Gustavo Ballvé on May 30th, 2012

The Facebook imbroglio had all the elements of a Mexican (or Brazilian, I admit) soap opera: a build-up toward success, then unexpected twists and turns revealing involving falls-from-grace and perhaps even villains. We’re yet to see if there will be any bounce-backs and happy endings. However, the angry reaction to the “soap opera” from the “general audience” – in this case, retail investors who apparently went all-in for the story – still managed to surprise me.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 29th, 2012’s guest columnist, Andrew Pincus, defends arbitration as an option to class-action lawsuits and discusses a recent US Supreme Court decision that will make it easier for arbitration clauses to prevent class-action lawsuits. One never wishes to be in such a situation, but the devil is always in the details… In the end, that great Buffett axiom “risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing” does include “risk comes from not reading what you sign”.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 25th, 2012

Farnam St. blog had an interesting, multidisciplinary reading list for the Northern hemisphere summer coming up. By now I hope readers have realized that I love these lists, but the usual warning applies: there’s only so much time in a day and reading should be prioritized according to your own long-term “strategic objectives”, while still allowing for fun, serendipity-type reading. Good luck with that!

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 24th, 2012

Transparency, governance and accountability are two of the main issues I am concerned with regarding politics, government and society in general. I have discussed it here in terms of citizen initiatives such as Wikileaks and its offspring, but governments can also try to push it in that direction. We’ve seen a recent push in Brazil, […]

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 21st, 2012

As Internet connection allows, I’ll update this post with Day 1 notes from Rio Investors Day 2012. All time stamps are local time (GMT-3 or ET+1). 9:33am: Starting (late) a video about Rio as the city’s Secretary of Finance explains the government’s priorities (which, in a nutshell, is about a delicate balance between fiscal discipline […]

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 17th, 2012

The agenda for the 2012 Rio Investors Day conference is now online, and I will cover both days of the event next week (Monday and Tuesday). The “single track” design favors breadth over depth, but given the intended audience it’s probably for the best. All in all it’s a great initiative and a well-organized event. Check back next week for the notes!

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 16th, 2012

The 2012 Ira Sohn investment conference is today at 12:00PM Eastern Time, that is, 13:00PM in Rio. Last year I was there, but I couldn’t make it this year. Its speaker roster is usually top-notch and this year’s brings David Einhorn, Bill Ackman, Larry Robbins, John Paulson, Steve Mandel and even Prof. Dan Ariely. I recommend’s live coverage.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 15th, 2012

Recurring themes in skepticism, intellectual honesty, independent thinking and so on. Seth Godin’s “False Metrics” post is useful to think about management and incentive systems, but I chose to focus just on the investment angle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of false knowledge or, in investment terms, “unearned convictions”. Those can kill you in the long run.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 11th, 2012

While at Harvard for the Program for Leadership Development earlier this year, I had the privilege of a whole day of lectures by Prof. Clayton Christensen. The main subject was, of course, disruptive innovation – he is the influential author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and follow-up books. However, he also took the time to teach us a valuable and extremely humbling lesson.

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Gustavo Ballvé on May 9th, 2012

This TEDxYale talk, however funny, is a serious reminder about how dangerous an influential/persuasive speaker can be. I wrote about this back in July 2010 in a post called Time Perspectives: “In fact, it’s downright scary how the “coolness” of the presentation can lead one to “lower one’s guard” to data that’s not necessarily accurate or that answers not necessarily the right questions.”

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