Project Punch Card Investment Event December 7th in NYC–Hurry!

Old computer data entry punch cards.

Our goal at Project Punch Card is to foster long-term investment orientation amongst students underrepresented in the investment research and management business.

“We are delighted to announce that Alice Schroeder, the author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, the latest addition to the conference, will give a NEW keynote and share her insights on Mr. Buffett’s lesser-known investment secrets — built from thousands of hours spent with him and unique access to decades of Mr. Buffett’s archives.

Buffett_Case Study on Investment Filters Tabulating Company as an example of her work.

The Punch Card Conference has an incredible line-up of speakers and thought leaders including David Abrams (in a rare public appearance), John Rogers, Jonathan Levin, Murray Stahl and more.

We are offering a limited number of super-early-bird tickets for $145 until Nov-9 (TOMORROW-Friday), after which the price increases to $495 for early-bird tickets and $995 for full priced tickets.”

Who is it for?

We expect a blend of Portfolio Managers, Investment Advisors, Analysts and Allocators (i.e pension funds, Endowments, insurance, FOF etc). Ideally we would like people from the target communities — women, people of color, or graduates of underprivileged colleges in the investment industry. Marketing and strategic partners such as Smart Women Securities, Forte Foundation and SEO may also be a material component of the audience composition.

What is included?
Breakfast, Full Sit-down Lunch, Coffee Breaks, and Networking Opportunities.

Warren Buffett to students on the choice of a career:

When you go out in the world, look for the job you would take if you didn’t need the money. You really want to think about, what will make you feel good, when you get older, about your life, and you at least generally want to keep going in that direction. Don’t work for money . . . You’ll never be happy. You have to find the intersection of doing something you’re passionate about and at the same time something that is in the service of other people. I would argue that, if you don’t find that intersection, you’re not going to be very happy in life.

Why a punch card? Once again, the Oracle of Omaha said it best:

I could improve your ultimate financial welfare by giving you a ticket with only twenty slots in it so that you had twenty punches–representing all the investments that you got to make in a lifetime. And once you’d punched through the card, you couldn’t make any more investments at all. Under those rules, you’d really think carefully about what you did and you’d be forced to load up on what you’d really thought about. So you would do so much better.

Learn more about the investment competition:

John Chew: This seems like an EXCELLENT opportunity for students and emerging money managers at a CHEAP price.  If you net out the lunch/food you are paying $100 to $120 for an incredible conference.   I don’t know the other speakers but Murray Stahl is one of the most underrated stars (in my opinion) in the business.   See for yourself: Murray Stahl The Skeptics Almanac-third-edition-volume-3

Also, Paul Isaac of Arbiter Partners, is another excellent investor who has been interviewed multiple times by Jim Grant of

This New York-based investor has value investing in his blood. His father, Irving, an arbitrageur, was instrumental in finding Max Heine his first job on the Street. Heine went on to run the legendary Mutual Shares Fund, and Irving Isaac sat on its board for three decades. And Paul Isaac’s uncle, Walter Schloss, a student of Benjamin Graham, was praised by Warren Buffett and profiled in Barron’s. At his former position leading a fund of funds, Paul Isaac produced high single-digit returns annually. That fund was sold after the 2008-2009 financial crisis. He continues to manage Arbiter, a hedge fund that has returned 21%..

I have no association with the organizers of this event.   I may be given a free ticket.  However, I may not be able to attend.  I hope to change my schedule to attend because just being able to meet Murray Stahl would be worth it for me. 

Transcendental Meditation: Another Cult or Blissful Nirvana? Greenwald Lectures

Because intelligence is absolutely no barrier to cult recruitment. This is because a person’s intelligence is totally bypassed during the process of cult recruitment. When reality testing is suspended then one’s intelligence is not applied at all in order to ascertain the reasonableness of the cult’s teachings.

Do you want to transcend your consciousness and be blissfully happy forever?


Don’t Fall Down The Rabbit Hole

An ex-TM teacher peels back the union and reveals the dark side of the TM and the TM organization.  The Maharishi was a sociopath in his eyes.  A very thorough discussion of cult mind techniques from an insider of Transcendental Meditation: Skeptical TM

What does questioning the benefits of TM have to do with investing?  Be skeptical.  Attack your favorite ideas. Never stop questioning and learning.  Note that several TM instructors quit when they saw paid scientists doctoring studies to benefit the

There are benefits to meditation and, yes, transcendental meditation–if done in a limited fashion for relaxation–can induce a state of deep relaxation.  The problem is the hype and supposed need to learn from a teacher or “guru.”   ONLY an expert knows your proper mantra.  PLEASE…….

The simple Relaxation Response helps me be better focused. I avoid having a “monkey-mind.”   My suggestion is to learn for free (Don’t pay $1000’s for TM training) by viewing the video below and give yourself a few weeks. Keep a journal of your progress.  If you see no benefit then stop.   I take fifteen minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.  No, your problems won’t evaporate nor will you transcend humanity and see God, but you may be more relaxed, less irritable, calmer, more focused, and, strangely, more compassionate.

