recentpopularlog in

jerryking : charlie_munger   7

When Charlie Munger Calls, Listen and Learn
Jan. 25, 2019 | WSJ | By Jason Zweig.

Mr. Munger was calling to say that he had read the novel Mr. Taylor was about to self-publish, “The Rebel Allocator.” He was “surprisingly engaged,” recalls Mr. Taylor, 37, who had sent the book to Mr. Munger without much hope the great investor would read it. Mr. Munger proceeded to reel off roughly 20 minutes of unsolicited, detailed advice, mostly about plot and character.

In an interview, Mr. Munger tells me he tends to “skim” or “at least give some cursory attention” to any book that mentions Berkshire Hathaway......“The Rebel Allocator” is the opposite of most business novels. Here, the rich capitalist isn’t an evil genius using genetic engineering to hijack the brains of newborn babies. Instead, he is a hero: an investing mastermind who regards allocating capital as a noble calling that improves other people’s lives.

In the novel, a business student named Nick is on a field trip with his MBA class when he meets a 77-year-old billionaire, Francis Xavier, a restaurant mogul also known as “the Rebel Allocator” and “the Wizard of Wichita.”

Blunt and bristly, with zero tolerance for stupidity, Mr. Xavier spouts proverbs and zingers. A mash-up of Mr. Munger and Mr. Buffett, he often invokes their ideas.

Taking a shine to Nick, Mr. Xavier asks him to write his biography. Like many young people today, Nick wonders if becoming a billionaire is inherently immoral when poverty is still widespread.

Mr. Xavier teaches Nick what separates great businesses from good and bad ones. He uses three drinking straws, labeled “cost,” “price” and “value,” to demonstrate: When a business can charge a higher price than its goods or services cost, the difference is profit. When the value its customers feel they get is greater than price, that difference is brand or pricing power—the ability to raise prices without losing customers.

As Mr. Xavier moves the straws around, Nick learns that investing decisions can make the world a better place: “Good capital allocation means doing more with less to create happier customers,” says Mr. Xavier. “Profit should be celebrated as a signal that an entrepreneur provided value while consuming the least amount of resources to do so.”
asset_management  Berkshire_Hathaway  books  capital_allocation  Charlie_Munger  fiction  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  Jason_Zweig  novels  Warren_Buffett 
january 2019 by jerryking
How a Former Canadian Spy Helps Wall Street Mavens Think Smarter
Nov. 11, 2018 | The New York Times | By Landon Thomas Jr.

* “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” by James Clear. “
* “The Laws of Human Nature,” an examination of human behavior that draws on examples of historical figures by Robert Greene.
* “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Bets When you Don’t Have All the Cards” by Annie Duke,
* “On Grand Strategy,” an assessment of the decisions of notable historical leaders by the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer John Lewis Gaddis

Shane Parrish has become an unlikely guru for Wall Street. His self-improvement strategies appeal to his overachieving audience in elite finance, Silicon Valley and professional sports.....Shane Parrish is a former cybersecurity expert at Canada’s top intelligence agency and an occasional blogger when he noticed something curious about his modest readership six years ago: 80 percent of his followers worked on Wall Street......The blog was meant to be a method of self-improvement, however, his lonely riffs — on how learning deeply, thinking widely and reading books strategically could improve decision-making skills — had found an eager audience among hedge fund titans and mutual fund executives, many of whom were still licking their wounds after the financial crisis.

