Monday, December 31, 2018


Thank you to everyone who read the blog in 2018, with special thanks to those of you who were kind enough to also donate during the year.

And thanks again to all of those who reached out after the September blog update with support. I'm still figuring out exactly what I'll be doing next, but will update all of you when the time comes.


"We love the idea of other people using mechanistic formulas to price things, because they may be right 99 times out of 100 but we don’t have to play those 99 times. We just play the one time when we have a differing view." --Warren Buffett (2003)

What I learned at work this year - by Bill Gates (LINK)

Working More Magic at Disney ($) (LINK)

The Hidden System That Explains How Your Doctor Makes Referrals (LINK)

John Stockman’s Medical Bills Topped $1 Million. What Happened? (LINK)

Taking Surprise Medical Bills to Court (LINK)

Related book to the above 3 articles: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

Bold Predictions for the Travel Industry in 2019 (LINK)

The Atlantic Science Desk: 83 Things That Blew Our Minds in 2018 (LINK)

EconTalk Podcast: Sebastian Junger on Tribe (LINK)
Related book: Tribe
a16z Podcast: Talent, Tech Trends, and Culture (LINK)
This episode of the a16z Podcast features the rare combination of a16z co-founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz in conversation, together, with economist Tyler Cowen.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


"There are three words which are among the most important words in our business: I don't know. And if you don't know should admit it—to yourself and to everybody around you. And I think personally that it's very freeing to say 'I don't know.' I think it's very, almost depressing, to feel that you have to have an opinion on every subject, even the ones where by definition you can't have superior knowledge." --Howard Marks (Hong Kong, October 26, 2018)

A good compilation of papers related to valuation [H/T @NeckarValue] (LINK)

Notes from Value Invest NYC - by Chris Mayer (LINK)

Reflections On Cash As An Option - by Frank K. Martin (LINK)

To Help Put Recent Economic & Market Moves in Perspective - by Ray Dalio (LINK)

Sen. Johnny Isakson Called FBI on Behalf of MiMedx Group - by Gretchen Morgenson and Charley Grant (LINK)

In Defense of Laziness - by Charles Chu [H/T @jposhaughnessy] (LINK)

What’s Changed Since My First Column for Scientific American - by David Pogue [H/T Linc] (LINK)

The Woolly Mammoth Lumbers Back into View (LINK)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


"While  it  is always tempting to try to time the market and wait for the bottom to be reached (as if  it  would  be  obvious  when  it  arrived), such a strategy has proven over the years to  be  deeply  flawed.  Historically,  little volume transacts at the bottom or on the way back up, and competition from other buyers  will  be  much  greater  when  the markets  settle  down  and  the  economy begins  to  recover.  Moreover,  the  price recovery from a bottom can be very swift. Therefore, an investor should put money to work amidst the throes of a bear market, appreciating that things will likely get worse before they get better." --Seth Klarman [2008 investor letter]

I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon. (LINK)

How Allbirds Became A $1.4 Billion Sneaker Start-Up (video) [H/T @ayushmitt] (LINK)

Citron Research report on Facebook [H/T @ivan_brussels] (LINK)

The Fast and the Furious - by John Hussman (LINK) [Published early this morning.]
While we don’t presently observe conditions to indicate a “buying opportunity” or a “bottom” from a full-cycle standpoint, we do observe conditions that are permissive of a scorching market rebound, even if it only turns out to be the “fast, furious, prone to failure” variety. I say “permissive” because there is no certainty about a rebound, and we wouldn’t dream of removing our safety nets against a market decline that I continue to expect to draw the S&P 500 toward the 1000 level by the completion of this cycle. Still, we’ve prepared for the possibility of unusual volatility here, most likely including one or more daily moves in the range of 4-6%, potentially to the upside. Yes, that means one or more daily moves on the order of 100-150 points on the S&P 500 and 900-1300 points on the Dow. You think I’m kidding.
EconTalk Podcast: Mariana Mazzucato on the Value of Everything (LINK)
Related book: The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy
a16z Podcast: How the Internet Happened (LINK)
Related book: How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone
Adam Robinson chats with Shane Parrish on the The Knowledge Project Podcast (Part 2) (LINK)

Sam McBride: "Building RXBAR" | Talks at Google (LINK)

The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting (LINK)

99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2018 [H/T @AlexRubalcava] (LINK)

How to Develop Better Habits in 2019 - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A good conscience is a continual Christmas...

“Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no ambition corrupt thee, no example sway thee, no persuasion move thee, to do any thing which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollily; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.” --Ben Franklin

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Charlie Munger in 2002, in response to a question about the mistake Berkshire made acquiring Dexter Shoe: 
"That shows, which is important to show, that no matter how hard you work at having systems for avoiding error and practices of trying to stay within your circle of competency, et cetera, et cetera, you still make mistakes."

