Turing In

By |2018-09-11T05:59:43+00:00September 11th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What is a Turing Test? Photo: Mike MacKenzie. Source: Flikr. CC-BY-2.0 A Turing Test is a way for people to examine how intelligent a machine seems to be. It evaluates the question, “Can machines think?” by redefining thinking. Instead, Turing asked if a computer could converse so naturally that speaking with the machine would be indistinguishable from conversing with a human. The classic Turing Test has an evaluator holding a typewritten conversation with two unseen partners, one a person and the other a computer [...]

Of Nations and Nationalism

By |2018-09-07T06:40:51+00:00September 7th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Can Europe hold itself together? Recent YouGov Poll. Source: YouGov. In 1848, revolution swept across Europe. Governments fell in Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere. In all, over 50 countries were affected. The uprisings were led by shaky ad hoc coalitions of reformers, intellectuals, and workers, which weren’t competent at governing They were often violently put down, but the 1848 revolutions frightened the ruling class into making significant social changes, even if they were only temporarily overturned. This history was all-but-forgotten during [...]

Reflections on Tolstoy

By |2018-09-06T11:30:11+00:00September 6th, 2018|Global Market Update|

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Source: Pixabay. That’s how Leo Tolstoy begins his epic novel “Anna Karenina.” The line has been quoted over and over again, in movies and articles and other books. It even has its own Wikipedia entry: the Anna Karenina Principle. The idea is that to be happy, a family must be successful in a broad range of arenas: romantic attraction, child raising, religious conviction, money issues, extended family relationships, and so [...]

On the Job / Off the Job

By |2018-09-05T06:07:15+00:00September 5th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What is the “gig economy”? Photo: Peter Griffin. Source: Publicdomainpictures.net A “gig” is the world sometimes used for temporary contract for a musician or other performer. I once heard a short-term Music Studies professor complain that he’d never find another gig as good as the one he had in Hanover. The gig economy refers to our economy today where more and more people are independent contractors – about 10% of the workforce. Apps like Uber and Airbnb make it even easier to work for [...]

Crazy Rich Asians

By |2018-09-04T08:21:12+00:00September 4th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Is Asia the future for wealth management? Photo: Erwin Soo. Source: Wikimedia One of the most popular movies this summer has been “Crazy Rich Asians,” a charming romantic comedy set in the city-state of Singapore with echoes of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Asia has certainly seen dramatic growth in its wealth management business, with over China having over 1.2 million individuals who have more than $1 million in investments. For comparison, the US has about 5.3 million individuals who are millionaires. Singapore, the [...]

Apocalypse Later

By |2018-09-03T08:32:21+00:00September 3rd, 2018|Global Market Update|

Sometimes the world doesn’t end. Source: Pixabay. A few years ago, the financial world was buzzing about “robo-advisors.” These web sites and smartphone apps were going to revolutionize investing and wealth management. The services start with a set of interview questions, then make investment allocations into various Exchange Traded Funds. By using algorithms to provide rule-based recommendations using low-cost index funds, their hope was to provide inexpensive advice with low account minimums. The project began in the US, with a couple of independent startups. [...]

Order, Decay, and Competition

By |2018-08-30T12:11:01+00:00August 30th, 2018|Global Market Update|

History was never over. Berlin wall, November 1989. Source: Department of Defense In early 1989 Francis Fukuyama gave a talk and wrote a paper with the provocative title, “The End of History.” In this seminal paper he argues that with the collapse of Soviet-style communism, liberal democratic capitalism had no meaningful ideological competitor on the world stage. Smaller countries like North Korea or Vietnam might call themselves communist, but the internal contradictions of a centrally planned economy were fatal to its long-term viability. A [...]

The Future that Happened?

By |2018-08-29T08:56:59+00:00August 29th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Will demographics doom China? Traffic in Beijing. Source: Wikimedia. People use to worry about overpopulation. You still see the bumper stickers: “Two’s Company, 7 Billion’s a Crowd.” But not so much anymore. Global population growth has slowed dramatically. Urban lifestyles, better health care, and birth control have dramatically reduced population growth just about everywhere. In the 1960’s, the world’s population was growing at over 2% per year. Now the growth rate is just over 1%, and it’s likely to keep falling to just above [...]

Good News, Bad News, Motivated News

By |2018-08-28T07:12:27+00:00August 28th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Is lower unemployment good news? Photo: Lee Haywood. Source: Flikr.CC-BY-2.0 It is if you’re unemployed. But it’s bad news if you’re trying to hire workers and expand your business. The same can be said about inflation: higher prices are good if you’re a producer, but bad news if you’re a consumer on a fixed income. Economic news isn’t necessarily good or bad. It just is. It’s hard for economists and market observers to avoid value judgements. The biggest danger is confirmation bias: seeing evidence [...]

Successful Failure

By |2018-08-27T07:09:14+00:00August 27th, 2018|Global Market Update|

We like to celebrate market winners. But what it really allows is failure. Illustration: Naobim. Source: Pixabay Centuries ago, if you couldn’t pay your debts, you were thrown into debtor’s prison where you wrote letters imploring family and friends to bail you out. In ancient Rome, if you pledged yourself as loan collateral and couldn’t pay the loan, you became your creditor’s slave. Colonial Virginia was settled by thousands of indentured (i.e. indebted) servants working off their debts via labor. In the US we [...]