We love it when readers send us great material, and when they’re 16 years old we’re even more impressed. This video is a very well-crafted summary of and ad for Steven Johnson’s new book (same name as our post). There’s also a TED talk that expands somewhat and exemplifies. In the TED video Mr. Johnson gets a bit more “pro-crowdsourcing”, in the sense that there’s an obvious trade-off between intellectual property protection vs. opening up to collaborative business models. As we’ve posted here almost a year ago, there are limits to crowdsourcing that should be minded before launching any type of “open” initiative.
Quick post: The proximity to the Elections these Sunday may be the factor behind the Financial Times publishing stories about Brazil almost every day. This one is a bit more “meaty” compared to the previous ones, but we’re starting to think that there’s some internal competition between the FT columnists… This one doesn’t stray very far from the norm: some recent history of accomplishments, a list of pros and cons going forward and (wise) words of warning regarding “complacency and hubris”. If you haven’t read the others, this isn’t a bad place to start.
Brazil in the cover of the CFA Institute’s September/October 2010 magazine. It’s a classic “bull vs. bear” debate and no stone is left unturned. Sure that, as locals, we’d attribute wildly different weights to the mix of pros and cons – some factors are disproportionately more important than others for our long-term view as equity investors. That said, the article obviously seeks a wider audience and the fact that the author takes no sides in his “closing statements” shouldn’t be held against him. One can even argue that it works in the “make up your own mind” sense.
Well, this is unusual – Warren Buffett and Jay-Z (not a typo, the rapper) together in an interview about success (videos inside). Buffett apparently really likes rap, judging by the GEICO commercial of a few years ago. Then this September 13th video is a more conventional talk by Charlie Munger at the University of Michigan. It’s almost two hours long and nothing terribly new for those who read up about him, but always nice. The CNBC “host” focused a bit too much on economics and politics, but Mr. Munger still shines.
Caveat emptor – “buyer beware” – is always a vital cultural trait for asset managers, even if you’re just researching hedging instruments. The danger is not giving it the necessary attention: if it’s a candidate for a spot in your portfolio, be it a long-term investment or a hedge, it must be subject to the same rigorous research effort. This LEX piece on ETF regulation reminds us that even standardized, liquid, exchange-traded instruments can be as opaque as the “darkest” of OTC instruments.
A great story called “Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs” highlights the sort of “good obsession” that seems to be a part of success. In the milder form, we call it “hunger” in an earlier Buysiders.com post – an incessant and relentless drive to be/ become exceptional or, in this case, to create exceptional things. That said, this story relates behavior that borders on the troublesome, and part of the story regards VCs’ efforts to try to separate between “good” and “bad” manic behavior. But as a teaser and to paraphrase the old saying: could we be calling the insane “eccentric” just because they’ve gotten rich?
Quick post. This long May 2010 interview with Seth Klarman (by WSJ’s Jason Zweig) is pretty interesting in all regards. While we don’t necessarily agree with everything he says or does, long-time readers have probably noticed by now that we like to quote his no-B.S. lines – and his famously out-of-print book is a perennial reading list favorite here.
We’ve posted here before about Brazil and Greece and what lessons one could teach the other. We’ve also discussed the dangers of Brazil as the capital markets’ “darling”, as Paul Krugman said. This post has links to two articles that could very well merit a long post for each – and yet we feel it’s better to let our readers form their own conclusions. The first is Michael Lewis’ “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds”. It chronicles his visit to Greece and discusses woes that are eerily familiar to any Brazilian over 3o years of age: insularity, lack of big-picture view, widespread corruption and so on. Then there’s the Economist’s 14-page Survey on Latin America. In their intro, they highlight “the danger of complacency”. And that’s the link between the two articles and Brazilian reality: we’ve been there not so long ago, we’re still not far enough from it and we must never return. Complacency should be a bad name around these parts.
Three articles over a one-month period regarding Google. First, there was a “pessimistic” piece at Fortune magazine on July 29th with a decent, superficial review of the current state of e-marketing. Then the WSJ interviewed Eric Schmidt on August 14th, getting a highly controversial (and probably misunderstood) quote. Given the level of scrutiny GOOG faces, it’s clear that he needs a PR person next to him ASAP. Anyway, the CEO piece motivated an NYT op-ed by William Gibson on August 31st with a great summary of what Google is or could become.