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Its Friday

I have clearly been exercising incorrectly my entire life. Hang around till the one minute mark……


Do Financial Experts Make Better Investment Decisions?

I have only seen the abstract of this article so far. However, the abstract as usual does give away the plot since it states –

We provide direct evidence on the effect of financial expertise on investment outcomes by analyzing private portfolios of mutual fund managers. We find no evidence that financial experts make better investment decisions than peers: they do not outperform, do not diversify their risks better, and do not exhibit lower behavioral biases. Managers do much better in stocks for which they have an information advantage over other investors, i.e., stocks that are also held by their mutual funds. More experienced managers seem to be aware of the limitations to their investment skills as they increase their holdings of mutual fund-related stocks following poor performance of their portfolios. Our results suggest that there are limits to the value added by financial expertise.

It also seems to imply that they only do better when they front run their own firm, a practice which if not illegal is immoral.


The Hedge Fund Mirage – A Q&A With Simon Lack


What Happens To Our Brains When We Exercise

Exercise has been touted to be a cure for nearly everything in life, from depression, to memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and more. At the same time, similar to the topic of sleep, I found myself having very little specific and scientific knowledge about what exercise really does to our bodies and our brains.

“Yes, yes, I know all about it, that’s the thing with the endorphins, that makes you feel good and why we should exercise and stuff, right?” is what I can hear myself say to someone bringing this up. I would pick up things here and there, yet really digging into the connection of exercise and how it effects us has never been something I’ve done.

Inspired by a recent post from Joel on what makes us happy I’ve set out to uncover the connection between our feeling of happiness and exercising regularly.

More here – Fast Company

Porsche: The Hedge Fund That Also Made Cars

In 2008, Porsche was cruising. 

The luxury car manufacturer generated $13.5 BN in pre-tax profit, and sold a record 98,652 automobiles — a staggering $136K profit per car sold. Even for a luxury brand, the numbers seemed nearly impossible.

Upon closer inspection, $11.5 billion dollars of that profit wasn’t from selling cars — it was from speculating on financial derivatives: Porsche was furtively amassing a sizable position in call options to buy up Volkswagen shares. As a report from the BBC put it, Porsche was “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.” In 2008, the car business was good, but the financial engineering business was even better.

The company’s CEO at the time, Wendelin Wiedeking, was the highest paid executive in all of Germany. He’d taken the helm of the company in 1993 when the once-fabled car-maker was bleeding money and at the edge of irrelevancy. When he took the position, he negotiated a seemingly moot provision in his contract that would give him 1% of the company’s annual profits as bonus — in the unlikely event the company ever turned a profit. The company was losing $150MM a year at the time; no one could’ve foreseen how lucrative that provision would turn out to be.

The company’s operational performance improved tremendously under Wiedeking’s decade-long management, and the company sold thousands of cars at very lucrative profit margins. And so, the CEO set his sights on an even bigger financial coupe: He’d acquire Volkswagen, the largest car manufacturer in Germany. At the time, Volkswagen produced 50 times more cars than Porsche. But, starting in 2005, the smaller competitor quietly bought up Volkswagen shares and options; by October 2008, Porsce announced that it controlled 74% of VW.

More here – priceonomics

What If Age Is Nothing But A Mind-Set?

One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.

The subjects were in good health, but ageing had left its mark. “This was before 75 was the new 55,” says Langer, who is 67 and the longest-serving professor of psychology at Harvard. Before arriving, the men were assessed on such measures as dexterity, grip strength, flexibility, hearing and vision, memory and cognition — probably the closest things the gerontologists of the time could come to the testable biomarkers of age. Langer predicted the numbers would be quite different after five days, when the subjects emerged from what was to be a fairly intense psychological intervention.

More here – The New York Times

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