Frank Boland's blog

Frank Thoughts: The Uniqueness of Equities

It was a late summer day in 1955.  Stamps and newspapers were three cents.  A bottle of coke cost a nickel.   That summer I was a 12-year-old caddy earning $1.25 for a round of golf plus, generally, a small tip.  But on this particular day I would realize what it would take to make significant money as an adult. 

Frank Thoughts: The Directional Issue

It was 33 years ago this month when I got off the subway and stared at a newsstand copy of Business Week.  The cover read “The Death of Equities.”  It was 1979, five years removed from the 1973-1974 bear market.  I was totally flummoxed by the story.  The story was incomprehensible to me.

Frank Thoughts: The Middle Class Journey

My father stood staring out the living room window of our apartment building.  It was a building that was derisively referred to as “The Project” by its inhabitants.  Other people knew it as Public Housing.  It was government housing for low income people.  Many, like my father, were returning World War II veterans.  And these Vets, millions of them, were all starting out the same; Poor.  But in 1948, the best social economic environment was yet ahead of them.  Optimism was ubiquitous.

Frank Thoughts: THE HIGHBOY

I knew the highboy would be expensive.  But when you’re 22 and starting out in the investment business, well, you’re very confident.  Have to be.  Besides I had saved $10,000 for my upcoming wedding.  That was an unimaginable sum of money for a 22-year-old in 1967.  What I had no way of knowing was that, in the stock market, the emotional impact of perceived loss was 2.5 times greater than the emotional impact of gain.  Fortunately, I did realize that I didn’t know much about investing. 

Frank Thoughts: The Bigger Story

Imagine resigning from a $500,000 a year job with an open ended future, on principle.  Greg Smith, a young Goldman Sachs derivatives salesman, did just that and wrote an OP-ED column published in the New York Times.  The next day the story was on the front page.  But there is an even bigger story.

Frank Thoughts: 1973-1974 vs. 2008-2009

It was late October and dark in the early morning as I entered Boston’s newest and highest skyscraper, the Bank of Boston.  I walked through the lobby to the far end of the elevator bank and pressed the button to the 37th floor, the penthouse.  There were two massively opposing 12 foot high oak doors at the office entrance.  Above the doors, in gold leaf, it read Clark Dodge & Co, at the time a very prestigious firm.  But one that was about to go out of busines, because it was 1973.

Frank Thoughts: The Commodization of the Stock Market

“Oh, my!  MRK (Merck Drug) is trading like soybeans!” screamed the shocked trader.  It was the spring of 1982 and stock futures and program trading had just been introduced to the equities market.  Prior to then futures, which existed for hedging purposes, were only in commodity markets.  Computer-driven Program Trading– the simultaneous purchase of a basket of stocks-  would then link stock futures in Chicago to equities in New York.  However, the margin requirement (the amount of capital one had to put down on a contract) in futures was dramatically lower than margin requirements in equit

The Macro Noise

As a wanna-be screen writer I know that drama is all about conflict.  Without conflict there is no drama.  It fascinates and entertains us.  Innately, we desire to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Frank Thoughts: The Vanishing Middle Class

It’s amazing how emotion impacts memory; even if the emotion is not yours.  It was 1947 and the emotional excitement was my father’s.  The war was over and we were living in public housing, the project.  My father excitedly brought me outside to see his prized purchase, a new car.  It was the beginning of our journey into middle class, one that was repeated by countless veterans.  All were starting out equally.  Retrospectively, their arrival into middle class would prove to be a sojourn.

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During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.”

– Bernard Baruch