about the research puzzle

A puzzle is that which perplexes, but which holds out the promise that with persistence and skill (and perhaps a little luck or serendipity) a solution can be found. Puzzles may be made of numbers or words or wood or any number of animate or inanimate things, or of social or psychological constructs that spring from our human condition.

To puzzle is to attempt to solve some conundrum or challenge, to attempt to understand that which resists easy analysis or conventional wisdom.

The investment markets and the business of evaluating them present infinite perplexities, large and small. What dominates all of it is the process of searching and re-searching for the solutions to an endless series of puzzles that present themselves to us. The shorthand word chosen here for that quest is “research.” The word often is used narrowly to describe the end product of an analyst or group of analysts doing work on individual securities—or is extended directly to a department of people or a body of work of that type.

The construct of this blog is broader than that, even though the bits and pieces of how research on securities is (or should be) done is prevalent in the writings you find here. At every level of endeavor in the markets, from those of academics to chief investment officers, from junior analysts to plan sponsors, the processes by which the puzzles that present themselves are attacked go a long way toward determining how likely it will be that the elusive alpha that everyone is searching for will be secured.

While the entire endeavor resists easy answers, you will definitely find opinions here. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, you will see musings and questions that are intended to make you think about the puzzles that are in front of you, and to adopt a fresh approach to their solutions.

about me (tom brakke)

You may find a more formal summary about me at tjb research. I am a generalist by nature, and try to bring you the broad perspective and out-of-the way insights needed to attack the puzzles that you are trying to solve. I am particularly interested in how investment organizations operate. This business provides endless fascination, as I have found in my experience working within it, teaching about it, consulting on it, and generally living it. My goal is to have my writing illuminate the challenges and opportunities it presents: Not individual investment ideas—there are legions trying to identify those—but new ways of thinking and organizing resources to succeed.