Tag: Bloomberg

Political correctness has deranged the Democrats

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Tyler Cowen, host of the economics blog, Marginal Revolution, identifies PC as the cause of the derangement of the Democrats in this Bloomberg column:

“Imagine the perfect political and intellectual weapon. It would disable your adversaries by preoccupying them with their own vanities and squabbles, a bit like a drug so good that users focus on the high and stop everything else they are doing.

Such a weapon exists: It is called political correctness. But it is not a weapon against white men or conservatives, as is frequently alleged; rather, it is a weapon against the American left. To put it simply, the American left has been hacked, and it is now running in a circle of its own choosing, rather than focusing on electoral victories or policy effectiveness. Too many segments of the Democratic Party are self-righteously talking about identity politics, and they are letting other priorities slip.”

Political correctness is harmful, and not just to the deranged Democrats. It has led to the creation of a new entitled class: professional “victims” who demand to be protected from any offence. And it has also produced a suffocating atmosphere in which we must all walk on eggshells in case we commit a language “crime”.


Tesla’s Burning

Friday, 24 November, 2017 0 Comments

Could be the hot title of a film, that, Tesla’s Burning. You know, in the style of Paris is Burning and Mississippi Burning. Not to forget Burn After Reading and, the very topical right now, Burn Hollywood Burn.

But this is a very different script and the full title goes: Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour. This is a Bloomberg production and here’s a sneak preview:

“Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6. (At 2:17 a.m. New York time, if you really want to be precise.)

To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door. Investors don’t seem concerned. Tesla shares rose almost 3 percent to $317.81 Tuesday, giving it a market capitalization of $53 billion. Ford Motor Co. is worth $48 billion.”

The “Monday, Aug. 6.” referred to there, by the way, is August 2018. So will this drama end next year? Well, the wily Elon Musk is always good for a surprise twist and last week he unveiled his latest plan to raise funds. The Tesla CEO is asking customers to pay him upfront for vehicles that may not be delivered for years yet. It’s an old trick, that, but it has worked in the past. Taking In Huge Deposits to Help Fund Tesla Through its Immense Production Challenges is not a very catchy title, but it’s far less scary than Tesla’s Burning. To be continued.


But, but, but… batteries

Tuesday, 1 August, 2017 0 Comments

Norway has put down a marker. It will phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2025. France is giving the industry a bit more leeway, but it will ban the sale of combustion engines from 2040. In the same year, Britain will forbid new petrol and diesel cars.

EV So, what sort of vehicles will people use when combustion engines are outlawed? EVs (electric vehicles), of course. Whoa! Not so fast, say the combustion-engine defenders. They claim that the ecological footprint of e-cars is calamitous. One can drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Mercedes SUV-class for years before doing as much damage to the environment as a Tesla, they claim. How come? Four years ago, in an exhaustive 6,500-word article on the financial website Seeking Alpha, analyst Nathan Weiss made a case that the Tesla Model S has higher effective emissions than most large SUVs of both the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and smog-producing pollutants like sulfur dioxide.

And then there’s the super-heavy batteries used in electric vehicles.

If the environmental argument doesn’t do it for you, the car industry, of all industries, will try ethics. The ethics of batteries, that is. The battery business uses 42 percent of global cobalt production, after all. And where does cobalt come from? Why, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation torn by civil war and hobbled by corruption. And if that’s not an argument against cobalt, get this: the ore is often dug out by child labourers. Rounding out the debate are the poisons and dangerous particles released as a side effect of batteries, which have to be disposed of. Toxic waste, in other words.

The problem with the argument for the internal combustion engine is that it doesn’t allow for momentum and innovation. Today’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast:

“The EV revolution is going to hit the car market even harder and faster than BNEF predicted a year ago. EVs are on track to accelerate to 54% of new car sales by 2040. Tumbling battery prices mean that EVs will have lower lifetime costs, and will be cheaper to buy, than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in most countries by 2025-29.”

Thursday, here: The results of tomorrow’s Diesel Summit in Berlin.


