There’s Always Something to Do: The Peter Cundill Investment Approach

There’s Always Something to Do: The Peter Cundill Investment Approach [Paperback]

Christopher Risso-Gill (Author)


Publication Date: February 10, 2011

Peter Cundill, a philanthropist and investor whose work has been praised by the likes of Warren Buffett, found his life changed forever when he discovered the value investment principles of Benjamin Graham and began to put them into action. There’s Always Something to Do tells the story of Cundill’s voyage of discovery, with all its ups and downs, as he developed his immensely successful investment strategies. In the context of recent financial upheavals and ongoing uncertainty, Peter Cundill’s wise and frequently funny reflections are more important than ever. In a seamlessly assembled narrative drawn from interviews, speeches, and exclusive access to the daily journal Cundill kept for forty-five years, Christopher Risso-Gill outlines Cundill’s investment approach and provides accounts of his investments and the analytical process that led to their selection. A book for everyday investors as much as professional investors and investment gurus, There’s Always Something to Do offers a compelling perspective on global financial markets and on how we can avoid their worst pitfalls and grow our hard-earned capital.

FITCH: China’s Credit Bubble Is Unprecedented In Modern World History

FITCH: China’s Credit Bubble Is Unprecedented In Modern World History


China’s shadow banking system is out of control and under mounting stress as borrowers struggle to roll over short-term debts, Fitch Ratings has warned. The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead. “The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation,” said Charlene Chu, the agency’s senior director in Beijing. “There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signaling,” she told The Daily Telegraph. Read more of this post

Chinese industry: Ambitions in excess; Overcapacity fuelled by subsidies threatens the world’s second-biggest economy

Last updated: June 16, 2013 6:29 pm

Chinese industry: Ambitions in excess

By Jamil Anderlini

Overcapacity fuelled by subsidies threatens the world’s second-biggest economy

Shi Zhengrong became known as the “sun king” around the time he was named China’s fifth-richest man in 2006. Barely three years later, Suntech, his New York-listed company, was the world’s largest solar panel-maker, producing enough solar cells each year to power 1m energy-guzzling US homes. To struggling manufacturers in the US and Germany, Suntech was part of anunstoppable juggernaut that undercut markets, flooded the world with ultra-cheap products and put competitors out of business. Indeed, the European Commission isthreatening to raise import tariffs on Chinese producers for allegedly selling solar panels in Europe for less than they cost to make. But China’s business model is far from unassailable. In March, Suntech filed for bankruptcy protection. From a market value of $16bn at its peak, the company is now worth about $180m. The sun king has been dethroned as chairman. In fact, the solar industry is only the most pronounced example of broader overcapacity in China. Its rise and fall has followed a pattern that is becoming familiar across the world’s second-biggest economy. Read more of this post

“When markets turn, the exit door is far narrower than investors understand”; as investors seek to sell down some of their fixed-income holdings, the lack of a Wall Street escape outlet for the debt has suddenly become a problem

June 16, 2013 7:00 pm

Markets on edge as investors seek exit

By Tracy Alloway and Michael Mackenzie in New York

Mom and pop investors who flocked to the great bull run in bonds are now facing a messy exit thanks to striking changes in one of Wall Street’s biggest markets.

The rise of exchange traded funds has given retail investors instant access to a range of debt including high-yield, inflation-indexed and investment grade bonds.

At the same time, big banks which buy and sell bonds on behalf of the funds say they have cut their inventories of corporate debt due to new financial regulations. Read more of this post

A cup of tea may be the best way to engage employees; People may come to dislike their jobs a little less, but seldom learn to love them; Most people find it easier to like work that involves a craft of some sort

June 14, 2013 5:02 pm

A cup of tea may be the best way to engage employees

By Lucy Kellaway

People may come to dislike their jobs a little less, but seldom learn to love them

Last week I met a professor of office design who talked excitedly about creating visionary spaces for people to work in and filling the air with the scent of fresh linen. After a bit, I protested that surely all we wanted from an office building was natural light and something relatively comfortable to sit on.

“It’s all very well for you to say that,” he snapped. “You don’t care about your surroundings because you love your job. Most people don’t love theirs.”

