Weil on Finance: My Computer Says I’m a 10
Howdy, View fans. Here’s a look at my breakfast reading.
The silliest study you’ll ever see on corporate CEOs.
A couple of academics loaded photos of chief executive officers into a computer program to determine which ones were good looking, and then ran some math that supposedly showed a correlation between CEOs’ attractiveness and their companies’ short-term stock-market returns. Plus, hot CEOs got paid more, according to the professors’ study. As if beauty is in the eye of a computer. Dumb stuff that makes for entertaining reading in a newspaper column, but you wouldn’t want to put any real money to work using this theory, even in a raging bull market.
Bond-market forecasts for 2014.
Grant Williams in an article for Mauldin Economics makes the case for why this year will be a bumpy ride for bond investors: “Here's the Fed's own little prisoners' dilemma: By purchasing a trillion dollars of Treasuries and MBS they have managed to pick the moribund housing market off the floor and generate some interest in one of the major drivers of any `recovery.’ However, now that things are looking better (optically, at least), they need to cut back on the stimulus that has created the optimism. Their policy is leading to higher rates, which in turn are already starting to affect the nascent housing recovery. So, does the Fed cooperate and taper the taper in order to stifle the rate increase —- or does it defect, continue to tighten, and watch the housing market tumble again?”
Berkshire Hathaway as a consumer brand.
From Noah Buhayar of Bloomberg News: “Signs are cropping up on front lawns from California to New Jersey bearing a new real estate franchise brand: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.” The brokerage “will test whether the `Berkshire’ brand has broad appeal and can be used without tarnishing a reputation for financial strength and integrity.”
Marijuana tourism takes off in the Mile High city.
Now that recreational pot is legal in Colorado, Spirit Airlines has unveiled some cheeky slogans for deals on flights to Denver, including “We’re High!” The company is urging customers to book today and “be sure to pack some munchies.”
In more news of the weird, Chen Guangbiao, one of mainland China’s richest people, penned an op-ed in the state-run Global Times in which he wrote: “I want to purchase the New York Times. Please do not treat it as a joke.” Sorry, too late.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)