09 September, 2015

Plane reading, Sept 9 2015

Expert takes worth reading on economics, technology, and other human interest topics from the last week.  Plus recent news on Uber/on-demand/autonomy:

  1. BloombergBusiness, on China shutting down its (world largest) stock futures market to stop what is currently a $5 trillion market drop
  2. Tim Taylor, on Economic Theory vs Policy Advice: "The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists."
  3. EquitableGrowth, on sins of comission vs omission in U.S. financial system "functioning as designed"
  4. David Colander, reflecting on Gordon Tullock (in memorium) and the value of out-of-sync temperaments and viewpoints
  5. David Colander, on dispersion indices of top econonimcs programs and the impact on heterodox thinking of the ~25 PhD's each year who "have a shot at making the top echelons of the economics profession."
  6. The Atlantic, on "How Welfare Reform Ruined Public Assistance for the Very Poor"
  7. Tyler Cowen, reflecting on the past decade of arguments for/against the influence of psychology and neuroscience on economic models
  8. Mark Thoma, on scale economies in banking (or the lack thereof)

  1. Jason Greene, discussing the thesis  of "enterprise hypergrowth is the new normal" and its implications
  2. TechCrunch interview with Kevin Spain, on Emergence Capital's new report on 2015 Mobile Enterprise Trends
  3. Benedict Evans, stating the mobile internet is now the "real" internet
  4. Engadget, on Canon's new 250mp DSLR camera sensor and trickle-down economics in photography
  5. Anton Howes, on "The Society for Superseding the Necessity of Climbing Boys in Cleaning Chimneys"
  6. Tyler Cowen, on Jonathon Ford's FT piece arguing that online lending is overrated, unlikely to find a way around funding through origination fees, and unlikely to escape bank valuations of 10-12x EBITDA
  7. TechCrunch, stating that APIs are the new FTEs.  Very interesting
  8. Atlantic, on inadvertent bias amplification of algorithms
  9. VentureBeat, covering mobile ad spending in browser (10%) and in-app (90%)
  10. Jim Hunter, adapting Mazlow's hierarchy of needs to frame and prioritize the IoT discussion
  11. BloombergView, on the most interesting use of blockchains I've heard so far

  1. WashingtonPost,  discussing out-of-control elementary school report cards
  2. Jonathain Haidt, reviewing Campbell/Manning's recent research on micro-agressions and the transition of societal cultures from honor, to dignity, to victimhood.  Haidt is a world-renowned psychologist focused on the morality, now at NYU (formerly UVA).  He wrote in "The Righteous Mind" that "following the sacral" is just as important as "following the money" when trying to understand why certain organizations function the way they do
  3. Wired, on the controversial success of an American Poet submitting under an Asian name
  4. Paul Romer, on the difference between diplomacy (minimizing differences) and politics (taking a minor difference and blowing it out of proportion) and how it interacts with stoking out-group fear and in-group exclusion
  5. Christopher Balding, discussing China's accelerating capital outflows and warning of significant RMB devaluation to come
  6. Ergulan Toprak, covering Chobani (yogurt) founder Ulukaya's joining of the Giving Pledge to donate $700+ million to global refugees.  Worth reading also for the back story on Chobani, founded only in 2005 and started yogurt-making in 2007.
  7. Tyler Cowen, on the "strong situation hypothesis" that individual personality differences are expected to have less room for expression in “strong” situations where the choice of behavioral outcomes is severely limited
  8. Daniel Little, on a demographic and technological explanation for (historic) Rome's failure to defend itself from German aggression despite technical superiority: Rome simply could not sustain the substantially greater manpower needs that the Germanic warfare required, given the nature of the agrarian economy
  9. Mike Konczal, on the idea of human capital contracts and their likely impact on college costs
  10. Wired, on "advantage players" at Dave & Buster's
  11. Chelsea Clinton, email to her parents re Haiti.  I'm impressed by her depth, breadth, and candor
  12. BostonGlobe, covering the UN effort to plant 1 billion trees beginning by checking their premise and discovering the earth has 7.5x as many trees as previously thought.  Like Mike Myers, the UN now plans to plant 1 trillion trees.

Bonus reading:  Stories on Uber, some of which may eventually be integrated into my narrative

  1. Wired, on meta-Uber.  Uber-for-Uber-for-everything
  2. TechCrunch, on Ola adding shuttle service in India
  3. VentureBeat, on BlaBlaCar (France) raising $160m at $1.2b valuation to fund long-distance Uber service in Europe.  Note this is a long-distance ride-sharing app for trip-splitting costs
  4. TechCrunch, on SportSetter raising $1m for "Uber for fitness."  Despite CEO's protestations, seems much more like Groupon to me
  5. Skift, on Lyft "struggles."  From my perspective this buries the lede: Lyft has 1/3 the cities as Uber, 1/3 the revenue, 1/10 the investment to date, and 1/25 the valuation.  Lyft seems to have found a much more capital-efficient way to ride Uber's investment in the space, and is well-positioned to be a strong #2 in the cities it operates in
  6. VentureBeat, on Uber raising (another) $1.2b in China (that's on top of the July/Aug $1b) and DidiKuadi raising $3b (which may or may not be an extension of their $2b in July)
  7. AutoBlog, on fooling autonomous vehicle LIDAR with "fake" cars.  Encrypted/randomized pulsing and frequency hopping is one way to avoid, but the need for military-grade countermeasures is something I never thought of
  8. TechCrunch, on parking disruption.  The global parking market is about the same value as the global taxi market - $100b.  Are they on a collision course?
  9. Wired, covering NYC's launch of an advisory group for regulating on-demand rides.  The results will inform NYC's new regulations, which are likely to cascade globally
  10. Wired, on the steady downward cost trends of LIDAR used for autonomous vehicles

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