The Nietzschean Ladder: by Atanu Dey. “Technology is repurposable. Faced with a problem, people usually figure out a solution eventually. In other words, they develop the technology (which is best understood as knowledge of how to get something done) that addresses the problem. Once developed, the technology finds application in entirely different areas and thus leads to improvements in the system that would not have happened had the original problem had not arisen. Civilization advances by climbing the Nietzschean ladder which goes thus: Civilization is at state C1; problem P arises; solution S found that addresses P; solution S applied to other domains which move civilization to state C2 which is superior to state C1; etc.” An example Atanu gives is of Covid-19 pandemic induced advances in mRNA technology.
Which Developing Economies Will Rise After the Pandemic? Ruchir Sharma: “It’s also worth noting that although the path to prosperity through manufacturing is narrowing, it hasn’t closed. In the past, manufacturing accounted for more than 15 percent of G.D.P. in export powerhouses. Today the economies in this class include Vietnam, Bangladesh, Poland and the Czech Republic. They are among the big winners as companies seeking lower wages and shorter supply lines move factories out of China.”
Raamdeo Agrawal: “There were only 100 companies that beat the Sensex’s return of 9.2% in the last 25 years. This shows how difficult it is to be successful on a long-term basis. But the good thing is that a lot of companies got listed along the way after 1995. These new companies now make up as much as 50% of the current total market capitalization. This proves that you will keep getting new opportunities.” More.
The Erosion of Deep Literacy. Adam Garfinkle: “Deep literacy has wondrous effects, nurturing our capacity for abstract thought, enabling us to pose and answer difficult questions, empowering our creativity and imagination, and refining our capacity for empathy. It is also generative of successive new insight, as the brain’s circuitry for reading recursively builds itself forward…We ask our stone-age brains to sort, categorize, parse, and prioritize torrential data streams it never evolved to juggle, while in the background we have to stay ever vigilant to change in every sensory channel….Screens of all sorts serve up rapidly changing images, jump cuts between scenes, erratic motion, and non-linear narratives that spill out in fragments….Is it any wonder people today complain of mental fatigue? Fatigue makes it even harder to sort the trivial from the salient and navigate the glut of decisions modern life throws at us.”
: “[The government should] announce a huge privatisation programme, and don’t shy away from calling it that. Our current stock market boom says that buyers are ready to invest. But public-sector stock values are still depressed. I think the best way to see them take off is to announce that the government intends to reduce its share-holding to 26 per cent across public-sector banks, steel companies, oil companies, and every manufacturing company and hotel it currently owns.”
Six ‘freedom’ reforms to bolster job creation and employability: by Manish Sabharwal. “India is fifth in the world in total GDP, but 138th in per capita GDP. Our problem is wages, not jobs (unemployment has hovered between 5-9% since 1947). We don’t have a shortage of land (we can give every Indian household half an acre and they would fit into Rajasthan and half of Maharashtra), labour (about 100 million people could shift off farms without impacting food security), or capital (domestic savings and foreign investors can supply the money required), but our challenge is how these three inputs combine.”
Teledyne and Capital Allocation: “Dr.Henry Singleton was more than just a great capital allocator, he was a visionary, entrepreneur, and excellent business person who believed that the key to his success was people—talented people who were creative, good managers and doers. Once he had those managers in place, he gave them complete autonomy to meet agreed upon goals and targets.He and his co-founder and initial investor, George Kozmetsky, bootstrapped their investment of $450,000 into a company with annual sales of over $450 million, an annual profit of some $20 million, and a stock market value of about $1.15 billion.”
India’s PLI schemes may herald the return of rent-seeking. An editorial in Business Standard. “If the government really wishes to improve investment in manufacturing, it needs to ensure that the regulatory and tax climate is such that investors are more comfortable. Direct subsidies and picking winners help nobody but bureaucrats and vested interests — India has several decades of experience to prove this.”
The Great Courses: Must consider doing a few.
2021 Strategic pearls on email and content marketing: “Email marketing has an average ROI that is 4X higher than any other channel.”
8 Themes For The Near Future Of Tech: by Scott Belsky. “More and more niche functions of the enterprise will become multi-player, powered by a next generation of highly specialized, AI-bolstered, enterprise companies with consumerized product experiences.”
20 Myths about Markets. From Tom Palmer (2007).”Most, but not all, such myths are spread by those who are hostile to free markets. A few are spread in much smaller circles by people who are perhaps too enthusiastic about free markets.”
InfoWorld’s 2020 Tech Award Winners
Why does the Indian State both succeed and fail? by Devesh Kapur. Possible explanations: ” Understaffing of local governments, consequences of India’s precocious democracy, and the persistence of social cleavages in India by caste, gender, and religion.”
How to Say No: “Some are tactful and eloquent; others are entirely free of both. All are admirable.” Fun read.
Reports: Shopify on the future of ecommerce and Sparkpost on email marketing
John Battelle: 2021 Predictions and 2020 Predictions review
James M. Buchanan and the Public Choice Tradition: A paper by Art Carden and others. “People respond to incentives in markets. Why not assume they respond to incentives in government, as well? People are self-interested when they are buying and selling. Why not assume they are self-interested when they are voting and making policy? People face imperfect information in markets. Why not assume they face imperfect information in government? He described this approach, which came to be known as public choice theory, as merely “politics without romance.””
What comes after smartphones? Ben Evans: “As well as looking at the sequence ‘mainframe – PC – web – smartphone’, we should probably also think about what was going on underneath: ‘database – client/server – open source – cloud’, perhaps. That is, there are other progressions that are less visible but just as important. On that model, the fundamental trends of today are clearly machine learning and, perhaps, crypto.”
Consumer Trends 2021: A deck by Coefficient Capital. (US context)
Economist on looking at China for the future of shopping. “Chinese apps are to 21st-century shopping what American malls were to last century’s.” Social commerce and omnichannel.
On keeping New Year Resolutions. “Focus on one thing, keep it positive and set a time limit.”
Ninan on the pat decade: “Adjusting for relative changes in the rupee’s and yuan’s dollar values, the International Monetary Fund now says China’s economy grew by 146 per cent in the 2010-20 decade while India managed barely a third of that: 52 per cent…India, despite misadventures, a slowdown and now a recession, has actually had a pretty good decade if one judges by plain economic growth. On the other hand, it is worth bearing in mind that some of the smaller economies have done much better. Bangladesh grew faster than China during the decade, while Vietnam nearly matched it.”
Phoenix Encounter: “The essence of disruption-ready leadership is being able to ruthlessly identify current weaknesses, envisage destruction of the current business model and then rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes with a vision of renewal.”
Dharma: A new book by Ashwin Sanghi and Bhavna Roy “dive into the priceless treasure trove of the ancient Indian epics, as well as the vast and complex universe of Amish’s Meluha (through his Shiva Trilogy and Ram Chandra Series), to explore some of the key concepts of Indian philosophy.”
Email is needed more than ever: Especially, in the cookieless world that’s coming. “Marketers utilize email because it’s a universal identifier that transcends all channels. Email addresses are common data points in identity graphs, and can be used as a unique identifier to match and target audiences.”
7 Big Tech Happenings of 2020: Jaspreet Bindra. Top 3 are covid vaccine development, Elon Musk, and Alpha Fold 2.
Tyler Cowen on 2020: “For obvious reasons, 2020 will not go down as a good year. At the same time, it has brought more scientific progress than any year in recent memory — and these advances will last long after Covid-19 as a major threat is gone.”
Jim Collins on The Tim Ferris Show: The next question he is researching: “Why do some people remain so spectacularly renewed over the long course of a life that maybe in others might not?”