I’m currently on the road to L.A. and going to San Diego. I want to thanks the new followers to the blog. I recently got a “surge” in traffic and new followers despite not posting anything new in a couple weeks. Thank you for following.
I attended the Charlie Munger Daily Journal AGM. It was a good one. They even had breakfast this year. Not sure if it was Peter Kaufman or Charlie’s idea to put up with the bill. The number of attendees is growing every year which explains the change of location. This year’s location was in a conference room attached to at the Cathedral Plaza in downtown L.A. This plays well with the cult behavior of the people following Charlie Munger because they are definitely not there for the Daily Journal yearly update. I don’t minimize the impact of cult like behavior. People flew from all over the world, mostly China, to hear him talk, even though it’s broadcast online. Some people can’t ask him a question without a one minute opener on how much they love the guy.
Charlie is 96 years old. I found him to be in better shape than he was two years ago last time I saw him. He was steady and solid throughout the two hour meeting. It’s too bad that he doesn’t stick around after the meeting anymore. The meeting is way too big now. A couple years ago he used to linger around a little longer after the official portion of the meeting was over and field all kind of questions. The best part was that he was unfiltered. People are a little bit looser when you know you are not on camera. But with cells phones these days, you are constantly being watched. You can find some of the old videos of the after-meeting circulating on Youtube. I don’t think Munger wanted this to be online for the world to see. Despite the recordings being enjoyable, that was also the last time he did it. Anyway that would be impossible to do today, the meeting is way too big.
Regarding Munger’s wisdom, there was nothing you didn’t already know. It’s like going to church. You know what is going to be said. It’s just good to hear it again. It’s re-centers you. Munger talks about rationality, expectations, circle of competence, and of course a good meeting is never completed without an Elon Musk joke.
I’m currently on the road. I wish I could elaborate with notes and everything. But everything is already online.
The best part of these meetings is regrouping with some value investor friends. I also took the occasion to have dinner with insurance investors to pick their brain.
It’s my second time in the city and realized I’ve barely seen the city. Everything I’ve done is around three city block in downtown L.A. I wish I had an extra day just to be a tourist to dig into everything L.A. has to offer.
L.A. is a weird city. It’s basically a bunch of boroughs looking for a city. It’s sprawled out in every direction. You can lose two hours just going from one neighborhood to another. People identified themselves with their borough. Normally a big city has a downtown. That downtown becomes the center of gravity. That’s where things are happening. That’s where people want to go. Except for L.A. It was built differently and it grew very rapidly. L.A. does have a nice downtown that is recently “renovated”. You can hangout downtown now but I don’t think people live here. Basically if you visit L.A., you don’t spend a lot of time downtown. You go to the different boroughs, like Hollywood.
Any major city has a homeless problem. L.A.’s homeless situation is a major homeless problem. I almost crushed one walking because he was the same color as the sidewalk. It was a last minute miss. I heard about the L.A. homeless problem in the news. But when you see it with your own eyes it really hits you. It’s really bad. It has moved from big city “inconvenience” to its society’s problem. Everybody is affected by this. It’s everybody’s problem. The sidewalks are covered with tents. They are micro communities inside a community. I saw a guy with a broom dusting the sidewalk in front of his tent. Another one seriously working out. Some of these tents are actually pretty nice.
I don’t know what the solution is. It’s easy to point out the problem. It’s much harder to solve it. My guess is the majority of the homeless can be helped. They don’t want to be on the street. There’s also a minority of homeless that have serious mental issues. They need serious help. This is a community problem, a city problem, a state problem, a national problem, a global problem. It’s not a “other people problem”. It’s our problem. The homeless situation seems to have gotten worse since last time I was here in 2018. I don’t think it’s going in the right direction. Why so homeless many in L.A.? Look at it this way. If I was homeless, I would also be in L.A. also. Everybody wants to be in California. There are just too many people here.
What can we do? It’s a WE. We need to come together and work on solutions. They just can’t move. If it’s a drug problem, we can help. If it’s a health problem, we can help. If it’s a job problem, we can help. Can we build a mega social housing complex with running water and electricity? The solution can then be applied to other cities. It’s not easy, but sometimes a problem can be turned into a positive. It’s the old saying, in a crisis there are opportunities. Munger talks about when you inverting the problem to solve it. Invert, always invert.
As I’m writing this I’m on my way towards San Diego. I’m taking the Amtrak train down and I heard it’s one of the nicest scenery train ride in the U.S. So far so good.