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MLK Day was a great time to catch up on reading. Here are the top articles and stories I found through my own reading this past month, in order of how long it takes to read.
Short: Bill Gross's "Off With Our Heads"
Bill Gross is the managing director of PIMCO, and one of the top bond managers in the world. He pens a monthly letter, and this past month, he wrote a thoughtful discussion of America's deficit spending and habit of putting off tough decisions. He believes four main factors will cause pain for future citizens of the U.S. and gives four takeaways for investors. Read his missive for yourself.
Short: CAPS' Weekly Top Stock Idea
Shameless plug. Each week, I cull a top stock idea from the pitches made on CAPS, The Motley Fool's 170,000-member free investing community. Recent picks included RAIT Financial Trust
Mid-Length: Jeremy Grantham's "I Like Ike: A Powerful Warning Ignored, January 17, 1961"
Jeremy Grantham is chairman of GMO, which manages almost $105 billion in assets. In his own monthly letter, Grantham most recently discussed President Eisenhower's end-of-term address to the nation, and how Ike would view the U.S. today.
In particular, this stern warning from Eisenhower is most pertinent: "As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."
Eisenhower also warns us to guard against the unwarranted influence of corporations. However, he was referring to defense contractors, rather than the financial and energy companies that now dominate our politics. Read Grantham's letter and Eisenhower's original speech.
Long: T2 Partners' Year-End Letter
Whitney Tilson (a former Fool) and Glenn Tongue make up T2 Partners. Their annual letter goes through their current outlook, reviews the past year, and offers thoughts on positions the firm owns. T2 did well buying Berkshire Hathaway
The best for last: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
Whether you're a fan of Harry Potter or you never read it, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is the best thing I read in 2010. This work-in-progress book, currently at 63 chapters, uses Harry Potter to teach lessons in rationality, with each chapter devoted to one aspect of the subject. (For fans, Harry's Aunt Petunia married a scientist instead of Vernon Dursley, and Harry grows up to be a rational scientific prodigy.) While you may roll your eyes, I hope you give the book a chance; everyone I've passed it onto has become hooked. Author Eliezer Yudkowsky is an AI researcher and expert in decision sciences and rationality, and he's writing it to stay sane as he also works on a textbook on rationality. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is my belated Christmas present to you, the reader. Enjoy!
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Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Berkshire Hathaway and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Dan Dzombak's musings and articles he finds interesting can be found on his Twitter account:@DanDzombak. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.