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jerryking : boring   12

Michael Lewis Makes Boring Stuff Interesting - WSJ
May 17, 2019 | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | By Richard Turner.

The writer’s new podcast ‘Against the Rules’ asks what has happened to fairness in the U.S.......Michael Lewis doesn’t really need this gig. His new podcast, “Against the Rules,” doesn’t pay anything close to his book-writing day job. It’s unlikely to turn into a movie. Plus, the podcast’s subject is pretty abstract: Who are the referees in our society? Who determines what is fair and even what is true? Is our whole system rigged from stem to stern, as everyone from President Donald Trump to sports fans to the Black Lives Matter movement insists?.....The idea ...is to examine “what’s happened to fairness” in an age when America’s arbiters are no longer trusted. The Walter Cronkites of the world are gone, and those assigned to make the tough calls are reviled, threatened and assumed (sometimes correctly) to be corrupt.....“It’s a big problem for democracy if people don’t have a shared reality,” Mr. Lewis says. “It’s difficult to establish a referee in an increasingly unequal environment” like today’s U.S., “when there are powerful parties and not-so powerful ones. .......Mr. Lewis’s skills turn out to be well-suited to the podcast medium. His calling card, echoed by untold critics and readers, is this: He makes boring stuff interesting. He collects disparate ingredients, whips them up with character and narrative, and distills human stories into engrossing big-picture explainers........Lewis keeps seeing failures of refereeing. “There was no referee at the interface between Wall Street and the consumers—consumer finance. I saw the birth of that, when Wall Street hit segments of society it had never touched, through subprime mortgages, for car loans, through asset-backed securities. There was no one saying, ‘That’s fair and that’s not.’”.......Among his topics: correct English usage, judges, used cars, identity theft, credit-card companies, student-loan abuses, Cambridge Analytica, King Solomon and the famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who handled victim compensation for 9/11 families and those affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. Listeners can imagine myriad future topics related to fairness: expanding the Supreme Court, machines calling balls and strikes, cable-news coverage of the Trump presidency and so on.
boring  consumer_finance  credit-ratings  democracy  failure  fairness  gaming_the_system  Michael_Lewis  NBA  podcasting  podcasts  refereeing  rules_of_the_game  shared_experiences  unglamorous  Wall_Street  writers 
may 2019 by jerryking
Why boring government matters
November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages.

John MacWilliams is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who becomes the risk manager for the department of energy. He regales Lewis with a horrific catalogue of all the things that can go wrong if a government takes its eye off the ball, and provides the book with its title. Asked to name the five things that worry him the most, he lists the usual risks that one would expect — accidents, the North Koreans, Iran — but adds that the “fifth risk” is “project management”.

Lewis explains that “this is the risk society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.” In other words, America will suffer if it stops caring about the unsung but vital programmes that decontaminate billions of tonnes of nuclear waste, fund basic scientific research and gather weather data.

That trap, he makes clear with instance after instance of the Trump administration failing to heed or even meet with his heroic bureaucrats, is what America is falling into now.

We should all be frightened.
books  book_reviews  boring  bureaucracy  bureaucrats  cynicism  Department_of_Energy  government  Michael_Lewis  public_servants  risks  technocrats  unglamorous  writers  short-term_thinking  competence  sovereign-risk  civics  risk-management 
november 2018 by jerryking
The Psychology of Money · Collaborative Fund
“Investing is not the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money… It helps, I’ve found, when making money decisions to constantly remind yourself that the purpose of investing is to maximize returns, not minimize boredom. Boring is perfectly fine. Boring is good. If you want to frame this as a strategy, remind yourself: opportunity lives where others aren’t, and others tend to stay away from what’s boring.......few things in money are as valuable as options. The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, and why you want, has infinite ROI.”

The finance industry talks too much about what to do, and not enough about what happens in your head when you try to do it.

This report describes 20 flaws, biases, and causes of bad behavior I’ve seen pop up often when people deal with money.
biases  personal_finance  psychology  boring  optionality  investing 
june 2018 by jerryking
An unusual family approach to investing
May 30, 2018 | FT | John Gapper.

JAB’s acquisition of Pret A Manger resembles private equity but with a long-term twist.

