H/T to Abnormal Returns for posing a tough question – “would a mandatory savings program be net-net beneficial to society?” – and for getting many financial bloggers to answer it. To be taken with the necessary pounds of salt as I don’t know how much work went into the answers, how much time they had to think about it and how much each individual respondent actually knows about this subject. It is a question that has been bothering me tremendously when considering Brazil and demographics.
CNBC has a very interesting series of articles and videos on what they call the CNBC Disruptor 50, a list of 50 “disruptors” in several industries, including Healthcare, Travel, Transport, Retail, IT, Financial Services and others. Any disruptors creeping up on your portfolio companies yet?
In the second update to our “Is investing in banks too hard?” original post, a reader has sent us a Howard Marks interview that has his views on analyzing banks. In summary, says the Oaktree Chairman, “they just don’t have analyzability”. Thanks again for our reader and please keep the stories coming!
We posted last Thursday about a long article at The Atlantic arguing that banks are increasingly “too hard to understand”. As in all bank matters, the Epicurean Dealmaker couldn’t resist writing about that article and his response is the best so far. If you haven’t read last week’s post yet, you’d do well to start with this one instead.
Thought-provoking cover story (and I mean this in the “is it signal or noise?” realm) in The Atlantic: “What’s inside America’s banks?” To summarise the official story line, the article argues that a growing list of heavy-hitting investors are simply giving up on trying to understand banks’ balance sheets, thus considering big banks “uninvestable”.
Two stories about Bill Ackman. The most interesting by far is about Ackman’s desire to attract permanent capital that would allow him to focus more on the long-term activist efforts that have both made him famous and, according to Ackman, made most of the returns for his investors. The second is Bill’s full 45-minute video on Finance and Investing for Floating University, made free to watch yesterday.
Brazil has way too many holidays, that is certain. At least we can catch up with the reading, and this story is pretty interesting: Leucadia has decided to acquire Jefferies, the midsize US investment bank. Now the name Leucadia may not instantly ring a bell, but it is one of a few companies that have been called “mini-Berkshires” over the years – perhaps the most successful of them. They do interesting things there too, and this latest move takes them in a new direction.
Two quick articles: a relatively thorough article in the Financial Times about Brazil’s construction and infrastructure boom in the next few years, and a cautionary tale about things that “happen all the time” – until they don’t.
This blog’s most frequent contributor just recently reminded me of a source I had been neglecting of late: Bronte Capital. As the most recent post “The macroeconomics of Chinese kleptocracy” shows, it’s always entertaining and provocative, even though I sometimes don’t agree with their arguments. Since the statements sometimes jump the necessary explanation, it’s not easy to tell when they’ve done the homework.
Richard Branson’s Virgin is used to disrupting business models everywhere – telecom, airlines, you name it. Now they’re turning their attention to banks, as per this long Bloomberg Markets magazine article. Always very interesting to challenge our notions of “stable business models”, but Virgin’s very history shows that sometimes it’s harder than they initially thought it would be (Wal-mart’s experience in the US comes to mind).