10 Weekend Reads

Its Saturday! Pack the kids in the car, we are going to the beach to kick off a 3-day holiday. But before you do, pour yourself a tall glass of iced brew, settle back and enjoy our long form weekend reading:

• Is Silicon Valley in Another Bubble . . . and What Could Burst It? (Vanity Fair) see also The V.C.s of B.C. (NYT)
• How Can a Strategy Everyone Knows About Still Work? (AQR)
• Corruption, Death and Tin Mining (Bloomberg)
• How Singer Won the Sewing Machine War: The Singer Sewing Machine changed the way America manufactured textiles, but the invention itself was less important than the company’s innovative business (Smithsonian)
• Desperate Crossing (NYT)
• So Wrong for So Long: Why neoconservatives are never right. (Foreign Policy)
• What Are the Worst Airports in the World? (Priceonomics)
• How Podcasts Have Changed in Ten Years: By the Numbers (Medium)
• Willie Nelson and the Weed Factory (GQ)
• How former San Francisco 49ers Chris Borland’s retirement could change NFL forever (ESPN)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Harry Shearer of “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons.”


The U.S. Job Market Just Hit Another Milestone  


Source: Bloomberg


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  1. ilsm commented on Sep 5

    Flawed belief that US can “intimidate others into doing our bidding was dead wrong” goes a bit deeper.

    The world is never as simple as when all the US had to do was deal with Stalin or Mao.

    The mistake is every enemy is as dangerous as Hitler.

    A lot of moral treasure, money and lives have been spent to not “appease” the enemy.

    US policy continues to suffer a flawed fear of the “A” word.

    Excuses like our allies won’t trust US bow to the money to be made…….

  2. VennData commented on Sep 5

    Peter Schiff believes in “Quantitative Tightening” All the more reason to know it’s not happening.


    Until Central banks sell their bonds for their cash in circulation, there is no QT.

    If China sells it’s treasuries. Those treasuries go to someone else, The Chinese get the dollars, but the total dollars in circulation does not change.

    Anyone saying “Quantitative Tightening” has no idea what they are talking about.

  3. RW commented on Sep 5

    What Happened to the Moral Center of American Capitalism?

    An economy depends fundamentally on public morality; some shared standards about what sorts of activities are impermissible because they so fundamentally violate trust that they threaten to undermine the social fabric.

    It is ironic that at a time the Republican presidential candidates and state legislators are furiously focusing on private morality – what people do in their bedrooms, contraception, abortion, gay marriage – we are experiencing a far more significant crisis in public morality.

    NB: My own view is that we are witnessing both a moral and intellectual collapse among Western elites; privelege no longer bears responsibility and forges reasons why this is a good thing.

    • VennData commented on Sep 5

      The rich have been partying, taking drugs and having sex forever. This Is normal. This is what the powerful do.

      Whenever the 99% want “moral” freedoms, they foment outrage in their religion-soddened “Base.” The GOP wants to control the populace’s thinking. They want you to be good liitle workerbees and take a small sliver of the wealth while they get the majority.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight commented on Sep 5

      To see how things have changed, look at the Titanic. A significant number of wealthy men on the ship chose to die rather than act in what they viewed as a shameful way and push their way ahead of women and children onto the few lifeboats.

      Today Trump is far more representative, not only of the wealthy, but of what people who aren’t wealthy think is how they need to behave in order to become wealthy.

  4. VennData commented on Sep 5

    “I’ve bought a lot of pot in my life, And now I’m selling it back.” – Willie Nelson.

  5. Mbuna commented on Sep 5

    Moral and intellectual collapse in the west has been happening for decades, if not longer, don’t you know. The causes are deeply rooted in the centuries old withering of the religious and spiritual cultures of the world in which the living force of Reality no longer pervades those cultures. Its like the Einsteinian world has been reduced to a Newtonian world. What is left of those cultures is more corrupt than not- the depth, the Source has been lost. There is no longer any common agreement on what is wrong and what is right. Here in America corporate business philosophy reigns supreme (simply put- making money is right and everything else is wrong) and is unconsciously and subconsciously proposed as the answer to all questions. If it doesn’t answer the question then the question isn’t important. Every aspect of existence must be in alignment to “enhance shareholder value” while the plutocracy, the priests of this 21st century religion, make sure their pockets are lined with the results, completely blinded by their greed and self interest.

