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10 Sunday Reads – The Big Picture


Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:

Behind the doors of a Chinese hacking company, a sordid culture fueled by influence, alcohol and sex: China’s hacking industry rose from the country’s early hacker culture, first appearing in the 1990s as citizens bought computers and went online. I-Soon’s founder and CEO, Wu Haibo, was among them. Wu was a member of China’s first hacktivist group, Green Army — a group known informally as the “Whampoa Academy” after a famed Chinese military school. Wu and some other hackers distinguished themselves by declaring themselves “red hackers” — patriots who offered their services to the Chinese Communist Party, in contrast to the freewheeling, anarchist and anti-establishment ethos popular among many coders. (AP)

What’s the Investment Case For Gold? From 1980-2023, gold was up just 3.2% per year. That lagged the returns for stocks (+11.7%), bonds (+6.5%) and cash (+4.0%). In that same timeframe, the annual inflation rate was 3.2%, meaning gold had a real return over a 44 year period of a big fat zero. (Wealth of Common Sense)

Restaurants Don’t Want Your Party of Six: The noise, longer seatings and smaller per-person bills are negatives, so reservations for big groups are hard to come by (Wall Street Journal)

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results (2024 Edition) The 16 companies in this report are behind at least 588 individual brands. Combined, estimates are they pick up around 3.5 billion clicks from Google each month. An average of 5.9 million monthly clicks per site.  (Detailed)

• Shrinkflation 101: The Economics of Smaller Groceries: Have you noticed your grocery products shrinking? Here’s how that gets counted — and what gets missed — in inflation data. (New York Times)

The Absurd Problem of New York City Trash And the Trade-Offs Required to Fix It. In New York City, trash has no dedicated space all its own. It fits, instead, in plastic bags squeezed into the in-between spaces of the city. It fills the gaps between buildings, the landings of stairwells, any available turf between two fixed objects. Say, a parked car and a dining shed. Four or five black plastic bags of trash wedged between a car and a dining shed on the street. Even towering piles of trash can be almost invisible to inured New Yorkers. But step outside the city for a moment — or view it with a visitor’s eyes — and a sense of absurdity may set in: How can one of the world’s greatest cities handle its garbage like this? (New York Times)

To Stop a Shooter: Why would an armed officer stand by as a school shooting unfolds? Scot Peterson, the “Coward of Broward,” stood by as a slaughter unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Why would an armed officer stand by as a school shooting unfolds?(The Atlantic)

What’s Really Going On with Immigration? To quantify the scale of the migrant crisis, news outlets typically highlight the record numbers of people who have been apprehended at the southern border over the past year. Yet while this figure sheds light on what’s going on at the border, it does not address the larger question of what’s going on with net immigration overall. (Demography Unplugged)

Is The New York Times’ newsroom just a bunch of Ivy Leaguers? (Kinda, sorta.) They’re not a majority, based on a new look at education data, but they are wildly overrepresented. (Nieman Lab)

The Oceans We Knew Are Already Gone: As far as humanity is concerned, the transformation of our seas is “effectively permanent.” (The Atlantic)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Sean Dobson, Amherst Group CEO & CIO. The firm focuses on mortgage and  securitized products, as well as a real estate investment, management and operating platform. They manage $16.8 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), Commercial Real Estate CRE), and single-family rentals.

Past Interest Rate Cut Cycles

Source: Visual Capitalist

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