January 25, 2016

Credit Suisse - Animating Mr. Market: Adopting a Proper Psychological Attitude 5-15min

To be an active investor, you must believe in market inefficiency to get opportunities and in market efficiency for those opportunities to turn into profits. ... The Mr. Market metaphor is very powerful because it makes an abstract idea concrete, encouraging an appropriate way to think about markets. ... One way to animate Mr. Market is to consider the wisdom of crowds. What’s key is that crowds are wise under some conditions and mad when any of those conditions are violated. ... Diversity breakdowns, which can happen for sociological as well as technical reasons, lead to extremes. ... Look for cases where uniform belief has led to a mispricing of expectations and hence a way to make money.

Aeon - Money talks 5-15min

There is a common story about what money is, which is based on a common story about how money came to be. In the beginning, people lived in small communities of blood relatives and fended for themselves. They hunted and gathered for their subsistence, and learned how to weed out undesirable plants so that they would have easy access to plants that produce food. As people became more adept at cultivation, populations grew. And people found that they could not always grow or procure from nature the things they needed in order to survive. Trade was born. ... People in different communities had surpluses of different goods. They traded these goods with one another. They established value and conducted their trade by bartering a certain quantity of one good for a quantity of a different good. ... lugging around his own goods in sufficient quantities to trade became burdensome and impractical. Furthermore, stockpiling his surplus might have worked up to a point, but once the mice and the weather got at it, it quickly became worthless. ... In some accounts, people decided to use a thing of value to them, and intrinsically recognisable as valuable to others, for money. It would initially serve as a means of exchange, and would gradually take on other classic functions of money as people expanded their use of it to include the payment of fines, tribute or fees (as in ancient administrative states, tribute-based empires or the tax collectors of the Old Testament). Certain kinds of shells were good: they were pretty, of uniform size and shape, easily transportable, and durable. Precious metals were even better: they were universally valued; they did not rot, rust or degrade; and they were easy to store and to transport. ... Other accounts consider implausible the idea that certain things are of intrinsic value. ... an important problem in the history of money: is it a commodity in itself, or a token of an existing agreement, an agreement in turn resting on a prior social relationship? ... are new forms of money really more efficient? They often come at a price, after all. What does efficiency mean? Efficient for what purposes, and when?

Fortune - Can Airbnb Unite The World? 5-15min

The Airbnb headquarters takes up three floors of a former battery factory in San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood and houses roughly 1,100 employees, but its secondary function hits you as soon as you walk in: The place is a museum. Chesky, an art school graduate, designed the conference rooms as exact replicas of more than a dozen of the most significant Airbnb listings, including the nearby apartment where he and his cofounder Joe Gebbia were living when they rented out three air mattresses during a design conference to help pay the rent. (Chesky still lives there, periodically offering the couch to travelers for $40 a night.) Dollhouse-like dioramas of well-known listings greet guests near the lobby, and framed artwork lines the walls throughout, accompanied by museum-style didactic panels that offer an interpretation. An entire wall is dedicated to exploring the creative origins of Airbnb’s new logo, and another exhibit attempts to imagine what Airbnb’s flag might look like if the company were a country. One possibility: AIRBNB IS THE NEXT STAGE OF HUMAN EVOLUTION, overlaid on a scientific illustration that shows our progression from apes to cavemen to humans. None of this is done with much of a sense of humor, and as I mull the March of Progress, I wonder if there has ever been a company with such an expansive sense of its own importance. ... This is no exaggeration: During Airbnb’s first year in business, every venture capitalist Chesky pitched turned him down, and few guests were willing to risk staying with people they’d never met. Chesky and his cofounders relied on storytelling to make the idea seem friendly and, crucially, safe. It was a tall order, but Chesky is a gifted storyteller.

Outside - How the New Science of Freezing Can Save Your Life 5-15min

Amazing stories of animals and humans surviving extreme cold are fueling futuristic research that verges on sci-fi. We took a deep dive into the DNA of icy wood frogs, a novel approach to cardiac arrest, the potential for cryopreservation, and other shocking developments from the new science of freezing. ... doctors are discovering that when it comes to hypothermia, the line between life and death isn’t clear-cut. If you become severely hypothermic before your heart stops, the cold can actually become a protectant, making it possible for you to enter a state similar to suspended animation in which your metabolism slows to such a pace that your brain and organs can survive on a whisper of oxygen. (For every one-degree-Celsius drop in temperature, metabolism slows by 5 to 7 percent.) If a victim is discovered in time, he’ll appear dead—dilated pupils, no detectable pulse, no breath—but if a rescuer knows to start CPR and get help, he might have a fighting chance. This is true especially if he’s transported to a hospital with the technology to perform a procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, an advanced life-support system.