Some interesting thoughts my friend emails me from time to time. He does not have a blog and is happy for me to post.


Facts and Figures

  1. In a study of the world’s 100 largest market cap companies in 1912, only half were still in existence by 1995; only 20 were still in the top 100; and adjusted for inflation, 60% of the companies shrank in value. (Source: Leslie Hannah)
  2. According to Gallup poll conducted in February 2011, a majority of Americans now believe that China is the world’s leading economic power.
  3. Money managers (as opposed to individuals) held less than 10% of all shares of American corporations in the 1950s. Today, they hold 70%. (Source: John C. Bogle)
  4. There are about 10.5 million households in the U.S. with a net worth greater than $1 million (that is roughly 9% of the population). Interestingly, that level is still down sharply from 2005-2007 levels but up considerably from 2000-2003 levels (see attached chart).
    • At the same time, there about 15 million households (roughly 12% of the total) that receive more cash from the IRS than they pay in federal income taxes and payroll taxes (see article below).
  5. Just over 80% of men in America between ages 25 and 54 currently have a job; that figure was 95% in the late 1960s, near or above 90% in the 1970s, and above 85% until 2008. (source: OECD via The Economist of 4-30-11)
    • The fraction of prime-age (25-54 y/o) men on disability benefits has more than tripled from 1.5% in 1970 to 4.9% [in 2009]. Federal spending on those benefits has risen to $120 billion, or just less than 1% of GDP.
    • With one-in-five men age 25-54 unemployed, the U.S. has the smallest share of prime-age working men of any country in the G-7.
  6. “The biggest growth in private-sector job creation in the past year occurred in positions in the low-wage retail, administrative, and food service sectors of the economy. While 23% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession that followed the economic meltdown of 2008 were ‘low-wage’ (those paying $9-$13 an hour), 49% of new jobs added in the sluggish ‘recovery’ are in those same low-wage industries. On the other end of the spectrum, 40% of the jobs lost paid high wages ($19-$31 an hour), while a mere 14% of new jobs pay similarly high wages.” (National Employment Law Project)


“The major accidents in the United States — Bear Stearns, Lehman, Fannie and Freddie — had nothing to do with Glass-Steagall.” — Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, responding to questions about his prior support of the repeal of Glass-Steagall and his prior opposition to stricter regulation of derivatives


  1. Nearly 100 Pieces of Fantastic Journalism — don’t miss this exceptional anthology of non-fiction from the past year. Something for everyone.
  2. “Global Energy: The Latest Infatuations” — a recent article from Vaclav Smil with some great thoughts on energy policy.
  3. The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science” — a good overview of several important concepts in psychology that come up repeatedly in investing.
  4. The Power of Lonely: What We Do Better Without Other People Around” — I’d certainly add investing to this list. (See also the article pasted below.)
  5. What Keeps the World’s Ships Going?” — an excellent and concise look at the global shipping industry, which is a vital but often overlooked that occasionally offers tremendous values for patient investors.
  6. Deeply Conflicted” — behavioral economists find that disclosure meant to manage conflicts of interest is often ineffective, and can even have the opposite effect of the one intended.
  7. The Chilling Story of Genius in a Land of Chronic Unemployment— a fascinating look at the “Yahoo Boys” of Nigerian internet scams (also known as Nigerian Letters, 419 fraud or 419 scams). One of the author’s major points is that amazing technical prowess combined with entrepreneurial drive and a bleak economic future can yield very different results, depending on the location and the circumstances. “You white people have very flexible hearts. We’ve seen it. That’s why there can be no true love in Nigeria. Your closest friends rip you off here.”