The Revenge of the Deplorables

Monday, 14 November, 2016 0 Comments

Deplorables: Nounified, pluralized form of deplorable, an adjective meaning “lamentable, very sad, grievous, miserable, wretched” and usually used in reference to events, conditions, or circumstances. The adjective is derived from the Latin verb plorare, to weep or bewail.

That definition is provided by “Chief Wordworker” Nancy Friedman on her Fritinancy website and she goes on to explain that the most topical use of the word occurred during remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on 9 September at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City.

That was then. Now, Bloomberg View columnist Clive Crook is writing that the “Deplorables” are having a moment. Snippet:

“If you can’t manage genuine respect for the people whose votes you want, at least try to fake it. However, forgive me if I go further. It really ought to be possible to manage some actual respect. The complaints that Trump is addressing deserve better than to be recast in caricature then dismissed with contempt… Elite opinion admits of only one answer: People are more stupid and bigoted than we ever imagined. Without denying that there’s plenty of stupidity and bigotry to go around, I think it’s more a matter of elite incompetence. Elite opinion heard the rebels’ complaints, but instead of acknowledging what was valid, it rejected the grievances in every particular and dismissed the complainers as fools or worse. The elites weren’t deaf. They were dumb.”

And blind, too.


Samsung up in smoke; HTC and Huawei burned

Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 0 Comments

In business schools all over the world, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 case study is guaranteed to be popular. Case studies about the fall of video-rental companies or the rise of low-cost airlines are interesting in their own way, but because so many business students have a smartphone made in Asia, this one is, like, personal.

Fire Today’s press release headline is worthy of study: “Samsung Will Ask All Global Partners to Stop Sales and Exchanges of Galaxy Note7 While Further Investigation Takes Place.” One can almost sense the trust people have in Samsung’s products going up in smoke as that was being typed, and the jokes have started: “Galaxy Note 7 — the smartphone that doubles as a lighter.”

It’s the cover-up that gets you, they say, and it seems all the initial work Samsung did to undo the Note 7 damage has been undone by its ongoing denial that the phone was still dangerous. With its aggressive, can-do culture, this world leader in electronics could not imagine making a disastrous safety mistake… Twice!

Samsung’s nightmare does not automatically mean good news for HTC, however. Google has picked the Taiwanese electronics company to assemble its new Pixel smartphone, but by becoming for Google what Foxconn is to Apple, HTC has lost status. “HTC, You Loser” wrote Bloomberg technology columnist Tim Culpan: “After spending years building its design and engineering chops, HTC has been demoted to water boy. Supplying Google with smartphones isn’t a victory — it’s an embarrassing end to HTC’s decade-long campaign to break out of that contract-manufacturing business and stand on its own two feet.”

The catastrophe at Samsung and the degrading of HTC should work in favour of Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant, but David Ruddock of Android Police pours cold water on that one:

“Google began talks with Huawei to produce its 2016 smartphone portfolio. Google, though, set a hard rule for the partnership: Huawei would be relegated to a manufacturing role, producing phones with Google branding. The Huawei logo and name would be featured nowhere on the devices’ exteriors or in their marketing… According to our source, word spread inside Huawei quickly that global CEO Richard Yu himself ended negotiations with Google right then and there.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought forward its earnings report for the fourth fiscal quarter (third calendar quarter) of 2016. “Due to a scheduling conflict, Apple’s conference call to discuss fourth fiscal quarter results has been moved to Tuesday, October 25,” the company announced yesterday. It’s not clear what the conflict is, but there’s no smoke without fire. Also yesterday, Apple’s share price bounced 1.75 percent, hitting an intraday high of $116.75, the highest level since 10 December 2015.


Bloomberg decrypted and fully charged

Thursday, 6 October, 2016 0 Comments

The technology industry is global “and supremely interconnected,” says Bloomberg as it introduces its new tech site for desktops and phones. Bloomberg Technology will offer live web shows on topics like computer security, a weekly video series on robots and a podcast called Decrypted that “will unlock hidden technology stories from around the world.” Decrypted is an intriguing, Snowdenish title for a podcast and the mandatory newsletter is equally hip. It’s energetically named “Fully Charged”. The promo writers spared no purple when typing up the site blurb. Snippet:

“An engineer on one continent changes the positioning of an electrode, a fraction of the size of a butterfly wing, and on the other side of the world, it ripples into a media thunderstorm.”