It is true that I do like my job. It’s also true that most people don’t like theirs one bit. (I’m avoiding the word “love” here, let alone “passion”, as both are unseemly in an employee.) Every week brings another survey telling how occupational dislike rules in offices. Last week there was a study showing that 77 per cent of UK workers felt they had chosen the wrong career. In the US, a recent report stated that only 19 per cent of workers professed themselves satisfied with their jobs. Read more of this post

Thailand’s Buddhist monks are under investigation following complaints sparked by a video showing some flying on a private jet

Jet-set monks warned after video exposes lavish lifestyle

Monday, June 17, 2013 – 12:26 PM


Thailand’s Buddhist monks are under investigation following complaints sparked by a video showing some flying on a private jet. The YouTube video showed one of the monks was wearing stylish aviator sunglasses, carrying a luxury brand travel bag and sporting a pair of modern-looking wireless headphones. It attracted criticism from Buddhists nationwide. Office of National Buddhism director-general Nopparat Benjawatananun said that the agency saw the video and had warned the monks from a monastery in Thailand’s north-east not to repeat the lavish behaviour. It plans to monitor monks nationwide. With the world’s largest Buddhist population, Thailand has attempted to help Buddha’s 2,600-year-old doctrine stand the test of time through a variety of means, including imposing a ban on the sale of alcohol on religious holidays. The efforts, however, are sometimes tainted by the monks themselves. Last year, about 300 out of 61,416 Buddhist monks and novices in Thailand were reprimanded – in several cases removed from the monkhood – because of their misconduct, ranging from alcohol consumption, having sex with women, to extortion. The office also received complaints about monks driving cars, and scams and false claims of black magic uses by monks. Mr Nopparat said the Buddhist monks in the video were acting “inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha’s teachings of simplicity and self-restraint.” Monruedee Bantoengsuk, an administrative officer at Khantitham Temple in Sisaket province, confirmed that the monks on the private plane lived at the temple but refused to give details about the trip. “We can explain this, but not now,” she said, saying that the abbot, who appeared in the video, is currently on a religious tour in France. The images from the video contrasted with the abbot’s message on the temple’s homepage that read: “The true core of those who preach Buddha’s teachings is to not to own any objects at all.” “When Lord Buddha was alive, there wasn’t anything like this. There were no cars, smart phones or cameras, so the rules were much simpler,” said Mr Nopparat. “While the monks need to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge, current events and technology, they are restrained to choose the appropriate tools.” He said one way to prevent the monks from misbehaving is for followers not to spoil them with valuable objects or vices. “In many cases, it was the followers who gave the monks the luxury. Some bought them sports cars. This is by no means necessary.”

The ascent of Gautam Adani is among the most startling in recent Indian business history


June 16, 2013 1:36 pm

Gautam Adani, founder, Adani Group

By James Crabtree

Shipping up: Gautam Adani convinced the government of Gujarat to let him develop a harbour facility near Mundra, India’s largest private port

The ascent of Gautam Adani is among the most startling in recent Indian business history. A self-made billionaire in a nation awash with dynasties, he turned a minor commodities business into a conglomerate stretching from ports and shipping to coal, power and infrastructure. The business grew 16-fold in barely a decade, earning revenues of $8.7bn last year. It is an expansion unmatched by any other Indian first-generation industrialist, and one that now earns Mr Adani a place at the pinnacle ofhis country’s tycoon class. Read more of this post

What the data reveals about how to make SaaS secret sauce

What the data reveals about how to make SaaS secret sauce

ON JUNE 15, 2013

screen-shot-2013-06-13-at-11-54-52-amscreen-shot-2013-06-15-at-10-09-40-amscreen-shot-2013-06-15-at-10-10-43-am screen-shot-2013-06-15-at-10-10-53-am

Life would be much easier if a great product was the only requirement for a great business. Of course, talk to any vineyard owner or long-time New York Times shareholder and they can attest that this is not the case.

Software as a service companies are no different. As challenging as it is to build great software someone is willing to buy, other pieces must fall into place for success.

In SaaS, three critical pieces that must fall in place to create long-term value are price, customer acquisition cost, and churn. You need a sustainable mix of what customers will pay for your product, how much it costs to acquire customers, and how long you can keep them. Read more of this post

Italian Start-Ups Flock to Berlin

06/14/2013 03:46 PM

Crisis Migration

Italian Start-Ups Flock to Berlin

By Sophie Arts

With the economy at home in the doldrums, entrepreneurs from Italy have been flocking to Berlin recently. The job opportunities are plentiful and there is a growing Italian community within Germany’s vibrant high-tech start-up scene.

