Buffett turns 81 today and, according to Berkshire staff, he’s celebrating it by running the company just like any other day. Almost so: Berkshire has had to issue a press release to counter a Wall Street Journal editorial that came out today. Buffett’s tax editorial caused extreme reactions – some of the harshest coming from the WSJ. We have no problem with differences of opinion. The problem is basing a personal attack story on a factual error. Fact-checking is never out of season…
Steve Jobs resigned as Apple CEO yesterday, intends to stay on as Chairman. Sad news and nothing much to comment – the praise has been doled out before here. We only wish him the best and highlight a few links with amazing, heartfelt reaction around the web.
Brilliant article by John Kay in the Financial Times – “Sex, lies and the pitfalls of overblown statistics”. Questioning is vital when dealing with data: what does it really mean, where did it come from, what is it trying to answer, is it the best data to answer that question, what are the incentives of the source of the data, what are my own incentives and biases in interpreting this data… and so on. In fact, one should start with the right questions, but that’s another subject. Skepticism and intellectual honesty makes for a hard way to live one’s life, but there’s really no choice if one is to minimize the traps of “data”.
As per our post on Monday, Buffett’s article on taxing the mega-rich caused a wave of reactions – favorable, negative and the personal-attack type. Since then he went to Charlie Rose and discussed the article – and the deficit debate – for +50 minutes. There were at least three new strong reactions against the article as well, highlighted here.
This article was just published in today’s Financial Times: “Brazil hosts a homecoming”. A few expats coming back do not necessarily a trend make, but we’d say that 1) it’d be nice to see the reversal of the brain drain of the last few decades, and 2) it makes sense in a “Brazil is the new China” way given the number of CVs by foreigners seeking to work in Brazil that firms like ours have been receiving in the last 1-2 years.
Certainly one of the most-discussed articles this weekend, this NYT piece looks at the subset of American retail that is doing pretty well in this recession. Another article highlights the interest by big-name investors (Buffett, Ackman, Leon Black) in the segment. Signal or noise?
Buffett’s recent article on taxing the rich has many interesting ramifications. The obvious one is analyzing the merit of his ideas. Another is studying the media reaction. Surely Buffett is a wonderful investor and his writing style is so clear and down to earth that one can’t help but pay attention to it. That doesn’t mean that his arguments on tax have to be taken without criticism. And yet the political climate in the US is so stormy that we must highlight the articles blasting Buffett’s ideas (after our comments).
Our article in the August 2011 edition of the Valor Investe magazine, discussing the financial education of Warren Buffett. The entire section on Financial Education in this edition is worth the time and couldn’t be more vital today – with the mess in Europe, the US debt/ global banking system imbroglios and general volatility. In a country like Brazil, the lack of concern with financial education is even more worrying. Initiatives such as this one are very important.
After a brilliant article on Greece, posted here almost a year ago, Michael “Moneyball” Lewis is back with a look at the other side of the European “equation”: the Germans. It is a huge piece, almost a mini-book, and one can guess what Mr. Lewis probable new book is about: Europe. Great weekend reading.