Frank Boland's blog

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 business, 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.

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.


It isn’t as important to buy as cheap as possible as it is to buy at the right time.

– Jesse Livermore