What We’re Reading

Same as it ever was:

The five most dangerous words or whatever it is in the English language said John Templeton. I responded by saying, “Forget the four words, the five most dangerous words in the English language is ‘this time is never different’.” Because occasionally, of course, something really important happens that is different.

The Coronavirus is one of them. The entire base of American capitalism has shifted since about 2000. With the emergence of much higher levels of return, many more stock buybacks, and much more conservatism, the number of people employed in new enterprises in America that are one or two years old has halved since the late 1970s, halved. We’re simply not as aggressive a capitalist system as we were. Everything has changed. Now into the teeth of that comes a virus, and it doesn’t arrive at any old time, by the way, it arrives at the end of a 10 year, longest economic upswing in history with the lowest unemployment for eons, but with the highest corporate debt levels ever.

Planning:

Experts choose what materials to make power lines out of based on how hot it has been before in a given location; if the lines get too hot, they could sag or short circuit. Asphalt cracks at high temperatures, but you can design asphalt mixtures to withstand extreme heats; those mixture decisions are made based on past weather data. Train tracks, airport runways, power plants, sewage systems— they are all designed with the past climate in mind.

Yet the assumption of a stationarity world has not withstood the test of time, or of climate change. In 2019, the average temperature around the world was 1.7 degrees above the 20th century average; it was the second-warmest year ever to be measured. The planet’s temperature has been increasing steadily and the five warmest years since 1880 have all taken place since 2015. The increase in global temperature is causing temperature and weather extremes that past climate data can’t fully predict.

Grinding:

“I still to this day believe hard work is foundational…but I’m empathetic to it,” he says. “I could have done a better job to create more clarity about balance. And I think also I have garnered the wisdom over the last 12 to 15 years to realize, wow, when you’re a communicator, people are going to run with individual parts and take them directly out of context.”

This introspection about how his message is received has prompted more nuance in how he delivers it. The smart hustler needs to pick a pace that feels sustainable because it takes time to get ahead. “I would argue with most people that if they don’t have the patience to navigate through choppy waters for 18 months, it’s highly unlikely that they’re going to achieve what they want anyway,” he says.

Housing:

“The number of adults living in a parent’s or grandparent’s home grew by more than 2.7M in March and April.”

Destruction:

A single oil rig works in Venezuela, where the world’s biggest oil reserves sit, according to May data from Baker Hughes. One active crude rig takes the country back to the beginning of its oil industry.

Open:

The seven largest real-estate investment trusts that specialize in mostly high-end apartments each collected at least 94% of their total rent payments in April, according to recent earnings statements.

Closed:

One in every four U.S. restaurants will go out of business due to the coronavirus quarantines that have battered the food-service industry, according to a forecast by OpenTable.

Have a good weekend, stay safe.


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