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Interesting topic and article Amanda. I agree that it can be difficult to predict how the isolationist pendulum will swing from administration to administration. It’s even been interesting to note how republicans used to be the champions of free trade with Obama being against it during his campaign but then for it when he supported the PTP. Hilary Clinton followed Obama in supporting free trade as Secretary of State but then joined Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in bashing it. Both parties now seem to be opposed to free trade (unfortunately). However, this anti-free trade movement seems more like populist rhetoric than actual beliefs of many politicians.

Academics and research still generally support free trade and it is hard to imagine that changing. As a result, I see this isolationism as a populist fad and less of a long-term trend. I think Ford should be cautious but bet on manufacturing in places that help it be cost competitive. Others suggestions of continuing to have a breadth of manufacturing locations is a solid hedge against isolationism, but spreading themselves too thin can cause problems from a cost efficiency standpoint should isolationism turn out to be more rhetoric than substance.

Really interesting potentially impact of pulling out of NAFTA with which I was unaware. I agree with the consensus that Trump’s political ties with the strong republican majority in Texas, would make it unlikely that he would do something that would hurt the energy-dependent Texas. The glut of natural gas in the US that has driven down natural gas prices from a high of $12.69/MM Btus in June 2008 to less than $3 / MM Btus in September 2017 https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/rngwhhdm.htm.

Exporting this glut of natural gas is much more difficult than exporting oil as it requires use of a pipeline or through LNG. As a result 66% of US exports of natural gas are to Mexico https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-Natural-Gas-Needs-Mexico.html. Trump’s anti-NAFTA rhetoric feels more like red meat for his populist base (similar to Obama’s make the 1% “pay their fair share” than something that actually becomes policy. Even if he does act on NAFTA, I agree with others that another agreement would be put in place that would ensure ETP and others who export natural gas to Mexcio could continue to do so.

Thanks Suchant for sharing. Really interesting to read an article where the author has more experience than researching this for a few hours (I wish I could say the same about my paper). The remote upgrades make a lot of sense and decreasing downtime by 90% sounds awesome. But is there more that digitization can do to decrease the costs of scans like a CT scan?

Going from 1.0% to 0.1% is less than a 1% increase in # of scans that can be performed right? That doesn’t seem to drive down the per use cost much or increase access. Is there ways digitization could make shared use of resources more practical for a group of hospitals? For things like CT scan could digitization help coordinate scheduling to increase utilization of scanning machines to closer to 100%. What if in Boston for example there was one centrally located hospital that had more CT scan machines and ran CT scans 24/7 for that hospital + people who are well enough to travel. You could imagine that for more price-sensitive customers, they could choose to do a middle of the night or weekend scan and pay less. Whether this makes sense assumes a lot of the cost of a scan is fixed and not variable, and maybe things like this make no sense. But I’m hopeful that digitization can help address some of the explosion of costs in the medical field by decreasing the cost of scans.

Thanks WL for helping me learn more about cryptocurrencies and begin to understand the somewhat unexpected amount of energy they consume as part of mining bitcoin. While consumer-facing companies can have their bottom line hurt by revelations of irresponsible negative environmental consequences of their operations, there seems to be no such incentive for Bitmain, especially given the anonymity surrounding bitcoin.

While some managers may be environmentally conscious, I expect that only economic incentives have and will convince companies to move to places like Iceland. Regulating cryptocurrency creation seems difficult given the manner in which it is created. China, Mongolia, etc. shifting their energy production away from coal would likely help more. However, given there may be a massive bubble around cryptocurrency right now, there is a chance that the environmental issues become less relevant should bitcoin crater and other less computing intensive cryptocurrencies replace them.

On November 29, 2017, Aaron commented on Starbucks: the future isn’t brew-tiful :

I’m inspired by a lot of what Starbucks is doing to minimize their environmental impact, even though it looks like there is a lot more they should/could be doing. If climate change is or soon will be impacting their access to coffee beans because of decrease crop yields, they need to do more now. They may need to partner with companies like Indigo Agriculture to develop more fungus and heat resistant beans.

Investors may be skeptical of Starbucks spending millions of dollars to fund R&D to help secure their supply of beans. The PR messaging of such investments will be critical to ensure that their stock does not suffer as a result of such investments. If done the right way, such investments can enhance Starbucks brand as environmentally-conscious and continue to drive sales from consumers who want to support environmentally conscious companies.

On November 29, 2017, Aaron commented on The Disruptor, Disrupted? Nasdaq Wrestles with Blockchain :

Very interesting article Sasha. I found this especially interesting after our discussion in Fin today about Bitcoin. I think the Dole example is a great example of why blockchain makes a ton of sense for Nasdaq to use in clearing in settlement. However, I believe that it might be premature to start a competitor to Coinbase to trade cryptocurrency. While they could totally miss the boat on a competitive cryptocurrency marketplace, there is so much uncertainty around where current cryptocurrencies are headed in the next few years. The resources required to develop such a marketplace are not worth the risk of the market completely collapsing.

NASDAQ should focus on their core trading operations and implement blockchain to ensure they do not fall behind other exchanges and lose relevance. Down the line, should many cryptocurrencies prove to have more long-term sustainable value, I think they have a reasonable shot at using their resources and trading expertise to compete with the Coinbases of the world.

On November 29, 2017, Aaron commented on Amazon Dominating Competition with Tech-Driven Supply Chain :

I agree China will be tough. I think the market is so big that it may be worth trying anyway, but they should definitely not underestimate the uphill battle that it will be. I’m curious Drew about your thoughts on how they could partner with Alibaba or JD.com. Would it be in the form of investing in one of those companies? Or how could they partner without giving away things that could make it easier for JD.com or Alibaba to compete with Amazon in SE Asia or India or wherever they are likely to be battling in the future.

On November 29, 2017, Aaron commented on Amazon Dominating Competition with Tech-Driven Supply Chain :

Great points Levent. I agree that the opposite direction supply chain would be tough. To be honest, Amazon is quite cutting edge in terms of digitizing there supply chain. The idea is definitely a stretch. Also, I agree China will be tough. I think the market is so big that it may be worth trying anyway, but they should definitely not underestimate the uphill battle that will be.