It is a deeply held conviction within economics that our world can be reduced to models that are founded on the solid ground of axioms, plumbed by deductive logic into rigorous, universal mathematical structures. Economists think they have things figured out, but our economic behavior is so complex, our interactions are so profound that there is no mathematical shortcut for determining how they will evolve. The only way to know what the result of these interactions will be is to trace out their path over time: we essentially must live our lives to see where they will go. There is no formula that allows us to fast-forward to find out what the result will be. The world cannot be solved; it has to be lived.
Financing A Business
The accounting equation, a fundamental identity of accounting, states that: Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity A business converts debt (liabilities) and equity (owner’s equity) into assets that generate cash flows. Those on the right side of the equation make…
You can certainly have a situation where there’s absolutely no growth in a business and it’s a much better investment than some company that’s going to grow at very substantial rates — particularly if they’re going to need capital in order to grow. There’s a huge difference between the business that grows and requires lots of capital to do so and the business that grows and doesn’t require capital. And, generally, financial analysts don’t apply adequate weight to the difference between those. In fact, it’s amazing how little attention is paid to that.
Fragility and Systemic Failure
When constrained systems, those hungry for natural disorder, collapse, as they are eventually bound to, since they are fragile, failure is never seen as the result of fragility. Rather, such failure is interpreted as the product of poor forecasting. As with a crumbling sand pile, it would be unintelligent to attribute the collapse of a fragile bridge to the last truck that crossed it, and even more foolish to try to predict in advance which truck might bring it down. Yet it is done all too often.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile
Picking Things That Are Easy
Bought, Not Sold
What you want is products that are bought, not sold.
Widening The Moat
Well, I send a letter to the managers and I talk to them about widening the moat. I say it isn’t the question of the earnings per share this quarter or anything like that. Any business that has a widening moat is gonna make a lot of money over time. They are guardians of the moat. I say a great business is like an economic castle. And if you have an economic castle in capitalism, there gonna be a bunch of people that are going to try and take it away from you. So I need a knight in that castle, the manager, who worries about protecting that castle all the time. And then I want this moat around it, and I want that moat to get wider. It may be service, it may be better product design, all kinds of things. It can be what’s in their mind about the product, a consumer product. But I want that moat to be widening. And I want people to toss sharks and piranha, octopus, everything into that moat to keep away those competitors because they’re gonna be coming and our managers are charged with that. I tell our managers, pretend that this is the only business that you and your family can own for the next hundred years, you can’t sell it and you’ve got to make this one work. And that means every day thinking about what’s going to make it a great business over a 100 years.
English medium types like me read an Oscar Wilde short story called The Model Millionaire in school. The story is about how Hughie Erskine, despite being poor, gives away whatever little he has to somebody who he thinks is an…
True creativity is characterised by a succession of acts each dependent on the one before and suggesting the one after. This kind of cumulative creativity led to the development of Polaroid photography.