Dollars and Jens
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Lampert, Wetherell, Buffett
Since this K-Mart/Sears merger was announced last week, I've seen several allusions to Lampert, the father of the deal, being the next Warren Buffett. Five years ago, I heard CMGI's David Wetherell called the Warren Buffett of the Internet. Since I'm not sure quite what's meant by these analogies, I don't know whether they are meaningless or wrong.
If they are meaningless, and all they mean is "successful investor by acquisition", I have no particular desire to argue, though Wetherell's stock has certainly fallen in the last five years (in more ways than one). But Wetherell never had the temperament of Buffett. And Lampert is a turnaround artist. In some sense, it's unfair to Lampert to compare him to Buffett. Lampert buys companies that need retooling and does the hard work necessary; Buffett just buys great companies at good prices and watches them grow. In fact, he has specifically disclaimed interest in turnaround situations, and he won't buy a company for which he'd have to find new management.
Lampert appears — from what little I know of his track record — to be a great businessman, but comparisons to Warren Buffett aren't really useful.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Chicago Board of Trade
Incidentally, today (Thursday) the Wall Street Journal has an article on the Chicago Board of Trade, mentioning the rising prices of seats — and their accumulation by owners that don't wish to use them to trade — and discussing the possibility that they will soon be converted into a listed security of some kind.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I was paying attention when paper company Boise Cascade bought OfficeMax a year ago. Apparently, Boise Cascade has subsequently sold off the assets of their paper businesses — assets including their name — to a private equity firm and taken the name OfficeMax.
I assume someone deserves to be beaten, but I'm not sure who.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
market design and fragility
This is like South Park; I find it funny, but I feel bad for doing so.
Turnover on EuroMTS, the pan-European platform for trading eurozone government bonds, has fallen sharply since Citigroup shook the market by selling €11bn of debt in less than two minutes in August. The US bank's actions severely disrupted the market and raised questions about its structure.
Friday, November 05, 2004
default risk on corporate bonds
Exhibit 1 indicates a ratings transition matrix constructed by Standard & Poor's. It indicates one-year ratings migration probabilities based upon bond rating data from the period 1981-2000.Just passing along an interesting link.