Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Links

Jeff Bezos Wants Us All to Leave Earth—for Good - by Steven Levy‬⁩ (LINK)

Jeff Bezos chats with Steven Levy at the Wired25 Summit (video, starting at the 58:40 mark) (LINK)

Fireside Chat: Nassim Nicholas Taleb & Naval Ravikant (video) (LINK)

How a Subprime Auto Lender Consumed Detroit With Debt and Turned Its Courthouse Into a Collections Agency [H/T @WallStCynic] (LINK)

How to Make a Big Decision - by Steven Johnson (LINK)

Yahoo Finance Sportsbook Podcast: Michael Lewis on sports in 2018 [H/T Linc] (LINK)

It Will Take Millions of Years for Mammals to Recover From Us - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger on financial institutions

This is a response to a question about selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, from the 2001 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, that I thought was worth highlighting:
WARREN BUFFETT: ...We feel there’s so much about a financial institution that you don’t know by looking at just the figures, that if anything bothers us a little bit, we’re never sure whether it’s an iceberg situation or not.  
And that doesn’t mean it is an iceberg situation, in the least, at banks or insurance companies that we pass.  
But we have seen enough of what happens with financial institutions that push one way or another, that if we get some feeling that that’s going on, we just figure we’ll never see it until it’s too late anyway.  
So we bid adieu — and wish them the best — without any implication that they’re doing anything wrong. It’s just that we can’t be 100 percent sure of the fact they’re doing things that we like.  
And when we get to that situation, it’s different than buying into a company with a product or something, or a retail operation. You could spot troubles usually fairly early in those businesses. You spot troubles in financial institutions late. It’s just the nature of the beast.  
Charlie?  
CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah. Financial institutions tend to make us nervous when they’re trying to do well. (Laughter)  
That sounds paradoxical, but that’s the way it is.  
WARREN BUFFETT: Financial institutions don’t get in trouble by running out of cash in most cases. Other businesses, you can spot that way.  
But a financial institution can go beyond the point — and we had banks 10 years ago that did that, en masse — but they can go beyond the point of solvency even while they still have plenty of money around. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Links

"The game in our kind of life is being able to recognize a good idea when...it rarely is presented to you. And I think that’s something you have to prepare for over a long period. What is the old saying? That opportunity comes to the prepared mind? And I don’t think you can teach people in two minutes how to have a prepared mind. But that’s the game." --Charlie Munger

When Markets Tank, Do This - by Jason Zweig ($) (LINK)

Tariffs Hit Those Trump Wants to Help: U.S. Factories ($) (LINK)

Book Review: Mastering the Market Cycle (LINK)

Howard Marks on The Investors Podcast (LINK)
Related book: Mastering the Market Cycle
Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property? - by Charles Duhigg (LINK)

How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Lessons from Annie Duke - by Tren Griffin (LINK)
Related book: Thinking in Bets
John Hempton's 2011 post on Sears Holdings (LINK)
My view: owning Sears as a property play is a demonstration of the arrogance and breathtaking naivete of much that passes on Wall Street. Sears Holdings has over 300 thousand employees. I don't know how you successfully liquidate a business integrated with that many lives. I don't know of anyone who has ever successfully liquidated a business with that many employees.** I am not sure it can be done and it certainly can't be done by someone with my skill-set (highly analytical, ability to spy value or value traps but no people management skill and not much tact). 
The idea that Sears was going to be managed/liquidated by a bunch of hedge fund guys (people like me) well - that was comical. 
Just to stress the point for my fund manager friends who read accounts and have my skills (but like me are often disconnected from the businesses they invest in) I will state the obvious. The employees are living breathing people and as you pull the business apart the way you treat those people and how they think about you (and behave towards you) are critical to any value you extract in liquidation. Someone has to look these people in the eye and tell them they don't have a job. And someone has to pick-and-choose which people to fire and which to retain. And they have to do this without destroying much of the value extracted along the way. They have to liquidate the firm in such a way that the value accrues to the liquidators and not to the people who are being screwed. 
I don't care what you think of the morality of that. The reality of that is that it was always going to be hard - possibly very hard.
Stephen Hawking feared race of ‘superhumans’ able to manipulate their own DNA [H/T Linc] (LINK)
Related book: Brief Answers to the Big Questions
Male Gorillas Love Hanging Around With Infants - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Links

"If you're going to do anything new or different in the world, it is going to be misunderstood. Sometimes by well-meaning critics. Sometimes by self-interested critics. You'll get all kinds. And it's okay. It's all part of the process. The only way to avoid criticism altogether is to be completely conventional in everything you do. So how do you respond the the criticism?... What's the right thing to do? Well, I think the first thing you do is you ask: Are the critics right? You listen. You ask are they right? Or even if they're not completely right, is there some piece of it that's right that you can be inspired by? And then if you decide, by the way, that the answer is no—that you believe you have conviction that what you're doing is the right course—then no force in the world should be able to move you. You should have a deep keel. But if you decide that there is something, then you should change." --Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos receives the Sammies Spirit of Service award, and then chats with Michael Lewis [H/T ValueWalk] (it starts with 27 minutes left in the livestream video) (LINK)

