The Businesses That Run Themselves

Due to neglect, I’ve built up a few hundred mailbag questions that I have not been able to address. I hope to be more ambitious in tackling them, and this is the first.

What surprises you the most about the financial commentary you see from other writers?

I am surprised at how often pundits and retail investors fail to separate the inherent nature of the enterprise itself from the people running it. For instance, almost every finance writer concludes that Michael Eisner was an extraordinary Disney CEO between 1984 and 2005. Such an opinion is informed by the 18% annual returns of Disney stock during his tenure–you needed to invest $36,000 on the day he became CEO to become a millionaire by the time he resigned.

This assumes that Eisner did great things, rather than operated a business that was doing great things on autopilot. When he became CEO, it … Read the rest of this article!