Does it pay to be multi-cultural?
Last week the world went gaga when Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, conducted a Q&A session in Mandarin Chinese when he was at a university in Beijing. Zuckerberg’s fluency in Mandarin is striking, but he had a personal motivation as well: he had reportedly asked his fiancé’s parents for their blessing in their native tongue two years before.
Continue reading Lost In Translation?
Why is US growth faster than Europe?
In 2008 and 2009, the global economy collapsed, brought down by a credit crunch that started in here but quickly spread around the world. Since then, the US economy, while weak, is moving back towards normal. Europe, on the other hand, looks like it’s about to enter its third recession in six years. Why the difference?
Continue reading Fast and Slow
Why do people develop new ideas?
It’s not enough to have folks who are able to innovate and who are encouraged to innovate. They have to want to innovate. When we look at the geography of innovation, we see dramatic disparities:
Continue reading A Flash of Insight (Part 3)
How do people develop new ideas?
Source: Wikipedia – Rainer Knäpper, Free Art License (http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/)
Insight may come from Shakespeare’s “unpath’d waters and undream’d shores,” but it has to be nurtured. Great ideas usually come from individuals who are part of a group, who work where people encourage and refine one another. People are social creatures, Aristotle says. The rare self-sufficient individual is “either a beast or a god.” So the community needs to be cultivated. What is such a community like?
Continue reading A Flash of Insight (Part 2)
Where do great ideas come from?
Source: Wikipedia – Fir0002/Flagstaffphotos
Sometimes something new comes up that takes the world by storm, like relativity or semiconductors or smartphones. Truly new ideas come from people who aren’t being paid to have ideas; they’re paid to be patent clerks or monks or managers. They come from folks who are quirky and individualistic and sometimes seem obsessed. It’s only afterwards the new concept seems almost obvious, and other people ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Continue reading A Flash of Insight
Maybe Amazon won’t be eating the world.
Yesterday Amazon reported its third quarter results. And they weren’t pretty. In spite of growing revenues another 20% from a year ago, the company lost over $400 million the third quarter, up from a $40 million loss a year ago. Included in these numbers was a $170 million charge for their smartphone, which hasn’t been selling very well.
Continue reading Eating the World?
What’s up with inflation?
Inflation numbers were reported yesterday, and they were pretty tame. In fact, for the past year, core inflation has been running at a little less than 2%. And total inflation is now at the same level. But a lot of folks feel that if prices aren’t rising, their wallets must be shrinking. For them, a dollar today doesn’t go as far as it did a year or so ago. What’s up with that?
Continue reading Blowing Up or Blowing Out?
Are colleges the ideal investors?
Private colleges have a long-term time horizon. Or at least, they’re supposed to. The first school endowments were agricultural estates that paid rent. A College Bursar’s job was to manage these estates by approving new leases, renewing old ones, selling timber, and appointing stewards. Sixty years ago land comprised more than half of the typical endowment.
Continue reading Back to School
Is your money where your mouth is?
One of the more frustrating aspects of reading pundits today is that when they write about investments they have little practical understanding. Economists discuss investing or enterprise as if it is the simplest thing in the world to structure a portfolio or build a profitable business.
Continue reading Lord Keynes, Investor
How important is an individual manager?
Source: Sports Illustrated
Tom Watson, Jr. liked to ski. He was also chief executive of IBM during a critical period of the company’s history. By all accounts he was quite successful, growing revenues over 15% per year during his 17 years at the helm from 1954 to 1971. He also directed IBM’s investment in a production facility in Essex Junction, Vermont, beginning in 1958. Over time the Essex facility grew from 500 to 8000 employees, and now directly or indirectly affects 10 to 20% of Vermont’s economy.
Continue reading Great Skier Theory