The Allocator: Stinkers

August 8, 2021 by Ted Seides


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Give me your worst.

Literally, what is the worst investment idea you can conjure up for the next 12 months? As nonprofit investors gawp at fiscal year returns so ostentatious they look like typos, making money is, well, incidental. My bartender is a day trader. But even Gary can’t lose right now.

So who could? Dear Allocator readers, you are about to find out. I officially declare open the first-annual Bad Idea Olympiad. The world’s best investors, doing their worst investing.

You’ll recognize many of the contestants. These cool-headed and long-termist institutional leaders gamely agreed to set aside their good practices & put forth their biggest stinkers. Their picks range as widely as their mandates, from public pension CIOs and woeful long bonds to niche crypto turds. (“Hex coin,” said family office chief Al Hemmingsen. “Because while there are many shady crypto projects, only one has direct mailed their propaganda to my house.”) It’s a year-long race straight to the bottom.

Here are the rules…

Objective: The lowest one-year absolute return.

Time Frame: August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022

Universe: Anything — single security, levered private fund, commodity, crypto, or a boring old asset class — with at least quarterly valuations or an acceptable benchmark. Ted Seides would like to note for the record that his benchmark is a shoddy facsimile bloated $1B+ private companies, but nothing better exists.

Game Plan: The Allocator is honored to bring you updated performance rankings each quarter. On the one-year anniversary of the newsletter’s launch, I will announce the winner.

Prize Purse: A full-ride scholarship to Ted Seides’ brand-new Capital Allocators University (street value of $2.5k now; $5k as it nears hard-close). The program features industry luminaries — Scott Malpass, Annie Duke, & more — teaching the non-investing elements of being a wicked-good capital allocator.

But Ted’s generous donation has a catch. To claim the prize, you have to beat him, too.

Hardware: In addition to the scholarship, the winner will be awarded a trophy roughly the size of the Stanley Cup.

My thanks to each of the esteemed and important allocators for taking part in this jaunty caper. If you enjoy watching competent people attempt dumpster fires, please send me your feedback & start thinking of your best bad idea for 2022.

Competitors, I wish each of you the very worst of luck.


NAME : Liz Tulach
Title: Deputy CIO
Organization: Boeing
Asset (Benchmark): Cash

NAME: Donna Snider
Title: CIO
Organization: Hackensack Meridian Health
Asset (Benchmark): US Fixed Income (Bloomberg Barclays Agg)

NAME: Molly Murphy
Title: CIO
Organization: Orange County Employees Retirement System
Asset (Benchmark): 30-Year US Treasury

NAME: Robert Thompson
Title: Senior Portfolio Manager, Credit
Organization: UPS Group Trust
Asset (Benchmark): 30-Year US Treasury

NAME: Peter Madsen
Title: CIO
Organization: Utah School & Institutional Trust Funds
Asset (Benchmark): Long-Duration US Treasuries (S&P US Treasury Principal STRIPS 20-30 Yr Bond Index)

NAME: Susan Ridlen
Title: CIO
Organization: Lilly
Asset (Benchmark): 10-Year US Treasury

NAME: Anne Shelton
Title: CIO
Organization: American Trading and Production Corporation
Asset (Benchmark): 10-Year US Treasury

NAME: Novisi Nirschl
Title: Director of Investments
Organization: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Asset (Benchmark): US High Yield (Barclays US High Yield Index)

NAME: Valbona Schwab
Title: Senior Partner (incoming)
Organization: Grinnell College
Asset (Benchmark): Performing Credit (50% Merrill HY Master II / 50% Credit Suisse Leveraged Loan Index)

NAME: @InstAllocator
Organization: Anon Twitter Influencer *Mystery Institution*
Asset (Benchmark): Small-Cap Growth Stocks (iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF)

Title: Geoffrey Love
Organization: Head of Venture Capital Wellcome Trust
Asset (Benchmark): GameStop

NAME: Sam Gallo
Title: CIO
Organization: University of Maryland
Asset (Benchmark): Steel Futures (US Midwest Domestic Hot-Rolled Coil Steel Index Futures)

NAME: Randy Kim
Title: CIO
Organization: Rainwater Foundation
Asset (Benchmark): Silver (iShares Silver trust ETF)

NAME: John Greaves
Title: Head of Investment Strategy & Research
Organization: RMPI
Asset (Benchmark): Small-Cap Gold Miners (Direxion Daily Jr. Gold Miners Index Bull 2X Shares)

NAME: Ted Seides
Title: Founder
Organization: Capital Allocators Podcast; ex-Yalie
Asset (Benchmark): Venture-Backed Unicorns (Cambridge Associates US VC Late & Expansion Stage Index)

NAME: Craig Dandurand
Title: Head of Debt
Organization: Future Fund
Asset (Benchmark): Bitcoin

NAME: Al Hemmingsen
Title: CIO
Organization: Parkland Management (Single-Family Office)
Asset (Benchmark): HEX crypto token