Monday, March 31, 2008

Luddic Research announces UnHedged Fund(tm).

Growing tired of snatching(after ample warning) candy from children,Turkeys, Ostrich, Sheep, Experts and other such clueless pretenders, who strangely, continue to proudly enroll and throng Flat Earth Society's doors (minus the candy), we today launched an UnHedged Fund(tm) to make some serious coin off this semi literate bunch of masochistic rabble.

Well, what really tipped the point today, was an inhouse research algorithm that threw out some interesting results :

  • 96% of the market "investors"/traders were the bottom 10% of their academic classes (the few who actually attended any classes,that is).
  • 99.2% of financial advisers,experts etc. had completely failed in making any money off their own advise and had only fixed salaries or commissions to keep them off the streets.
  • 82% of these market advisers/experts had been publicly humiliated by their spouses after (yet again) losses due to eating own pudding.Thus, lately 100% of these never traded their own opinion.
  • 98.9% of local brokers and brokerage houses were headed by academic and social laggards whose median education hovered around matriculation(grade 9 actually) and who had had suffered serious ridicule from the fairer sex during their impressionable years. Consequently a lot of their trading behavior was aimed at enhancing their (self image of) male attractiveness.
  • 100% of foreign funded (FIIs,Hedge funds,PE,etc.) had ranks populated with young, testosterone fueled Yoyos, who loved to "network", "research" and "value-add" until they started touching(when no one was looking) random objects to see if same actually turned into gold. Strangely, "investors" usually did not notice the risk, even at this stage.
  • 98.8% of all intelligent,professionally qualified Indians never consider opting for "Stock markets" as a career(largely due to unsavory,very misshapen, promoters with garish,crass tastes in interior decor). So they opt for yuppie careers selling soaps, being bankers, coding CRM trinkets, or just being "managers" good at "managing". If at all,the lowest percentile, ends up as research warm bodies in "professional" broking houses with excellent "target price" and "outperform" skills(these are the announce and pray group and have volatile careers).
  • Lastly, it is now projected that Homo Sapiens(predominant stock market players) may not learn anything from History till about the year 2105.
Succumbing to the mind numbing opportunity as above, we decided to extrapolate our team with a strategic mix of out-of-the-box market beaters, as the team structure shows :
  • Ludus: Commander-in-Chief for busting "stay-the-course" long term investors who fall into "weak beliefs, strongly held" majority(this market is big).
  • Chief Economist: Lawrence Yun was by far the only good choice for precise(and brave) hand holding in these uncertain times.(Also he was having a rough time going out in public without young mothers asking him to make a prediction for their toddlers to laugh at.. though he attributes this to pure racism).Our decision purely rests on our planned expansion into real estate plays and his insights will be invaluable.
  • Research Head: Mary Meeker has graciously accepted to be part of our deeply "fundamental" jargon spewing,extrapolation experts armed with 256 digit screen calculators. She caught our eye with very bullish projections on anything "Ambani". (In fact she projected Reliance gas *finds* to "surprise" us well into year 2050 as well as Reliance Biosciences cloning 6 identical Mukesh Ambanis with permanent jet black hair(no dye needed)..and endless growth for group.
  • Trading Team: 3 Dart throwing circus monkeys ( have consistently shown beat-the -market performance in back tests).Plus they accepted to be paid in bananas (though payable daily).
We are confident this diversified core team will quickly create new inefficiencies in the market and enable us to quickly join the return free risks orgy in the markets.

Why UnHedged Fund you ask?.. well let me say we just love naked positions at Luddic Research !!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Succor for the Sheep.

It was bound to happen. Election year tom(pop) foolery..sloganeering "inclusive growth for everyone and their mothers-in-law)..hitherto un benefited fauna of the country were roused from their peaceful grazing to look at what the commotion was about and maybe grab a nibble.

