Category Archives: Commentary

May 1, 2015

Dear friends, It’s May, a sweet and anxious time at college. The End is tantalizingly close; just two weeks remain in the academic year and, for many, in their academic career.  Both the trees on the Quad and summer wardrobes are bursting out. The days remaining and the brain cells remaining shrink to a precious […]

April 1, 2015

Dear friends, What a difference a month makes. When I wrote to you last month, it was 18 degrees below zero. Right now it’s 90 … 100 degrees warmer … and my students have noticed. Not only is there spring finery on display, but attendance at late afternoon classes seems to be just a bit […]

March 1, 2015

Dear friends, As I begin this essay the thermostat registers an attention-grabbing minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit.  When I peer out of the window nearest my (windowless) office, I’m confronted with: All of which are sure and certain signs that it’s what? Yes, Spring Break in the Midwest! Which funds? “Not ours,” saith Fidelity! If you […]

February 1, 2015

Dear friends, Investing by aphorism is a tricky business. “Buy on the sound of cannons, sell on the sound of trumpets.” It’s widely attributed to “Baron Nathan Rothschild (1810).” Of course, he wasn’t a baron in 1810. There’s no evidence he ever said it. 1810 wouldn’t have been a sensible year for the statement even […]

January 1, 2015

Dear friends, Welcome to the New Year! And to an odd question: why is it a New Year?  That is, why January 1?  Most calendrical events correspond to something: cycles of the moon and stars, movement of the seasons, conclusions of wars or deaths of Great Men. But why January 1?  It corresponds with nothing. […]

December 1, 2014

Dear friends, The Christmas of the early American republic – of the half century following the Revolution – would be barely recognizable to us. It was a holiday so minor as to be virtually invisible to the average person. You’ll remember the famous Christmas of 1776 when George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas and […]

November 1, 2014

Dear friends, In a college with more trees than students, autumn is stunning. Around the campus pond and along wooded paths, trees begin to erupt in glorious color. At first the change is slow, more teasing than apparent. But then we always have a glorious reign of color … followed by a glorious rain of […]

October 1, 2014

Dear friends, If it weren’t for everything else I’ve read in the news this week (a “blood feud” between DoubleLine and Morningstar? Blood feud? Really? “Pa! Grab your shotgun. Ah dun seen one a them filthy Mansuetos down by the crik!”), the silliest story of the week would be the transformation of candidate’s mutual fund […]

September 1, 2014

Dear friends, They’re baaaaack! The summer silence has been shattered. My students have returned in endlessly boisterous, hormonally-imbalanced, self-absorbed droves. They’re glued to their phones and to their preconceptions, one about as maddening as the other. The steady rhythm of the off-season (deal with something else falling off the house, talk to a manager, mow, […]

August 1, 2014

Dear friends, We’ve always enjoyed and benefited from your reactions to the Observer. Your notes are read carefully, passed around and they often shape our work in the succeeding months. The most common reaction to our July issue was captured by one reader who shared this observation: Dear David: I really love your writing. I […]