Sunday, February 27, 2011 0 comments

Sunday Spectacle CXI

Mobile Operating System Lifespans

(source: "The lives and deaths of mobile platforms," Asymco.com, February 19, 2011, 2:44PM)


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Saturday, February 26, 2011 0 comments

Some articles for the weekend

Some of these articles are really old—in general, don't always assume I post current articles since I have a habit of reading old ones—but think some of you may find them interesting.

  • (Highly Recommended) GuruFocus interviews Bruce Greewald (GuruFocus): Some people don't like Bruce Greenwald, professor of finance and asset management at Columbia University, but I'm a fan of him (although I don't really use his methodologies).
  • (Recommended) Book Excerpt/Adaptation - The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do (The New York Times): Adapted from a book by Eduardo Porter, this article provides a look at a modern problem, the spectacular rise of incomes at the top (whether in sports, entertainment, or business). One theory cited appears to explain what may have happened: "Nearly 30 years ago, Sherwin Rosen, an economist from the University of Chicago, proposed an elegant theory to explain the general pattern. In an article entitled “The Economics of Superstars,” he argued that technological changes would allow the best performers in a given field to serve a bigger market and thus reap a greater share of its revenue. But this would also reduce the spoils available to the less gifted in the business." Is this what's happening?
  • "The Rise of the new Global Elite" (The Atlantic): Dovetailing nicely with the prior article, this piece from The Atlantic looks at the rise of a new super-class that, unlike the past, tends not to be tied to countries, are harder working (is this really true?) and are more meritocratic.
  • Detailed look at the secretive Glencore International (Reuters): Although one of the largest commodities traders in the world, with the power to seriously influence asset prices, Glencore has somewhat managed to stay in the shadows.
  • Is Japan's 'lost decades' a myth? (The Atlantic): I would argue that the reason the street-level view looks so good is because Japan has been able to sustain its citizens' lifestyle by running up debt. If Japan didn't go an orgy of debt accumulation in the last 20 years, I wonder if things would look so rosy.
  • Want to start a hedge fund? (Amit Chokshi for GuruFocus): Amit Chokshi does a good job explaining the process he had to go through in establishing a hedge fund in Connecticut.
  • (Recommended) Ireland after the bust (Vanity Fair): Some people don't like Michael Lewis—like Malcolm Gladwell, they accuse him of being superfluous at times—but all of his writings are entertaining. This is another decent article on the happenings in Ireland, which, for those not familiar, faced a huge real estate bust and decided to bail out the bank bondholders by sacrificing future generations.
  • Train lengths and safety (Financial Post): To boost efficiency and cut costs, railroads have been lengthening their trains. Apparently some trains stretch as long as 2.7 km nowadays, which is significantly higher than the 1 km a decade ago. This article talks about some of the innovations that drove the change (at least in Canada) and the concern regulators have... I live somewhat close to a rail track (not heavily used though) and it's amazing how long some of the trains are.
  • HSBC expands into China (Reuters): The world's largest bank, and one that largely avoided the credit bust, is setting its sight on China. After the American banks and most European banks destroyed themselves, it'll be interesting to see which banks end up dominating the world over the next 20 years. HSBC is definitely the undisputed king right now.
  • NFL's egalitarian revenue-sharing system (The Globe & Mail): The egalitarian nature of the NFL—for instance, television income shared across all teams—means that small-market teams can be just as attractive as big-city teams. The article touches on reasons why Los Angeles, which is a big city, may not see an NFL team for a while.
  • Charlie Rose interview with David Einhorn (Charlie Rose; h/t The Big Picture): December interview covering some of Einhorn's background. As I have said before, David Einhorn is one of the best up-and-coming value investors. Unlike Warren Buffett, he tends to short-sell a lot and appears to make speculative macro bets (such as his big bet on gold).
  • Global Distribution Systems used by airlines face extinction (MarketWatch): I used to follow Expedia (EXPE) and still sort of pay attention to the travel industry. This article discusses the GDS systems used by airlines and how they are under threat of being rendered obsolete.
  • Is trading better than buy & hold investing? (The Globe & Mail): It may work for some but the odds are far worse for traders... article touches on some reasons for that.
  • Future of the middle class in America (The Atlantic): The middle class has been shrinking in America over the last few decades... some theories on why; and some (left-leaning) solutions to address the problem.
  • "G.M., Detroit and the Fall of the Black Middle Class" (New York Times Magazine): An article from way back in 2009 on the impact of the collapse of GM on the American black population. The auto industry, and Detroit specifically, was a bright spot in employing and paying good wages for some historically-disadvantaged groups in USA. Unfortunately, the collapse of the auto industry will have a disproportionately large impact on that segment of the population. (Peter Drucker, in one of the best social-science/economics essays I have ever read, "The Age of Social Transformation," talked about this potential problem all the way back in 1994. I've been meaning to write a post on Drucker but haven't had time but do check out that essay if you are into socioeconomic issues.)
  • (Recommended) "American Everyman" (The Atlantic): From 2004, this article by Walter Kim for The Atlantic, profiles Warren Buffett. Pretty good article so check it out if you didn't read it back when it came out.
  • "Life as We Know It" (The Atlantic): An article by Arthur D. Little, written in 1924 for The Atlantic, on the technological and scientific advances that were occurring around him. This period, as you may recall, was the Roaring 20's, which arguably saw the biggest technology boom in American history. History buffs may find this stuff interesting.
  • Best business books in the last 15 years (Strategy+Business): The best business books (mostly to do with corporate strategy and business rather than investing) of the last decade and a half according to one magazine.
  • (non-investing) (Recommended) WikiLeaks & Julian Assange (Vanity Fair): Probably the most influential person of 2010—and depending on what happens to information in the Internet era, maybe of all time—this profile looks at Julian Assange, the man providing the public face for WikiLeaks. (I linked to this before but anyone interested should also check out the excellent article from last year in the New Yorker, "No Secrets" by Raffi Khatchadourian.)
  • (non-investing) (Recommended) China's dark past... and present darkness (New York Review of Books): China is going to be the next big economic power in 50 to 100 years but I wonder if it can shake off its totalitarian government. So far all the brutality has been swept under the rug—this is always the case when times are prosperous—but it remains to be seen what happens if the economy slows. (Those interested in the diaster under Mao may also want to read this interview. It's interesting that the Chinese government doesn't strongly censor the disaster under Mao. I'm just waiting for his picture and tomb to be taken down from the Imperial Palace—definitely doesn't belong there given how many died under his policies.)

