Author Archives: Mark Freeland

About Mark Freeland

Hi, I’m Mark Freeland and if you read the MFO Discussion Board (as you should), you’ll know me as msf. I too am a personal investor who learned about investing over time, following the adage that if you want something done right, do it yourself. At least if one can. Mathematical, scientific, software background, so analytics come pretty naturally to me. I fell into a CFO role at a four-person startup a few years ago, I think because I was the only one who could open a spreadsheet. Prior to that, I'd been on employee committees (again in small companies) recommending 401k investment options. My hope for the months ahead I might share my thoughts about the mechanics of investment vehicles and new developments as they arise.

Recipe-based investing

By Mark Freeland

Step One: Find the right recipe.

Indexes are recipes. By that, I mean they’re really precise sets of instructions that direct you in what ingredients, in what amounts, need to be treated, in what way to achieve a particular, predictable outcome. In investing, as in cooking, recipes are relatively recent inventions. Once upon a time, both activities were dominated by the notion that “experienced old guys do their thing, the rest of us watch in awe.”

Take luce or tench or fresh haddock, & boil them & fry them in olive oil. And then take vinegar and the third part sugar & onions minced small, & boil all together, & mace & cloves & cubeb. And lay the fish in dishes & pour the sauce above & serve it forth. Continue reading →

Death, taxes and childbirth

By Mark Freeland

As we head into March, it will soon be spring. A young man’s fancy lightly turns to love, while young and not so young investors’ thoughts turn more solemnly to taxes. This seems like an appropriate time to look at one corner of taxation – curiosities of ordinary income dividends distributed by funds.

I’ve been told that some people find taxes numbingly dull and perplexing. Who could imagine? Just to help you target your attention, Continue reading →

On Risk

By Mark Freeland

On Risk

Justice Potter Stewart’s most famous line is the one that he most regretted:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. Concurring Opinion, Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 @ 197 (1964)

In 1981 he lamented “having said what I said about obscenity—that’s going to be on my tombstone.”

Many investors have the same difficulty with risk that Justice Stewart had with “hard-core pornography,” they are not quite able to define it though they’re pretty sure they know it when they see it. Given that we seem to have entered a period when risk is going to be on a lot of minds, it’s important to understand what it actually is Continue reading →