8 Fascinating Reads

Happy Friday! There are more good news articles, commentaries, and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating ones I read this week.

Wisdom
Business Insider pulled a list of quotes from Back Swan author Nassim Taleb's Facebook page. Here are a few: 

  • Journalists cannot grasp that what is interesting is not necessarily important; most cannot even grasp that what is sensational is not necessarily interesting.
  • We often benefit from harm done to us by others; almost never from self-inflicted injuries. 
  • The artificial gives us hangovers, the natural inverse-hangovers.
  • The only problem with the last laugh is that the winner has to laugh alone.
  • Intelligence without imagination: a deadly combination.
  • When someone writes "I dislike you but I agree with you," I read "I dislike you because I agree with you."

Leg up
Matt Bruening cites data from the Pew Economic Mobility study: 

So, you are 2.5 times more likely to be a rich adult if you were born rich and never bothered to go to college than if you were born poor and, against all odds, went to college and graduated. The disparity in the outcomes of rich and poor kids persists, not only when you control for college attainment but even when you compare non-degreed rich kids to degreed poor kids!

Losing interest
CNBC viewers are fleeing, writes ValueWalk: 

Many of CNBC's leading programs have seen a downward spiral in terms of ratings. The quarterly data show that Mad Money, Squawk on the Street, and the Kudlow Report have posted their worst rated quarter ever

CNBC continues to lose ratings. The latest Nielsen Media Research statistics show that the business network's total number of quarterly viewers fell to their lowest level since the second quarter of 2005. In the all-important age group of 25-54, CNBC witnessed its lowest level quarter since 1994. That's not an impressive track record for a network that's "First in Business Worldwide."

Dedication 
Alfred Feld has worked at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) for 80 years, writes The Wall Street Journal

One day into his job at Goldman Sachs, Alfred Feld found his name on a list of employees the firm had targeted for layoffs.

Then fate, and a supportive boss, intervened.

Eighty years later, Mr. Feld is still at it at Goldman.

"I came so close to being fired after one day," Mr. Feld, 98 years old, said Wednesday. "I'm glad that didn't happen.

Patent trolls
The New York Times writes a profile of a patent troll: 

[The] number of patent infringement suits has more than doubled in recent years, to 4,731 cases in 2012 from 2,304 in 2009, according to that RPX report. The cost to businesses, which pass along the expense to consumers, is immense.One study found that United States companies -- most of them small or medium-sized -- spent $29 billion in 2011 on patent assertion cases.

Backfired
BusinessWeek profiles Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD  ) Eddie Lampert's management style: 

An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company's leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other -- and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that's ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources.

Now's the chance 
Barry Ritholtz says we need to fix our crumbling infrastructure while we can -- when interest rates are low: 

Thanks to the Federal Reserve's zero interest rates and quantitative easing policies, borrowing costs are near generational lows. The costs of funding the repair and renovation of America's decaying infrastructure are as cheap as they have been since World War II.

But the era of cheap credit may be nearing its end. And thanks to a dysfunctional Washington, D.C., we are on the verge of missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Due dilligence
Warren Buffett biographer Alice Shroeder talks about how Warren picked stocks before he took over Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  ) : 

Enjoy your weekend. 

More big-picture stuff 
My new report, "Everything You Need to Know About the National Debt," walks you through with step-by-step explanations about how the government spends your money, where it gets tax revenue from, the future of spending, and what a $16 trillion debt means for our future. Click here to read it. 


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  • Report this Comment On July 20, 2013, at 12:41 AM, sliderw wrote:

    "So, you are 2.5 times more likely to be a rich adult if you were born rich and never bothered to go to college than if you were born poor and, against all odds, went to college and graduated."

    Inheritance exacerbates the situation.

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