My end of week morning
train WFH reads:
• Asset Destruction: “I am so sorry.” These are the only four words that come to mind. I don’t know what else to say to an investor who’s been sold a load of garbage by a life insurance agent. I can no longer keep quiet as I witness this silent epidemic of bad incentives, high pressure sales tactics, and the destruction of investor’s hard earned money. These expensive life insurance products are asset destruction. (Belle Curve)
• Home Equity Reaches Record Highs: Homeowners Gained Over $1 Trillion in Equity in Q3 2020 U.S. homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 63% of all properties) have seen equity increase by 10.8% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of $1 trillion, and an average gain of $17,000 per homeowner, since the third quarter of 2019. This marks the largest average equity gain since the first quarter of 2014. (CoreLogic) but see How to Make the Housing Market More Equitable. The homeownership rate among Black households remains stubbornly low, even as the overall U.S. homeownership rate has risen in recent years. That is a key reason why Black families have a median net worth well below that of white households. (Wall Street Journal)
• Powell Wins a Place in Pantheon of Fed Chiefs Alongside Volcker With 13 months remaining in Powell’s 4-year term, former central bank officials are saying he’ll go down in history as the institution’s most transformational chairman since the 6-foot-7-inch, cigar-chomping Volcker, who died last year at age 92. That sounds presumptuous for a man whose term isn’t even over, to be sure, and is without doubt a claim the modest, 5-foot-10-inch Powell would never make. Yet it’s not without merit.(Businessweek)
• Disney Lays Out Multi-Billion Dollar Plan to Dominate the Streaming Wars Disney+ now has 86 million subscribers. Based on a slate of 10 new Marvel series; 10 new Star Wars series; 15 Disney+ original films, 15 new Disney live-action, animation and Pixar series, the company now projects that the service will have ~250 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024 (Variety)
• Penny Fractions: How Streaming Saved, but Flattened the Record Industry Spotify continues to set the tone for all other streaming platforms. Spotify receives the most public scrutiny, even though the industry’s current worst practices were established by YouTube with major labels and Pandora’s endless attempts to avoid properly paying artists. Spotify’s aesthetic vision–if not its economic one–for how one should consume digital music is still dominant. (Penny Fractions)
• Brexit: was it worth it? Once a fervent Eurosceptic, I came to believe that leaving would be a terrible blunder Like a never-ending television series that should have been cancelled years ago, the Brexit saga reaches yet another season finale this month with the end of the transition period. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, as in vaguely terrifying at times, and full of hysterical people. (Unherd)
• How Facebook Tried to Make Itself Antitrust-Proof The U.S. government wants to break up Facebook—and Facebook has spent years barricading its bunker for the fight. In 2019, Zuckerberg made it a priority for Facebook to unify the underlying infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, allowing users to communicate with each other across platforms. The move would ensure that users remained engaged within the Facebook ecosystem. (Slate)
• They’re Among the World’s Oldest Living Things. The Climate Crisis Is Killing Them. California’s epic wildfires in 2020 took deadly aim at the state’s most beloved trees.California’s epic wildfires in 2020 took deadly aim at the state’s most beloved trees. In a relative instant, countless ancient redwoods, hundreds of giant sequoias and more than one million Joshua trees perished.(New York Times)
• Heavy Is the Head That Wears the AirPods Max What a fascinating product Apple’s new AirPods Max are. At $550, they are indisputably expensive, and at 385 grams, they are undeniably heavy. They’re also, indisputably, very nice. (Daring Fireball) see also AirPods in the Shower: Accident or Innovation? Wearable technology has made it commonplace for people to stay connected to their phones nearly every waking hour. And the Covid-19 pandemic has further blurred the boundaries between work and home. (Wall Street Journal)
• The Man Who Found Forrest Fenn’s Treasure The decade-long hunt captured the world’s attention, but when it finally ended in June, everyone still wanted to know: Who had solved the mystery? This week, as legal proceedings threaten his anonymity, a 32-year-old medical student is ready to go on the record. (Outside)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Mike Swell, head of Global Fixed Income at Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM). Swell is responsible for co-leading the global team of portfolio managers that oversee more than $700 billion in multi-sector bond portfolios.
1.8 million tests, 210k cases, 106,688 COVID-19 hospitalized and 3,054 deaths – all records.