Diamond Are What?

By |2019-07-31T05:55:58-04:00July 31st, 2019|Global Market Update|

Are diamonds anything like an investor’s best friend? Photo: ArielGold. Source: Wikipedia Diamonds are an incredible instrument. They are so dense and transparent at the same time that light bends quite sharply when it enters or exits the gemstone. They’re incredibly hard, but can also be trimmed and formed. By cutting a gem into just the right shape with the ideal number of facets in just the right places, a diamond can seem to have “fire” inside it: the reflection and refraction of light [...]

Hamburger Helpers

By |2019-07-29T06:32:34-04:00July 29th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What can hamburgers teach us about economics? Photo: Phil Grey. Source: Needpix. CC0 Around the world, the McDonald’s Big Mac is a model of consistency. Whether we walk into a McDonald’s in Beijing or Brussels or Bogota, we’re going to see the same combination of beef patties, cheese, condiments, and a bun. That formula has been so successful that it’s offered in 36,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. Starting in 1986, Economist magazine started tracking Big Mac prices around the world, as a lighthearted [...]

Fundamental Financial Forces

By |2019-07-26T05:49:44-04:00July 26th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Is there a unified theory of finance? Photo: Doug Davey. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0 In physics, scientists are searching for a unified theory. It’s possible one doesn’t exist. Ever since Maxwell discovered the equations that combine the forces of electricity, magnetism, and light, physicists have tried to tie all the rest of the fundamental forces in the universe together. Einstein described how electricity and magnetism work with his theories, but he couldn’t tie in gravity, or the forces that hold a stable atomic nucleus together, [...]

Too Big to Fail?

By |2019-07-25T05:44:50-04:00July 25th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Remember summer camp? Photo: Becket Chimney Corners YMCA. Source: Wikimedia. In camp we used to sing a ditty about the Titanic, where they thought they’d built a ship that the water could never go through. That’s how the architecture of our banking system seems. Too many parties have too much at stake in the system, so they’ve designed a system so big and so splashy that nothing could ever sink it. Like the Titanic. Some people see how interconnected the banking system is and [...]

Fashions, Flocks, and Ballistic Trajectories

By |2019-07-24T05:41:11-04:00July 24th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Where do fashions come from? Photo: James Santiago. Source: Wikimedia I used to work near a near a big park, where I could eat my lunch on nice days. There wasn’t much litter. Leftover food would be quickly devoured by the swarms of pigeons that hung out there. They would poke about, searching for random scraps that had been left behind. If anyone started to feed them, a large group of birds would assemble in front of them. Dozens of birds would fly over, [...]

Getting in Shape

By |2019-07-23T05:59:14-04:00July 23rd, 2019|Global Market Update|

What’s an active shareholder? Source: Needpix. CC0. An active investor is someone who buys a stake in a company and puts pressure on management to make some sort of change. Their goals can be financial, social, or governance-driven. Common objectives might be increasing dividends and share buybacks, reducing excessive management salaries, or disinvestment from particular countries or activities. 30 years ago these folks were called corporate raiders, forcing management to take action or buy them out, often at a fat premium to the current [...]

Deflation Rules

By |2019-07-22T05:57:52-04:00July 22nd, 2019|Global Market Update|

The United States was built on deflation. Photo: Derek Jenson. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0 In an era of wars over land and resources – the Spanish Armada, the 80 Years War, the German Peasant’s War – the discovery and settlement of the New World dramatically increased the supply of everything. More land, as pioneers established new lives. More resources, as endless vistas of fields and forests met the eye. More opportunity, as colonists and later immigrants poured in. The founding of the American republic in [...]

Booting Up

By |2019-07-18T08:17:32-04:00July 18th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Remember platform shoes? Source: Pxhere. CC0 Platform shoes were a fashion trend that started in the late ‘60s. They gave the wearers additional height, making them more prominent. Rock star David Bowie wore them when he performed as Ziggy Stardust. So did other pop stars. The fad faded in the mid-‘80s, as people took to a more classic business-like style. But business platforms are huge today, especially digital platforms. A business platform brings people together so they can do something more. A Middle-Eastern souk [...]

The Endless Feast?

By |2019-07-17T05:58:19-04:00July 17th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What keeps our economy going? Photo: Rita E. Source: Pixabay Ernest Hemingway lived in Paris as a young man during the 1920s. He called it “a movable feast.” The intellectual fellowship he experienced with notable writers and artists like Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others stayed with him for the rest of his life. He could always look back on that time and draw on its nourishment. Debt is the economy’s movable feast. But it also feeds crisis after crisis. [...]

Time is Money

By |2019-07-15T22:26:02-04:00July 15th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Who owns our work? Photo: Kalhh. Source: Pixabay https://pixabay.com/illustrations/clock-time-time-pressure-dates-276747/ There’s a memorable scene from the bike-racing movie, “Breaking Away.” When a member of a teenage gang of shows up for his first day of work at a car wash, the pushy new boss tells him: “Don’t forget to punch the clock, Shorty.” Offended by his supervisor’s attitude, the young man wraps his hand in a rag and physically punches the time-clock, breaking its glass. His buddies cheer, and he storms off. As long as [...]