Reversion to the mean
The New York Times writes about housing's drag on the economy:
If building activity returned merely to its postwar average proportion of the economy, growth would jump this year to a booming, 1990s-like level of 4 percent, from today's mediocre 2-plus percent. The additional building, renovating and selling of homes would add about 1.5 million jobs and knock about a percentage point off the unemployment rate, now 6.7 percent. That activity would close nearly 40 percent of the gap between America's current weak economic state and full economic health.
Bill Gates talks about the end of poverty:
Q: In your annual letter from the foundation, you argued that there will essentially be no poor countries in the world by 2035. Why do you believe that?
A: We made really unbelievable progress in international development. Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia – there's an unbelievable number of success stories. The places that haven't done well are clustered in Africa, and we still have Haiti, where I was last week, as well as Yemen, Afghanistan and North Korea, which is kind of a special case. But assuming there's no war or anything, we ought to be able to take even the coastal African countries and get them up to a reasonable situation over the next 20 years. You get more leverage because the number of countries that need aid is going down, and countries like China and India will still have problems, but they're self-sufficient. And over the next 20 years, you get better tools, new vaccines, a better understanding of diseases and, hopefully, cheaper ways of making energy. So time is very much on your side in terms of raising the human condition. Even things like decent toilets, which is a particular project of the foundation, can make a big difference.
Want to be more creative? Go for a walk:
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was known for his walking meetings. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has also been seen holding meetings on foot. And perhaps you've paced back and forth on occasion to drum up ideas.
A new study by Stanford researchers provides an explanation for this.
Creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter, according to a study co-authored by Marily Oppezzo, a Stanford doctoral graduate in educational psychology, and Daniel Schwartz, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education. The study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.
The Onion satirically reports on saving for college:
In an effort to plan for their newborn daughter's future, local parents Jonathan and Kate Bradbury have shrewdly begun investing in a college fund that will pay for an estimated 12 weeks of their child's education, the couple confirmed Wednesday. "As soon as Ashley was born, we started putting aside a little money each week just to make sure that when the time comes, we'll almost be able to cover her first semester of freshman year," Kate Bradbury told reporters of the plan that will help offset nearly three months of room and board, the most basic meal plan, and four total textbooks. "It's just a small amount out of our paychecks, but it adds up. And it's worth it to have the ease of mind that comes from knowing that, after inflation, we'll be able to cover barely 9 percent of our little girl's tuition as long as she takes the minimum course load and doesn't do too many activities." Bradbury added that she knew all of the scrimping and saving would ultimately pay off when she finally sees her college-educated daughter land a three-month unpaid internship.
Business Insider shows the density of Wal-Marts across the country:
KJ Dell'Antonia decided to stop being busy:
I hate being busy. Busy implies a rushed sense of cheery urgency, a churning motion, a certain measure of impending chaos, all of which make me anxious. Busy is being in one place doing one thing with the nagging sense you that you ought to be somewhere else doing something different. I like to be calm. I like to have nothing in particular to do and nowhere in particular to be. And as often as I can — even when I'm dropping a child off here or there, or running an errand, or waving in the carpool line — I don't think of myself as busy. I'm where I need to be, doing, for the most part, what I want to do.
Howard Marks asks if you're willing to be successful:
Who wouldn't want to be great? No one. Everyone would love to have outstanding performance. The real question is whether you dare to do the things that are necessary in order to be great. Are you willing to be different, and are you willing to be wrong? In order to have a chance at great results, you have to be open to being both. Here's a line from Dare to Be Great: "This just in: you can't take the same actions as everyone else and expect to outperform." Simple, but still appropriate.
Jason Zweig writes about enormous share buybacks:
Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.
Enjoy your weekend.