Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

The Scars of History Must Never Heal

By Jim Woods
  • The Scars of History Must Never Heal
  • ETF Talk: Inverse Fund Aims to Rise Double the Amount Stocks Fall
  • Talking Politics, Protests and Unsavory Agents with Guerilla Artist Sabo
  • DeLillo’s Wisdom


The Scars of History Must Never Heal

“It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night.”

That’s how novelist Don DeLillo described lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, in his masterpiece “Falling Man.” That novel was published six years after the attack, but the memories and the scarring on our national soul were still fresh and exposed.

Eighteen years later to the day, those scars haven’t faded. They will never fade.

Etched on my own black box recorder were the memories I had circa 1999, when I checked in at the World Trade Center lobby to report to work for my first day at Morgan Stanley. The firm’s training program for new brokers took place in those twin towers, and in the weeks that followed, I spent many an afternoon high atop the Manhattan skyline, learning the trade inside the iconic monument erected to celebrate capitalism, Western achievement and the wealth of nations.

Their boldness, their glaring simplicity, their twin-brother-like stance and their defiance of the rest of the New York City skyline were all part of the reason the World Trade Center was targeted for destruction by forces whose primary directive is the death of the infidel.

On that day, when the blue skies were pierced by the stiletto insertion of commercial jets into the towers, I watched the events unravel from some 2,500 miles west. A condo nestled at the foot of the Hollywood Hills hardly seemed congruent to the billowing smoke oozing out of the structural siblings.

The only connection in my mind was… my mind.

A mind having been there just a couple of years earlier, wondering what it would be like to actually be there in that moment.

Wondering if I would have been incinerated along with the roughly 2,600 other souls that were extinguished that day.

Wondering if I would have acted heroically, the way so many did.

Wondering if I would have succumbed to the cowardice that so often accompanies paralytic fear.

I would like to think I could have been a hero. I need to think I would have been a hero.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out.

Instead, from afar, from the safety of Hollywood, I watched. All day, all night, I watched. Compelled by the horror and compelled by the enormity. Thinking to myself, “Will this be the world from here on?”

Would the world be plunged into war? At that moment, I wanted war. I wanted vengeance. I wanted to pound those responsible, and the philosophy that animated these acts, into a pulp.

I still want to do so.

I want to stoke the burn of that day. I want to remember the collapse of icons.

I want to keep calling out the life-hating, celebratory death cult of ideas that is radical Islam, and I want to rejoice in its defeat.

The scars of history must never be allowed to heal. No salve of time should be permitted to mask the day America was altered forever.


ETF Talk: Inverse Fund Aims to Rise Double the Amount Stocks Fall

The ProShares UltraShort S&P500 (NYSE: SDS) is an inverse exchange-traded fund (ETF) that seeks daily investment results that correspond to two times the inverse (-2x) of the daily performance of the S&P 500.

It is worth pointing out that this fund, like most leveraged and inverse ETFs, is designed to provide a positive return at a time when the S&P 500 is falling. However, SDS, and inverse ETFs in general, do their best work when they are held for a limited time.

Holding on to shares of SDS for more than a short time is not recommended as it is often difficult to determine how long a downturn will last. Thus, it is easy to expose oneself to unnecessary risk by confusing a temporary aberration and the beginning of a bear market.

Furthermore, failing to regularly rebalance SDS shares, especially at a time of heavy market volatility, has the possibility of exposing investors to performance drift from the S&P 500 index. This means that it is possible for the value of the shares to fall even as the market moves in a desirable direction.

The fund currently has more than $1.04 billion in assets under management and an average spread of 0.03%. It also has an expense ratio of 0.90%, meaning that it is more costly to hold than some other ETFs.

According to, this fund’s performance has been negative in both the short and long run. As of September 10, 2019, SDS is down 4.83% over the past month, down 7.20% over the past three months and down 30.62% year to date. This is not a surprise given the S&P 500 yielded positive returns during each of those time periods.

Chart Courtesy of

In short, while SDS does provide an investor with the ability to profit at a time when the S&P 500 is yielding negative returns, inverse ETFs may not be appropriate for all portfolios. Thus, interested investors always should do their due diligence and decide whether the fund is suitable for their investing goals.

Since SDS is double leveraged, investors need to be especially wary about owning its shares. An upturn in the S&P 500 would likely lead to double the losses incurred by this inverse fund. However, when the S&P 500 is tanking, this double inverse fund would be a way to seek twice the profits of the decline in the index.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.


Talking Politics, Protests and Unsavory Agents with Guerilla Artist Sabo

Provocative, outspoken, politically unconventional — and even a little “unsavory.”

Hey, sounds like my kind of guy.

In the new episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast, I speak with the unconventional and inimitable street artist known as “Sabo.”

Sabo is a true rebel. He’s a political activist who uses art to make poignant and often uncomfortable points about political figures on the left. He also pokes fun at cultural figures who he sees as worthy of satirical ire.

In this discussion, you’ll learn about Sabo’s counter-protestor adventures at antifa rallies, as well as the deep love and passion he has for his work. You’ll also find out how he views creating art as similar to a pianist playing music.

(Photo Credit: Unlock Your Wealth TV)

Plus, find out why Sabo and I have a mutual dislike of vacations, and why we agree that when it comes to life, you can’t be wishy washy in your views. And the more real you are, the more respect you earn.

I had a great time conversing with Sabo, and I suspect you’ll have a great time listening to this most interesting “unsavory agent.”

To listen to the podcast, simply click here right now.


DeLillo’s Wisdom

“You have to break through the structure of your own stonework habit just to make yourself listen.”

— Don DeLillo, “Falling Man”

The aforementioned Don DeLillo’s great “Falling Man” is a must-read centered around the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent tremors that rumbled through our collective lives after that day. In this quote from the novel, we’re reminded that it takes a major effort to extricate oneself from one’s normal life/ourselves from our normal lives, and to make ourselves pay attention enough to hear what we need.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

Log In

Forgot Password