Warren Buffett’s definition of Berkshire Hathaway’s ideal investment holding period as forever. ....Luxembourg-based JAB, owned by four heirs to a German chemical fortune, takes a family approach to investing. It is unusual in that this holding company seeks to retain its portfolio companies for at least a decade. These include Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme and Keurig Green Mountain coffee, which it merged with Dr Pepper Snapple in an $18.7bn deal in January 2018. This week JAB acquired the UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger for £1.5bn, continuing its buying spree of cafés and coffee, mounting a challenge to public companies such as Nestlé.

**These companies are acquired not to be traded but to be invested in and expanded.**

JAB is an innovative combination of ownership and investment in a world that needs challengers to stock market ownership and private equity. It is family controlled, but run by veteran professional executives. When it invests in companies such as Pret A Manger, it deploys not only the Reimann family’s wealth but that of other entrepreneurs and family investors.......Some of the equity for its recent deals, including Panera and Dr Pepper, came from funds raised by Byron Trott, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker best known for being trusted by the banker-averse Mr Buffett. Mr Trott’s BDT banking boutique specialises in advising founders and heirs to corporate fortunes, including the Waltons of Walmart, and the Mars and Pritzker families.

This is investment, but not as most of us know it. By definition, the world’s companies are mostly controlled by founders and their families — only a minority become big enough to be floated on stock markets and need to disclose much of their workings to outsiders. Family fortunes also tend to remain as private as possible: there is little incentive to advertise how much wealth one has inherited......As [families'] fortunes grow in size and sophistication, more of the cash is invested in other companies rather than in shares and bonds. That is where JAB and Mr Trott come in.

Entrepreneurs and their families tend to be fascinated by their own enterprises and bored by managing their wealth. But they want to preserve it, and they often like the idea of investing it in companies similar to their own — industrial and consumer groups that need more capital to expand. It is not only more interesting but a form of self-affirmation for the successful....Being acquired by JAB is appealing. The group turns up, says it will not take part in an auction but offers a good price (it bought Pret for more than its former owner Bridgepoint could get by floating it). It often keeps the existing executives, telling them they have to plough their own money into the company, and invests in long-term growth provided the business is efficiently run.

This is more congenial than heading a public company and contending with a huge variety of shareholders, including short-term and activist investors. It is also less risky than being bought by 3G Capital, the cost-cutting private equity group with which Mr Buffett teamed up to acquire Kraft Heinz. While 3G is expert at eliminating expenses it is less so at encouraging growth.
coffee  dynasties  high_net_worth  holding_periods  investing  investors  JAB  long-term  Nestlé  Pritzker  private_equity  privately_held_companies  Unilever  unusual  Warren_Buffett  family  cafés  Pret_A_Manger  3G_Capital  discretion  entrepreneur  boring  family_business  heirs 
may 2018 by jerryking
The joy of boring business ideas
April 11, 2018 | Financial Times | by JONATHAN MARGOLIS
Slippers, razors and even gas boilers offer ripe pickings for profit and disruption.

Simon Phelan and his online gas boiler installation company, Hometree, are “aiming to replicate the success of online estate agent Purplebricks in an equally large, albeit more boring market: boiler installations.”......Start-ups doing anything new, cute or plain off-the-wall often struggle. .....Boring may be the new interesting.......Mahabis, a carpet slippers start-up, has sold close to a million pairs of its £79 product....another boring domestic product, razors, have proved to be a lucrative market for what are essentially tech companies, such as Dollar Shave Club (bought by Unilever for $1bn) and Harry’s.....It is not just products: dull-sounding online services also seem to pay off. London start-up ClearScore, a millennial-focused fintech company which offers users free credit scoring and personal finance guides, sold to Experian last month for £275m, after just three years in business......Phelan is pursuing gas boilers, not because he was interested in them, but because he was looking for a way into the growing smart-home sector. He wants to build a slick way to modernise boiler installation, so that by the time newer, more eco-friendly home heating technologies become standard he will already have a loyal customer base. This is why Hometree has more in common with tech companies than with local plumbers.

“Where I think people go wrong in entrepreneurship is building a product, rather than a business for the future,” says Mr Phelan....Making a neglected category simple and elegant is attractive.”

