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8 Fascinating Reads

Happy Friday! There are more good news articles, commentaries, and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating pieces I read this week.

Immigration has a big impact on the economy. As The New York Times writesthere has been a monumental shift in immigration trends between the U.S. and Mexico: 

Americans now make up more than three-quarters of Mexico's roughly one million documented foreigners, up from around two-thirds in 2000, leading to a historic milestone: more Americans have been added to the population of Mexico over the past few years than Mexicans have been added to the population of the United States, according to government data in both nations.

This is as predictable as it is unfortunate:

U.S. equity funds recommended by consultants underperformed other funds by 1.1 per cent a year between 1999 and 2011, according to analysis of 29 consultancies accounting for more than 90 per cent of the market by a team from Oxford university's Saïd Business School.

"The enormous power wielded by consultants is not matched by their performance," said Jose Martinez, one of the authors of the study.

"In U.S. equities, one of the largest asset classes, investment consultants as an industry appear to add no value in fund selection," added co-author Howard Jones

Derek Thompson shows Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone generates more annual revenue than most of the world's mega companies:

A product that did not exist in May 2007 is now a bigger business than 474 companies in the S&P 500.

Tomorrow's car
The Economist writes a great piece on the potential of self-driving cars: 

Autonomous vehicles' most transformative contribution might be what they get up to when people aren't in the vehicles. One suddenly has access to cheap, fast, ultra-reliable, on-demand courier service. Imagine never having to run out for milk or a missing ingredient again. Imagine dropping a malfunctioning computer into a freight AV to be ferried off to a repair shop and returned, all without you having to do anything. Imagine inventories at offices, shops and so on refilling constantly and as needed: assuming "shops" is still a meaningful concept in a world where things all come to you.

Nate Silver talks statistics:

A lot of times when data isn't very reliable, intuition isn't very reliable either. The problem is people see it as an either/or, when it sometimes is both or neither, as well. The question should be how good is a model relative to our spitball, gut-feel approach. And also how much do we know about this problem. There are some issues where you just don't have a good answer and you have to hedge your risks as a business and not pretend that you're more certain than you really are.

Where the jobs aren't
The Wall Street Journal writes on disappearing middle-skill jobs: 

It's a tough time to be a bank teller, production worker, or other so-called "middle-skilled" professional.

For at least a few decades, employment in those positions -- which have historically offered workers without a college degree a berth in the middle class -- has been falling sharply. About 25% of the employed workforce in 1985 held middle-skilled jobs; now just above 15% hold those positions, according to a new paper from the Federal Reserve.

For at least a few decades, employment in those positions -- which have historically offered workers without a college degree a berth in the middle class -- has been falling sharply. About 25% of the employed workforce in 1985 held middle-skilled jobs; now just above 15% hold those positions, according to a new paper from the Federal Reserve.

Economist Tyler Cowen talks about the U.S. energy boom: Should we still be talking about "Peak Oil"?  

Tyler Cowen: I don't see "peak fossil fuel" being a binding constraint over most of the next 30 years. That said, new supplies take a while to come to market, and the global economy is still constrained by oil supply scarcity. This was evident during the price spike dating from the time of chaos in Libya. There just wasn't enough oil for the global economy to manage a higher growth rate, and only now is the U.S. economy moving beyond that constraint. India still faces it.

How the economy works
Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio produced a wonderful 30-minute video on how the economy works. It's well worth your time: 

Enjoy your weekend. 

More on the economy
The Motley Fool's new free report, "Everything You Need to Know About the National Debt," walks you through with step-by-step explanations about how the government spends your money, where it gets tax revenue from, the future of spending, and what a $16 trillion debt means for our future. Click here to read the full report!

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2013, at 3:52 PM, MAACPRIME wrote:

    I tried reading Dalio's Principles. It got me thinking he'd make a great Bond villain.

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2013, at 4:32 PM, ynotc wrote:

    Immigragation; the big difference between U.S. citizens going to Mexico and Mexicans coming to our country is that we do it legally and above board and we add value to thier economy whereas the opposite is true when they come here.

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2013, at 5:06 PM, Schneidku40 wrote:

    "Tomorrow's Car" makes me immediately have a fast-forward thought of what humans will look like in that world, and it's exactly how they look on "Wall-E." Fat slobs who sit in a chair all day and have everything brought to them.

  • Report this Comment On September 28, 2013, at 3:33 PM, Waseem80 wrote:

    Great Video. Thanks.

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 12:26 PM, AltReality11 wrote:

    The real problem with autonomous vehicles isn't getting them to the destination address. It's finding a parking spot, making the actual delivery (transference of product or deliverable) and then returning home and parking.

    I think this is somewhat reminiscent of the promises of modern US medicine, where we spend twice as much per capita than most of the western world and yet don't get the result; our life expectancy is the lowest of the top 10 countries with health care expenditures! e.g. France, with a health expenditure per capita: US$4,118 and a life expectancy: 82.2 years. Meanwhile here in the US we spend $8,508 per capita with a life expectancy of 78.7 years.

    Is this relevant? I think so.

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