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Investing in a Rigged Market, Part IV

If we care about the health of free market economies, then we need to care about how efficiently capital is allocated in those economies. And if we care about efficient capital allocation, then we need to care about the health and efficiency of capital markets, because those markets are the…

Seek, and You Shall Find … Conflicting Investment Advice

The run of this current Raging Bull of a stock market has been exceptionally long: eight-​plus years. (The average bull market has lasted four years, nine months.) In response there has been great conjecture by investment firms, financial advisers, brokers, and market pundits in Pittsburgh about how much longer the…

Squeezing out the Investment Experts

by Greg Curtis
The core problems with central bankers, which have led directly to the catastrophes of the Tech Bust, the Financial Crisis, the pathetically weak recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-​09, and the near-​destruction of the asset management business, are: groupthink, arising out of the fact that every central banker in…

The Fed and Friends

by Greg Curtis
We are talking about the traumatizing events that rocked the asset management business, to say nothing of the world, beginning in 2008, a calamity brought to us courtesy of the world’s central bankers.

Investing in a Rigged Market

The asset management business as we know it today got started in the mid-​19th century. The impetus for investment management firms separate from banks arose out of the awkward fact that banks often fail, while asset management firms hardly ever do.

Will Someone Please Tell Me What This Bitcoin/​Blockchain Thing Is All About?

Everyone has heard of Bitcoin by now (by convention, it’s capitalized when used as a protocol and lower case when used as a unit of exchange, like a dollar), but very few understand the importance of the “blockchain” technology that underpins it. This article expresses no opinion one way or…

The Union Project

by Lori Jakiela
“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.” –Studs Terkel

Petrochemical Alley

by Jeffery Fraser
Shell Chemical Appalachia’s petrochemical complex has begun to rise from a dusty Beaver County brownfield that follows a slow bend in the Ohio River near Monaca. It took hefty tax incentives to secure it. The nation’s largest zinc smelter was razed to make room for it. More than 7 million…

Up in the Air, Part III

A decade ago, as Consol Energy’s 150th anniversary drew near, top executives began to take stock in where the company stood as a leading producer of coal and where that path would take it. Coal was in what CEO Nicholas DeIuliis called a “supercycle.” It was the workhorse of the…

A Question of Leadership

Pittsburgh Quarterly asked three local leaders: “What’s the toughest leadership dilemma you’ve ever faced; how did you handle it; and what did you learn from it?”

Drilling for Answers

by Julia Fraser
Well pads, compressor stations, diesel truck traffic. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves many moving parts, some of which have the potential to vent pollutants into the air southwestern Pennsylvanians breathe.

Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part IV

Not that long ago — say, when my parents were starting out in married life — building a sound investment portfolio was a piece of cake. You bought some Blue Chip stocks and some Triple A bonds and you were done.

What Will the Shell Cracker Bring Along with It?

Orange plastic curtains protect passers-​by from blow torch-​wielding workers who are learning to weld in a new training facility for Steamfitters Local 449. The building on the border of Butler and Beaver counties represents an $18 million bet on a building boom that economists and government officials say the nearby…

Cash is King

Since the end of the Financial Crisis eight long years ago, a notion has settled across the land that “cash is trash.” This is the bunkmate of the “TINA” principle: There Is No Alternative to owning equities.

Three Simple Questions on the Markets, Part III

We asked a group of the region’s leading wealth managers to pen a response to three questions about the markets and how they approach current conditions. Here are their responses to the final question: If you had to put all your money in one asset class today and couldn’t sell…
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