What You Can Learn From One of Warren Buffett’s Smartest Investors - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

Here’s What Warren Buffett Sends to a Select Group of People at Christmas - by Carol Loomis [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Ajit Jain buys $20 million of Berkshire Hathaway’s shares (LINK)
Berkshire Hathaway’s Ajit Jain bought about $20 million of stock on Dec. 18, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. 
The move was in A shares, the ones that trade around $288,000 each. The filing said the purchases were done in multiple transactions at prices ranging from $295,750 to $297,000 a share. The move could be interpreted as a sign of confidence as the stock market continued its multi-day plunge to fresh lows for the year.
Howard Marks: UCLA Anderson Fink Center "Mastering the Market Cycle" (video) (LINK)
During a standing-room only interview at UCLA Anderson on October 11, 2018, living investment legend Howard Marks encouraged investors of all experience levels to develop a keen observation of cyclical indicators and historic market patterns to manifest opportunities. 
Howard Marks: CAIA / CFA / HKSFA Hong Kong (video) (LINK)
Howard Marks, Co-Chairman, speaks with Ms. Teresa Han at an event co-hosted by CAIA / CFA / HKSFA / Oaktree in Hong Kong. (Recorded on October 26, 2018)
‘Canada’s Warren Buffett’ Drives His Own Pickup Truck [H/T Linc] (LINK)
On the road with billionaire Jim Pattison.
Michael Shearn: Invest in Leadership [H/T @iancassel] (LINK)

Investing Lessons from Bill Browder [H/T @iancassel] (LINK)

David Tepper: Fed is done supporting stock prices, so cash is ‘not so bad’ as an investment now [From Thursday morning] (LINK)

It’s Not Time to Panic (Yet) - by Cullen Roche (LINK)

Demon Underneath: John DeLorean and the invention of the future [H/T @jtepper2] (LINK)
Long before Elon Musk, a visionary automaker showed how ugly the American Dream could be.
Weaving Magic Unravels in Woolrich, Pa. [H/T @timhanso] (LINK)
After nearly two centuries, a mill closes and a storied brand ceases to be ‘Made in the U.S.A.’
How Much Trust Can Facebook Afford to Lose? - by Evan Osnos (LINK)

How Worried Should Americans Be About Facebook and Cyber Warfare? (podcast) (LINK)
Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss investigations into what Facebook knew about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and into the company’s misuse of users’ data.
A16z videos on What’s Next for Marketplace StartupsExtending Human Lifespan, Programming Medicine, and Nature as Technology.

Graham Allison: My North Korea Prediction for 2019 (LINK)

The Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie, Very Litigious Kiini Bikini (LINK)

A Courting Peacock Can Shake Its Partner’s Head From Afar - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Apollo 8’s Earthrise: The Shot Seen Round the World (LINK)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Antifragile investments

Given the volatility of the market lately, I've been thinking a lot about Nassim Taleb's book Antifragile. One of the major ways it impacted me is that it helped me think about the types of businesses I'd want to own when market valuations are high but some stocks start to look cheap. 

As Chris Cole of Artemis Capital Management has been talking about over the last few years, a large part of the market, value investing included, is implicitly a big short volatility trade. As Cole said in a 2017 interview with Real Vision:
There's nothing wrong with shorting vol if it's done intelligently.... I think the problem is that people don't always understand the risks that they're taking on. 
...I think the problem, at the end of the day, is we're all short volatility. Every institution in the world is. The question is: are you short convexity, or are you massively short convexity? And do you understand that you are because, you know, we have a finite amount of life. At the end of the day...if you have a portfolio of value stocks, in some ways you're implicitly shorting correlation and betting on mean reversion. 
That's a form of short vol. But the margin of safety can be attractive at the right points in time. The question is: do people really understand the risk they're taking on? I think when institutions are entering into a lot of these different strategies, and today this is just indexation to a certain extent, I don't think they...really have a pure conceptualization of all the risks that are going on. 
Now, value investing, if done correctly, is the intelligent way to implicitly be short volatility, but Taleb's book also made me think more about the types of businesses that can turn whatever volatility may come into existence into opportunity. Or in other words, what types of businesses actually create value in tough environments? So as an investor, as long as you have the endurance to hold through whatever Mr. Market may have in store on the downside, you can actually come out on the other side in better position because of the work you did buying right beforehand. Examples from the 2008-2010 time frame would be things like Berkshire Hathaway on the large cap side of things, and Cambria Automobiles on the micro cap side of things.

I'm thinking more about this lately because while markets have come down a bit, they are still at lofty valuations. But I'm seeing more interesting things to look at that seem like they could be very cheap than I have in a long time, which is a bit ironic given that I just exited from the investment business and am not currently managing outside capital. 

At any rate, while I was still at Boyles, we wrote the excerpt below in a 2014 investor letter after finishing Taleb's book, and I think it still reads fairly well, so I included it here for those that are interested. 


Estimating intrinsic value based on cash flows, private market values, and liquidation values is something that should be familiar to those that follow a value philosophy; as is considering one’s downside in a worst-case scenario.  And because these are estimates—and small changes in certain variables can have large impacts on expected values—it’s important to be conservative in those estimates.  Or to use a phrase from Seth Klarman, it’s important to make those estimates “by compounding multiple conservative assumptions.”

Things start to get tricky when it comes to estimating probabilities, which one can’t really do with any degree of accuracy.  It is too hard and too close to guesswork, especially when we consider that, according to Sir John Templeton, “No security analyst is ever going to be right more than two-thirds of the time.”

So if we can’t accurately estimate our probability of winning and losing, what can we do?  What we believe an investor can do is determine whether or not the odds are likely to be in one’s favor.  There are certain things that can increase one’s chance of not losing money on an investment, and certain things that increase the chance of losing should something unexpected or disruptive occur.

In Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, he separates things into three categories:
1) Fragile
2) Robust
3) Antifragile
The fragile is harmed by certain shocks, randomness, and stressors.  The robust is neither harmed nor helped by them.  And the antifragile grows and improves from them.  As Taleb says, “...the idea is to focus on fragility rather than predicting and calculating future probabilities…” 

So while we can’t accurately predict probabilities, what we can do is think about and identify traits that will increase our chances of winning and decrease our chances of losing under a range of scenarios.  And by trying to avoid fragile traits and invest in situations that are more robust or, preferably, antifragile, we decrease our chances of making mistakes due to estimation error.  Below are some examples of these traits among businesses and investments:

“...the fragile wants tranquility, the antifragile grows from disorder,
and the robust doesn’t care too much.” –Nassim Taleb

When the positive traits overwhelm the negative traits, we can be fairly confident that the odds are in our favor. But figuring out which traits are really present and which are illusory takes a lot of work; as does coming up with a proper and conservative estimate of intrinsic value and a worst-case scenario.  The math behind the Kelly Criterion gives a good framework for thinking about the questions: (1) Is my probability of winning greater than my probability of losing?; and (2) Is my upside greater than my downside?  But there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to answer those questions with decent accuracy.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid.” –Charlie Munger

Using the Kelly framework to explain our current outlook on the investment climate, we can say that we see plenty of things with attractive upside ($W), but the main issue is that we also think there is plenty of downside ($L) in those investments.  To optimize one’s capital over time, one should consider more than just the upside if things go right.  One must be in the game long enough for the odds to work out favorably over time.  The main reason we have so much cash today is that we see a lot of downside coupled amongst the upside.

We look for situations where, if we ran through the Kelly Criterion using conservative assumptions, it would tell us to take large position sizes.  Our actual position sizes will, in practice, be much smaller than Kelly, as we manage risk and account for the uncertainties and errors that come with investing.  But the idea behind taking big positions in one’s best ideas—especially when one’s downside is well protected—is one in which we firmly believe. 

In the Ed Thorp article mentioned earlier, he also wrote that “Computing [F] without the context of the available alternative investments is one of the most common oversights I’ve seen in the use of the Kelly Criterion. Because it generally overestimates [F] it is a dangerous error.”  And as we contemplate our alternatives to cash, we think not just about the current opportunity set, but also about opportunities that may possibly develop over the next several months.  We’ve been and are still close to buying several things; and we continue to build our list of prospects.  While we can’t know when Mr. Market will give us the opportunity to put our cash to work, we are ready to move in quickly when we think the odds and payouts are overwhelmingly in our favor.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


"Study the past, if you would divine the future." --Confucius 

Berkshire Hathaway Reduces Home Capital Investment (LINK)

Investing Ideas That Changed My Life - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

The 2018 Stratechery Year in Review - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

A new way to look at Leonardo - by Bill Gates (LINK)

Chris Cole talks with Meb Faber (podcast) (LINK)

Daniel Kahneman talks with Tyler Cowen (podcast) (LINK)

Why Do These Dinosaurs Have Long, Twisted Tubes in Their Heads? - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


"History is philosophy teaching by examples." --Thucydides

GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out (LINK)

The Late Cycle Lament: The Dual Economy, Minsky Moments, and Other Concerns - by James Montier (LINK)

Fed Tightening? Not Now - by Stanley F. Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh (LINK)

Druckenmiller on Economy, Stocks, Bonds, Trump, Fed (Full Bloomberg Interview) (video) (LINK)

Goldman Sachs Ignored 1MDB Warning Signs in Pursuit of Asian Business (LINK) [And for those that want to read more about the 1MDB scandal: The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé.]

The Spacing Effect: How to Improve Learning and Maximize Retention (LINK)

‘Tell Me What I Wanna Hear’ - by Frank Martin (LINK)

Why people prefer bad news - by Matt Ridley (LINK)

30 Principles from “Pre-Suasion” (LINK)

Masters in Business Podcast: Bethany McLean Discusses the Fracking Industry (LINK)
Related book: Saudi America
Invest Like the Best Podcast: Keith Rabois – If You Can’t Sell Them, Compete with Them (LINK)

The 10x lesson - by Seth Godin (LINK)

What It Means to Be OK [H/T @Atul_Gawande] (LINK)
Daniela Lamas and the practice of post-ICU care
My Dad's Friendship With Charles Barkley - by Shirley Wang (LINK) [I recommend the audio version of this located at the top of the article.]

Book of the day (Kindle deal, $2.99): Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car—And How It Will Reshape Our World

Friday, December 14, 2018


Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla's Production Hell (LINK)

Jim Chanos On His Favorite Shorts: Full CNBC Transcript [H/T ValueWalk] (LINK)

16 Ways to Measure Network Effects (LINK)

The Dynamics of Network Effects (LINK)

How a World Order Ends: And What Comes in Its Wake [H/T @scmallaby] (LINK)

Nobel Prize Economics in 6 Minutes: Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer explains how ideas translate into growth. (video) (LINK)

The Existential Dread of Gmail's Auto-Complete Feature - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Jonathan Tepper on The MoneyWeek Podcast discussing his book The Myth of Capitalism (LINK)

Exponent Podcast: Clumping and Clustering (LINK)

Pivot Podcast: Google doesn’t make iPhones, and other things Congress learned this week (LINK)

The Long Now Podcast -- Niall Ferguson: Networks and Power (LINK)

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Matt Rose: “Less is NOT better” - Railway Age [H/T @oddballstocks] (LINK)

Murray Stahl and Steven Bregman on “Active Voice” (Value Investor Insight) (LINK)

