From the comic strip in the beginning and the poem in the end, and right through the writing and the amazing Cognitive Bias Codex, the post I link to is a can’t-miss story on biases. Congrats to Better Humans’ Buster Benson for the writing and thanks to fellow PLDer Boris Tsimerinov for the heads-up on LinkedIn.
Joseph Calhoun of Alhambra Capital in the US reminds us of the basics of Value Investing, in a quick post with some funny moments. Worth the read if only for the laugh. The follow-up regards Zynga, profiled here on Dec. 31st 2009. After that initial post I’ve come back to discuss the company before and after its IPO. I’ve also done the same with Groupon after a larger, initial post. Zynga has just followed the path of Groupon and the founder CEO has left the post after a collapse in share prices.
Both Farnam St. and Seth Godin have great, quick-read pieces today. At Farnam St., a great definition of the objective/purpose of a company. At Seth’s blog, his opinion on how conferences (or meetings) can work. It might not seem so, but it’s a very practical way of looking at the usefulness of meetings.
New profile/interview with Dr. Chris Gibson-Smith, the subject of an April 2011 post here. His background is pretty interesting and I like the way he blends many disciplines, including History, into his “toolkit”. One quote I really like was also alluded to in last year’s interview: “I think the questions you ask are always the most difficult thing; answering the question is somehow easy if you’ve found the right question. There are 100 wrong questions for you to grab onto and completely waste your time with, but if at the beginning you can find the right question…”
We dive a little deeper in Berkshire’s annual report. As we’ve argued before, it’s another chapter in a body of work that can be read strictly with an investing “hat” – or, more usefully, with many hats (business, corporate governance, communications, recruiting/incentives etc.). This one is interesting in many regards: succession, Berkshire’s strategy and goals, IBM, insurance float, share repurchases, the state of the US economy and more. We also link to the transcript of CNBC’s 3-hour special “Ask Warren”.
A few notes about Day One (Monday, Oct. 17th) in the 2011 Value Investing Congress. You can follow their own live updates on Facebook or Twitter. We start with David Einhorn – he wasn’t the first speaker of the day, but things started to get interesting when he came onto the stage. Having attended both, the Ira Sohn Investment Conference is a better event: shorter in length, better attended and with better speakers, more focused and, we dare say, with more committed speakers.
We’ve posted last Friday about the very interesting InfoTrends conference, roughly about the state of Brazilian social media. We continue the topic today with notes from Day One, more specifically the videoconference talk by Wikileaks’ Julian Assange (Part 1 is just for his talk). While his speeches are usually quite radical, so is the notion that transparency can change the world’s governance systems for the best – and Wikileaks (along with its offspring organizations) is the most interesting experiment in this realm.
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”.
The London Business School’s Business Strategy Review (BSR) magazine/ website has a “World Business Leaders Series” worth spending some time on. We comment on a video with the Chairman of the London Stock Exchange and we highlight sections that, although intended for business in general, can also be framed for the specifics of investment management.
We don’t have Baupost Capital’s full 2010 letter, but these excerpts are still very interesting. Seth Klarman’s straight talk is always refreshing. Bits on Cash as strategic asset (being able to pull triggers in the midst of panic), “Short-termism” and how that affects everything, and Edge are particularly interesting.