What We're Reading

Ports:

One thing to remember here is that in America, the ports are owned by the local city that they’re in. Therefore, they’re not managed as a strategic national asset, which they clearly are. We’re realizing the implications of this right now. For example, I live in San Francisco and our main port is the Port of Oakland, which is owned by the City of Oakland. The mayor of Oakland has a lot of local issues to focus on and probably won’t prioritize multi-billion-dollar investments in their port as the city simply can’t afford it. So there’s just an inherent underinvestment in many U.S. ports and until recently it was really hard to get the federal government to make major investments in our ports.

Attention:

Nigg said it might help me grasp what’s happening if we compare our rising attention problems to our rising obesity rates. Fifty years ago there was very little obesity, but today it is endemic in the western world. This is not because we suddenly became greedy or self-indulgent. He said: “Obesity is not a medical epidemic – it’s a social epidemic. We have bad food, for example, and so people are getting fat.” The way we live changed dramatically – our food supply changed, and we built cities that are hard to walk or cycle around, and those changes in our environment led to changes in our bodies. We gained mass, en masse. Something similar, he said, might be happening with the changes in our attention.

Assets:

Private assets were once so obscure they were called “alternatives”. The label seems absurd today. Private-capital firms manage a record $10trn of assets, the equivalent of 10% of total assets globally (see chart 2). This includes several types of activity. PE—which consists of taking over companies using debt, juicing up profits and reselling them at a premium—promises racy returns. Infrastructure and, to some extent, property help diversify portfolios. Private credit lends to smallish firms with a relatively high default risk, earning attractive yields.

Demographics:

China’s birthrate has plummeted to the lowest level seen in official annual data covering the period from 2020 back to 1978, as the government struggles to stave off a looming demographic crisis.

Figures released by the country’s national bureau of statistics show there were 8.5 births per 1,000 people in 2020, the first time in decades that the figure has fallen below 10. In 1978, the figure was more than 18 per 1,000.

Pandemic:

Children born during the pandemic have experienced a catastrophic - no other word I think - drop in cognitive development of 22 IQ points.

Have a good weekend.

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