Bloomberg Technology


Who will buy the New York Times?

Friday, 6 May, 2016 0 Comments

“We have tried everything we could but sadly we just haven’t reached the sales figures we needed to make it work financially,” New Day editor, Alison Phillips, on Facebook yesterday. Birthed on 22 February, the newspaper was buried on 5 May.

How can the world’s remaining newspapers avoid the grim fate of New Day? Well, the New York Times is getting into the food delivery business, Bloomberg reports: “This summer, the New York Times will begin selling ingredients for recipes from its NYT Cooking website as the newspaper publisher seeks new revenue sources to offset declines in print. The Times is partnering with meal-delivery startup Chef’d, which will send the ingredients to readers within 48 hours.”

The NYT is also placing a bet on travel. “Times Journeys” charges readers thousands for tours of theocracies and autocracies like Iran and Cuba. “Chernobyl: Nuclear Tourism” is packaged as “A journey focused on science & nature,” while “An Exploration of Southeast Asia” is undertaken “Aboard the 264-passenger L’Austral, designed to serve both the chic and the casual.” The vessel is “sleek and intimate” and “you’ll feel as if you were on your own private yacht.” With the “Owner’s Suite” priced from $18,390, one would hope so.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times, in a “Big Read” piece by Henry Mance titled “UK newspapers: Rewriting the story,” pronounced the newspaper business dead on delivery. There is no viable economic model for a written news product, Mance concluded. There is, of course, the FT’s solution to the problem. It sold itself to Japan’s Nikkei last summer for $1.3 billion. So, who will buy the New York Times?


AlphaGo was yesterday, Boston Dynamics is today

Friday, 18 March, 2016 0 Comments

How fickle these times are. How quickly glory fades and how rapidly doubt steps into its shoes. For example: Google was being deluged with praise last week after AlphaGo won the DeepMind Challenge against the champion Lee Sedol. Suddenly, the scary concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was, well, less scary and Google got lots of love. How short our attention span is, however.

Yesterday, Bloomberg rattled the rosy future with the headline, “Google Puts Boston Dynamics Up for Sale in Robotics Retreat.” The talk on the street was of the inability of Boston Dynamics to produce marketable robots anytime soon. Hence the reported “For Sale” sign. But there’s another aspect to the story, one which relates to the scary AI scenario. Boston Dynamics posted a humanoid robotics video on YouTube last month that made many people uneasy and the mother company, Alphabet, sensing another Google Glass moment, perhaps, began to count the negative publicity cost. Bloomberg quoted from e-mails published on an internal online forum that were visible to all Google employees:

“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” wrote Courtney Hohne, a director of communications at Google and the spokeswoman for Google X. Hohne asked her colleagues to “distance X from this video,” and wrote, “we don’t want to trigger a whole separate media cycle about where BD really is at Google.”

After the match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, the scoreline read: Machines, 4, Humanity, 1. With Google’s retreat from robots, some would says it’s now Machines, 4, Humanity, 2. But that will probably change next week. This is a fast-paced game and the job-eating robots are advancing, despite the headlines.


The return of the Boiler Room

Friday, 15 May, 2015 0 Comments

Long-serving British poppy-seller died after being ‘tormented’ by cold-callers” is the disturbing headline on the Guardian story about 92-year-old Olive Cooke, whose body was recovered from Avon gorge in Bristol. There’s more nuance to the story than the headline suggests, but we do learn that “she had felt under pressure from the number of requests she received from charities by phone and letter”, and there is enough evidence to suggest that Ms Cooke was being targeted by those who have made a business out of exploiting the goodwill of the elderly.

