Thursday, July 1, 2021

Beginning of Q3 Links

  • The cryptocurrency ecosystem is conceptually simple. Money comes in from new investors buying, and the same money comes out to pay those cashing out. It would be a zero-sum ecosystem, except for the fact that miners have to pay their bills in dollars. This is why “bitcoin investors” feel an immediate urge to tell everyone else to invest in bitcoin — if no new money comes in, the financial structure eventually collapses under the miner’s sell pressure. [link]
  • The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America. All of the restaurants in a region cannot come together to cut cooks’ wages on the theory that “customers prefer” to eat food from low-paid cooks. Law firms cannot conspire to cabin lawyers’ salaries in the name of providing legal services out of a “love of the law.” Hospitals cannot agree to cap nurses’ income in order to create a “purer” form of helping the sick. News organizations cannot join forces to curtail pay to reporters to preserve a “tradition” of public-minded journalism. Movie studios cannot collude to slash benefits to camera crews to kindle a “spirit of amateurism” in Hollywood. Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor. And price-fixing labor is ordinarily a textbook antitrust problem because it extinguishes the free market in which individuals can otherwise obtain fair compensation for their work. [scotus]
  • I’m an introvert through and through. And like many introverts, I can do that performative thing of turning on the charm and being sociable and seeming like a “normal member of society,” but what you don’t see is how post-performance I am but a husk of a human. The recharge time is slow and vast. Creative work is (near) impossible in that state. Even to meet someone fleetingly for a beer or coffee would (almost certainly) put me into zonk-mode for a day (I know, I know — such a delicate flower, this one). [Craig Mod]
  • MSTR holds roughly 0.7% of the active supply of bitcoin. And is thus, responsible, indirectly for 452,000 tons of CO2e emissions per year, or 996 million pounds. MSTR is, officially, a software company. With roughly $480 million in revenues in 2020, that means for every dollar of revenue generated, MSTR is responsible for 2.07 pounds of CO2. A SOFTWARE COMPANY! And this is assuming the rest of their business generates zero carbon footprint. Western Midstream Partners (Ticker: WES) is a pipeline company with 15,000 miles of pipeline delivering crude, natural gas and refined products. Their 2019-2020 ESG reportindicates that they were responsible for 3.5 million tons of direct CO2e emissions and 0.97 tons of indirect emissions. The company brings in $2.7 billion in revenues, and while revenues are hardly a perfect proxy of economic value, for comparison’s sake, that is 3.66 pounds of CO2e for every dollar of revenue. [esghound]
  • In 1955, Sigmon invented a specialized radio and tape recorder that the Los Angeles Police Department used to alert radio stations throughout the city to traffic conditions and emergencies. The messages were referred to as "Sigmon traffic alerts," a phrase quickly shortened to "Sig Alert." The system, now employed throughout California, has been copied in numerous other areas. For this, Bill Keene called him the "father of L.A traffic reporting". [wiki]
  • One of the main goals of financial repression is to keep nominal interest rates lower than would otherwise prevail. This effect, other things equal, reduces the governments’ interest expenses for a given stock of debt and contributes to deficit reduction. However, when financial repression combined with inflation produces negative real interest rates, this also reduces or liquidates existing debts. It is a transfer from creditors to borrowers. The financial repression tax has some interesting political-economy properties. Unlike income, consumption, or sales taxes, the repression tax rate is determined by financial regulations and inflation performance that is opaque to most voters. Given that deficit reduction usually involves highly unpopular expenditure reductions and (or) tax increases of one form or another, the relatively “stealthier” financial repression tax may be a more politically palatable alternative to authorities faced with the need to reduce outstanding debts. [Carmen M. Reinhart]
  • I reached out to my sales person at Wuhan Hengheda Pharma. Indeed, it is the platform that is restricting access. Whether this is the CPC trying to punish Mr. Ma, or responding to Western government pressure is unclear. I strongly suspect the latter. The company is not “allowed” to list it. In any event, they still have Rapamycin. I ordered another 10g at $42 US per gram. It was quite unwieldy but it was possible and it will be shipped within 15 days. As always, it’s possible it will be apprehended by my government... because they need to protect their Big Pharma constituents. I fear the window is closing. I’ll let you know if this order makes it through. Hopefully the shelf-life in a sealed bag in my freezer will be significantly longer than the stated 2 years. You might also search the misspelled “sirolimusa”... the Chinese sellers, ever resourceful, trying workarounds. I get a couple of suppliers with this approach. []
  • Loyal readers will recall my obsession with Dog Mode, going back to 2003 (see Car/Kennel). The legacy car companies seem to be refusing to add these 10 lines of code, perhaps because they don’t want to be held responsible if the feature is used improperly and a dog is baked to death? I wonder if therefore this will become Tesla’s only long-term competitive advantage vs. Ford, VW, Hyundai/Kia, Toyota, Honda, et al. Also from Car and Driver: “Every Electric Vehicle That’s Expected in the Next Five Years”. It seems that there isn’t much interest in building the Toyota Camry of electric cars, i.e., a car that doesn’t purport to drive itself, that doesn’t accelerate faster than a C5 Corvette, that doesn’t have a huge touchscreen stuck in the middle of the dashboard, and that therefore doesn’t cost more than necessary. [philg]
  • Don't be too dependent on Medicare. It will be a lot easier to ration medical care than to repudiate the Social Security obligations. There may be means testing for SS, or maybe raising taxes on the payments (currently only 50-85% is taxable), but Medicare can be re-engineered in ways that are more difficult to notice. So, think Mangan. [CBS]
  • This is the central argument Tainter makes: the energy economy always subsidizes the product economy and service economy, and any intermediates such as commodity markets. Without looking at energy costs at every trophic level, and the transfer between, which appears to be decreasing as more technology is applied, there is simply no way to discover what is and is not "efficient". [CBS]
  • I have often casually blamed boomers for things, so I thought it would be interesting to read an thorough indictment of them. But after reading, I am less convinced that boomers should bear the blame for our collapse. If I had to defend the boomers at their trial, like John Adams and the soldiers in Boston, the key to their defense would be that the oldest boomers were only in their 20s when the economic collapse of the middle class in the U.S. began. (It's important to get our collapses straight, because we live in a fractal of increasing collapses within collapses.) Take a look at the website WTF Happened In 1971? as well as the related twitter account. The year 1971 is when middle class compensation in the U.S. decoupled from its productivity, and all gains from increased productivity went exclusively to oligarchs, making the distribution of wealth much more unequal. Other disquieting trends started at the same time: increasing age at first marriage, the obesity epidemic, falling beef consumption per capita. What happened in 1971 was that it was the date of the second of the U.S.'s three big dollar devaluations so far. (The first was in 1933, and the third is happening right now.) The year 1970 was also the nadir of foreign-born in the U.S. labor force, which went from 5% in 1970 to (at least) 17% today. Boomers simply cannot have been responsible for this - they were too young. I think what we can say in fairness to the boomers is that they did behave selfishly because by the time they were adults, their nation had been repealed and replaced with a free-for-all economic zone. Smashing the middle class (via central banking and imported serfs) and making their neighborhoods no-go zones was not something the boomers did, it was something they responded to by adopting a code of "every man for himself." So of course boomers fled to the suburbs and committed architectural atrocities. People (including boomers) build cheap disposable houses because the U.S. middle class is a stateless people whose neighborhoods can be targeted for destruction at any time. [CBS]

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