The ETF liquidity question: Can the passive universe hold up in the event of a market crisis? (LINK)

Fed Piles Up $66 Billion in Paper Losses as It Faces Trump Wrath (LINK)

Jamie Dimon's CNBC interview from last week (video) (LINK)

James Grant on CNBC (video) (LINK)

The bright side of Britain’s Brexit chaos - by Sebastian Mallaby (LINK)

Congress May Have Fallen for Facebook’s Trap, but You Don’t Have To (LINK)

The WIRED Guide to 5G (LINK)

Brian McCullough: "How the Internet Happened: from Netscape to the iPhone" | Talks at Google (LINK)

SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell says we'll be on Mars this decade (podcast) (LINK)

Will half of all colleges really close in the next decade? (LINK)

The Viruses That Eavesdrop on Their Hosts - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


"Probably every vice was once a virtue—i.e., a quality making for the survival of the individual, the family, or the group. Man’s sins may be the relics of his rise rather than the stigmata of his fall." --Will and Ariel Durant (The Lessons of History)

How a late night phone call from Warren Buffett in 2008 may have helped save the US economy [H/T Linc] (LINK)

The State of Technology at the End of 2018 - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Rational vs. Reasonable - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Verizon Takes $4.5 Billion Charge Related to Digital Media Business (LINK)

MiMedx Called on Two Lawmakers for Help Before Its Accounting Scandal (LINK)

Exponential Wisdom Podcast: The Future of Real Estate (LINK)

Ezra Klein and Kara Swisher on the future of journalism (LINK)

Bertrand Russell’s Advice For How (Not) to Grow Old: “Make Your Interests Gradually Wider and More Impersonal” (LINK)

The Recurring Dread of a Paralyzing Illness - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


"Post-bubble periods, I think, depending on how big the bubble is and how many were participating in it....can produce fallout that not everyone will be terribly good at predicting." --Warren Buffett (2002 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting)

Surviving the Investing Game - by Vishal Khandelwal (LINK)

CNBC's full interview with Paul Tudor Jones (LINK)

Kyle Bass on Yahoo Finance (video) (LINK)

‘This Too Shall End’: Loews CEO Sees Oil Back at $75 in Two Years (video) (LINK)

Does It Matter Where You Go to College? - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Bryan Krug – High Yield Credit Investing (LINK)

Adam Robinson chats with Shane Parrish on the The Knowledge Project Podcast (Part 1) (LINK)

Sam Altman on the Recode Decode Podcast (LINK)

This Single Idea Will Make You More Resilient And Successful - by Ryan Holiday (LINK)

City Frogs Are the Sexiest Frogs - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day [H/T Will]: Wealth and Families: Lessons from My Life Journey - by Howard Stevenson 

Monday, December 10, 2018


I'm back after attending the Project Punch Card Conference last week. Congratulations to the organizers for putting together a great inaugural event in pursuit of a great cause. And for those that want to receive future updates about the project, you can join its email list HERE.

Boyar Research was one of the sponsors of the conference, and it's that time of year when they are getting ready to publish The Forgotten Forty, which features one-page reports on the forty companies that they believe have the greatest potential to outperform the leading indices in the year ahead due to a catalyst that they see on the horizon. The report has a successful track record and, once again, they're providing a link to receive three complimentary Forgotten Forty reports from last year’s report for readers of this blog.... Link to: Complimentary 3-report sample of The Forgotten Forty


David Abrams, who rarely makes public appearances, lays out his investing strategy — and cautions against being too patient (LINK)
"We make a lot of money from mucking around in the garbage, and we also buy nice shiny things, and we care what we pay for both," he said. 
The firm puts a three- to five-year time horizon on stocks, looking for a minimum return of 15% on its first purchase, he said. 
"There has to be a point sooner than 10 year where you're determining whether you are being successful or not successful," he said.
What You Can Learn From How Warren Buffett's Investment Process Evolved (LINK)

The Housing Boom Is Already Gigantic. How Long Can It Last? - by Robert J. Shiller (LINK)

How Subscriptions Are Remaking Corporate America (LINK)

James Dyson: ‘The Public Wants to Buy Strange Things’ [H/T Collaborative Fund] (LINK)

Elon Musk on 60 Minutes (video) (LINK)

Is there a signal in the noise? Yield Curves, Economic Growth and Stock Prices! - by Aswath Damodaran (LINK)

Lampert's Hedge Fund Makes Bid for Sears Stores and Assets (LINK)

Millennials Didn’t Kill the Economy. The Economy Killed Millennials. - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Outgrowing Advertising: Multimodal Business Models as a Product Strategy (LINK)

What’s Next in Consumer Startups? (video) (LINK)

Why Small Habits Make a Big Difference (LINK)

Jeremy Grantham on the Masters in Business podcast (LINK)

Brent Beshore on the Capital Allocators Podcast (LINK)
Related book: The Messy Marketplace
How I Built This podcast: Airbnb's Joe Gebbia (LINK)

NPR Planet Money podcast: Why Car Safety Is A Trade Barrier (LINK)

Siddhartha Mukherjee talks with Peter Attia (podcast) (LINK)

Origin Stories: Carl Sagan (podcast) (LINK)
The Leakey Foundation's award-winning Origin Stories podcast has returned for its third season. The latest episode is a never-before-released lecture given by Carl Sagan in 1977. In this talk from The Leakey Foundation's archive, Sagan explores the origins and evolution of human intelligence.
Ebola detectives race to identify hidden sources of infection as outbreak spreads (LINK)

