Investment Leadership

By | 2014-06-30T09:47:34+00:00 June 30th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Are investors leaders? They should be. The same qualities that we see in the best leaders also serve investors well. Leaders need to have clear goals; they need to establish a culture of integrity; they need to understand what they can—and more importantly, cannot—do. And they need to communicate these values to those around them. Virgil’s poem, The Aeneid, lays out these classic leadership elements: fatum, pietas, and virtus. Today we would call them vision, culture, and values. In this work, Virgil paints a [...]

Odysseus: The Resourceful Investor

By | 2014-06-27T09:56:57+00:00 June 27th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Investors need to be resourceful. Whether it’s reading a set of financial statements or watching the Federal Reserve Chair talk about the economy, investors need to use all their wits to understand what’s going on. There are myriad difficulties and distractions that would keep us from accomplishing our goals. We have to think clearly and creatively. The Greek hero Odysseus faced the same problem. After the Trojan war, each of the leaders headed back home. Odysseus faced one of the longer journeys, as his [...]

Classical Investing: The Self-Aware Investor

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:16+00:00 June 26th, 2014|Global Market Update|

How well do you understand yourself? That’s one of the underlying questions Homer raises in The Illiad. Most of us know about Achilles, the brawny Greek hero. His role in the war is so important to the Greeks that when he argues with his commander and withdraws from the fight their army is almost annihilated. But by far the most sympathetic hero in the story is the Trojan leader, Hector. He is no less powerful a presence in battle, but he is also depicted [...]

The Heroic Investor

By | 2014-06-25T10:52:48+00:00 June 25th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Can investors be heroes? The early epics are sometimes called heroic literature. They start and finish with a singular character. The Illiad, Odyssey, and Aeneid are epic poems that focus on Achilles, Odysseus, and Aeneas respectively, with their particular character qualities. Generations of readers have heard or read of Achilles’ strength, Odysseus’ cunning, or Aeneas’ leadership through these works. Each one of them uses his particular ability to accomplish his mission. But they must also overcome distractions or obstacles would keep them from reaching [...]

A Classic Canon

By | 2014-06-24T09:00:16+00:00 June 24th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What classics should we study? The great works of literature offer lessons that are universal in scope. Questions that everyone grapples with at some time or other. But which classics? A classic should be something that has stood the test of time and that has appeal to various cultures around the world. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series certainly has been popular, but it’s only been out for a decade or so. Works that retain their appeal over centuries are likely to have insight that [...]

Classic Investment Advice

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:16+00:00 June 23rd, 2014|Global Market Update|

What makes a classic? Mark Twain called a classic a book everyone wants to have read, and no one wants to read. We remember them from high-school: big, scary tomes with strange titles that our teachers all said were full of wisdom. We tried, really tried, to get through them. Some of us actually did. But whether it was the 25th Ivan Ivanovich in a Tolstoy story, or a sentence in James Joyce’s Ulysses that went on for three pages—I really wanted my 9th-grade [...]

All Economics is Local

By | 2014-06-20T10:48:38+00:00 June 20th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Which states are growing the fastest? The Bureau of Economic Analysis just released their compilation of GDP performance by state. The results are pretty striking: the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are growing well, while the Northeast is mired in slow grown. Energy prices have a lot to do with what’s happening. Mining isn’t a significant contributor to national economic growth, but it plays a key role in several states. In North Dakota, the fastest growing state, mining contributed 3.6 points to the state’s [...]

More is Less

By | 2014-06-19T10:21:59+00:00 June 19th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Is the Fed’s transparency confusing us? Yesterday the Federal Reserve concluded its two-day meeting and issued a statement—a long, meandering, abstruse statement. Reading the Fed’s press release has become a thankless chore. Most Fed-watchers just compare the current statement with the one from the prior meeting to look for word-changes that might indicate shades in what the Fed is thinking. The Fed knows we do this. So they discuss and debate every comma and verb tense. Sometimes committee members even dissent in their policy [...]

Innovative Waves or Ripples?

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:16+00:00 June 18th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Is innovation always necessary? The 18th century embraced the idea of progress, in the 19th it was evolution, the 20th century gave us growth, and now the catch-phrase is innovation. Innovation is held out as the key to success. Public policy goals require innovative solutions. Smartphone apps provide innovative approaches to finance, health, diet, education, and even relationships. Firms are told to “innovate or die.” The expectation is that if a firm doesn’t continually upgrade its products and processes, someone else will. If the [...]

Inverting Value

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:17+00:00 June 17th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Tax-inversion is on the rise. What is it? The latest health-care merger highlights the practice of tax-inversion. If Medtronic—based in Minneapolis—buys Covidian—domiciled in Dublin—Medtronic will shift its home-address from the US to Ireland. That will lower the company’s statutory tax rate from 35 to 12 ½ percent. The deal isn’t only about taxes: both companies make and market medical implants like pacemakers and stents. Joining forces would allow them to enjoy economies of scale. But the tax benefits sure help. Ireland’s extensive tax-treaties with [...]