepared to defend the pass, and that is a defensive flaw which lies with the coaches.

I can’t really re-live it all much more. I have a day ahead of me to cherish. I love this team and I love the fight on spirit which will always embody USC, and will never embody the poor souls who hate us. I want us to win every game on our schedule this year. I will root for it to be so. I am not feeling really good about that right at this moment. So fight on Trojans, and may this memory be erased from our consciousness immediately.

What. A. Weekend.

Weekly Musings – Arizona State Edition

Another week, a UC win, a 3-1 record, and an undefeated conference record despite the utter debacle in Boston. I share most Trojan fans perspectives on the Boston College debacle: I am more concerned with the questions it forces upon our team and our actual capabilities as an offense (and defense) than I am the loss itself (which technically does not affect conference realities). The problem is that if the Trojan team is as good as the one that played in Boston we need not worry about conference realities – we will be lucky to end the season with just four losses. BUT if that was a freak night or a moment in which our insanely young but talented team turned a corner, well, then it will be yet another example of what Trojans have spent a century doing: Fighting on through adversity. Non-Trojans have no clue what the fight on spirit means. We do. The Oregon State game was a situation where we could have been knocked out for the season, or we could have made a statement about who we are. It obviously ended up not being the former, but I’m not sure it was the latter either. A 25-point win with the defense giving up just three points is pretty resounding, but we struggled at moments too and have work to do. Sark knows it. We know it. Bring on those party animals from Arizona State.

Let’s go around the country then back to the USC/Oregon State action.

– There’s a couple ways to look at the Florida State win against NC State, a game I watched in its entirety. On one hand, Florida State gave up 41 points to a team who has been playing Presbytrian and Old Dominion every week, and trailed most of the game. On the other hand, they got it done – with 56 points – overcoming mistakes – period. The latter is probably the right outlook.

– The thing that most amazes me about Stanford this year is all of their problems have been totally self-induced. The discipline is not normal Stanford and the execution is non-existent. They got it done against Washington but they really seem like something is wrong

– I don’t see a way Brady Hokie keeps his job and that may be the most unprofound thing I say this week. I do wonder if they’ll “Kiffin” him (mid-season) or let it drag out this year. But they are bad, getting worse, and the Wolverine program has completely unraveled.

– I saw that Kansas fired Charlie Weis as head coach, who I imagine will end up back in the NFL (likely not until next season) as an Offensive Coordinator.

– Odd that this happened to be a bye week for the #2, #3, and #4 teams in the country

On to my beloved Trojans:

– The three consecutive false starts were quite annoying on the opening drive … And I understand the quantity of freshmen on the offensive line; but come on. Three in a row????

– Leon McQuay’s inability to make the tackle on the Oregon State kickoff return was embarrassing. But in fairness not as embarrassing as the lanes our kickoff coverage took … AND he made up for it with that interception in the endzone late in the first half

– Blame for offensive impotence in Q1 lies squarely in the laps of atrocious offensive line play. I didn’t want them to play their age this year, but there were moments in the first half I was not encouraged. I do believe they came together and really played a good game both in terms of run blocking and pass protection.

– We need Josh Shaw back. Seymour had moments of great coverage but moments of vulnerability. We need the depth and experience Josh brings.

– The 8-play, 65-yard drive in the second quarter for our first offensive touchdown featured some gutty efforts (not the least of which was Bryce Dixon’s fantastic third down catch for what felt like was our first third down conversion in a month). The play-calling was good once we got in scoring range

– I am more or less in a state of shock at the hail mary to end the half. That’s not necessarily what you want it to take to put points on the board but wow, was it ever fun … And yes, I believe it pretty much ended the game. Oregon State was just done coming out of the locker room.

– In no uncertain terms did Randall Telfer communicate what the reasons are to involve the Tight End in this offense on the mid-third quarter drive … Big catches. Big blocks. Big plays that moved the chains (even with runs after catch etc.)

– Just like last year, though, the real story of the game ended up being the ability of USC’s defense to completely sterilize Sean Mannion (who the commentators said is a top 4 QB pick?). 3 points for the Beaver offense felt a lot better than the 450 points I think Boston College scored (yes, a Boston College team which lost to Colorado State this weekend)

– I was more encouraged than anything to hear Sark say after the game, “we’re not abandoning the run; we’re going to keep running. It’s who we are …”. I share the frustrations of those who felt the run calls were stubbornly over done against BC, and I want to see a versatile offense that utilizes a vertical passing game. But it starts with a run foundation at USC, and it always will

– Nine guys catching passes for our offense. Really insane. Different team from the days the coaches didn’t even know the names of the ball catchers past the #1 and #2 guy

– I loved Sark’s point at MMQB that just because we won the game doesn’t mean you don’t have to address the things that didn’t go well. We didn’t play great, and those things have to be addressed and understood, despite the fact that it was a 25-point win

– Interesting perspective from Sark in MMQB on that kickoff Oregon State ran back. He showed us footage from practice and what they did last week on that exact play, and then from the game and how the whole unit bit to the left side of the field …

All things considered, I feel okay. Not great, but okay. That BC win was a doozy. Sark and the coaches took it hard as they should have. An Arizona State win will go a long way in conference play to position us where we need to be. I care nothing for what anyone else in the country is doing. This is on us, and our very young team will have to play older than they are to have the season we want to have. But we have a QB, and we have a defense. Let’s get it done.