When a Killer Climate Catastrophe Struck the World's Oceans (LINK)

Book of the day: How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


"What makes common stock prices so hard to predict is that a general liquid market for common stocks creates, from time to time, either in sectors of the market or in the whole market, a Ponzi scheme. In other words, you have an automatic process where people get sucked in and other people come in because it worked last month or last year. And it can build to perfectly ridiculous levels, and the levels can last for considerable periods. Trying to predict that kind of thing, sort of a Ponzi scheme which is, if you will, accidentally thrown into the valuation of common stocks by just the forces of life, by definition that’s going to be very, very hard to predict. But that’s what makes it so dangerous to short stocks, even when they’re grossly overvalued. It’s hard to know just how overvalued they can become in addition to the overvaluation that exists. " --Charlie Munger (2002 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting)

John Huber's long thesis on Facebook (LINK)

Gabriel Grego's short thesis pitch on Aphria at the Kase Learning Shorting Conference (Video, Slides)

Chris Brown's short thesis pitch on Tilray at the Kase Learning Shorting Conference (Slides)

Morgan Creek Capital Management - Q3 2018 Market Review & Outlook Letter (LINK)

The Absolute Return Letter, December 2018: The Art of Defaulting (LINK)

Eddie Lampert Shattered Sears, Sullied His Reputation, and Lost Billions of Dollars. Or Did He? [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Drip, Drip, Drip - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Hitting the Pause Button - by Frank K. Martin (LINK)

Do I Deserve What I Have? Part II - by Russ Roberts (LINK)

a16z Video: When Advertising Isn’t Enough (LINK)

oGoLead Leadership Podcast: Paul Varga, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Brown Forman (LINK)

It’s Time to Study Whether Eating Particular Diets Can Help Heal Us - by Siddhartha Mukherjee (LINK)

Subtract - by Derek Sivers (LINK)

"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." --Warren Buffett 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


"The key to [Benjamin] Graham’s approach to investing is not thinking of stocks as stocks or part of a stock market. Stocks are part of a business. People in this room own a piece of a business. If the business does well, they’re going to do all right as long as they don’t pay way too much to join into that business....  It doesn’t make any difference to us whether the volatility of the stock market...averages a half a percent a day or a quarter percent a day or 5 percent a day. In fact, we’d make a lot more money if volatility was higher, because it would create more mistakes in the market. So volatility is a huge plus to the real investor.... As an investor, you love volatility. Not if you’re on margin, but if you’re an investor you aren’t on margin. And if you’re an investor, you love the idea of wild swings because it means more things are going to get mispriced." --Warren Buffett (1997 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting)

On Writing Better: Becoming a Writer - by Jason Zweig (LINK)

Aggregators and Jobs-to-be-Done - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Business Insider IGNITION conference video (Day 1) (LINK) [Paul Graham and Drew Houston at 27:55; Dalio at 1:42:45; Scott Galloway at 3:30:25]

Decrypted Podcast: The Secrets Hidden in Our Google Location Data (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Maureen Chiquet – Leadership Through Hard Conversations (LINK)

Do I Deserve What I Have? Part I - by Russ Roberts (LINK)

Situational spending - by Seth Godin (LINK)

The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Monday, December 3, 2018


"For what the investor chiefly wants to learn from an annual report is the indicated earning power under the given set of conditions, i.e., what the company might be expected to earn year after year if the business conditions prevailing during the period were to continue unchanged." --Benjamin Graham and David Dodd (Security Analysis: Sixth Edition)

5 books I loved in 2018 - by Bill Gates (LINK)
The books: 1) Educated: A Memoir - by Tara Westover; 2) Army of None - by Paul Scharre; 3) Bad Blood - by John Carreyrou; 4) 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - by Yuval Noah Harari; 5) The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness - by Andy Puddicombe
Managing Risk and Uncertainty: The Future of Insurance (video) (LINK)

Investors Rev Up the Risk in Subprime Auto Deals (LINK)

What’s Really Happening to Retail? - by Derek Thompson (LINK)

Investing Whiplash: Looking for Closure with Apple and Amazon! - by Aswath Damodaran (LINK)

Jonathan Tepper discusses his book, The Myth of Capitalism, on The Jolly Swagmen Podcast (LINK)

Planet Money Podcast: The Secret Target (LINK)
Their plan was dangerous, risky, and extremely unpopular. But America copied them anyway. Today on the show: how a tiny country on the other side of the world changed how America runs its economy.
Exponent Podcast: Rent-Seeking (LINK)
Ben and James talk about Apple’s case in front of the Supreme Court, and debate whether the company is acting anti-competitively with its App Store policies.
Pivot Podcast: Microsoft is more valuable than Apple again. Why? (LINK)

George H.W. Bush and the Price of Politics - by Jon Meacham (LINK)

Friday, November 30, 2018


"All investment is, is laying out some money now to get more money back in the future. Now, there’s two ways of looking at the getting the money back. One is from what the asset itself will produce. That’s investment. One is from what somebody else will pay you for it later on, irrespective of what the asset produces, and I call that speculation. So, if you are looking to the asset itself, you don’t care about the quote because the asset is going to produce the money for you." --Warren Buffett

Hard Choices: The importance of thoughtful deliberation—and its implications for the future of capitalism - by Seth Klarman [H/T Linc and Will] (LINK)