What really brought this under closer bovine scrutiny was the unusually ferocious festivities that suddenly broke out in various rural belts around end february, a time devoid of harvest windfalls, election-time "leaders" visits or even rural employment schemes disbursements to the landlords' "hands". No, none of was the (proudly) bedsheet wrapped, finance minister finally doing justice to his awesome talent for straddling the worlds of (traditional)refined politicking as well as macro Economic gymnastics without a wardrobe malfunction !
In one swift delivery,before the random Lallus, Yechurys, Raj Naths, Sidhus could recover.. he had wiped clean the debts of abt $15B owed by "farmers" and their various handlers..and quickly, before they scrambled to get someone educated to advise them what to say to the TV cameras ..the minister drove home his shock-and-awe advantage-
"Anyone oppose this? Who is opposing this concession to the farmers ? Stand up and be counted !! Stand up and be counted !! "..he was prancing, feinting, jabbing like Cassius was his moment.
"Where's the money going to come from ? Is that your question ??..just rest assured "we" have deeply thought about it and that's it.It will be done and only I(publicly at least, privately=no one) know how it will be funded."
(Note: lately it has emerged,the minister did have long discussions with *helicopter* Ben Bernanke over at the greatest economic wonderLand regarding how our country would like to now embark on a higher growth/ consumption trajectory and could he recommend some good printers/ copters for inflating rural India).
In any case, aware they'd been had and no way to come out of this looking good..the rest of the peoples' representatives slowly slunk out of the house looking well and truly beaten.

But the rural belts sprang to life..Landlords everywhere had been fretting about the overdues on account of the SUVs, the A/Cs , the foreign education of kids, the new 6 bedroom farmhouses, the city houses their progeny had made them splurge on. Their wives couldn't get enough of cable TV and the accompanying lifestyle.The bank managers were pliant and impotent enough to not entertain thoughts of actually asking for a repayment but if the other *farmers* find out how much he was in the hock ..his Skoda *would* lose some of that sheen.
(Note: the bulk of the Agricultural loans in this country get disbursed through refined politico-socio-economic filters where the unconnected, apolitical, non-exploitative, unenterprising and (lord forbid) serf classes are largely culled before they can do much damage to the system.)

These non seasonal tremors were felt at the grass root levels where our unassuming sheep were grazing as unambitiously as they'd done for generations. For the sheep, this was the normal cycle of life- be fed every day, feel happy and content mostly, get ugly haircuts (shorn) regularly by the "marketmen", get over it, get fed again and live on. At the end of a typical cycle suddenly each one would be led out of the gate by the "marketmen" never to be seen again. But sheep being sheep, they never lost much sleep over the goners and concentrated on the next feed time and the temporary excitement it brought.

OK,OK..the sheep had been taken in by the stock market culture.They had gradually first,but rampantly later been piling their and their spouses feedstock into ever expanding future Infosys, future Reliance, future L&T,.. hell future anything. The friendly "relationship" managers from fine companies like Religare, Indiabulls, ICICIDirect, Kotak, Motilal Oswal, ShareKhan, 10Paisa, 5Paisa, OPaisa etc. had all stopped by their stockades( destiny ?) and "advised" them the sectoral growth opportunities and how sheep in next pen were getting fatter and fatter on their investment profits.
"Herd mentality" being practically copyrighted by the sheep,it was not long before the herd was feeding at the relationship managers new "stock market" troughs in a frenzy. It was good, it was heady and it was, in a way, sexually stimulating(for the males as usual). There were all kinds of sheep..young and old , dominant and sheepish ,woolly and shorn, fundamental and technical (newly educated in the terms) .
But as has happened for generations, the "marketmen" ultimately led them away to more grounded purposes. This time was different as so many were rounded up and trucked away bleating in one was a little disturbing.

The stockades look quietened down now, what is left is skinny ,close shorn sheep, no meat and no wool to excite the marketmen..they nibble despondently and go about their routine limply.

But this was before the "inclusive growth" populism rained down on the farmer's SUV parked right next door to the disillusioned herd.Now ,some wise old sheep(who'd lost much power and say to younger libido in the stock frenzy) took the matter onto their own hooves and quietly planned how to be included in this talented minister's deficit free (no matter what) cloud seeding program.

As sheep ( by definition a herd to the last one) realistically cannot commit suicides singly or even force the goats to do same ( as happened in Landlords getting compensated for serfs' suicides) without immediately being suspected of being lemmings (apart from the whole herd perishing), it was decided the only solution was to invite the hon'ble Minister to the fence bordering their pasture and coax him to demonstrate his straddling talents for their benefit while they cheered wildly..and hoped for Govt bonds to fund their (ahem) losses.

Personally,I think it is feeble..

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Bigger Fool Nation.

