Sunday, December 25, 2011 1 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Conversation Between Reed Hastings and Michael Eisner (Feb 2010)

Here's a really good video from 2010 of a conversation at Churchill Club between Reed Hastings and Michael Eisner.

Michael Eisner is the former CEO of Walt Disney and, although he is a bit past his peak and semi-retired, he is still worth listening for his experienced views. 

Reed Hastings is the CEO of Netflix (NFLX) and although considered by some to be the worst CEO of the year (for some strategic blunders), I still think he is one of the top CEOs in Silicon Valley. I am always impressed with Hastings and I think he is sort of like a Bill Gates, in that he is a visionary who understands not just technology but the business environment.

A lot of topics are covered in this discussion: technology, media, entrepreneurship, public education, corporate culture, you-name-it. I highly recommend it if you are interested in any of those topics. There are a lot of interesting issues discussed, including, compensation for executives, Netflix's unlimited-vacation policy, how the early DVD-mail-order Netflix chose an area that didn't compete with the early Amazon, how Eisner is not a fan of acquisitions, why Netflix didn't pursue video game rentals, and how the video industry may evolve.



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Classic Value Investing vs Buffett-Prime Investing

If you pursue the value investing framework, one of the key decisions you have to make is whether you want to be a, what I call, classic value investor; or a Buffett-Prime investor. In my mind, a classic value investor largely follows an asset-oriented strategy influenced by Benjamin Graham; whereas a Buffett-Prime-type investor follows an earnings-power-oriented strategy, influenced by Charlie Munger, Philip Fisher, and Warren Buffett of the 1970's.

Some might say Buffett-Prime-type investing is the same as growth investing but I don't like to call it growth investing. The reason is because there is a whole genre of investing called growth investing that appears to be not based on any value investing principles. There are many growth investors, including some successful ones, who don't pay much attention to financial statements (some may call them medium-term traders). For instance, there are many who will form a bullish or bearish opinion of, say, a stock like Google (GOOG) without even looking at the financial statements or having any idea of its financial metrics. In my mind, value investing, which can also be called fundamental investing, must focus on financial statements. That's why I don't like to use the notion of growth investing on this blog.

Of course, I'm painting with a broad brush here and as Buffett and others have said in the past, growth investing and value investing are joined at the hip. Nevertheless, I like to separate them out.

Most of you, especially the newbies, should probably focus on one approach. I am trying to target more of a Buffett-Prime approach but one isn't necessarily better than the other. If you are really good, you can probably pursue both approaches but, otherwise, the skillsets for the approaches are very different.

So what are some key differences between the two styles?

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Sunday Spectacle CLIV



Credit: "Toronto Christmas Market" by dtstuff9. Edited by Sivaram Velauthapillai
Location: Distillery District, Toronto, Canada
Downloaded from flickr on December 25, 2011.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011 2 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Netflix's Reed Hastings Being Interviewed by Charlie Rose (from 2005 and 2011)

I have been researching Netflix (NFLX) lately and checked out some Charlie Rose interviews with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. One of the interviews is from December 27, 2005 and the other one is from earlier this year.

Although his star has faded recently, Reed Hastings is one of the visionaries in Silicon Valley. Not only did he build up Netflix, a DVD rental and video streaming service, but he is also very knowledgeable about technology. If you are interested in technology, media, or education—he has some thoughts on education—check out the 2005 interview. I found the 2005 interview quite insightful and it is quite impressive to see him hit the targets his laid out back then.

The recent video from May 4, 2011 is more narrow and is probably best for those who are interested in media, online streaming, and technology. Unfortunately, it seems that Charlie Rose doesn't allow recent content to be embedded so click on this link for the 2011 interview.

As usual, Charlie Rose, arguably the best interviewer in America, shows his skill with excellent interview questions. He cuts off Reed Hastings a few times, in order to keep the discussion going, but overall, the questions were great.

Charlie Rose Interview with Reed Hastings
(December 27, 2005)


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 1 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Crime Never Pays

(Copyright Parker Brothers. Download source.)

(This post was partially written about two months back so some additional details confirming the story have emerged in the last few weeks. The main story remains the same.)

