Former tech entrepreneur (co-founder of the music software company Sibelius). Among other things I now play the stock market, write software to predict it, and advise tech startups. I have degrees in philosophy.

bfinn's Comments

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

There were I believe only three major equities being traded back then - Bank of England, and a couple of others (can't recall - East India Company maybe), plus the South Sea Company soon after. The stock market continued to consist of a smallish number of large monopoly companies until the 19th century, when many more companies were listed.

What are objects that have made your life better?

True. Which? magazine (the UK product review magazine) did a test of mattresses a while back in which the most expensive mattress was one of the least comfortable, and the most comfortable was one of the cheapest.

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

OK, well out of interest I've just done you a chart with grey lines averaging crashes before & after Bretton Woods. ('After' includes 2020 on this one.)

Not sure whether the difference is significant. The post-Bretton (dashed) line shows a bounce back for the first few weeks, but by year end they're much the same.

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

UK from Global Financial Data (paid), US from Yahoo Finance (free).

Global Financial Data now provide *daily* FTSE 100 data from 1692 - remarkable. (The 1696 & 1720 lines above were from their earlier monthly data.)

Post-crash market efficiency 1696-2020

Indeed this analysis would be interesting, though I don't know if long-term enough data (e.g. a century's worth) is available in this level of detail.

I assume there might indeed be clearer patterns in how individual companies' prices react, perhaps depending on their size and liquidity. Though again I expect most, if not all, of any predictability has disappeared in recent decades.

What are objects that have made your life better?

I once heard excellent advice: spare no expense on buying the most comfortable shoes, chairs (eg work chair), and bed/mattress you can find. Because you spend almost 100% of your life standing, sitting, or lying down.

English Bread Regulations

In World War II the UK government banned commercial bakers from making white bread, and required them to use national flour to bake 'the National Loaf'. This was particularly unappetising and unpopular. I think that as in World War I it had to be sold stale; or in any case, it went stale quickly. I suspect in part it was intended to be unappetising to limit consumption.

The EMH Aten't Dead

It's probably taken about a year's full-time work (since 2006). Though I could have spent much less time by using a simpler albeit less effective version of what I do (as indeed I did initially) - just that I like improving it and investigating new things that might work. It is kind of a hobby, but involving a sufficiently serious amount of time and money and risk to be rather more than that.

I think it probably has been worth it, as I reckon the value of my edge is rather bigger than my time cost in salary equivalent, though it is hard to be sure because of the large variability in returns (not least because of two big crashes since I started).

But actually I wouldn't encourage others to try. There can't be many opportunities to beat the market, not many people can risk big enough bets to justify the time taken finding them, and there's a lot to be said for adopting a simple mechanical system that takes little time; maybe just buy & hold (though maybe a bit fancier than that). Not sure it's worth trying to pick stocks (I almost never do that) - just buy an index; though there is some fun to be had doing so, like picking horses, and kidding yourself you have special insight!

162 benefits of coronavirus

I see your point re reduced productivity growth affecting future generations. Though how much difference that will make to the present generation's vs future generation's wellbeing isn't clear.

Indeed I hadn't thought of the family point, and will add it.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?
Answer by bfinnMay 16, 202019

I discovered a year ago something that substantially improves my mood and energy. In the shower each morning, I rub the sole of each foot for just a few seconds with a flannel (or anything slightly rough would do). This produces a buzz (kinda endorphins + caffeine) that lasts all day, without wearing off as it is renewed by standing or walking. It hasn't diminished over time. It's an amazing free lunch. Not just making life 0.1% better, I'd genuinely say 30% better.

Perhaps I have particularly sensitive feet. But presumably this works for some other people, they just haven't tried it; after all, it took me decades to discover it.

Load More