Interesting Reading – October 7, 2016

Published on October 7, 2016

Note to readers:  In this new series, we will suggest worthwhile reading material on a variety of topics, not all of which will be related directly to investing.  We anticipate several posts per month consisting of five to ten suggestions each but there will be no regular schedule.  The signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet is quite low so we hope that these suggestions add at least a little value for readers.

Hurricane Matthew to Test Catastrophe Bond Market – Wall Street Journal 10/7/2016.  With Hurricane Matthew swirling just off the coast of Florida, media attention is rightly focused on the safety of individuals in the path of the storm.  However, attention will soon turn to the inevitable property destruction and losses.  This article examines the increasing popularity of catastrophe bonds and the potential impact on the market due to the hurricane.  Earlier this year, we examined Markel’s exposure to this market.

Mars Cashes Out Warren Buffett to Take Control of Wrigley – New York Times, 10/7/2016.  Berkshire Hathaway previously indicated that 50 percent of its $2.1 billion preferred share investment was likely to be redeemed during the current quarter.  However, Mars has also negotiated to redeem the remaining 50 percent that was scheduled to remain in place until 2021.  Terms have not been disclosed but are likely to involve a premium for the early redemption.

Former Wells Fargo Employees Describe Toxic Sales Culture, Even At HQ – NPR Morning Edition, 10/4/2016.  The troubling news from Wells Fargo continues with NPR’s interview of several lower level employees who describe a toxic culture at the Wells Fargo retail branch in the lobby of the company’s San Francisco headquarters.  Did Chairman and CEO John Stumpf ever stop in to interact with these employees or observe the branch culture?

Why Climate Skeptics Should Support a Carbon Tax – Wall Street Journal, 10/3/2016.  Greg Ip makes the case for a carbon tax as an insurance policy to address the risks arising from climate change along with reasons to support this change in policy even if one remains unconvinced regarding the seriousness of human driven climate change.

Howard Marks on His Approach to Inverting (Video) – Bloomberg, 9/28/2016.  Howard Marks is closely followed in the value investing community and author of The Most Important Thing.  In this interview, Mr. Marks provides his thoughts on current market conditions in the equity and fixed income markets.  We are currently somewhere in the “7th inning” of this market cycle, although there is always the risk of being in the 8th inning without realizing it.

Q&A:  What Keeps Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle Ticking? – Reuters, 10/6/2016.  At 87 years of age, Jack Bogle still has plenty of things to say about investing and life.  The man most responsible for widespread adoption of passive investment strategies makes particularly salient points at a time when active managers are increasingly under siege for poor performance relative to passive benchmarks.

It Starts With a Single App – The Economist, 10/1/2016.  Many of us are familiar with using Uber, Airbnb, and other elements of the “sharing economy”.  However, there’s still plenty of room for innovation, especially when it comes to urban transportation.  The Economist provides a preview of the type of transportation services we might see in the future that seamlessly integrate various sharing services and public infrastructure.  As the world becomes increasingly urban, such solutions will become necessary to avoid gridlock.

So I Bought an Electric Car – Mr. Money Mustache, 10/6/2016.  The author of this well known personal finance blog describes his (out of character) purchase of a brand new Nissan Leaf.  The massive incentives offered by governments on electric car purchases could make such a purchase attractive for many normally frugal consumers who would otherwise forego car ownership entirely or opt for used vehicles.

The History of the Town Hall Debate – Smithsonian Magazine, 10/6/2016.  As voters anticipate the upcoming town hall presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on October 9, this article describes how the format is not new in America even though it is viewed as relatively innovative at the presidential level.

Tom Brokaw:  Learning to Live With Cancer – New York Times, 10/1/2016.  Three years ago, at age 73, Tom Brokaw was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma.  With his cancer now in remission, Mr. Brokaw reflects on his experiences and adjustments he has had to make personally and professionally.

Interesting Reading – October 7, 2016
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