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Thursday 24 December 2020

Weekend Reading

Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week. 
I especially try to not post Corona related articles as that is all one gets to read in all traditional media.

If you like this collection, consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate.

How Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned?

John Le Carre passed away last week. Here is a real life incident happening now which Le Carre would have been proud to write.

A Russian agent sent to tail opposition leader Alexey Navalny has revealed how he was poisoned in August -- with the lethal nerve agent Novichok planted in his underpants.

The stunning disclosure from an agent who belonged to an elite toxins team in Russia's FSB security service came in a lengthy phone call following the unmasking of the unit by CNN and the online investigative outfit Bellingcat last week.

In what he was told was a debriefing, Konstantin Kudryavtsev also talked about others involved in the poisoning in the Siberian city of Tomsk, and how he was sent to clean things up.



Good old decency pays

Decency is one of the attributes that leaders should possess. The core message in David Bodanis’ book, “The Art of Fairness”, can be found in the subtitle: “The power of decency in a world turned mean”. The Empire State Building was constructed in just 13 months, and that included the dismantling of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel that sat on the site. Paul Starrett, the builder, treated his workers rather well by the standards of the time, paying much attention to safety and paying employees on days when it was too windy to work. Daily wages were more than double the usual rate and hot meals were provided on-site. The concept is known as “efficiency wages”. Companies that compensate workers well and treat them fairly can attract better, more motivated staff.




The bank robbery capital of the world

In 1980s Los Angeles, a bank was robbed every hour of every day. Between 1985 and 1995 the approximately 3,500 retail bank branches in the region were hit 17,106 times. 1992, the worst year of all, there was an almost unimaginable 2,641 heists, one every 45 minutes of each banking day. On a particularly bad day for the FBI that year, bandits committed 28 bank licks.

With more than six million vehicles and more than 1,000 miles of freeway upon which to roam, Los Angeles has created a landscape ideal for bank robberies. By hitting a bank near a freeway onramp, a holdup man can jump on and off and be anonymously cruising surface streets miles away in a completely different police jurisdiction before the cops even get to the crime scene. Switch to a cold car or swap your stolen plates for legal ones and… see ya.




Why behavioural economics is itself biased

We spend too little time questioning our understanding of the decisions or observations other people make. If we believe they are in error, we should first question whether the error is ours. we need to inject some humility into our assessment of other people’s decisions. We need stop underestimating the intelligence of other people. We need to tone down the glee we have in communicating sexy, counterintuitive experimental findings that demonstrate errors by others. We need to stop making glib assumptions about what other people want and how they can best achieve their objectives. And importantly, we need to stop being lazy storytellers who don’t subject ourselves to the same critique that we would apply to someone else.


Compound capital over long periods of time for wealth creation

Buffett’s secret is that he’s been a good investor for 80 years. His secret is time. Most investing secrets are.

Once you accept that compounding is where the magic happens, and realize how critical time is to compounding, the most important question to answer as an investor is not, “How can I earn the highest returns?” It’s, “What are the best returns I can sustain for the longest period of time?”

That’s how you maximize wealth.


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