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Friday, 10 April 2020

Weekend Reading


Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.

Get back the lost art of reflection
A focus on information processing, reaction, and execution — while it may feel productive — causes the quality of our thoughts to suffer.
In reflective thought, a person examines underlying assumptions, core beliefs, and knowledge, while drawing connections between apparently disparate pieces of information. 
Time is a precondition for slow thinking. To develop a routine, time for reflection should be a regularly scheduled and a protected event. A list of divergent questions can be a very useful tool for elevating oneself above tactical considerations.

The Chinese have been focused on creating their own narratives
For decades, Beijing’s approach to shaping its image has been defensive, reactive and largely aimed at a domestic audience. The most visible manifestation of these efforts was the literal disappearance of content inside China: foreign magazines with pages ripped out, or the BBC news flickering to black when it aired stories on sensitive issues such as Tibet, Taiwan or the Tiananmen killings of 1989. Beijing’s crude tools were domestic censorship, official complaints to news organisations’ headquarters and expelling correspondents from China.
But over the past decade or so, China has rolled out a more sophisticated and assertive strategy, which is increasingly aimed at international audiences. China is trying to reshape the global information environment with massive infusions of money – funding paid-for advertorials, sponsored journalistic coverage and heavily massaged positive messages from boosters. While within China the press is increasingly tightly controlled, abroad Beijing has sought to exploit the vulnerabilities of the free press to its advantage.
In its simplest form, this involves paying for Chinese propaganda supplements to appear in dozens of respected international publications such as the Washington Post. Meanwhile, in the US, lobbyists paid by Chinese-backed institutions are cultivating vocal supporters known as “third-party spokespeople” to deliver Beijing’s message, and working to sway popular perceptions of Chinese rule in Tibet. China is also wooing journalists from around the world with all-expenses-paid tours and, perhaps most ambitiously of all, free graduate degrees in communication, training scores of foreign reporters each year to “tell China’s story well”.

Re-ordering of supply chains are starting
Japan has earmarked US$2.2 billion of its record economic stimulus package to help its manufacturers shift production out of China, as the coronavirus disrupts supply chains between the major trading partners.
The extra budget, compiled to try to offset the devastating effects of the pandemic, includes 220 billion yen (US$2 billion) for companies shifting production back to Japan and 23.5 billion yen for those seeking to move production to other countries, according to details of the plan posted online.
The move coincides with what should have been a celebration of friendlier ties between the two countries.

A primer on electric cars
Electric vehicles or EVs may just be the single largest disruption to hit the car industry in its 133-year history. No, the world may not be moving as fast as initially expected towards e-mobility, and there still are massive hurdles to overcome. But as Victor Hugo said, “nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” 

A slightly detailed look into the next in battery technology
Despite over two centuries of close study since the first battery was invented in 1799, scientists still don’t fully understand many of the fundamentals of what exactly happens inside batteries. What we do know is that there are, essentially, three problems to solve in order for batteries to truly transform our lives yet again: power, energy, and safety.

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