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Letter from Paris: gastronomic disruption

Originally published February 2021. The word of this extraordinary winter in Paris has been couvre-feu. The very expression is still heavy with associations from the 1940s occupation, even if the order to “cover your fires!” was originally intended to protect medieval wooden cities from burning down. The mid-January tightening of France’s latest couvre-feu – to […]

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Real estate risk – a simple question?

Knowing what to ask is the trick to getting the right answer. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a supercomputer called Deep Thought is asked to answer the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything. After 7.5 million years, Deep Thought reports back that the answer is 42. When questioned, Deep Thought points out that […]

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Terroir part 1 – intro and soil

There are no two ways about it: the French are mad. As a Francophile I feel comfortable in asserting this. Their country is beautiful, they’re deliciously un-PC and their food and drink is the best in world. No debate. It just is. But they are bonkers. A couple of months ago they were threatening to turn Jersey’s electricity off […]

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Risk management in African real estate

Originally published April 2021. When thinking about successful emerging market investing, the following quote comes to mind: “In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons.” (Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist). The notion to watch and learn before arriving at conclusions is particularly important in rather […]

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The distorted market for woke capitalism

The founder of modern economics, Adam Smith, was no fan of the merchants of his time. He regarded them as among the most responsible for how “the mercantile system”, as Smith called it, accorded legal privileges to politically connected producers over the interests of consumers. Nor did Milton Friedman have a particularly sympathetic view of […]

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The management sniff test

Originally published July 2021. The biggest risk a business faces is having bad management. That’s according to Warren Buffett in his latest shareholder meeting. I agree. Assessing company management is one of the most important jobs an investor faces, but it’s far from easy and is more an art than a science. Buffett’s business partner, […]

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