Desperately seeking alpha

WilliamofOckham.com content generator and great friend of this organ, Jess Irvine has written another informative Facebook post on her child’s nursery chat group.

Before we get into it, let’s have a quick reminder of an important phenomenon; the Dunning Kruger Effect. This has been summarised thus:

“.…If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

With that context in mind, let’s have a look at Jess’ genius Mumsnet story.

Jess tells us she’s knocking on the door of her 40th year and has never invested in stocks outside of her Superannuation fund, which presumably is managed by somebody else. I’m not sure this is the sort of admission a “Senior Economics Writer” should make in public. One would be sceptical of a surgeon who admitted to never actually holding a scalpel, after all.

But still, not one to be worried by inconveniences such as competence, capability or knowledge, Jess has announced she’s going to be sharing her top stock picks over the near future.

I may need to write a “Jess Irvine piss take bot” to cover these announcements.

The secret to Jess’s investing success starts, as with all of Jess’s advice, with a spreadsheet. To a man with a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

So, with the spreadsheet, she has categorised the stocks in the ASX into her own unique budget labels: housing, household, utilities, transport, food, health, education, appearance, lifestyle and professional fees.

Curious minds might wonder at this point, why Jess’s investing strategy is limited to the Australian exchange, especially as most major tech companies are on the NASDAQ and the world’s major corporations are listed in London or New York? Keep wondering, as we aren’t told. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with a lack of knowledge and experience.

If you’re paging down the column looking for the first stock pick, don’t bother, we’re being made to wait. After all, Jess doesn’t want to rashly splash her $10,000 on just any old crap.

Wait, didn’t I mention this entire column is to tell us that one day, sometime in the future, Jess may buy up to $10,000 worth of shares?

That’s not strictly true, she does manage to get a mention in about her astute purchase, at the last market peak, of a tiny Sydney apartment, which she now owns is renting from a bank and, that she’s got nearly $300,000 in her pension, which suggests she’s made three fifths of fuck all alpha on the principle over the 20 years she’s been paying in.

The only missing components of a classic Jess Irvine’s Mumsnet post are mention of her coming last in a marathon and having a baby. Plenty of time for that when the stock picks are shared though.

Bill’s Opinion

There’s no real way to confirm this but I’m going to wildly speculate about Jess Irvine, Senior Economics Writer at the Sydney Morning Herald:

  1. The only reason she has that job title is because of her gender. She could not, surely, have been the most qualified business and economics writer available to that newspaper.
  2. The ongoing requirement for the news desk to maintain diversity quotas has emboldened her to push this kind of pointless and, frankly, embarrassing writing on the editors and, being spineless, they roll over and publish it.
  3. All of Jess’s stock picks will rise at least 10% in value over the next year. This will be hailed as genius (self-assessed). proof of her financial acumen and mastery of a pivot table.

In the meantime, nearly everything on the ASX will rise 10% too, what else can it do in an era of central banks hitting CTRL P to infinity?

My advice is don’t take slimming advice from an overweight person and don’t take stock tips from the shoe shine girl.

4 Replies to “Desperately seeking alpha”

  1. Brilliant!
    I was surprised some time ago to discover that Jess was doing no better financially than me. She’s the SMH economics writer while I’m an amateur who self-published an ebook on personal finance.
    Jess should know Rule No. 1 of stock picking: most people fail to beat the market. Non-experts like her should stick with index funds.
    What happens to Jess’ portfolio will entirely come down to chance and if it goes poorly, it will quietly disappear from the paper.
    One more on the barbie: if she wants to retire early then she shouldn’t have locked up so much of her wealth in super as she can only access that when she turns 60.

  2. To be fair, Jess did not finish (after the official cut-off) DFL in the marathon, there were 39 people behind her, but her 14+ minute/mile average is the equivalent to taking the dog for a long, long walk.

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