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This billionaire’s “$5 million test” will make you a way better investor

In 1982, a man named Jim Tisch bought seven supertankers for $42 million. He found them by cold calling companies he found in the Yellow Pages.

Yes, $42 million is a lot of money… but these tankers were each four football fields long. That’s a lot of steel. And they could carry between 2-3 million barrels of oil.

And these ships were built just eight years earlier at a cost of $50 million[...] Click here to continue reading

Own this currency [no, it’s not a cryptocurrency]

With the nearly daily moves to record highs among the hundreds of cryptocurrencies that currently exist, talking about ‘regular’ currencies seems about as out-of-fashion as that hideous shoulder pad trend from the 1980s.

[Millennial readers: see here if you’re confused.]

But there are actually a few currencies out there worth talking about right now.

And top among them, especially for anyone holding US dollars, is the Hong Kong dollar.

The Hong[...] Click here to continue reading

Here’s how people get fooled into buying bankrupt companies

In 1906, American entrepreneur William T. Grant opened his very first “W.T. Grant Co 25 cent store” in a small town outside of Boston.

The store became popular and fairly profitable. So Grant opened another. And another.

Three decades later, Grant’s retail empire was generating $100 million in sales (an enormous sum back then). And by the time of Grant’s death in 1972, there were over 1,000 stores bearing his name.

[...] Click here to continue reading

The one way governments could actually kill Bitcoin

Something pretty miraculous happened recently.

It appears that Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, went nearly TWO WEEKS without bashing Bitcoin.

This must be a record for Mr. Dimon, who seems to have barely been able to last an hour without calling out Bitcoin as a “fraud”, or a refuge for criminals and North Koreans.

Mr. Dimon finally broke his Zen-like meditative silence late last week, once again returning to[...] Click here to continue reading

078: Eating used coffee grounds for breakfast and black-market cash deals with taxi drivers

Today’s Notes is a bit different…

I recorded a conversation I had with my colleague Sean Goldsmith about my recent travels to Venezuela. I explain how I exchanged my US dollars on the black market for Bolivar (with a taxi driver I’d never met before)… and how the situation in Venezuela will get worse before it gets better. Plus, I share observations and stories of things I saw on the ground in one[...] Click here to continue reading

This is the craziest mortgage scheme I’ve ever seen

The Great Financial Crisis happened because Wall Street was financing homes for people who couldn’t afford them.

Leading up to the GFC, there was a voracious appetite from investors for “AAA”-rated mortgage debt. So lenders would make lots of loans to subprime borrowers and sell them to Wall Street. Wall Street would pool them together and one of the major ratings agencies (like Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s) would stamp the steaming pile of[...] Click here to continue reading

Strangely enough, Vanuatu proves why Bitcoin can never be banned

In the late 1500s, an Englishman named William Lee invented a revolutionary knitting machine that could efficiently do the work of dozens of men.

Given how important the garment industry was at the time in English, Lee’s invention was truly disruptive.

But Queen Elizabeth wasn’t so excited.

When Lee came to visit her to demonstrate the power of his new technology, the Queen grimaced, lamenting that the machine would put too many[...] Click here to continue reading

Science tells us this is all true

On April 30, 1934, under pressure from Italian-American lobby groups, the United States Congress passed a law enshrining Columbus Day as a national holiday.

President Franklin Roosevelt quickly signed the bill into law, and the very first Columbus Day was celebrated in October of that year.

Undoubtedly people had a different view of the world back then… and a different set of values.

Few cared about the plight of the indigenous[...] Click here to continue reading

The US government lost nearly $1 trillion in FY2017. Again

There was a time, centuries ago, that France was the dominant superpower in the world.

They had it all. Overseas colonies. An enormous military. Social welfare programs like public hospitals and beautiful monuments.

Most of it was financed by debt.

France, like most superpowers before (and after), felt entitled to overspend as much as they wanted.

And their debts started to grow. And grow.

By the eve of the French[...] Click here to continue reading

Investment advice from Paris Hilton

Angelina Umansky, a 39-year-old spa owner from San Francisco, was visiting a friend in Miami two weeks ago when she heard about a new condo development downtown.

Hoping to find a vacation home, but worried that others were interested, too, Ms. Umansky arrived at the sales office at 8 a.m. the day after seeing some model units.

About 50 other buyers were already in line. Two hours later, a sales agent summoned her[...] Click here to continue reading