Mohnish Pabrai Lecture at Boston College: "The Ten Commandments of Investment Management" (video) (LINK)

James Grant and Jason Zweig on WealthTrack (video) (LINK)

Hedge Fund Billionaire Rode the Worst Trade of His Life All the Way Down [Lampert/Sears] (LINK)

Introduction and Chapter One of Jonathan Tepper's new book, The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition (LINK)

Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers (LINK)

What Manatees Do During Hurricane Season - by Ed Yong (LINK)

"Generally speaking, there’s more felicity to be gained...from reducing expectations than in any other way." --Charlie Munger

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Links

"We don’t have a master plan.... Charlie and I do not sit around and strategize or talk about the future of various industries or do anything of that sort. It just doesn’t happen. We don’t have any reports. We don’t have any staff. We don’t have any of that.... We try to look at what comes in and look for things we understand, where we think they have a durable, competitive advantage, where we like the management, and where the price is sensible." --Warren Buffett

Time Horizon vs. Endurance - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

The Meb Faber Show (podcast): #125 - Tom Barton - "The Biggest Problem Investors Have is Things Change…and They Don’t Change" (LINK)
Tom is the Founder, President, and General Partner of White Rock Capital. He helped build the first multibillion-dollar short-selling hedge fund at Feshbach Brothers in the 1980s, where he exposed dozens of stock frauds. Then he became an early-stage investor, going long on health foods and satellite TV. Now he runs White Rock Capital, where much of his focus is on investments in gene-therapy firms.
The North Star Podcast -- Daniel Gross: Dreams and Determination (LINK)
My guest today is Daniel Gross, a partner at Y Combinator, the world’s best startup studio. Daniel focuses on artificial intelligence at Y Combinator and recently founded AI Grant, a distributed AI Research Lab.  
American Innovations Podcast: Polio Vaccine | Marching Towards a Cure (LINK)
By the middle of the last century Americans lived in fear of one disease: polio. The story of the polio vaccine is not just a scientific story- it’s a political and financial one, too. One that would pave the way for medical research fundraising campaigns that followed.
TED Talk: What baby boomers can learn from millennials at work -- and vice versa | Chip Conley (LINK)

Yuval Noah Harari: "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" | Talks at Google (LINK)

Soyuz rocket failure after launch forces emergency landing; crew safe on the ground (LINK)

The Maya Kept Jaguar Zoos for Centuries - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Links

"Students of financial history can point to historic levels of valuation to suggest that we are in a bubble. But students of psychology may be needed to complete the picture. For one thing, the financial markets have been so strong for so long that fear of market risk has mostly evaporated. People who used to hold bank certificates of deposit now maintain a portfolio of growth stocks. It is not really within human nature to comprehend that you may not know everything you think you know, and, further, that what you believe in could change on a dime.... With more and more of the market value of U.S. equities represented by lofty (in some cases infinite) multiples of current results, a change in sentiment could wipe out a large percentage of investor net worth. Sentiment, existing only in the minds of investors, is subject to change quickly and without notice." --Seth Klarman (June 1999)

Howard Marks' interview on Nasdaq Spotlight (video) (LINK)
Related book: Mastering the Market Cycle
The Battle for the Home - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy [H/T @Valuetrap13] (LINK)

For Doctors, Delving Deeper as a Way to Avoid Burnout - by Siddhartha Mukherjee (LINK)

If you keep hearing the name Jordan Peterson but still don't know much about him, this two-and-a-half-hour video conversation seems to cover his thoughts and ideas pretty thoroughly.... Oz Talk: Jordan Peterson’s Rules to Live By

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Links

Accomplishing True Mastery - by Ian Cassel (LINK)

Can the Wi-Fi chip in your phone help feed the world? - By Bill Gates (LINK)

Greenlight Capital's Q3 Letter (LINK)

Pershing Square's presentation on Starbucks (LINK)

Kevin Warsh, former Federal Reserve governor, on the Grant’s Current Yield Podcast (LINK)

Exponential Wisdom Podcast: AI Disrupting the Middleman (LINK)
Peter and Dan discuss the disintermediation of the insurance industry, and specifically how AI will disrupt the middleman in all industries.
NPR Planet Monday re-released a podcast from 2014, "The History of Light," that featured Bill Nordhaus, who just won the economics Nobel. Josh Wolfe also re-tweeted some things he wrote about the other economics Nobel winner, Paul Romer, from back in 2015. Romer was also on EconTalk three times and gave a Long Now talk in 2009, for those interested. 

