1. Media and entertainment
Many booms turn to bust. Unlike, say, WeWork, most entertainment firms have a plausible strategy, but too much cash is now chasing eyeballs. Netflix is burning $3bn a year and would need to raise prices by 15% to break even—tricky when there are over 30 rival services. It hopes that its fast-growing international markets will create economies of scale. As well as saturation, the other danger is debt. Deals and high spending have caused American media firms to build up $500bn of borrowing. When the shake-out comes, history offers two dispiriting examples of how a consumer-friendly boom can turn into a stitch-up. Telecoms and airlines in America saw a riot of competition in the 1990s only to become financially stretched and then reconsolidated into oligopolies that are known today for poor service and high prices.
2. Chinese SOEs
As China’s economy slows, defaults have risen sharply. Such failures, though painful, separate strong companies from also-rans, a process other countries know well. In China there is an extra wrinkle: the downturn is also exposing fake soes. These are companies that misled creditors about their state connections to suggest they would be supported if they ran into trouble. But when trouble arises, the government is nowhere to be found.
3. Big tech antitrust
“Amazon has more revenue than Facebook, Google and Twitter put together, but it has largely escaped sustained examination. That is beginning to change, and one significant reason is Ms. Khan. In early 2017, when she was an unknown law student, Ms. Khan published “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” in the Yale Law Journal. Her argument went against a consensus in antitrust circles that dates back to the 1970s — the moment when regulation was redefined to focus on consumer welfare, which is to say price. Since Amazon is renowned for its cut-rate deals, it would seem safe from federal intervention. Ms. Khan disagreed. Over 93 heavily footnoted pages, she presented the case that the company should not get a pass on anticompetitive behavior just because it makes customers happy. Once-robust monopoly laws have been marginalized, Ms. Khan wrote, and consequently Amazon is amassing structural power that lets it exert increasing control over many parts of the economy.”
4. How the brain works
Title: Mesmerising Video Shows Waves of Spinal Fluid Washing Over The Brain During Sleep
Link: Science Alert
We are quite literally having our brains washed every night. Neuroscientists have now produced a fascinating video that shows this nocturnal pulsing process in action. Waves of watery cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow over our brains, this latest study shows, pulsing rhythmically while we’re snoozing, and at the same time clearing out any toxins that shouldn’t be building up inside our heads.
5. 3100: Run and Become
Can running lead to enlightenment? Can it transform your life and make you a better human being? This is the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Run, the world’s longest race – where competitors must average 59+ miles a day in the 52-day window … all around a 1/2 mile sidewalk loop in NYC. How does one even train for this race? A champion Navajo ultra-marathoner, a hunter from the Kalahari Bushmen and a Japanese Monk illustrate how we, as human beings, can and have always used running to transcend our limitations and connect ourselves to realities beyond the physical.
+1 Book of the week
Author and title: John Krakauer – Into the wild
Fascinating book about stepping out of convention and living life on your own terms. Reminded me a bit of Cheryl Strayed’s book called Wild, though this has a more dramatic ending. Recommend reading it if you are deciding on making changes in your life. There is also a movie with the same title.
“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”