Crime never really pays. Sooner or later, criminals get caught — not all the time, of course, but most of the time (in countries with adequate policing, with "decent" culture and legal system). One big reason criminals don't get away is because it's hard to cover the tracks. There are just too many things that can go wrong when trying to mask a crime's evidence.

Such is the case with the Japanese electronics company, Olympus.

Readers may recall a post from a while back, pointing out how the CEO of Olympus was fired within 2 weeks of being hired. Things looked puzzling at that time and the story kept getting interesting by the minute — assuming you are not a shareholder of Olympus, of course.

Over the last month, the fired CEO revealed that Olympus had carried out questionable financial transactions. It appears that Olympus engaged in questionable deals totalling $1.4 billion, including $687 million paid as advisory fees in a takeover (the fees were exorbitant and make no sense for that deal).

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Poll: How do you like the new layout template?

I posted a poll on the right-hand side of this blog at the top. The question is about how well you like the new template. If you typically visit my website for your content, vote. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment. Thanks.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Updated to New "Glory" Template

Not sure what caused my prior template to fail all of a sudden but whatever it was, it was probably a good thing. I'm one of those who just sits on ideas and need to be pushed sometimes. I upgraded to a new template called Glory. Thanks to the creator for making this template available for free. The upgrade gave me the opportunity to try out some stuff.

I decided to go for a cleaner look. It's still not a truly professional look and I didn't want that since they all look similar. Since this is a personal blog, it allows me to experiment.

Hope all the readers like it. It should be easier on the eyes.

As usual with any technology upgrade (in this case pretty simple), the older posts may be messed up. Also, if you notice any problems let me know.

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Sunday Spectacle CLIII

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Thursday, December 15, 2011 6 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

My thoughts on Moody's downgrade of Ontario's outlook

Ontario, my home province, is startling to resemble a mini-Greece :( Moody's sends a warning shot by downgrading Ontario's outlook to negative. The Globe & Mail reports,

Moody's Investors Services has turned its wary eye from the basket cases of Europe to Ontario, revising its outlook to "negative" from "stable" and issuing a stern warning on the province's hefty debt burden.

The decision, Moody's said in a statement, reflects the risks surrounding the province's ability to meet its medium-term fiscal targets. It noted the recent slowing of economic growth.

"The negative outlook on the province reflects the softening economic outlook, Ontario's growing debt burden, and the extended time frame to achieving a balanced budget," Moody's analyst Jennifer Wong said.

In his November statement, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan revised his forecasts for economic growth for both this year and next, a significant downgrade to just 1.8 per cent in each year, compared to earlier projections of 2.4 per cent 2.7 per cent.

The government plans to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18, which will require it to rein in growth in program spending. The deficit is forecast to reach $16-billion this fiscal year.

...


"Expense growth leading up to the recent downturn was relatively robust, highlighting the challenge ahead. Indeed, expense growth averaged 7 per cent annually in the five years to 2007-08, with health expenses having grown at an average of 8 per cent. The fiscal plan presented in the 2011-12 budget assumed expense growth of roughly 2 per cent annually for the duration of the plan."
According to the 2010-2011 Annual Report for Ontario, the net debt to GDP stands at 34.9%, while net debt per capita is $16,238. Shown below are some important charts from that report.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2011 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Characteristics of original video content for online streaming providers

I have been researching Netflix (NFLX) lately and I ran across a good interview from earlier in the year that described the differences between original content being financed by online streaming providers like Netflix versus traditional television companies. By original content I'm referring to sourcing of content in the first window (i.e. you are the first one to show it).

Although online streaming companies are not financing much original content—Netflix is only allocating around 15% of its content budget to original content and Hulu Plus and YouTube have only spent small amounts on original content—I think it may change over time, if streaming customers are willing to pay for original content. So far, judging by the customer backlash over Netflix raising prices earlier in the year, as well as the lack of sizeable deals by YouTube—YouTube has something like 140 million unique viewers and it still hasn't been able to spend $100+ million on original content—it is probably safe to say that customers are unwilling to pay for original content. But this may change.

The interview was carried out by AllThingsD's Peter Kafka with Netflix's content chief, Ted Sarandos, answering the questions. Netflix had just signed an original content deal to produce David Fincher's House of Cards. Original quality content is expensive and Netflix spent around $100 million for 26 episodes over two seasons (this is very expensive for Netflix).

