Thursday, August 22, 2019

Links

"The job of the board of directors is to have the right CEO. I mean, if you’ve got the right CEO, 90 percent of it takes care of itself. If you were the director of Cap Cities and you had Tom Murphy as the CEO, case closed. It was all you needed. And if you have that CEO, I think you have an obligation on the board to make sure that there’s not overreaching by the CEO, because the CEO can have different interests. And I think the third thing that the board should do is they really should bring some independent judgment in on major acquisitions. Because there is a natural tendency for people with, usually, big egos, big motors, who get to be CEOs that like to do big things and to become bigger spending other people’s money.... So I think in those three respects, a good director will first make an affirmative decision [that] you’ve got a very good CEO — not the best in the whole world, not everybody can do that — but a very good CEO. That that CEO is not overreaching. And when significant deals come along, that they get a chance to weigh in, and that you really get a balanced discussion about the real economics of what you’re doing." --Warren Buffett (2007)

The Long View Podcast -- Rob Arnott: Don’t Sleep on Value Investing (LINK)

RA Conversations: The Inverted Yield Curve and Stock Returns (video) (LINK)
Cam Harvey explains the link between the yield curve inversion and future stock returns as well as why value offers investors a potential hedge against downside risk after a yield curve inversion.  
The risks grow that the passive and algorithmic transformation of equity markets could lead to a crisis. (LINK)

The Meb Faber Show: #171 - Raoul Pal - Buy Bonds. Buy Dollars. Wear Diamonds. (LINK)

The Art of Manliness Podcast: How to Achieve a “Rich Life” With Your Finances [with Ramit Sethi] (LINK)
Related book: I Will Teach You to Be Rich
The Stephen Wolfram Podcast: A Very Brief History of Mathematics [H/T @nntaleb] (LINK)

Revisionist History Podcast: The Obscure Virus Club (LINK)

Venture Stories Podcast: The Most Well-Read Person in the World on The Future of Reading with Robert Cottrell (LINK)

Audiobooks or Reading? To Our Brains, It Doesn’t Matter (LINK)

What If I Said No? (And Other Questions to Consider Daily) - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

A Simple Invention Could Change How Fast Disease Is Detected - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day: The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West - by David McCullough

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Links

"We don’t try to buy our businesses with thoughts much of world trends. We certainly think in terms of foreign competition. I mean, we do not want to buy into a business that has a very high labor content and that has a product that can be shipped in from abroad very easily.... You do not want to have something whose competitive position is going to erode over time." --Warren Buffett (2007)

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Presentation (LINK)

Why Complexity Sells - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Peter Barton: Oral and Video Collection Interview [H/T Sean Iddings/Intelligent Fanatics] (LINK)
Related book: Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived
Thinking aloud about bank margins - Part 2 - by John Hempton (LINK)

The WeWork IPO - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

A short extract from a 2017 presentation by Grant Williams which highlights the madness of investors buying the 100-year Argentine bond issuance (video) (LINK)

Kyle Bass on CNBC (video) (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Joe McLean – How to be a Pro’s Pro (LINK)

Land of the Giants Podcast: How Amazon Charmed Wall Street (LINK)

Is nuking Mars a good idea? (No) - by Phil Plait (LINK)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Links

Howard Marks warns of 'dark' impact of trade war [H/T Linc] (LINK)

An Economic Warning Sign: RV Sales Are Slipping ($) (LINK)

The Network Effects Manual: 13 Different Network Effects (and counting) [H/T @ChrisPavese] (LINK)

Thinking aloud about bank margins - Part 1 - by John Hempton (LINK)

Odd Lots Podcast: John Hempton on What’s Ailing Bank Stocks (LINK)

Masters in Business Podcast: Josh Wolfe Discusses Innovative Investments (LINK)

a16z Podcast: Software has eaten the world…and healthcare is next (LINK)

EconTalk Podcast: Tyler Cowen on Big Business (LINK)

The Investor’s Podcast: TIP256: Raoul Pal - Global Financial Concerns (LINK)

Hidden Forces Podcast: Hong Kong Revolution: Geopolitical & Financial Implications for China and the World | David Webb (LINK)

A summary of The Courage to be Disliked (LINK)

Ebola outbreak spreads to third province in eastern Congo [H/T @Atul_Gawande] (LINK)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Links

“Busts are the product of booms, and I’m convinced it’s usually more correct to attribute a bust to the excesses of the preceding boom than to the specific event that sets off the correction. But most of the time there is a spark that starts the swing from bullish to bearish.” --Howard Marks (“Now What?,” January 2008)

Pershing Square's reason for buying shares in Berkshire Hathaway [pages 10-12 of report] (LINK)

John Hempton on the Markopolis GE paper (Post 1Post 2)

Why Viacom Fell (And Why It Can Come Back) (LINK)

Pushing on a String - by Frank K. Martin (LINK)

WeWork IPO Shows It’s the Most Magical Unicorn (LINK)
Everything about the company is over-the-top: its growth, losses, potential conflicts of interest and financial gymnastics.
What is We!? Understanding the WeWork IPO - by Byrne Hobart [H/T @BrentBeshore] (LINK)

