In March, I asked on Twitter for suggestions for podcasts about business and finance since I found the Planet Money podcast from NPR and the Slate Money podcast to be infuriatingly juvenile.
One of my followers suggested the Bloomberg Radio podcast "Masters in Business," hosted by Barry Ritholtz of Ritholtz Wealth Management.
Ritholtz interviews some of the most famous names in business and finance and explores their background, philosophy, and investment strategy in wide-ranging, free-form interviews. It's fantastic.
In the last two months, I've listened to every episode of the podcast. Here's what I learned about success in business and investing.
Personally, I like to go down to the public library and check out dead-tree books. You might prefer to read books electronically on your phone or on a dedicated Kindle or Nook. But every one of Ritholtz's guests has a list of books they've either read recently or are in the process of reading.
Have a list, and find the time to read. Work your way through your list, and always be on the lookout for new titles to add to it.
Share prices are an inflation-protected asset, in that the revenue and expenses of the companies held in a sufficiently diversified stock portfolio will rise at the same rate as inflation in the overall economy, unlike a portfolio of fixed-income investments.
So own stocks: it's good for you.
Successful businesspeople are obsessed with bad evolutionary analogies
It is embarrassing listening to Ritholtz and his guests make constant references to "the savannah" where human psychology supposedly evolved oh-so-many millions of years ago, with "lions" waiting in the shadows to snatch unwary humans from around their "campfires."
I don't blame Ritholtz and his guests for this, and I don't even really blame the evolutionary psychologists for promoting this nonsense: they're just talking their book.
I blame the cultural anthropologists who have abdicated the field of popular non-fiction to these charlatans who preach that the behavior of early hominids on their mythical "savannah" explains human behavior in the advanced economies of the 21st century.
But let me be clear: the quick resort of successful capitalists to evolutionary analogies is no harmless affectation. If most people make investing mistakes because of their primitive evolutionary heritage, the ability of a select few to achieve success in investing must make them more evolved, more sophisticated, more worthy exemplars of the race.
And that, handily, excuses their worst excesses.
Jack Bogle is the only person on Earth who believes in passive indexed investing
Jack Bogle is the legendary founder and former chairman of the Vanguard Group.
Jack Bogle will sell you and manage for you a market-capitalization-weighted S&P 500 index fund for 5 cents per $100 invested.
If you prefer a wider stock index, he'll sell you and manage for you a market-capitalization-weighted total stock market index fund for 5 cents per $100 invested.
You should take him up on this offer. But you won't. No one does.
Passive indexed investing has one big advantage and one big disadvantage.
The one big advantage is that it's free. Since Vanguard passive index funds are market-capitalization-weighted, they are never rebalanced. If a stock goes up in price, it becomes a bigger portion of the index. If it goes down in price, it becomes a smaller portion of the index. Shares are not bought and sold to rebalance the portfolio, since the price movements themselves perform that function. No trading means no trading costs.
The one big disadvantage is that when you contribute money to a market-capitalization-weighted passive index fund you're buying expensive stocks when they're expensive, and when you redeem shares in a market-capitalization-weighted passive index fund you're selling cheap stocks when they're cheap.
Jack Bogle will tell you the one big advantage outweighs the one big disadvantage, but you won't believe him.
Probably because of the savannah.
Bonus fact: Barry Ritholtz blocked me on Twitter
At the end of every episode Barry Ritholtz tells listeners to follow him on Twitter. I thought this was a pretty good idea, so I checked out his account @Ritholtz, and somehow he had already discovered my subversive tendencies and blocked me: