Gongol.com Archives: August 2012
Brian Gongol

August 15, 2012

Business and Finance Investment dollars are leaving China, fast
That signals a couple of things at once: First, that people within China see greater opportunities outside their country than within it. But it's also a sign of what happens when other countries spend too much of their money buying other countries' stuff: Eventually, the net-exporter nations end up trading that cash back to the net-importer nations, in exchange for the property the net-importers own. It's a curious kind of takeover. ■ More evidence that investment money from developing markets is going to come towards the West: High dividend yields from stocks in "emerging markets". This condition is a sign that the companies in those countries can't find enough promising investments of their own at home in order to justify hanging on to those profits. Business value always comes back to earnings: If a company is making money, it can either reinvest in itself or send the cash back to the shareholders in the form of dividends. ■ A company that sees limitless potential for positive returns ahead might retain all of its earnings -- as does Berkshire Hathaway. In the hands of a truly gifted investor like Warren Buffett, that's good for all of the owners. (In his words, "Unrestricted earnings should be retained only when there is a reasonable prospect ... that for every dollar retained by the corporation, at least one dollar of market value will be created for owners.") Other companies retain lots of earnings and then spend those retained earnings stupidly on foolish acquisitions and capital expansions. Other companies send the money back to shareholders through dividends, or indirectly through share repurchases. There's a time and a place for each of these strategies -- retention/reinvestment, dividends, and buybacks. ■ But high dividend yields tend to be a sign that management can't find much better to do with the profits. It's an intriguing notion that emerging-markets companies don't see enough opportunities ahead to merit retaining those earnings. And it means more cash in the hands of their investors to pursue companies in the United States and elsewhere.

The United States of America A quick quiz about the US Armed Forces
Some surprising answers

Agriculture Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam...
The drought has made it too difficult for a Nebraska nature preserve to maintain their wild buffalo herds, so they've sold off 126 bison to a South Dakota rancher.

Computers and the Internet Google tweaks search formula to punish copyright abusers
Hypothetically, the lower a site appears in the search results, the less money it can make from advertising. And since most of the copyright abuse out there is done to attract pageviews strictly for the purposes of gaining ad dollars.

Computers and the Internet Google rolls out less-complicated custom URLs for some Google Plus users
Why it's taken so long is beyond any reasonable comprehension.

Computers and the Internet Chartwell
A font developed specifically for creating charts inside of text. Interesting.

Business and Finance How much longer can college costs keep rising faster than everything else?
Not forever, that's for certain.