(As is usual on this blog, I typically bold text in the quotes that are interesting.)

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Sunday, December 11, 2011 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Sunday Spectacle CLII


Digital Economy's Shifting Industry Profits





(source:  “Profit Migration in the Digital Economy,” by David Standridge and Christopher Pencavel, Booz & Company white paper, August 2011, www.booz.com/profit-migration)


Sorry about the small fonts (I hate extracting from the booz&co reports since they aren't designed for online layouts). In any case, this is an important chart for those interested in the digital economy. Certainly any investor in the various industries that represent the 'digital economy' should pay attention to how the market is developing. Even if you don't invest in these companies, you may find the material interesting since the digital economy will play an integral role in society.

The chart from a booz&co report (read the full report for more info) illustrates how the digital economy, which includes numerous different types of industries, ranging from content creators, to service providers to software and hardware, has changed over the last 8 years. The authors picked 2002 as a starting point in order to avoid the distorting effects from the dot-com bust (I agree with their starting point decision).

One important thing to note is that the whole market is expanding so even though, say, service providers actually earn less of the total profit share, they are still bigger than they were 8 years ago. However, the declining share may indicate that the industry is saturated and has hit early-maturity.

The big increase in profitability came from Internet software and services, and from devices. The former, which includes companies like Amazon, Yahoo! and Ebay, used to post losses 8 years ago but are profitable now. A category that seemed like it had no hope back in the early 2000's, is now profitable and healthy.

The devices segment grew largely due to Apple. I never would have imagined that devices would do so well. Not only are hardware components easily duplicated by competitors, hence margins are always under threat, I also never would have expected any of them to overcome the deflationary price effect in hardware (typically hardware costs fall over time but Apple has maintained pricing for the most).

The big losers were the content providers. These are companies like Time Warner, Disney and Washington Post, who are struggling to find a business model that works in the digital economy.

It is always important to figure out which segments are profitable for investors. In any value chain, some segments are more attractive (from an ownership perspective) than others. For instance, if you look at soft drinks, a company like Coca-Cola or Pepsi earn most of the profits (and hence is attractive to investors) than the liquid supplier or bottler or distributor or the local grocery store that sells the drink. You could have made a correct bullish call on cola 80 years ago, but only certain segments were highly rewarding for investors. Since the cola market was expanding, you would still have been ok if you were the syrup ingredient supplier, but you wouldn't have been very rich. But if you bought one share of Coca-Cola 80 years ago...

In the digital value chain, content producers are losing big time right now, while content aggregators and distributors are making a killing. It's not clear to me if this is a permanent trend or if producers will gain power as the market develops. As the booz&co report mentions, entities closest to the consumer gained value while those furthest from consumers lost value (relatively speaking). Does this mean investors should favour the consumer-facing companies? Something to think about.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011 1 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Jim Chanos on China and the bear case for Agriculture Bank of China

Same old, same old so skip it if you are familiar with the China short thesis... but the following CNBC interview does provide some insight into what happened in China in the past. In particular, Jim Chanos talks about one of his short positions, Agriculture Bank of China, and how its balance sheet is not quite what it seems.

Thanks to ValueWalk for bringing this video to my attention (there are an additional two on that site).


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Some thoughts from Jeremy Grantham's Fourth-quarter Letter

(Not sure what's wrong my blog template; it seems to be messed up. Oh well...)

Most of you probably already read this but if not, here are some interesting points Jeremy Grantham made in his GMO 4Q 2011 Letter (if you have never heard of Jeremy Grantham and are macro-oriented, you should definitely put his quarterly letters on your reading list):

Well, 15 years ago, Ben Inker and I designed a model to explain (not predict) the ebbs and fl ows of the P/E ratio. It had a surprisingly high explanatory power. We found that everything that made investors feel comfortable worked. That is to say, it was a behavioral model. Fundamentals like growth rates did not work. The two (out of three) most important drivers were profit margins and inflation.
The seemingly unsustainable profit margins is what keeps some who are bearish, like me, on the sidelines. Graham (elsewhere in the letter) feels that normal weight in equities is ok but I'm not so sure.

