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2023 will be “The Year of The Mates.” Public investments remain far too hard.

Investments available easily to the masses (like you and me) won’t make it in 2023 — excepting an occasional fluke and bonds/treasuries. In short, securities available easily to the public — listed securities, mutual funds, ETFs — have become too hard. Here’s an S&P 500 heatmap of 2022. The following chart is EFTs for 2022.

What both these charts show is how most stuff cratered in 2022 and the stuff that didn’t — chiefly energy and a little healthcare — was too friggin hard to pick.

the big green ETFs are short funds with multiples.

If you think I’m kidding, look at this chart comparing the energy ETF (XLE) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) with three 2021 darlings — Tesla, Apple and Microsoft. If only we had sold TSLA, AAPL and MSFT late last year and bought XLE and Exxon Mobil. Who knew?

Now to 2023. I believe — for all the zillion reasons I’ve outlined before — but especially the Fed’s tightening — that 2023 will be equally difficult to pick which areas are going to make it.

Shorting VGT and Tesla has been profitable recently. I suspect shorting stocks with hugely high P/Es even today will prove profitable in 2023, e.g. CRM (P/E of 486), ENPH (124), IBM (87), AMZN (79), and NVDA (61).

But the big thrust this year is to find stuff privately through your mates. That includes real estate and new venture startups, especially in the business of improving the productivity of existing businesses. I can give you a zillion examples — from software services for booking tennis courts to software services for submitting forms to various and sundry government agencies.

You find this stuff privately, through your “mates,” by asking how they run their businesses and what they’d like to see improved.

It takes much longer to find opportunities privately. But they’re your opportunities — not to be shared Finance-Yahoo and every other “research” house on Wall Street.

Moreover, you can affect the outcome — by cutting expenses or beefing marketing. etc.

You’re not at the madness of Wall Street — like this week Tesla reported 1.31 million deliveries in 2022, a fantastic growth of 40% over last year. But that wasn’t good enough for Wall Street who hammered the stock 12% yesterday. It’s hard to know what’s “good enough” for Wall Street — let alone trying to predict the actual result.

Talk to your mates. See what they’re up to. Ask what areas of their business they’d like improved. And keep your eyes open for “What the world really needs is.”

Is it this?

My kids love this product which we found in Australia. These aren’t my kids. I stole the picture from Amazon.

Crypto has two risks

1. The greater Fool theory. There are a thousand reasons crypto makes “sense” — from limited difficult production to grand theories of new “safe” technology like blockchain. The “big” risk is that greater fools won’t turn up to pay more than you paid.

2. The Exchange risk. People like me have their stocks and bonds with standard online brokers like Fidelity or Vanguard. We know our stocks and bonds are safe with these guys. But these guys don’t handle crypto. So you’re forced to open an account at something like Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX. We know what happened to FTX and others of his ilk. His alleged fraud was egregious. Other exchanges have been hacked, stolen from, and enjoyed various creative disappearing acts for crypto currencies.

I have put crypto in my “too hard to understand” box. Hence it fulfils my mantra, “When in doubt, stay out.”

I will admit that the market hype around crypto is superb. Like it was with tulips. I found these works in a newsletter promoting investment in crypto. It’s as good as a down-the-line backhand:

Hopium Abound

2022 stunk.

But amidst falling prices and failing firms, the seeds of the next bull-run (for crypto) have been planted.

It may not seem like it, but there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic and have hope for the future.

It may take some time to get there, but between a BTC and ETH comeback, a DeFi resurrection, and the rise of Web3 social, Music NFTs, and crypto gaming, there’s a plethora of reasons as to why a return to valhalla is inevitable. Modular blockchains are the future. L2s alone won’t solve the scaling problem; for this, we need to move toward a modular architecture. Fuel is the fastest execution layer for the modular blockchain stack, enabling maximum security and the highest flexible throughput. Ben

If you understand a word of the last paragraph, my hats off to you. It is brilliant marketing B.S.

Travel — what to expect

+ Cancelled flights.

+ Delayed flights. (I’m writing this while I await my two-hour delayed flight.)

+ Lost luggage.

+ Charging for carry-on luggage by weight!

+ Much much higher airfares.

+ Boarding passes impossible to secure online. Easier often to get them at the airport.

+ No explanations for anything — i.e. delays, cancellations, etc.

+ Airline web sites seriously difficult to use, and regularly lock up.

Travel — how to fight.

+ Use a travel agent — especially for long, complex, expensive flights.

+ Leave a day or two early.

+ Drive. It’s often faster.

+ There is some price completion among airlines — but not when you want to fly. Google will tell you which airlines fly where.

Still in Australia

We’re having a ball.  This is daughter Claire feeding a kangaroo.

If he looks fat, that’s because he is. Courtesy the American tourists.

This is me feeding one also. Another American spoiling an Australian kangaroo.

And this is son Michael feeding and goofing off with a bored (but obese) Koala.

Australia is the land of creative small business — from wild life “sanctuaries” to boots (Blundstone and RMWilliams). And the most famous — the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb.

You don’t want to know how much this stuff costs. Australia is not cheap. But, boy, it it fun!

More on all that and more places to visit in Australia next time. — Harry Newton