As McKinsey Sells Advice- Its Hedge Fund May Have a Stake in the Outcome – The New York Times

By Michael Forsythe, Walt Bogdanich and Bridget Hickey
Feb. 19, 2019, 23 c

“The sins of Valeant Pharmaceuticals are well known. Instead of spending to develop new drugs, Valeant bought out other drugmakers, then increased prices of lifesaving medicines by as much as 5,785 percent. Patients had no choice but to pay.

Valeant’s chief executive, J. Michael Pearson, was hauled into a 2016 Senate hearing and verbally thrashed by lawmakers. “It’s using patients as hostages. It’s immoral,” said Claire McCaskill, then the Democratic senator from Missouri. One executive went to prison for fraud. The company’s share price collapsed.

It hadn’t always been that way. Before Valeant’s fall, its stock was a Wall Street darling, attracting high-profile investors who tirelessly promoted the company on financial news channels. But one investor especially avoided the spotlight — a secretive hedge fund owned by McKinsey & Company, the world’s most prestigious consulting firm. McKinsey, in fact, had deep ties to the drugmaker: Four top Valeant officials, including Mr. Pearson, were McKinsey veterans, and the firm was advising Valeant on drug prices and acquisitions.

J. Michael Pearson, left, testifying on Capitol Hill in 2016 after the pharmaceutical company he led, Valeant, raised the prices of lifesaving medicines. McKinsey had both advised and invested in Valeant.CreditDrew Angerer for The New York Times
That web of relationships underscores the unusual nature of McKinsey’s hedge fund, and the potential for undisclosed conflicts of interest between the fund’s investments and the advice the firm sells to clients.”

David Lindsay:

If McKinsey is telling the truth about a wall between their consulting and this hedge fund, why do they hide it in the island of Guernsy off the coast of England, in hidden, anonymous accounts? These two points don’t agree with each other.

What It Was Like to Finally Write My Will – The New York Times

“So! Let’s talk about writing a will.Where to startFirst, I tried going online for a do-it-yourself approach. Several products can help you write your own will and other estate documents, including financial guru Suze Orman’s “Financial Security Now” and an assortment of products from,, and

If your finances and family are all extremely straightforward, these can work, but if you do write a will on your own, hire a lawyer to check your efforts. Some of the products offer consultation with an attorney who will vet the resulting document.”

Paul Krugman on Twitter: “First, stocks and bonds. Here’s Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio and long-term bond rates. PE is high but not 2000 high; might make sense given low interest rates, although bond prices also a question. 2/…”

Paul Krugman‏Verified account @paulkrugmanFollow Follow @paulkrugmanMoreFirst, stocks and bonds. Here’s Shiller’s cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratio and long-term bond rates. PE is high but not 2000 high; might make sense given low interest rates, although bond prices also a question. 2/6:23 AM – 5 Feb 201886 Retweets

Making Sure Your Help Gets to Hurricane Harvey’s Victims – (Issues at the Red Cross) – NYT

“A 2015 investigation by ProPublica and NPR documented the Red Cross’s glaring failure to account for how it spent the $488 million it raised in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, including such basics as how many people were assisted and how much money was spent on overhead.”

The comments are helpful. There are endorsements for the Salvation Army, The Houston Food Bank, and religious relief organizations like the Episcopal Fund for Relief.

There is an endorsement for the United Way, and another comment criticizing it. Everyone agrees that we have to spend time at Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.

At BlackRock- Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks – The New York Times

“Still, the monster in the mutual fund room by far has been Vanguard, which, via index funds and exchange-traded funds, has had historic inflows.Last year, for example, $423 billion left actively managed stock funds and $390 billion poured into index funds, according to Morningstar. Of that amount, Vanguard captured $277 billion, nearly tripling the amount that went to its nearest rival, BlackRock.”

Here is a colorful comment, which makes cents to me.

James Osborn

La Jolla, CA 51 minutes ago

Over 90% of fund managers do worse picking stocks than trained monkeys throwing their poop at a stock list. Hedge funds over the long term are getting killed by brainless index funds. And for this horrendously poor performance, these guys make millions a year? On top of that they still demand that their income (it’s just that because they don’t their own money on the line) be treated as capital gains? It’s the biggest theft of money in the history of the world. It’s no wonder that computers will take over their jobs. At least computers have a chance of doing as well, if not better than trained monkeys. Idiot fund managers and so-called investment bankers certainly can’t.

