Random Book Project #4: Men’s clothier staging

Saw these three books as staging in the window of a men’s clothing store that declared bankruptcy this week. Store founded in 1818; think sheep. These books had been de-accessioned once, which is how they got into the window. Because this store is in the downtown business district and therefore likely to close permanently, these books will probably be tossed.   Gamle Pybus appears to be a Danish translation of the 1928 novel Old Pybus by English writer G. Warwick Deeping (1877-1950).  Pictures from the Life: Paul Gerhardt, an 1881 English-language translation of the 1845 biography of the 17th century German …

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What’s a company worth?

What’s a company worth? To judge by the stock market, you might think that there is little rhyme or reason to the exercise. Yet, since the beginning of commerce thousands of years ago, people have been asserting the value of enterprises. Despite that long history, the math and specific logic of enterprise valuation is only about a century old. For thirty of those years, Tim Koller and his colleagues at McKinsey have been in the forefront of thinking about value and how to measure it. The first edition of Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies came out in …

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Russia and the West…..

“The guard is tired.” With that simple phrase, the newly installed Bolshevik regime in Russia dismissed the duly elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918. And, one might say, so started Russia’s century-long interference in elections and electoral outcomes. In his new book Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference (Knopf, 2020), David Shimer narrates in meticulous but page-turning detail a century of covert electoral interference, by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and continuing to this day with a focus on post-Soviet Russia’s efforts to affect US politics. His account of the …

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Heretical views!

Managing a portfolio based on cashflows? Heresy! Well, maybe not. Others are also making arguments similar to mine in Getting Back to Business. See Jim Garland’s 2019 CFA Institute Research Foundation Brief, introduced by Laurence Siegel. Thanks to Will Goetzmann for the link here .      

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Random Book Project #3: The Sinews of American Commerce (1941)

#3: Roy A. Foulke, The Sinews of American Commerce (New York: Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., 1941). No price. How did I get it: The book was recently given to me as a housegift by someone who knows that my proclivities run in this direction. Why: The book is classic deaccessioning material. It is a commissioned history to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dun & Bradstreet, a business information and credit research founded in 1841. Published in August 1941, just before the outbreak of direct US involvement in World War II, the book is a testament to a muscular, unapologetic capitalism …

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The Russian state is back….

The Russian state is back. That may not be a big surprise to Russia watchers. The degree to which it is a KGB state, however, is documented in great detail in Catherine Belton‘s new book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2020). Certain elements of the KGB were playing a “long game” as early as the 1980s and saw the need for an alternative to the sclerotic late Soviet system. And they were going to be part of that post-Soviet regime. Fast forward 20 years later, these security and intelligence officials …

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Barron’s conversation about dividend investing

A conversation with Barron’s Lawrence Strauss and Lauren Rublin on dividend investing in the current economic and financial climate.  The replay should be “free” but you may have to register with Barron’s to hear it. https://tinyurl.com/ya5apobb Note: The views expressed here are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer. Nothing written here should be construed as investment advice. Consult your investment advisor for specific recommendations. 

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Another battle in the neverending war between clarity and confusion….

A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal starts off with a promising title, “Why Many People Misunderstand Dividends, and the Damage This Does.” June 7, 2020 . That is most certainly true. After nearly two decades helping to manage dividend portfolios, I can say that even institutional investors and pension fund consultants still seem to trip over the basic math of dividend investing. Unfortunately the newspaper article only adds to the confusion when the author, an academic, asserts that “Paying dividends doesn’t benefit investors, because a dividend of $1 simply reduces the stock price by $1—just as withdrawing from …

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You mean big business is good? Tyler Cowen says yes.

You mean big business is good, contributes to our general welfare, and is not generally guilty–with notable exceptions–of all of the charges made against it?  That’s the argument libertarian economist Tyler Cowen makes in his book Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero (St. Martins, 2019) Most NBN listeners will raise an eyebrow to that claim, but most of those same NBN listeners are up for a good back-and-forth on the virtues and demerits of our market system. And to that end, being familiar with Cowen’s arguments–made in this book and his many other publications and platforms–is very useful.  The shift …

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Random Book Project #1

I’m launching something I call the Random Book Project. Its purpose is to give additional “life” to some of the books that I have collected over the years and are gathering dust on my shelves. These books are disappearing in the digital age. They are left in a decreasing number of public and university libraries, before they are ultimately “de-accessioned.” Some hardbacks end up as color coordinated staging in steak houses and boutique hotels. The Random Book Project attempts to give these books at least a minimal digital presence for works that Project Gutenberg and Google Books will likely skip. …

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