What I Have Been Reading – November 2020

Time Billionaire

The concept of being a time billionaire is truly profound.

“When I see 20-year-olds – the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billionaires.”





If Apple AirPods was a standalone business (founded 2016, $12bn revenue, 125% growth, 30–50% margin), it would probably be the most valuable startup in the world.

Kevin Rooke




All of the ten best-selling books of the last decade had female protagonists




Facts vs feelings

During the seventeenth century, Davies argued, intellectuals hit upon the idea that feelings were deceitful, an impediment to peace. Facts, in contrast, bind people. They give those with nothing in common something to agree upon; they let us reach a consensus in our understanding of the world. Experts, wielders of facts, are, in a very real sense, peace-keepers.

Davies argued that, though nationalists have always sought to mobilise our emotions, we are suffering through an era in which the value of facts has uniquely declined




In 1850, a decade before the Civil War, the United States’ economy was small—it wasn’t much bigger than Italy’s. Forty years later, it was the largest economy in the world. What happened in-between was the railroads. They linked the east of the country to the west, and the interior to both. They gave access to the east’s industrial goods; they made possible economies of scale; they stimulated steel and manufacturing—and the economy was never the same.





Government researchers have confirmed that the steep decline in air traffic during the coronavirus pandemic has affected the quality of weather forecasting models by sharply reducing the amount of atmospheric data routinely collected by commercial airliners.




The 1% Tax Base

The top 1% of New Yorkers reported a combined $133.3 billion in income in 2018, according to new data released last month by the city’s Independent Budget Office. They paid $4.9 billion in local income taxes, making up 42.5% of total income tax collected by the city.
Those numbers show how the decisions of a tiny number of millionaires and billionaires could have huge fiscal consequences for a city of more than 8 million people. In 2018, 1,786 tax filers earned more than $10 million or more.




Free Shares

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200. All You need to do is sign up via this link –   Freetrade,  top up your account, could be as little as £1 and complete the w8-ben form on the app.




The human vision system involves time-shifting: your brain is fooled into thinking it has seen something before it happened. That’s why, when you glance at a second hand, it seems to take longer than a second to move.




Car Safety & Population Decrease

Car safety laws in the US make it more expensive to have three children — women in states with mandated car seats are 0.7% less likely to have a third child. The safety measures may have saved 57 car crash fatalities each year, but caused 145,000 fewer births since 1980.




The Growth Of E-Commerce

US E-Commerce Retail Sales (YoY % Change)…
Q3 2020: $210 bil. (+37%)
Q3 2019: $153 bil. (+17%)
Q3 2018: $131 bil. (+13%)
Q3 2017: $115 bil. (+15%)
Q3 2016: $101 bil. (+15%)
Q3 2015: $88 bil. (+14%)
Q3 2014: $77 bil. (+16%)
Q3 2013: $66 bil. (+14%)
Q2 2012: $58 bil. (+17%)




Male Trees And Hayfever

Most cities plant only male trees because it’s expensive to clear up the fruit that falls from female trees. Male trees release pollen, and that’s one of the reasons your hay fever is getting worse.





Nearly 10% of the revenue of the nation of Tuvalu comes from its control of the .tv domain used by companies like twitch.tv

Washington Post



Ghost Kitchens

Virtual brands, ghost kitchens, delivery-only concepts — whatever you call them — have thrived during COVID-19. Euromonitor, a market research firm, recently estimated that they could be a $1 trillion business by 2030. That’s happening concurrently with near-impossible working conditions for many brick-and-mortar restaurants. Stores in cities that once did a brisk lunch business saw sales fall off a cliff. To mitigate losses, some restaurants are throwing everything they have at virtual expansion, creating entirely new brands that live online.

That data told Rubin that “Chicken sells… period,” but also that customers wanted more dinner options and that wings could drive a larger check average. “It’s very hard to make money delivering a $10 meal for one person. We saw that selling family-sized meals for two, three, four people is how to actually turn a profit in the delivery space,” Rubin says. “We also saw that the first few hours of team shifts each day had time to integrate more prep work without adding too much complication. We were able to optimize schedules by moving tasks to different parts of the day.





In the Thames Estuary, about 40 miles east of London, is a shipwreck from WW2 containing 14,000 unexploded bombs. If they blew up, it could send a five metre tsunami up the river.




Social Pressures

When users download the Kenyan mobile loans app OKash, the T&Cs quietly give it permission to access their contacts. If they fall behind in repayments, the app starts to message all those contacts — family, colleagues, ex-partners — to shame the user into repaying the debt.




Top 10 Ultra High Net Worth Cities

An Ultra-High Net Worth (UHNW) individual is anyone with more than $30 million in net worth.

In 2019, there were 290,720 UHNW people worldwide. Their combined wealth exceeded $35 trillion

Rank City UNHW Population (2019):

  1.  New York 10,435
  2. Hong Kong 9,950
  3. Tokyo 7,800
  4. Los Angeles 6,150
  5. Paris 4,670
  6. London 4,535
  7. Chicago 3,890
  8. San Francisco 3,410
  9. Washington, DC 3,230
  10. Dallas 3,165

Visual Capitalist


The Sunk Cost Fallacy Illustrated

HOW MUCH WOULD you pay for $10? Taking my cues from a game developed by economist Martin Shubik, I’d offer to auction off a $10 bill to my high school students. There were three rules:

Students could only offer bids. No commentary, cooperation or deal-making were allowed.

The highest bidder paid me the money and received the $10.

The second-highest bidder had to pay me their final bid but got nothing.

I ran such auctions for 20 years and it almost always had three stages.

Phase 1: Many students dabbled with bids in increments of five or 50 cents, slowly inching the price up.

Phase 2: The dabblers dropped out and only the “serious” players remained, usually getting the price up to $5 or $6.

Phase 3: The trap springs. Misha bids $6. Ben counters with $7. Misha, realizing she’s looking at paying $6 while getting nothing back, is forced to outbid Ben and goes to $8. Ben decides to finish it by bidding $9.99. Misha does some quick math and decides to bid $10 to break even, rather than pay $8.

But wait, there’s more. Ben surprises the other students by bidding $10.01, rationally deciding it’s better to lose a penny than $9.99. Misha now faces the same dilemma, and so it goes on.

At some point, I call the auction off and, despite my teacher salary, tell them no one has to pay me. I ask Misha and Ben to describe how they felt, which almost always includes feelings of regret and being trapped. They were no longer bidding to win, but to minimize their loss.

This exercise is a great way to introduce students to the sunk cost fallacy. What’s that? It’s the spending trap that—once you start down a path by putting money into a venture—you feel compelled to see it all the way through, lest you’ve wasted the initial outlay. It’s “throwing good money after bad.”

Humble Dollar