What We’re Reading

Getting ahead:

Americans, who tend to link rewards to individual effort, routinely overestimate the ease of moving up the income ranks, while Europeans — citing an unfair system, inherited wealth and sticky social classes — consistently underestimate it, surveys have found.

Productivity:

Fifty years ago, the four most valuable U.S. companies employed an average of 430,000 people with an average market cap of $180 billion.These days, the largest U.S. companies have about 2X the market cap of their 1964 counterparts with one-fourth of the employees. That’s what doing more with less looks like.

Verify:

Q: If you could hop on the elevator with your younger self going into your first day on the job, what would you say?

A: I would probably suggest the motto of the Royal Society – “nullius in verba” – which roughly translates to “take nobody’s word for it.” Basically, the founders were urging their colleagues to avoid deferring to authority and to verify statements by considering facts. They wanted to make sure everyone would think for themselves.

In the world of investing, that means constant learning—which entails constant reading. So I would encourage my younger self to read widely, to constantly learn, and to develop points of view independent of what others say and based on facts. Specifically, I would recommend developing the habit of reading. Constantly ask good questions and seek to answer them.

Demographics:

The total number of births in China last year dropped by 2 million from 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics announced at a news conference on Monday.

The massive drop — from 17.23 million to 15.23 million — indicates that China’s birth rate last year was the lowest the country has seen since famine-stricken 1961.

Wealth:

Excessive material wealth does little for happiness but we must be able to meet our needs or else we won’t have the luxury of time and space to focus on ourselves and what makes us really happy.

Excessive wealth leads to so many unintended distractions that you can’t focus on what really matters to you.

Have a good weekend.


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