Everybody, every single punter/investor/trader/speculator had figured out the winning formula/strategy to multibagger his portfolio .. some key themes "land bank", "unlocking" business values, "infrastructure" play, real estate , retail, logistics,buy every dip etc.etc.. each of the nouveau stock market cognoscenti was convinced he'd got this one figured out. The market was headed to the moon and his "strategic" investments were going to create wealth at a pace a pace..really,even his greed was having trouble keeping pace with the pace.
Note: In India, this bull market business is purely a male bastion..well, maybe everywhere.(?)

Consequently, the countryside was teeming with alpha(generating) males who seemed to have transcended their respective locales, offices, jobs, small businesses, social standing etc. on the back of their new talent. Gravity had been soundly and roundly beaten in various portfolios, trading accounts and market cap of companies.
Slim, Buffett, Gates etc.were looking over their shoulders worriedly at this new threat from a motley bunch of land banking, value unlocking, scale-on-steroids visionaries from over yonder.

A quick couple of weeks later, the fool-proof formulae/strategies of just 2 weeks back were in deep question and the initial disbelief was fast turning into a cold reality check or "repricing" of risk premia(to give a good narration). Whatever stories had been intact/decoupled, values to be unlocked,land bank plays to be played..looked to be coupling up/ locking up in rapid fashion.

Across the country, newly crowned geniuses, experts, traders were getting flak..gravity was showing up in every account/portfolio with pent up fury. The experts were stripped bare,the (surprisingly inadequate) family jewels (all male domain,remember) were strung up for all to see.
As the sage of Omaha had warned:
"It is only when the tide goes out can see who was swimming naked."
Well most ponds in the countryside had newly exposed gents, hopping around with hands cupped over their modest modesties, as the water levels fell sharply.

When you really put all these varied "investment" theories/strategies/formulas mentioned above together, you realize there was a small common denominator that accounted for the entire success.. the bigger fool theory. All these strategies worked as long as you found a bigger fool to believe in them and bid the price higher..and so up it all went..till at one stage the bigger fool just couldn't be located..Hell, even the Japanese got wise in the end(..and you know what that does to any boom cycle).

So,where does that leave us.. the markets are looking positively chest thumping young males able to flush *investors* money into their asinine do-it-yourself long term investor(3-6 months multibagger plans) available to join any worthwhile herd..and you know the market badly needs a fresh crop of bigger-fool-participants.

Fortunately,there is still one party where the PE types are still playing the bigger chimp music (same rules as the old game) ..Indian Real Estate sector.. so if you hurry along, you may just get to play some..though the fools are getting harder to rope in lately.

..but then we all know the property prices never go down in India.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

India Infoline Shining !

In the foggy climate enveloping Indian markets, a crying need for level headed analysis and clear cut solutions was felt by one and all..big and small.

Everyday, "Investors" across the country from Ludhiana to Lucknow,Ajmer to Aurangabad, Nagpur to Nagercoil,Siliguri to Silvassa,Rajkot to Ranchi were turning on their televisions at day break to tune into the "expert" view of the day (after yesterday's further "irrational" decline)..

As usual,the experts trotted out and intoned(in various regional accents):

  • "weakness" may be expected.(global cues are "weak").
  • "caution" was advised.
  • "fundamentals" remained strong.
  • "long-term" was the view du jour.
  • partial "profit booking" was advised (but,but..we are all underwater!!)
  • "buying opportunity for long term investors" (though this was getting shaky to "advise").
So,our docile investors(except a few whose (old economy) fathers/ partners /spouses kicked the protesting future_multi_bagger_mavericks into booking losses NOW) heaved a sigh of relief and endured another day of declines..why,the experts were also saying "stay not panic"..that was good enough.
The relief of not taking definite loss today on the hope of recovery tomorrow was palpable.So onwards and downwards the days passed..

Then one "expert" decided enough was enough, he'd begun to dread turning up at office each day to face his and his merry employees' (spread over abt 600 offices across the country if the website be believed) band of investors who were increasingly losing sight of their multi-bagger gameplan and showing signs of deteriorating "sentiment".

The stalwart who saw a solution to end all this national misery,all this "correction" gone too far, was..R.Venkataraman Executive Director,co-promoter of India Infoline as the Economic times dutifully informed:

"It will take some time for the sentiment to change. There is a need for large institutions like LIC to start buying frontliners to provide a filip to sentiment."