Young hipsters sipping bottles of Jever and Astra, IT entrepreneurs holding forth on their experiences in Silicon Valley and tables laden with boxes of pizza: The high-tech meet-up in May at one of Berlin’s myriad IT campuses was, at first glance, nothing special.

And yet there was one significant difference: Aside from frequent uses of terms like “venture capital,” “networking” and “assets,” the most common language spoken was not English. Rather, everyone was speaking Italian. Read more of this post

The Secret Science Behind Big Data And Word Of Mouth

The Secret Science Behind Big Data And Word Of Mouth


posted yesterday

Editor’s note: Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School and author of the New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Follow him on Twitter @j1berger.

Why do some companies, products and services get more word of mouth than others? It’s not luck. There’s a science behind it. Social media gurus always preach that no one talks about boring products or boring ideas. So you would think that more interesting products and brands get talked about more. Surprisingly, they don’t.

Startups live and die by word of mouth. Whether it’s a new website, a revolutionary recruiting service, or B2B play, consumer awareness is always low at the beginning. No one realizes you exist, so you have to get the word out. But most new ventures don’t have a big advertising budget. They have to grow organically: Get existing customers or fans bringing in new ones — one at a time. Read more of this post

The Curse Of The Network Effect

The Curse Of The Network Effect


posted yesterday

Editor’s Note: Nir Eyal writes about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business for and on his Follow @dashboard_io and@nireyal.

Ethan Stock lived the Silicon Valley dream. He had recently sold his company to eBay and emanated the tanned skin and relaxed composure you’d expect of someone who just cashed a big corporate check. But as we sat across from one another in a Palo Alto coffee shop, I was surprised by what he said next. “Mediocrity is worse than failure, you know?” For seven years before the acquisition, Stock served as the founding CEO of Zvents, an online guide for local events. Though he was successful by anyone’s standards, I could tell he was a guy who, like me, had learned some hard lessons. Read more of this post

Hypermarkets suffer midlife crisis; Fifty-year-old concept seeks relevance in modern era

June 16, 2013 11:39 am

Hypermarkets suffer midlife crisis

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu in Paris and Andrea Felsted in London

Miniskirts and the beehive were all the rage, The Beatles topped the charts, push-button telephones were launched – and the firsthypermarket was born.

“The Times They Are a-Changin’,” sang Bob Dylan in 1963, the year that Carrefour’s new “everything under one roof” concept opened the doors to a revolutionary new way of shopping. Read more of this post

Rupee Seen Failing to Help Lift Infosys Margins: Corporate India

Rupee Seen Failing to Help Lift Infosys Margins: Corporate India

The rupee’s slide to a record low may fail to lift profit margins for India’s biggest software exporters as Infosys Ltd. (INFO) and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS) pass on the currency benefit to clients in a race for orders.

India’s rupee has slumped 5.7 this quarter, making it the worst performer in Asia, and touched an all-time low of 58.985 a dollar on June 11. A weaker currency makes exports cheaper for overseas buyers, boosting demand. Still, Infosys shares fell 2.1 percent last week and Tata Consultancy tumbled 4.5 percent, the biggest declines since the five-day period ended April 26. Read more of this post

Stuttgart’s train station, Hamburg’s concert house and Berlin’s airport: Three projects in Germany are currently competing to be seen as the country’s most disastrous

06/14/2013 04:38 PM

Starchitect Trio

The Men Behind Germany’s Building Debacles

Stuttgart’s train station, Hamburg’s concert house and Berlin’s airport: Three projects in Germany are currently competing to be seen as the country’s most disastrous. SPIEGEL spoke to the star architects behind the construction sites.