Buffett Asks Big Money: Why Pay High Fees? – The New York Times

““Much of the financial damage befell pension funds for public employees,” he wrote. “Many of these funds are woefully underfunded, in part because they have suffered a double whammy: poor investment performance accompanied by huge fees. The resulting shortfalls in their assets will for decades have to be made up by local taxpayers.”

For the past several years, Mr. Buffett has told anyone who will listen to avoid attempting to beat the stock market by investing in hedge funds or actively managed funds. Instead, he has counseled buying a low-cost S. & P. 500 index fund. (He has said he plans to advise the trustee of his estate after he dies to invest 90 percent of it in an S. & P. 500 index fund and the rest into government bonds on behalf of his wife.)

However, much of the biggest money in the nation hasn’t taken his advice and continues to pay enormous fees for underperformance.”

Profits Without Prosperity – by William Lazonick – Harvard Business Review

“Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients—which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives—reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity.

The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings—a total of $2.4 trillion—to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees.”

Source: Profits Without Prosperity

Are Your Investments at Risk of Becoming Stranded Assets? | Saturna Sustainable Funds | Saturna Capital

“At one point or another, we have all heard the saying “out with old, in with the new.” We do not need to look too far in this modern technological age to find cogent examples, including: The telecommunications industry’s transition from landlines to cell towers and the subsequent ubiquitous use of personal electronic devices; The growing transition from large, desktop computers to lighter, smaller mobile devices; The evolution in how we consume information, from physical newsprint media to the internet.

In each example, a new industry or firm establishes market leadership, typically at the expense of an industry or firm that is not able to keep pace with the times. Investments in industries and firms unable to keep pace become “stranded assets.

“Creative Destruction

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan used the term creative destruction in his 2007 memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. Originally coined in Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942),¹ creative destruction denotes a “process of industrial mutation…that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”² Mr. Greenspan expressed sympathy for the stresses and challenges that creative destruction can have on people’s lives in his July 2005 US Senate testimony to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, in stating, “The problem with creative destruction is that it is destruction, and there is a very considerable amount of turmoil that goes on in the process.”³

Source: Are Your Investments at Risk of Becoming Stranded Assets? | Saturna Sustainable Funds | Saturna Capital

Promises, Promises From AT&T – The New York Times

“AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner would transform it from a landline, wireless and satellite TV company into one of the most important media gatekeepers in the country, giving it a strong financial incentive to use its programming to hammer competitors.

The company agreed to pay Time Warner, which owns Warner Bros. studios, HBO, CNN, TNT and other TV channels, a 35 percent premium over its market value. AT&T executives say the deal would benefit its customers by leading to new innovations. But it would only be logical for the company to use Time Warner’s trove of movies and TV programming to keep and attract subscribers to AT&T while making it harder or more expensive for competing telecom and streaming companies to get access to that content.”

Source: Promises, Promises From AT&T – The New York Times

I am against this deal, for all the reasons above, and because I think AT&T is a horrible company.

Here is a useful comment:
Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 13 hours ago

“I viewed an extensive interview today on with both CEO’s. The AT&T CEO kept using the words “mobile subscriber” over and over. He states that the future of delivering video is over phones and tablets, not the living room TV. OK now! It all fits together. AT&T has a huge base of wireless subscribers. Think of the increase in cash flow, revenue, if they start selling those customers video programming. Now, the plot thickens. AT&T is one of Time Warner’s biggest customers. Instead of sending vast amounts of cash outside of the company to Time Warner, AT&T can now essentially pay itself with that cash. It is buying it’s own product. The can then retain the profit from both components. This will give them much more cash to do ?????.

It’s a brilliant move for the business. It also gives them a tremendous increase in power in the marketplace. They will be able to more effectively wall off threats from Netflix, Amazon and other direct streamers as well as future threats from Google and Facebook.

For us the consumer, not so good. More money, more power concentrated in fewer hands. This is like Ford or GM owning the roads we drive on, collecting tolls, and then selling us the vehicles we use. All the while, they will keep telling us how much better off we all are. We have heard this story before.”

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