  6. willid3 commented on Sep 5

    does any one know why there is so many rumors about a financial collapse in September? it seems to be the big ‘worry’ by many. not really sure that it makes any since, but its out there.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight commented on Sep 5

      I’d go with the madness of crowds as the reason for the rumors.

      Note that NASA has had to publicly state that no, the world is not going to be destroyed by being hit by a large meteor in September. I doubt that most people who believe the rumor have changed their minds after the NASA statement.

      The difference is the market rumors can become self-fulfilling, while meteors aren’t subject to human opinions.

  7. RW commented on Sep 5

    Preliminary Initial Notes on the Economics of Star Trek

    . Look, 1776 North America was a very rich country by 18th Century standards because of the enormous land to labour ratio, and yet still 75% of our people were farmers engaged in growing your 2,500 calories per day plus essential nutrients plus other things…
    . Today, here in the United States, we are down to 3% of the labour force who are growing our food…
    . Going from 75% to 3% means as far as basic calories and nutrients are concerned we have gone 95% of the way to the Replicator as far as basic calories plus essential nutrients are concerned …

  8. VennData commented on Sep 5

    The Asness article is so long, your premium strategy will become common knowledge by the time you finish reading it.

    Great investment idea: put your money away in an index fund. Read the compendium of Asness’s Randian screeds then when you’re finished, you retire rich

  9. Jojo commented on Sep 5

    Buying organic veggies at the supermarket is a waste of money
    Deena Shanker
    August 29, 2015

    It has happened to all of us. You’re standing in the produce aisle, just trying to buy some zucchini, when you face the inevitable choice: Organic or regular?

    It’s a loaded question that can mean many different things, sometimes all at once: Healthy or pesticide-drenched? Tasty or bland? Fancy or basic? Clean or dirty? Good or bad?

    But here’s the most important question for many customers: Is it worth the extra money?

    The answer: Probably not.
    Higher price doesn’t really mean higher quality



    ADMIN: Posted earlier this week

    • Jojo commented on Sep 5

      I did do a search first and didn’t find anything. But see now that i did the search on “www.ritholtz.com” and the article only appeared on the “www.wbloombergview.com” section.

  10. Jojo commented on Sep 5

    Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics?
    By Gill A. Pratt
    Posted 31 Aug 2015

    The author argues that when the growth of robot capabilities begins in earnest, it will likely be explosive—a Cambrian Explosion of robotics.

    About half a billion years ago, life on earth experienced a short period of very rapid diversification called the “Cambrian Explosion.” Many theories have been proposed for the cause of the Cambrian Explosion, with one of the most provocative being the evolution of vision, which allowed animals to dramatically increase their ability to hunt and find mates (for discussion, see Parker 2003). Today, technological developments on several fronts are fomenting a similar explosion in the diversification and applicability of robotics. Many of the base hardware technologies on which robots depend—particularly computing, data storage, and communications—have been improving at exponential growth rates. Two newly blossoming technologies—“Cloud Robotics” and “Deep Learning”—could leverage these base technologies in a virtuous cycle of explosive growth. In Cloud Robotics—a term coined by James Kuffner (2010)—every robot learns from the experiences of all robots, which leads to rapid growth of robot competence, particularly as the number of robots grows. Deep Learning algorithms are a method for robots to learn and generalize their associations based on very large (and often cloud-based) “training sets” that typically include millions of examples. Interestingly, Li (2014) noted that one of the robotic capabilities recently enabled by these combined technologies is vision—the same capability that may have played a leading role in the Cambrian Explosion.

    How soon might a Cambrian Explosion of robotics occur? It is hard to tell. Some say we should consider the history of computer chess, where brute force search and heuristic algorithms can now beat the best human player yet no chess-playing program inherently knows how to handle even a simple adjacent problem, like how to win at a straightforward game like tic-tac-toe (Brooks 2015). In this view, specialized robots will improve at performing well-defined tasks, but in the real world, there are far more problems yet to be solved than ways presently known to solve them.
    “Many of the base hardware technologies on which robots depend—particularly computing, data storage, and communications—have been improving at exponential growth rates. Two newly blossoming technologies—Cloud Robotics and Deep Learning—could leverage these base technologies in a virtuous cycle of explosive growth.”


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