Follow the Leader

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:22+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Do we suffer from an “expert” bias? Photo: Christopher Michael. Source: Flikr We tend to trust the views of experts, especially when it’s about something we haven’t experienced ourselves. If I haven’t travelled to Antarctica, I’ll generally trust someone who’s actually been there – even if they travelled to the islands on the Antarctic Peninsula, and I’m headed for the South Pole – over 1500 miles away. This is natural. When we’re in unfamiliar territory, we want a guide. We look for someone to [...]

Right Track / Wrong Track / Off Track

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:40+00:00 October 19th, 2016|Global Market Update|

What makes some companies thrive while others struggle? Photo: Lexcelsior. Source: Animal Photos We see lots of examples in the marketplace: Facebook created the dominant digital social network, while other platforms—MySpace, Friendster—never took off. Costco has grown as a discount club while Wal-Mart struggled. Johnson & Johnson has succeeded across a range of health-care businesses, while others faltered—brought down by scandals or shrinking markets. What’s the difference? It comes down to management. Successful companies need visionary leadership—leaders that create a sense of community where [...]

The Irrelevant Federal Reserve

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:55+00:00 June 16th, 2016|Global Market Update|

What if they had a Fed meeting and nobody cared? Janet Yellen at her press conference. Source: Federal Reserve The FOMC had been trying to talk up rates for the past two months. Some notable policy doves were commenting that the market had it wrong—that interest rate expectations were too low, and that we should expect two or three rate hikes this year. Even Chair Yellen got in on the act. In May, she noted that long as the economy continues on-track, the Fed [...]

The Fox and the Hedgehog

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:07+00:00 March 11th, 2016|Global Market Update|

“The fox knows many things, while the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Photo: Jeremy P. Gray The Greek poet Archilocus noticed this almost 3000 years ago. We often see two different types of people. Some people go everywhere, and study everything—pursuing contradictory ideas. They’re eclectic, diffused, and omnivorous. On the other side are souls who pursue a singular, unitary vision, an all-embracing organizing principle that gives the world coherence. We see this all around us. In literature, Dante was a hedgehog: he wanted to [...]

Angling and Other Anglers

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:41+00:00 August 5th, 2015|Global Market Update|

“The majority is never right.” – Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People Photo: Francis Hannaway. Source: Wikipedia Have you ever been to a fishing tournament? At the starting time, dozens of boats roar off to their favorite fishing holes, which quickly become crowded. There are usually two winners: the one that pulls in the most weight and the one that catches the largest individual fish. In the US, there are over 30,000 fishing derbies every year. Watching a tournament can be fun. You [...]

Burned Out By The List

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:16+00:00 July 30th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Are you burned out? When the to-do list is filled with urgent items that are underlined and have stars and exclamation points next to them, it’s tempting to throw up our hands and curl into a ball. The to-do list is an inescapable part of modern life. Sometimes we make lists of our lists just to keep them straight. And these lists are usually filled with things that we do to avoid criticism, that we have to do to avoid some negative consequence, but [...]

Fortune Favors Who?

By | 2014-09-18T09:55:26+00:00 July 29th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Is it safe to go slow? That’s what our instincts tell us. Whether we see a market running away, or an accident on the highway, our first instinct usually is to slow down, look around, and see what else is going on. “Haste makes waste,” goes the saying. But slower isn’t always safer. When something truly new has been introduced, it’s important to take advantage of the changes. Watching and waiting may seem prudent, but often it’s just an excuse for procrastination and indecision. [...]

Investment Leadership

By | 2014-06-30T09:47:34+00:00 June 30th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Are investors leaders? They should be. The same qualities that we see in the best leaders also serve investors well. Leaders need to have clear goals; they need to establish a culture of integrity; they need to understand what they can—and more importantly, cannot—do. And they need to communicate these values to those around them. Virgil’s poem, The Aeneid, lays out these classic leadership elements: fatum, pietas, and virtus. Today we would call them vision, culture, and values. In this work, Virgil paints a [...]

The Quality is Right (Part 2)

By | 2014-04-11T10:57:01+00:00 April 11th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Would you rather bet on a horse, or a jockey? A smart race-track operator would say, “both.” The horse’s name is the main event, but who the jockey is matters. A good rider can get a lot more out of a horse than people expect. It’s that way with a company’s management. Good managers can inspire their staff, transform their marketplace, and get more value of corporate assets than anyone thought possible. Bad managers act like poison in the well: anyone who comes near [...]

The Weakness of Strength

By | 2017-07-17T12:34:21+00:00 March 6th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Are your strengths holding you back? People like to play to their strengths. But sometimes those strengths can cause problems. You may have heard of the “Peter Principle”—that managers rise to the level of their incompetence. They get promoted because they do a good job, and if they succeed they get promoted again, until they don’t excel any more—at which point they stay put. This is the failure of success: people keep doing what they are good at, rather than what the new job [...]