Friday, January 8, 2021

Friday Night Links

  • The most dramatic and valuable lesson from the fabulous (and still counting) 50-plus-year investment career of Warren Buffett is the legendary account of his steadfast conviction amidst the 1973-75 bear market. He had correctly identified by 1973 that the shares of companies such as the Washington Post were selling for but a fraction of the underlying business value represented by those shares. He observed that numerous buyers would readily pay several times the prevailing market price of Washington Post stock to acquire the entire company, but it was controlled by the founding family and not for sale. Buffett could acquire a minority interest in the business at a bargain price, but he could not force the valuation gap to close. For that, he was dependent on the passage of time to result in improved market conditions and/or on the behavior of management to successfully run the business and to act in the best interest of shareholders.  Fortunately for Buffett, the shares of Washington Post and other attractively priced companies failed to rise from 1973 bargain levels and in fact proceeded to relentlessly decline over the next two years, enhancing the opportunity by orders of magnitude. [Barron's
  • "As often happens at bubbly peaks like 1929, 2000, and the Nifty Fifty of 1972 (a second-tier bubble in the company of champions), today’s market features extreme disparities in value by asset class, sector, and company. Those at the very cheap end include traditional value stocks all over the world, relative to growth stocks. Value stocks have had their worst-ever relative decade ending December 2019, followed by the worst-ever year in 2020, with spreads between Growth and Value performance averaging between 20 and 30 percentage points for the single year! Similarly, Emerging Market equities are at 1 of their 3, more or less co-equal, relative lows against the U.S. of the last 50 years. Not surprisingly, we believe it is in the overlap of these two ideas, Value and Emerging, that your relative bets should go, along with the greatest avoidance of U.S. Growth stocks that your career and business risk will allow. Good luck!" [GMO]
  • The zoonoticists say that we shouldn’t find it troubling that virologists have been inserting and deleting furin cleavage sites and ACE2-receptor-binding domains in experimental viral spike proteins for years: The fact that virologists have been doing these things in laboratories, in advance of the pandemic, is to be taken as a sign of their prescience, not of their folly. But I keep returning to the basic, puzzling fact: This patchwork pathogen, which allegedly has evolved without human meddling, first came to notice in the only city in the world with a laboratory that was paid for years by the U.S. government to perform experiments on certain obscure and heretofore unpublicized strains of bat viruses — which bat viruses then turned out to be, out of all the organisms on the planet, the ones that are most closely related to the disease. What are the odds? [NY Mag]
  • The CHP said the Tesla driver, identified as Jimmy Chen, 39, of Oakland, was driving at a high rate of speed. The Tesla collided with a Ford, whose driver, Duke Asiedu, 31, of Fairfield, sustained minor injuries and was transported to Queen of the Valley Medical Center, the CHP said. The CHP arrested Chen for a possible charge of DUI. [Napa Valley Register]
  • Remember that one of the biggest events in American history was a play gone off script, and that when the smoke cleared, our nation was changed forever. Theater, in fact, is a perfect metaphor for liberal democracy. The faces the audience sees are not the ones that control the show. For every actor there are dozens of crew members, directors, musicians, and others in the background, and owners and shareholders behind them. [link]
  • Looking ahead, one group of closed-end funds that appears ripe for activism invests in energy-focused master limited partnerships (MLPs). There are about 20 publicly traded MLP closed-end funds. They are typically leveraged and all of them have blown up to one degree or another with the dramatic decline in oil prices. Some have lost more than 90% of their original net asset value and in our opinion, are no longer viable. In fact, a few have voluntarily proposed liquidating. Almost all the MLP funds trade at a discount in excess of 20%. Still, before we make any meaningful investment, we need to get a handle on how they are taxed, which can be different from other mutual funds. Once we do that (which should be soon), we expect to begin to accumulate shares in one or more deeply discounted MLP funds. [SPE]
  • To understand how fake this one only has to imagine the Republican senators getting their wish. Suppose Democrats called their bluff and agreed to an “emergency 10-day audit” by a Congressionally-appointed commission. What would happen? Obviously, nothing. It would take several days just to organize the commission, and it would be completely impossible for it to assess the dozens of allegations spanning more than a half-dozen states. The time to launch such an investigation was two months ago. At this point, the commission could have only one possible outcome: Announcing that it did not have enough time to evaluate the evidence and was unable to find comprehensive proof of voter fraud. The election “audit” would simply give further legitimacy to Joe Biden’s claimed victory.  The senators all know this, of course. The grandstanding on Wednesday won’t be about actually contesting the election. [Revolver]
