Happy Friday! Here are eight fascinating things I read this week.
Congress cracked down on for-profit college loans. It worked:
Federal and private-loan lending totaled $106 billion for the 2013-14 academic year, down 8% from the prior year, according to a report to be released Thursday by the nonprofit College Board. The decline marks a significant reversal in borrowing, which peaked at $122.1 billion in 2010-11 after rising for years.
Related: Public tuition hikes are the lowest in four decades:
For the last two years, the cost of public college tuition has posted the smallest increases since the 1970s, according to new data.
In-state tuition at public four-year colleges averaged $9,139 for the current school year, according to The College Board. That's up 2.9% from the year before, and comes on the heels of a 2.8% jump last year.
Warren Buffett paid $26.5 billion for Burlington Northern five years ago. That looked like a fortune. Now it looks like a steal:
The railroad had sent more than $15 billion in dividends to Berkshire through Sept. 30, according to quarterly regulatory filings, the latest of which was released last week. More stunning: The business is on pace to return all the cash Buffett spent taking it private by the end of this year.
Seth Godin makes a great point about radio being replaced by streaming:
The first people to leave the radio audience will be the ones that the advertisers want most. And it will spiral down from there.
Just as newspapers fell off a cliff, radio is about to follow. It's going to happen faster than anyone expects. And of course, it will be replaced by a new thing, a long tail of audio that's similar (but completely different) from what we were looking for from radio all along. And that audience is just waiting for you to create something worth listening to.
This point doesn't get made enough:
The business of investment advice is a strange one. The leading model of advisor fees results in high net worth investors paying high fees simply based on their ability to pay, and not related to the services they receive. An investor with $5,000,000 who meets with his advisor once a year will pay ten times as much as a demanding investor with $500,000 who sees an advisor every quarter.
This is one of the best analogies I've seen:
He likens the market to an excitable dog on a very long leash in New York City, darting randomly in every direction. The dog's owner is walking from Columbus Circle, through Central Park, to the Metropolitan Museum. At any one moment, there is no predicting which way the pooch will lurch. But in the long run, you know he's heading northeast at an average speed of three miles per hour. What is astonishing is that almost all of the market players, big and small, seem to have their eye on the dog, and not the owner.
Most estimates say the world population will peak in the coming decades. New estimates say that's wrong:
The United Nations (UN) recently released population projections based on data until 2012 and a Bayesian probabilistic methodology. Analysis of these data reveals that, contrary to previous literature, the world population is unlikely to stop growing this century. There is an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion people, will increase to between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion in 2100. This uncertainty is much smaller than the range from the traditional UN high and low variants. Much of the increase is expected to happen in Africa, in part due to higher fertility rates and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline.
This is a rough year for mutual funds:
Fewer fund managers are beating the market this year than at any time in over a decade, piling further misery on a profession that faces increasing investor scepticism.
Fewer than one in five active managers outperformed the stock market in the year to the end of October, according to figures compiled by Bank of America.
Have a good weekend.
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