The Daily Alpha: Alternative Thinking on Hamptons Parties, Populism and Washington Dumpster Fires

Aug 2 2016 | 10:12am ET

It’s been a while, old friend. Summer has fueled a remarkable amount of editorial demands, and we have advanced on our latest issue of Modern Trader. In this month’s issue, we tackle the Cult of Tesla Stock.

Now, let’s get to the headlines that have been rattling around over the last few weeks as we get back into our groove and start building the Daily Alpha as a daily content site.

"I regret certain aspects of the party."

With the election sucking most of the oxygen out of the political media, and the ongoing rally running on central-policy experimentation, news about hedge funds and alternatives has slipped under the radar.

This is the story made for the Daily Alpha.

It happened in July after a hedge-fund party went array and reignited mental images of a Wolf of Wall Street style orgy-fest full of spraying champagne and $100 bill showers.

But did it really?

That quote is from Brett Barna, a former trader at Moore Capital Management.

Barna was fired after hosting a party in the Hamptons that generated a little too much press.

Now, we’re starting to discover that the house owner was arrested for “conspiracy to defraud investors in a tech startup” and could not find bail.

Barna is calling this all a shakedown. And the house owner sent some terrifying text messages to Barna that not even a good fiction writer can make up.

Here’s DealBreaker.

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”

Martin Wolf at the Financial Times offers a strong editorial on the wave of populism hitting the West.

In a warning to elites, Wolf channels his inner HL Mencken.

“If the general environment is saying that there are few opportunities and the entrepreneurship rate goes down, that all suggests less optimism about entrepreneurship right now.”

That’s Donna Kelley.

It’s pretty amazing when journalists attempt to “Vox-splain” why entrepreneurship is declining, and they never seem to actually talk to real entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur levels are at a four-year low, and small-business activity is reversing. While this is nothing new… there’s a curious sentence that starts off this article and the analysis.

“Bad news for aspiring entrepreneurs: Now might not be the best time to launch your own business.”

Let’s object here.

It is never a bad time to be an entrepreneur, even if you’re forced to sell black-market toothpaste in the streets of Caracas.

The entrepreneurial spirit is always alive and well.

If you’re looking for a good source of motivation to get things done, we highly recommend our friend Anthony Scaramucci’s podcast “The Motivation Inside.”

“Count me among those looking for some smoldering garbage.”

Finally, the 2016 election.

That’s Joel Kotkin talking about our two choices for President in November.

We’re less than 100 days out from what is probably the worst political race for President in American history. It’s certainly clear from a simple “Worst Election Ever” Google search that the major pundits think so. It goes on for pages and pages…

Is it so bad?

The 2000 race ended with the Supreme Court decision and analysis of Hanging Chads.

In 1920, socialist Eugene Debs – who was pulling in about 6% of the polls in previous years – ran his presidential campaign from prison.

The 1800 election was rigged by Alexander Hamilton and ended up preventing Aaron Burr from becoming President. That “rivalry” ended with a bullet in Hamilton’s spine a few years later on the shores of New Jersey in the nation’s most legendary duel.

The year 1824 had the corrupt bargain, setting off the wrath of Andrew Jackson. He’d go on and win in 1828, and founded the “Spoils System.”

Then there’s 1860 – when the nation was starting to turn to war, the Supreme Court had recently legalized slavery in all territories.

And South Carolina seceded weeks after the election when Abraham Lincoln won.

Okay, so there are a lot of terrible elections.

But is this the worst one?

This is a tale of two dumpster fires, according to Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.

We have to agree, despite our affinity for U.S. political history.

The 2016 election is a reality show of the worst kind. Every day, more outrage. Every day, “Can you believe he or she said that?” Every day, sound bites. The media loves this. It gives them work to do, and a reason to sit around on Morning Joe and ramble about the same things over and over and over.

When you don’t live in that media space, it’s debilitating. The media has treated this like an elimination reality show in real time.

Now, we’re down to the final two candidates. And the wheels have completely come off.

It is not clear that Donald Trump actually wants to be president. He has cemented himself as a voice of outrage in what is happening with Washington D.C. Even if he loses, we could see a decade of on-air Donald Trump speaking about how “rigged the election is.” He wins, even if he loses, and the divide is only going to accelerate in this country.

And Hilary Clinton – cannot stop lying to the American public. Russia has all of her e-mails. So do many other nations that can leverage that information. It’s unclear from her resume what major success she can claim despite being involved in politics for 30 years. The rules for the Clintons and everyone else are certainly two sets of standards. The Clinton Foundation is built on a bedrock of cronyism. She represents “The Man,” while claiming that she is going to beat the man.

Next are the policies.

Timothy Noah has billed this race a battle of policies in the 1980’s versus the 1990’s.

But strangely, the policies lead to different results from intention – which is very odd. So let’s return to this smoldering garbage, as Joel Kotkin says.

These last 100 days are going to be very little fun. Our advice, spend more time outside.

The less we hear about emails and Russia and hands from the media, the better.

After all, you're not going to hear actual substance about badly needed economic reform, changes in trade laws, issues with currency manipulation abroad, and the security of the financial markets. Things that matter.

We’re not going to receive any of those things from either of these candidates.

That is the real tragedy of this election. We are sick patients waiting for medication from the problems created in Washington.

These symptoms are getting worse, but we won’t likely be able to get healthy again until 2020.

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