Gustavo Ballvé on October 30th, 2010

Recent story on Foreign Affairs about this vital topic doesn’t necessarily add a lot of insight, but serves as a nice starting point for more reading on the subject. One excerpt sums up many of the most important sources of concern: “For today’s affluent Western economies, the coming demographic challenge of stagnant and aging populations combined with mounting health and pension claims on a shrinking pool of prospective workers is already generating concern, especially in Europe and Japan. But at the same time, demographic constraints in the rising economies that are expected to fuel future global growth are more serious and intractable than generally recognized.”

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Gustavo Ballvé on October 26th, 2010

In a very important sucession move, Buffett has announced that Todd Combs, a 39-yr old manager formerly with Castle Point Capital, will run a “significant portion” of Berkshire’s portfolio. It’s too soon to say much about the guy, and we’ve got a few research projects to execute. But before everyone gets lost in the inevitable deluge of stories “dissecting” Mr. Combs, it’s important to note that Buffett has taken his time looking for candidates, in an orderly and extremely discrete way for a company this big and a job this iconic.

Read more about Buffett names portfolio co-manager

Gustavo Ballvé on October 26th, 2010

Quick post about a NYT story on the inherent difficulties in economics – with obvious applications in investments. Also pretty useful as a teaser for our Castles of Sand introductory text in the Q3 2010 report.

Read more about Why do economists argue?

Gustavo Ballvé on October 25th, 2010

In this inspiring TEDxChange video, Melinda Gates looks at what makes Coca-Cola so ubiquitous and what lessons non-profits can learn from it. We saw many things in common with the PIPA 2010 project.

Read more about PIPA 2010, Melinda Gates and Coca-Cola

Gustavo Ballvé on October 24th, 2010

The doctor profiled in this NYT article met Amos Tversky (who worked with Daniel Kahneman on prospect theory) and became a different type of doctor – “perhaps the leading debunker of preconceived notions in the medical world”. The real benefit of reading this article is that it shows what skepticism, curiosity, intellectual honesty and the drive to find some kind of “truth” can accomplish in any field, especially one that lends itself to empirical examination/ fact checking. Great reminder of PART of the required mindset of an analyst.

Read more about Clear answer? Think again

Gustavo Ballvé on October 22nd, 2010

As reflected in Buysiders posts since we started it, we’ve been increasingly interested in and puzzled by networks. There has been a number of talks, books and studies on how to take advantage of social networks – and certainly not just those of the online world. But many behaviors are non-linear, counter-intuitive and therefore extremely hard (perhaps impossible) to model, which has the potential consequence of generating tons of opportunities.

Read more about The value of networks

Gustavo Ballvé on October 20th, 2010

We love to get good reader suggestions, and this one is top-notch. Background: Columbia University released an interesting study around January 2010 saying that people in power lie much more easily than “the average”, and are less likely to get caught in the lie. Since then there have been stories floating about how to spot liars and our friend sent us the most recent on NPR. It’s very valuable because it links to another study, this time by Stanford professors, who “think they’ve come up with a way to tell when senior executives are fibbing” after “studying thousands of corporate earnings calls”. More links inside.

Read more about How to spot a lying CEO

Gustavo Ballvé on October 19th, 2010

A subject we’re very concerned about and with is the state of governance/ accountability in politics. It’s always worth returning to this subject every now and then, so here are some links we consider very important.

Read more about The amazing sausage factory

Gustavo Ballvé on October 15th, 2010

Quick post: Since Mr. Paramés was featured in the NY Value Investing Congress (he’s the 4th one down) and we respect him a lot, we decided to also post this recent interview with him (in Spanish!). As for older but still relevant links, he was also featured in the November 2006 issue of Value Investor Insight and in an October 2006 interview with hedgeweek.

Read more about Interview with Bestinver’s Francisco Paramés

Gustavo Ballvé on October 11th, 2010

We were positively surprised by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker magazine (cover date October 18th 2010) with an article called “The Next Level”. One interesting part has an analysis of perceived vs. real competitive advantages.

Read more about The next level

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