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Sunday 20 January 2019

Weekly Reading - Some Interesting Stuff

Why sunscreen is harmful for our overall well-being and we should all spend a fair amount of time outdoors.
Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg. Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not only nitric oxide but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition you can think of. And it’s free.

An article co-authored by Arvind Subramaian on why we all need to be careful of a slowing Chinese economy.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Chinese corporate, government, and household debt has increased by about $23 trillion in the last decade alone, and its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio has risen by around 100 percentage points, to more than 250 per cent. That is orders of magnitude above the level at which financial crises normally occur.
Malaysia, for example, has already had to cancel $22 billion worth of Chinese-backed projects. Sri Lanka has had to turn to the IMF for help, owing to the impact of excessive Chinese imports on its external accounts. And Pakistan may soon be forced to do the same. As more countries become wary of the BRI, they will borrow and import less from China.
Sooner or later, Chinese exceptionalism will give way to the laws of economics. The world should prepare itself. The consequences could be severe — and unlike anything experienced in recent history.

Credit markets are a better place to look for signs of impending trouble, in no small part because they have been at the core of most financial crises and recessions for hundreds of years. 

A conspiracy theory on the latest viral facebook challenge of putting up pictures ten years apart.
“Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you'd want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people's pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years,” said O’Neill.

Once or twice in every decade, we see a spectacular story of corporate greed and fraud. The latest one, which reads like the story of a Hollywood thriller, is the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos. A wonderfully written book, "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou gives a very good narrative of the entire saga.

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