"Also, there is a need to make policy changes by allowing pension funds in equity markets.

This just blew me away ! The genius in the solution was the simplicity.
It was incredible the whole investment community was suffering like this when the quick,short answer to this irrational decline was (gasp) just tell the government to buy!! All the govt needs to do is make all the PSU and maybe banks and maybe pension funds and maybe the Provident funds to show some support for the "frontliners".I suspect "frontliners" would include Reliance Pack,most Realty/Infrastructure stocks,Power stocks and maybe a few brokers could qualify too(the FII (suckers)partners were getting a little worried about their buy-in prices).

In fact,being election year,maybe some policy changes could be lobbied that in effect ensured that Indian stock markets can only go in one direction..up.Seriously,why wouldn't,why shouldn't institutions like LIC use their funds to participate in the amazing "growth story" we all believe in??..esp at this hour of need.

"We could still have been scaling new highs, getting higher valuations, opening more branches.."sighed R.Venkataraman. "Hell,my research team just extrapolated the corporate earnings for these "frontliners" into year 2015-16 and boss I'm telling you the P/E is microscopic!!".

I mean,you'd have thought Venky here was just another "expert" with a nicely shaped mustache and good "grasp" of stock market "investing",but just those 2 lines and the world knew he was head and shoulders above the average "expert" in fixing problems,esp stock market problems.
In fact rumor has it that US govt. has enquired if he could be loaned to them to fix a small "sentiment" problem there..though IndiaInfoline says "they do not comment on market rumours".

Last heard,the India Infoline advisory team,spearheaded by clearthinking R.Venkataraman (aided by the hard to beat mustache) has advised all retail clients in their far flung "branches" to immediately apply for agricultural loans to tide over this unplanned delay in the "filip" of sentiment.

This man is sheer genius..but then,their "Vision" statement says it all:
"Our vision is to be the most respected company in the financial services space."

..Venky has my respect and my space.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monsoon Capital LLC- Toasted Turkey !

The flavor is tropical and the feathered are coming home to roost.(?)

Monsoon capital LLC's (prize Turkey) Gautam Prakash and his elite team forgot to get off the gravyTrain along with the leaping Marketwatch is reporting:

"The Monsoon India Inflection Fund LP has dropped 28.3% this month, through March 20. That leaves it down 45.9% so far in 2008, Prakash wrote in an update to investors. MarketWatch obtained a copy of the letter."
As in most turkeys before thanksgiving..Prakash displays the tragic signs of
*staytheCourse* disbelief and the inability to accept that the hand that fed and fattened him everyday is sharpening that knife NOT for trimming his toe nails(or claws,whatever).

What surprises him more is this is happening despite his ability to quickly grasp the situation at hand:
"The U.S. is mired in a housing collapse, a severe credit crunch and turmoil on Wall Street that threatens the survival of several financial institutions and has compelled the U.S. Federal Reserve to take actions that it has not taken since the Great Depression," Prakash explained in his letter to investors"

..and his innate gift for incisive analysis:
"These series of events and the size of losses have severely undermined investors, who have reassessed the risk premium associated with equities."
"Raising this investment risk premium to a higher level has triggered a correction in equity markets across the world; both developed as well as emerging markets," he added.

Based on his ability to see what others cannot,he offers:
Despite recent signs of slowing slightly, Indian economic growth will still be very strong in coming years and the country isn't as dependent on exports to the U.S. as other developing nations like China, Prakash said.

Then the mild rebuke to the far more myopic,plain "investors":
"Though India is not export-dependent... and therefore should be relatively less economically affected than its Asian neighbors, investors are not drawing this distinction at this point of the crisis," he noted.
..though it would have carried a lot more weight if the world and their barbers did not offer this same balm when the "correction" started in Jan(March 2008 is definitely less calming for loss swallowing fund clients,I feel).

Again we see the pitfalls of having to play with non sophisticates like the "retail investors" and speculators who,God forgive them,were actually buying stocks with borrowed money!!
Prakash said Monsoon has continued to see distressed selling by retail investors and speculators who had bought Indian stocks with borrowed money. Total sales by this group are now over $15 billion in the past two months, he noted.
I am beginning to sympathize with Gautam here,he just got broad-sided by the other players' stupidity.. but like they say:
"Never argue with idiots,they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience"

Gautam ,next time buddy(float me one more fund),just do not allow these leveraged,panicky types to buy any stocks at all.
We'll just keep the "growth story" intact and decoupled between us eh?

