The winner of the 2008 Feste Award is ... Mungofitch!
We asked all the nominees to share a bit about themselves, and the following is in their own words:
Winner! -- Mungofitch
Originally trained as an architect in Ottawa, Canada, I left university early to become a computer programmer, leading inevitably to becoming a serial entrepreneur of various software companies. By the late 1990s, my firm was running some of the largest data mining systems around, looking for predictive patterns in gigantic databases.
I was fortunate enough at this that I was able to retire in 1999, emigrate to the Principality of Monaco with my lovely wife, and focus on my investments. Since I had a lot of time, and a lot of data mining tools, I tried my hand at predicting the prices of stocks. This turns out to be remarkably easy, much to my surprise! You don't actually have to be able to predict the future as such, provided you can stack the deck a bit, and never bet the farm.
For several years I've spent a lot of time trading research with other aficionados of the Mechanical Investing board, certainly learning more than I'm teaching. I enjoy the tremendous community of posters there, being unfailingly generous, clever and civil.
More recently I'm back at work, having started a hedge fund, since I can't resist the joys of investing!
I live in Central Japan. Its a long story. The highlights: I'm a computer programmer who unlike most of the species actually enjoys communicating with actual humans. Japan has approximately $1 billion in foreign trade for every engineer who speaks English, so sensing an opportunity I moved there and was promptly press-ganged into managing outsourcing teams. The head of a Japanese office is the Division Chief, who oversees the Section Chief, who oversees the Indian Chief (i.e. me). Aside from the low pay, long hours, and terrible stress it is a wonderful experience. I also run a small business in my spare time.
Everyone has a certain quantum of "interesting" in their life. My theory is that my allotment got bugged, so that I go several weeks without any and then BAM someone accuses me of being a ninja. (It happens.) My participation on the Fool is largely writing about these experiences. As my friends say, I lead a life which sounds like it was based on a true story.
In addition to my I'm-so-totally-not-a-ninja escapades I also have an enduring interest in consumer finance and investing, which explains why I've hung around the Fool for years. After years of study, I have compiled everything ever written about these subjects into a magnum opus on the genre. Here it is: Don't get into credit card debt, invest in an index fund. Well, that was quick. You can see why I stick to the "wacky stories" beat most of the time.
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in a large, 2-family home, which housed my grandparents, parents, and three kids. We grew up with stories of how our grandparents lost their stock market investments in the 1929 Crash, how banks had failed, and how businesses and property values plummeted during the Great Depression.
After World War II, my grandmother and mother, with whom I was very close, became avid stock market investors. My grandmother nicknamed me "My Little Dividend."
Who would have predicted that channeling about 80 years of family stock market investing experience would have been so relevant to understanding our recent economic crisis? (I began investing during the inflation years of the 1970s, so I have personally lived through several market cycles.) The many intelligent and experienced members of the Macro Economic Trends and Risks (METAR) Board all work together to try to maximize the opportunities and minimize the dangers of investing in market cycles.
After a career in the chemical industry (research, sales, marketing, and project management), I retired. Having been raised in a Depression-era family, LBYM is a lifelong lifestyle. The Bonds and Fixed Income Board provides much valuable information. I also follow the stock boards, including BMW and the Foolish Collective.
The current economic crisis is either the greatest investing opportunity since my grandmother was young...or the beginning of a trend shift from "The Great Moderation" to years of investing volatility and high risk. Stay tuned - it won't be boring!
Other Honored Nominees:
I was a public school teacher in Oakland, California for 16 years, and investing gradually went from being a hobby to being my profession. I typically spend much of my day digging through economic and financial reports in search of investing ideas.
I started out here on the Fool mostly on the Apple board, posting my view on the company's business strategies and financials, and organized a group effort there to submit a shareholder proposal back in 2003. In recent years, when I have found something interesting I've usually posted a writeup on the Macro Economic Trends and Risks board.
Participating in the Fool forums motivates me to do better research, and examine the data more closely. In 2008 I made a special effort to make the posts detailed and useful for novice investors. 14 of the posts ended up being chosen as "Post of the Day." For the rest of 2009, I expect to split up my posting time more evenly between METAR (trend analysis), Free For All Economics (politicized economic views) and my own board, RodgerRafter's Investing Journal (individual stock and sector analysis).
Hailing from Canada, rpanton has been a Fool for ten years, and is a valued contributor on the Stock Advisor and Hidden Gems boards. He enjoys skiing, golf, and solitude on the mountain.
I write mostly on our Macro Economics board (METAR) and I usually start my posts reminding everyone that my wife and I are Realtors and associate brokers who live and practice real estate north of Atlanta. We are north of the Chattahoochee River in Roswell and Alpharetta.
I count the beginning of the "Great Recession" from August, 2007, and if you believe, as I do, that abusive and misguided lending practices in real estate at many levels were the pulled linchpin that brought the whole debt pyramid crashing down, then I have had a front row seat.
In a previous life, I was a financial consultant with an investment brokerage firm back in the 1980's. In an even more distant previous life, I was an army infantry officer in Vietnam.
My wife and I have lived north of Atlanta for over twenty five years. We have two children, a son in college and a daughter in high school.
Congrats to all the nominees!