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Following Wednesday's Moodys downgrades of Wells Fargo and Bank of America, fresh off the heels of a downgrade of Italian debt on Monday, it was not going to be a good day. The only hope was that maybe our Bernanke led Federal Reserve would pull an incredible rabbit out of its hat and just turn things around.
But for the most part, everyone was just waiting for the anticipated "Operation Twist" and its details before commiting one way or another.
Once those details came from the FOMC, which was uncharacteristically following Obama time for release of its statement, the market didn't like the description of our current economic state. Maybe it just couldn't deal with the fact that there were three dissenting votes
In a couple of blinks we went from being up 14 points to down 283.
Just another day at the office, dear. Just a little bit of dissent in the ranks.
Surprisingly, I don't feel like talking about stocks today, as I took another, largely unhedged pummeling, getting only two call sales made, both on beaten down RIverbed Technolgy, which was probably riding Hewlett Packard's coat-tails up this afternoon, as Leo Apotheker, its CEO of almost 12 months was rumored to bedismembered by coyotes.
Instead, I need to come clean and this is a good time as any.
It's not easy saying this, but at some point the truth needs to come out.
No, I'm not a virgin. A game of Twister, years ago, took care of that. And if I was, I don't think that I would admit it.
But as I sit and really think about it, the criminal life is great. The problem is that I'm not a criminal, but there's still time to re-invent myself. In a society where so many occupations are disappearing, there will always be criminality. Some things can't be entirely shipped offshore, even if the Nigerian princes are more authentic 10,000 miles away.
So then there's the whole credibility issue.
I suppose that everyone is a criminal by some definition. Depends on your society and your own personal values and especially how those values may be at odds with others, especially those with power. The guy who "pied" Rupert Murdoch during the Parliamentary hearings is a criminal, although most people watching the proceedings were probably equally criminal, at least in intent.
Years ago, when Jimmy Carter was running for the Presidency, during a Playboy interview he admitted to having "lusted in his heart". Nothing really criminal about that, but had he said that 20 years earlier he would have been condemned as a godless pariah and cast to the bottom of the heap with the other low lives.
Even Mother Teresa had her detractors, so much so that some theologians, perhaps of dubious merit themselves, believe that she is consigned to eternal imprisonment in Hell.
As I've grown accustomed to sitting on my La-Z-Boy, watching TV and trying to trade stocks and options, I've started to wonder whether I'd squandered the first 30 years of my professional life by toeing the line. Working day and and out, not only paying bills on time, but actually paying and other things that now seem so arbitrary.
Growing up in The Bronx, I now realize that the old neighborhood was populated by Mob families. The fathers were always home, were always around to play stickball with their kids and even had their own little coffee shop with blackened windows. The shirts weren't called "wife-beaters" back then, but I suppose they were.
Plus, the streets were always plowed and they had the best fireworks.
Can anyone say "Winning"?
My Sugar Momma and I have religiously watched COPS for about the last 20 years. Even though neither of us know more than the first line of the theme song, some things have become fairly obvious, besides the fact that some people can garner respect in a wife-beater, while others just can't and never will.
But what we really learned is that there's good criminal life and there's bad criminal life. COPS always portrays the bad criminal life.
Stupid people drinking, fighting, stealing and lying. That's bad criminal life. They seem to live in pretty squalid kinds of surroundings, have home-made tattoos and wear their pants down to their knees. They're often very unattractive as well.
Smart people probably stick to just the stealing and lying part although you do catch glimpses of the smart kind that think that they're smarter than those charged with keeping society safe, if you're in the habit of watching Dateline.
Those often commit the bad kind of crime sometimes while in pursuit of the spoils of the good kind of crime.
That's a bad admixture. You can't do good by doing bad.
But I now realize that there are lots of good reasons to lead a certain kind of criminal life.
1. You make people feel better about themselves
People are so often much too hard on themselves and often suffer from inferiority complexes. Some have the whole thing figured out and just hang out with even more pathetic people to look good by comparison.
Being subjected to the bad kind of criminal activity let's those with a sense of inferiority know that there is someone even less deserving than they for our world's limited resources. Unfortunately, that kind of activity is often associated with very unpleasant things.
But being subjected to the good kind of criminal activity spurs aspirations, the need and desire to improve their own lots in life by seeing that there is another way to break the chains. There's nothing like a good example to spur people on to bigger and better things.
Seeing a hacker profiled on 60 Minutes makes most people believe in themselves.
If that moron could do it, so can I. And I won't get caught, either.
