Visions of Greatness (Part 1)

By | 2018-04-30T16:42:52+00:00 April 30th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Visions of Greatness (Part 1) What makes for greatness? Photo: Ronnie Macdonald. Source: Wikimedia There’s a telling exchange in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” where King Faisal tells British Lieutenant Lawrence that the medieval Arab city of Cordova had two miles of public lighting while London was still a village. “You were great then,” Lawrence replies. “Time to be great again, my Lord.” When Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, people were curious. He was largely an unknown quantity. Would he [...]

A Better Idea?

By | 2018-04-27T06:55:26+00:00 April 27th, 2018|Global Market Update|

There really are no sacred cows. Model T Roadster, 1910. Source: Wikimedia That’s what I thought when I read that Ford was pretty much abandoning auto production in the US. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. My first thought was, “Is this really happening? Is this ‘fake news’? Did some random feed take over my search engine?” But it’s true: Ford will stop producing most sedans by 2022 – the Fiesta, Fusion, Taurus, and crossover C-Max. They didn’t announce plans for the Lincoln Continental or [...]

The Power of Presence

By | 2018-04-26T06:44:26+00:00 April 26th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Why is economic growth so geographically clustered? Economic map of the US. Source: WeForum.org, Bureau of Economic Analysis Almost 20% of the US economy is concentrated in the Boston-Washington corridor. Another 10% comes from California, between San Francisco and San Diego. In an era of teleconferencing and Skype, where almost everyone has continual access to web-based presentations, virtual reality, and equivalent of the Library of Alexandria, why is economic growth so clustered? One explanation is the power of presence and the importance of capital. [...]

Our Fashion, Our Selves

By | 2018-04-25T05:52:18+00:00 April 25th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Do clothes affect how we think? Photo: Ahman Ardity. Source: Pixabay A recent study supports this notion. It has long been known that what goes on with your body affects how your mind works. If we force ourselves to smile, we get jokes more easily; if we flex our muscles, we brace ourselves to resist temptation or tackle a difficult task. Stretching and relaxing our bodies relaxes our thinking. Having a mind-body link is one thing; but it looks like there’s a mind-clothes link, [...]

A New Hub?

By | 2018-04-24T07:42:26+00:00 April 24th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Silicon Valley has a new competitor. Photo: Victor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo For years California has been the leader in generating, funding, and bringing new information technologies to the market. From Intel to Apple to Google to Facebook, Silicon Valley has been a nexus of technological innovation and economic growth. The last serious competitor to the Valley was Route 128 outside of Boston. Both areas had strong sources of human and financial capital, but Silicon Valley benefited from a more free-wheeling, less hierarchical, and more [...]

Super-Powers and Super Problems

By | 2018-04-23T08:34:29+00:00 April 23rd, 2018|Global Market Update|

If you could have a super-power, what would you pick? Fair Use. Art: Alex Ross. Source: Wikipedia A lot of politicians and State financial managers would probably pick invisibility. That’s what they’ll need, or want to use, on their State financial problems, especially their pension problems. For years we’ve heard of “looming pension problem.” Ever since the 1950s, analysts have warned of the moral hazard associated with public pensions. Public officials can garner current electoral support by promising expanded future benefits. The votes come [...]

The Highs and the Lows

By | 2018-04-20T07:42:25+00:00 April 20th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Quality is destiny. Joe Kittinger’s 100,000 foot jump. Source: US Air Force Aldo Gucci, the Italian fashion king, is supposed to have said, “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.” People may forget how much they paid, but how a product performs is in their face every day. That cheap suit doesn’t look thrifty, it just looks cheap. The same can be said of investments. How much you pay for your investments matters a lot. The price you pay is a big factor [...]

Hardware and Software

By | 2018-04-19T06:38:55+00:00 April 19th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Hardware makes the future possible. Software make it happen. Public Domain. Source: NASA That’s what I think about when I think about the robotics innovations that are poised to change our lives: drones, driverless cars, virtual assistants. These technologies are built around things we already know pretty well: cars, helicopters, and our smartphones. But by adding sophisticated software, they are about to make a big difference in the world. Take driverless cars. I had a personal driver once, and it was great. I temporarily [...]

Odds-On Investing

By | 2018-04-18T06:27:32+00:00 April 18th, 2018|Global Market Update|

“Don’t tell me the odds.” Photo: Michael Parzchowski. Source: Unsplash That’s how a lot of people approach gambling. For them, it’s entertainment. The risk associated with placing a bet and waiting for the outcome creates a certain exhilaration, independent of the outcome. It’s why slot machines and horse tracks are so popular, even people know that the odds are against them. People don’t want to know the odds because that information detract from the excitement. It’s fun to dream of making that big score, [...]

Investing by Starlight

By | 2018-04-17T06:50:01+00:00 April 17th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Every decade or so, a new investment star is born. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Source: MOMA In the ‘60s it was growth stocks. In the ‘70s it was gold. In the ‘80s we all turned Japanese. The ‘90s had the Nasdaq. The ‘00s saw China’s growth. And now we have the data giants. Each one of these markets rallied some 10-fold during its heyday. What’s next? One approach is to look for the asset that no one wants. In the early ‘80s Japan just [...]