But it’s not only the elderly that are at risk from the cold callers. “Boiler Rooms Meet Boardrooms as Scammers Invade City of London” is the title on a Bloomberg story by Neil Callanan today. Snippet: “Cold-calling con artists promising outsized returns are jumping on a surge in the availability of serviced offices at prestigious locations to give their operations an air of respectability, investigators in London’s main financial district say. These ‘boiler rooms’ dupe investors out of about 1.25 million pounds ($2 million) on average before they ‘rip and tear’ and disappear with little trace, they say.”

Definition: “A boiler room is a place where high-pressure salespeople use banks of telephones to call lists of potential investors (known as a ‘sucker lists’) to sell speculative, even fraudulent, securities. A boiler room is called as such because of the high-pressure selling.” Source: Investopedia

The return of the boiler room brings back memories of March 2000, when the NASDAQ peaked at 5132. That was the day when the dot-com bubble burst and lots of people lost their fortunes and their savings. With perfect timing, Ben Younger’s Boiler Room premiered that year. It has lost none of its punch or relevance with the passage of time. BTW, the NASDAQ closed at 5050.80 yesterday, up 1.39%.


Useful tragedy beats manipulative clickbait

Thursday, 13 February, 2014 0 Comments

The web was filled with wonder last year when an upstart site called Upworthy garnered 7.8 million pageviews for a story titled “Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down Crying Explaining Something That Every Woman Sadly Already Experienced.” This was then topped with “The Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular,” which racked up 17 million pageviews. The clear and unmistakable message is that manipulative clickbait is a road paved with digital gold. Business plan: Write irresistible headlines + spam the Facebook News Feed.

But then Zuckerberg and Sandberg turned off the big tap and that has been bad bad news for Upworthy, which has experienced a 46 percent traffic decline in just two months. The moral of the story, as Megan McCardle puts it so nicely in her latest Bloomberg column, is: “When you build your business around Facebook, ultimately, it’s Facebook’s business you’re building, not your own.”

The News Long before the fall, however, lots of people had tired of the Upworthy scam, er, strategy, with its incessant drumbeat of banality, which it pawned off in such a way that critics were left feeling like curmudgeons who hated everything positive about our planet. What’s there not to like about good clickbait news? A lot, actually, says Alain de Botton in his new book, The News: A User’s Manual. The philosopher is backing up his thesis with The Philosophers’ Mail, a site that aims to make us think more about the news we consume. Rather delightfully, it borrows from the Daily Mail factory of headline-writing and design.

Why isn’t the news more cheerful?” asks today’s top story, topically. Snippet:

“At the Philosopher’s Mail, we’re not into good news or bad news. We start from a different place. Our primary move in selecting stories is to ask, ‘Would it be helpful to know this?’ This determines whether a story goes in or out. In order to live your life well, you need to deal with negative and positive information. News can very well be helpful when it is talking about appalling events. And it can be extremely unhelpful when the stories it tells us are cheery.”

Instead, de Botton & Co. are serving up useful tragedy and helpful victory. Their stories won’t get as many clicks as Upworthy’s “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds” (11.8 million pageviews), but they’re not building their house on Facebook’s land, either.

This just in: “Alain de Botton — why I’ve started my own Mail Online: Media moguls aren’t philosophers. So it’s time for philosophers to become media moguls.”


Intrade didn’t predict this

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 0 Comments

“With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity on www.intrade.com.” So says the grim sentence that greets visitors to the website of the celebrated online-prediction exchange. Citing Irish law — Intrade is legally domiciled in the blessed land of St. Patrick — it said that it had been obliged to close customers’ accounts. What happened? And what were the “circumstances recently discovered”?

Well, more than a million trades took place on Intrade last year, but just 52,166 this year so far, according to the site’s statistics page, which is now offline. That must have hurt and something grave must have contributed to the fall off the cliff. Bloomberg, using the “irregularities” word, goes there. Missing in action, too, is the Intrade market page on the papal conclave, which begins today. As recently as Sunday, it had been predicting the election of an Italian pontiff, with an implied probability of 47 percent. Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, was the clear favorite with an estimated 25 percent chance of white smoke, while Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana followed with 19 percent. Now, alas, the papal electors must get on with the job in Rome without the aid of Intrade, a very worldly enterprise that fell to Earth because of “circumstances recently discovered”.

Rome