In fact his update to his "investors" would be quite hilarious if you were anyone but the target audience(ie. his turkeyFeed).

Finally one question Gautam(can't wrap my head around this)..Just where did you think the Sensex was headed,pal ?
.. As it is obvious you were still buying when the fools were jumping ship at 21,000.

p.s.If anyone can point me to a picture of turkey here..would like to put a face to the words.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Morgan Stanley India-offshored Ostrich farm?

The eminent MS has managed to "actively manage" to underperform all yardsticks and are now giving even the law of averages a serious credibility problem..this despite landing in India well before the terms BRIC ,EMs ,Chindia,decoupled growth story etc. were even invented let alone fashionable.
In India specifically,they singularly became the reason "MutualFund" invoked much derisive laughter and finger pointing in the cocktail circuits..if you were the turkey with MF investments,you took care to not mention it(while silently watching laws of erosion at work).

Enter the aforementioned golden age of EmergingMarket equities and BRIC batting.. and suddenly even turkeys were making money..largely(of course) due to their complex and well thought out investment strategies(but strangely still not beating buy_and_hold).

Today,calls got louder for "expert" explanations and the (previously)cocksure "longTermOutlook" needed reinforcement,so out trotted Jayesh Gandhi,Morgan Stanley Investment Management vice-president and lead portfolio manager :

Given the crock they been dishing out to clients and investors since Sensex 21,500.. no surprise he looks a little ill at ease here.

The real question is if he believes his own mouth anymore when he spouts things are under control..just a little correction.

Sample this insight into his "long term" outlook:

In the short-term, it is difficult to predict market movements. However, if we see the history of equity markets in India during the last five years, corrections have been in the range of 10-20%, May 2006 and May 2004 are notable examples.
To a casual observer,this would raise some doubts about his "short" as well "long" term definitions if 5 years is all he can safely go back(to coincide with start of current bull mkt) to find some empirical support that all is well and within their "planned" investment strategy.

Which brings back to the rumour fast spreading in Mumbai,based on the historical evidence of superlative flightless birds this outfit has posted locally and the truck loads of sand deliveries that always accompany new appointments .. *maybe* Morgan Stanley India is just an Ostrich farm outsourced from NewYork.
What gives credence to the theory(in hindsight as usual) is the virtual impossibility of sand deliveries to go unnoticed in Manhattan and more importantly the legal implications if the litigating Spitzers ever found out the actual investment strategy.
The completely dysfunctional regulators and legal system make India possibly the only active enough market to give their managers a good headinsand grounding wherein they can mouth such blather(which will get distributed to comfort some luckless "investors" in their "schemes") while the local managers can pray hard at local temples for the law of averages to catch up before they get replaced by new birds.

Though,you got to give Jayesh credit.. he managed to emit this simple wisdom upside down,with his beak half full of sand:
In the current uncertain environment, with high volatility, it would be best to have a judicious mix of large and mid-cap stocks in the portfolio, with the objective of higher returns but with managed level of risk.
..*that* sounds simple enough.

Read the full article for more laughs. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reliance Energy BuyBack ?

A long time back,conventional wisdom said a company should buyback it's shares when it really has no better avenues to deploy the surplus cash it has generated i.e. the investment avenues are limited and so the company decides to return some of this surplus to its shareholders in the form of buyback.
But then time passes on and as the "equity culture" starts permeating third world countries,the fund managers turn up with their investment cash and look around for some companies large enough to absorb some of that cash.
Of course the Ambani Wunderbrothers seem perched atop a motley gang of(suddenly awakened) promoter run/family run businesses "houses" who find themselves in vogue with foreign funds and good at any business under the Indian sun.
In fact they suddenly started looking at themselves anew..hell, they'd been underestimating their abilities and entrepreneurial skills by a long shot.
And..they just fashion some new way of *doing* the markets..they just seem to get better and better at most all verticals and the world cheers on,"scale" and "creating wealth" get patented and hubris is now offshored to India.

Coming back to the REL buyback,the company has no real surpluses to speak of.If any can be cooked up, they are..which is par for most companies of this ilk (and I would be very disappointed if Junior here is not doing his part)..these surpluses are at best Enronized entries (capitalize every expense..duh?) and definitely cannot be used to buy back chewing gum much less shares.So I would say pure debt could be traced back as the source if anyone looked hard enough..but I digress.

The point is Ambani Jr. has planned investments piled right up to the attic covering any and every lucrative opportunity this country can throw up..but seems to be paying back the shareholders their equity(using idle surplus,of course) when he needs to tap equity and debt markets till he hits the age of 80 if all of his megalomania needs be satiated.

One begins to wonder if all this is,maybe just a little trick to prop up the share price of his suddenly sagging fortunes..esp as the Reliance Power "fundamentals" are looking shakier with each gimmick collapsing.. but then no, the investors are not that,no too blatant even for the Reliance Pack.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Viva S&P!

Thursday(I think),the eminent Standard & Poor analysts(after poring over large amounts of data and their proprietary methodology) concluded that the subPrime crisis is more or less blown over,the writedowns more or less done, Financials looking like oversold..more or less..
Friday,Bear falls to $30 and Sunday is sold for $2( after the Fed gives it a $30B crutch)..well maybe *these* guys were a little aberration..most write downs are done.

The point as usual is these guys in S&P do this day in and day out,year round..i.e research and model and analyze some more(not to mention direct access to info not in public domain)..and yet come out with these well researched opinions which would find it tough to beat a dart throwing circus monkey's track record.

Finally, we need to just remember they still maintain AAA ratings on most bond Insurers and such.. maybe they are right about this.. they cannot be wrong all the time of averages has to catch up with even these geniuses.

On the other hand,locally here in India,I think we will see a fresh set of market experts and Investment advisors(entertainers all) on CNBC once all this is finally over , as the current crop has just about lost most of their credibility( and more importantly their retail/HNI/whatever clients who will slowly limp back to their jobs or small businesses).
One is amazed how these "experts" are always in consensus and cocksure about "strong fundamentals" and "growth story" and "decoupled" when the markets are going up and completely baffled the next week and quite unsure about any "advise" when the market turns.

Smells like one way "Expertise".

Where are the "growth-story" cheer leaders?

For endless months the Indian stock markets were a feeding frenzy,where players gorged on and on with just the minimal quick breaks to answer calls of nature(more space!) and rush back to the banquet.
Others watching from outside joined the gorge fest..the food ran out..the kitchens cooked and served whatever fit into a pot and when even that ran out..more was ordered in with little regard to quality or hygiene.The collective appetite showed no signs of early participants waned,fresh ones replaced with bigger gusto.It was was just needed to turn up.
The ushers were sent out far and wide,into the countryside,to round up the unwashed masses to partake this wonderful feast(of course bringing their cash along).

But recently(and unexpectedly),the "growthStoryIntact" and "decoupled" crowd have been slowly growing quieter and less visible.Their confidence is getting some muted and calls for caution a little louder.I suspect probably because of the huge losses these "experts" have caused their little bands of followers by urging to "average down" and "buy the dips" right down from Sensex 21,500 to 15,350.

I also suspect the disbelief of the herd is slowly turning and as is par for *every* boom-bust cycle the retail masses have held on till the very end.The point is the "experts" are able to take huge solace in the fact that *nobody* could have seen this coming and there is plenty of company.

It has been pretty hilarious watching the talking heads go from strongGrowthStory to growthStoryIntact to decoupledEconomy to maybeNotDecoupledMarkets to entirelyCoupled to shakyGrowthPossible.
But,like they say..

As a group, lemmings have a rotten image, but no individual lemming has ever received bad press.
The issue here is when will these clueless charlatans be held resposible..I know the country still battles basic, raw illiteracy, but there needs be someone calling out the game here.
Sample this gem from Deutsche Bank via bloomberg( hat tip galatime) ..
Deutsche lowered its March 2009 target for the Sensitive Index, or Sensex, to 18,000. The bank had earlier set a target for the index of 23,000 by Dec. 2008
..this dude Pratik Gupta,a "strategist" no less,must have some very complex models to arrive at 18k and not 17 or 19 ..just as he had earlier forecast 23,000 precisely and accurately.
The question arises what does he see others do not .. what qualifies him to see so far ahead and finally what purpose does this serve apart from filling the offices with warm bodies of his ilk looking busy for clients.