Reader-suggested video in which James Surowiecki (author of “The Wisdom of Crowds”) interviews Michael Mauboussin from Legg Mason about “Think Twice”, Mauboussin’s book. It’s about mental traps we fall into and how to think better, and the video discusses many of the examples in the book. “Think Twice” has been out for a while and it’s a good “building block” read, a contrast to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”. Read them both and more.
We see two key points in BC’s move to simplify the rules governing foreign exchange transactions: one conceptual and the other practical. The conceptual is that it’s one more relevant step for Brazil towards a greater insertion/ fluidity in the global markets. The practical is that scraping some 380 rules is something that warms the heart of any entrepreneur. K.I.S.S. at its best.
Official immigration decreasing, previously “hot” areas with unprecedented swings, NY’s staggering numbers… Sure, a data point does not a trend make, but demographics are too powerful to ignore as a long-term driver. And it’s hard to argue that the US is well-positioned. This WSJ story has lots of interactive charts and features, and here’s the primary source.
Quick tidbits inside from e-bit’s report about the state of the Brazilian e-commerce market in 2009 – Webshoppers, 21st edition (in portuguese and in PDF). We will discuss one company’s specific performance in regards to these numbers in our upcoming Q1 2010 report, but we wanted to highlight a few general data points in advance.
A Moody’s study shows that bank Boards have seen some shuffling and that more “financial expertise” was added. The FT argues that some banks with the “worst” boards in terms of financial experience actually did pretty well, and notes other apparently strange occurrences – for instance, Goldman Sachs has a CEO who’s also chairman and yet the bank has done pretty well in the crisis… We’ll never get tired of saying this: dump the checklist approach to CG. Actually, dump the checklist approach to anything.
Now that the U.S. Healthcare bill has passed and just been signed into law, it’s interesting to notice the amount of noise generated in the past two days. Newspaper and sell-side reports are booming with articles and so-called analysis of what this means to investors, but right now it’s probably better to “do something by doing nothing”.
OK, funny things first: Buffett playing Axl Rose is awesome. Less impressive is him playing a hip-hop artist, but it’s alright (both videos embedded inside). Viral videos can be a smart marketing tool, and these work. Back to seriousness: Business Week had a cover article by Alice “Snowball” Schroeder interviewing CEOs who have had Buffett in their boards. Interesting read.
Dilma Rousseff was profiled twice by the Piauí magazine (in portuguese). The first piece explains how she came to be Lula’s candidate, how she runs things, her day-to-day relationship with the president and is therefore much more interesting. The second piece is listed for completeness’ sake.
We’ve discussed crowdsourcing and Netflix more than once. That it works for some uses better than for others is pretty clear… But Netflix has apparently messed up the database used in the original contest and that allowed some contestants to identify the actual people behind the movie choices, despite the promise of privacy. Needless to say, the FCC wasn’t too happy about it – and Netflix had to cancel its “Contest 2.0”, at least for now. Doesn’t mean that the tool doesn’t work, it just means that you have to be careful using it.
It’s been 20 years since the “Confisco”, the seizure of assets from current and savings accounts designed (so to speak) to deter then-rampant hyperinflation. Brazil was then in default on its external debt and had precious little reserves… But the point here is not to judge decisions taken under extreme distress. Twenty years. The very fact that it seems like ancient history shows how far we’ve come, yet it still serves as a fresh warning.