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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Weekend Reading - Some Interesting Stuff


1) The Earth is burning
Major wildfires are burning all over the world right now.
More than 21,000 square miles of forest have gone up in flames in Siberia this month, putting Russia on track for its worst year on record for wildfires.
a wildfire in the Canary Islands forced more than 8,000 people to flee. Over the weekend, new fires ignited in Alaska, extending whats already been an unusually long fire season for the state. Last week, Denmark dispatched firefighters to Greenland combat a wildfire approaching inhabited areas. If not extinguished, officials are worried the blaze would burn through the winter, further driving up the already massive ice melt Greenland has experienced this year amid record heat.
But perhaps even more alarming are the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, the worlds largest tropical forest. Its an area with torrential rain that almost never burns on its own, yet the blazes have burned for more than two weeks, growing so intense that they sent smoke all the way to São Paulo, Brazils largest city.


2) Mosquitoes - the greatest killer in history
Malaria laid waste to prehistoric Africa to such a degree that people evolved sickle-shaped red blood cells to survive it. The disease killed the ancient Greeks and Romans—as well as the peoples who tried to conquer them—by the hundreds of thousands, playing a major role in the outcomes of their wars. For much of military history, deaths caused by mosquitoes far outnumbered, and were more decisive than, deaths in battle. 
Globalization is helping to spread a new generation of mosquito-borne illnesses once confined to the tropics, such as dengue, perhaps a thousand years old, and chikungunya and Zika, both of which were first identified in humans only in 1952. Meanwhile, climate change is dramatically expanding the ranges in which mosquitoes and the diseases they carry can thrive. One recent study estimated that, within the next fifty years, a billion more people could be exposed to mosquito-borne infections than are today.

3) What if the cost of capital never rises again?
When the cost of money is low (or, effectively zero) as it is today, intellectual property and brand, intangible assets become more highly valued by investors than physical assets are because they are weapons that corporations can use to nullify the moats and assets of the incumbent corporations that they are competing with for customers, revenue and market share.

The implications of a world in which equity capital is flowing while interest rates on credit never rise to the level of being a serious roadblock for innovation are fascinating to consider. What if every new idea that comes along, no matter how world-altering and disruptive, no matter how unproven or risky, can get overnight funding without much of a problem? Masayoshi Son’s Vision Fund has been investing based on this premise. Massive pools of capital from sovereign nations and university endowments and gigantic corporations like Google’s moonshot division are investing this way as well.

There are no asset managers who represent their strategy to clients as “We buy the most expensive assets, and add to them as they rise in price and valuation.” That’s unfortunate, because this is the only strategy that could have possibly enabled an asset manager to outperform in the modern era. It’s one of those things you could never advertise, but had you done it, you’d have beaten everyone over the ten-year period since the market’s generational low.

4) A brief economic history of Independent India
The 73 years after India got its independence can be broadly sliced into three phases: The three decades post-1947 till the 70s was when Jawaharlal Nehru and, then, his daughter Indira Gandhi went about the task of institution and nation-building. The 80s was arguably a lost decade, with Indira pursuing her gambits of nationalising banks and loan melas when she should have been ushering economic reform and deregulation. That eventually came in the 90s when the country’s coffers had dried up. The last three decades have transformed India, made a fraction of Indians richer, but poverty and inequality are still fetters in the eighth decade after India became a free country.
The first three decades may be a distant memory, but to assume that they are gone forever would be a mistake. We still have not fully abandoned some of the mindsets and approaches of that era. 

5) Amazon's Prime Now service may be delivering your next meal
Amazon India has long been eyeing the food delivery business in India. People aware of the company's plans told The Times of India that Prime Now, Amazon's two-hour grocery delivery platform, could be the primary vehicle for its foray into food delivery business in India.

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