  • [T]he entire global-capitalist system acting as a single global entity — can, virtually any time it wants, suspend the Simulation of Democracy, and crack down on us with despotic force. It can (a) declare a “global pandemic” or some other type of “global emergency,” (b) cancel our so-called “rights,” (c) have the corporate media bombard us with lies and propaganda for months, (d) have the Internet companies censor any and all forms of dissent and evidence challenging said propaganda, (e) implement all kinds of new intrusive “safety” and “security” measures, including but not limited to the physical violation of our bodies … and so on. [off-guardian]
  • The other problem is that per snap polls 56% of Americans think enough fraud occurred to swing the election, and this is after two months of total media denial of such fraud. The set up is a regime of limited legitimacy that has switched from persuasion to coercion. In a year where all competency at the state and federal level has been shown to be nonexistent, this is a bad formula for rule. There were billboards in Pennsylvania to vote for Trump to support our police. Does that message work when the police have shown themselves quick to kill a MAGA vet while playing dance partner to BLM and antifa? This will become worse as the federalization of police continues and woke policing policies are implemented. Respecting the badge, like respecting the military, is a pillar of right wing support for the regime, so the erosion of this sets things on a bumpy path. [The American Sun]
  • COVID-19 has a benign outcome in most cases, yet it can also be fatal and no specific treatment is available as of yet. Older age and several medical comorbidities are risk factors for COVID-19 complications. We report on an elderly man with a longstanding history of bipolar affective disorder associated with heavy smoking, alcohol abuse and multiple comorbidities, including severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and recurrent pulmonary sepsis, who contracted COVID-19 during his inpatient treatment of a manic episode, and who fully recovered from COVID-19 without any need for respiratory support. We discuss how his excessive use of nicotine replacement therapy may have contributed to his emerging unscathed from COVID-19. Nicotine, an α7-nACh receptor agonist, may boost the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and hinder the uncontrolled overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is understood to be the main pathway to poor outcomes and death in severe COVID-19. [link]
  • Renowned author Dan Brown hated the critics. Ever since he had become one of the world’s top renowned authors they had made fun of him. They had mocked bestselling book The Da Vinci Code, successful novel Digital Fortress, popular tome Deception Point, money-spinning volume Angels & Demons and chart-topping work of narrative fiction The Lost Symbol. The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.” They even say my books are packed with banal and superfluous description, thought the 5ft 9in man. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket. [link]
  • It is quite likely that land and agricultural “reform” will be on the communist agenda, and it is not the massive farms they will go after (those are already well-controlled by massive subsidies). The corona hoax is intended to crush small business, the kulaks, because massive companies are all already quasi-state entities, surviving only at the whim of HR and a steady faucet of government-subsidized loans. America is already a communist country, for the most part, and they will focus their efforts on the un-communized small businesses. After the fall of Rome, the monasteries survived because the barbarians were also Christians and generally didn’t want to get on the wrong side of God. There was religious continuity after the fall of Empire; monasticism, the Benedict option (and I cannot help but consider that the cuckservative who named it had more in mind Benedict Arnold) will not at all work today, in the presence of an all-powerful and hostile religion. [link]
  • "[C]auses are a strange kind of knowledge. This was first pointed out by David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher. Hume realized that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts—tangible things that can be discovered—they’re actually not at all factual. Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a “lively conception produced by habit.” When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity. Hume’s skeptical insight was that we don’t see gravity—we see only an object tugged toward the earth. We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between. We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact—it’s a fiction that helps us make sense of facts." [CBS]
  • The 'fishhook' spines and the armored web of spines enclosing the cactus body in many species of this genus is an adaptation which allows the plant to move to more favorable locations. This plant's seeds germinate in areas where water movement occurs or in areas where standing water accumulates for some period of time, and during flash floods, the hooked spines allow the plants to be caught on water-borne debris and be uprooted and carried to areas where water tends to accumulate. Ferocactus has very shallow root systems and are easily uprooted during flash floods." [CBS]
  • There are a total of 1,042 public companies in the Oil & Gas Exploration & Production industry (GICS:10102020). There are 429 with market capitalization between $5 million and $250 million. Of those, only 72 have positive retained earnings. Just under 17 percent. [CBS]

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