His website, Farnam Street, urges visitors to “Upgrade Yourself.” In saying as much, Mr. Parrish is promoting strategies of rigorous self-betterment as opposed to classic self-help fare — which appeals to his overachieving audience in elite finance, Silicon Valley and professional sports. ....Today, Mr. Parrish’s community of striving financiers is clamoring for more of him. That means calling on him to present his thoughts and book ideas to employees and clients; attending his regular reading and think weeks in Hawaii, Paris and the Bahamas; and in some cases hiring him to be their personal decision-making coach......“We are trying to get people to ask themselves better questions and reflect. If you can do that, you will be better able to handle the speed and variety of changing environments.”....Parrish advises investors, to disconnect from the noise and to read deeply......Few Wall Street obsessions surpass the pursuit of an investment edge. In an earlier era, before computers and the internet, this advantage was largely brain power. Today, information is just another commodity. And the edge belongs to algorithms, data sets and funds that track indexes and countless other investment themes.......“It is all about habits,” “Setting goals is easy — but without good habits you are not getting there.”......“Every world-class investor is questioning right now how they can improve,” he said. “So, in a machine-driven age where everything is driven by speed, perhaps the edge is judgment, time and perspective.”
books  brainpower  Charlie_Munger  coaching  commoditization_of_information  CSE  cyber_security  decision_making  deep_learning  disconnecting  financiers  gurus  habits  investors  judgment  life_long_learning  overachievers  personal_coaching  perspectives  Pulitzer_Prize  questions  reading  reflections  self-betterment  self-improvement  slight_edge  smart_people  Wall_Street  Warren_Buffett 
november 2018 by jerryking
Knowing what we don’t know is an important investing skill,
DECEMBER 19, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | Scott Barlow, Globe and Mail market strategist.

"Making short-term predictions about how a price chart reflecting the actions of millions of people will fluctuate is more than just hard. The word Mandelbrot uses is "unpredictable" rather than difficult. Again: not predictable… Mandelbrot is not saying that investors should throw their hands in the air and quit, but rather that they should use the tools of probability in a more refined and nuanced way… Risk comes from now knowing what you are doing and avoiding those areas [that are inherently unpredictable] is a very good thing."

Mr. Mandelbrot's concepts do not make for easy reading and I don't pretend to understand even a majority of their implications. It is important, I think, for investors to have a general understanding of his findings nonetheless.

For one thing, Mr. Mandelbrot's work throws a huge wrench into Modern Portfolio Theory, the highly popular efficient frontier investing strategies that use distribution curves and standard deviation as a measure of risk. As Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger said, "if you think [distribution curves] apply to markets, then you must believe in the tooth fairy. It reminds me of when I asked a doctor at a medical school why he was still teaching an outdated procedure, and he replied, 'It's easier to teach.' "
investing  risks  financial_markets  investors  Charlie_Munger  unpredictability  pretense_of_knowledge  unknowns 
december 2017 by jerryking
The High Cost of Raising Prices - WSJ
By Andy Kessler
July 30, 2017

The more prices rise, the more customers bolt. It’s like running up a down escalator and never getting to the top. With the stock market hitting highs just about every day, investors need to be wary of companies that raise prices to make their numbers. These stocks make for spectacular sell-offs on even the slightest earnings miss......I had a friend who worked at General Electric for decades. He told me that in strategy sessions with his management, Jack Welch would constantly berate them, saying, “Any idiot can raise prices.” Except he used a stronger word than idiot to coax them into squeezing out costs, adding features, improving services and generally delighting customers. Contrast this with Berkshire Hathaway . Vice Chairman Charlie Munger found that with See’s Candies “we could raise prices 10% a year and no one cared. Learning that changed Berkshire.” .........There’s a long list of price bumpers. Walk down any supermarket aisle. Kellogg’s prices constantly snap, crackle and mostly pop. Procter & Gamble toothpaste sizes shrink faster than my cavity count, always less for the same price. Now private-equity firms are circling P&G. Same for Nestlé . Expect rising beer and liquor prices soon....Empires are lost on rising prices. Until recently, rather than innovate in mobile or cloud computing, Microsoft kept raising the price of its Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Tablets and phones ate their lunch. Fees rose at eBay until Amazon took its growth away. .........Increasing prices attracts others to attack your market. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos warns: “Your margin is my opportunity.”....Competition solves much of this problem. Investors love protected businesses, but eventually relentless price increases kill them all. Consumers are the kangaroo at the bar in the old cartoon: The bartender says, “Say, we don’t get a lot of kangaroos in here.” The kangaroo replies, “No, and with these prices, I can see why!” Call me a kangaroo, but I prefer to invest in companies that lower prices and offer more.
Andy_Kessler  pricing  price_hikes  drawbacks  margins  Charlie_Munger  CPG  shareholder_activism  P&G  Nestlé  Kellogg  Jack_Welch  GE  large_companies  cost-cutting  Amazon  Jeff_Bezos  staying_hungry  delighting_customers  high-cost 
july 2017 by jerryking
The humbling of Valeant’s Michael Pearson - The Globe and Mail
TIM KILADZE
The humbling of Valeant’s Michael Pearson
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016

