Good Reading -- November 2017
Good Reading -- November 2017
Philip C. Ordway Books
Iacocca: An Autobiography -- This book is obviously 30+ years old, but it has aged well. I'm a sucker for biographies in general, and this one is above average in its candor and insight across Iacocca's fascinating life. The historical parallels are interesting too -- there is even a chapter titled "Making America Great Again." The politics and proposed solutions are different, but the economic arguments will sound familiar: free trade and better/smarter competition from Asia (Japan), spiraling healthcare costs, a lack of investment, an eroding industrial base, a shrinking middle class, crumbling infrastructure, high taxes and entitlements, an overactive Fed and distortions from goofy interest rates, expectations of a lower standard of living for the next generation, etc. etc.
Glory, Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9-11 Era -- This book is an excellent "business biography" of Delta Airlines, but it's also far more than that. It's also a really interesting examination of the industry, its structure, and its participants, and the implications and applications are much broader. It's long, but I finished it wishing it were even longer.
Quoted "The essence is simplicity." -- Lou Simpson (see below)
Facts and Figures
Kentucky's state pension system already has more people drawing pensions than it does people working and paying into the system. Now retirements are skyrocketing too.
Alameda County (CA) spends more than 13% of its budget on pension costs. (Source)
The Family That Build an Empire of Pain -- A long look at the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, the company behind OxyContin. As one professor comments in the article, "The real Greek tragedy of this [is] that so many well-meaning doctors got co-opted. The level of influence is just mind-boggling." Later the article notes that in the decade ending in 2015 Purdue and painkiller producers spent almost $900 million dollars on lobbying and political contributions.
"One of the Investment Greats" Explains his Portfolio Strategy -- A short Q&A with legendary investor Lou Simpson. As he puts it, "the essence is simplicity."
A Conversation with David Swensen -Interesting on a range of topics: cutting Yale's expected return to 5% after 30+ years >8%; hedging market valuation fears; emerging markets disappointments and the relative attractiveness of the U.S. and Japan; China worries; private equity as a "superior form of capitalism"; the importance of character; public pension worries their absurd discount rates; and more.
Meet the Camperforce, Amazon's Retiree Army -- This is pretty incredible, especially because most of the stories have direct roots in the housing/financial crisis of a decade ago. (Thanks to Craig for sending this.)
J-Rod! Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez on Love, Beauty, and Redemption -- I never thought I'd read Bethany McLean dish on J-Lo + A-rod = J-Rod. But I tried it, and beyond the writing quality the article was actually quite interesting. For the investing crowd she even got Buffett to talk on the record about A-Rod and his business acumen.
Why Economists Need Tolstoy -- Roger Lowenstein discussing an interesting new book titled "Cents and Sensibility" which posits that an undue reliance on math and an avoidance of liberal arts has ruined economics. I haven't read the book but I'm going to pick it up.
How to Be a CEO, from a Decade's Worth of Them -- Some interesting comments culled from hundreds of interviews.
Google Has Chosen an Answer For You -- It's Often Wrong -- This is just bonkers. The source for one Google query's answer was "a Canadian elementary school student's report posted online." It doesn't get any less insane from there.
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