Ode on a Grecian Turn

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:43+00:00 June 30th, 2015|Global Market Update|

“What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What wild ecstasy?” The Townly Vase. Source: British Museum That’s what John Keats wrote almost 200 years ago while contemplating the bas-relief on a Greek vase. But the words could almost be applied to the political and financial situation in modern Greece. Not much has changed since the last time we discussed Greece, except that the deadline for Greece to make its debt payments has gotten closer. Last [...]

High on Hope

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:43+00:00 June 29th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Is the market full of hot air? Photo: Davide. Source: Pixabay Some portions may be. Some shares are so puffed up it doesn’t look like the companies can ever justify their valuations. As an example, take LinkedIn. The professional networking darling went public in 2011 and didn’t look back. The stock’s been on a tear, rising almost 5 times—a 45% annualized return. But what’s next? The firm is priced at over 100 times this year’s expected earnings, and over 60 times next year’s. Even [...]

It Takes A Team …

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:43+00:00 June 26th, 2015|Global Market Update|

What can we learn from this year’s NBA finals? LeBron James. Source: Wikipedia LeBron James is awesome. The 6’8” forward dominated the NBA finals this year, scoring an average of 36 points per game. By some measures, he had the best performance of any player in any finals ever—leading both squads in points, rebounds, and assists. But his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, still came up short. They lost the series 4-2, giving the title to Oakland’s Golden State Warriors, the first team in 25 [...]

Investments, Finance, and Robo-Advisers

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:43+00:00 June 25th, 2015|Global Market Update|

What’s the best investment plan? Photo: Andreas Praefcke. Source: Wikipedia Lots of people ask for investment advice. They need help managing their money. They talk about the stock market or bank rates. But what they really need is financial guidance. Classically, finance has three major reports: income, assets, and cash flow. Each of these areas has inflows and outflows—positive and negative entries. An income statement covers income and expenses; a balance sheet shows assets and liabilities; with cash flow there are inflows and outflows. [...]

Clearing the Air?

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:43+00:00 June 24th, 2015|Global Market Update|

What’s holding back China’s economy? Photo: John D. Liu. Source: World Bank One possibility is pollution. China’s economy has grown dramatically over the past two decades, as market-based incentives and expanding global trade have encouraged them to produce more and capitalize on their natural advantages. Over the past two decades, the size of their economy has grown ten-fold, from $1 trillion to almost $10 trillion dollars. But such growth comes at a cost. While China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions out of [...]

Our Culture, Our Selves

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:44+00:00 June 19th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Does corporate culture matter? Bust of Socrates by Lysippos at the Louvre. Source: Wikipedia The short answer is yes. A culture centered on client service and financial accountability will produce higher financial returns; by contrast, a culture with outsized rewards for managers who treat the firm like a personal piggy bank will generate lower returns. But how do we measure corporate culture? One way is by reading the company’s annual report, especially the CEO’s letter to shareholders. This document is an unstructured, free-flowing description [...]

Nuclear Humility

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:44+00:00 June 18th, 2015|humility, Manhattan Project, nuclear weapons, World War II|

Can we learn humility from physics? Castle Bravo Blast. Source: Wikipedia 70 years ago Harry Truman asked the leaders of the Manhattan Project to recommend how atomic power should be used. World War II was wrapping up. Germany had fallen. Japan was on its knees but still defiant. Millions of servicemen were preparing to be redeployed from Europe to the Pacific. […]

Honeybee Investing

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:44+00:00 June 17th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Can investors learn from nature? Photo: Louise Docker. Source: Wikipedia A new book suggests that they should. Nature is infinitely resilient and adaptive, adjusting to changes in circumstances to improve its outcomes. Even in the harshest environments we find living things growing and reproducing. So we should expect the natural world to teach us some important lessons. […]

Greek Debt and The Music Man

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:44+00:00 June 16th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Are negotiations over Greek debt serious? Dick Van Dyke playing Harold Hill. Source: Wikipedia When I was growing up one of my favorite plays (and movies) was Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.” It tells the story of a smooth-talking travelling salesman who plans to swindle the natives of River City, Iowa by posing as a travelling band instructor–selling them marching band instruments, uniforms and music. Once he collects their money he plans to hop the next train out of town, leaving them without money [...]

Fashioning the Future

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:44+00:00 June 15th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Where are textiles taking us? Source: Good Free Photos For centuries, textiles have inspired trade and technology. The silk road gave us Marco Polo and the Age of Exploration; the Industrial Revolution gave us thread-producing mills in midlands-England and water-rich New England; aniline dyes created intense, basic black fabrics in the early 20th century and stimulated the chemical industry; synthetic fibers like rayon and nylon made wrinkle-free clothes possible and build the fortunes of the DuPont family. […]