Economist on the city grid: “The oldest form of city planning is falling out of fashion…Should construction one day take off again though, the grid might make a return. The important thing is to get them right. As Jane Jacobs, an influential early critic of the car-centric replanning of cities, argued in “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, what matters most is that the blocks are short, and the roads not too wide. Short blocks are easy to walk through, and create plenty of space for different businesses. Long blocks, designed to reduce the number of times cars have to stop at traffic lights, “thwart the potential advantages that cities offer”, and turn streets into sewers for vehicles. Bear that in mind, and the oldest form of city planning remains as valuable as ever.
Chad White imagines an Amazon email client: “While there have been several new email inbox apps since Gmail launched nearly two decades ago in 2004, these apps have generally had very narrow appeal around niche concerns…Prime Mail would be used to provide extra benefits and raise awareness, in addition to being a Prime benefit itself. For example, Prime Mail users who are Prime members could be given early access to Prime Day deals; early access to or discounts on the latest Echo, Fire, and other Amazon products; and other perks that would provide one of the chief financial motivations for consumers to use a Prime Mail account. Amazon’s promotional emails could also feature exclusive deals and featured content using dynamic content modules that only appear for Prime Mail users. In addition to helping them promote their own products and events.”
Naushad Forbes: “Where is the economy headed? In 2019, we set a goal of being a $5-trillion economy by 2024. The lost Covid years (net growth of 1.5 per cent over two years) sets our $5-trillion goal back to 2026. That means growing 9 per cent each of the next four years. We should grow between 6 and 7 per cent this year; projections for next year are lower. The $5-trillion target is for GDP growth by 2026; $5 trillion eventually is meaningless. In 1980, China and India were equally poor. China is now five times richer than we are, a result of growing 9 per cent, compared with our 6 per cent for 40 years. We need to catch up. It is not enough to be “the world’s fastest-growing large economy”. We are too poor a country for growth of 5 or 6 per cent, and must grow at 8-10 per cent annually for the next few decades.”
Michael Munger writes about the distinction between “forklift” and “microphone” technologies: “Traditional manufacturing is highly productive, and machines make it more productive. One person with a forklift can do the work of dozens of people carrying things on their backs. Still, given the current technology, increases in output require more- or-less-linear increases in labor. If a lumberyard wants to double the amount of bundled timber it handles per day, it has to double the number of forklifts, and the number of forklift operators. These “good jobs” seem to be the gold standard of Progressive politicians, who constantly reminisce about the good old days when jobs were about making physical things using big strong tools. A microphone is also productive, in the sense that it records, and either amplifies or transmits the data it captures. A microphone in a theater can reach 100 people; a microphone on a television set, a music studio, or political event can reach 100 million people. The digital recording of the data, whether characters, sound, or video, can be stored and used again as if it were brand new. The problem, and the great benefit, of microphone-type technologies is that doubling the “amount” of the product requires no more than burning a CD, or transmitting digital information over wires or 5G connections. Once the data are produced and recorded, the marginal cost of increasing the audience is very nearly zero. So, forklifts are very nearly linear, and microphones “want” to be giants, with costs so low that forklift technologies cannot compete.”
Rahul Matthan: “Over the course of my career, I have come across entrepreneurs of all hues. Some are bubbling with inspiration, constantly finding solutions to the problems around them. They have an almost inexhaustible supply of ideas and the energy and inclination to worry away at a problem till they’ve figured out how to solve it. They love to mend what’s broken in the world—the problems no one else has been able to solve. And once they’re done, they can’t wait to move on to the next thing that needs fixing. I call these people Idea Factories—individuals who generate a stream of ideas with such predictable regularity that it feels as if there is an assembly line churning away inside their heads. The trouble is that more often than not, that constant stream of ideas comes in their own way…The second category of entrepreneurs is of the opposite disposition. Not only do they not have a fountain of business ideas to choose from, they are lucky if they come up with even one over the course of their career. Their skill lies in taking the germ of an idea and transforming it into a venture, building a product team, sales force and the whole operational machinery needed to transform a concept into a self-sustaining, revenue-generating business. I call this type of entrepreneur a Factory for Ideas—an individual who has what it takes to transform an idea into a revenue stream.”