Bogle Sounds a Warning on Index Funds [H/T Will] (LINK)

Brookfield Pulls Multibillion-Dollar U.K. Deal as Brexit Uncertainty Bites [H/T @rationalwalk] (LINK)

China is underestimating its US$3 trillion dollar debt and this could trigger a financial crisis, says economist [H/T @jasonzweigwsj] (LINK)

The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg  (LINK)

David Rosenberg chats with Meb Faber (podcast) (LINK)

a16z Video: When Software Eats the Real (Estate) World (LINK)

Freakonomics Radio (podcast): Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s? (LINK)

Good news in the fight to stop one of the world’s oldest diseases - By Bill Gates (LINK)

George Church takes a more nuanced view than many scientists on the recently revealed gene editing of human babies (LINK)

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here: What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth? (LINK)

There’s a Spider That Makes Milk - by Ed Yong (LINK)

2.4-Million-Year-Old Stone Tools Turn Up in an Unexpected Place - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Book of the day (released this week): The Model Thinker: What You Need to Know to Make Data Work for You - by Scott E. Page

"Rationality resides in what you do, not in what you think or in what you "believe" (skin in the game).... Rationality is about survival." --Nassim Taleb, "Skin in the Game" [Related previous post: Filters, Beliefs, Survival and Crotchets]

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Brent Beshore's book, The Messy Marketplace: Selling Your Business in a World of Imperfect Buyers, will be released next week. Brent knows that space as well as anyone and, knowing him, I'm sure the book will be filled with plenty of wisdom even for those not selling their businesses. Amazon is also running a promotion for the rest of November where you can get $5 off by using the promo code NOVBOOK18.


Selfish Writing - by Morgan Housel (LINK)

Antitrust, the App Store, and Apple - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Amazon Starts Selling Software to Mine Patient Health Records ($) (LINK)

Amazon May Be Hiding Its Plans to Test New Wireless Tech by Masquerading as a Massage Spa [H/T @pkedrosky] (LINK)

New at Amazon: Its Own Chips for Cloud Computing (LINK)

Inside an Amazon warehouse on Black Friday (LINK)

What’s Next for Marketplace Startups? (LINK)

4 Signs of Short-Term Thinking and Strategies to Overcome Them - by Robert Greene (LINK)

Paul Volcker’s Wisdom for America’s Rigged Economy (LINK)
Related book: Keeping At It
Invest Like the Best Podcast: Hunter Walk – Building Picks and Shovels (LINK)

Chris Voss talks to Cal Fussman (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
Exponential Wisdom Podcast: Accelerating Innovation (LINK)

The Northern Miner Podcast: The year of the lab-created diamond (LINK)

Jonathan Haidt at the LSE discussing his book The Coddling of the American Mind (podcast) (LINK)

The Tim Ferriss Show: LeBron James and His Top-Secret Trainer, Mike Mancias (LINK)

The Tony Robbins Podcast: Do you want to be happy? | Tony, Sage and Michael Singer on breaking patterns and finding inner peace (LINK)
Related book: The Untethered Soul
Beginnings - by Phil Plait (LINK)

“Executive Presence” for Introverts - by Susan Cain (LINK)

Monday, November 26, 2018


"What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.... That is a talent everyone seems to have mastered. And how do we guard ourselves against it? Well, we don’t achieve it perfectly. I mean, Charlie and I have made big mistakes because, in effect, we have been unwilling to look afresh at something.... That happens. [But] I think that reporting on yourself, and giving the report honestly, whether you do it through an annual report or do it through some other mechanism, is very useful....[And] I would say a partner, who is not subservient, and who himself is extremely probably the best mechanism you can have." --Warren Buffett

Why Warren Buffett is big on big banks (LINK)

What to look for while reading the annual report? (LINK)


On Writing Better: Sharpening Your Tools - by Jason Zweig (Part 2 of 3) (LINK)

Battling Entropy: Making Order of the Chaos in Our Lives (LINK)

U.S. Pension Funds Turn to Riskier Real-Estate Bets ($) (LINK)

Overdoses, bedsores, broken bones: What happened when a private-equity firm sought to care for society’s most vulnerable (LINK)

James Grant reviews Paul Volcker's book, Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government (LINK)

An Interview with Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman (video) (LINK)

Where Jonathan Haidt thinks the American mind went wrong (podcast) (LINK)
Related book: The Coddling of the American Mind
Birds Rub Ants on Themselves, and No One Knows Exactly Why (LINK)

Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies (LINK)

A Reckless and Needless Use of Gene-Editing on Human Embryos - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


"Progress often comes from people who often came from life-circumstances that seemed impossible.... People who because of adversity, not in spite of it, have an inextinguishable flame that gets lit. This propulsive force—resilience—that against the seemingly impossible makes great achievement inevitable. And it makes the bad stuff of great adversity often lead to the good stuff of great ambition and achievement." --Josh Wolfe

Josh Wolfe's 2018 Lux Annual Dinner Talk (audio/video....and really fantastic) (LINK)

An Evolve-or-Die Moment for the World's Great Investors [H/T Linc] (LINK)
The dominance of tech stocks has forced some of the best investing minds—including Warren Buffett himself—to reexamine their thinking. Who will adapt and survive?
Why “Many-Model Thinkers” Make Better Decisions [H/T @mjmauboussin] (LINK)

Late Cycle Behavior (LINK)

