Warren Buffett: Oracle or Orang-utan?

Buffett has taken the criticism from these fellow giants of finance in his stride, responding with trademark wit and humour. He even compared himself to an orang-utan flipping coins. Joking aside, this is a testable hypothesis: Is Buffett’s performance better than chance? To test it, we will stand on the shoulders of another giant: Jacob Bernoulli.

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Again it is a very small number, but we can use our formula to calculate its value:

The expected value is much smaller than 1, so we can conclude that Buffett is a better investor than the luckiest orang-utan. If stock returns really do follow a random process – as Eugene Fama asserted – then Warren Buffett is more than just lucky. Compared with his competitors in the S&P 500, he’s brilliant.

→ StatsLife

The Fable Of The Unicorn

Yet in other ways Theranos evokes a central theme in today’s tech industry: start-ups which promise to disrupt lucrative businesses and become valued on the basis of fantasies about their potential, rather than present reality. Investors are so keen to get a piece of any sexy-sounding startup that they lap up entrepreneurs’ hype—and anyone who asks awkward questions risks being cut out of the funding round in favour of someone more trusting.

All this helps to explain the inflation of valuations among unlisted technology companies. Today there are 142 unicorns, more than three times as many as in 2013. Many of them are growing quickly. But in terms of reaching profitability, they are often far behind the stockmarket-listed competitors they are seeking to displace, and thus are burning through cash. Theranos, for example, is not believed to have any significant revenues or profits, yet it is valued about as highly as Quest Diagnostics, a listed laboratory company, which achieved $7.4 billion in revenues and nearly $600m in net profits in 2014.

→ The Economist

China in Africa: A Modern Story of Colonization?

However China’s increased presence in East Africa has gradually raised concerns about the economic development of these countries as well as the environmental and social sustainability of their natural resources; what remains unclear is whether China’s recent FDI in East Africa has any real intention in helping to promote economic growth and development in these countries. In recent times, China has undertaken multiple investments in sub Saharan Africa that most people believe is due to China’s search for natural resources to feed its industrial output. But it has not always been the case.

→ Economonitor

Art: An Alternative Asset Wealth Managers Can Do Without

“Making money is art,” Andy Warhol once wrote :

Another reason for advisers’ hesitance is the unique due diligence skillset that art fund investments require. Investors must evaluate the fund’s financial structure and its investment potential. Wealth managers can readily grasp the finance projections, but few are equipped to gauge the fund manager’s art market expertise, proposed acquisition market or strategy for buying and selling profitably, Beard notes.

→ Institutional Investors

Al Gore : The Green Warren Buffet

The most sweeping way to describe this undertaking is as a demonstration of a new version of capitalism, one that will shift the incentives of financial and business operations to reduce the environmental, social, political, and long-term economic damage being caused by unsustainable commercial excesses. What this means in practical terms is that Gore and his Generation colleagues have done the theoretically impossible: Over the past decade, they have made more money, in the Darwinian competition of international finance, by applying an environmentally conscious model of “sustainable” investing than have most fund managers who were guided by a straight-ahead pursuit of profit at any environmental or social price.

Note : title edited

→ The Atlantic