What we’re left with: A “Canadian” company we should happily disown, and critical reminders that certain business rules should never be broken. Chief among them: Debt is never a problem until, suddenly, it is; markets will love you until, suddenly, they don’t; and the roll-up game, driven by endless acquisitions, is nearly impossible to sustain.....By slashing R&D spending costs, Mr. Pearson freed up cash flow to buy more companies – whose R&D departments were then gutted to repeat the same trick. To juice earnings, he acquired Ottawa-based Biovail in 2010, which came with a Barbados-based subsidiary. Valeant started ushering U.S. profits to offshore tax domiciles – marking the first-ever pharmaceutical tax inversion and sending its corporate tax rate to the mid-single digits.

To fuel acquisitions, Mr. Pearson borrowed tens of billions of $ of incredibly cheap debt. By mid-2015, Valeant had $31-billion (U.S.) in debt and paid over $1-billion a year in interest.

There were warning signs these bold acts would backfire. Last March, Warren Buffett’s inner circle started to inflict damage. At an investor meeting, Charlie Munger, one of the value investor’s best friends, said he was “holding his nose” by looking at Valeant, adding that the company “wasn’t moral.”

That cautionary message did little to deter two of Valeant’s top investors: the Sequoia Fund – which has ties to Mr. Buffett – and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management. Whatever criticisms were hurled at the drug maker, they stood by it, repeatedly stressing that they believed in Mr. Pearson. Their faith in him seemed nearly biblical. And because they showed resolve, hedge funds kept piling in – momentum investing at its very worst. By the end of June, nearly 100 of them had stakes in the drug maker........One of the best lessons from the global financial crisis was that everything became correlated when the U.S. housing market crashed. The same is true for Valeant. Investigations into its pricing policy made investors worry about revenue; worries about the income statement morphed into fears about balance-sheet debt; leverage woes prevented Valeant from borrowing more to fund future acquisitions.

The cynicism turned investors’ momentum strategy on its head.
Valeant  Bay_Street  CEOs  pharmaceutical_industry  Charlie_Munger  Warren_Buffett  M&A  boards_&_directors_&_governance  correlations  hedge_funds  Pershing_Square  William_Ackman  debt  R&D  cash_flows  roll_ups 
march 2016 by jerryking
When Yahoo Met Alibaba: The Third Time Was the Charm
August 6, 2014 | Deckposts | Susan Decker

I serve on two boards with noted investor Charlie Munger — Costco and Berkshire Hathaway. Munger is a legendary business leader with an abundance of wisd...
boards_&_directors_&_governance  lessons_learned  Charlie_Munger  Costco  Berkshire_Hathaway  learning_agility  quotes 
december 2014 by jerryking
Why Panic Passes Him By - WSJ.com
October 15, 2008 | WSJ | By PAUL B. CARROLL who reviews
The Snowball
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, 960 pages, $35)

Why Panic Passes Him By
All you wanted to know about Warren Buffett – and more.

While much of Mr. Buffett's methods can't be duplicated -- genius is genius, after all -- "The Snowball" usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment's intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to "invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What's in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don't we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead."
Berkshire_Hathaway  book_reviews  books  Charlie_Munger  failure  genius  intrinsic_value  investing  investors  lessons_learned  margin_of_safety  off-plan  panics  Plan_B  post-mortems  risk-assessment  thinking_backwards  thinking_tragically  Warren_Buffett  worst-case 
june 2012 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read