Into the night with Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel

World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel discuss technology, chess, Russian and American politics as well as human rights and prospects for the world economy.

Garry Kasparov

The youngest world chess champion in history at 22 in 1985, Kasparov remained the top-rated player in the world for 20 years, until his retirement in 2005. He then became a leader of the Russian pro-democracy movement against Vladimir Putin and is currently the chairman of the NY-based Human Rights Foundation. The Kasparov Chess Foundation promotes chess in education around the world with centers in the US, Europe, and Africa with more soon to come. Kasparov speaks and writes frequently on technology, decision-making, and risk. His book, “How Life Imitates Chess,” has been published in more than 20 languages.

Peter Thiel

 

(45 min)  Warren Buffet, America’s richest man in, does not invest in technology.

 

When Charlie Munger Calls, Listen and Learn

A self-published author gets an unsolicited call from Warren Buffett’s right-hand man

.. In an interview, Mr. Munger tells me he tends to “skim” or “at least give some cursory attention” to any book that mentions Berkshire Hathaway.

.. “The Rebel Allocator” is the opposite of most business novels. Here, the rich capitalist isn’t an evil genius using genetic engineering to hijack the brains of newborn babies. Instead, he is a hero: an investing mastermind who regards allocating capital as a noble calling that improves other people’s lives.

Blunt and bristly, with zero tolerance for stupidity, Mr. Xavier spouts proverbs and zingers. A mash-up of Mr. Munger and Mr. Buffett, he often invokes their ideas.

.. Taking a shine to Nick, Mr. Xavier asks him to write his biography. Like many young people today, Nick wonders if becoming a billionaire is inherently immoral when poverty is still widespread.

Mr. Xavier teaches Nick what separates great businesses from good and bad ones. He uses three drinking straws, labeled “cost,” “price” and “value,” to demonstrate: When a business can charge a higher price than its goods or services cost, the difference is profit. When the value its customers feel they get is greater than price, that difference is brand or pricing power—the ability to raise prices without losing customers.

As Mr. Xavier moves the straws around, Nick learns that investing decisions can make the world a better place: “Good capital allocation means doing more with less to create happier customers,” says Mr. Xavier. “Profit should be celebrated as a signal that an entrepreneur provided value while consuming the least amount of resources to do so.”

.. “I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time—none, zero,” Mr. Munger once said. “You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads—and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”

.. The money managers among them are “like a bunch of cod fishermen after all the cod’s been overfished,” Mr. Munger tells me. “They don’t catch a lot of cod, but they keep on fishing in the same waters. That’s what’s happened to all these value investors. Maybe they should move to where the fish are.”

By that, he presumably means not the bargain companies that have become almost an endangered species, but rather the great companies at fair prices that Mr. Buffett has been favoring for the past couple decades under Mr. Munger’s influence.

Moynihan Grows Into Role as BofA Chief

Mr. Moynihan, 58 years old, got the top role after CEO Kenneth Lewis unexpectedly announced his retirement in fall 2009. During that period, Bank of America faced major financial problems following acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. To stay afloat, the bank had to take $45 billion from the government.

.. After Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 election, bank stocks broadly jumped. Bank of America shares surged 74% between then and the end of 2017.

.. For the full year of 2017, the bank posted a $21.1 billion profit, excluding an adjustment from the tax cut, roughly matching the bank’s all-time profit record from 2006.

.. The bank issued millions of new shares during the crisis, however, so its per-share earnings remain far below where they were precrisis. Likewise its shares, unlike those of competitors such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., remain below precrisis levels.

.. “Bank of America has done a sensational job under Brian Moynihan,” Mr. Buffett said