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The Little Prince (or The Giving Tree)

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- My nephew is far and away the trippiest kid I have ever known.

Or known of.

He says totally random out-of-the-blue things like

I bet you didn't know that if you can lift four pounds you can pull your own ears off.

Or we'll get a call from a school mom and she'll say

Dale informs me that Nicholas has invited him to collaborate on a personal project and requests that he bring to class tomorrow a small lever, a few light bulbs, and a flip-switch mechanism. We're headed out to the hardware store now ... so can you please ask him what kind of wattage he's looking for on the bulbs?

So yesterday the boy invades the workspace and looks toward my machine and says


What's the bond doin?

I glance at the screen and answer

Down nine ticks. Why?

And he says

Just wonderin.

Then he continues with

Wanna bet on how the nascrack finishes tomorrow?

To which I respond

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Sure. Why not.

Then he asks

What's the line on up?

To which I respond

Even money. Down's at minus one-ten. Whatcha want?

To which he responds

I'll take up. Stakes?

I say

Hmm. What're you pullin' in these days?

He answers

I do OK. Eight bucks a week.

To which I respond

Pplut. Big deal. I make WAY moren that. OK though. You're on. Eight large.

Then I start thinking. I ask

That what you came in here for?

To which he responds

No actually.

I just read your column.

To which I respond

Well let's have it then.

He comes with

You make no sense.

To which I respond

How so?

He says

Strong economy? Price measures creeping up? Central bank on our asses?

I have no idea how you get a fundamental bond rally out of that.

I say


Sometimes you gotta be OKwith things simply ... being. We may not be aware of the answer now ... but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's out there. There's a script. The details'll eventually fall into place.

To which he responds

You amuse me. And insult me. You're treating me like I'm 7 years ol...

At which point I interrupt and say

You ARE 7 years old.

And he counters with

Wool yeah ... but that philosophy crap'll get you nowhere. I did Sartre and Augustine two years ago. In three weeks. During the summer. On my own.

To which I respond

Uh-huh. This from a guy with a Froot Loop stuck to his chin. And who gets excited when the cereal milk turns blue. And yo ... Kierkegaard? You sure looked philosophical tripping over that curb and smashing your ankle last week. Nice purple cast, by the way. You pick that yourself?

To which he responds

It is SO like you to get personal like that...(sigh ... pause). Look. "Just because" ain't doin it for me. You have any idea how many times I hear that in a day? It beats "we'll see" by a mile. Listen. I got some dough, but there ain't no way I'm plunkin down on the lame Calvin-Klein-mission-statement-soundin crap you're floatin.

I say

How much money we talkin?

He says

Four hundred and one dollars and 93 cents. Plus 20 from Easter.

I say

Pplut. Big deal. You can't even buy one contract with that.

To which he responds

Well if you want me to be able to buy a contract you'll have to jack my allowance way up.

To which I respond

Well FINE mister smarty, that's exactly what I'll DO.

To which he responds

Uh-huh. This from the guy who ain't been able to predict the price measures for five years now. And who kept screamin that central bankers wouldn't ease no way no how right up until the time Russia and stuff hit -- and they did. And yo ... brainiac? You sure looked smart playing Super Mario 64 yesterday. You ever gonna get past level one? Or should I just have Kristen over from now on?

I think to myself

Nice. Nice nice nice. He's got the sissy dig down already.

Then I say

Hey. You can lose some battles and still win the war. I can't get em all right. No one can.

At which point he sits down on the bed and folds his arms and looks down at the ground and exhales real dramatically and cocks his head and gets all Confucius with

Well maybe that's your problem. Maybe you can if you THINK you can.

To which I respond

Look. For a long long time nobody anywhere wanted or needed bonds; that ain't so much the case anymore. For whatever reasons -- a supply thing, a massive fundamental development that unfolds and shocks the hell out of everybody, a big and far-reaching train wreck -- it sure seems like folks everywhere are gonna be wantin more and more of em. It's comforting when the fundamentals play out as beautifully and sensibly as they did last year, but don't let a dearth of detail throw ya. The only Newton Minnesota Fats knew anything about was Fig, but the fact that he couldn't chalk an elegant proof of the Third Law never once kept him from pocketing balls. And most important ... the rally always begins before the tightening cycle ends; I'd rather be early than late. And that nobody, given what's goin on with the economy and the price numbers and the central bank, seems to believe right now? That's how and when you know you're really onto something. It always is. Remember autumn 1998? There warnt many around who believed then, either.

He soaks that in and says

Well hey. You're obviously the better money manager here. All I do is take home $416 a year for doin absolutely nothin... but lookit you. You're making out like a bandit on your stock optio...

At which point I interrupt and end the convo with


Go to your room.