All Systems Go

By |2018-10-17T06:20:08-05:00October 17th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What makes some companies take off while others struggle? Apollo 7 launch. Source: NASA There are lots of examples: Facebook created the dominant digital social network, while other platforms failed. Costco is a huge discount club while Wal-Mart has struggled. Johnson & Johnson has succeeded across a broad range of health-care businesses, while others have faltered, brought down by scandals or shrinking markets. What’s the difference? It comes down to leadership. Successful companies need vision: leaders who create a sense of community where their [...]

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The End of Management

By |2018-07-19T06:15:02-05:00July 19th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What do we look for in management? Illustration: John Lester. Source: FlikrCC-BY-2.0 Companies have physical plants and products and marketing. They have salespeople and information systems and workers. And overlaid on top of these physical and human assets is a structure called “management.” It’s not just the CEO and executive team and mid-level managers. It includes the organizational approach, the HR and production processes, the incentives, the contracts, etc., etc., etc. In fact, calling this superstructure “management” is misleading. It gives the impression that [...]

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Leading by Investing

By |2018-06-13T06:15:53-05:00June 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. [...]

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Visions of Greatness (Part 3)

By |2018-05-02T09:32:52-05:00May 2nd, 2018|Global Market Update|

What makes a leader great? George Washington c. 1772. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia A great leader has the vision and drive to want to take their organization to a new level, and the skills and charisma to inspire followers who can make that happen. America has been blessed by many great leaders over the years: Washington, Lincoln, FDR. They established and fundamentally transformed our country. Washington was truly an American Cincinnatus. He accepted the role of a military commander-in-chief when the new nation needed [...]

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Jerome Powell: Master of the Universe

By |2018-03-26T06:50:47-05:00March 26th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Who is Jay Powell? Public Domain. Source: Federal Reserve Jerome Powell, or “Jay,” is the 16th head of the Federal Reserve, charged with overseeing the nation’s money supply and financial system. Because of the Fed’s economic significance, the Fed Chair has been called the second most powerful person in the nation, with an outsized role regarding monetary policy. While our central bank is a hybrid system, with 12 regional Federal Reserve Bank Presidents, an Open Market Committee, and a powerful career staff, in reality [...]

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Follow the Leader

By |2017-07-17T12:21:22-05:00April 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 [...]

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Right Track / Wrong Track / Off Track

By |2017-07-17T12:21:40-05:00October 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 [...]

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The Irrelevant Federal Reserve

By |2017-07-17T12:21:55-05:00June 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 [...]

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The Fox and the Hedgehog

By |2017-07-17T12:22:07-05:00March 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 [...]

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Angling and Other Anglers

By |2017-07-17T12:22:41-05:00August 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 [...]

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