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An important floatation

No doubt there are more pressing problems in the world, but the other night some friends and I were grappling with what a hedge-fund manager of mutual acquaintance should call his new yacht, currently on order from Princess.

I suggested various epithets, from the funny to the lame (Bailout, Liquidity, Too Big to Sail, Floating Charge) but the winner was a banking friend, with the inspired Quantative Ease.

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Media consumption

My media consumption

  • I wake up listening to Today on BBC Radio 4.
  • Waiting for the train, I catch up on my RSS feeds through SpeeedReader [sic] on my phone, which syncs to my Google Reader account. I subscribe to about 40 feeds, business and pleasure, split into categories.
  • On the train, I read whatever book I have on the go. These are normally borrowed from friends, gifts, or from Westminster Library, which I walk past twice daily.
  • To keep up to speed during at work, I dip in and out of BBC News Online, Google Reader and Google Finance UK.
  • At home I watch Freeview (live or recorded on my Media Center PC) or a DVD from the free DVD library I established at work.
  • If I’m doing the dishes, I’ll listen to more Radio 4, unless it’s The Archers. I dislike The Archers because I cannot commit to anything approaching every episode and I struggle to remember (or care) which character is having which crisis.
  • I don’t drive during the week. At weekends, I drive listening to Radio 4 (Friday night and Saturday) or a music station (local commercial or Radio 1) on Sundays. The same radio attention split applies to weekend running.
  • If I am working or studying at home, I’ll normally have earphones plugged in to a feed from Last.fm, a service I adore.
  • For some reason, doing DIY makes me want to listen to the type of cabbie talk-radio you find on LBC and BBC London.
  • At night, I go to sleep with Kai Rysdall on American Public Media’s Marketplace podcast (thankfully, my wife approves).

My media consumption keeps me fully up to speed of everything that interests and entertains me. The quality of much of this media is exceptional. Today, Marketplace, Marginal Revolution and Last.fm stand out especially.

Why do I mention all of this? Well, because I find it amazing that, aside from the TV Licence, I pay nothing for any of this media.

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My investing mistakes, a continuing series

I sold out of Tesco in October at 407, having bought them at 321 exactly a year previously and enjoyed two dividends in addition to the 26% rise in share value. It was my first investment. Of course, commissions took their toll from my profit: although I try to keep these as low as possible, I’m playing with hundreds rather than thousands, so it’s hard not to lose a few points to the brokers. However, perhaps that’s a good thing as it discourages frequent trading, a sure fire way of making brokers rich at your expense. The asymmetric brokerage costs that I now have arranged (£1.50 flat to buy, £10 flat to sell) are a good incentive to stay in the game too. Despite this, not staying in the game is my first investment mistake. Tesco passed 420 today, making 321 seem even more of a steal.

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Time to think

Ben Casnocha blogs about the need for building thinking time into the daily routine. He suggests ensuring that you schedule in time for reading, driving and similarl activities where thinking can happen unprompted. I agree and it is for this reason that I lengthened my morning commute. I now take a less quick but less packed train to work. I have just the right amount of time to sit, read and think about the day ahead, and I still arrive on time. I lose only some fairly unproductive time between 08:20 and 08:50, when previously I would do a sift on the overnight emails to warm me up for the day.

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Crowdsourcing

As a legacy of my work with MTM London, I am very interested in how technology can change business models. Crowdsourcing seems very in at the moment. Some of the developments I have been following include:

All of these are Nathan Barley creative ventures. Can/does crowdsourcing work as well in other sectors? I am aware, of course, of Wikinvest and Knol, but I am not sure they are in the same category.

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Dead Aid

I have just finished this book, by Dambisa Moyo. It’s a very simple argument. So simple that the preface by Niall Ferguson means you can skip the majority of the book. After an hour, you’ll have the idea. As Niall points out, it’s slightly annoying that these arguments are taken more seriously when they come from Dambisa, an intelligent, attractive Ghanaian, rather than from older, whiter (but equally intelligent) critics of aid, such as Bill Easterly. But that’s not to the discredit of Ms Moyo or the arguments. Somebody needs to get the fact that aid is not the answer on the radar. Moyo does a good job as the ‘anti-Bono’.

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What they teach you at the Harvard Business School

I have just finished reading Philip Delves Broughton’s book on the topic (called Ahead of the Curve in the US). I loved the book: it’s one of the best reads of my year. It has also made me want to go to HBS. I think that the school comes across as a place that teaches well and broadly, that strives for a balance of the academic and the social, and which, fundamentally, tries hard. It’s a shame that in his subsequent work, Broughton appears to blame MBAs for the failures of the world economic system. Taking such a position turns him from an interesting outsider with a fresh perspective to a caricature of a bitter critic peddling exposé. It’s not clever.

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