C&B Notes

Investing is a discipline built on cumulative knowledge, and it requires a continuous evaluation and assessment of new information. The purpose of C&B Notes is to pass along the ideas, concepts, stories, and information that are informing, influencing, and updating our worldview. We use them to build on our “latticework of mental models” that help us make better decisions.

323 articles in list

From Spud to Sale

We are big fans of Russ Roberts and his EconTalk podcast – it should be on your regular rotation if you like the podcast format.  We recently listened to one from deep in Roberts’ archive.  This interview with a Frito-Lay…

Read More

Origins of Quarantine

Quarantine was first widely used in Venice in the 1300’s as the city-state grappled with the Black Death.  The term itself is derived from quaranta, the Italian word for 40.  General policy of Venice was to keep visiting sailors and…

Read More

Higher Ed Hangover

Like many of you, we have kids at home participating in e-learning.  While COVID-19 is unlikely to fundamentally transform primary and secondary education, at least in the short-term, it could shake the foundations of higher education.  Colleges will face immediate…

Read More

The Dollar Saves Venezuela

Thankfully and mercifully, daily life in Venezuela is evolving.  We did not expect this level of relief without a leadership transition, but the Maduro administration has quietly allowed free market reforms to take shape.  The country is now essentially dollarized,…

Read More

Not Really a Weakness

We know of no company other than Daily Journal Corporation that could publish this statement of material weaknesses and not have shareholders worry about the veracity of the financials.  It is a testament to the reputation that Charlie Munger and…

Read More

Euro Cash Piles

A very strange, unintended consequence of negative interest rate policies. German banks are stuffing vaults with money to help offset the mounting cost of negative interest rates, and some of them are running out of space. The physical cash holdings…

Read More

EBITDA Definition Danger

EBITDA calculations vary widely across businesses and industries, and loosey-goosey “adjusted” EBITDA definitions exacerbate risk for lenders who are already offering covenant-lite terms.  As this recent study reveals, 5.0x debt-to-EBITDA ratios are not all created equal when the denominator is…

Read More

Well, That Didn’t Work…

In April 2017, we ran a note about a strategic effort by Adidas to add “Speedfactories” to diversify its global supply chain.  It evidently didn’t work, which leads to some interesting questions about the inevitability of automation to kill lower-wage…

Read More

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em

We have visited hundreds, if not thousands, of “mom and pop” stores throughout Latin America, as they account for a large portion of retail sales in the region.  Kiranas, which are akin to Latin American bodegas, are of similar —…

Read More

Progress in Brazil

In our most recent partner letter, we identified the importance of pension and tax reforms to unlock economic growth in Brazil.  Lawmakers successfully passed some long-awaited long-term fixes to the country’s social security equivalent earlier this month.  Tax reform is…

Read More

Food Delivery Landscape

On our recent trip to South America, we were struck by the growth in delivery sales for large QSR brands like McDonald’s and Burger King.  We are interested in whether delivery’s impact on the global restaurant industry will be enduring…

Read More

India’s Shadowy Lending

Borrowing short and lending long are typically ingredients for a financial disaster.  India’s shadow banking system, which gets its name because participants are more lightly regulated, is creating problems in the country’s formal banking sector.  The tone of this piece…

Read More