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Build it and they might come: A planned Thai mega-project in Myanmar runs into difficulty

Build it and they might come

A planned Thai mega-project in Myanmar runs into difficulty

Aug 3rd 2013 | BANGKOK AND DAWEI |From the print edition

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THE Burmese city of Dawei lies 350 kilometres (220 miles) west of the Thai capital, Bangkok. The two are separated by a stretch of mountainous jungle and have never been connected. But over the past five years, Thailand’s biggest construction company, ItalianThai, has cut a swathe through the jungle which, once paved, will cost roughly $1m per kilometre of road. The plan is that it will connect Bangkok with a $50 billion industrial hub and deep-sea port at Dawei on the Andaman Sea.

The project was set in motion by Thaksin Shinawatra, a former Thai prime minister, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2006. When he proposed it he was still in power and it was seen by many as a vanity project that would never get off the ground. After the Burmese government started to open up two years ago, some concluded that Mr Thaksin was in fact a visionary. But although Yingluck Shinawatra, Mr Thaksin’s sister and Thailand’s current prime minister, is soon due to inaugurate the border checkpoint on the road, financial difficulties are once more calling the project into question. Read more of this post

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Berkshire’s Fruit of the Loom vs. Gildan, or How to Avoid Value Traps in Low-Cost Businesses; Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives

Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives:

  • Fruit of the Loom vs. Gildan, or How to Avoid Value Traps in Low-Cost Businesses, Aug 7, 2013 (BeyondProxy)

Fruit

Ambition is not served on a silver spoon; The provision from birth of just about every material want creates a sense of entitlement

August 6, 2013 5:09 pm

Ambition is not served on a silver spoon

The provision from birth of just about every material want creates a sense of entitlement

Many agonised articles and books have been written in recent years about the decline of social mobility and the rise of the super rich, especially in countries such as the US and Britain. The authors typically recommend government intervention to improve equality and life chances for the less well-off. While the poor may need help, I think the wealthy almost invariably sow the seeds of their own relative decline – even without punitive taxation. In my experience, working with many successful entrepreneurs over three decades, the children of self-made parents almost never possess the same level of ambition or capacity for enterprise. Consequently family fortunes tend to wither rather than expand without end. I once spoke at an event organised by a private bank in the City of London, attended by about 100 young adult children of its multimillionaire clients. The listeners were an unimpressive lot from all over – the Middle East, Russia, Africa, Europe and Asia. Generally speaking they struck me as spoilt and deficient in energy or experience of the real world. Their parents were mostly from modest backgrounds but had created substantial companies, by dint of huge effort and ingenuity. My audience never felt the need to make such sacrifices – and it showed in their attitudes. Read more of this post

What every company can learn from Lego; Lego has built an open community of robotics enthusiasts who have helped make the company’s products better

What every company can learn from Lego

August 6, 2013: 11:28 AM ET

Lego has built an open community of robotics enthusiasts who have helped make the company’s products better.

By John Hagel and John Seely Brown

FORTUNE — By now, many businesses are aware of the benefits of ecosystems — communities of suppliers, partners, vendors, and customers — and the idea that there’s value to connecting participants with each other. One fax machine alone, for example, has no value. Connect that fax machine to another, however, and suddenly the machine has value even though nothing about it has changed. The value grows with each additional machine connected. Now imagine that the fax machines can learn from each other, gaining additional capabilities and getting better at what they do with each interaction. The more fax machines connected, the greater potential for interactions and the greater the rate of learning. That is the fundamental power of a dynamic ecosystem: Participants interact with each other with the goal of learning faster, getting better, and increasing the capabilities of each participant and the value of the entire community. Read more of this post

What Jeff Bezos learned from Warren Buffett

What Jeff Bezos learned from Warren Buffett

By Patricia Sellers August 6, 2013: 1:42 PM ET

FORTUNE — Jeff Bezos’ decision to buy the Washington Post isn’t so surprising given that he has long seen the value of making money slowly. The Amazon.com (AMZN) founder and CEO built his $61.1 billion-a-year business by plowing short-term profits back into the business, restless investors be damned. Way back in 1999, actually, Bezos displayed an interest in old-line industries. He was at Allen & Co.’s conference in Sun Valley, Idaho when he heard Warren Buffett (BRKA) — the Washington Post Co.’s (WPO) largest outside shareholder — warn that transforming industries often fail to reward investors over time. I wrote the following in Fortune in 1999:

Bezos was so intrigued by Buffett’s talk…that he asked Buffett for his lists of the automakers and aircraft manufacturers that didn’t make it. “When new industries become phenomenons, a lot of investors bet on the wrong companies,” Bezos says. Referring to Buffett’s 70-page catalog of mostly dead car and truck makes, he adds, “I noticed that decades ago, it was de rigueur to use ‘Motors’ in the name, just as everybody uses ‘dot-com’ today. I thought, Wow, the parallel is interesting. Read more of this post

Monotasking Is The New Multitasking In This Age of Distraction

MONOTASKING IS THE NEW MULTITASKING

HOW CAN YOU GET ANYTHING DONE WHEN YOUR “TASKS” TURN INTO COMPETING PREOCCUPATIONS? IN THIS AGE OF DISTRACTION, IT’S ALL ABOUT MONOTASKING. HERE ARE SIX TIPS FOR DOING IT RIGHT.

BY: LAURA VANDERKAM

We all know multitasking is inefficient. A classic 2007 study of Microsoft workers found that when they responded to email or instant messaging alerts, it took them, on average, nearly 10 minutes to deal with their inboxes or messages, and another 10-15 minutes to really get back into their original tasks. That means that a mere three distractions per hour can preclude you from getting anything else done. Then there’s the relationship “inefficiency” that comes from multitasking. You can spend hours rebuilding the good will torched by a single glance at your phone during an inopportune time. Read more of this post

Top 20 Female Artists Fetch $1.8 Billion; American painter Mitchell Leads with $239.8 Million; Yayoi Kusama, an eccentric Japanese octogenarian known for psychedelic colors and polka dots, tallied $127.7 million in auction revenue

Top 20 Female Artists Fetch $1.8 Billion; Mitchell Leads

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American painter Joan Mitchell is the best-selling female artist of all time by auction revenue. Works by Mitchell (1925-1992), the second-generation Abstract Expressionist, fetched $239.8 million in sales from 1985 through May 31, 2013, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg from Artnet (ART) database. The report lists 20 top-selling women artists. A second report includes the 20 biggest earners among living female artists. During the tracking period, 646 artworks by Mitchell sold at auction, including a 1960 canvas that fetched a record $9.3 million in 2011. While auction prices have increased in recent years, they trail those of men. Andy Warhol, the market leader in 2012, tallied $380.3 million in auction sales during that year alone. “When you are walking into a serious collector’s home, it’s more common to see a Joan Mitchell painting than it was five, six years ago,” said Suzanne Gyorgy, global head of art advisory and finance at Citi Private Bank. Combined, the top 20 women artists sold $1.8 billion of art. Second on the list is Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), an American Impressionist whose 1,098 works at auction brought $136.5 million.

Kusama’s Polka Dots

Third is Yayoi Kusama, an eccentric Japanese octogenarian known for psychedelic colors and polka dots, tallied $127.7 million in auction revenue. Read more of this post

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