TPN Podcasts for Week 29, 2019

This week on TPN: 

On our podcasts this week we talked about the background to the Berlin blockade; how one Florentine scholar in the early 1400s taught the city how to be cultured; how Sejanus went in a single day from being the second most powerful man in Rome to being torn apart; and the value of Woolworths shares.

Click on the titles below to go to the episode.



The fault of the Berlin Blockade is often laid at the feet of Stalin. But the truth is a little more complicated.

By 1948, the situation in Germany was still complicated. The Four Powers (USA, USSR, UK, France) in control of Germany couldn’t agree on a path forwards. Russia and France wanted to keep Germany weak. The USA and UK wanted to build it back up into a European economic power. And they wanted it to be firmly in the capitalism economic bloc. So the USA and UK took a dump on the principles of the Allied Control Commission and just made decisions regarding the future of the three-quarters of Germany under their control. This is what lead Stalin to stop them from entering Berlin, which was fully within the Soviet zone of occupation.

Nicky the Nickster was one of the most influential people in Florence in the early 1400s. He was the unofficial minister of culture and probably the guy who influenced Cosimo de Medici to support the humanists and artists. Obsessed with antiquity, he spent his entire family fortune on buying ancient manuscripts, sculptures and other artefacts. He was also a master of Latin and quite the dilettante. When he died, he had built the largest private library of ancient books in Italy. Early German printers used his cursive handwriting as the basis for italic typesetting.

Sejanus decided to remove the next in line of Germanicus’ heirs, Drusus, and finally married Livia Julia, the widow of the other Drusus, son of Tiberius. He also became Tiberius’ official partner in power – in 31CE Tiberius took his fifth consulship, with Seianus as his colleague. But before the year 31 would come to a close, Sejanus and all his family were dead, his statues thrown down, his name erased from the public records.

As Tony was too busy evaluating the quality of Scotland’s golf courses and single malts to get on the phone with me this week, our show consists of a checklist analysis we did in Sydney in early June about Woolworths (WOW). This is the companion analysis to last week’s show about Coles Group, so you can see how two similar business compare in the checklist.

TPN Podcasts for Week 28, 2019

This week on TPN: 

On our podcasts this week we talked about the Christianization of America in the 1950s; how shell companies get used by the rich to hide their money; how Tiberius Caesar and Sejanus took down their political rivals; and how one savvy American investor picks companies he thinks will be ten times bigger in the future. 

Click on the titles to go to the episode.



In 1951, the American Congregational minister James Fifield and his team of geniuses came up with a brilliant idea. To mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they proposed to hold a massive series of events devoted to the theme of “Freedom Under God.” The campaign was supported by everyone with wealth who hated the New Deal: Republicans leaders of industry and politics. The goal was to convince Americans think Christianity, laissez-faire capitalism and America went together like peanut butter and jelly.

And then, in 1954, the Scottish Presbyterian minister George Docherty gave a powerful sermon in his Washington DC church, declaring that, “to omit the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance is to omit the definitive factor in the American way of life.” A few months later, President Eisenhower signed the phrase into law.

How do these shell companies get used? We provide some examples. We also talk about the fallout of the Panama Papers, Operation Car Wash, the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Galizia, why Americans didn’t show up in the Panama Papers as much as we might have expected, and how some of the world’s largest banks used Mossack Fonseca to profit from “arms dealers, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws”.

Shortly after Livia’s death, Tibbo wrote a letter to the senate attacking both Agrippina and Nero. They were prosecuted by Aulus Avillius Flaccus – the future prefect of Egypt, which leads Cam into a sidenote about Flaccus’ treatment of the Jews in Alexandria – and were both sent into exile. Then in 30, Tibbo finally went after his nemesis – Asinius Gallus – the man who married the love of his life.

This episode contains the second part of our interview with Austin LIeberman, a private investor in Florida, who has been achieving remarkable returns on his portfolio over the last 4-5 years, as we try to understand his methodology. On this episode Austin tells us he tries to only invest in companies he can imagine being ten times bigger than they are today. Our stock of the week is Tony’s old employer, the Coles Group (COL).

TPN Podcasts for Week 27, 2019

This week on TPN: 

On our podcasts this week we talked about how the early Christians set out to destroy the Epicureans; more background on what Edward Snowden described as the “biggest leak in the history of data journalism”, the Panama Papers; the continued descent of Rome into chaos under Tiberius and Sejanus; the first part of our interview with Austin LIeberman, a private investor in Florida and an analysis of Afterpay; 

Click on the titles to go to the episode.



When Christians banned other religions and philosophies in the late 4th century, Plato and Aristotle, pagans who believed in the immortality of the soul, could ultimately be accommodated by Christianity; but Epicureanism could not. The Epicureans believed life was about seeking pleasure and, if there was pain, it would end with death. Christians, on the other hand, thought life should be difficult, pleasure was evil, and pain could last for eternity. Therefore they had to wipe out all memory of the Epicureans and change the meaning of the term into someone who is a glutton.

With Tiberius safely ensconced in his sex dungeon on Capri, Sejanus goes after more friends of Agrippina, starting with one of Germanicus’ generals, Titius Sabinus. About the same time, Julia The Younger, Augustus’ grand-daughter, finally died, after being in exile for 20 years. And Livia finally died in 29 CE, aged 86.

After more than a year of analysis, the first news stories were published on April 3, 2016, by SZ and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Some 4.8 million leaked files were emails, 3 million were database entries, 2.2 million PDFs, 1.2 million images, 320,000 text files, and 2242 files in other formats. Edward Snowden described the release in a Twitter message as the “biggest leak in the history of data journalism”.

Today contains the first part of our interview with Austin LIeberman, a private investor in Florida, who has been achieving remarkable returns on his portfolio over the last 4-5 years, and try to understand his methodology. Our stock of the week is Afterpay.