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Peter Thiel: The Higher Education Bubble

17 May

A great article by Sarah Lacy at TechCrunch.

One of Thiel’s best quotes from the piece:

“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”

The full article link is here.

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Xerox CEO panicked by lack of qualified applicants

17 May

Xerox CEO, Ursula Burns is deeply concerned about the lack of science and technology skills among US job applicants. In 2006, in one sub-enginereeing category 106,000  jobs remained unfilled due to skills shortages. Burns is adamant that if US domestic students do not step up in fields such as math and science the US will lose its competitive bias.

Burns attributes a number of factors responsible for the overall decline in US competitiveness.  The disintegration of family structures, a breakdown in schools, a deviation from performance and accountability, a focus away from science and math and what creates value. She calls for a return to basics. Burns is panic stricken about the lack of suitable candidates in the US and the increasing need to recruit abroad to locate the skills Xerox requires.

Video Link

Apple – a $2 trillion dollar company?

16 May

James Altucher is never short of a wacky off-the-wall idea or two. To the extent that one has a book to sell, it seems sensible to create as much publicity as possible. Now, add a great ingredient, Apple, mix it up and simmer for a while.

Altucher’s zesty approach in creating an almost unthinkable proposition, Apple at $2 trillion, is purely a bit of fun. Clearly, Apple has the tenacity, drive and innovation to become the world’s largest company but $2 trillion is a significant deviation from reality. Apple at $2000 dollars a share, unless Bernanke gets his fingers stuck on Print (Ctrl+P) Altucher’s thesis is unlikely to be tested.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

16 May 2001 – US officially bankrupt (post-stimulation!)

16 May

The hypocrisy of it all – Pelosi and the debt ceiling

16 May

Don’t waste your time delving through the entire video. Basically a barrage of Pelosi rhetoric of desperate measures for desperate times.  She actually sounds quite reasonable and orderly.

Kudlow puts in succinctly:

“Medicare, it’s going broke five years ahead of schedule because the economy’s been so lousy. But actually Medicare is broke now on a cash flow basis. The benefits exceed the revenues. Doesn’t this put the heat on to do something about Medicare? In this deficit deal.”

Pelosi reply:

“The Budget Office says the three biggest contributors are two unpaid wars, tax cuts for the wealthiest in America and Medicare Part B prescription drug Bill. We should reverse that and should subject every federal dollar to the harshest scrutiny.

The hypocrisy of it all is that Pelosi has done nothing to restrain the prolific spending habits of Congress. In fact her only contributions have been to further expand and legislate additional spending programs. The economy’s capacity to withstand immorally high levels of unprecedented debt is showing unnerving signs of collapse.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

History lesson of the day: the definition of inflation

15 May

The Wall Street Journal has a great and well-timed piece on the evolution in the meaning of inflation throughout the ages. Here’s a selection:

Samuel Johnson’s famous A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, had just one definition for inflation:

          The state of being swelled with wind; flatulence.

Webster’ American Dictionary of the English Language, published by G&C Merriam Co. in 1864, was the first to formally define inflation as an economic term:

undue expansion or increase, from over-issue; — said of currency.

Century Dictionary, a well-regarded American dictionary published from 1889 to 1891, defined inflation this way:

Undue expansion of elevation; increase beyond the proper or just amount of value: as, inflation of trade, currency, or prices; inflation of stocks (that is, the price of stocks).

In 1901, the sixth volume of the Oxford English Dictionary (letters H through K) defined inflation this way:

Great or undue enlargement; increase beyond proper limits; esp. of prices, the issue of paper money, etc.

The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989, defines inflation as:

Great or undue expansion or enlargement; increase beyond proper limits; esp. of prices, the issue of paper money, etc. spec. An undue increase in the quantity of money in relation to the goods available for purchase; (in lay use) an inordinate rise in prices.

Read the summarised blog piece here.

Ten water facts

15 May

An interesting list from MoneyWeek:

1. On average, a British person lets eight litres of water flow down the sink while they clean their teeth.

2. Europeans use up to 25 times the amount of water on a daily basis as their developing-world counterparts.

3. Two-thirds of the world’s fresh water is used to irrigate crops.

4. Americans drench their gardens with seven billion gallons of water a day.

5. Due to population density, the south east of England has less available water per head than Sudan.

6. Eighty per cent of China’s rivers are too polluted to support fish.

7. 1.1 billion people globally have no access to clean water.

8. North America has 8% of the world’s population, but access to 15% of the world’s water supply. For China the figures are 21% and 7%.

9. Flushing the toilet in the UK uses more water than an average African has for cooking, cleaning, washing and drinking each day.

10. Ten different countries rely on the River Nile for water.

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