The Predatory Lending Machine Crushing Small Businesses Across America [H/T @pkedrosky] (LINK)

Energy Losses Prompt Emotional Video to Options Firm’s Clients ($) (LINK)

Inside Elon Musk’s Forgotten Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo (LINK)

The Sun's long-lost sibling found in our own backyard - by Phil Plait (LINK)

The History of the Oceans Is Locked in Whale Earwax - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Monday, November 19, 2018


"Usually if [companies] can gain competitive advantage very quickly, you have to worry about them losing it quickly, too.... When an industry is in flux, there are a lot of people that think they’re the survivors, or the ones that are going to prosper, where it turns out otherwise." --Warren Buffett (2002)

On Writing Better: Getting Started - by Jason Zweig (Part 1) (LINK)

Which American industries are most in danger of monopoly? (LINK)

Annie Duke – Thinking More in Bets (Capital Allocators Podcast) (LINK)

5 Principles for Making Better Life Decisions - by Mark Manson (LINK)

If you want to understand Silicon Valley, watch Silicon Valley - by Bill Gates (LINK)

For 4,000 Years, Termites Have Been Building Something Incredible in Brazil - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Psychology's Replication Crisis Is Running Out of Excuses - by Ed Yong (LINK)


For Audible members, Audible's latest sale has some titles of note. Some of the ones that stood out to me are below...

The Intelligent Investor

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Bruce Lee: A Life

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

The Goal

The Innovator's Dilemma

The Startup Way

Influence: Science and Practice

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Red Notice


An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

The Gene: An Intimate History

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Saturday, November 17, 2018


From Gene Editing to A.I., How Will Technology Transform Humanity? (LINK)
Five big thinkers — Regina Barzilay, George Church, Jennifer Egan, Catherine Mohr and Siddhartha Mukherjee — puzzle over the future of the future.
The end of the beginning (video) (LINK)
In his now annual state-of-innovation talk at the a16z Summit in November 2018, Andreessen Horowitz’ Benedict Evans walks through where we are now in software eating the world… and how things may continue to change over the next 10 years.
Thoughts and notes from Liberty Investor Day 2018 (LINK)

Facebook and the Age of Manipulation - by Evan Osnos (LINK)

Pivot Podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway: Facebook’s dirty tricks (LINK)

The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” (LINK)

A massive change: Nations redefine the kilogram [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Rosetta Stones

Discovered in 1799, "the Rosetta Stone proved to be the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, thereby opening a window into ancient Egyptian history."

A simple thing, a stone inscribed with three texts, led to a complete revelation in being able to understand the great civilization that was ancient Egypt. 

I bring this up because of a comment Warren Buffett made in 2002 that I've been thinking a lot about lately: 
I read Ben [Graham]’s book in 1949 when I was at University of Nebraska, and that actually just changed my whole view of investing. And it really did, basically, told me to think about a stock as a part of a business. 
Now, that seems so obvious. You can say, you know, that why should you regard that as the Rosetta Stone? But it is a Rosetta Stone, in a sense. 
Once you crank into your mental apparatus that you’re not looking at things that wiggle up and down on charts, or that people send you little missives on, you know, saying buy this because it’s going up next week, or it’s going to split, or the dividend’s going to get increased, or whatever, but instead you’re buying a business. 
You’ve now set a foundation for going on and thinking rationally about investing.
In another description of this investing Rosetta Stone, Allan Mecham, portfolio manager and partner at Arlington Value Capital, put in this way in a 2016 interview with The Manual of Ideas that I think sums it up well:
I approach investing like I’m buying the business outright and retaining management. This mindset ties valuation to understanding and forces me to think through qualitative factors and potential threats to long-term earnings power. It also effectively winnows the field of potential investments, as I’m incapable of gaining confidence in most businesses. 
For those investors that invest like the above, viewing stocks as businesses not only serves as a Rosetta Stone for thinking rationally about the relationship between price and value, but it also serves as a guide to one's preparation and to the type of professional network one may want to build, among other things.

In an answer to the same question in 2002, Charlie Munger gave a more generalized answer, which also serves as a Rosetta Stone for going through both investing and life: 
If you have a passionate interest in knowing why things are happening, you always are trying to figure out the world in terms of why is this happening or why is this not happening, that cast of mind, kept over long periods, gradually improves your ability to cope with reality. 
And if you don’t have that cast of mind, I think you’re destined, probably, for failure, even if you’ve got a pretty high IQ. 
And the more I think about it, there are probably all kinds of Rosetta Stones in life—simple things that, if discovered, can completely change one's understanding of something, and potentially change the work being done and the path on which it is being done.

