It’s time to retire “Left” and “Right”.

George Orwell’s famous 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” lamented how ideologues were wreaking havoc not only on their societies, but also on the language of politics itself.  He condemned the “staleness of imagery” and the “lack of precision” in the political writing of his day.  During the past 75 years, little has changed. The labels and personalities may be different, but the abuse on and by words is much the same. We can all agree that the United States has become politically polarized, especially so in the past half-dozen years. In better times, Yeat’s middle translated into a …

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NBN Interview with Jon Lukomnik on his Moving Beyond Modern Portfolio Theory

Jon Lukomnik thinks outside the box, specifically the Modern Portfolio Theory box. Rather than trying to pick up a few basis points here or there by operating within a flawed system, Lukomnik argues in favor of looking for factors which affect overall systemic risk and reward.  That is, he looks at what factors will influence the health and levels of the overall capital markets. This is an important work for all market participants. Listen to the NBN interview here.

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Episode 15: The Descent of Growth (with apologies to Charles Darwin)

Where did all the dividends go? In this episode, I explain how dividend-free growth investing became the norm in the US stock market. For dividend-focused investors, how we got to this state of affairs should be of some interest. And they make take some comfort in the realization that cashless investment is to a great extent a historical, and I would argue, a logical anomaly. For growth investors content with the current situation, knowing whence they came serves at least some utility, even if I do not believe that those conditions will persist.

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Episode #14: Jeff Brown the Grocer joins me to discuss how to operate in a very tough business.

Treat your investments like holdings in actual businesses is a common invocation on this podcast. To that end, today I talk to an entrepreneur on the front lines of business ownership. My high school classmate, Jeff Brown, is the owner of 12 grocery stores in Philadelphia. How does he survive in a brutally competitive low-margin environment? How did he respond to the additional challenges of Covid? How does he make being in food deserts work?   It turns out there is an answer, and it’s not on the University of Chicago MBA curriculum: community involvement. Listen to the very end. There …

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Episode #13: Zachary Karabell joins me to discuss “Inside Money.”

In his new book Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power, the prolific Zachary Karabell uses the history of Brown Brothers Harriman to follow the arc of American political economy, from the muscular capitalism of the early generations of the Brown family in the 19th century, to their maturation as genteel private bankers in the 20th century, to the sense of service of the BBH partners when they were regularly called to Washington from the 1930s through the 1960s. It is a (mostly) positive tale about American history, American finance, American economic growth and innovation.  That makes it …

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NBN Interview with Timothy Frye on his Weak Strongman

Vladimir Putin is not the unconstrained, all-powerful boogeyman he is made out to be in the popular Western media. So says Timothy Frye, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University in his new book, Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia (Princeton UP, 2021). Drawing on more than three decades of research, and reams of data from within Russia itself, Frye depicts a “personal autocrat”, but one subject to numerous constraints and trade offs. And the shows of force we have seen in recent years, from his treatment of opposition figures to the planning for the upcoming election, …

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Equity duration: now is the “time.”

As a cashflow-oriented investor, I’ve been focused on equity duration for a while. Now others are beginning to catch on as well. Zero-Hedge may not be your cup of political tea, but it does have serious investing content, in this case a piece from data shop called VariantPerception. Their brief piece on equity duration can be seen here.  My case for using equity duration begins at the 22 minute mark of the Keep Calm and Carry On episode that dropped yesterday.

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