The Disruptive Voice Podcast: A Jobs-To-Be-Done Masterclass with Andrew Glaser and Bob Moesta (LINK)

Revisionist History Podcast: Chutzpah vs. Chutzpah (LINK)

A Tissue Sample From 1966 Held Traces of Early HIV - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Links

"I think it is entirely fair, as an investor, to just quitclaim certain areas of business as having too many problems." --Charlie Munger (2002)

The church of chicken: The inside story of how Chick-fil-A used Christian values and a 'clone army' to build a booming business that's defying the retail apocalypse and taking over America [H/T @zebulgar] (LINK)
Related books: 1) Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand; 2) How Did You Do It, Truett?
New CEO Wants to Make Barnes & Noble Your Local Bookstore ($) [H/T Phil] (LINK)

The growing threat of a corporate bond market meltdown. (LINK)

Argentina's 48% Stock Rout Second-Biggest in Past 70 Years (LINK)
The surprise outcome in Argentina’s primary vote roiled the nation’s financial markets, sending the S&P Merval Index plunging 48% in dollar terms. 
That marked the second-biggest one-day rout on any of the 94 stock exchanges tracked by Bloomberg going back to 1950. Sri Lanka’s bourse tumbled more than 60% in June 1989 as the nation was engulfed in a civil war.
A Danish bank is offering mortgages with negative interest rates — why you shouldn't wish for that to happen in the U.S. [H/T Matt] (LINK)

The World’s Newest Petrostate Isn’t Ready for a Tsunami of Cash [H/T Matt] (LINK)

Storytelling with Data - by Chris Pavese (LINK)
Related book: Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
Invest Like the Best Podcast: Zack Kanter – All Things Business (LINK)

Ramit Sethi on the Impact Theory Podcast (video) [H/T @dollarsanddata] (LINK)
Related book: I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Land of the Giants Podcast: Why the Robot Revolution is Our Fault (LINK)

Matt Ridley chats with Steve Forbes (podcast) (LINK)

Are You Doing Microworkouts? Here's Why You Should. - by Mark Sisson (LINK)

The Anthropocene Is a Joke - by Peter Brannen (LINK)

One Giant Leap for Maggotkind - by Ed Yong (LINK)

A New Clue to How Life Originated - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Links

"Money tends to be fairly captive, once it’s in a company. If you have a business that gets subnormal returns over time, there’s a big threshold in terms of either a takeover, or a proxy fight, or something like that to unleash the capital. So, money that’s tied up in an unprofitable business, or a sub-profitable business, is likely to stay tied up for a good period of time. Eventually something will probably correct it. But capitalism does not operate so efficiently as to move capital around promptly when it’s misallocated." --Warren Buffett (1995)

The Laws of Investing - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

The Billionaires Behind The Secret Tech Mecca In America’s Heartland [H/T @iancassel] (LINK)

Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment [H/T @wolfejosh] (LINK)

The Tim Ferriss Show (podcast): #381: Charles Koch — CEO of Koch Industries (LINK)

Acquired Podcast: DoorDash + Caviar Quick Take (LINK)

Spectacular Failures Podcast: Toys R Us goes bust (LINK)

The Cocktail Creationist (2004) [H/T @vader7x] (LINK)
At 5:20 on a Sunday morning in the summer of 1996, Sidney Frank—liquor baron extraordinaire, dapper elderly gent, CEO of the Sidney Frank Importing Co.—picked up his phone in a fit of inspiration. He dialed up his No. 2 executive, who listened in a groggy daze as Frank proclaimed, “I figured out the name! It’s Grey Goose!”
This Land Is the Only Land There Is (LINK)
Here are seven ways of understanding the IPCC’s newest climate warning.
Jupiter from Hubble: Enormous, magnificent, and… fading at the edge? - by Phil Plait (LINK)

Book of the day: Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career - by Scott Young

Multiples and the reinvestment of capital...

From Warren Buffett at the 1995 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
It isn’t a multiple of today’s earnings that is primarily determinate of things. We bought our Coca-Cola, for example, in 1988 and ’89, on this stock, at a price of $11 a share—as low as 9, as high as 13, but it averaged about $11. 
And it’ll earn, we’ll say, most estimates are between $2.30 and $2.40 this year [1995]. So, that’s under five times this year’s earnings, but it was a pretty good size multiple back when we bought it. 
It’s the future that counts. It’s like what I wrote there, what Wayne Gretzky says, to go where the puck is going to be, not where it is. 
So, the current multiple interacts with the reinvestment of capital and the rate at which that capital’s invested, to determine the attractiveness of something now. 
And we are affected in that valuation process to a considerable degree by interest rates, but not by whether they’re 7.3, or 7.0, or 7.5. But we’ll be thinking much differently if long-term rates are 11 percent or 5 percent. But we don’t have any magic multiples in mind. 
We’re thinking — we want to be in the business that 10 years from now is earning a whole lot more money than it is now, and that we will still feel good about the prospects of the business at that time.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Links

I may have posted this before, but since I saw it making the rounds again, and in case anyone hasn't seen it..... large Berkshire/Buffett compilation.

