The Digest #27

Published on June 24, 2020

Summer Book Recommendations

As Julia-Ambra Verlaine pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the lockdowns gave many people an opportunity to finally read books that have been languishing on their shelves for years. The summer vacation season can also present opportunities to read for longer stretches of time, and that will be particularly true for people who are taking time off but avoiding travel. To mark the summer solstice, I published an article containing ten “mini-reviews” of books that I have read recently on topics outside of business and investing. 

Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey is my favorite book of the year so far. Travel adventure is a classic genre to read on vacation and The Odyssey is arguably the greatest adventure story of all time. Wilson’s ingenious approach to translation can be read with as much ease as a modern novel. It is important to note that Wilson has not in any way “dumbed down” the book, but she has used more direct language requiring less interpretation. Reading her translation is a very enjoyable experience.

Other books recommended in the article include:

Read Summer Book Recommendations for 2020 on The Rational Walk

The Psychology of Finance with Morgan Housel

I mentioned Farnam Street’s pop-up school in the April 29 issue of Rational Reflections. Over the past few months, a number of guest lectures designed for kids in grades 4 and 5 have been posted. Many of them are interesting for adults as well as children. In particular, Morgan Housel’s recent discussion covering the psychology of finance contains great examples that kids and adults alike will benefit from.

Morgan Housel’s new book, The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness, will be released on September 8.

Interesting Links

20-Year-Old Robinhood Customer Dies By Suicide by Sergei Klebnikov and Antoine Gara, June 17, 2020. Tragic story of a young Robinhood investor who committed suicide after seeing an erroneous negative $730,000 account balance. Robinhood eventually responded, making a donation to a suicide prevention organization and pledging to improve their user interface. (Forbes)

The Anatomy of a Rally by Howard Marks, June 18, 2020. In his latest memo, Marks examines the factors that led to the massive rally that took place in recent weeks and concludes that, with security prices where they are, the odds are not in favor of investors despite an improving outlook. (Oaktree Capital).

Companies Are Paying a Lot More to Insure Their Directors and Officersby Alice Uribe and Leslie Scism, June 21, 2020. The price of D&O insurance has skyrocketed, rising by 44-104% in the U.S. during the first quarter compared to the year-earlier period. Most companies provide insurance for directors and officers. Berkshire Hathaway is a notable exception. (WSJ)

To understand the current crisis, look to calamities of the past by Jamie Catherwood, June 18, 2020. The worst economic shocks of a crisis are a result of second or third-order ripple effects, playing out in unpredictable ways.

Eddie the Repo Man Has Time on His Hands: What Happens When Your Debt Is Suspended by Liz Hoffman and Justin Scheck, June 18, 2020. With many loans in forbearance, businesses that deal with salvaging bad loans have been severely impacted. (WSJ)

When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?by Rachel Feintzeig and  Ben Eisen, June 17, 2020. The pandemic has proven that many jobs can be done remotely, but will the ability to be productive far from major metro areas result in long term changes in preference? (WSJ)

Using Diet and Exercise To Fight Aging P. D. Mangan is interviewed by Anthony Pompliano. Mangan, who is very active on Twitter, is a 65 year-old scientist focused on using pharmacology, biochemistry, and microbiology to understand how diet and exercise can be used to extend healthy lifespan.

Adventures at Sea Chris Sommers is interviewed by Jim O’Shaughnessy in an episode of Infinite Loops. Sommers discusses his adventures and mishaps during four years at sea along with his experiences at Greenlight Capital.

Quote of the Week

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

— Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, at dusk on August 3, 1914 on the eve of the start of World War I.

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The Digest #27