Weekend Reads for Investors: On the Road Edition
Yours truly has been on the road almost the entire time since my last edition of Weekend Reads for Investors came out early last month. Speaking of which, our house mercifully survived Hurricane Irma with only minimal damage.
As for my travels, I first touched down in Toronto; then Manila, the Philippines; and onto India, with stops in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai again for the Morningstar Investment Conference. And by the time you read this, my itinerary will have also included Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Singapore. In fact, I will have been on the road so much that I will have achieved both Gold and Platinum status on my preferred airline!
So what am I doing?
I am taking the meditation story to our many colleagues at local CFA societies across the globe. I am at the front end of serving the over 20 societies that have requested this kind of coverage from CFA Institute and me. If you’re a CFA Institute member and haven’t yet seen what all the fuss is about, check out the Meditation Guide for Investment Professionals. Nonmembers can peruse my Meditation Tips for Investment Professionals series here on Enterprising Investor.
Meditation, it turns out, can make a powerful difference in your career as the many testimonials I am gathering on my tour affirm. One such example: “Of all the CFA sessions that I have attended, this was easily the best for me!” Thank you for coming to my presentations, I am humbled!
Without further adieu, here are the stories that have kept my mind churning these last several weeks.
In almost every country I have traveled to over the last several years, the story from the locals is about recent Chinese investment in their countries and the influx of Chinese tourists. Quite frankly, China takes its economic future seriously and the evidence is everywhere. One such example: China is buying another port in another country. (FinanceAsia)
You would have to be Rip Van Winkle — the Washington Irving character who fell asleep under a tree and didn’t wake up for two decades — to not know that populism is on the march around the world. Look to the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany — where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition appears significantly weaker — and, most recently, Catalonia.
One explanation for this swelling populist tide — and one for which we in the investment business bear some culpability — is the increasing number of people left behind by economic growth. A recent study in the United States found that millions are mired in poverty: The post-Great Recession recovery has passed them by. This affects not just politics, but also our day-to-day lives as investment professionals . . . caveat venditor! (Enterprising Investor, Financial Times)
I am a staunch defender of active management. My thesis is that the industry and active managers themselves engage in many alpha-destroying activities. This was the subject of my speech in Singapore. I also don’t buy the meek counterargument that active management needs to provide liquidity. This to me is a particularly poor rebuttal. Instead, active managers should earn their management fees by doing right by their clients. They should not need defending by investment adviser working committees or other third parties. (Enterprising Investor, Financial Times)
The last piece in this section, “Your ‘Risk Intelligence’ Decides How Much of a Daredevil You Are,” is a leading candidate to be my story of the year. It explores recent scientific research into individual risk preferences. The publication, New Scientist, ought to be on your subscription list if you enjoy interesting science news. Their articles consistently display readability and rigor — a potent combination. (New Scientist)
Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG)
The title says it all: “What Is the Role of the Corporation in Society?” I cannot help but think that the many technological changes on the horizon will lead to the creation of different political and economic structures for us all. (NewCo Shift)
Why do employers favor male over female employees? Hint: subconscious bias. Researchers in this story detected biases in an especially clever way. Overcoming these biases is among the keys to improving social justice and the future for women everywhere. (Harvard Business School Working Knowledge)
Again, the march of new technologies is leading to changes in society and economics, particularly in how we buy consumer goods. I can think of only a few things I bought “offline” in the last year, and I am not alone. (Bloomberg)
“When Data Is Worth More Than Assets” is a fascinating thought piece that jarred my normal contexts — something I always appreciate. (FinanceAsia)
I love stories about quantum physics, the limitations of science, and the anomalies that bedevil some of the galaxy’s best minds. In this piece, scientists appear to have won the battle against ignorance with the (mathematical) discovery of dynamical dark energy. (R&D Magazine)
Finally, and in keeping with this edition’s raison d’etre, “Different Meditation Types Train Distinct Parts of Your Brain” summarizes recent research supporting the premise behind the Meditation Guide for Investment Professionals: that you should engage in a varied meditation practice. (New Scientist)
Now, I am homeward bound at long last!
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
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