Finely Ground Coffee and Coarse Finance

I only started drinking coffee when I started working crazy hours.

Not to keep awake but as an excuse to pop out of the office for a few minutes and suck in some fresh air.

Either coffee or cigarettes, thank goodness not the latter.

In any case, I recently read about a guy who is reverse engineering Nespresso coffee. He doesn't like the stuff, but he's in the business and wants to understand his competitor inside out.

The coffee making process is measured in milligrams, seconds and microns.

Quite precise for a humble cup of espresso.

(I never realised that small film of 'crema' was so important)

Finance is rarely if ever so precise.

For example. Over the last decade, growth funds have outperformed value by far.

(VBK: small growth, VBR: small value - similar for large caps etc. also)

Sure, dividend reinvestment is a factor, but not that big.

The value premium is one of the most hallowed ideas in finance, but it has been roundly thrashed by its arch-nemesis over the last decade.

I remember hearing Ken French say that you can only be somewhat sure that the S&P 500 will outperform investing in treasuries over a 30 year horizon.

Of course over the next 20 years a value portfolio may well trump growth, but that's a hell of a long time.

And obviously that's assuming that growth and value risk premium spread is the same magnitude as the premium spread between the S&P and treasuries. I am being massively conservative here.

That's how imprecise we are.

A good barista will measure their espresso process in seconds and natter with their customers once the espresso's done, while a financista measures in quarters of a century or more.

How frustrating.

I am jealous of baristas everywhere - they are more scientific than we will ever be.