I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with my favorite idioms. For example, in speaking to one of our legal research consultants today, I told her that I would be "out of pocket" for a few days around the holidays. When she queried as to what I meant, I explained to her my use of the term and then, being curious, took two minutes to search the web as to where the expression originated. According to a blog entitled "the hubbub: Language, behavior, technology," this term had once only referred to tax deductible expenses but has morphed into meaning that an individual is unavailable. Indeed, in its October 7, 2006 blog post entitled "Office Talk: 'Out of Pocket'," the authors suggest that something more sinister may be afoot. Not only unavailable, "out of pocket" is a possible diss, a warning not to bother ... "you can use email, phone, IM, SMS, carrier pidgeon - there's nothing you can do to reach me at that time."
This got me to thinking about the implications overall for investment professionals for whom information is arguably the lifeblood of money flows.
- Can we be over exposed to individuals or is there always room for more?
- Is there such a thing as too much information?
- How should we be sorting "good" information from "bad?"
In 1997, I published a doctoral dissertation about the information economics associated with high frequency trading. Entitled "Are Institutional Investors and Analysts Informed Traders? An Empirical Examination," I investigated trading volume and costs for "visible" exchange-traded stocks on one end of the spectrum in terms of institutional ownership and analyst following and "neglected" equity securities at the other extreme. As expected, I was able to document informational inefficiencies, leading to the conclusion that there might be "gold in them thar hills" if one is to pay close attention to micro data trends.
Expect more from me on the topic of information arbitrage. It is both mysterious and puzzling but certainly worth further investigation.