Happy Friday! Here are eight great things I read this week.
Soda was once a timeless business people called recession-proof. Now it's slowly withering:
Sales of carbonated soft drinks slid for the tenth straight year in 2014 as Pepsi and Coca Cola each posted modest declines, according to a key industry report that showed volume has now settled to levels last seen in the mid 1990s.
For the first time ever, Americans are spending more money at restaurants and bars than they are at grocery stores:
Now you see it
This is amazing:
Solar energy is the future. The problem is, it's been the future for a long time. And while progress has been made, using the sun as a primary source of power hasn't really broken through.
One possible breakthrough, however, is becoming clearer -- literally. The engineers at Ubiquitous Energy are developing solar panels that are completely transparent and as thin as a laminate. They can do this by creating see-through solar cells that absorb only the invisible parts of the solar spectrum -- ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
Steve Jobs had a great definition of a business:
The company is one of the most amazing inventions of humans, this abstract construct that's incredibly powerful. Even so, for me, it's about the products. It's about working together with really fun, smart, creative people and making wonderful things. It's not about the money. What a company is, then, is a group of people who can make more than just the next big thing. It's a talent, it's a capability, it's a culture, it's a point of view, and it's a way of working together to make the next thing, and the next one, and the next one.
There's an idea that fund managers have an easier time beating the market in small-cap stocks because there's less competition than in larger companies. Josh Brown shows that just isn't the case: 88% of small-cap fund managers underperformed an index over the last 10 years:
Josh Brown puts inflation in perspective:
The cost of living has increased 13-fold since the end of WWII. The dividend payout of the S&P 500 has increased 56-fold.— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) March 15, 2015
This is a key statement about balance:
"Every single financial decision is either moving you toward or away from your ideal life," he said. "To me, that's a fascinating idea. People said, 'Am I going to do the things that I want to make me happy, or am I going to go after money?' Your ideal self and your financial self are often at war."
Who needs 'em?
New bank formation is near the lowest it's ever been:
Have a good weekend.