Greenwald 2010 Lectures in Video


Excellent video from the


Hedge Fund Test: Are YOU Smarter than a Chimp?

Test on your knowledge about the world

Please put a check mark by the letter you choose or write it down next to the number of the question.

You will be compared to a Chimp who—on each question—will be thrown bananas labeled A, B, or C.

The Chimp will answer correctly about 33% of the questions.


  1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
    A. 20 percent
    B. 40 percent
    C. 60 percent
  2. Where does the majority of the world population live?
    A. low-income countries
    B. middle-income countries
    C. high-income countries
  3. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has….
    A. Almost doubled
    B. Remained more or less the same
    C. Almost halved
  4. What is the life expectancy of the world today?
    A. 50 years
    B. 60 years
    C. 70 years
  5. There are 2 billion children in the world today, aged 0 to 15 years old. How many children will there be in the year 2100, according to the United Nations?
    A. 4 billion
    B. 3 billion
    C. 2 billion
  6. The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion. What is the main reason?
    A. There will be more children age below 15
    B. There will be more adults age 15 to 74
    C. There will be more very old people aged 75 and older.
  7. How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last hundred years?
    A. More than doubled
    B. Remained about the same
    C. Decreased to less than half
  8. How many of the world’s 1-year-old children today have been vaccinated against some disease?

A. 20 percent

B. 50 percent
C. 80 percent

9 World-wide, 30-year-old men have spent 10 years in school, on average, how many years have women of the same age spent in school?

A. 9 years
B. 6 years
C. 3 years

10 In 1996, tigers, giant pandas, and black rhinos were all listed as endangered. How many of these three species are more critically endangered today?

A. Two of them
B. One of them
C. None of them

11. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?

A. 20 percent
B. 50 percent
C. 80 percent

Global climate experts believe that, over the next 100 years, the average temperature will……

A. Get warmer
B. Remain the same
C. Get colder

Email:     with the subject heading:   CHIMPS and I will email you the answers.   Did you beat the chimps?

A reader shares his investment conference in Cyprus

I wonder if this crowd could beat the chimps?  Bets?

There is one asset class that is cheap RELATIVELY speaking

Blockchain Future; Create Your Own Case Studies

Create your Own Case Studies

Look at the date of the report like Coach, Inc. (“COH”).  Do not read the

report.   Then download the 10K close to the date of the report and try to

do your own analysis BEFORE you read the author’s thesis.   Yes, it is work, but

you will learn more than reading the report and then looking at the financials.  Most will simply skim the report.

Excellent Article: The Psychology of Money

Two Investors

If you only read one post on this blog, then let it be this one. John Chew

Let me tell you the story of two investors, neither of whom knew each other, but
whose paths crossed in an interesting way.

Grace Groner was orphaned at age 12. She never married. She never had kids. She never drove a car. She lived most of her life alone in a one-bedroom house and worked her whole career as a secretary. She was, by all accounts, a lovely lady. But she lived a humble life. That made the $7 million she left to charity after her death in 2010 at age 100 all the more confusing. People who knew her asked: Where did Grace get all that money?

But there was no secret. There was no inheritance. Grace took humble savings
from a meager salary and enjoyed eighty years of hands-off compounding
in the stock market. That was it.

Weeks after Grace died, an unrelated investing story hit the news. Richard Fuscone, former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch’s Latin America division,
declared personal bankruptcy, fighting off foreclosure on two homes, one of which was nearly 20,000 square feet and had a $66,000 a month mortgage.
Fuscone was the opposite of Grace Groner; educated at Harvard and
University of Chicago, he became so successful in the investment industry
that he retired in his 40s to “pursue personal and charitable interests.” But
heavy borrowing and illiquid investments did him in. The same year Grace
Goner left a veritable fortune to charity, Richard stood before a bankruptcy
judge and declared: “I have been devastated by the financial crisis … The
only source of liquidity is whatever my wife is able to sell in terms of personal

The purpose of these stories is not to say you should be like Grace and avoid
being like Richard. It’s to point out that there is no other field where these
stories are even possible.

In what other field does someone with no education, no relevant experience,
no resources, and no connections vastly outperform someone with the best
education, the most relevant experiences, the best resources and the best
connections? There will never be a story of a Grace Groner performing heart
surgery better than a Harvard-trained cardiologist. Or building a faster chip
than Apple’s engineers. Unthinkable.

But these stories happen in investing.

That’s because investing is not the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. You can’t sum up behavior with formulas to memorize or spreadsheet models to follow. Behavior is inborn, varies by person, is hard to measure, changes over time, and people are prone to deny its existence, especially when describing themselves.

Grace and Richard show that managing money isn’t necessarily about what
you know; it’s how you behave. But that’s not how finance is typically taught
or discussed. The finance industry talks too much about what to do, and not
enough about what happens in your head when you try to do it.

