Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• How the West Lost COVID: How did so many rich countries get it so wrong? How did others get it so right? For decades, the richest nations of the world had told themselves a story in which wealth and medical superiority offered, if not total immunity from disease, then certainly a guarantee against pandemics, regarded as a premodern residue of the underdeveloped world. As the pandemic progressed, the U.S. and U.K., exhausted from Trump and Brexit, flipped from denial to capitulation, choosing to treat almost any caseload plateau as an opportunity to relax, no matter how high a level of ongoing spread it represented. (New York Magazine)
• Penny Stocks Are Booming, Which Is Good News for Swindlers Penny stocks — the name given to more than 10,000 tiny companies — have been around forever, but they’re booming as small investors flood the market. Retail investors see the tiny companies as the next big opportunity after meme stocks and cryptocurrency. This time around, social media is fueling the craze. But shares are an easy target for fraud. (New York Times)
• Behind the Back-Office Blunder That Cost Citigroup $500 Million Clunky software led to mistaken payments to companies ready to fight to keep the money. Citigroup’s fight to recoup the funds laid bare the vitriol and resentment that’s built up in the credit market, where institutional investors provide funding to companies, with banks acting as middlemen, and contract disputes are part of the game. In this case, some funds got money (they felt) they were owed by Revlon and decided to hang onto it—even though it was Citigroup’s money, not Revlon’s. (Businessweek)
• Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene: Elite schools breed entitlement, entrench inequality—and then pretend to be engines of social change. (The Atlantic)
• How Russia Got Americans to Do Its Dirty Work A new report shows that Moscow’s achievement lay in getting some Americans to do its bidding—and everyone else to ignore the intrigue in plain sight. (The Atlantic) see also US intelligence report says Russia attempted to interfere in 2020 election with goal of ‘denigrating’ Biden and helping Trump Russian government meddled in the 2020 election with an influence campaign. US intelligence found that Moscow sought to undermine “public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbate sociopolitical divisions in the US.” (CNN)
• What Conspiracy Theorists Don’t Believe The question “How could anybody believe this stuff?” comes naturally enough. That may not be the most helpful question, however. Conspiracy theorists believe strange ideas, yes. But these outlandish beliefs rest on a solid foundation of disbelief. (The Atlantic)
• Revealed: Seafood fraud happening on a vast global scale Studies used new DNA analysis techniques. In one comparison of sales of fish labelled “snapper” in Canada, the US, the UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, researchers found mislabelling in about 40% of 9,000 fish products from restaurants, markets and fishmongers were mislabelled. The UK and Canada had the highest rates of mislabelling in that study, at 55%, followed by the US at 38%. (The Guardian)
• The government’s lawyers saw a Google monopoly coming. Their bosses refused to sue. FTC memos suggest Obama-era regulators passed on an opportunity to rein in Google when the company still had viable competitors. (Politico)
• Challenging discrimination when purchasing a home What can you do if you’re a buyer or renter who suspects you might be a victim of housing discrimination? A primer on how to avoid being a victim (Washington Post)
• A Close-Up Picture of Partisan Segregation, Among 180 Million Voters Democrats and Republicans live apart from each other, down to the neighborhood, to a degree that raises provocative questions about how closely lifestyle preferences have become aligned with politics and how even neighbors may influence one another. (New York Times)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Bill Gurley, the legendary venture capital investor at Benchmark. His investments include GrubHub, Nextdoor, OpenTable, Zillow and of course, Uber. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute, and is widely considered one of most influential dealmakers in technology. He was named TechCrunch’s VC of the Year in 2016.
Partisan Affiliation Key to Differences In Vaccine Hesitancy
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.