Krumline To The Rescue

I didn’t recognize the sender’s name, didn’t see mine in the Send To list, and had no idea who the email’s other recipients were, so presumed my copy was like crossed wires.  You know, when you pick up the phone and before you can dial, you hear two strangers plotting a murder, but you can’t get either one to, “Hang up!  I’m trying to order pizza!” 
The subject line, “Help!” stoked my curiosity to read more, and usually I’m a sucker for a woman, which was what writer was if the sign off, “Wish I had stayed with acting, xoxo, Jasmine,” meant anything.  Apparently she was a financial analyst who had an important decision to make for some Daddy Warbucks, and was asking friends, presumably in the money game too, if they would reply to four questions.

1. Should I go short or long on Countrywide Mortgage?
2. When do you think the Fed will decrease interest rates?
3. Is this distressed market a giant opportunity, or am I delusional?
4. Any opinion on small caps?

As I brooded on how unfairly I’d been graded in economics and other college classes, causing my dad to cut off tuition and me to go to work to pay off gambling debts, one thing led to another, and after a cocktail or two, I fired off a reply.


I have a unified set theory of the universe that might be helpful to you.  I call it “The Krumline Pancake Theory of Knowledge” after W.S. Krumline, Head Hasher 7AM shift, Troy Hall, University of Southern California, 1967.

First, recall all the courses you took in college, and don't worry that most were probably unrelated to each other and had nothing to do with your present career. 

Second, think of them as pancakes, some doughy, some overcooked, all plopped willy-nilly onto a cold plate by an individual who resents the fact that you are going through the food line of life while he's stuck behind the counter working for minimum wage. 

Third, drop the plate on the sticky linoleum floor of your imagination.  Step back because it won't be neat.  Some pancakes will be touching; others will not. 

Regardless, go to the fourth step, in which you imagine a large turkey baster that you ram through as many pancakes as you can.  Squeeze the bulb.  Release the pressure.  Whatever is sucked up into the baster is the wondrously interrelated core knowledge of everything you learned.  That core can be then applied to anything...well, almost anything...that goes on in your life. 

You might think that a bit of anthro, econ and chem have nothing to do with each other, but suddenly you're up for some R & R in Bangcock, and it's a big Greek Eureka moment when your loose change comes together with a girl named Suzy and some Tai Stick.  

Or Boyle's Law, you say, what's that got to do with Ricardo's Theory of Rent, much less Spanish?  Well, if you have ever been freezing cold in a bed-sitter in Earl's Court, the Pakistani landlord is going to explain exactly what that has to do with London power authority, and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself saying, “Hey, Cisco, how about trying that again in español?”  Remarkable, really.

I can't tell you how many times I have used the Krumline Pancake Theory of Knowledge to bring grace and order to my life.  Your email asking for investment predictions had the turkey baster in my mind gushing forth like Krakatoa on Pompeii, namely—

Should you be long or short on Countrywide?  Everybody needs a roof over his head, right? But defaults are at record high, right? Well, two rights don’t make a wrong. I don’t know what that tells you about buying a particular stock, but Krumline told me that his theory can’t cover everything, depending as it does on a single vector unique to etc., etc.  Look, I was asleep a lot.  Why can't you settle for a little mystery in your life?

When will the Fed decrease rates?  When Alan Greenspan wants to.  Or is he retired? I know he’s married to Andrea... Wait! It’s Ben Somebody. Ben Stein, Ben Cartwright, who cares? Just picture the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank putting pantyhose on one leg at a time, making him as human as you or I, and that’s how I can offer the second part of my answer.  Gold.  If nothing else, it’s a great conductor of electricity.

Is the distressed market a giant opportunity or are you delusional?  Well, that's easy. 

Finally, I know this for sure: small caps don't grab the eye like BIG CAPS. Check it out with The Wall Street Journal.  And watch for Mr.Murdoch putting in a Page 3 Investment Vixen feature. There’s going to be nothing small about her assets, believe you me.

Respectfully, etc

I got a reply just this morning.   Miss Jasmine thinks my serendipitous response was as sound as any from her experts, and wants to know where I hang my hat on Wall Street.  Maybe we can have lunch.   

Far be it from me to burst a lady’s or the market’s bubble, so I won’t explain that I’m “between pictures” as we say here in sunny southern California, and usually don’t offer financial advice unless I’m swearing at my creditors.  But it does feel good, knowing I can change careers any time I feel like it, and the sun will still go weaving round the earth just like Gallo said it would.