Random Reads - week ending Nov 25

Warren Buffett says, “I just sit in my office and read all day.” Not everyone can afford to devote themselves to reading to that extent so here's a shortcut - the headlines that caught our eye this past week and compelled us to click and read.

Investors Have Gotten Too Complacent on China Debt | WSJ
Corporate debt ticked down by a measly 1% of GDP in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Bank for International Settlements, after rising by nearly 50 percentage points over the past five years.

The debt time bomb that keeps growing and now equals nearly half of US GDP | CNBC
Corporate debt is at its highest level relative to U.S. GDP since the financial crisis, and while not a concern, a snap higher in rates or an economic slump could make it a bigger worry... Debt of nonfinancial companies has grown $1 trillion in just two years and now totals $8.7 trillion, roughly 45 percent of GDP, according to Informa Financial Intelligence.

Good times may be over for overseas shopping agents as China cuts import tariffs | SCMP
As China unleashed a new round of import tariff cuts on 187 goods to encourage consumer spending, analysts say the once flourishing overseas shopping agents, or daigou, could start to feel the pinch.

Overseas M&A Slumps After Record 2016 | Caixin
China’s overseas mergers and acquisitions slumped in the first nine months of 2017 amid tighter government regulation, increased scrutiny of cross-border corporate activity by other countries, and a more uncertain global environment, a new report by professional services firm PwC shows.

I went to a mall on Black Friday -- and it confirmed the holiday isn't the shopping bonanza it once was | Business Insider
Black Friday sales are surging, but you wouldn’t know it by visiting Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall.

AUSTRALIAN HOME SIZES SHRINK TO 20-YEAR LOW | CommSec
Analysing data specially commissioned from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the report found the average floor size of an Aussie dwelling (combining houses and apartments) is around 190 square metres, down 2.7% over the past 12 months and the smallest since 1997.

A small company with a wide moat | livewire
Johns Lyng Group (ASX:JLG) is an integrated building services company, providing building and restoration services as well as commercial building services throughout Australia. The majority of group earnings are generated through the Insurance Building and Restoration division.

Primary Opinion raises $43m to go full foodie; shares jump 31pc | Stockhead
Tech play turned foodie Primary Opinion has raised $43 million and will change its name to LongTable as it doubles down on food acquisitions. Primary Opinion (ASX:POP), which already owns 48 per cent stake of Maggie Beer , will issue 1.43 billion shares at 3c each to buy oddly-named organic and biodynamic dairy operation, B.-d Farm Paris Creek.

Get ready for the sell-side brain drain | AFR
Thanks to the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom brokers research will be treated as a cost to the manager rather than paid for out of client funds... This is meant to be a big win for the client and the fund manager who will start to cherry pick the best analysts out there...  That trend, in turn, however, will make it more difficult for investment banks to attract the best researchers. If fund managers won't pay for the research who will?

Australians are split on whether 2018 will be ‘better’ than 2017 | Roy Morgan
A special Roy Morgan SMS Survey taken in mid-November shows only 31% of Australians think 2018 will be ‘better’ than 2017, while 39% say 2018 will be ‘the same’ and 30% say 2018 will be ‘worse’. Of concern is that 31% is the lowest figure ever recorded for Australians expecting next year to be ‘better’

Wall Street’s 2017 Market Predictions: Pathetically Wrong | WSJ
Forecasting is difficult, but this year showed exactly how pointless it can be: Markets performed opposite of virtually all predictions

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