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The Week’s Best Reads – 05/24/19

This week’s highlights:  Teaching Economics, Price Fixing and Coordinating Sports Playoffs


Fifteen on Friday – Issue 333


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  Vox – The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics

Why It Matters:  Raj Chetty has an idea for introducing students to econ that could transform the field — and society.

Consider as well:

  1. TheAtlantic – There’s More to College Than Getting Into College  Credit CF – Applying to schools has become an endless chore—one that teaches students nothing about what really matters in higher education.
  2. Outside – How Our Totally Average Runner Broke the Sub-Five-Minute Mile  Sometimes setting an unreasonable goal is the only way to jump-start your fitness
  3. NYT – In Cities Where It Once Reigned, Heroin Is Disappearing The rise of the more potent fentanyl in its place has put a generation of older users, who had managed their addiction, at far greater risk of overdose.
  4. VF – Brené Brown Wants to Change Your Life The best-selling author recently launched a Netflix special. How did an introverted shame researcher become an on-camera dynamo?


Top Read of the Week:  WJLA – Uber, Lyft drivers manipulate fares at Reagan National causing artificial price surges

Why It Matters:  Uber insists that its drivers are not employees but are independent contractors who use their platform to access demand.  Here the drivers have figured out how to game the system and artificially boost prices.  This raises a bunch of awesome questions to consider – such as are the drivers by coordinating their interactions engaging in price collusion?  While I’m no lawyer, it would seem so.  But does monopolistic behavior require a threshold of scale before it is of broader regulatory importance?  If these uber drivers are the Rockefeller of a street corner for a short period of time – does that mean micro-monopolies are something that should be more carefully monitored?

Consider as well:

  1. CNN – How a cheap, brutally efficient grocery chain is upending America’s supermarkets
  2. CIO –  Don’t Be Fooled by Inflated Private Equity Returns  Longer-term subscription lines of credit are becoming increasingly widespread.
  3. Economist – Middle America’s brain drain   Educated people are leaving more rural states much quicker than they are being replaced
  4. EY –15 Annoying Things that VCs say or ask (and how to think about them) – Credit SD


Top Read of the Week:  MIT – Competition From Sports Hurts TV Ratings:How to Shift League Calendars to Optimize Viewership

Why It Matters:    This may be a little wonky for some folks – but given all the action right now in the NBA and NHL – it does seem that these competing events have to be lowering ratings by airing at the same time.  This is an interesting academic paper that looks at when sports should be played to maximize TV viewership.

Consider as well:

  1. FiveThirtyEight – Tiger Woods Used To Be One Of Golf’s Longest Hitters — Until The Sport Caught Up
  2. F1 – The inside story of Kimi Raikkonen’s legendary first F1 test Formula 1 returns to Monaco this weekend for one of its most iconic races.
  3. NYT – The Fusion Reactor Next Door  Entrepreneurs are taking up the search for a near limitless energy source and seeking investors willing to put money behind a long-shot bet against climate change.
  4. NYT –  Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight  Vehicles collect a lot of unusual data. But who owns it?

Best Reads of the Week – 05/17/19

This week’s highlights:  College Admissions, Impactful Venture Capital, and Urban Retirement

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Photo by Nout Gons on

Fifteen on Friday – Issue 332

Quote to ponder – Thanks Chris M for highlighting this one:

“A society grows great when [the old] plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.” 
– Greek Proverb



Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  Vox – The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean

Why It Matters:  Given all the recent scandals, this is an interesting look inside the process of college admissions.

Consider as well:

  1. VanityFair – Why Is Gen Z Obsessed with The Office?  Netflix viewers spent 52 billion minutes on the show. Billie Eilish sampled an episode on her debut album. And Angela and Kevin are Instagram influencers. What gives?
  2. GQ – GQ’s Best New Restaurants in America, 2019
  3. Outside – 4 Laws of Muscle  The protein and muscle guru Luc van Loon wants you to bulk up—and keep what you’ve got.
  4. NYT – The Rise of the Haphazard Self  How working-class men detach from work, family and church.


Top Read of the Week:  Forbes – Greedy VC Doesn’t Pay: But Impact Does

Why It Matters:  I personally have long been of the view that this is a compelling opportunity to do both good and make great returns.  Here’s a proof point of a top-quartile VC portfolio that saw greater than 50% of portfolio companies founded by women or people of color.

Consider as well:

  1. II – The Radical, Lucrative, and Controversial Company Hiding in Stephen Schwarzman’s Pocket
  2. CNN – The internet didn’t shrink 6% real estate commissions. But this lawsuit might
  3. Moneyness – Kyle Bass’s big nickel bet  What do you do with a million nickels?
  4. IBJ – A hard-to-digest reality: Steak n Shake might not make it


Top Read of the Week:  NYT – A Quiet Retirement? No Thanks, They’ll Take Herald Square

Why It Matters:    “A former mayor of San Antonio and his wife have found this busy crossroads to be the ideal retirement destination.”

Consider as well:

  1. MIT – “Magic: The Gathering” is officially the world’s most complex game  A new proof with important implications for game theory shows that no algorithm can possibly determine the winner.
  2. QZ – How Exactly Stitch Fix’S “Tinder For Clothes” Learns Your Style
  3. Outside – The Nature Cure  Grassroots Movement Of Physicians Are Prescribing Time Outdoors As The Best Possible Cure For A Growing List Of Ailments. Can They Really Convince Big Health Care That Free Medicine Is The Way Of The Future?
  4. Hustle – The professor who beat roulette  How a renowned researcher beat the odds, stumped casino owners around the world, and walked away with a fortune.
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