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Friday, 31 July 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.

I especially try to not post Corona related articles as that is all one gets to read in all traditional media.

 

If you like the collection this consider forwarding it to someone who you think will appreciate.


Corporate rivalry takes down the internet in a whole country

Can one person take down a whole country? Surely, Daniel Kaye, a hacker, has proven this. The attack against Liberia began in October 2016. More than a half-million security cameras around the world tried to connect to a handful of servers used by Lonestar Cell MTN, a local mobile phone operator, and Lonestar’s network was overwhelmed. Internet access for its 1.5 million customers slowed to a crawl, then stopped.

This attack was done by Mr. Kaye. And he was hired by Avishai “Avi” Marziano, Cellcom’s chief executive officer to take on Lonestar. In 2015, Kaye and Marziano discussed using DDoS attacks to slow down Lonestar’s internet service and irritate its customers into switching.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-12-20/spiderman-hacker-daniel-kaye-took-down-liberia-s-internet

 

The Fall of GE

Founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan and several partners, General Electric’s corporate pedigree had been peerless. The company was a charter member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, on board at its creation in 1907 and the only one that remained there 110 years later.

GE grew from the nation’s premier power and lighting company into a behemoth. By the turn of the 21st century it was valued at $600 billion, encompassing media, plastics, aerospace, energy, digital, financial services and more.

But in the months after the retirement of Jeffrey Immelt, Flannery’s predecessor, all its apparent wealth began to evaporate.

In Flannery’s first year on the job, more than $140 billion in value vanished from GE’s stock price — bigger by far than the losses incurred by the epic collapses of firms like Enron and Lehman Brothers. GE was unceremoniously booted off the Dow.

It turned out the problems at Power were not unique. For years, GE’s profits had been a mirage built on whirlwind mergers and accounting sleight of hand. The funds that had been doled out to shareholders as fat dividends — and had covered its managers’ lavish perks and pay — had largely been borrowed on the strength of the company’s golden credit.

https://nypost.com/2020/07/11/how-a-power-hungry-ceo-drained-the-light-out-of-general-electric/

 

Insource your thinking

Wisdom is earned, not given. When other people give us the answer, it belongs to them and not us. While we might achieve the outcome we desire, it comes from dependence, not insight. Instead of thinking for ourselves, we’re dependent on the insight of others.

Earning insight requires going below the surface. Most of us want to shy away from the details and complexity. It takes a while. It’s boring. It’s mental work.

Yet it is only by jumping into the complexity that we can really discover simplicity for ourselves.

https://fs.blog/2020/07/thinking-for-oneself/

 

Insects are going extinct by the thousands

Declining insect populations have become a hot topic in Europe since a study in 2017 revealed that, in some parts of Germany, more than 75% of flying insects had disappeared over the previous three decades. Soon afterward, researchers at the University of Sydney estimated that 41% of all insect species worldwide were declining, and one-third were threatened with extinction.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/harmful-pesticides-threaten-global-south-by-layla-liebetrau-2020-07

 

Human judgement versus artificial intelligence

As artificial intelligence gets used for more and more routine tasks in the service sector, exercising judgment may be one area where humans retain an edge over machines. This is far from certain, however. What people perceive as good judgment may stem from the ability to spot certain cues in the environment. This ability may be unconscious, just as a dog can catch a Frisbee in mid-air without knowing how to calculate wind speed and air resistance. As machines can be taught, so do humans. In the long run, one of the trickiest aspects of human judgment may be knowing precisely when to let machines take decisions and when to leave it to people.

https://www.economist.com/business/2020/07/18/a-question-of-judgment

 

Disclaimer: Abhishek Basumallick is the Head of the equity advisory www.intelsense.in for long term wealth creation and a pure quant focused newsletter at www.quantamental.in. The blog posts should not be construed as investment advice. Please do your own due diligence before investing


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