Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

What Money Can’t Buy

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I keep reading in various blogs and newsletters how any weakness in the market will be answered by Uncle Ben and his Printing Press. In other words, now that the government has proved it can simply pour Monopoly money into the marketplace by way of Goldman Sachs and prop up the markets, it will just keep doing so in perpetuity. No more bear markets – ever!

There is one thing about which I am certain in this very uncertain world in which we live: at some point, this little game of creating trillions of dollars for the sole purpose of creating an artificial demand for financial instruments is going to fail. It might not fail tomorrow It might not fail next month. But one day, it will fail. And when it does fail, the Dot-Gov bubble is going to make the Dot-Com bubble and the Housing bubble look like pathetic jokes in comparison.

The reason capitalism – real capitalism – not fraud and artifice – has always appealed to me is because it most closely resembled the natural order of things; that is: the truth. And I've got a familiarity with the truth that some people find disquieting. I'm kind of a big fan of it.

And truthful capitalism is about things like quality products, satisfied customers, an inspired and creative workforce, and earnings growth. It is also, in turn, about a mindful board of directors, a satisfied (and yet vigilant) body of shareholders and an earnest track record of truthful accountancy and reporting.

I'm not interested in shorting AAPL or GOOG, not only because their charts simply aren't that opportune (even in the face of a severe leg down), but also because, by and large, these companies represent capitalism at its best. That's also probably why they charts don't look like good shorts.

But what's going on now with the market in general – superb companies like the above notwithstanding – is fakery. If you've got a dead tree………but you hire someone to spray paint the leaves green and trim off some of the more obvious diseased branches………you're going to convince most people for a given period of time that the tree is OK. But you've still got a dead tree. And one day when a storm blows the whole thing over, people are going to realize you've been lying to them for however long the charade has been going on.

My point is that government money, funneled through Goldman Sachs, can – and has – created artificial demand for equities that have sent them soaring. The government's printing presses are big enough to "buy" the market. But even the government can't fake widespread corporate prosperity, and for that reason, sooner or later, this game is going to reach its ugly conclusion.

Our Monica Moment

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There is a simple truth that bears should accept now. I know I have. It is this:

No matter how "right" we are from here on out, there's always going to be a certain contingent whose rejoinder will be: "Yeah, but you missed the March-September rally!" So no matter how much money you/I wind up making – – even if it makes the countertrend rally unimportant in the long run – they're always going to have their arrow in their quiver.

I think of it as our Monica moment. Because even if Bill Clinton is cyrogenically frozen – and in the year 2175 they thaw him out to discuss the distant past – the fact that he presided over an eight year stretch of almost uninterrupted prosperity will be overshadowed by the experience he had with a chubby government clerk in an elastically-exhausted thong.

So, let 'em chortle. I blew it – I know that – and I hope I've learned some lasting lessons from the whole experience. But as things stand now, I'm preparing for the next big move, which I have no intention of missing.


Join the Comments Festival!

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The bulls had a terrific day – particularly in the gold and bank sectors, which were up well over 3% – and I'm delighted. This is precisely what I wanted to see. I wouldn't mind seeing some more of the same (my enthusiasm for bullish moves will, however, quickly disappear if we cross above 1053 or so).

I'm surprised at how many folks aren't in the comments section simply because they don't know how to get there or they don't have "an account". I put that in quotes, not because you don't need an account — you do — but it takes about 8 seconds to set up, and it's free. It's not like it's a big deal.

But I think it may be Disqus' fault, partly, because if you go to, it has a huge sign-up button, but it's intended for web site owners! So the poor souls who want to do comments don't have a URL to type, so they leave frustrated. At least that's my guess.

What you need to do is look way up in the upper-right corner and click that link on the Disqus site. But I'll save you the step and tell you it is located right here, and the screen looks like this:


As you can see, there are only three things to enter – – some kind of username that you can make up, your email address, and a password. That's it. If it takes you more than 8 seconds to do this, you should have a caffeinated beverage.

And then it's time for victory, because you can look at comments by clicking on any post's title…….


and dive into the ensuing hilarity, mischief, and wisdom……..


I know that, ipso facto, those making comments to this post will find it puzzling that I'm even talking about this, but honest, there's a lot of folks who just don't know how to get started. So there ya go.

God’s Own Spreadsheet

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I have been working on a really cool spreadsheet to help me manage positions and risk. I totally lost track of the time; mentally it was 9:30 in the morning, but when I glanced at the clock, it was 11:30. Tempus fugit.

I originally set out to do this in Google Docs, since it has a built-in GoogleFinance function that lets you suck in price data, average volume, and so forth. Let me just say that it was a total disaster, and although Google usually makes really terrific stuff, I was totally let down and flabbergasted at how rotten my spreadsheet experience was in Google Docs.

So I'm back to Excel, which is working great – – except that I don't have a handy way to suck in a price quote. I know that there's a way to get a price quote from Microsoft Money, but the result – – if I may use a technical term – – is completely retarded.

Does anyone know of a method to fetch a price quote of a given symbol in Excel? Just drop a comment in the comments section so we can all learn from it; thank you!