Christoph Ingenhoven, Meinhard von Gerkan and Pierre de Meuron are among the best-known architectsin the world. So how is it possible that these grand masters are responsible for construction sites where many things have been going wrong for years? What are the reasons that public building sites in Germany so often turn into scenes of disaster? As different as the three architects’ projects are, their problems are similar: delays to the point of construction freezes and hundreds of millions of euros in cost overruns. The train station and railway project Stuttgart 21 is identified with 53-year-old architect Christoph Ingenhoven, although he is only responsible for the construction of the main train station. The Hamburg architecture firm of Gerkan, Marg and Partners built the Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, under the leadership of 78-year-old Meinhard von Gerkan, who was fired by the airport company in 2012, only to be brought back to the project this year. Finally, the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron designed the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, while the construction portion was managed by the construction giant Hochtief, with which Pierre de Meuron, 63, and his partners were long at odds. The fees for all architects and general contractors involved amount to €93.9 million ($125 million) for the Elbphilharmonie and €36 million for the Stuttgart train station. According to Gerkan, an exact amount cannot be determined at this time for Berlin’s long-awaited new airport. The three men recently met at the SPIEGEL building in Hamburg to discuss their controversial projects. Read more of this post

Central Banks Failure to Communicate Boosts Bond Yields

Central Banks Failure to Communicate Boosts Bond Yields

What central banks may have the world over is a failure to communicate.

Officials are struggling to spell out their visions for monetary policy, often amid a chorus of competing views. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is trying to manage expectations about when the Federal Reserve will slow asset purchases and raise interest rates. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s reflation-push is backfiring by driving up bond yields. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is dashing investors’ hopes he once kindled for extra stimulus.

The muddied messaging already is roiling financial markets, threatening to undermine the confidence of investors, households and consumers and so undoing efforts by central banks to strengthen their economies. The opacity puts policy makers under pressure to improve the communication techniques they’ve been using to restrain borrowing costs. Read more of this post

Rigged Benchmark Probes Proliferating From Singapore to London

Rigged Benchmark Probes Proliferating From Singapore to London

The probe of Libor manipulation is proving to be the tip of the iceberg as inquiries into assets from derivatives to foreign exchange show that if there’s a chance to rig benchmark rates in world markets, someone is usually willing to try.

Singapore’s monetary authority last week censured 20 banks for attempting to fix interest rate levels in the island state and ordered them to set aside as much as $9.6 billion. Britain’s markets regulator is looking into the $4.7 trillion-a-day currency market after Bloomberg News reported that traders have manipulated key rates for more than a decade, citing five dealers. Read more of this post

Twelve years in bankruptcy, yet investors in love with company. Why?

Published: Monday June 17, 2013 MYT 8:45:00 AM

Twelve years in bankruptcy, yet investors in love with company. Why?

COLUMBIA, Md./NEW YORK: A company stuck in bankruptcy for 12 years may not seem like much of a catch, but investors have fallen in love with U.S. specialty chemical manufacturer W.R. Grace & Co and its surging sales to the energy sector.

One of the longest bankruptcies in U.S. history, Grace filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001 after an asbestos leak at one of its mines led to thousands of lawsuits against the company.

Through bankruptcy, Grace was able to pause debt repayments, survive two recessions and take advantage of a U.S. shale energy revolution that is fueling demand for its fine-powder catalysts, which help refiners process crude oil into gasoline, heating oil and other products. Read more of this post

Bond market nerves threaten to end Europe’s calm

June 16, 2013 4:32 pm

Bond market nerves threaten to end Europe’s calm

By Wolfgang Münchau

There is quite a bit of bad news still to come out of the eurozone itself

Will the bond market vigilantes come to the eurozone and wreak havoc? Thestrong market reaction to a change in expectations about the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve suggests that the period of ultra-low market interest rates may be coming to an end sooner or later. The markets recovered at the end of the week hoping that this moment might arrive later. For the eurozone, the implications would neither be immediate, nor direct – but potentially significant.

To see the impact, it is important to understand why bond market conditions have become so propitious since last summer. One reason is that investors firmly believed a pledge from Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, to provide an unlimited backstop to the eurozone’s sovereign debt market. They also attached strong credibility to the notion of a eurozone banking union. This, however, remains work in progress. Read more of this post

Senior bank debt issues slump to decade low as investors grow increasingly wary of being forced to take losses amid regulators’ demands for greater protection of taxpayers and depositors

June 16, 2013 6:00 pm

Senior bank debt issues slump to decade low

By Christopher Thompson

European banks’ issuance of senior debt has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade as investors grow increasingly wary of being forced to take losses amid regulators’ demands for greater protection of taxpayers and depositors.

