Here are eight fascinating things I read this week.
The United States spent $100 million making a movie about space. India spent $74 million and actually went to Mars:
The mission's shoestring budget was perhaps its most notable distinction: At a cost of just $74 million, India's space agency put the satellite into orbit for a fraction of what other nations have spent.
The U.S. Maven satellite, for example, arrived in orbit on Sunday in a mission that cost taxpayers $671 million. The European Space Agency's 2003 mission to Mars had an initial budget of nearly $200 million.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has noted that even the Hollywood thriller "Gravity" had a larger budget at $100 million.
Ben Carlson shows the percentage of stocks that fell at least 70% from 1980 to 2014 with minimal recovery, ever:
This is an amazing chart showing how much wealth inequality has grown over the last 60 years:
Former PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian talks about work-life balance:
Americans are kinda clueless about CEO pay:
In the US, people think a CEO would "ideally" earn 6.7 times what an unskilled worker would make, but they think those CEOs do earn around 30 times that worker's pay ... and the average CEO actually earns more than 350 times that pay.
Companies love buybacks:
Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings -- a total of $2.4 trillion -- to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees.
Rats are actually pretty good investors:
One project is Michael Marcovici's Rat Trader. The book describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats "outperformed some of the world's leading human fund managers." The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result, according to the text. Marcovici's plan, he writes, is to breed enough of them to set up a hedge fund.
Here's a great new interview with Warren Buffett:
Enjoy your weekend.
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