The long-term behaviour of stocks is so out-of-whack, compared to the past that one may want to be really cautious.
Historians would notice that all major equity bubbles (like those in the U.S. in 1929 and 1965 and in Japan in 1989) broke way below trend line values and stayed there for years. Greenspan, neurotic about slight economic declines while at the same time coasting on Volcker’s good work, introduced an era of effective overstimulation of markets that resulted in 20 years of overpriced markets and abnormally high profi t margins. In this, Greenspan has been aided by Bernanke, his acolyte, who has continued his dangerous policy. The first of the two great bubbles that broke on their watch did not reach trend at all in 2002, and the second, in 2009 – known by us as the first truly global bubble – took only three months to recover to trend. This pattern is unique. Now, with wounded balance sheets, perhaps the arsenal is empty and the next bust may well be like the old days. GMO has looked at the 10 biggest bubbles of the pre-2000 era and has calculated that it Quarterly Letter – Shortest Quarterly Letter – December 2011 3 GMO typically takes 14 years to recover to the old trend. An important point here is that almost no current investors have experienced this more typical 1970’s-type market setback. When one of these old fashioned but typical declines occurs, professional investors, conditioned by our more recent ephemeral bear markets, will have a permanent built-in expectation of an imminent recovery that will not come.
 The risk with overvalued markets is not that a real threat will harm equity prices; rather, it will give an excuse for the market to sell off. Most people who own assets probably know they are overvalued and then will just head for the exits at any sign of smoke.

I have a horrible record so don't listen to me blindly but I think we are vulnerable to a correction similar to the 1966-1974 period. By this, I'm not referring the size of any decline or the type of stocks that are vulnerable; instead, I'm referring to market declines without any serious problems. The economy may not have been ideal but it was fine during that period; inflation was high but nothing like what was in store later in the decade; yet the market kept weakening.

As Grantham and others have pointed out many times, major bear markets always over-shoot for a sizeable period of time. I have a hard time imagining that the bear market that started in 2000 (in my view) will end without overshooting on the downside.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011 26 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Warren Buffett's Evolution and his Three Investment Styles

A Young Warren Buffett

In a comment to one of my posts, Mark Carter, who incidentally appears to have a good blog worth checking out, asked:

"Buffett Prime is 1970's to early 1990's"

Could you elaborate?

I have vaguely indicated how I view Warren Buffett in the past, but I thought I would detail my view of his investing behaviour. This is more of an opinion piece and many others would disagree with me (if you do, I'm curious to hear your thoughts). I don't follow Warren Buffett as closely as many value investors so I may get some facts wrong.

My view is that Warren Buffett went through three different phases, with each consisting of different investment techniques. The overall investment theory remained the same—what people call value investing—but his execution, tactics, and strategy differs across the three phases. Some people may break up his career into additional periods but my feeling is that the three I will describe essentially captures the styles.

I should also mention that I'm painting with a broad brush and some elements overlap across periods. Furthermore, certain investment techniques, such as special situation investing (such as risk arbitrage), has been carried out by Buffett over his entire life; what I am describing is his core investment technique.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Interview with Reed Hastings of Netflix (req: free registration)

I have been following Netflix (NFLX) as a potential investment for a few months now and I ran across an audio interview with Reed Hastings that you may be interested in. Anyone interested in the company (or the online-video/television/cable/media markets) should check out the audio broadcast linked below. Unfortunately, it requires free registration and I can't link to it.

UBS 39th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference - Discussion with Reed Hastings of Netflix

(if link doesn't work, try going here and going through the free registration)

Reed Hastings rarely gives public presentations and, although many people think he is the worst CEO in America right now ;), I think he knows his stuff. Not only did he build up Netflix, but he is also a visionary who is closer to an Internet entrepreneur than 'old media.' He just needs to signficantly improve his capital allocation skills ;)

I don't usually post about media stories requiring registration—although now that I'm not Twitter, I might tweet about them in the future—but this is such an interesting discussion. Not only does Hastings talk about Netflix itself, but some of his thoughts on how online streaming is akin to electrification of rural America in the 1930's/1940's, and how fiber to the home is going to result in very-fast, and potentially very cheap, Internet connections is insightful. I also found his suggestion that media may turn into a global business—like Facebook, YouTube—because of the accessibility of Internet quite interesting. It's a subtle point but I never realized how cable/satellite television is very localized while Internet video streaming likely won't be.