Why the Stock Exchange Matters

As I gleefully communicated this week to my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and even clients and professional associates via private email distribution, I enjoyed one of the great blessings of my life this week in participating in the ringing of the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange.
IMG_2042.JPG

The specific business interest and portfolio strategy that brought me there is not important for purposes of this blog, nor would it be prudent to delve into investment matters on this public blog (a sign-up is available for my privately distributed weekly commentary on the home page of this site). What I do want to address, though, is just why this event would be so significant to me, and why the stock exchange matters.

In a literal sense, the stock exchange as defined by the actual floor brokerage activity going on in the physical building at the corner of Wall and Broad actually doesn’t matter a whole lot any more. There are still some floor brokers there but the entire U.S. equity market could function without those literal activities. The exchange almost seems like a studio for CNBC now, and that is fine by me (I watch CNBC all day, every day). Of course, the activities of trading and market-making and listing securities (etc.) matters a great deal, but massive technological advances have enabled that business to mature beyond our wildest dreams. Execution prices are better than ever. Markets are more liquid than ever. Transparency is easier to come by than ever. And countless traders and market-makers are still employed all over the world.

So why does the actual New York Stock Exchange matter, then? Why was this a milestone event for me as a financial professional? And why is the corner of Wall and Broad important to Americans?

Just as the term “Wall Street” has long been a catch-all phrase for “capital markets” in our country, so is the “stock exchange” a catch-all phrase for the making of markets – the facilitation of the buying and selling of financial securities – and with that, the democratization of financial investment. There are actually few things MORE important to average Americans, whether we are able to realize that on a daily basis or not.

I am sensitive to the reasons many find the demonization of Wall Street so tempting, and I am certainly aware of some of the transgressions that have originated in the halls of Wall Street over the years. I do not offer a Gordon Gekko defense for the merits of greed (though I recommend a vigorous defense of the virtue of the profit motive re-enter American consciousness, and quick). Stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason sometimes, and the fact that many Americans see the white collar world of finance as a den of iniquity, greed, hubris, and callousness is most unfortunate (and only in a minority of cases fair).

But I need to return to this concept of the democratization of investment finance. America has been the city on a hill to the world when it comes to finance for over a century. Our national free enterprise system has lent itself to the greatest innovations and advancements the world has ever seen, and those innovations and advancements have produced a lot of wealth. Certain countries have done quite well at generating wealth for their select oligarchs and power-holders, but the United States has seen its innovations, improvements, pursuits of profit, new technologies, and business feats create wealth for the MASSES. Stock option plans have made millionaires out of former pizza delivery drivers. Mutual funds and 401k plans have provided for the retirement savings of millions and millions of blue collar workers, teachers, municipal employees, and administrators. Concentrated stock positions have enabled loyal employees to retire with income far greater than they ever earned in their working lives – all from the publicly traded security of their employing company. Hundreds of billions of dollars of funds in the non-profit sector – foundations, endowments, and charitable trusts – have funded great acts of charity and compassion, all from the fruit of their capital markets trees. Ours is a nation of democratized investment access – from the pension funds millions of employees live off of (or will live off of), to the individual savings people of all incomes and net worths have accumulated. This is a celebration of the American way – a victory of the American experiment – and it is made possible by the “stock exchange” – the hub of market-making and trading that drive American financial markets.

Is this a simplistic summary of the nature of finance in our country? Sure. I’m not intending to do a deep dive here. I am, though, offering an indisputable thesis for how the oft-demonized world of Wall Street has improved the quality of life for so many in our society. I hope they keep that building at Wall and Broad there forever, and I hope I get to go back again, even if by the time I get there they are just running a souvenir shop. The history of that building and its iconic place in our society is powerful – more powerful than most could be expected to understand. This week I not only got to better understand it; I got to appreciate it at the deepest level possible. And this investment manager is permanently grateful not just for my experience ringing the bell this week, but for over a century’s worth of financial evolution that this glorious place has facilitated – to the betterment of all in our society.

(And if you are curious, I do not believe it will ever be just a souvenir shop; there is a glory in that building that will remain one way or another for decades to come – I am certain of it. And is it ever a gorgeous, gorgeous building).

IMG_2050.JPG

IMG_2045.JPG