Money

Wall of Worry

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly asked regional financial experts to respond in 200 words or fewer to this question: What are your expectations for inflation, interest rates and U.S. equities (stocks) this year, and how are you advising clients during this continuing market volatility and uncertainty? (Responses were submitted by late April.) Previously in this series: Wall of …

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Wall of Worry

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly asked regional financial experts to respond in 200 words or fewer to this question: What are your expectations for inflation, interest rates and U.S. equities (stocks) this year, and how are you advising clients during this continuing market volatility and uncertainty? (Responses were submitted by late April.) Previously in this series: Wall of …

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Recalling the End of a Fascinating Company

Last week I described one of the existential challenges that faced the Butler County Mushroom Farm – intense competition from China and, later, other Asian countries, who shipped massive volumes of low-quality mushrooms into the US. Previously in this series: Bye Bye FungiAs BCMF’s revenues and profits declined, another existential challenge arose – the company’s …

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Wall of Worry

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly asked regional financial experts to respond in 200 words or fewer to this question: What are your expectations for inflation, interest rates and U.S. equities (stocks) this year, and how are you advising clients during this continuing market volatility and uncertainty? (Responses were submitted by late April.) LINDA DUESSEL, FEDERATED HERMESHas …

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Bye Bye Fungi

“The first thing we do is, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — Dick the Butcher in Act IV, Scene II of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part II Following the successful sale of stock in Butler County Mushroom Farm to its employees, the company entered into a long and sad decline. I wasn’t around for that unhappy ride because …

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Stock for the Mushroom Workers

“The way to make money in the stock market is to buy a stock. Then, when it goes up, sell it. If it’s not going to go up, don’t buy it.” — Will Rogers Previously in this series: Meddling with MushroomsMy biggest legal project for Butler County Mushroom Farm was also my last. Mr. Y, the …

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Meddling with Mushrooms

“A meal without mushrooms is like a day without rain.” — John Cage Previously in this series: Basking in the Mushroom Limelight“I learned more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than in the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research.” — Timothy Leary It’s almost impossible to exaggerate what an extraordinary …

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Basking in Mushroom Limelight

“Mushrooms have many helpful nutrients, including beta glucans for immune enhancement, ergothioneines for antioxidative potentiation, nerve growth stimulators for helping brain function, and antimicrobial compounds for limiting viruses.” — Paul Stamets, American mycologist Previously in this series: The Life and Death of Moonlight Mushrooms “Falling in love is like eating mushrooms, you never know if it’s …

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The Life and Death of Moonlight Mushrooms

“All mushrooms are edible, but some are edible only once.” Philip Hanes, mushroom expert quoted in the New York Times I was just out of law school, working for a huge law firm and still trying to figure out what the practice of law was all about. One day I received a call from the secretary of …

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The Perils of Fed Speak

“Our regulators are proving worse than the Bourbons: they have learnt nothing and forgotten everything.” — Martin Sandbu, Financial Times, quoting Talleyrand Previously in this series: Can the Fed be Saved?For nearly three decades the U.S. Fed has followed easy money policies regardless of economic conditions, giving birth to a series of economic crises unlike any the …

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Can the Fed be Saved?

“History will give a full accounting of the grave errors committed [by the US Fed].” Kevin Warsh, former Fed board member “Decennial financial blowups aren’t the stuff of great powers – at least, not for long.” Stanley Druckenmiller Long-term readers of these essays know that I am no fan of the U.S. Fed. In my view …

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The Thrilling Conclusion!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke I began this series on generative AI because an irate reader had suggested that my blogs were written by a particularly doltish AI bot. Now that we know a lot more about generative AI we can decide whether my irked reader could even …

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What’s All the Panic About?

“I don’t think there is a single task you can assign a junior analyst, banker, developer, teacher or lawyer that can’t be accomplished more quickly, more smartly and much more cheaply with [generative AI].” Ben Hunt “Every new technology is the Full Employment Act for ethicists and scolds.” Andy Kessler Previously in this Series: Look at What …

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Look at What AI Can Do

“[Generative AI] bids to transform the human cognitive process as it has not been shaken up since the invention of printing.”  Henry Kissinger et al. Previously in this series: Poems and College Essays by Chat GPT, Am I a Bot? Part IV “I don’t think anybody’s job is safe. I am so excited to be …

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Poems and College Essays by Chat GPT

“LLMs [that is, large language model generative AI systems] are essentially ‘conventional wisdom’ machines.” –  Bruno Massarelli Previously in this series: The Bully Effect, Am I a Bot? Part III Why is generative AI – like Chat GPT – such a threat to Google’s internet search revenue? To understand why, let’s engage in a thought …

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Banks – and Reputations – Go Poof

[I’m interrupting my series on generative AI for this bulletin on Silicon Valley Bank.] “How did you go bankrupt? Bill asked. Two ways, Mike said. Gradually and then suddenly.” — Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises Is it just me or was there anything about the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank that wasn’t annoying in the extreme? Let’s take a …

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The Bully Effect

“I love you.” Bing/ChatGPT to tech reporter It’s almost impossible to overestimate the stakes for generative AI systems like ChatGPT. Google has long dominated Internet search, holding more than a 90% market share. Microsoft’s Bing, meanwhile, has been a pathetic also-ran, holding down market shares in the single digits and being not only largely ignored but …

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Am I a Bot? Part II

ChatGPT is scary good. Elon Musk Every so often a technology captures the world’s imagination. The Economist [Generative AI] is as important as the PC, as the internet. Bill Gates I think it will be the most significant technological transformation in human history. Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI, the developer of ChatGPT AI relieves people of their …

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Am I a Bot?

A month or so ago a reader of these pages wrote in to let me know she had concluded that my essays had been written by “a particularly dim-witted Artificial Intelligence bot.” Well! I’ve received many critical and intemperate responses to these writings over the years, but that was the first time I’d been accused …

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Lord Joe Hardy

I’d assured Joe Hardy that his vision for Nemacolin was flat-out nuts. But Joe was as good as his word and over the years Nemacolin blossomed into a first-class destination resort. Joe’s hotel gained Triple A 5-Diamond status, the resort’s wine cellar grew into the largest in Pennsylvania, and his restaurant became the most expensive …

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Joe Buys the Place at Auction

“I guess that all I can hope for is that, when people think of me, they think, ‘Hey, that jackass started out with only $5,000 and made a fortune. Maybe I can, too!’” Joe Hardy to Jeff Sewald in Pittsburgh Quarterly Previously in this series: Firings All Around! The Nemacolin property was being sold at a bankruptcy …

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Firings All Around!

I had no choice but to fire “Harry” on the spot – and then have him carefully escorted off the property so he wouldn’t steal the silverware –  but that left me with no one to run Nemacolin and four muckety-mucks arriving in a few days. “Don,” the weird private eye I’d hired, promptly offered …

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