Happy Friday! There are more good news articles on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating pieces I read this week.
Quartz writes about rising live expectancy:
One third of babies born in Britain this year will live to 100. This is an eye-catching statistic from a large report on mortality published by the UK's national statistics authority today. Relatively rare sightings of centenarians pottering around Britain today -- there are around 14,000 -- will soon become much more common, with 111,000 projected in 2037.
By 2015, energy companies will tap more oil in North America from dense layers of rock alone than the current output of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries except Saudi Arabia, Exxon projects.
Worldwide, companies will pump greater amounts of oil through 2040 and still leave nearly two-thirds of the earth's crude deposits untouched, Exxon says.
Warren Buffett talks about the 2008 financial crisis with a group of students from University of Maryland:
The money market failed because of Lehman. Money market funds held a lot of Lehman paper. It happened overnight, 30+ million Americans who believed money markets were safe, and then Lehman fails. This caused a major money market fund to "break the buck" and lose value. It became a great silent electronic run on money markets. There was $3 1/2 trillion in money market funds and $175 billion of funds flowed out in the first three days after Lehman failed. All money market funds held commercial paper. Companies like GE had a lot of commercial paper. After this, American industry literally stopped. George Bush said, "If money doesn't loosen up, this sucker will go down" -- I believe this was the greatest economic statement of all time. This is why he backed up Paulson and Bernanke. Companies were counting on the commercial paper market. In September 2008, we came right to the abyss.
The average Wall Street bank's prediction of the where the S&P 500 would finish this year is off by about 16%, writes Above the Market. Here are their predictions and how far off they are:
- Wells Fargo / 1,390 / 29.7%
- UBS / 1,425 / 26.5%
- Morgan Stanley / 1,434 / 25.7%
- Deutsche Bank / 1,500 / 20.2%
- Barclays / 1,525 / 18.2%
- Credit Suisse / 1,550 / 16.3%
- HSBC / 1,560 / 15.6%
- Jefferies / 1,565 / 15.2%
- Goldman Sachs / 1,575 / 14.5%
- BMO Capital / 1,575 / 14.5%
- JP Morgan / 1,580 / 14.1%
- Oppenheimer / 1,585 / 13.8%
- BofA Merrill Lynch / 1,600 / 12.7%
- Citi / 1,615 / 11.6%
- AVERAGE / 1,534 / 17.5%
- MEDIAN / 1,560 / 15.6%
James Surowiecki writes about the value of free goods hidden in GDP calculations:
Our main yardstick for the health of the economy is G.D.P. growth, a concept devised in the nineteen-thirties by the economist Simon Kuznets. If it's rising briskly, we know that the economy is doing well. If not, we know it's time to worry. The basic assumption is simple: the more stuff we're producing for sale, the better off we are. In the industrial age, this was a reasonable assumption, but in the digital economy that picture gets a lot fuzzier, since so much of what's being produced is available free. You may think that Wikipedia, Twitter, Snapchat, Google Maps, and so on are valuable. But, as far as G.D.P. is concerned, they barely exist. The M.I.T. economist Erik Brynjolfsson points out that, according to government statistics, the "information sector" of the economy -- which includes publishing, software, data services, and telecom -- has barely grown since the late eighties, even though we've seen an explosion in the amount of information and data that individuals and businesses consume. "That just feels totally wrong," he told me.
Time on the job
The Research puzzle talks about the role of experience in investing:
If you've been on the receiving end of pitches by asset managers, you have seen something like this: "Our investment team has a combined 138 years of experience." Let's think about that.
The assumption, of course, is that more experience is better than less experience, and it is reasonable to think that is the case under most circumstances. However, those who have been around a while know that in frisky markets it often pays -- at least temporarily -- to not have had the experience at all. Those of us with scars from previous frisky periods have a hard time throwing caution completely to the wind, having seen the results before. The neophytes will have their scars soon enough, but if the cycle has some length to it they can gain assets and fame in size as they ride the new wave.
China just relaxed its one-child policy. That might not be much help, writes Business Insider:
Morgan Stanley analysts led by Angela Moh recently survey 1,453 Chinese consumers to gauge their willingness to have another child should the reform take hold.
Only 24% said they would be willing to have another child.
Famed investor Peter Lynch gives a rare interview with Charlie Rose. Watch the whole thing here.
Enjoy your weekend.
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