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Evolving and Hibernating


Ross M. Miller
Miller Risk Advisors
May 10, 2010

It was over six years ago, as the 2004 presidential race was heating up, that I wrote my first commentary. The commentary was designed both to put some more meat on the Miller Risk Advisors website and to cross-promote Rigged, my online novel. Since then, the world has changed a lot.

Despite nearly spot-on market prognostications (okay, I blew the oil price predictions), I stopped making my predictions public. I was happy telling the world that things were better than people generally thought. I was not so happy telling the world that it was coming to an end. I knew the players, I helped design the financial instruments, and I had left Wall Street while the getting was good.

Wall Street was more much more "rigged" than my novel made it out to be.

While the rather odd nature of many of my commentaries may scare some business away from Miller Risk Advisors, I am not particularly fond of scaredy cats.

Even my odder commentaries, such as my numerous adventures in retailing, considered in aggregate are making an important economic point: Retailers big and small generally suck at what they do. They sell dull products in an even duller manner. Without inspired retailers, there is insufficient demand for goods, and without enough aggregate demand you get an economy just like the one we have now. Even criminals' demand for goods has been in a long-time decline according to national burglary and theft statistics. An economy cannot run on flat-panel televisions and cell phones alone.

Over the past six years the world has come up with increasingly annoying ways for people to communicate. I have not only reconciled myself to cell phones, but last week I was among the first to get one of Verizon's "Incredible" Android-based cell phones. I hope to have it all figured out by the end of the summer.

There are some things I may never figure out. I have yet to find a good use for either Twitter or LinkedIn. As for Facebook, it was clearly a mistake to befriend old classmates, especially the ones that I either don't remember or subconsciously refuse to remember. If I lost contact with someone, there was probably a good reason for it.

I am coming to realize that this primitive way to communicating through commentaries with no real link to the world may no longer be particularly efficient. Unlike most who wrote on the Internet, I have other outlets for my work in the doomed world of traditional publications. This summer I will be working on two "commissioned" works in the world and likely several others "on spec."

Less formal communications are good, so over the summer I will explore several alternatives to these commentaries. Unfortunately, the trend is toward more frequent communications with less content. I doubt that even my most sycophantic students would care to receive my every thought about the financial markets as they occur to me in real-time.

The only way for me to really figure things out is to disconnect for a while, for a summer at a bare minimum. Doing that in summer is not technically "hibernating," but I think of it that way nonetheless. The past six years as an academic have been much busier than anything I had experienced before, even the most intense times at General Electric while I was cleaning up after the Kidder, Peabody mess. Perhaps, just perhaps, this summer I will finally get a little breathing room (one giant knock on wood) to put my research back on track.

As much as I try to stay at the forefront of technology (I was on Twitter long before any of my students had even heard of it), hibernation is not a new thing for me. One mailing list that I belong to even wondered if I was dead last year after I had not posted for several months. I don't know what other people are doing, but many of my projects take months of undivided attention in order for me to move them forward, and I am about to begin another one of them. Even in the best of times, getting something out of me more than once a week is asking for a lot.

Upon my return from my forthcoming journey, it will be time to reorganize my interactive presence, taking into account the prevailing technology. All the old stuff will go somewhere and the Miller Risk Advisors site my take on a more serious air. Fortunately, I have lots of ideas for new directions to take things. Unfortunately, it could some time to work them out. Nonetheless, I will check back this September to provide an update wherever I may be.

Copyright 2010 by Miller Risk Advisors. Permission granted to forward by electronic means and to excerpt or broadcast 250 words or less provided a citation is made to