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News Selected by Stingy Investors
Suggested reading from our community of intelligent investors

Headlines
 
  06/12   How to kill a currencyHistory  
  04/22   Origins of the indebted homeownerHistory  
  04/11   'Fortune 500' of 1812History  
  04/03   No normal recoveryHistory  
  03/08   2600 years of history in one objectHistory  
  03/08   Retailers don't recover from bankruptcyHistory  
  02/26   Wildcatters, speculators and...History  
  02/03   United States then, Europe nowHistory  
  12/07   The Long Shadow of German HyperinflationHistory  
  10/26   Control rights and wrongsHistory  
  09/20   Trust issuesHistory  


Recent News
 
How to kill a currency
"As the world considers the possible death of the euro, it's worth considering a famous historical example. Ok, it's not that famous. But it's still worth looking at: The break-up of the Austro-Hungarian currency union in 1918."
from NormR, 6:20 PM EST, 06/12/12, History
 
Origins of the indebted homeowner
"Not long after the economic crisis began, the president's landmark Conference on Homeownership reported that 'down payments of 10 percent, 5 percent, and even nothing down' had become common practice in the home-mortgage market. Reliance on second mortgages and novel financing terms, the report noted, were also widespread. Although these developments sound all too familiar, this Conference on Homeownership was held in 1931 and the president sponsoring it was Herbert Hoover, not George W. Bush or Barack Obama. We often think of the expansion of easy mortgage financing as a relatively recent development, but the growth of indebted homeownership has older and more complicated origins."
from NormR, 11:13 PM EST, 04/22/12, History
 
'Fortune 500' of 1812
"Fortune magazine began publishing annual rankings of U.S. corporations by revenue in 1955. Ever since, scholars and forecasters have analyzed changes in the Fortune 500 to help inform their judgments about industry concentration and the relative importance of different sectors of the economy. Historians would love to have snapshots of the nation's largest corporations at earlier dates. Unfortunately data are scarce, especially before the Civil War. Based on our research, however, it is now possible to create a sort of historical 'Fortune 500' ranked by corporate capitalization -- the total sum stockholders were supposed to pay for their shares."
from NormR, 6:02 PM EST, 04/11/12, History
 
No normal recovery
"With the U.S. economy yielding firmer data, some researchers are beginning to argue that recoveries from financial crises might not be as different from the aftermath of conventional recessions as our analysis suggests. Their case is unconvincing."
from NormR, 11:52 PM EST, 04/03/12, History
 
2600 years of history in one object
"A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object."
from NormR, 4:11 PM EST, 03/08/12, History
 
Retailers don't recover from bankruptcy
"A&P, which at its peak owned almost 16,000 grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada, is the latest in a very long line of retailers that have turned to the bankruptcy courts to fix their problems. A few have been successful."
from NormR, 2:57 PM EST, 03/08/12, History
 
Wildcatters, speculators and carried-interest
"Many analysts have questioned the tax policies governing an important component of Romney's income, a form of compensation known as 'carried interest.' Portrayed in the press and academic writing as a modern product of hedge funds and private equity, carried-interest arrangements and the tax issues surrounding them actually have a long history, linked to oil speculation and wildcatting at the turn of the 20th century."
from NormR, 8:50 PM EST, 02/26/12, History
 
United States then, Europe now
"Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government of the United States had limited power to tax. Therefore, large debts accumulated during the U.S. War of Independence traded at deep discounts. That situation framed a U.S. fiscal crisis in the 1780s. A political revolution - for that was what scuttling the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution of the United States of America was - solved the fiscal crisis by transferring authority to levy tariffs from the states to the federal government. The Constitution and Acts of the First Congress of the United States in August 1790 gave Congress authority to raise enough revenues to service a big government debt. In 1790, the Congress carried out a comprehensive bailout of state governments' debts, part of a grand bargain that made creditors of the states become advocates of ample federal taxes. That bailout created expectations about future federal bailouts that a costly episode in the early 1840s proved to be unwarranted."
from NormR, 7:04 PM EST, 02/03/12, History
 
The Long Shadow of German Hyperinflation
"The Germans' strict opposition to the monetary financing of governments isn't just petty legalism -- it's a bedrock principle, based in history, which was purposefully built into EU treaties and Bundesbank policies. It's worth revisiting why the memory of hyperinflation has seared itself into the minds of many Germans, and how it's shaping their thinking and the future of the euro itself."
from NormR, 10:08 PM EST, 12/07/11, History
 
