Notes from Barry Ritholtz’s Interview of Mark Mobius

There have been three excellent interviews that I came across this week, and the next three posts are my notes from having read these interviews. The first one is Barry Ritholtz interviewing Mark Mobius.

First off, if you don’t know who Mark Mobius is, here’s some background. This is his Wikipedia page, this is his Twitter handle, and this is information about him from his own website.

  1. Mark has worked at a talent agency, has worked as a communications teacher, a political consultant and has sold Snoopy merchandise in South Asia. Doing a variety of things in your career is a plus, not a minus! Or that, at any rate, is how I interpret this.
  2. And on a related note, being exposed to a variety of cultures, especially when you’re young, is also a good thing. He speaks about the culture shock of having visited Japan on a scholarship after getting his Master’s degree, and towards the end of the interview, he also speaks about his recommendations yo young folks starting out in investing. His first piece of advice? Travel!
  3. Mark has been to a 112 countries (!), a point that comes up in the podcast, and I found myself wishing that Barry had asked him a question (or two) about getting a feel for a new place. What do you look for in a new neighborhood, or a new city? What thumb rules has Mark developed for figuring out a city from the point of view of the quality of its administration, where to eat, how markets work over there, law and order and so much more.
  4. “Don’t just speak to top management” is excellent advice, and applies to much more than just financial investing. Get a sense of the place (any place!) by talking to everybody, and if possible, speak to top management last.
  5. Nothing beats actually visiting a company before investing, and it is best if you do that yourself. Travel, meet people, ask interesting questions, and keep doing that for as long as you can is excellent advice, always. Read (kind of) more about it here.
  6. As a student of finance, reflect on the part of the interview where Mark Mobius talks about the importance of well developed equity markets, the need for liquidity and private equity investments as an alternative.
  7. “One thing you’ve got to realize is that the world has changed to the extent that a lot of the emerging markets growth is now in the United States, because U.S. companies are manufacturing and selling and buying from emerging countries.”
    What is the appropriate unit of analysis for international trade, international finance and international investing? Why?
  8. Airlines and time-zones helped Mark Mobius decide where to base himself. Looking for underrated factors while making decisions need not be restricted to just financial investing!
  9. The reflection on China and Venezuela, and the impact that government policies (or even strong leaders) can have on domestic firms is worth reading and thinking about.
  10. Maybe I’m too much of an economist, but I don’t get the deflation is actually a good thing argument. More reading and thinking to do!
  11. And finally a book recommendation: about the history of double entry book-keeping. Note that the transcript donesn’t link to the book that Mark is talking about, so I may well be wrong about the hyper-link.

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