Howard Marks on Loans, Distressed Investing, Fed Policy (video) (LINK)

How Economists’ Faith in Markets Broke America - by Sebastian Mallaby [book reviews] (LINK)

Revisionist History Podcast: In a Metal Mood (LINK)
Two seasons after its investigation of the decline of McDonalds french fries, Revisionist History returns to fast-food’s high-tech test kitchens. This time the subject is cultural appropriation. The case study is Taco Bell. Oh, and Pat Boone is involved.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Links

Nightline with Warren Buffett in March of 1999 (video) [H/T @Gautam__Baid] (LINK)

Oaktree Insights: Rising Risks Call for a Tactical Approach to Global Credit Investing (LINK)

Inflated Bond Ratings Helped Spur the Financial Crisis. They're Back. ($) (LINK)

America’s Pension Funds Fell Short in 2019 ($) (LINK)

Muddy Waters Research's latest short report, on Burford Capital Ltd. (LINK)

A Framework for Moderation - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Was E-mail a Mistake? - by Cal Newport (LINK)

The Long View Podcast: Bill Nygren (LINK)

Acquired Podcast: The Shopify IPO (LINK)

Y Combinator Podcast: Russ Roberts (LINK)

Talking Points Podcast: Hospitality Icon Danny Meyer (LINK)

"Blue Sky Metropolis," a documentary mini-series on the untold story of how aerospace was central to the growth of California and its emergence as an economic power. [H/T @AlexRubalcava] (LINK)

Some Fish Are Still Full of Mercury, for a Worrying Reason - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Credit cards and banking...

This was a discussion at the 1995 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting (Q38 & Q39) that I thought was both interesting as well as one that could, and does, occur today. And the book Buffett and Munger were recommending in the excerpt below was A Piece of the Action : How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class by Joseph Nocera. 

***

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Edward Barr, Lexington, Kentucky. I had a two-fold question.

Number one, you mentioned American Express earlier. And I was curious as to whether the fact that credit card usage is only 10 percent of all transactions, and that may continue to grow for some time going forward, was a factor in your decision?

And the other part of the question pertains to the durability and permanence of the banking franchise with regard to alternative delivery channels that may appear over the next few years, including the possibility of the Microsoft/Intuit merger.

WARREN BUFFETT: Well, the specific number you mentioned about credit card usage and so on, that’s not a big factor with us. We think credit cards are both here to stay and likely to grow, to some extent.

Although at some point you start reaching limits, at least in terms of [outstanding credit card debt] that make any sense.

But the credit card field is a very big field. The question is, is who’s got the edge in it? Because everybody is going to want to be in it, and they already are. And there are a lot of different ways you can play the game if you’re in the credit card business.

And you better have some way of playing one part of the game, preferably a large part. But you better have some way of playing one part of the game better than others or natural capitalistic forces are going to grind you down.

I mean, it’s a business that people are willing to change their minds about what they do in. I mean, if you offer somebody a credit card that gives them some advantages that don’t exist on their earlier card, people are quite willing to shift cards.

So, you need some kind of an edge in some particular segment of the market. So, the growth aspects overall of the market are not a big factor with us.

It’s really a question of figuring out who’s going to win what game, and who’s going to lose what game.

And what was the second question again on that?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: The second question pertained to the permanence and durability of the banking franchise.

WARREN BUFFETT: Oh yeah, sure.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And whether alternative delivery channels over the next few years may erode the durability of that, including the Microsoft/Intuit merger.

WARREN BUFFETT: Well, that’s a good question. You’re certainly seeing the value of bank branches diminish significantly. It used to be a point of enormous pride with managements, in how many branches they had.

And it was, you know, often political influence and everything else was called into obtaining branch permits.

The world will change in banking, probably in some very major ways, over a 20 or 30-year period. Exactly what players will benefit and which ones will be hurt is a very tough question.

I don’t think I’d expect really significant change in banking over the next five years, but I’d certainly expect it over the next 20 years.

And there are a lot of people that have their eye on that market, including Microsoft, as you mention.

It may be to their advantage to hook up with the present players. I mean, I know it’s certainly something that gets explored. But they may figure out a way to go around the present players, too. And that’s one investment consideration.

Charlie?

CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah. The interesting player that went around the rest was Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch went heavily into banking with its cash management accounts. And I don’t think it’s the only innovation that’ll come along.

WARREN BUFFETT: What’s the name of that book?

CHARLIE MUNGER: You know, I’d forgotten, that’s a marvelous book.

WARREN BUFFETT: Yes, there’s a great book.

CHARLIE MUNGER: Maybe Molly remembers. What was that book you gave me? It was the history of the credit card.

WARREN BUFFETT: Was it Joe Nocera’s? Yeah, Joe Nocera was the author.... It’s a terrific history of the credit card business.

And if you read that you will get some idea of the amount of change that can occur in something like the movement of money. And my guess is that if there’s another edition of it in 20 years, there’ll be plenty more to write about. 

CHARLIE MUNGER: By the way, that is a fabulous book. Most of the people who are here will not be able to put it down. I mean, for a book about an economic development, it captures the human background in a very interesting way.