This year EU banks have issued $132bn in senior debt to date, down from $158bn over the same period last year and the lowest total since 2002, according to data compiled by Dealogic. Read more of this post

Korean prosecutors are expanding their probe into CJ Group’s slush fund by questioning chiefs of the conglomerate’s overseas operations in the United States and Indonesia

2013-06-16 19:18

CJ’s US unit under probe

By Kim Se-jeong
Prosecutors are expanding their probe into CJ Group’s slush fund by questioning chiefs of the conglomerate’s overseas operations in the United States and Indonesia.
Sources from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Sunday that tens of billions of won in illicit funds could be involved.
Already, CJ’s offices in Hong Kong, Japan and China are under investigation.
“We are investigating to determine the exact amount of the slush fund and for what the money was raised and spent,” said an official from the prosecution office.
He said that some of the money CJ siphoned off through paper firms in tax havens was channeled to its U.S. branch. Read more of this post

GS Engineering and Construction suspected of accounting fraud

2013-06-16 16:40

GS E&C suspected of accounting fraud

By Kim Rahn

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) is considering launching a probe into GS Engineering and Construction over suspicions of it manipulating its accounts, officials said Sunday.

The Solidarity for Economic Reform, a civic group, asked the regulator to conduct a special inspection into the nation’s fourth-largest builder last month.

If the allegations are confirmed, the FSS may ban the company from issuing new bonds or stock certificates and recommend the dismissal of its chief. The company’s CEO Huh Myung-soo already resigned last Wednesday. He is the younger brother of Huh Chang-soo, GS Group chairman and largest shareholder of the construction arm. Read more of this post

Korean pawn shops dealing in smartphones and other IT products are enjoying a boom on growing demand from tech-savvy but cash-strapped young clients in need of short-term loans.

2013-06-16 14:43

IT pawn shops mushrooming

By Nam Hyun-woo
Pawn shops dealing in smartphones and other IT products are enjoying a boom on growing demand from tech-savvy but cash-strapped young clients in need of short-term loans.
For years, people have been pawning items for short-term loans because they could not get loans from mainstream banks or were worried that borrowing money would lower their credit rating.
While traditional pawn shops deal in literally “anything worth money,” such as watches or expensive clothing, IT pawn shops specialize in tech gadgets which have emerged as valuable assets.
On May 22, a new IT pawn shop opened near Kyung Hee University in north eastern Seoul. The store is registered with the Financial Supervisory Service as a legitimate lender.  Read more of this post

Natto Makers to Public Baths Suffer in Abenomics Divide

Natto Makers to Public Baths Suffer in Abenomics Divide

Almost everything Mikio Matsushita’s factory near Tokyo needs to produce natto is imported, from the soybeans used in the fermented Japanese snack to the polystyrene trays in which they’re packaged.

The reliance on imports, combined with the domestic market focus for the quintessentially Japanese product, puts Matsushita on the losing end of government policies that aid heavy exporters by weakening the country’s currency.

Expenses have surged for Matsushita’s company as the yen’s slide boosts its costs for beans grown in China and North America. The fuel it uses to steam the beans and for the natto’s polystyrene packaging, both petroleum products derived from imported crude, have also gotten more expensive. Read more of this post

Japan PM Abe’s true test; rising Govt bond yields

Published: Monday June 17, 2013 MYT 8:47:00 AM

Japan PM Abe’s true test; rising Govt bond yields

TOKYO: Abenomics’ massive monetary stimulus was supposed to depress long-term interest rates to spur economic activity, but the Japanese government bond market has other ideas.

Banks, unable to make money on their Japanese government bonds (JGBs) anymore, have begun sloughing off their holdings, putting upward pressure on yields. Major banks sold off about 11 percent of their holdings in April alone.

Large lenders have hiked their prime rates to make up for the loss of earnings on JGBs, which threatens to price potential borrowers out of the mortgage market, while higher long-term rates could sap corporate Japan’s already anaemic demand for loans. Read more of this post

Indonesia Coal, Oil May Be Depleted in 10 Years

Indonesia Coal, Oil May Be Depleted in 10 Years

By Tito Summa Siahaan on 9:26 pm June 14, 2013.
Indonesia may find itself without the fossil fuels crude oil and coal in the next decade, unless there are major new discoveries, according to an annual report released by British energy giant BP.

The Statistical Review of World Energy 2013, which was released on Thursday, showed that Indonesia may run out of oil by 2024, holding constant the figures for production and proven reserves.