Control rights and wrongs
"Banks are special. That has long been recognised in the design of their ownership, governance and regulation. This special status can have strange consequences. The historical distribution of risks and returns in banking is one. For a century, both risks and returns have been high. But while the risks have typically been borne by wider society, the returns have been harvested by bank shareholders and managers. The experience of the past two decades illustrates well this imbalance. In 1989, the CEOs of the seven largest banks in the United States earned on average $2.8 million. That was almost 100 times the median US household income. By 2007, at the height of the boom, CEO compensation among the largest US banks had risen almost tenfold to $26 million. That was over 500 times the median US household income. Those are high returns by any measure. But so, subsequently, have been the risks. The fall in the share prices of global banks means they are scarcely different in real terms today than in the early 1990s. And it is not just investors licking their wounds. So too is the global economy."
from NormR, 2:48 PM EST, 10/26/11, History
 
Trust issues
"Hartwick College didn't really mean to annihilate the U.S. economy. A small liberal-arts school in the Catskills, Hartwick is the kind of sleepy institution that local worthies were in the habit of founding back in the 1790s it counts a former ambassador to Belize among its more prominent alumni, and placidly reclines in its berth as the number-174-ranked liberal-arts college in the country. But along with charming buildings and a spring-fed lake, the college once possessed a rather more unusual feature: a slumbering giant of compound interest."
from NormR, 12:23 PM EST, 09/20/11, History
 
A second great depression, or worse?
"According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, falling from peak to trough in each cycle took 11 months between 1945 and 2009 but twice that length of time between 1854 and 1919. The longest decline on record, according to this methodology, was not during the 1930s but rather from October 1873 to March 1879, more than five years of economic decline."
from NormR, 10:33 PM EST, 08/18/11, History
 
The Nixon Shock
"Burns was replaced by Jimmy Carter in 1978. The following year, with inflation rocketing toward 15 percent, Burns delivered a keynote speech, "The Anguish of Central Banking," in which he argued that central bankers around the world were failing because elected leaders were unwilling to risk displeasing constituents. The new Fed chief, Volcker, did tame inflation unlike Burns, he had the fortitude to subject the country to a brutal recession. But the dilemma faced by Burns - how to withstand the demands of the public for limitless monetary expansion - did not go away. We see it now in the troubles of nations from Greece to Ireland to the U.S. And the anguish that Burns felt is Ben Bernanke's unfortunate inheritance."
from RobS, -4:15 PM EST, 08/12/11, History
 
How debt has defined human history
"Since 1971, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard, and the world has been moving to a system of virtual credit money, we have been entering a new period of history. But it's not entirely unprecedented. In fact, contrary to popular belief, credit has been the predominant form of money in world history."
from NormR, -3:52 PM EST, 08/07/11, History
How to kill a currency
"As the world considers the possible death of the euro, it's worth considering a famous historical example. Ok, it's not that famous. But it's still worth looking at: The break-up of the Austro-Hungarian currency union in 1918."
from NormR, 6:20 PM EST, 06/12/12, History
 
Origins of the indebted homeowner
"Not long after the economic crisis began, the president's landmark Conference on Homeownership reported that 'down payments of 10 percent, 5 percent, and even nothing down' had become common practice in the home-mortgage market. Reliance on second mortgages and novel financing terms, the report noted, were also widespread. Although these developments sound all too familiar, this Conference on Homeownership was held in 1931 and the president sponsoring it was Herbert Hoover, not George W. Bush or Barack Obama. We often think of the expansion of easy mortgage financing as a relatively recent development, but the growth of indebted homeownership has older and more complicated origins."
from NormR, 11:13 PM EST, 04/22/12, History
 
'Fortune 500' of 1812
"Fortune magazine began publishing annual rankings of U.S. corporations by revenue in 1955. Ever since, scholars and forecasters have analyzed changes in the Fortune 500 to help inform their judgments about industry concentration and the relative importance of different sectors of the economy. Historians would love to have snapshots of the nation's largest corporations at earlier dates. Unfortunately data are scarce, especially before the Civil War. Based on our research, however, it is now possible to create a sort of historical 'Fortune 500' ranked by corporate capitalization -- the total sum stockholders were supposed to pay for their shares."
from NormR, 6:02 PM EST, 04/11/12, History
 
No normal recovery
"With the U.S. economy yielding firmer data, some researchers are beginning to argue that recoveries from financial crises might not be as different from the aftermath of conventional recessions as our analysis suggests. Their case is unconvincing."
from NormR, 11:52 PM EST, 04/03/12, History
 
2600 years of history in one object
"A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object."
from NormR, 4:11 PM EST, 03/08/12, History
 
