Friday, May 8, 2020

This week's interesting finds

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting 2020 
As most of you might know, Berkshire Hathaway had their annual shareholders’ meeting this past weekend, with the highlight being Warren Buffett speaking and answering questions for more than 3 hours on topics ranging from his views of the post-COVID-19 market, economic trends, and his current investment strategy. Here are links to the full video and meeting transcripts.

Personal Saving Rate and U.S. Household
Savings rate hits its highest level in 40 years, as Americans are accumulating cash.
When You Have No Idea, What Happens Next
Do we know more about what’s going to happen in the next 12 months today than we did in January? We now know there’s a pandemic that shut the economy down. We didn’t know that in January.

We’ve learned this year that the assumptions you have about the future can be destroyed overnight. That’s true for the poorest to the most successful, the old dry cleaner to the tech startup. It was true in January, and it’ll be true again in the future. 
If that’s the lesson, the question is: what do you do about it? 

Read more history and fewer forecasts. Think of all the 2020 market forecasts published in December. Accepting that forecasts have little use doesn’t mean you become a blind fatalist. When you pay more attention to history than forecasts you pick up on the patterns that guide how people respond to unforeseen events, which – given how stable behavior is over time – is the next best thing to knowing what will happen next. 

Have more expectations and fewer forecasts. Forecasts rely on knowing when something will occur. Expectations are an acknowledgment of what’s likely to occur without professing insight into when it will happen. Expectations are healthier than forecasts because they provide a vision of the future stripped of all false precision. If you know a recession will occur at some point, you won’t be that surprised whenever it arrives – which is a huge benefit. But if you assume you know exactly when it will occur you’ll be tempted into all kinds of dangerous behavior, leveraged with overconfidence.

COVID-19 internet search trends

Streaming Services Face an Economic Reckoning After Covid-19
The race to attract and retain subscribers — and turn a profit — was challenging enough before the coronavirus shut down entire swathes of our economy. Now, the U.S. is in a recession, and consumers are rethinking how much content they need and what’s a worthwhile household expense. When all a country can do is sit home and gorge on movies and TV, a free trial to stream Netflix or any other services is worth its hours of content in gold. (Look no further than Netflix’s recent spike in subscriptions.) The question is, will users just ditch once those free trials are up?

Because of Netflix, viewers have become accustomed to not having to sit through ads, and they like it. But that approach probably can’t work long-term if consumers want an affordable service with a constant flow of fresh content.