The report showed oil production from the Southeast Asian nation stood at 918,000 barrels per day last year, with remaining reserves at 3.7 billion barrels. Oil consumption was 1.56 million barrels in 2012. Read more of this post

As Australia’s resources investment slows more rapidly than expected, economists say the central bank is running out of time to reignite other parts of the economy

June 16, 2013, 3:45 p.m. ET

Economists See Risk of Australian Recession


GEELONG, Australia—At Oppy’s Bistro in this industrial heartland, bartender Gael Fedley is thousands of miles—both literally and figuratively—from a resources boom that’s led Australia to grow faster than any major developed economy in recent years.

A string of factory closures in the town, around an hour’s drive from the country’s second-biggest city, Melbourne, is having an impact on a once-thriving business. Fewer customers stop by Oppy’s now, while regulars have less money to spend on booze and little cause to celebrate. Read more of this post

Faltering Economy in China Dims Job Prospects for Graduates; “The only thing that worries them more than an unemployed low-skilled person is an unemployed educated person”

June 16, 2013

Faltering Economy in China Dims Job Prospects for Graduates


HONG KONG — A record seven million students will graduate from universities and colleges across China in the coming weeks, but their job prospects appear bleak — the latest sign of a troubled Chinese economy.

Businesses say they are swamped with job applications but have few positions to offer as economic growth has begun to falter. Twitter-like microblogging sites in China are full of laments from graduates with dim prospects.

The Chinese government is worried, saying that the problem could affect social stability, and it has ordered schools, government agencies and state-owned enterprises to hire more graduates at least temporarily to help relieve joblessness. “The only thing that worries them more than an unemployed low-skilled person is an unemployed educated person,” said Shang-Jin Wei, a Columbia Business School economist. Read more of this post

Record Soybean Glut Is Seen Worsening as China’s Appetite Eases

Record Soybean Glut Is Seen Worsening as China’s Appetite Eases

Soybean imports by China, the biggest buyer, may be lower than official U.S. forecasts, deepening a glut and weighing down prices as global reserves are set to reach a record.

Inbound shipments will be 63 million metric tons in the 12 months starting Oct. 1, less than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s June 13 projection of 69 million tons, according to the median of 14 estimates of China-based crushers and researchers by Bloomberg. Soybeans, which rose to a record $17.89 a bushel in Chicago during the 2012 drought in the U.S., slumped 14 percent this month and are in a bear market along with corn and wheat. Read more of this post

China’s Bearish ETF Bets Most Expensive in Two Months on concern a local money-market cash crunch will deepen a slump in Asia’s biggest economy.

Bearish ETF Bets Most Expensive in Two Months: China Overnight

Options traders are paying the most in two months to protect against drops in the largest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the U.S. on concern a local money-market cash crunch will deepen a slump in Asia’s biggest economy.

The cost of three-month puts on the iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI) soared to the highest since September last week, option data compiled by Bloomberg showed. The 4.3-point premium of puts over calls was the widest since April 17. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. slumped the most in four months last week, led by a 16 percent drop in Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Read more of this post

The Secret to Learning Anything: Albert Einstein’s Advice to His Son

The Secret to Learning Anything: Albert Einstein’s Advice to His Son

Three Einsteins

Einstein with his eldest son, Hans Albert, and his grandson, Bernhard – 1936

“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

With Father’s Day around the corner, here comes a fine addition to history’s greatest letters of fatherly advice from none other than Albert Einstein – brilliant physicist, proponent of peace, debater of science and spirituality, champion of kindness – who was no stranger to dispensing epistolary empowerment to young minds. In 1915, aged thirty-six, Einstein was living in wartorn Berlin, while his estranged wife, Mileva, and their two sons, Hans Albert Einstein and Eduard “Tete” Einstein, lived in comparatively safe Vienna. On November 4 of that year, having just completed the two-page masterpiece that would catapult him into international celebrity and historical glory, his theory of general relativity, Einstein sent 11-year-old Hans Albert the following letter, found in Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children (public library) – the same wonderful anthology that gave us some of history’s greatest motherly advice, Benjamin Rush’s wisdom on travel and life, and Sherwood Anderson’s counsel on the creative life. Einstein, who takes palpable pride in his intellectual accomplishments, speaks to the rhythms of creative absorption as the fuel for the internal engine of learning:

My dear Albert,

Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it. I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .

Be with Tete kissed by your


Regards to Mama.

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