“All you have to do,” he concluded, “is not to see it as a gas boiler business, but a much bigger play......Phelan’s idea that new businesses need to be strategic rather than excitable about this or that gimmicky new product is one that other entrepreneurs would do well to follow.
disruption  unglamorous  smart_homes  eco-friendly  reinvention  home_based  new_businesses  new_products  millennials  fin-tech  credit_scoring  personal_finance  boring  buying_a_business  Dollar_Shave_Club  Harry’s 
april 2018 by jerryking
Five unpopular personal finance truths
November 15, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | by RYAN MODESTO SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

* You need to invest!!!! This element gets overlooked--Saving alone won't cut it. If saving is the workhorse to get you somewhere, investing is at least the reins that help to steer you to your destination. .... Investing is only going to become more important as pensions get leaner and less prominent and living costs rise while wages stay stagnant. Investing those savings is how one can bridge the gap. So if you are saving money, give yourself a pat on the back, but don't stop there – you are only part of the way through the journey.

* You need to be able to save. Spending is fun; saving usually less so. The issue is one of delayed gratification. really is the crux of why people prefer to spend today than save for tomorrow.... trim unnecessary costs....and remember the power of compound interest.

* Personal finance is not fun (for most). Personal finance is boring....even a daunting topic.

* Personal finance is rarely black and white.....Different financial strategies work for different people. ...While the numbers can offer a guideline, the answers to personal finance questions are rarely black and white....The second part of this is the willingness to save, which is more psychological. You need to be both willing and able to save money to be able to help yourself in the first place. There are no silver bullets when it comes to finance. At the end of the day, you need to be willing and able to save money for anything else to matter.

* You have to treat yourself. At the end of the day, we make money so we can provide for those who rely on us, live a particular lifestyle and hopefully have a bit of fun. .... Personal finances are a life-long grind, and as long as the little things stay under control, they are not going to be what makes the difference in 80 years..... you can't take the money with you, so you have to spend some of it....But just some of it.
* A sixth rule might be: Don't blame "the world" for being not able to save. Look at what you are currently spending money on and think about whether you actually "need" to (vs "want") and also if there is any way to change to something that is less expensive.
* A seventh rule: Plan for financial shocks/emergencies. Keep some money in the bank (and invest it in something, of course) so if your car breaks down or you get laid off, you can keep the wolf from the door for at least a couple of months.
* An eight rule: If you go out shopping to 'cheer yourself up', stop doing it.
* A ninth rule : Just because a bank offers to give you tons of money doesn't mean it is a good idea for you to take it.
personal_finance  financial_literacy  investing  delayed_gratification  boring  personal_savings_rate  financial_shocks  emergencies 
november 2017 by jerryking
How to avert catastrophe
January 21, 2017 | FT | Simon Kuper.

an argument: people make bad judgments and terrible predictions. It’s a timely point. The risk of some kind of catastrophe — armed conflict, natural disaster, and/or democratic collapse — appears to have risen. The incoming US president has talked about first use of nuclear weapons, and seems happy to let Russia invade nearby countries. Most other big states are led by militant nationalists. Meanwhile, the polar ice caps are melting fast. How can we fallible humans avert catastrophe?

• You can’t know which catastrophe will happen, but expect that any day some catastrophe could. In Tversky’s words: “Surprises are expected.” Better to worry than die blasé. Mobilise politically to forestall catastrophe.
• Don’t presume that future catastrophes will repeat the forms of past catastrophes. However, we need to expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form.
• Don’t follow the noise. Some catastrophes unfold silently: climate change, or people dying after they lose their jobs or their health insurance. (The financial crisis was associated with about 260,000 extra deaths from cancer in developed countries alone, estimated a study in The Lancet.)
• Ignore banalities. We now need to stretch and bore ourselves with important stuff.
• Strengthen democratic institutions.
• Strengthen the boring, neglected bits of the state that can either prevent or cause catastrophe. [See Why boring government matters November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.
The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages. pinboard tag " sovereign-risk" ]
• Listen to older people who have experienced catastrophes. [jk....wisdom]
• Be conservative. [jk...be conservative, be discerning, be picky, be selective, say "no"]
Simon_Kuper  catastrophes  Nassim_Taleb  black_swan  tips  surprises  imagination  noise  silence  conservatism  natural_calamities  threats  unglamorous  democratic_institutions  slowly_moving  elder_wisdom  apocalypses  disasters  disaster_preparedness  emergencies  boring  disaster_myopia  financial_crises  imperceptible_threats 
january 2017 by jerryking
The Top 10 Trends in 10 Industries - WSJ.com
February 9, 2004 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.

