Vol. 1 No.25…oh where have you been???

A huge mea culpa…even a mea maxima culpa from Trader Bill on this beautiful (snowing in Minneapolis) Thanksgiving Day. May a pox be on the stores like WalMart that feel the need to be open on this day that should reserved for family and friends.

This could be a huge season for internet sales as not only are many stores posting their sale items today – some with free shipping – Amazon has hired 100,000 (not a typo) part-time employees for the weekend (at least). That number alone is a large company, right?

Now to the reasons TB hasn’t updated the blog in a month: how could he have writers cramp…er…block…after that 4,200 mile journey to visit wineries in New York, Vermont, and Ontario Canada (sorting through the ones on the way, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania will take some time and possibly another trip as only wineries that make vines from vitis vinifera vines are what we are about (i.e. no fruit wines, but will consider some who use cold weather grapes like the Marquette).

So besides having work and personal things to tend to, I read two incredible books, the first on the wine warehouse fire at Mare Island, where I was stationed. That book turned out to be much more: a history of winemaking in California from a very interesting perspective of the author! More than that it reveals the dark, sordid side of the wine industry. Highly recommended: Tangled Vines by Francis Dinkelspiel (available on Amazon Prime in hardbound OR as I would recommend, a Kindle edition).

The second book was given to me by Meagan Frank at her family’s winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York; Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank, by Tom Russ. I couldn’t put it down as it is rare that one reads a book on a family history that is objectively written, i.e. warts and all. Dr. Konstantin Frank was the East Coast version of the great Andre Tchelistchieff, and might have been as well or better known were it not for two things.

First, the obvious: he was in New York state where he immigrated to from Germany/Russia (the Ukraine), also like Tchelistchieff. They became good friends and collaborated from time to time. Both had even more impact on the business by training promising young people who later became winemakers on their own thanks to the recommendations provided to these students who excelled in the view of these experts.

TB had the privilege of meeting Tchelistchieff in San Francisco back in 1981 at a Bordeaux wine tasting he and Anthony Dias Blue held – illustrating how primitive the California wine industry was even at that time. Fifteen years after Robert Mondavi, followed by Alice Waters and Julia Child, piqued the interest in California wines, only 30 people were present! For Andre the list of protege’s is long because of the rapid growth of the California wine industry, while the most memorable name associated with Dr. Frank is Kevin Zraly who went on to start the Windows on the World Wine Course and School, and at a very young age of 25 and became wine director of the famous Windows on the World restaurant that sadly disappeared with the twin towers in 2001.

The second is that Dr. Frank was a genius…however he was opposed to American wine grapes (correctly as they are not wine grapes unless you consider Welch’s wine, yet even today most of the grapes in New York are of the Concord variety…it takes a lot of grapes to meet the needs of Welch’s.  Furthermore, he was violently opposed to French hybrids, and crusaded against them as they could cause disease. This theory was refuted by science but even then he continued to preach against them openly,  thus alienating some recognized East Coast winemakers. Part of this flaw was the need to be in total control at all times, making him a great teacher but not allowing those who stayed on, including one of his sons and later the other. Finally, he was forced to let go of control of the winery and today it remains in the family with grandson Fred Frank as president, and now his daughter Meaghan learning the business (she gave me a private tasting and I found her both charming and knowledgeable).

Here is a link to the complete book, but you should consider buying it:    Dr. Konstantin Frank

Ok, TB so that is what you were doing, but that is no excuse. Besides personal issues noted above, reading the Finger Lakes book threw me for a loop. I had intended to begin with Long Island wineries (don’t turn up your nose!), both North and South Fork, then proceed to the Hudson River, then the Finger Lakes which have many different microclimes and soil conditions. From there to Ontario and the great ice wine producers, and again making some surprisingly good wines. Due to the book, I feel I have to begin with Dr. Frank’s winery and the Finger lakes, then Long Island, and finally the Canadian wines. So watch for blog updates and if you are still with TB, click on follow so you will know when there is an update (nothing is worse than going to a blog or website that has not been updated, right? Right! Unless what the blogger says is a waste of your time. TB will do his best to keep them interesting…and shorter than this one!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, friends and readers!

Trader Bill

©Copyright 2015 TBOW, all rights reserved.

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How did Trader Bill originate? It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information. Who is Trader Bill? Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’? What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it? How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective. What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend. So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success. Trader Bill

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