10 Weekend Reads

Pour yourself a tall mug of dark brew, and settle in for our longer form weekend reads:

• Corporate America’s buyback binge feeds investors, starves innovation (Reuters)
• Two Centuries of Momentum (Newfound Research)
• Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac: Did Uncle Sam nationalize housing financers? (Fortune)
• Here’s What Happens When a 27-Year-Old Finance Journalist Tries to Manage Money (Chief Investment Officer)
• Why China Will Not Dominate the 21st Century (CFA Institute)
• Is great philosophy, by its nature, difficult and obscure? (Aeon)
• Barack Obama, Lawyer-in-Chief (Politico) see also Bill Simmons Interviews President Obama, GQ’s 2015 Man of the Year (GQ)
• The Statistical Dominance of Dr. Seuss (Priceonomics)
• The Lowdown on the Lowline, the World’s First Underground Park (Atlas Obscura)
• What ISIS Really Wants: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it. (The Atlantic)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with NYU Professor Scott Galloway.


Vanguard’s Annual Net Asset Inflows

Source: WSJ


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. ilsm commented on Nov 21

    “Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable:”

    Of course, to explore IS (al Qaeda front) would be to look at the oil addiction and see the US is funding Sunni radicals, and deploying the US’ war machine to protecting their Arabian monarchy sponsors.

    Keep interviewing generals whose career depends on never using strategy.

    • VennData commented on Nov 21

      It’s halirious to watch Republicans screaming about Oil when we can simply, move to altrrnative energy as soon as possible and the ISIS types and Shia Dictators lose their funding.

      Alternative energy is about national security. Solar, wind everywhere. And everybody makes money.

    • ilsm commented on Nov 22

      You missed the point of everything coming from DC since NSC 68 [Truman was president and Chiang had just moved to Formosa].

      “National security” is about perpetually using super high tech WW II weapons to kill goatherds for the eternal profit of the MICC.

      Besides ARAMCO pays dividends!

    • Iamthe50percent commented on Nov 22

      Another in the depressingly long Illinois Governors Wall of Shame. I really miss Adlai Stevenson. I think he was the last good Governor that we had.

  2. Molesworth commented on Nov 21

    People, especially 17-28 year old kids, need something to do. If you have 20-40+% unemployment, if there is no hope offered by society, they will find a way to fill the void.
    In Europe, the clever recruiting practices of Isis is filling that void in Muslim slums, telling kids how much they are needed, offering adventure and hope for the future of the glorified vision of a caliphate where they can be somebody, where they can help achieve something.
    In USA, Trump is offering the same vision to poor whites by offering to change USA to a place there will be jobs for them again.


    • Iamthe50percent commented on Nov 22

      Don’t you know? There is no unemployment. That’s ex officio from the White House.

      I do admit that the primary activity of today’s 17-28 year olds is getting sick to the stomach drunk and sexting selfies.

  3. john farmer commented on Nov 21

    An alternate view to the Atlantic article on ISIS, from Robert Pape of the University of Chicago.


    Speaking of ISIS and information, what is your reaction to The Atlantic’s March cover story, “What ISIS Really Wants”?

    I think it’s just wrong. [The author Graeme] Wood is painting a picture of ISIS as all religious, all the time. Interestingly in the second section he is talking about how the main difference with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda is that ISIS really wants territory.

    ISIS, and most suicide groups, are driven by an ideal of nationalism; they want to control their destiny with a state.

    Wanting territory means there’s a community that wants a state. ISIS, and most suicide groups, are driven by an ideal of nationalism; they want to control their destiny with a state. ISIS is composed of a leadership of about 25 people, which is one-third very heavily religious, for sure; one-third former Saddam [Hussein] military officers who are Baathists, who are secular; and one-third who are Sunni militia, Sunni tribal leaders. That just conveniently is lost in the Wood piece.

    It’s definitely the case that ISIS wants to kill people who are not part of its community. But this is normal in nationalist groups.

    • RW commented on Nov 21

      I agree that characterizing violent jihadist organizations as essentially religious tends to downplay their nativist motivations but it also tends to ignore their criminal motivations; e.g., smuggling, robbery, kidnap and extortion.

