FORMULA FUNDS

Bill C:  “I invested 100k into the domestic Formula funds two years ago and now it is worth 191K.  Any recommendations to do  with this money?”

Yes: Let them roll it over into the Gotham long/short, as described here, and stay with it.

‘P’ AS IN ‘PNEUMONIA’

Surely you know the routine – Mike Nichols is trying desperately to get his boss’s home phone number (the car’s broken down and they’re expected at dinner), but Information has stolen his dime.

“INFORMATION is a free service, sir,” Elaine May assures him. “INFORMATION would not steal your die-yem” . . .

(no court in the land could do this skit justice – you have to blow 99 cents and listen)

. . . and now, finally, Nichols has reached a supervisor (Elaine May again, as the supervisor) who is going to look up the number for him, so he says the name of his boss – maybe it’s “Parson?” how can you expect me to remember after all these years? – and the supervisor, wanting to be sure she has it right, asks, “Parson. Is that P as in ‘pneumonia,’ A as in ‘aardvark’ . . .”  “. . . and then, finally, N as in ‘newell post’?”

To which Mike Nichols, by now entirely befuddled, and certain he will lose his job (it was the Fifties), replies, “I think so.”

Well, the point I am getting to, none too quickly, as is the prerogative of a man who prices his work as I price mine, is that when I went to place my order for CISG a week or so back – by cell phone from the West Indies to my actual human broker – I wanted to be sure he bought the right thing. (I’ve been down that road before.)  So I spelled it out: “C-I-S-G:  C as in China, I as in Israel, S as in Somalia” . . . I was having fun with this, because life is short and almost every minute can be fun if you try . . . “G as in Georgia. The country, not the state.

I wanted to be consistent — I was doing all countries.  And, well, I thought it was funny.

Long silence. And then, simply, “C-I-S-G?  Market or limit?”

I had not reached the “full service broker” who has retained my account for the past 40 years principally on the strength of our ability to make each other laugh; I had reached his assistant.

“That was really funny,” I coached him, wounded.

Not a chuckle.

And for this I was paying 40 times the commission I would have paid going through Ameritrade?  Three hundred sixty-five dollars instead of eight?

We completed the trade.

The assistant, I rush to add, could not be a nicer guy, or more helpful. But not to laugh at “G as in Georgia – the country, not the state?

“Ask John to call when he gets back.”

I told John what happened.   When I got to . . . “the country, not the state” . . . there was the brief pause of confusion I was going for . . . followed immediately by the explosive laugh that had led me to put his kids through college.

We then reminisced over Mike Nichols and Elaine May – ‘P’ as in ‘pneumonia’ – and John said, “It’s like how you spell FISH. You remember the old George Bernard Shaw thing? Was it Shaw?”

Neither of us knew “for shaw” (get it?) but we thought so.

“Of course!” I said, plumbing the recesses of my brainpan. “It starts with a P, right?  PH something, right?”

“Yes: PHOT. PH as in ‘PHilharmonic,’ O as in ‘wOmen,’ T as in ‘ficTion.’”

We may not have had it exactly right. But we had fun. And on the spot I decided to buy a bit more CISG.

 

 

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