The Roots of Innovation

By |2017-12-06T10:24:37-04:00December 5th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Photo Source: Pixabay That’s the lesson from a new study about innovation, inventions, and incentives. The children of inventors are far more likely to become inventors themselves. Income, education, and geography also matter. But it’s the home environment that has the biggest impact. Some researchers studied 1.7 million patent office applications and 1.2 million tax returns, asking why some people innovate and others don’t. If one of your parents [...]

The Merchants of Venice

By |2017-11-08T18:20:40-04:00November 8th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Whatever happened to Venice? Piazza San Marco, by Canaletto. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art Venice used to be one of the richest cities in the world. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the world devolved into competing factions. There was no uniform standard of exchange, and no central authority. But trade in spices, grains, cloth, and slaves was booming. By 1330, Venice was as big as Paris, and probably three times the size of London. One [...]

The Difficulty of New Ideas

By |2017-10-26T16:49:12-04:00October 25th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Why is it so hard to do something new? Source: Coface.ch Anyone who has tried to introduce a genuinely new idea knows how difficult it is. Counterparties default, it’s hard to obtain funding, and in much of the world, it’s hard to start a new business. People are skeptical of something different. When Alexander Graham Bell’s brought his newfangled telephone to the President of Western Union, he dismissed it as “practically worthless.” In 1995 Newsweek printed an [...]

Healthy Innovation?

By |2017-10-13T16:59:08-04:00October 13th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Why should we worry about health care? Source: Vox Public health analysts often bemoan the fact that the US spends a lot on healthcare. Health spending accounts for 18% of GDP, while the rest of the developed world spends about 10%. But we get a lot of innovation for that spending. The US has more clinical trials than any other country. We have more patents. The US has the most Nobel laureates in physiology and medicine. Our [...]

Healthy Innovation?

By |2017-10-12T14:12:03-04:00October 12th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Why should we worry about health care? Source: Vox Public health analysts often bemoan the fact that the US spends a lot on healthcare. Health spending accounts for 18% of GDP, while the rest of the developed world spends about 10%. But we get a lot of innovation for that spending. The US has more clinical trials than any other country. We have more patents. The US has the most Nobel laureates in physiology and medicine. Our [...]

95 Lessons

By |2017-10-10T15:56:23-04:00October 9th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , , |

We don’t live in unprecedented times. But they are unusual. Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses. Source: British Museum It’s popular to say that we live in unprecedented times. Things like mobile computing and global social networks are totally new. And from a technological perspective, that’s absolutely correct: we’ve never had so much power in our pockets. Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip on their iPhone X can execute more operations per second than a MacBook Pro, which [...]

Getting Critical

By |2017-08-15T15:51:54-04:00August 8th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

What is a critical mass? Photo: US Department of Energy. Source: Wikipedia A critical mass is the amount of fissile material needed to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. The amount depends on the nuclear properties, its density and shape, the surroundings, even the temperature. Enough atoms are splitting and spitting off energy and neutrons to make more atoms split and generate more neutrons and more energy. The chain reaction continues until all the fuel is consumed. In [...]

Exchange Traded Funky

By |2017-08-01T10:40:03-04:00July 28th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Is there an ETF for everything? Photo: Jack Moreh Source: Free Range Stock Photo It sure seems like it. ETFs used to be primarily an efficient way to invest in a broad market index, like the S&P 500 or an aggregate bond index. Then they branched off into market sectors: small cap stocks, tech companies, country funds like the UK or China. All this seemed like a reasonable way to diversify a portfolio. And it’s so convenient: [...]

PC David and Goliath

By |2017-07-10T09:29:04-04:00July 10th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , |

Remember Compaq? Photo: Tiziano Garuti. Source: Wikipedia The PC maker was founded in 1982. It went from start-up to $1 billion in sales in only five years. It tripled that number in four more years, becoming the third-largest PC-maker – a leading producer of a revolutionary product. Compaq made a “luggable” computer – a PC that weighed 25 pounds or so. You could “lug” it from place to place, unlike desktops, which needed a lot more time [...]

William Baumol, RIP

By |2017-05-19T10:19:57-04:00May 12th, 2017|Categories: Global Market Update|Tags: , , , |

Who was William Baumol? Source: Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economics Association William Baumol was an economist who taught for years at Princeton. He died last week at the age of 95. He had a long and productive career, writing papers and books over the course of seven decades. He is perhaps best known for his theorem on wages, Baumol’s Cost Disease, which explains why cars and computers get cheaper while haircuts and college tuition get more [...]