    • ilsm commented on Nov 21

      Most ridiculous of the Atlantic article is the wild assurance that ISIS is clearing $500M from black market oil. Almost as bad is Atlantic describing what ISIS could do with that fantastic sum in terms of AK 47’s when an army has to feed and care for the “troops” which is an expense far superior to just putting guns on their hands.

      Ridiculous is not a surprise the Atlantic gets his military theory from US flag officer con artists running their on terror scam…………

      None seem to care for the logistics of oil nor the impedimenta of armies not sustain by trillions for contractors.

      RW: it is all about nationhood.

    • RW commented on Nov 21

      ilsm: If it’s about nationhood rather than hastening the ‘end-times’ — interesting how these Islamist fanatics echo our Christianist fanatics — then the tactics of Daesh become ill-considered or frankly incoherent; e.g., it may take a few months for the counter-coalition to solidify but the sheer number of powerful and focused enemies Daesh has made recently makes it unlikely they will have a territorial pot to piss in by this time next year.

      NB: of course it’s also possible that Islamic State propaganda has created an uncontrollable mob in a way very similar to the current Republican dilemma; instilling fear and hate energizes just as creating an existential enemy for that fear and hate engenders focus but it gets harder and harder to steer the base in the preferred direction much less control their lust for battle with the evil they are now convinced is real.

    • noncist commented on Nov 23

      This cracked article has some insight about ISIS recruitment strategy and it definitely backs up the view of a desire for statehood/territory based on firsthand info from their magazine. The religious bring-about-the-apocalypse insanity is there for sure too, but there is also a big drive to seem like just another state. Check out their ad about healthcare infrastructure on the second page:

      “This should be received as a wake-up call for the many Muslim students. … The Islamic State offers everything that you need to live and work here, so what are you waiting for?”


  4. RW commented on Nov 21

    Unemployment and inflation in the euro area: why has demand management failed so badly?
    In the euro area, demand stimulus through fiscal policy has been severely handicapped by the widespread acceptance of the Triad of Teutonic Fallacies. The first of these is that there are reckless and/or stupid borrowers/debtors but no reckless and/or stupid lenders/creditors. As we are talking about the same transactions, th
    at position is rather difficult to defend. It is, however, firmly believed by many living north of the Rhine, and it gives the creditors a sense of moral superiority or even outrage that diminishes their cognitive capabilities. The second fallacy is that expansionary fiscal policy is contractionary. There are indeed models in which this is the case. Provided any fiscal deficit expansion resulting from a fiscal stimulus is monetised, however, this will never be the case in a world with excess capacity and inflation below target. The third fallacy is that any increase in the balance sheet of the central bank will inevitably get monetised and lead to an undesirable increase in the rate of inflation. The fact that this is analytical nonsense does not mean it is not an influential view.

    NB: Love that phrase, “Triad of Teutonic Fallacies,” but deeply wish it had proven a less infectious disease.

  5. VennData commented on Nov 21

    Trump and how his nuttiness works on The Base.

    “On our side, you got the number-two guy — tried to kill somebody at 14,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said recently, referring to a story from Carson’s memoir, “Gifted Hands,” that recounted a youthful violent streak. “And the number-one guy is high energy and crazy as hell. How am I losing to these people?”


    Because The Base is so I’ll informed on the facts by your highly funded GOP Media Machine that they don’t know how to make rational political decisions.

  6. rd commented on Nov 22

    Here’s what happens the “pros” assist 401k participants in rolling their accounts into IRAs to “help” them manage their lifetime liabilities.


    These accounts can have some long-term impacts as the funds are diversified among funds in different mutual fund families. So you pay the load once when you initially rollover your account and buy the new mutual funds. But then you can pay the load repeatedly when you rebalance between mutual funds in different families over time.

    The gift that keeps on giving.

  7. MikeR44 commented on Nov 22

    Maybe I have it wrong, but I thought the government took over Fannie & Freddie because of gross mismanagement. If investors want to buy into such a mess they should take their chances in the market not the courts.

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