8 Fascinating Reads

There are more good news articles on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating pieces I read this week.

"Facts."

I'm of the belief that nobody has much clue what's going on with most things. Reports like this confirm that view: 

A reporter for the Ottawa Citizen wrote a plagiarized, completely incoherent paper about soils, cancer treatment, and Mars.

And eight scientific journals want to publish it.

Tom Spears' paper (the full title: "Acidity and aridity: Soil inorganic carbon storage exhibits complex relationship with low-pH soils and myeloablation followed by autologous PBSC infusion") was written as part of a sting operation to expose predatory science journals.

How not to invest

This chart, by StockTwits, is just brilliant: 

Fall from grace

America is no longer the richest middle-class country in the world: 

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

Life and death

This chart, via economist Justin Wolfers, is pretty shocking:

Aging

Japan has become the global equivalent of Boca Raton, Florida:

Japan's population slid for a third year with the proportion of people over the age of 65 at a global record, underscoring the challenge the world's most-indebted economy faces in financing its aging society.

The population declined by 0.17 percent to 127.3 million as of Oct. 1, as the country maintains one of the world's lowest birth rates. People age 65 or older made up one fourth of the total, the highest-ever percentage, as postwar baby boomers head into retirement, the Internal Affairs Ministry said on its website yesterday. That's the highest of any country in the world, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

Beyond room service

The luxury hotel industry just went into a whole new dimension:

Four Seasons has a new weapon in the luxury travel wars: its own Boeing 757.

The Toronto-based luxury resort company said Wednesday that it's launching the first Four Seasons-branded private jet. The plane will come with many of the amenities of a Four Seasons suite—from puffy duvets and chef-prepared meals—and will ferry passengers to Four Seasons resorts around the world on tours that cost more $100,000 per person.

Even playing field

David Einhorn sums up the problem with high-frequency trading, pointing to Michael Lewis's new book Flash Boys:

"These problems fall into the classic dilemma of concentrated benefit and diffuse harm ... Lots of investors lose pennies and as a result don't care too much about market structure; the firms who have based their business around picking up those pennies care a lot about shaping the structure. To overcome this imbalance of interests, the issue needs attention and discussion so that the many who are losing pennies can organize a response. In this regard, Flash Boys has provided a great service.

Commitment

Jeff Bezos shows how Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) keeps good employees around: 

Pay to Quit is pretty simple. Once a year, we offer to pay our associates to quit. The first year the offer is made, it's for $2,000. Then it goes up one thousand dollars a year until it reaches $5,000. The headline on the offer is "Please Don't Take This Offer." We hope they don't take the offer; we want them to stay. Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee staying somewhere they don't want to be isn't healthy for the employee or the company. 

Enjoy your weekend. 

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  • Report this Comment On April 26, 2014, at 11:00 AM, randallw wrote:

    Japan is a great test case for what is going to happen to the global economy as world population growth slows....stops....and eventually starts to decline. Our entire economic paradigm is based on population growth - it is all we have ever known. What happens when population growth stops? Watch Japan very closely...

  • Report this Comment On April 29, 2014, at 1:17 PM, mikecart1 wrote:

    That "how not to invest" chart is 100% accurate.

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