Most of the time nobody will explain the game to you

In many areas of life, the sharpest people in a given field often won’t explain the tricks of the trade to the general public.  Sometimes it’s the case that the publicly-available information on a subject is second-rate.  Take Warren Buffett for example.  His derivatives deals are brilliant because he is getting paid to borrow money.  Of course, he does not fully explain his deals because he doesn’t want others copying his trades. In shareholder letters, he does not explain how his counterparties were inappropriately modeling equity-equity correlations.  He only discussed the trades on a superficial level because GAAP accounting of the derivatives were causing people to misunderstand Berkshire’s intrinsic value.  Buffett likely avoids explaining Berkshire’s credit default contracts for similar reasons.

Brent Roberts of Credit Acceptance is not going to explain to his competitors why knowing the customer’s chequing account information makes a loan substantially better.  (The most likely benefit is that Credit Acceptance can sue deadbeats and take money out of the debtor’s chequing account, especially after tax refunds arrive.)

In general, many CEOs of publicly-traded companies don’t want their competitors figuring out their tricks and therefore don’t talk about them.  This makes it  more difficult to figure out who the superstar CEOs are.  This is why I think it pays to perform your own research and to figure out trade secrets for yourself.  It is a good idea to gather information from independent sources unrelated to the company in question.

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