Remember the Alka-Seltzer commercial that had the catchy jingle "plop plop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is!"? (If not, click HERE for a reminder!) As you've likely noted in my past three newsletters, steadily rising markets with increasing valuations and escalating risks are fertile ground for spotting bubbles...but they are also enough to give any thoughtful investor indigestion. For the defensively positioned, even the slightest indication of sobriety is enough to bring some relief.
So, while it brings me no joy to see China slow dramatically, Canadian housing plunge precipitously, or crude oil fall regularly, there is a certain relief that accompanies these developments. Many contemplative observers have been concerned about these possibilities, and removing these risks allows focus on the incrementally positive outlook from here. After all, doesn't a China growing at 5% still produce an expanding middle class that will consume more animal protein, travel more frequently and further, and seek better healthcare?
One area that continues to give me heartburn, however, is the ongoing tech boom in Silicon Valley. It seems the prayers of the famous bumper sticker ("Please God, Just One More Bubble!") have been answered. Of particular note is rapid growth in the number of "unicorns" and the return of Silicon Valley twenty-somethings onto the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest. Other concerning signs include massive monument building (oops, I meant the construction of new headquarters!), lavish parties, and the possibly-irrational exuberance of non-traditional investors (i.e. mutual funds) participating in pre-IPO late stage financing rounds. I recently spoke with New York Times technology reporter Nick Bilton and he quoted me in his Vanity Fair article "Is Silicon Valley in Another Bubble?" For those seeking an overview, I highly recommend it.
I'll continue to comment on developments I find interesting and noteworthy. In addition to posting my thoughts every Wednesday on my website, I have also begun posting them to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Listed below are links to my most recent comments. As always, I'd appreciate feedback!
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What We Can Learn From Yogi Berra
Baseball legend Yogi Berra recently passed away at the age of 90. He was a flexible, nuanced, and innovative thinker, one from whom we can learn a great deal. In this short comment, I take five of his most famous sayings and extract leadership and life lessons from them. Click HERE for my note.
Fed Babble Bubble
The overwhelming noise around whether the Fed would raise interest rates was a bunch of babbling to me. Any move they may make is unlikely to have material impact. But the implications of a new trend are far more powerful and are worth contemplating a bit. Click HERE for my thoughts.
5 Leadership Lessons from the Queen
Queen Elizabeth recently took the title of longest serving British monarch. In this short piece, I look at the impressive breadth of her experiences and suggest five possible lessons that we can learn from her tenure. Click HERE for my piece.
Maybe Majors Matter...
In this short note from the beginning of the academic year, I reflect on the pressures faced by students thinking about selecting a major. Not surprisingly for those who follow my work, I suggest that mindsets matter more than majors. The time has come for parental passion for practicality to cede to practicality for student passion. Click HERE for more.
How the Chinese Slowdown Will Impact You
During August, the bursting of a Chinese equity market bubble was THE news for many media outlets. In this comment, I suggest that the Chinese markets are a distraction. What matters is the Chinese economy, and it's rapidly slowing...with implications for commodities, luxury goods, and global equity portfolios. Ultimately, what happens in China will not stay in China. Click HERE to read my note.
Is Apple Doomed to Disappoint?
Apple has been booming for years. It's now a huge company. Do all large companies eventually disappoint their customers? I recount a recent experience at a local Apple store and suggest that the disappointment may not ultimately matter. Why else would I have an Apple Watch that I don't need? Click HERE for my comment.