The Top 10 Trends in 10 Industries
How do trend spotters find what they're looking for? They keep their eyes open...read voraciously and brainstorm with colleagues. Travel to hot spots of innovation, or just a few miles down the road. The ultimate goal is the same: to find the latest business trends with staying power. That's because their long-term professional success -- just like that of countless other executives -- depends on being early and accurate trend spotters....Some trend spotters rely on obscure journals, others on key groups of people they think are ahead of the curve. Some pore over data, others follow the money...."It's important at the top levels of an organization to spend time looking for big new ideas," "Farther down, people aren't going to have as much time to break away from the daily demands of their jobs to do this. But good leaders should help set a culture where this intuition about what's next is rewarded."....Distinguish between valuable trends and embarrassing fads.
trends  industries  idea_generation  trend_spotting  Accel  boring  Jim_Breyer  hotspots  discernment  fads  ahead_of_the_curve  George_Anders 
may 2012 by jerryking
Why Flush Financiers Court Unloved Businesses - WSJ.com
APRIL 9, 2007 | WSJ | By KAREN RICHARDSON and SERENA NG

Relatively Cheap Entries, Potential for Rich Exits Draw Bargain Hunters to the Turnaround Game.

Veteran financiers flush with cash are turning their sights on industries shunned by the stock market, tapping into tax benefits, newfangled loans and an ability to borrow far more money than public shareholders would tolerate.

...These deals offer a chance for successful restructuring of companies and industries struggling to meet the challenges of globalization, modern technology or economic cycles. As private enterprises, they can undertake union talks and financial restructuring outside the glare of public scrutiny and without worrying about the impact on small shareholders.
boring  Sam_Zell  turnarounds  Wilbur_Ross  restructurings  private_equity  privately_held_companies  financiers  vulture_investing  economic_cycles  unglamorous 
october 2011 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: The long and short of investing: Boring pays better
Saturday, April 21, 2007 | The Globe & Mail pg. B7 |AVNER MANDELMAN

Rules for selling short, although he points out that short selling as a business activity is inferior to going long
investing  Avner_Mandelman  short_selling  unglamorous  boring 
march 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Gimme much more
April 25, 2008 G&M column by DOUG STEINER

We all want more information about everything. Yet we often can't get the precious data we need to make good financial decisions, or we don't bother. ...."ANALYZE BEFORE YOU INVEST." We agreed that we didn't heed that advice often enough. But to ABYI, you need hard data, and few companies have ever been eager to disclose it......In 1930's Ontario, companies were only required to table their financial results at their annual meeting, so managers held the meeting in an out-of-the-way place. In 1945, the Ontario Securities Act finally required any company selling shares to the public to provide full and plain disclosure of key financial information in its prospectus.

It wasn't until 1958 that Ontario required companies to file prompt reports of any "material change" in their business. Insider trading on the basis of information not available to the public wasn't outlawed until 1966.....regulators only enforce rules or draw up new ones after problems arise. To act pre-emptively would be hellishly unproductive, and might prompt companies and capital markets to move elsewhere........Better disclosure can help both investors and executives....Even without disclosure rules, you can dig up lots of information about the executives of companies in your portfolio. Last year, U.S. academics David Yermack and Crocker Liu published a study that compared the size and prices of houses bought by CEOs with their companies' share prices. The duo used the excellent U.S. real estate site Zillow.com and other public sources to gather data. On average, the bigger and pricier the home purchased, the worse the subsequent share price performance.

I like to invest in companies where I know the senior managers, and I'm lucky to know many of them. In some cases, much of the information about their character appears in the media. I prefer executives who don't have big photos in their offices of themselves with politicians and other notables. I like CEOs who drive older cars, work all the time and have no hobbies. Boring, focused and cheap.
data  Doug_Steiner  disclosure  '30s  insider_trading  CEOs  mundane  prospectuses  cost-consciousness  focus  unglamorous  boring  investors 
february 2009 by jerryking

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