Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article: Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, and the Modern Whistle-Blower (LINK)
Brian Moynihan on Charlie Rose (video) (LINK)
Sohn London Conference Notes 2016 (LINK)
Hussman Weekly Market Comment: Economic Fancies and Basic Arithmetic (LINK)
The past several weeks have brought an enormous amount of loose economic analysis encouraging investors to expect a meaningful surge in economic growth and corporate profits. Most of this hope rests on projections of higher deficit spending and increased domestic investment. It might benefit investors to consider these arguments more closely, and with greater focus on a century of economic evidence than on the verbal arguments of enthusiastic talking heads.
While there is a strong correlation between growth in gross domestic investment and growth in real GDP, the slope of that relationship is only about 0.2, meaning that even if the growth rate of real gross domestic investment was driven from the recent growth trend of zero all the way back to the previous post-war growth rate of 3.5%, the overall impact on real GDP growth would only be about 0.7% annually, placing the level of U.S. real GDP about 2.8% higher 4 years from today than it would otherwise be. That’s not an annual growth rate, but a cumulative gain.
Granted, if even a 0.7% boost to annual GDP growth was sustained, it would have a major impact on long-term living standards over a 20-30 year period. But investors have a screw loose if they believe that the overall prospects for GDP growth over the coming 4 years have changed significantly.
Let’s do some arithmetic here. The primary determinants of GDP growth over time are 1) growth in total employment plus 2) growth in real output per hours worked. There’s a little bit of cyclical variation due to changes in average hours worked, but that difference only shows up meaningfully during recessions. In practice, nearly all of the variation in GDP growth over time is explained by the sum of employment growth plus productivity growth.
Let’s look at each.
a16z Podcast: The Internet Is Your Movement (LINK)
The Endgame at Saturn Begins (LINK)
The Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, and is one of the most successful missions NASA has ever done. We’ve learned vast amounts of knowledge about the gigantic planet, its moons, and its rings.
But all good things … after more than a decade of Cassini sending back data and devastatingly beautiful images, NASA has decided to end the mission. With its final days approaching, NASA has decided to take more chances with it. The spacecraft has been sent into a series of risky trajectories, passing over Saturn’s north pole, then diving through the ring plane just outside the rings. These will be the closest approaches to the rings since Cassini first arrived at Saturn.PBS Documentary on nuclear weapons (2015): The Bomb (video) (LINK)
It began innocently enough. In 1938, two German chemists accidentally discovered how to split the nucleus of the uranium atom: nuclear fission. Einstein’s E=mc2 equation predicted that the amount of energy released from just one atom would be enormous.
Physicists all over the world immediately realized that fission might make a bomb of extraordinary power — and that Nazi Germany might be capable of creating one. The fear of Adolph Hitler getting a nuclear weapon led to a race to deter him by developing such a bomb first. Thus began a chain of events that would lead inexorably to Hiroshima, the nuclear arms race, the hydrogen bomb, the Cuban Missile Crisis and some of the greatest fear and tension ever in world history.