Happy Hour: Confidence Game

I ran across an interesting article in The Atlantic on the advantages of being a jerk versus being nice and how both fit into the business world. The author covers several case studies before boiling it down to what works best between the two.

But it got me thinking about how it relates to investing, like the prediction sideshow that drives financial media and why some people hang on every word. Continue Reading…

Happy Hour: Scare Tactics

Marketwatch published a scare tactic this week loading up several targets for the average investor to blame when they fail. It’s the typical one-sided drivel that’s heavy on noise and light on help.

By the end, the authors served up Wall Street, institutional investors, high frequency trading, regulations, CEOs, financial advisers salespeople, high fee funds, active managed funds, IPOs, M & A, the SEC, and computers.

Oh yeah. Don’t forget the wealthy. Somehow it’s their fault too: Continue Reading…

Happy Hour: Default Nudge

Richard Thaler wrote an article in the N.Y. Times about how our behavior doesn’t always mesh with economic theory. Basically, our behavior conflicts with their math.

Thaler studies the idea of using nudges to get people to do something they wouldn’t normally do. Really, nudges lower or remove the friction that’s holding us back. These are things we know we should do. We know it’s a good idea. We just don’t want to do it…yet. Friction, of course, is whatever is stopping us from doing all the things we should do. Continue Reading…

Happy Hour: Annual BRK Circus

Last weekend was the Berkshire Hathaway circus annual meeting. I spent most of that time reading through the notes and watching the media interviews from different sites (links are below). I won’t highlight anything specific, you can dig into it if you want. I will make two observations – on the enormity of Berkshire and learning from Buffett.

First, Berkshire is huge. It’s a ridiculous number of companies now (I don’t have the exact number, Google says more than 80?). The companies stretch into so many areas of the economy that Buffett knows how well the economy is doing, and can see major business/industry changes, before the Fed and anyone else. The information he gets from daily business updates gives him a huge advantage when buying new companies/stocks. Continue Reading…

Happy Hour: Local Resource…Online

Back at the beginning of the year I finally took the time to get a library card. As a Chicago resident, it was easier than I expected. I did it all online, at home, in about five minutes. Half of that time was checking out how the online service worked. Since then, I’ve spent a few random hours just digging through the library.

The online library gives me access to a huge resource that I previously wrote off. That means all the books, magazines, journals, and newspapers I’d get at the library, but also at home too, plus back issues. There’s also access to premium subscriptions that I wouldn’t normally pay for or don’t have to pay for anymore like Morningstar, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Continue Reading…