Not only do you feel better about yourself, but you inject your entire defeatist personna with an air of much needed confidence.
Beyond that, if asked to "forgive" a criminal who has wronged them, what greater feeling can anyone have than the magnanimity to provide grace to those that have fallen?
2. There's no time clock
The only thing you need to keep an eye on is your bank balance. That becomes your internal clock. Don't feel like playing criminal with your buddies today? No problem, take the day off. Want to sleep in this morning? Guess what? No problem.
Raining outside? Hetl, I'm not getting my new Crocs wet if I don't have to.
Shower? I don't need no stinking shower.
Get the idea.
3. Society loves a successful white collar criminal
It's true. They really do, unless they were directly effected. Most people admire the fact that people that can enrich themselves without really breaking a sweat.
The "Why didn't I think of that" mentality is common to our species. Best of all, seeing just how easily it can be done leads others toward developing even better techniques to separate people from their assets.
That is the basis for how we advance aqs a society. Unfortunately, the Chinese seem to be outdoing us at the moment, especially when it comes to the integrity of the companies that they take public.
But then consider who you admire more? The person that inherited their wealth, the person that made others toil to an awful extreme and under terrible conditions on behalf of their bottom line, or one that just siphons off other people's money?
Would you rather be America's next successful white collar crime czar or a tele-marketer? Seriously, which one really belongs in jail?
Wouldn't you rather see Bernie Madoff putting his skills to good use outside of jail and perhaps just cram 20 telemarketers into his cell instead?
4. You feel better about yourself
Not only can you check off "Other" or "Consultant" on those forms that ask about your job industry, but you can also choose any professional degree you like, any annual income and any net worth figure when completing surveys or polls.
Want to feel better than you did yesterday? Forget the Zoloft. No problem, just fill out a new form, maybe get yourself a nice new glitzy business card.
Watching your neighbor leave early in the morning for work and then getting home 12 hours later just reinforces that good feeling. That and the ability to hack into his unprotected wireless network while he's gone.
5. Stronger Family Relationships
Study after study shows that the more time parents can spend with their children during formative years, the better the outcome.
Kids that are able to routinely eat dinner with their parents have been consistently shown to be less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
The kids that I grew up with, whose fathers were always at home? No doubt they went into the family business and are passing the lessons learned to their loved ones over a nice plate of pasta and mussels.
6. Expanded personal horizons
There's nothing like a taste of success to move you toward seeking even more success. This is not your typical same old, same old 9 to 5. In the good kind of criminal life there's incentive to do well and to reach for even greater rewards. As you do so and as your enterprises thrive, along with your professional credibility comes social responsibility.
Patron of the arts, supporter of worthwhile charitable causes and other activities that support society, particularly as government support dwindles, are all part of the successful navigation of a career in good crime.
During the process you also learn things that you never learned in school, including evolving talents to meet the needs of the moment. In no profession does necessity translate into invention quite as efficiently as in a life of crime.
7. Improved strategic planning
If you look at the data on retirement planning, it's clear that we as Americans have no clue how to plan for the future.
Choose a life of crime and strategic planning becomes your middle name. Escape routes, alibis, Plan B, and so many more considerations before executing a plan. In essence, everything you do is lived out as if a three dimensional spreadsheet.
Those unprepared to deal with strategic planning are doomed to failure and may as well just work for a living.
These 7 reasons alone are compelling enough to get most people to start on their road toward change.
I haven't even mentioned the popular trickle down theory and how all of society benefits from your creation of personal wealth. Money and the time to enjoy spending it benefits all of us. Restaurants, department stores, pasta and mussels delivery boy. Everyone gets their piece.
Beyond the obvious reasons to consider re-inventing yourself are purely financial incentives that are more than just icing on the cake.
Anyone that's had a workplace 401k knows just how bad those are and how limited the investment choices can be. Together with contribution limitations, there's no denying that the self-employment tax deferred plans are so much more favorable.
Of course the ability to itemize your business related tax deductions are only limited by your imagination.
Need well manicured nails to stay at the top of your safecracker game? Simply take you deduction on the clippers and file. Panty hose over your head? Deductible.
Where do I sign up?
Since this blog is required reading in many elementary school classrooms, I want to be certain that it's clear that I'm not exhorting anyone to a life of "bad crime", but serious thought should be given to being the best you can be at the "good" kind of crime.
It's never too early to begin plotting your life of future plotting.
Now if only there was a way to have all of these benefits without the laibility of prison.
How great would that be?
By the way, what's your PIN, again?.