Having said all this, I still think Netflix is pursuing a very risky strategy, like many young companies do. They are spending a fortune—about $1 billion to $2 billion—on content in the hope of having customers i.e. build out the business before others enter the market. Well, if you were an America pioneer in the 1600's, you might like this strategy but otherwise, it's not for the faint of heart. Reed Hastings says that online streaming is a secular trend that will see continuous growth (sort of like mobile phones) but it remains to be seen if Netflix can capture those customers.

Reed Hastings also says that HBO Go is Netflix's biggest near-term competitor, yet my read of his shareholder letter from a month ago was that it was MVPD (multi-channel video programming distribution e.g. legacy cable television provider) that was the big threat. In any case, I agree with Hastings' point in the interview that companies like Amazon or Apple haven't shown that they are willing to spend the amount of money Netflix is spendong on content (about $1 billion to $2 billion) and hence likely won't be big competitors (I also think shareholders of those technology companies will likely block those companies from pursuing the media business since media companies tend to have lower ROE and different business characteristics).

In any case, I can see why investors bid up Netflix to some ridiculous price over the last few years. The 'big picture story' is very tempting.

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Something to watch... Australia potentially slowing down

The Globe & Mail reports on the possibility of Australia slowing down:

The boom Down Under may soon be over.

Australia’s central bank has cut its benchmark lending rate for the second time in as many months, confirming fears that Europe’s debt crisis and a slowdown in China are threatening the resource-driven economy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its cash rate by 25 basis points to 4.25 per cent, Tuesday. That followed a similar reduction in November.

Much like Canada, Australia was a global leader among developed countries in weathering the 2008 financial crisis. A stable banking system, coupled with demand from China and other Asian nations for its commodities such as oil, iron ore and coal, helped Australia endure the downturn.
Why is this important? Because it could be an early signal to a potential global slowdown.

While about 70 per cent of Australia’s exports are destined for Asia, a struggling Europe and potential collapse of the European Union was also a factor in the bank’s decision to reduce rates.

“The likelihood of a further material slowing in global growth has increased,” Mr. Stevens, said. “China’s growth has been slowing, as policy makers there had intended. Trade in Asia is now, however, seeing some effects of a significant slowing in economic activity in Europe.”

Troubles for Australia’s economy could signal comparable problems in Canada. With a similar sized population as well as a resource-heavy economy, Canada, like Australia, has a lofty property market that has yet to suffer a significant correction.
The  author is quite correct in pointing out that Canada may also suffer a similar slowdown.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Sunday Spectacle CLI

Steve Jobs on Life


(h/t: "The Secret of Life from Steve Jobs in 46 Seconds" by Maria Popova. Brain Pickings)

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Saturday, December 3, 2011 2 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Articles to start off the last month of 2011

The year is almost done... hope everyone has had a good year. Now that I'm Twittering, a lot of the articles will be duplicates for any Twitter follower.

