Monday, March 18, 2019

March 18th Links

  • The key feature of bubbles like 2000, 2007 and today is that, by the market peak, actual S&P 500 total returns over the most recent 12-year period outpace the return that one would have anticipated on the basis of valuations 12-years earlier. This is not an indication that valuations have failed, but rather an indication that prices are likely to do so. [Hussman]
  • Eddie believed he knew more than anybody else. I had a conversation with him about putting the right merchandise in the store for the customer that lived within the radius of that store, and Eddie said, 'We have a Kmart in the Hamptons that does great.' The customers come in and they buy, I think he was saying, the $15 folding chairs. They'd buy them for their parties and then they'd throw them away. So why can't a store be anywhere and do business? That was a huge disconnect, because most people would buy that chair and hold on to it for 20 years. [WSJ]
  • When egg prices rose in the spring of 1966 and Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman told him that not much could be done, Johnson had the Surgeon General issue alerts as to the hazards of cholesterol in eggs. [The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath]
  • There are 12 lines on the Mexico City metro, each of which has its own colour and number/letter. This makes the Mexico City metro lines really easy to navigate, because you can just look out for the colour-coded signs in the stations, instead of flailing about looking for names or numbers. You can also do the same for the individual stops, which all have their own logos, as well as names. (Fun fact: this was because a lot of the Mexico City population was illiterate when the first metro line was inaugurated.) [link]
  • San Jose is a dump, with nothing of interest to tourists (you have to get out around the country), whereas CDMX is one of the world's great cities. No comparison. [Trip Advisor]
  • Four open computers and frantic clicking couldn't snag Jillian Hiscock tickets to Michelle Obama's Wednesday book event in St. Paul when they went on sale in December. The moment they hit the web, the St. Paul resident found herself jostled in online queues as the seats she desired in the upper level of the Xcel Energy Center disappeared, with the event virtually selling out within minutes. "We were trying everything and couldn't get in," said Hiscock, 35. [Star Tribune]
  • As time went on, the earplugs-plus-headphones protection rig became standard writing gear. That was because the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in my Washington, D.C., neighborhood evolved from a few hours a week during the leafiest stretch of autumn to most days of the week, most weeks of the year, thanks to the advent of the "groomed" look that modern lawn crews are expected to achieve. [The Atlantic]
  • A while back I attended a talk at the Long Now Foundation based here in San Francisco. Jesse Ausubel suggested that we wouldn't even need to grow grain, soy, or sugar to feed the yeast in vats. Plain old hydrogen is an excellent chemical feedstock for hydrogenomonas. These micro organisms are capable of combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere to produce all the protein we need. Put a biodigester next to a power plant (nuclear, gas, coal, wind, solar, hydro...) that supplies the hydrogen and enough diversified formatted foods can be produced to feed an entire city. [Granola Shotgun]
  • While I was waiting for the county paperwork to be processed I did a lot of research and decided I wanted a solar powered well pump. Since the fir tree was going away the pump house would receive full southern sun all day. Ranchers and off grid properties use solar pumps all the time. One huge advantage of a DC solar pump is there's no need for inverters or batteries which are not only the most expensive part of a solar power system, but they also need ongoing maintenance and periodic replacement. But with a basic DC solar pump the sun hits the solar panels, the pump kicks in, and water is brought to the surface. Super simple. [Granola Shotgun]
  • To those who like the notion that the Indo-Europeans triumphed because they carried in bubonic plague (or some other pathogen) that blasted immunologically naive EEF farmers: find me a plague that only kills men – all of them. [West Hunter]
  • Here's a conundrum: in a ratio of 500:28, Hillary Clinton was endorsed by our smartest citizens (journalists, editors, and publishers) as the best qualified person, out of more than 325 million, to lead the United States government. After November 2016, however, she didn't have any pressing job responsibilities and her family foundation was also winding down. Why wouldn't a country of 5 or 10 million have tried to persuade her to come over and be their leader? From a statistical point of view, assuming equal intelligence and education levels, it is unlikely that a country of 10 million would have a better person available than someone who was #1 out of 325 million. [Phil G]
  • Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is attending the University of Southern California, would have probably been fine attending Arizona State University. (Arizona State is a thriving public research university that Ms. Giannulli's father is reported to have cited on F.B.I. wiretaps as the unthinkable destination he would pay bribes to avoid.) [NY Times]
  • Even a 30% annual rate of return seems incredibly high, but it's not and here's why. While Western Lime was only earning 8.72% on it's equity an investor buying at a 67% discount to book was earning 26% on their investment. Over the ensuing nine years Western Lime continued to execute as they had in the past. The investor buying at such an extreme discount was able to realize a consistently high rate of return. You don't need to buy a great business that compounds at high rates, just a consistent business at a considerable discount. [Oddball Stocks]

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