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8 Fascinating Reads

Morgan Housel
September 27, 2013

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 19