Retailers don't recover from bankruptcy
"A&P, which at its peak owned almost 16,000 grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada, is the latest in a very long line of retailers that have turned to the bankruptcy courts to fix their problems. A few have been successful."
from NormR, 2:57 PM EST, 03/08/12, History
 
Wildcatters, speculators and carried-interest
"Many analysts have questioned the tax policies governing an important component of Romney's income, a form of compensation known as 'carried interest.' Portrayed in the press and academic writing as a modern product of hedge funds and private equity, carried-interest arrangements and the tax issues surrounding them actually have a long history, linked to oil speculation and wildcatting at the turn of the 20th century."
from NormR, 8:50 PM EST, 02/26/12, History
 
United States then, Europe now
"Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government of the United States had limited power to tax. Therefore, large debts accumulated during the U.S. War of Independence traded at deep discounts. That situation framed a U.S. fiscal crisis in the 1780s. A political revolution - for that was what scuttling the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution of the United States of America was - solved the fiscal crisis by transferring authority to levy tariffs from the states to the federal government. The Constitution and Acts of the First Congress of the United States in August 1790 gave Congress authority to raise enough revenues to service a big government debt. In 1790, the Congress carried out a comprehensive bailout of state governments' debts, part of a grand bargain that made creditors of the states become advocates of ample federal taxes. That bailout created expectations about future federal bailouts that a costly episode in the early 1840s proved to be unwarranted."
from NormR, 7:04 PM EST, 02/03/12, History
 
The Long Shadow of German Hyperinflation
"The Germans' strict opposition to the monetary financing of governments isn't just petty legalism -- it's a bedrock principle, based in history, which was purposefully built into EU treaties and Bundesbank policies. It's worth revisiting why the memory of hyperinflation has seared itself into the minds of many Germans, and how it's shaping their thinking and the future of the euro itself."
from NormR, 10:08 PM EST, 12/07/11, History
 
Control rights and wrongs
"Banks are special. That has long been recognised in the design of their ownership, governance and regulation. This special status can have strange consequences. The historical distribution of risks and returns in banking is one. For a century, both risks and returns have been high. But while the risks have typically been borne by wider society, the returns have been harvested by bank shareholders and managers. The experience of the past two decades illustrates well this imbalance. In 1989, the CEOs of the seven largest banks in the United States earned on average $2.8 million. That was almost 100 times the median US household income. By 2007, at the height of the boom, CEO compensation among the largest US banks had risen almost tenfold to $26 million. That was over 500 times the median US household income. Those are high returns by any measure. But so, subsequently, have been the risks. The fall in the share prices of global banks means they are scarcely different in real terms today than in the early 1990s. And it is not just investors licking their wounds. So too is the global economy."
from NormR, 2:48 PM EST, 10/26/11, History
 
Trust issues
"Hartwick College didn't really mean to annihilate the U.S. economy. A small liberal-arts school in the Catskills, Hartwick is the kind of sleepy institution that local worthies were in the habit of founding back in the 1790s it counts a former ambassador to Belize among its more prominent alumni, and placidly reclines in its berth as the number-174-ranked liberal-arts college in the country. But along with charming buildings and a spring-fed lake, the college once possessed a rather more unusual feature: a slumbering giant of compound interest."
from NormR, 12:23 PM EST, 09/20/11, History
 
A second great depression, or worse?
"According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, falling from peak to trough in each cycle took 11 months between 1945 and 2009 but twice that length of time between 1854 and 1919. The longest decline on record, according to this methodology, was not during the 1930s but rather from October 1873 to March 1879, more than five years of economic decline."
from NormR, 10:33 PM EST, 08/18/11, History
 
The Nixon Shock
"Burns was replaced by Jimmy Carter in 1978. The following year, with inflation rocketing toward 15 percent, Burns delivered a keynote speech, "The Anguish of Central Banking," in which he argued that central bankers around the world were failing because elected leaders were unwilling to risk displeasing constituents. The new Fed chief, Volcker, did tame inflation unlike Burns, he had the fortitude to subject the country to a brutal recession. But the dilemma faced by Burns - how to withstand the demands of the public for limitless monetary expansion - did not go away. We see it now in the troubles of nations from Greece to Ireland to the U.S. And the anguish that Burns felt is Ben Bernanke's unfortunate inheritance."
from RobS, -4:15 PM EST, 08/12/11, History
 
How debt has defined human history
"Since 1971, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard, and the world has been moving to a system of virtual credit money, we have been entering a new period of history. But it's not entirely unprecedented. In fact, contrary to popular belief, credit has been the predominant form of money in world history."
from NormR, -3:52 PM EST, 08/07/11, History