8 Fascinating Reads

Good reads, short quotes.

Feb 21, 2014 at 9:47AM

Books

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.

Sad because it's true
The blog Interfluidity gives an honest assessment of modern finance:

Finance has always been complex. More precisely it has always been opaque, and complexity is a means of rationalizing opacity in societies that pretend to transparency. Opacity is absolutely essential to modern finance. It is a feature not a bug until we radically change the way we mobilize economic risk-bearing. The core purpose of status quo finance is to coax people into accepting risks that they would not, if fully informed, consent to bear.

Payback
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have now paid back all of their government bailouts and then some, leaving taxpayers with a profit:

U.S. taxpayers have recouped all of the $187 billion they gave mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in one of the most expensive bailouts of the financial crisis.

The milestone was reached after Fannie Mae reported Friday it will pay Treasury an additional $7 billion in profit from the end of last year.Beginning in late 2008, the federal government bailed out the two firms that had become nearly the only source of loans for American home owners. With the payment announced Friday, the payments from the two firms now comes to $192 billion.

Nice work if you can get it
The Financial Times outlines the outrageous fees some U.K. investors pay advisors: 

Barclays Wealth and St James's Place have the highest 12-month charges, of 6.55 per cent and 7.48 per cent respectively, inclusive of all fund management fees, if a client only stays with the firm for one year.

Worrying yourself broke
This is fascinating:

The stress that financial traders suffer during periods of high volatility in the markets reduces their appetite for risk, according to a study led by Cambridge university neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates. This may prolong financial crises.

Wisdom
I like this parable, from jlcollinsnh:

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet. As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says: "You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn't have to live on rice and beans."

To which the monk replies: "If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn't have to cater to the king."

Worth it?
Kevin Roose talks about life as a young investment banker:

Wall Street is notorious for the long hours it imposes on its worker bees. (One young banker bragged to me about working the "banker 9-to-5," defined as 9 a.m. until 5 a.m. the next day.) But lots of professions -- law and medicine, to name just two -- work their underlings hard. What makes banking different is that the work can arrive at any moment, unannounced and requiring immediate attention. If a client needs a PowerPoint presentation at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning, a junior banker will have to wake up and get to the office.

Darwin investing
Josh Brown talks about adaptation

[Peter] Lynch remains untouched by anyone -- whether they managed money before his career, during it or in the 25 years since. No one even comes close.

What made him special? He made changes in a diverse variety of market environments without obsessing over one metric or another like a dying man clutching a religious totem to his chest.

Lynch had six basic "stories" or types of stocks he liked to play and he leaned toward whichever ones were offering the best opportunities at a given time. He didn't walk around wearing a sign on his chest that said "Value Investor" or "Momentum Trader" or "Growth At a Reasonable Price Guy" or "Turnaround Player" and he certainly didn't care to be put into someone else's style box. Lynch knew that no approach worked best all the time.

Data
Watch this awesome video about how nature is explained with numbers:

Enjoy your weekend. 

More from The Motley Fool
The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here.

 

Contact Morgan Housel at mhousel@fool.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers