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JSArbitrage

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  1. You actually think us Americans were mistreated? Was not sitting in restaurants and going to large gatherings too much to bear? The entitlement I've seen from my American brethren is shocking. Not willing to give up the smallest inconveniences to prevent mass death. More deaths in 2 months than the entire Vietnam War (and closing in on WWI) but wasn't allowed to sit at an AMC and eat popcorn. My belief in my fellow Americans has been severely damaged in this order. This is not the country that put a man on the moon anymore.
  2. This is the key point, isn't it? A couple of questions: 1) For most moat-y businesses, do they have to pay their customers to choose their business? 2) For the ones which do, in fact, pay their customers (perhaps just initially) - what do those businesses look like? In my opinion, for (1) most moat-y businesses do not need to be acquired. You are offering something so special that competition is limited. Either you have some special process to offer sustainably lower costs (i.e. best commodity producer) or you are so differentiated that you are offering a special product (brands, etc.) Now, yes there are some businesses where you pay to acquire. The question then becomes, which are successful, and why? I would argue therefore the response to (2) is that you are building yourself into long-term customer processes, with high switching costs/specialized service, and a high natural relationship length. It becomes uneconomical to pay for customers if they can just hop to a competitor (low switching costs) in a month (low relationship length). My problem with the VC world (and perhaps I am wrong) is that they over-estimate their competitive advantages. I am sorry, but food delivery is not a competitive advantage. And access to capital is almost never a competitive advantage. Real competitive advantages come from high skilled activities at least in most cases. I think there is potential for significant competitive advantage in creating a network that makes delivery better, if it makes delivery better. Despite what some might argue, I am probably never going back to ordering a taxi because Uber/Lyft are so much more convenient that I would probably pay a premium to a taxi. Uber/Lyft made transportation a better experience IMO. They also made the driver experience better by making it a more flexible job, eliminating expensive medallions, etc. The open question for me perhaps is how are the food delivery services making the experience better than the status quo? Is calling up my favorite restaurant and going to pick it up that much different than having someone deliver it? I see the two-sided network effects very clearly with something like Uber, but food delivery not so much, especially if restaurants are eating the delivery cost. It is at best another form of advertising for them in that world. What makes Uber better than a taxi? Uber is a taxi service with an app. There is nothing more to it. Uber is just the app-ification of a service that's been around forever. The Uber business model wasn't related to network effects (even if they claimed that), it was about just subsidizing rides relentlessly to get to a scale that local laws didn't apply to them anymore. In fact, if you read about Uber, everyone can see the network effects never existed. Even small price increases (or smaller subsidies) causes Uber to lose market share. I would argue Uber just took advantage of another Silicon Valley business model - ignoring regulations. Like how if you throw a Coke can on the ground, you are littering. If you have a scooter company where 10,000 scooters are thrown on the ground, you're a mobile transportation company.
  3. Great answers from everyone. One thing I will also add is that, in my experience with convertible prefs, management teams view this (ever optimistically) as a way to essentially issue equity at above market prices. CAKE might have not issued equity because they believe their current stock price to be too low or secondaries are hard in this market so they looked to a structured deal to issue a lot of equity a bit above their current price.
  4. DCP Midstream Series B Preferred look interesting
  5. I think crafting unearned wealth inequality as inheritance is a bit misleading. For example, one could say that Bill Gates is self-made; he received no significant inheritance and went into an industry completely different than that of his father (attorney.) But one could also argue that his parents have a huge impact on his trajectory. His parents even paid for a prestigious, expensive private school that had a computer in the 70's (which was insane at the time.) Bill's father even wrote a book on parenting. As for myself, I sometimes think about how much of "me" was baked in many generations ago. I had parents that were upper middle-class, purposely moved across town to get me into the best public school system in my city, always came to my sports games, spelling bees, etc. Their parents were educated immigrants from Germany who could claim to have come to the US with nothing in their pockets (true) but were also quite educated for their day in Germany (also true.) When I think of wealthy inequality, I don't think of the Rockefellers. I think about all the children today that have a really strong headwind while I had a strong tailwind.
  6. Being a good investor has little to do with being intelligent; it's much more important to have the right physiological makeup. The reason so many great investors have Ivy League educations is because they had access to individuals with capital (rich alumni) to start funds, not because you need Ivy League level intelligence to be a good investor.
  7. I completely disagree with your analysis. All immigrants aren't equal. If we assume that the Syrian refugees represent an average sample of the population, you'll find some disturbing trends. For example, in Syria, only about half of men is Syria believe that women should be free to choose what job they want. Only around 33% think women should be allow to initiate a divorce. Syrians have an extremely backwards culture compared to the West. I understand the belief that we should help people that have been negatively impacted by a war over which they have no control - but that doesn't mean that those people are morally good people. Or that they should become Americans. Or that they share the values of women's rights, human rights or the right of people to choose the life they want you to live. Many of these people would tie a women to a tree and stone her for divorcing her husband. So to make the argument that "well, we let in a lot of Irish, therefore we should let in a lot of Syrians" is silly. Would you rather declare yourself an atheist in Ireland or Syria? One place might look at you funny for not being Catholic; the other will drag you through the town square. There are literally millions of people all over the world that want to come to the US - why bring the ones that have a culture that is stuck in the Dark Ages? P.S.- But I do agree the terrorism fear is overstated.
  8. I think the Buffett/Munger view of concentration has always been more of a philosophical view and not a practical one. They've actually been really good a keeping a diversified portfolio for themselves on a "look-through" basis. Buffett owns his home outright (paid cash), his Laguna Beach vacation home, kept a personal investment account outside of BRK, usually had generals, special-situations, cash, etc. until BRK was quite large. Buffett has been a mult-millionaire outside of BRK for a really long time. I think Charlie had money in real estate during the early days of BRK as well. I think people need to be careful when listening to people that are multi-millionaires even if their entire stock portfolio would go to zero. There is a big difference between someone with a $100M net worth putting 25% of their money in 1 stock and someone worth $100K putting 25% of their money in 1 stock. Especially individuals like Warren/Charlie would either (a) are or (b) have influence over management.
  9. Basically, the US has a tax on the inheritance of large sums. If you are rich, the US will not simply allow you to give your wealth to you heirs when you die without paying a tax. Some of the reasons are philosophical (preventing the accumulation of dynastic wealth - aka the Thomas Jefferson argument) and some are practical (dead rich people have no need for money anymore.) Some people disagree with this tax also on philosophical grounds (general aversion to taxes that specifically target the wealthy) and some are practical (heirs might have to sell family businesses, real estate, etc. to create the liquidity required for the estate the pay the tax.) The tax only effects the marginal value of the estate above $5.5M dollars but the tax rate is quite high at around 55%. So it doesn't effect 99.9% of Americans but it can have a large effect on those estates that are asset-heavy and cash-poor like a family farm or a valuable piece of real estate. TL;DR - The US taxes dead rich people. Some people like that. Some people don't like that. Either way, if you are affected by it, you are probably doing pretty well so it's only a debate rich people and people who like to debate policy generally give a crap about.
  10. I don't think Warren doesn't like leverage. It's just "good" leverage isn't really available to 95% of investors outside of real estate. So, in your example, if someone was willing to give you an 80% LTV, 30-year fixed rate loan at <4% pre-tax with which to buy the S&P500 index, Warren would probably advise you to that loan and buy that index and sit on it. The issue is that margin loans are callable, have variable interest rates and are typically short term. To use THAT kind of money to buy an index is nuts because if the index drops by 50% the next day, your broker will call more capital or force you to liquidate. With a house, you can live in it for decades and the bank can't do anything about it. You don't have a "duration match" issue.
  11. There is also Barclay's arrival card that has 1% back, but no annual fee. I am CC'holic. Fidelity Amex for 2% back, Chase Freedom and Discover for 5% categories, Barclay's and CapitalOne for international no-fee (and CapitalOne gives 1.5% back), United Explorer for United perks + international no-fee. Plus I usually get new cards that promise $200-500 sign up bonuses. Cancel them later. I guess my credit history suffers a bit, but so far I don't care. :) I am the same. For example, Chase Southwest Card gives you 40,000-60,000 (depending on timing) Southwest Airlines point to sign-up. You can directly cash those in for $600 in Amazon gift cards. Pay the $95 annual fee. Close as needed. I also recommend the Amazon Visa card. 3% cash back on Amazon, 2% on restaurant/drug stores/gas and 1% on everything else. I buy everything humanly possible on Amazon so 3% cash back is great. I also think the Starwood AMEX is great because Starwood gives great yields on their points. When I go on vacation, it's not difficult to get 10%+ effective cash back on Starwood hotels. I carry a United Mileage Plus for United Perks and No International Fees. I also bank at Ally.com online bank for 100% ATM reimbursement at any ATM. The 1% current yield on savings accounts is great too for emergency funds.
  12. Criminal convictions were never going to happen - big banks/big bankers are basically the the defacto financing arm of American politics. NYC bankers basically ARE the mainstream Democratic party. Anyone that thought Obama was going to destroy his own party for fairness needs to move to a Scandinavian country or some egalitarian society.
  13. You don't believe a shareholder can assess when shares are overvalued? No, I think the average retail investor cannot make that assessment. They are in a position where they must trust Management to make their capital investment decisions for them (that's why CEOs make tens of millions of dollars after all.) So I do not think it is fair to blame shareholders for the actions of Management. The capital allocator of the average retail investor is a mutual fund manager. I don't think the average mutual fund manager can do it either. I think being good at spotting overvalued/undervalued stocks is really, really, really hard in truth. Maybe less than 1 percent of investors have that ability over the long-run.
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