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Sunday, February 20, 2011 0 comments

Is the current infatuation with short-term investing something new? Do the stock exchanges favour the short-term investors?

Jason Zweig wrote an interesting article for his Intelligent Investor column at The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. The topic dealt with two pertinent, intertwined, issues that have been raised of late. The first issue has to do with whether the recent popularity of short-term trading (high-frequency trading for instance) is something unique in history. The other issue is whether the stock exchanges favour those high-frequency traders (or others like them). If this topic interests you, I recommend that you read his full article instead of my select quotations below.

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Sunday Spectacle CX

Highest R&D Spenders



"Most Innovative" (according to survey)

(source: "The Global Innovation 1000: How the Top Innovators Keep Winning," by Barry Jaruzelski and Kevin Dehoff, Booz & Company. Strategy+Business, Winter 2010, Issue 61, November 3, 2010.)


Highest spenders aren't necessarily the most successful innovators. A good example is Nokia.

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Monday, February 14, 2011 7 comments

Sunday Spectacle CIX

A day late for the Sunday Spectacle... Sorry about the lack of posts... I've been trying to get my dating life going and that's consuming a great deal of time, with no luck so far :( ... wish me luck... For now, something on the oil market...


(source: "WTI v Brent," The Globe & Mail, February 14, 2011)

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Monday, February 7, 2011 0 comments

Sunday Spectacle CVIII

(source: "Costs of Living," The Economist. Jan 21, 2011)

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