For me, the wisdom of the Stoics to only focus on the things under one's control is a Rosetta Stone, as is Buffett's emphasis on having an inner scorecard:
You always want to consider your inner scorecard – how you feel about your own performance and success. You should worry more about how well you perform rather than how well the rest of the world perceives your performance. 
What are your Rosetta Stones as it relates to investing, business, life, relationships, etc.? For those that also think this through and would like to share, feel free to pass along your thoughts. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018


"You may delay, but Time will not." --Ben Franklin

Berkshire invests in JPMorgan, Oracle as Buffett puts cash to work (LINK)

The GE End Game: Bataan Death March or Turnaround Play? - by Aswath Damodaran (LINK)

CNBC's full interview with Ray Dalio (~16 minutes) (LINK)

Short-seller Bass says China needs 'reset' as Trump talks tariffs (LINK)

Is there a financial time bomb in sight? - by Sebastian Mallaby (LINK)

Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis (LINK)

Who does Facebook fire after a bombshell New York Times investigation? (LINK)

Michael Lewis, whose books often highlight the growing role of data, sees the opportunity in trucking [H/T Linc] (LINK)

4 Strategies For Becoming a Master Persuader - by Robert Greene (LINK)

Deep freeze impact: Scientists find a huge asteroid impact crater under Greenland’s ice (LINK)

A Bold New Strategy for Stopping the Rise of Superbugs - by Ed Yong (LINK)

"A Change of Fortune hurts a wise Man no more than a Change of the Moon." --Ben Franklin

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


CNBC's full interview with John Malone (~55 minutes) (LINK)

Real Vision has made the full interview with Stanley F. Druckenmiller, which was filmed in early September, freely available for all (LINK)

How This All Happened - by Morgan Housel (LINK)
The story of how America evolved from 1945 to 2018.
How Warren Buffett Is Expanding His Overseas Real Estate Empire [H/T Linc] (LINK)

Why I love fertilizer - by Bill Gates (LINK)

How to Weigh Your Options and Decide Wisely: Benjamin Franklin’s Pioneering Pros and Cons Framework (LINK)

How Amazon Picked HQ2 and Jilted 236 Cities ($) (LINK)

A Reckoning With the Dark Side of the Restaurant Industry ($) [H/T @trengriffin] (LINK)
On the other hand, young cooks’ heightened expectations don’t always take into account low wages or difficult labor, restaurateurs say. Dreams of fame and fortune have driven growth in culinary schools and programs and encouraged thousands of students to finance this education with debt. 
Last year, 672 culinary programs were accredited by the ACF, compared with roughly 100 in 1998, Ms. Brust says. More than 39,000 students matriculated from two-year or four-year culinary degree programs accredited by the ACF last year. Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the creation of only 14,100 new chef and head-cook jobs by 2026. There will be 10 times as many “cook” jobs, but these pay half as much. 
Restaurant cooks make a median wage of $12.10 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Culinary-school graduates are no exception, even at top-tier restaurants in expensive cities, a number of restaurateurs say. While some top chefs can earn six figures, the median annual wage for chefs and head cooks is $45,950, according to the BLS.
Focused Compounding Podcast: Talking MicroCap Investing with MicroCapClub's Ian Cassel (LINK)

Capital Allocators Podcast: Michael Lombardi – Leadership Through Football (LINK)
Related book: Gridiron Genius
Seth Godin talks about his new book on his podcast (LINK)

Jocko Podcast 151: How to Really Implement Change. Different Leadership Styles. Balancing Discipline. Different Jiu Jitsu Styles. (LINK)

The Myth Of the Traumatized Neanderthal - by Ed Yong (LINK)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


"Human history is a fragment of biology. Man is one of countless millions of species and, like all the rest, is subject to the struggle for existence and the competition of the fittest to survive. All psychology, philosophy, statesmanship, and utopias must make their peace with these biological laws. Man can be traced to about a million years before Christ. Agriculture can be traced no farther back than to 25,000 B.C. Man has lived forty times longer as a hunter than as a tiller of the soil in a settled life. In those 975,000 years his basic nature was formed and remains to challenge civilization every day." --Will Durant, "Heroes of History"

How mobile phones are helping farmers grow bigger harvests - by Bill Gates (LINK)

How Google and Amazon Got So Big Without Being Regulated (LINK)
Related book: The Curse of Bigness
Record Biotech IPO May Be Worth the $7 Billion - by Charley Grant ($) (LINK)
Moderna is slated to offer the largest biotech IPO on record, and a $7 billion valuation isn’t as crazy as it sounds
Mohnish Pabrai's keynote speech at the 8th Morningstar Investment Conference in Mumbai, India (video) (LINK)

Invest Like the Best Podcast: Cliff Asness – The Past, The Present & Future of Quant  (LINK)

Grant’s Current Yield Podcast: Curated content (LINK)

6 Biases Holding You Back From Rational Thinking - by Robert Greene (LINK)
Related book: The Laws of Human Nature
TED Talk: My journey to thank all the people responsible for my morning coffee | AJ Jacobs (LINK)

Released today: This Is Marketing - by Seth Godin (who also reads the audiobook)

Monday, November 12, 2018


How an Intelligence Expert Helps Wall Street Mavens Think Smarter (LINK)

Defensive Decision Making: What IS Best v. What LOOKS Best (LINK)

Balance Is Underrated - by Sean Iddings (LINK)

How One Family Built $8 Billion Startup Far From Silicon Valley (LINK)

The Experience Economy - by Ben Thompson (LINK)

Inside John Malone’s World ($ Barron's) (LINK)

Productivity Growth II: Can the U.S. Economy Stay Airborne Without It? - by Frank Martin (LINK)

Marathon's Richards Has a Recession Warning for Overleveraged Companies (video) [H/T @valueshadow] (LINK)

Has the “Everything Bubble” begun to deflate everything? (LINK)

Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid. - by Tim Wu (LINK)
Related book (just released): The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age
Ray Dalio on the Masters in Business podcast (LINK)

Ray Dalio reflects on today’s great powers and how they will handle their deep-seated differences (LINK)

Inside Bill Browder’s War Against Putin (LINK)

The next great war - by Graham Allison (LINK)