Everyday Discrimination Literally Raises Women’s Blood Pressure - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Links

"We only regard errors as being things that are within our circle of competence. So if somebody knows how to make money in cocoa beans, or they know how to make money in a software company or anything, and we miss that, that is not an error, as far as we’re concerned. What’s an error is when it’s something we understand, and we stand there and stare at it, and we don’t do anything. Or worse yet, what really gets me is when we do something very small with it. We do an eyedropper’s worth of it, when we could do it very big." --Warren Buffett

Lessons from Howard Marks’ New Book: “Mastering the Market Cycle – Getting the Odds on Your Side” - by Tren Griffin (LINK)

Why Quant Investor Cliff Asness Is Staying Calm, Despite a Tough 2018 (LINK)

Why Do Computers Use So Much Energy? (LINK)

How I Built This podcast -- method: Adam Lowry & Eric Ryan (LINK)

a16z Podcast: From Research to Startup, There and Back Again (LINK)

The New Atlanta Billionaires Behind An Unlikely Tech Unicorn (LINK)

Reddit: the rancorous rise of a social-media phenomenon (LINK)
Related book: We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory
TED Talk: How I climbed a 3,000-foot vertical cliff -- without ropes | Alex Honnold (LINK) [The documentary on the climb is now playing in select theaters as well.]

Friday, October 5, 2018

Links

"I do find that most creative people end up applying different rules to their lives—in terms of how their lives are managed—because creativity doesn't necessarily conform to more traditional boundaries; whether their hours of work, places of work, circumstances. What you have to accept with creators and creativity is that one rule doesn't apply. It's whatever works for them." --Bob Iger

Bob Iger’s Bets Are Paying Off Big Time for Disney (LINK)

Howard Marks talks with Barry Ritholtz (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: Mastering the Market Cycle
Robert Vinall with an excellent letter on the 10-year anniversary of his fund [registration required] (LINK)

A great list of Investment Resources [H/T Linc] (LINK) [It may be especially worthwhile to read THIS, 10 years after the event.]

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon doesn't think he has too much power in this economy (Corner Office podcast) (LINK)

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Investor Sentiment and the Housing Market -  by John Huber (LINK)

Risk Management - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

How Humans Get Hacked: Yuval Noah Harari & Tristan Harris Talk with WIRED (video) (LINK)
Yuval Noah Harari, historian and best-selling author of Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, and Tristan Harris, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, speak with WIRED Editor in Chief Nicholas Thompson.
Lawrence Burns: "AUTONOMY: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car" | Talks at Google (LINK)

Yale Is Said to Invest in Crypto Fund That Raised $400 Million (LINK)

The Fed on Unemployment and the Future - by Frank K. Martin (LINK)

Jim Grant on CNBC yesterday (video) (LINK)

Michael Lewis calls Trump's approach to staffing the government 'insane' (video) [H/T Linc] (LINK)
Related book: The Fifth Risk
For Real Vision subscribers, Kyle Bass sits down with Graham Allison, author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, to chat about China, geopolitics, history, and more (LINK) [If you're not a subscriber and would to join or take a free trial, you can sign up HERE.]

Human Action: A Chapter-by-Chapter Summary (LINK)

Four roads we call customer service - by Seth Godin (LINK)

On the Law of Diminishing Specialization - by Cal Newport (LINK)

Your Work Is the Only Thing That Matters - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

A Controversial Virus Study Reveals a Critical Flaw in How Science Is Done - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Articles [H/T Phil] (LINK)
A list of nonfiction journalism from 2017 that will stand the test of time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Links

"We’ve done a lot of that, scrambled out of wrong decisions. I’d argue that’s a big part of having a reasonable record in life. You can’t avoid the wrong decisions. But if you recognize them promptly and do something about them, you can frequently turn the lemon into lemonade." --Charlie Munger

"We do find, if you just show up every day, like Woody Allen said, and you answer the phone and read the paper, every now and then, you see something that makes sense to do." --Warren Buffett

Bill Gates' Goalkeepers presentation: Is poverty inevitable? (video) (LINK)

Oaktree's Howard Marks Calls for Caution in the Markets (video) (LINK)
Related memo: The Seven Worst Words in the World
Howard Marks talks with Meb Faber (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: Mastering the Market Cycle
Offering Inspiration and Advice, Real Vision Is HGTV for Hedge Fund Hopefuls (LINK)

Is Amazon Woke Now? - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Patrick Collison, the founder Stripe, on running a startup company for success (video) (LINK)

Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them - by Kathryn Schulz (LINK)
The relative plausibility of impossible beings tells you a lot about how the mind works.
Fruit has become so sugary that animals at one zoo can no longer eat it [H/T @B3_MillerValue] (LINK)

The Game-Changing Technique Behind an Amazing New Archaeological Discovery - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Kelly, the Sassy Dolphin [H/T @edyong209] (LINK)

"I think curiosity and character are the two most important attributes to have. I’m not sure how to best build curiosity in people, but I’d say the habit of asking a lot of questions like “why” in order to make sense of things is good. As for character, the most important habit is to go to the pain because it will strengthen you which will give you the power you need to be successful. Pain + Reflection = Progress.  With practice the pain won’t be as painful and you will begin to see the pleasures of the successes so that going to the pain will make you feel good rather than bad." --Ray Dalio (Source)