Act Like A Hedge Fund

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 5/05/2008 11:37:00 AM | , , , | 0 comments »

Every three months after the release of quarterly data, we start to hear Congress talk about how Big Oil is making too much money and how we need to initiate some kind of windfall profits tax. Of course, when you look at the data, you see that profit margins for oil companies on a percentage basis are not stellar, or at least not exceedingly high. Compared to other industries, they are quite average. To see the data, check out Mark Perry's blog at Carpe Diem, or do a simple sector/industry sort at Yahoo! Finance.

I do sometimes wonder how many of our leaders talking about windfall profits are even looking at the data (or care to). I also wonder if they realize that when you tax something you tend to get less of it. The issue is obviously more complicated than this, but it is important to also make sure we consider the unintended consequences of our actions and decisions. Ethanol is a good example. Right or wrong, it is affecting commodity and food prices. Of course, as a trader or investor, what is important is not only noticing the obvious, but also considering the consequences. In doing so, one can use their insight to hopefully profit from the changes in the regulatory, tax, or program mandated landscape.

Just recently, those investors and traders that realized fertilizer companies would do well given the need for more corn production, or that chip makers would benefit from tax breaks to solar companies, or that the railroad companies would do better given high trucking fuel cost - along with the need to transport increased commodity production, have all profited from their knowledge and foresight. Looking out for the next "consequence" can sometimes make us profits, while easing the additional burdens we may be incurring in the rest of the market and economy. In a sense, smart investing and trading can allow us to act more like a hedge fund by increasing our returns while reducing our overall level of exposure to the market and those that control prices and policy making.