Libraries and Lions

By | 2018-06-22T08:59:08+00:00 June 22nd, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are libraries becoming an endangered species? Marble lion outside NY Public Library, Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Public libraries have been a staple of American life since Ben Franklin helped found the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. He and his friends started their membership-based library to pool their resources and acquire and curate a collection of books and papers. In its founding document, the Company could lend books to non-members if they put up a security deposit. The deposit was returned when the books [...]

Emerging from Where?

By | 2018-06-21T06:18:11+00:00 June 21st, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are the wheels about to fall off Emerging Markets? Photo: Alvimann. Source: Morguefile Two decades ago, emerging countries were facing economic pressure from a rising dollar, slowing domestic economies, and huge financing needs. The Asian Financial crisis caused local stock markets and currencies to plummet. There was massive economic hardship, with riots and political turmoil in Indonesia and the Philippines. Developed markets looked like they might catch the “Asian Contagion,” and our stock markets fell by 20% or more. Is something similar happening now? [...]

Extrapolating the Future

By | 2018-06-20T06:59:16+00:00 June 20th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Remember 2001: A Space Odyssey? Fair Use. Movie poster by Robert McCall. Source: Wikipedia The movie was released in 1968, and was both praised and panned at the time. Some critics called it the most extraordinary movie of any time or place, while others said that it was only extraordinarily dull. The file did run almost 3 hours, and contains no dialogue for the first and last 20 minutes. It made less than $5 million on the weekend when it opened. Now it’s recognized [...]

Consuming Liquidity

By | 2018-06-19T10:04:12+00:00 June 19th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What is a liquid alternative? Coffeeshop in Greenwich Village. Photo: Joe Mabel. Source: Wikimedia Alternative investing is investing in something other than traditional stocks, bonds, and cash. It can include real-estate, commodities, precious metals, or collectibles, like art and wine. Its appeal is their lack of correlation with the major asset classes. If these assets rise in price but zig when other things zag, they should be able to reduce a portfolio’s risk while still contributing to its return. That’s how it’s supposed to [...]

Wealth Wanderings

By | 2018-06-19T10:03:45+00:00 June 18th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Is the wealth effect real? Photo: hcmholms. Source: 500px It makes some sense. After all, wealthy people spend more than poor people. And they buy fancier clothes, fancier food, and fancier toys. So if the Fed wants to boost the economy – which is 70% consumer spending – why wouldn’t they try to lift asset prices and juice people’s wealth? But just what makes someone wealth? Is it their assets? Or their income? Let’s try a thought experiment. Imagine you have a $5 million [...]

A Boring Project

By | 2018-06-19T09:52:00+00:00 June 15th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Is Elon Musk boring? TBM that tunneled under Mont Blanc, from Switzerland to Italy. Photo: Cooper.ch. Source: Wikimedia That’s what I wondered when I read that the tech billionaire just won the bidding to build a high-speed link from downtown Chicago to O’Hare Airport. A year ago Musk announced that digging holes in the ground – using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), the type of excavating equipment that built the 30-mile under the English Channel – had become a personal hobby. He soon proposed [...]

A Windy Future

By | 2018-06-14T07:12:02+00:00 June 14th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are big cities doomed? Chicago Skyline. Photo: J. Crocker. Source: Wikimedia The problems that many big cities face are well known: crumbling infrastructure, ossified politics, and economic decline. Without the economic growth to support public services, political factions end up squabbling over pieces of an ever-smaller pie. This matters for investors. Not only do they make direct investment decisions, like whether to purchase municipal bonds issued by a city, but investors also need to look at where companies are based. If a firm is [...]

Leading by Investing

By | 2018-06-13T06:15:53+00:00 June 13th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Can investors be leaders? Aeneas holding his father Anchises, by Simon Vouet (1635). Source: Wikimedia They should be. The same qualities found in the best leaders are crucial to the best investors: clear goals; a culture of integrity; understanding what they can and can’t do; and they have to be able to effectively communicate these values to those around them. Leadership has always been this way. The great epic poem from Roman times, The Aeneid, portrays these classic leadership qualities in a dramatic style. [...]

Long Term Ownership?

By | 2018-06-12T07:56:38+00:00 June 12th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What kind of bosses are Chinese owners? Photo: Photo Mix. Source: Pixabay 3,500 employees of Genworth Financial are about to find out. Genworth is the successor company to the old Life of Virginia, a Richmond-based life insurer founded in 1871. In the 1980s, they went through various business combinations, mergers, divestitures, and spin-offs. In 1996 they were bought by GE and sold back into the public markets about a decade later. Their principal products are annuities, mortgage insurance, and long-term care insurance. The mortgage [...]

Fashions and Fads

By | 2018-06-11T07:08:52+00:00 June 11th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Remember bell-bottom pants? Illustration: Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Source: Pixabay Bell-bottoms became fashionable in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They were featured in music lyrics, on TV shows, and in the movies. For a while, bell-bottoms were all the rage. Then they were replaced by skinny jeans, which gave way to the “grunge look,” which turned into hip-hop pants, which have been replaced now by athleisure wear. Today, you can’t find bell-bottoms anywhere – even if you wanted to – except as collectible vintage clothing. I thought about [...]