  • (Highly Recommended) John Paulson's arbitrage notes (Anh Hoang): John Paulson, before he became popular for short-selling mortgage bonds, was a successful risk arbitrageur. Special situations investing is something that amateur investors should look at.
  • (Recommended) Charlie Rose interviews superinvestor Seth Klarman (CanadianValue for GuruFocus): Arguably the top value investor in the world right now, Seth Klarman rarely gives interviews so you should check this out. However, unfortunately, there isn't anything insightful about investing in the interview. One thing Klarman does point out is that he is still a Graham-type investor whereas Buffett has moved on to a, what I call, 'modern Buffett' investing style. The style that I aspire to is what I call 'Buffett Prime'. Roughly speaking, I would say Graham-type Warren Buffett spanned up to late 1960's; Buffett Prime is 1970's to early 1990's; and modern Buffett is late 90's to present (these are just rough dates without deep analysis). My impression of amateur value-oriented Buffett-aspiring investors (from blogs, message boards, etc) is that probably 50% are Graham-type; maybe 25% are modern Buffett; 15% are Buffett Prime; and 10% are a complicated mix.
  • Bullish article on Netflix that touches all the bear arguments (Fortune): Anyone interested in Netflix or new media should check it out.
  • "Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web" (Fortune): Amazing that Facebook has such high number of unique visitors... never would have imagined.
  • Is the Buffett premium dissapearing? (The Globe & Mail): Berkshire Hathaway shares have been off lately and is the market re-pricing Berkshire Hathaway to remove the Buffett premium? For those not familiar, Buffett premium refers the above-typical prices paid by investors for Berkshire Hathaway shares in order to own a company run by the best investor of modern time. According to some, conglomerates should be traded at a discount due to their opaqueness and diverse, non-synergistic, asset holdings, yet Berkshire Hathaway was generally more expensive than a typical conglomerate.
  • "Are banks good businesses?" (Fortune): It's not easy to figure out if a bank is a really good business.
  • Economics of the NBA league (Freakonomics): Interesting article on the economic considerations of the negotiations between the owners and the players. Check it out if you are into the economics of sports.
  • (Recommended) "Are Corporate Balance Sheets Really the Strongest in History?" (Hussman Funds):  John Hussman presents his thoughts on the situation in Europe, along with an examination of the strength of corporate balance sheets in America. I disagree with Hussman and share the same view as the consensus that corporate balance sheets of non-financial corporations are indeed strong. Some of the data supports Hussman's skepticism of the strength of balance sheets but some are inconclusive. For instance, tangible assets to total assets has been declining because of, I believe, the collapse of manufacturing (which tended to have high fixed assets) and the rise of service industries like financial services, computer software, Internet services, and many areas within "information technology." I still think any adverse outcome for equities in America and Canada is more likely to come from the extremely weak consumer balance sheet and, to a smaller degree, government financial issues, than from inherent weakness in coporate balance sheets (this view doesn't apply to financial firms, whose balance sheets are extremely weak IMO.)
  • "After Massive Job Cuts, Wall Street's a Different Place" (Bloomberg Businessweek): "Around the globe, more than 220,000 financial service positions are slated to disappear this year. They won't necessarily come back." My feeling has been that the financial services industry was way too big so, as painful as it is for the workers impacted, it was inevitable and possibly good for the economy in the long-run.
  • Detroit finances near collapse (Bloomberg): Detroit's finances are so bad that the state of Michigan is contemplating "taking over" the city. Although Detroit has unique problems due to the collapse of auto manufacturing, this could be a precursor to what may happen in several other overly-indebted and fiscally-weak cities and municipalities in other parts of USA (and maybe even Canada in the future :( ).
  • (Recommended) Book review - Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back by Robert Levine (Brain Pickings): Interesting essay that tackles whether free content on the Internet is destroying the culture business. A lot of jobs are being lost, and companies are being destroyed (think of newspapers and magazines) but is this for the worst? The situation reminds me of when printing press was invented and artisans and craftsmen lost their jobs when books went from carefully prepared, rich, manuscripts to mass-produced goods. There was a painful adjustment period but it's blatantly obvious that it was for the better.
  • Sino-forest just as murky as before the accusations (The Globe & Mail): Potential fraud, Sino Forest, released the independent committe's report on the fraud allegations by short-seller, Carson Block of Muddy Waters. Not surprisingly, nothing concrete came out of the report and it's still not clear what Sino Forest's business model is and who actually owns what. In particular, it is still not clear if Sino Forest actually owns the trees that it claims it does.
  • (non-investing) Can computers ever think like humans? (Philosophy Now): "Namit Arora considers the complexity of consciousness and its implications for artificial intelligence."
  • (non-investing) Ten classic book gift ideas for the intellectual (Brain Pickings): Classics for those who like to think.
  • (non-investing) From 'Brothers Grimm' to 'Stuck,' the 11 Best Picture Books of 2011 (Brain Pickings via The Atlantic): Picture books, including some kids-oriented ones.
  • (Recommended) (non-investing) "The 11 Best Art and Design Books of 2011" (Brain Pickings): If you want to give some book gifts, or just want to entertain yourself with visual books, check out this list.

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