Thinks 874

Gillian Tett: “The irony of this dash to live on digital devices is that it has created a dire need for metals, rare earth minerals and other commodities, ranging from sodium to nickel to lithium. Who controls those supply chains, and whether they are in private or public hands, is therefore critical. As is the question of whether entrepreneurs will jump in to create extraction processes that are large-scale, low-cost and green…Although tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have become household names, most people would be stumped if you asked them to name an industrial entrepreneur. So I am curious to watch the progress of Hall’s lithium venture, alongside the dozens of other start-ups quietly moving into this field. [Amanda] Hall is confident, pointing out that since she offers an extraction service, rather than actually owning a mine, she can work with a private group or a government, whatever happens in places such as Chile. The question for western governments is how many other entrepreneurs they have waiting in the wings. “Getting your hands and your boots dirty is so important — we are bringing new technology into that space,” Hall says. Let’s hope others are listening.” Key point: “Forget mining bitcoin: real heavy industry is the challenge.”

EconTalk: “Is the perfect really the enemy of the good? Or is it the other way around? In 2008, Duke University economist Michael Munger ran for governor and proposed increasing school choice through vouchers for the state’s poorest counties. But some lovers of liberty argued that it’s better to fight for eliminating public schools instead of trying to improve them. Munger realized his fellow free-marketers come in two flavors: directionalists–who take our political realities as given and try to move outcomes closer to the ideal–and destinationists–who want no compromises with what they see as the perfect outcome.”

Ninan: “[India’s] demographic dividend can be turned to good account only if human capabilities are built and put to productive use well before birth and death rates converge and mark the tail-end of the demographic transition, a couple of decades hence. By then, going by current trends, India might be an upper-middle-income country approaching early middle-age. For, it will be the work of at least 20 years for India to attain the living standards typical today of parts of Southeast Asia, Latin America, or China, whose current per capita incomes (using purchasing power parity numbers) are about two and a half times India’s.”

WSJ: “Efficiency is about how work is done, and it is closely linked with productivity. If workers are more efficient—reducing the time and resources needed to complete a task—productivity should theoretically improve, too. Productivity, as narrowly defined by macroeconomists, measures the amount of output produced in one hour of labor. How companies measure productivity varies. Some businesses consider the revenue or profit generated per employee. Others focus on projects delivered or new products shipped. Improved processes could also pave the way for companies to employ fewer people. At some point, however, shaving time off workers’ tasks in microdoses reaches a limit in terms of cost savings. Companies ultimately still need innovation and investment to fuel long term growth, said Roger Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and now an author and adviser to executives…Around 43% of workers say they spend more than 10 hours a week trying to look productive rather than on valuable tasks, according to a February survey of 1,000 full-time workers by the workplace analytics company Visier Inc.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.