Building Blocks

By |2019-05-29T05:55:48-04:00May 29th, 2019|Global Market Update|

What is capital? Photo: Fancycrave. Source: Pexels. CC0 Capital makes things. Factories and design studios and drilling rigs and construction equipment are capital. To build the Panama Canal, the managing engineers employed thousands of steam-powered excavating machines, rather than millions of workers with shovels. Today, our economy runs on data, rather than power. It needs creative people who can pull new ideas and material and suppliers and delivery together on a mobile platform that’s elegant and easy to use. Aggregators have been the way [...]

IP – Oh, No!

By |2019-05-15T05:57:57-04:00May 15th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Is Uber the next Facebook? Photo: Quotecatalog. Source: Flikr. CC BY 2.0 Uber went public on Friday, to celebration and consternation. The $70 billion initial public offering is one of the biggest ever. And the shares promptly dropped 6% on their first day of trading, and even more over the next few days. The company has been growing their revenues by around 50% per year, but unlike many hot growth companies, their expenses have been growing just as fast. As a result, they don’t [...]

Getting Booked

By |2019-05-14T05:58:57-04:00May 14th, 2019|Global Market Update|

Why do we love old books? Photo: Dean Moriarty. Source: Pixabay There’s something romantic to “old book smell.” It’s a kind of earthy, musty aroma of old leather and paper. Maybe the smell invokes trips to the library when you were a child. It’s quite attractive to many people. There are even high-end perfumes that try to mimic it. Old paper releases distinctive odors as it breaks down, notably lignin, which produces a vanilla scent when it decomposes. Different presses use different sources of [...]

The Toothpaste Effect

By |2019-04-24T05:51:25-04:00April 24th, 2019|Global Market Update|

You can’t put toothpaste back in a tube. Photo: M.M. Minderhoud. Source: Wikimedia That’s how l look at social media and the data giants. Assume, for the sake of argument, the worst is true: Facebook and Google and Amazon have been misusing “our” data. They’ve tracked us, profiled us, followed us, and manipulated us for their own nefarious ends. And assume, for the moment, that they lose control of the political agenda and the worst – for them – happens: they’re broken up, divested, [...]

Data, Data, Data!

By |2019-03-13T06:40:33-04:00March 13th, 2019|Global Market Update|

The 20th century was defined by the nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Will the 21st century be defined by “big data”? Thermonuclear blast, 1954. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia, Department of Energy The 20th century began, conceptually, when Albert Einstein published his seminal paper on relativity. The intellectual revolution from this led to E = mc^2, nuclear energy, and the atomic bomb. Nuclear weapons revolutionized war, diplomacy, geopolitics, and – to a lesser extent – electric power, although a nuclear reaction is a pretty inefficient [...]

Home is Where the Data Is

By |2018-10-12T07:54:55-04:00October 12th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What’s the point of a smart home? Source: Pixabay Everyone wants to own a piece of our homes. Amazon puts ads for Alexa and Echo in front of me every time I sign in. Google wants me to say, “Ok, Google” whenever I open the door. Siri keeps forgetting how to spell my name. And Facebook just introduced its Portal, a video chat device that can track faces and stream Spotify playlists. All this sounds pretty creepy. Buy why? Why are these tech giants [...]


By |2018-10-01T08:03:53-04:00October 1st, 2018|Global Market Update|

Have you ever overheard a secret? Source: Pixabay We hear personal, private information all the time. When we’re driving we hear cars honk at each other. When we’re walking on the street we hear other folks on their phones. When out for a jog, we wave at joggers going the other way. All these interactions and connections are personal. And they all contain data about other people, data that – until now – was mostly lost in the shuffle of everyday life. But now, [...]

Trading Data?

By |2018-07-12T07:29:21-04:00July 12th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Remember “Trading Places”? Photo: Jeremy Kemp. Source: Wikimedia The movie centers around commodities trading. For many folks, it’s their favorite depiction of financial markets. The director, John Landis, employed actual commodities traders as extras for several scenes of the New York Mercantile Exchange. At the movie’s climax, trading stops and the traders gather breathlessly around a television monitor, watching the Secretary of Agriculture personally read from the monthly crop report regarding that year’s orange harvest. It’s very dramatic and great fun, but anyone involved [...]


By |2018-02-13T07:09:22-04:00February 13th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are we giving ourselves a data-overload? Photo: Intel Free Press. Source: Wikimedia Information comes at us from all sides. We have smart phones, smart cars, a smart electric grid, and I can check the weather in McMurdo Station, Antarctica on my smart watch any time I want. What do we do with all this data? The easy answer is to ignore it. Or at least to ignore the parts that we don’t need. If we don’t want live tweets of the air traffic of [...]

Where the Light Is?

By |2017-11-13T07:10:05-04:00November 13th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are investors looking for success in the wrong places? Photo: Jorge Diez Recio. Source: Morguefile There’s an old story about a man searching for something under a streetlight. A police officer comes by and asks what he’s lost. The man replies that his keys fell out of his pocket and he can’t get back into his house. After a few minutes searching together, the policeman inquires whether the man is sure he lost his keys under the lamp. No, the man replies, he lost [...]