What is Fifteen on Friday?

Fifteen on Friday (Fof) is a weekly newsletter that is delivered every Friday afternoon directly to your inbox.  The goal is to curate a thoughtful list of the most interesting pieces of the week, across a wide range of subjects from arts, culture, economics, science, technology and occasionally fashion.

Top Articles of the Week – 04/12/19 Edition

This week’s highlights:  Robocalls, Smart Phones, and Birkin Bags

silver macbook pro

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Issue 327

Happy Friday,

David


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  WashPo – Die, robocalls, die: A how-to guide to stop spammers and exact revenge

Why It Matters:  I haven’t had a chance to try these recommendations out yet, but I think we can all agree that something has to be done.

Consider as well:

  1. ProPublica – The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.  Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.
  2. Vogue – Has Everlane Ushered in a Brave New World of Retail?
  3. NYT – High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring  Debate, drama and other extracurriculars provide the excitement many classrooms lack. And they can help overhaul the system.
  4. NYT – The N.F.L.’s Great Cherry Tree Caper  In the spirit of “calling the balls and strikes” about Nashville, this piece highlights the strain of our city’s fast growth.  “The league didn’t actually try to steal Nashville’s gorgeous cherry trees, but it sure felt that way.”

Business/Economics:

Top Read of the Week:  DTD – This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things  

Why It Matters:  “Put simply, only one handset maker sells its phones for a profit – Apple (of course). The last time we ran the numbers, Apple captured more than 100% of the smartphone industry’s profits, meaning in aggregate everyone else is losing money.”

Consider as well:

  1. LATimes – The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn.  It’s a sunny day in March and “Machine Planet” is flying a single-engine Cessna over Northern California. He’s cruising at 1,500 feet toward a massive lot leased by electric-car maker Tesla. His mission: to burst the Tesla bubble. And make some money doing it.
  2. NYT – Boeing’s 737 Max: 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals
  3. Forbes – The Outlandish Story Of Ollie’s: A $5 Billion Retail Empire That Sells Nothing Online (But Is Beating Amazon)
  4. QZ – How to redesign GDP for the 21st century

Culture/Tech/Science:

Top Read of the Week:  NYT – Can the Birkin Bag Survive the Resale Market?  

Why It Matters:  There are few consumer goods where demand increases the more prices are raised – the Hermes Birkin being the most recent exemplar of the phenomena.  Much of this demand was due to constraints on supply – a moot point now thanks to resale sites such as The Real Real.  Highly Recommend Michael Tonello’s 2008 “Bringing Home the Birkin” – which exposed how much of the Birkin’s mystique was due to an artificially constrained supply at retail.

Consider as well:

  1. NYP – Scientists finally reveal first image of a black hole
  2. Vox – When did America’s heart turn cold on buffet chains?
  3. NYT – A-Rod on doping, getting therapy and no longer being the villain.
  4. LATimes – The bizarre story of the L.A. dad who exposed the college admissions scandal

Top Articles of the Week – 04/05/19 Edition

This week’s highlights:  Growing Up Wealthy, Why is Lyft Public?, The $35 Computer

action america architecture avenue

Photo by Nout Gons on Pexels.com

Issue 326

As we do each quarter, my firm published this week our quick take on the market in the first quarter of 2019 – Wet Ground, Sunny Markets! – April 2019 – Market Commentary – I think you will enjoy this thoughtful, accessible, and brief piece.

Happy Friday,

David


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  TheCut – What It’s Like to Grow Up With More Money Than You’ll Ever Spend  

Why It Matters:  Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Roy Disney, talks in great length about the benefits and challenges in growing up in an iconic family.  Her comments are measured and thoughtful, full of great wisdom.  One great line – “This is the weird thing about my life: I am usually excited to meet someone in direct disproportion to how excited they are to meet me.”

Consider as well:

  1. NYT – Winning the War on Poverty  According to recently released data, between 2015 and 2017, Canada reduced its official poverty rate by at least 20 percent.
  2. The74 – New Numbers Show Low-Income Students at Most of America’s Largest Charter School Networks Graduating College at Two to Four Times the National Average
  3. NYT – Keeping Up With the Kardashian Cash Flow  Are Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall and Kylie America’s savviest C.E.O.s?
  4. VF – The Dirty Secret of El Chapo’s Downfall.  As the Mexican cartel leader’s trial draws to an end, one thing is clear: drug kingpins reign as long as they make their partners money. When they stop, they end up in jail.

Business/Economics:

Top Read of the Week:  NYMag – Why Should Lyft Be a Public Company?  

Why It Matters:  “The point of the public equity markets is supposed to be that they are an efficient source of capital for large, known companies. Why weren’t these companies eager to access that source? Had something gone wrong with the markets?”

Consider as well:

  1. Economist – Japan toys with shareholder capitalism just as the West balks  Activist investors are taking a ninja-like approach to stodgy companies
  2. Forbes – Andreessen Horowitz Is Blowing Up The Venture Capital Model (Again)
  3. CFAI – GARP Investing: Golden or Garbage?  If Value creates positive excess returns, as the research demonstrates, then Growth does largely the opposite, which would seem to cast doubt on GARP’s underlying logic. So how do GARP strategies perform in the US stock market?
  4. Bridgewater – Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed (Part 1)

Culture/Tech/Science:

Top Read of the Week:  Forbes – How Sony Sped Up A Factory With These Tiny, $35 Computers

Why It Matters:  This is disruptive innovation at its core.  Factories are using cheap and small Rasberry Pi computers to help with automation.  When the cost of innovation falls from a couple million dollars to implement a technology to a couple of thousand, interesting things can begin to happen.

Consider as well:

  1. Nautilus – A Magician Explains Why We See What’s Not There  Our brain is constantly picturing what the future should be.
  2. SwitchedOnPop – Comeback Kids: The Jonas Brothers are Back Nate and Charlie, the hosts of podcast Switched On Pop, do what they do best with this great episode deconstructing the Jonas Brother’s new track and perhaps uncovering the secrets to a chart topper in 2019.
  3. NYT – How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation  The brain-tingling feeling was a hard-to-describe psychological oddity. Until, suddenly, it was a YouTube phenomenon.
  4. Economist – Scientists discover the chemicals behind the unique Parkinson’s smell
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