As a culture we are horribly conflicted. We denominate value in cash, but consider it dirty and evil. Cash is a universal storage mechanism for value, except when it comes to gift giving, where somehow, magically, the value is diminished because it is the "thought that counts." That, by the way, is complete and utter bullshit. Please, those relatives who are reading this but don't know it is me, I ask you this one thing: don't try to think.
To me this is the ultimate conceit of the "holiday season," that somehow you know better than I what material good I should possess that somehow I have not already thought to acquire for myself. Yet, asking for a particular good is so frowned upon that hints, suggestions, broad and elaborate fantasies (Wedding registrations. Third parties employed fifth-grader-passing-notes-with-"Do you like me? Yes [ ] No [ ]" -written-on-them-style to drop subtle, or not so subtle, hints to gift givers: "Ahem. Ahem. Well, gee, does Equity have a electric potato peeler Mr. Private? She likes potatoes, doesn't she Mrs. Private?" Letters to "Santa," etc. etc.) are constructed to mask the process of asking for gifts. Ignoring for a moment the issues I have with a pathologically sinister construct that spends half a decade or more lying to children about the existence of a fat communist (he is dressed in red and have you ever seen anyone pay Santa if he wasn't ringing a bell? Get real, he isn't a capitalist, folks) who slips under cover of darkness into the residences of unwitting homeowners to leave gifts (joke is on you, kids, your parents are filthy liars! Hah Hah!) the entire thing is farcical. But I digress.
Why giving cash is frowned upon is beyond me. Gift cards just cost money to buy, use and often have onerous restrictions. And this downward spiral of not-telling, guessing, and the polite white lies surrounding the holiday season (re-gifting, "Oh, I was just telling Linda that I would like to record my signing in the shower!" "No, I don't already have a Human Touch Robotic Massage Recliner(tm).") needs to end. You and I have to break it, dear readers. This year. Accordingly, I am offering a solution:
Give Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) stock.
Goldman Sachs stock has a nice ring to it. You can help the recipients of your present feel like they are a part of the largest bonus grant in history and, though it LOOKS thoughtful and appropriately "gift-like," it is "same as cash" at any brokerage in the land. Throw in the annual report and a subscription to published proxy materials and you've given the gift that keeps on giving.
(Plus, I've already amassed a substantial position in GS, so as all of you run the shares up buying the issue for your relatives, I'll pocket a tidy sum, and then short it right after the holidays, when the hang-overs wear off sufficiently to allow your in-laws to pick up their phones, fire up their online brokerage accounts and sell the shares so they can go out and buy the Chia Herb Garden(tm) they originally wanted anyhow. Consider my wonderfully immoral gains your gift to me for the season).
Happy (bah, humbug) Holidays.