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To assess value it’s wise to escape the market crowd

The belief that an aggregate of casual opinions provides a better process of value discovery than a flow of informed judgment through close engagement by investors, is an article of faith rather than a matter of empirical evidence.

More Rembrandts than art dealers please

The National Trust announced that a painting of a raffish Dutch gentleman wearing a white feathered hat, on display at Buckland Abbey in Devon, is in fact a self-portrait by Rembrandt, worth £30m. But who created that £30m value, and when?

Why mean outcomes are often meaningless

There is never such a thing as a single true and fair view, only a range of possible outcomes. To assess a value from the mean outcome is as meaningless as the observation that the average person has 1.99 legs.

Philistines may carp but scientists should reach for the sky

Anthropology helps us understand the world, in ways that are helpful whether we are talking about the internal contradictions of communism or the pathologies of financial crises.

They may not find a Jobs – but Pisa tests lean in the right direction

To say comparisons of academic performance are always imperfect and open to revision is not to say they cannot be made at all.

Why London homes remain affordable – it is the buyers who change

The monetary rewards attached to different occupations and social positions change from one period of history to another. The houses remain, the backgrounds of their occupants change.

A currency is anything that two people agree is a currency

Money is a confidence game; its value depends entirely on the willingness of other people to accept it.

The market is not the best place to set a fair price for assets

What happened at Enron, and in the banks, was that trading assets were marked to values that had been established not by people who knew about the contracts or the loans, but by the biased and ill-informed assessments of the traders.

Fair value is not the same as market price

The growth of the trading culture has encouraged the belief that the only measure of value is what someone is willing to pay. But this is a mistake.

Even a subpar Sage is pure genius

The most remarkable thing about Warren Buffett’s achievements is not that no one has rivalled his record, it is that almost no one has seriously tried to emulate his investment style.