2020 was a banner year for American billionaires. Their net worth increased by an amazing 466 billion dollars while most of us struggled to weather a global pandemic. This has led to the usual recriminations. Bernie Sanders says there should be no billionaires. Elizabeth Warren says we should tax them more. Both stances are based on morale arguments about how wealth is generated and accumulated. To shed some light on that issue I’ve analyzed Forbes billionaires data from the last few years to show what kind of people become billionaires and how their fortunes are made¹.
The average American would…
The shocking events of Jan 6, 2021 make for fun media analysis. In one day, the conservatives media became sympathetic to rioters and antagonistic to Capitol Hill police. Coincidentally, the liberal media suddenly valued law enforcement, and was furious that protesters were raiding a federal building that wasn’t the Portland Courthouse.
This swift narrative reversal was one of many in 2020/21. Whether it’s the efficacy of masks, the harm of mass gatherings, or the integrity of elections, we as a nation have continuously flip-flopped this year. …
Is becomes ought, becomes is again
All knotted time goes
Blood sprouts from brows
Eyes comb the low ground
Aged men recede to attics
Boys to their basements, until the time to climb
Are there yet no raybeams?
Do the mighty cosmos not penetrate
Your paper-thin veil?
It’s not down there, I promise you
That’s why island must swim
And ocean must take to sail
Your ancestral vessel lays ready
Dash its dry cobwebs
Varnish the old honeyed wood
Cake your storepots in the noonday sun
At night dream of the break
Mad-eyes and heavenly torrents
At the very edge…
Almost four years ago, the election of Donald Trump took most by surprise. Even the pessimistic prognosticators gave Trump just a 28% chance of winning. This along with the earlier Brexit vote caused a lot of teeth-gnashing among pundits. Why didn’t we see these results coming? Why were the polls so off?
Now in 2020 we’re looking at a new election with brand new polls. Any sane person should wonder, can we trust the pollsters this time around? After 2016 the most famous poll analyzer of them all, Nate Silver, concluded that the polls were as accurate as they had…
Every year it seems like software companies become more valuable and more central to equity markets. Just this week, the prototypical Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, Salesforce, was added to the Dow Jones Industrial average. It’s now the third largest component of the index. Since the Covid crisis, the accretion of value to these companies has even accelerated.
Looking at Salesforce data, it’s clear that a large part of its growing valuation comes from increasing revenue. Salesforce and other SAAS companies just keep making more money.
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A few weeks ago, the IMF released its June 2020 world economic outlook and it makes for grim reading. The agency predicts that global gross domestic product (GDP) will decline by 4.9% this year. Should we care? After all, people have long criticized GDP as a terrible metric for the health of a nation…
The Covid crisis seems to be destroying what’s left of mainstream news media. So far Vice, Vox, Bustle, the Outline, Wired, Quartz, and many more outlets have had layoffs or are contemplating deep cuts. Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising. Fields that have free competition and networks effects tend to end up with a few winners and many losers. So far, it looks like the New York Times is destined to become the winner of news, much like Facebook is the winner in social media.
This leaves journalists who can’t score big media jobs with dim prospects. I would worry…
What does the popularity of Tiger King have in common with the election of Donald Trump? For one, both represent huge and unexpected cultural phenomena. In fact on March 29, “Tiger King” had more than half as many Google searches as our current president.
Written with my wife and muse: Laurie Tauberg
The gears of our economy have ground to a halt. Market indices are gyrating like it’s the second coming. The canals of Venice are clear after hundreds of years, and rent is due on April 1. Now, on March 26, in the midst of an unprecedented global catastrophe, the United States government has agreed to send us each $1200 if we make a certain income. What a fucking joke.
There are so many things wrong with this depressing stimulus bill. How should we all hate the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security…
Married engineer in San Francisco. Interested in words, networks, and human abstractions. Opinions expressed are solely my own.