Frank Boland's blog

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.

Frank Thoughts: The Performance Game

It was a warm summer day in downtown Boston in the 1960s.  I had the top down on my burgundy 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible and sat in traffic listening to closing stock prices.  The car, complete  with black leather seats and suicide doors, was similar to the one in which Jack Kennedy had been shot  three years earlier.  As the stock quotes ended, I turned up the volume on the wooden dashboard and listened to the announcer read off the closing prices of 10-12 mutual funds.  All were Boston-based and all were managed for absolute performance.  Unfortunately, that perf

Frank Thoughts: PIGS

“No!  I can’t talk to you now.  Call me another time,” bellowed the man on the other end of my phone.   Despite the abruptness, the voice had sounded cultured … even upper class.  But then why wouldn’t it?  As a young broker, I had cold-called the Chief of Psychiatric Services of Harvard University.      It was 1966 and my firm, Estabrook & Co., had opened an office in Harvard Square.  I was sent there with the message, “Penetrate the Harvard community.”  Hence the early evening call … and the rebuff!

Frank Thoughts: The Power of the Cloud

Imagine building a house knowing that if you wanted electricity, you would also have to build your own electrical power plant!  The amount of additional knowledge you would need is … unfathomable.   The additional expense would be … incomprehensible.  But that is what corporations have been doing for decades in their migration to new technology.  That is … until the “Cloud” came along.  A Cloud made possible by the development of the Internet.

Frank Thoughts: FRAUD

It was extremely difficult, but I had played seven holes without asking my partner the question I was “dying” to know; how many shares of Equity Funding did he own in his mutual fund?  He seemed very relaxed ...  even cheerful.  Yet, I felt his mutual fund had to own a ton of the stock.  For me, in not asking, it was like driving by a car crash and forcing yourself not to look.  You know it’s none of your business.  It has nothing to do with you and yet, for whatever reason, in a macabre way you still want to know ... what happened?

Frank Thoughts: Performance

It was late 1997 and a roaring bull market; close to the very apex of the Internet bubble.  Strangely, most portfolio managers were not beating the S&P 500 benchmark.  Lost in thought about this, I reached for my ringing telephone.  It was Roland Grimm asking if I were free for lunch.  That’s like Peter Lynch calling for breakfast or Warren Buffet asking if you can do dinner.  The answer, of course, was yes!

Frank Thoughts: The Lost Decade?

In the process of learning screenplay writing, I came upon this old Jewish proverb:  “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” In effect, one’s particular viewpoint becomes a prism through which we judge everything ... the opposite of an open mind.

Frank Thoughts: The Shoe

In 1930 the global headquarters of Boston-based United Shoe Machinery Corporation was an international colossus.  The “Shoe,” as it was affectionately called by Bostonians, was the largest manufacturer of shoe machinery in the world.  USM did business in over 50 countries and was truly an international monopoly.  The headquarters dwarfed downtown Boston.  In fact it was the city’s first and, in 1930, only skyscraper.  Its manufacturing plant, 30 miles north in Beverly Massachusetts, was in excess of 1,600,000 square feet!

Frank Thoughts: The 800 Pound Gorilla

In this edition of Frank Thoughts, Frank discusses the rise of high-frequency algorithmic computer trading and its inherent disadvantages to long-term investing. 

THE 800 POUND GORILLA

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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