This is the first part of Ian Fraser's blog on Warren Buffett’s letter to shareholders in insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffet's annual letter to shareholders in his Berkshire Hathaway Inc insurance-based conglomerate is eagerly awaited - largely because it tends to contain some useful pearls of management thinking.
With the threat of the growing build up of unsustainable concentrations of greenhouse gasses ever before them, the world’s governments in both developed and developing nations, are looking increasingly to the electrification of transport as a way of rolling back CO2 emissions. This is the official “Plan B” scheduled to replace our current “Plan A” (briefly defined as 'use fossil fuels until rising costs kill the idea').
It’s virtually unheard for the governor of a central bank to launch an outspoken attack on the integrity and purpose of his country’s banking sector. But this is what the Bank of England governor Mervyn King did last weekend.
Infrastructure has long been one of the more esoteric “alternative” investments, broadly defined as a separate asset class yet loosely grouped with both other kinds of non-market-correlated investments and one another. Indeed, save for a few large and sophisticated pension plans, few have been able to differentiate among the numerous and varying kinds of infrastructure opportunities out there, instead lumping them all into one category (much in the same way many institutions lump hedge funds in “absolute returns”).
Andy Xie, a board director at Rosetta Stone Advisors, is a man worth listening to. The 49-year-old former Morgan Stanley Asia-Pacific chief economist published an article, Apocalypse Soon, on his blog in August 2008.
What happens when country A has a massive and growing current account surplus? The most natural thing to happen is that the people with responsibility for the surplus try to find reasonable rates of return for some of that surplus. If the surpluses are large, then, by definition, you have to find quite a deep, liquid pool of potential investment opportunities to bed that “hot money flow” down safely. The major industrialized countries, in particular the US, stand out as the obvious targets to explore.
No matter whether you’re an executive or an entrepreneur, succession planning has to be on your To-Do list. After all, you might be hit by a bus. Or become a celebrity CEO and get sick… like Steve Jobs. Then you’re in real trouble.
The bursting of any major asset bubble leaves ruin and woe in its wake, but few recent bubbles have caused havoc on the scale of the bursting of the American dream. The old market cliché, “the trend is your friend” has a rider to it that every trader knows in his/her bones, namely that trends are trends because they are moving away from a norm, and sooner or later, they flip back.
t was inevitable that as Libya looked to be degenerating into civil war, the price of oil would climb and climb. Already we have had headline-grabbing predictions from Nomura analysts of the possibility of oil costing $220 per barrel. The reality, though far less dramatic, is still deeply worrying, with “sweet” oil flirting with $120 per barrel on Thursday 24 February (a high of $119.68), a price uncomfortably close to the pre-crash record highs of $140 per barrel last seen two and a half years ago.
Charles Ferguson’s movie about the financial crisis, Inside Job,, has finally made it the UK. I went to see the Oscar-nominated documentary last night - and was hugely impressed. I would recommend this film, that was released in the US in October 2010, to any thinking adult, even if they profess to have zero interest in economics and finance.