Monday, November 28, 2011

Business Plan Ideas Inside the S-1 Form

Summary: Read S-1 forms for your business plan ideas.

When a company sells stock for the first time, it must file a s-1 form with the SEC. This form explains how the company will make money - its business plan!

Companies can cite anything from identifying a competitive edge in their field, a market inefficiency they will exploit, an opportunity to reduce costs in an industry where this is a problem (like Amazon and storeless internet retailing!), or otherwise explain their plan.

Quickest way to do this:

Go to EDGAR (the SEC database) and

1. Search Most Recent Filings
2. Limit to S-1 Form
3. Avoid the S-1/A (amendment forms) and read S-1s all day.

Now, one thing you can also do is go to the advanced search screen and type in a keyword (insurance, computers, etc.) and s-1. This should get you closer to browsing S-1 plans in your field.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What is Fair Trade and Does it Work?

Here's an introduction to the concept of "fair trade" - the icon you've seen (most likely) on coffee bags. It usually refers to handicrafts and agricultural products from the developing world.

What is it? Among other things, a way for individual producers to remain individually employed and earn higher wages (good or bad? effective or not? read up and make up your own mind).

Quick and dirty link to our holdings on "fair trade" books

The relevant subject heading is Consumption (Economics)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MERS and Clear Title to Property

For centuries, county clerks have recorded land sales and deeds so as to create an objective record of ownership. The rule of law makes commerce and credit (loans against title) possible.

MERS is a new-ish system of electronically recording transfers of titles that bypasses this old system. It is not controlled by the government - it is entirely a private system. The bottom line is that chain of title is no longer entirely clear under this system.

Make up your own mind by reading this in-depth article from the Austin American Statesman

A very wonky article that critiques some of the legal reasoning behind MERS.

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto discussing the importance of law in making capitalism possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Financial "Pro" Loses House

Here's a New York Times article making the rounds.

A financial "pro" - who answered an ad for "securities" thinking it was for a security guard (yes, really) - gets caught up in the consumer lifestyle in Las Vegas and has to walk away from his house.

Great cultural history of American nonchalance. Much like the New York Times guy who lost HIS house.

But here's how this won't happen to YOU - read these books about investing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Greatest Hits of Investing Books

I want to keep this short and sweet, so here is a very abbreviated list of some of the best books I have ever read about investing.

1. Clifford Pistolese. Using Technical Analysis.

If you could just read one book about investing this would be it - reading stock charts isn't as hard as you think. Mr. Pistolese unlocks the meaning of charts - in just a couple of days you'll see meaning in charts that is beautifully logical.

2. Any book about candlestick charts. This is another useful addition to reading stock charts based on centuries old Japanese rice futures.

3. Michael Perino. The Hellhound of Wall Street: how Ferdinand Pecora's investigation of the Great Crash forever changed American finance. This book gives you a sense of history so you won't be the turnip that fell off the truck. Learn Wall Street accounting gimmicks and old stock pump tricks. I wrote earlier about this book here.

4. John Kenneth Galbraith. The Great Crash. A great book for investigating normalcy bias. Does that stock price look strong? What if you knew it was trading for the same amount fifty years ago? How people are slow to react to crises because there is not a crisis at this very second.

5. Active Value Investing by Vitaliy Katsenelson. Easy to read book about determining value in a stock. Good sections about appropriate P/E levels for a company, determining a company's resistance to competition, basic primer on discounted cash flow analysis and more. Sort of an updated version of Benjamin Graham's classic book about value investing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

International Business and Exporting

Despite the depression, still a lot to come in the future in emerging economies.

Maybe you have a competitive advantage in a field, or maybe there's a growing middle class in a developing country that wants/needs to buy your product. Could be both.

The best country profiles are in Europa or Marketline Advantage.

Our subject headings are sort of scattered, but they include globalization, international business, international business enterprises and competition, international. Don't forget keywords either!

If you're looking for each country's laws governing you as a foreigner doing business, you'll need the print version of international commercial laws or the Country Commerce section of the (choose reports on the right side of the screen.)

And don't forget the research guide I made on this subject. It gives you the right databases to use.

Finally, check out these good sites:
(a good guide to how to export)

Tradestats Express (pretty detailed guide to what we are exporting. State by state too).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Money and Man

Elgin Groseclose's Money and Man is a great summary of humanity's experience with money over the centuries

It's a good read for monetary newbies to understand how the physics of money affects the real world.

This book starts with Greek and Roman use of silver and copper as money - which are dependent on natural supply rather than issuance. This static supply affects credit and economic growth in a society.

In Europe, the use of paper money only really came about after the Middle Ages and it's interesting to see the move away from barter and precious metals to a fiat currency (although often backed by precious metals).

Fiat currency can be quite advantageous, provided its issuance is governed by restraint and wisdom. Unfortunately, it rarely turns out that way, and ultimately the history of the world is littered with defunct and now worthless paper bank notes. Groseclose delves into the reasons why different paper currencies failed.

It's worthwhile for an American to familiarize yourself with these concepts, because we're relatively unscathed by monetary devaluation. In other words, we take relatively stable money for granted.

That could change.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Quality of Life

Here are some sources that measure things like income, business climate, individual health, outdoors activity, educational degree, water quality, pollution, crime, and other neat marketing items.

Know your surroundings if you are doing a start-up or trying marketing or advertising.


Simply Map and Simply Map tutorial


America's Top Rated Cities also contains typical prices for office space and consumer products

America's Top Rated Smaller Cities (no San Marcos, what the heck?) also contains typical prices for office space and consumer products

State Rankings

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Psychology of Marketing

Marketers need to know a lot about human psychology, anthropology, communication and other disciplines.

Here's a cool subject heading called Marketing - Psychological Aspects.

Delve into the existential reasons people buy products. Desire, fear, greed, contempt, lust, group belonging, nostalgia, group rejection and sundry other mysteries of the human psyche are explored here.