This report describes 20 flaws, biases, and causes of bad behavior I’ve seen
pop up often when people deal with money.

The Psychology of Money-9dbc86

The above article confirms my bias that all the MBAs, CFAs, CPAs, and study won’t help you unless you understand yourself.   Tough.   For example, I can see the speck in your eye but not the mud in mine.

Have a good weekend!

Fraud, Lies, Social Proof, and the Will to Believe: Theranos

So what do you think? Are you enthused, impressed, and a believer?   Read

Here is an early interview of Eliz. Holmes: Could this finger prick blood test be the next “Game-Changer? Imagine if this company can change the cost and inconvenience of diagnostic care? Wow!

Why study this case of Theranos?

Whenever you study an investment, you should make notes on your thoughts at the time to go back and check your thinking and biases.  How else can you improve as an analyst?

Now, unless you have been living in a cave, you know what happened.   However, pretend that you didn’t know the outcome and you were reading the articles above for the first time and seeing the video.   What RED FLAGS jump out at you.  Or what would you need to prove in order to invest?  And if you could not find the answer easily to the main question of the investment, what else would you scrutinize carefully?    Think hard before reading on………..

Fortune Article Author Follow up with how he was misled by Theranos

Notes on Bad Blood

I highly recommend the above book as a great read.  You will also learn about investor manipulation, the will to believe and how it shuts off our critical thinking abilities, incompetent governance, employee abuse, EXTREMELY bad management, criminal actions, and a female sociopath.  I could not put the book down–read it in a day.

Next, a few years later, when Theranos, a private company with an estimated $9 billion value (!), faced a barrage of critics over the lack of transparency and no verification of the technology (“The Edison”), Cramer gives her a chance to rebut her critics.

Cramer asks Holmes about her Technology. What do you think of the answers? If you were an investor, what would be the first area to investigate?) Did Cramer ever follow-up specifically? No.

By the way, did you notice her deep (affected?) voice and her black uniform. Creepy.

As a former employee said Theranos product was like building a bus while driving down the highway with passengers.   The problem is that people could get killed.   This fraud hit home since I have amyloidosis.  Not only did she and her accomplices hurt employees, investors, and–most importantly–PATIENTS! She and her CEO deserve a minimum 25-year sentence.

Note how SOCIAL PROOF euthanized investors critical thinking.   Look  at the prestigious board: George Schultz, General , etc.   But note the lack of specific product/industry expertise to vet Holmes’ claims.    She brilliantly piggybacked on the prestige of others.   Any investor could have visited the Walgreen stores to check on the accuracy and completeness of the tests. Red flags would fly.

The employee turnover and secretiveness would have been other flags.  What relevant experience to this field did she have?  I am not knocking outsiders, but she and her CEO lacked any background in biochemistry.   That isn’t enough to suspect problems, but it would place more urgency on verifying the efficacy of the technology.

Great American Rhetoric–Learn How to Convince

Whether you are seeking to convince your neighbors and friends or asking an investor to act, throw out your TV and listen/read the great speeches in the last link below. Learn about persuasive rhetoric.  How do you reach and convince people who DISAGREE with you.    The History of rhetoric

Rhetoric_index   An Overview


The best 100 speeches in American History

Case Study on Managing A Company

View the Town Hall Meeting At Barrick Gold



A very interesting presentation of how Barrick is planning its future.


I have often mention gold as a “Store of Value.”   I never defined my terms.

I apologize.  A better explanation by Keith Weiner of

Store of Value Fallacy
And this leads us to make one final, if tangential point. We often hear people talk about gold as a “store of value”. If you have a tank, that is a store of water. A grain silo is a store of wheat. In both cases, what is being stored is a quantity of a commodity. In this sense, a vault is a store of gold.

However, economic value—as we see above—is whatever the bidder is willing to pay. Gold’s moneyness does not come from it commanding the same amount of wheat today as it did last year or 2000 years ago. In fact, its purchasing power of wheat is not fixed. Over the last ten years, shows that wheat has ranged from about 0.9 grams gold per bushel to 3.6g. The highest price during this time is 4X the lowest.

One reason for gold’s moneyness is that we value the next ounce of gold—the marginal ounce—the same as the last one. Proof of this extraordinary claim is observed in the extraordinary fact that virtually all gold ever mined in 5,000 years of human history is still in human hands. Gold is not produced to be consumed, but to be held. And we keep on producing, regardless of how much has already been produced.

In other words, we measure the value of gold like we measure the value of all other things in the economy—in gold. Gold does not have constant purchasing power (perhaps we should use scare quotes “purchasing power”). It has a constant price. The price of gold is always 1. This is not expressing a tautology. It is expressing that gold has constant marginal utility.

Gold is the steel meter stick of measuring economic values. Even if we climb in elevation (quantity) the meter (ounce) does not shrink.