This week I'll be speaking with Rob Wheeler, a Director at ACP Financial, specializing in high-yield debt, distressed debt, and special situations. He is an expert in sourcing and distributing alternative investments and new private equity and debt placements. Prior to ACP Rob spent fifteen years at Miller Tabak Roberts as an analyst of convertible, high-yield and distressed debt. He started his career in 1993 at The Value Line Investment Survey.

With that said, what's in your library, Rob?

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel Picking stocks and bonds is an exercise in futility according to this book. I'm generally in agreement with this premise, which almost by default implies that I long ago picked the wrong profession. Luckily, when I first read the book, the Value Line Investment Survey was mentioned favorably as a possible exception to the premise, so at least on paper I was in the right place. The most relevant take away from the book now is that the most lucrative investments are likely to come from markets and asset classes with asymmetric information flows.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
I thought I understood the housing market pretty well in 2005; at least well enough to sell my Hoboken condo that year. The housing crash seemed imminent at that time, certain in 2006 and at the precipice in 2007. The three-year run up in housing prices between 2005 and 2008 made absolutely no sense until Lewis explained the mechanics and motivation of the MBS short sellers willing to let out the rope with which the longs would eventually hang themselves. The capital markets today still reflect the idiocy of the pre-2008 bubble and post 2008 bail out making The Big Short still a worthwhile read.

The Forgotten Man - A New History Of The Great Depression by Amity Shlaes
The Keynesians made the Depression last a lot longer than it should have according to Amity Shlaes. She offers a contrarian view of Roosevelt's attempts to deliver the country from its depressive state. In short, Roosevelt made the depression last longer than it should have. I believe this history lesson holds a lot of relevance to our current economic situation and leads one to conclude that meaningful growth will not resume until the Keynesians running the show are sent packing.

Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
This book is a collection of stories and essays written by Mitchell for the New Yorker from the 30's to the 50's. The essays describe the city back in the day and mentions a few of the bars and taverns that are still in existence today including McSorley's the Old Town and others. The book is a reminder that the most interesting "Street" color (ie. who is hiring, who is firing, what shop is on the way up, what shop is on the way down) usually first gets revealed over beers in Irish bars that have been around forever.

Billy Budd by Herman MelvilleThis is the story of an American sailor who was impressed to crew on a British warship at the turn of the 18th century. Budd proves to be a popular and charismatic sailor with his new shipmates but is eventually falsely accused of planning a mutiny by an antagonizing and belligerent officer. In a fit of rage, Budd accidentally kills his superior while defending himself against the trumped up charges. Despite the protestations by the crew, who believe that Budd's actions were accidental, if not justified, he is sentenced to hang by the rules obsessed Captain Vere and achieves a martyr's status by the crew. While this book doesn't really have a business moral, it is a great read! 

Thanks Rob.

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