Netflix's Plan to Rewire Our Culture

Enjoy these three reads to feed your curiosity in business, investing, and life.

"Wall Street is 'the most manipulated scam and corrupt marketplace on earth right now.'"
An oldie but a goodie, this story was originally published on Wired.com in 2000. Remember the day-trading craze of the late 1990s? If that question made you cringe, then this story may bring back some ugly memories. As the S&P and Dow soldier higher, now is a good time to remember that investing is not trading; investing is buying ownership in companies you believe in for the long term. 

He views the competition among brokerage firms, market makers, and the new electronic trading system merely as a staged showbiz feud, and he pictures the Nasdaq market as an evil partnership: The online brokerages lure new herds of sheep into the game and collect the admission fees while the market makers do the shearing. "Right now," Anthony says, "people just get wild hairs up their ass, and all of a sudden a whole sector will move and there is no rhyme or reason to it. Take online banking. Net banks are at 20 or 30 bucks and then they shoot up to 200 because everybody is talking about how people will do more banking online, and over a four-month period they drop back down to 20 bucks. The more volatile the market, the more risk associated with it, and undoubtedly the more losers. You have the public versus the professional, and the public is going to lose in the end."

"Netflix's War on Mass Culture"
In this long form article from the New Republic, we are all challenged -- as consumers and as investors -- to understand just how significant an impact Netflix  (NASDAQ: NFLX  )  could have on the media business, on entertainment content, and on human behavior. 

Pursuing a strategy that runs counter to many of Hollywood's most deep-seated hierarchies and norms, Netflix seeks nothing less than to reprogram Americans themselves. What will happen to our mass culture if it succeeds?

Vladimir Nabokov believed that humanity's highest yearning ought to be to leave behind any desire to be up-to-date, to be unconcerned with what is happening now. As he put it in his notes to Pale Fire: "Time without consciousness -- lower animal world; time with consciousness -- man; consciousness without time -- some still higher state."

The business of entertainment has not generally shared Nabokov's view. It values timeliness above all, creating a hierarchy so fundamental that it resembles natural law: New is better than old, live trumps prerecorded, original episodes always beat reruns.

China's Achilles' heel?
Thanks to the revolution in shale gas technology, the U.S. is on the verge of becoming the world's largest non-OPEC producer of crude oil. Warren Buffett is investing billions in ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) . The business of oil is on the up and up here in the U.S. of A.

But in China, with every barrel of increasing demand for oil and gas, the country becomes that much more dependent on foreign supplies. Could this be the Achilles' heel for the world's second largest economy? From WorldCrunch.com

Another report pointed out that the difference between daily oil consumption and production in the U.S. has shrunk to 624 barrels in September. That same figure is 630 for China making it now the world's biggest net crude oil importer.

China's oil import dependency has risen from 32% at the beginning of this century to 57% last year. In the past few years, Chinese car ownership has exploded while China's oil production has grown only slightly.

A few days ago, China's National Energy Administration incorporated shale gas for the first time as a strategic and emerging industry. The Chinese government is expected to increase financial support to this industry by reducing fees and royalties and adding new tax breaks to shale gas mining firms.

3 Stocks for America's Next Energy Boom
Record oil and natural gas production is revolutionizing the United States' energy position. Finding the right plays while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, the Motley Fool is offering a comprehensive look at three energy companies set to soar during this transformation in the energy industry. To find out which three companies are spreading their wings, check out the special free report, "3 Stocks for the American Energy Bonanza." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 


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