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On November 20, 2016, RaphaelR commented on A video game that transforms the job market :

This is a terrific post about a potentially life-changing product (although I hate to consider something with this much social value as a “product”)!

Knack clearly has a more-than-worthwhile mission and has discovered a strong set of technical procedures to tease out their users’ inner strengths. My one key concern was the potential quality of opportunities available through the platform. However, looking through Knack’s website, some of their employers are enormous conglomerates (Citi, AmEx, Tata, BCG, Comcast, GE, AXA) that span countries and industries.(i) My next questions would be to better understand where to go from here: should Knack start pressuring companies to share that they use Knack as a recruiting measure, or should the dissemination of value be word-of-mouth? Would Knack be helped by having a physical location in major metropolitan areas to seek to facilitate similar meetings/events? Is digital-only potentially excluding high-value jobs where the employer’s HR is too understaffed or low on cash to fund a digital hiring push?

(i) Knack, “Employers,” https://www.knack.it/employer/index.html, accessed November 20, 2016.

Bhargav, thanks for walking through the various steps and complexities involved in the process.

I buy into the ideals laid out—namely being able to layer, indefinitely, onto what effectively becomes partially public data to ensure data continuity and transparency. I can’t help but wonder, however, if there is a way to achieve nearly the same result but in a more controlled manner (i.e., keeping some form of centralization)?

When considering this, I appreciate that the “clearing house”/equivalent component becomes a de facto bottleneck, but would be concerned about removing all government/“officially sanctioned” layers from the process entirely, particularly once the field moves into the reach of healthcare records and voting. Curious to see the degree to which governments may share this view.

On November 20, 2016, RaphaelR commented on Should Central Banks Issue Digital Currencies? :

This is exceptionally interesting, Sotaro—could potentially change how we understand money for the rest of their lives.

One question I have for you: how much money is de facto digital already? I assume a notable amount, and if so, what is to stop countries from ‘going digital’ rather than introducing a new, alternative digital currency?

I suppose that the optimal way to address this question would be to look at the value of all notes and coins in circulation vs. the amount of total currency-related instruments (e.g., bonds and stocks). Given limited data availability without Bloomberg/Reuters access, I decided to take back-of-the-envelope data for the UK market.

Total value of GBP notes and coins outstanding as of end-of-2015 was ~£74 billion (i). Of this amount, notes accounted for ~£64 billion (ii), so coins account for a mere ~£10 billion. Turn to the bond market—as of end-2015, the gilt market (UK Government bond market) was worth £1,427 billion (iii). This does not even consider the private-label bond market of the stock market. Could we not argue that by this measure, the sterling market is de facto digital already? Given this context, do you think that a more viable option may be to simply scale down physical currency usage over time?

Thanks again, very interesting post!


(i) Statista, “Banknotes in circulation in the United Kingdom 2014-2016, by denominations,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/398992/banknotes-value-circulation-british-pounds-united-kingdom-uk/, accessed November 20, 2016.

(ii) Statista, “Amounts outstanding of notes and coin in circulation in the UK 2015-2016,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/319453/uk-banking-notes-and-coin/, accessed November 20, 2016.

(ii) UK Debt Management Office, “http://www.dmo.gov.uk/reportView.aspx?rptCode=D5E&rptName=47436761&reportpage=Market_Size”, accessed November 20, 2016.

On November 20, 2016, RaphaelR commented on Modernizing an archaic, unsexy industry :

This is fascinating—I find it pretty amazing that something that feels simple in the context of today’s technology is being systematically neglected by the larger players in the industry. (I take the point that there is supreme fragmentation in the sector.)

I visited a competitor’s website (Crowley, http://www.crowley.com/What-We-Do/Shipping-and-Logistics/Liner-Shipment-Tracking). I see your point—their web infrastructure is shockingly basic. That said, do you feel that there are high barriers to entry in the space? The data are relatively easily accessible, and the technology is (unfortunately) replicable, I would imagine. One would assume that DHL and the other more substantial participants would be able to participate in this market more easily than not.

Lastly, how do you consider the company’s exit/forward strategy? Does it make sense to attempt to claim a large intermediary role in a fractured market? Is it feasible that they will gain a large foothold in the space? If not, are their overheads low enough for them to continue running at a small fraction of the market indefinitely?

On November 20, 2016, RaphaelR commented on Dude, Where’s My Car? Car Hacking in the Digital Age :

Thanks for the insights! In an age where we know that hacking is all but inevitable, it’s deeply disturbing that major manufacturers would be this cavalier about the widespread dissemination of an inadequately-tested product with potential life/death implications.

What concerns me even more, however, is what appears to be a woefully underwhelming response and utilization of independent cyber-experts. Here’s my thinking: total direct and indirect estimates for the recall appear to be in the region of $800 million(i) to in excess of $1 billion.(ii) For context, the company has had annual profits near the ~$500-600 million mark in 2014(iii) and 2015.(iv) I wonder, therefore, the degree to which a $2,500 “bug bounty” is anywhere near an appropriate response?

I’d be curious to understand how auto manufacturers have thought about a “bug bounty” in the past when dealing with non-digital hackers and if there are any lessons to be learned for the digital age?

i) Detroit Free Press, “FCA profits fall 40% to $410 million for 2015,” http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/chrysler/2016/01/27/fca-profits-fall-40-410-million-2015/79365248/, accessed November 20, 2016.
ii) Detroit Free Press, “Fiat Chrysler buyback, fines could surpass $1 billion,” http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/chrysler/2015/07/27/nhtsa-anthony-foxx-mark-rosekind-fiat-chrysler-recalls/30730931/, accessed November 20, 2016.
iii) Auto News, “Fiat Chrysler’s $4.1 billion operating profit in 2014 fueled by N.A.,” http://www.autonews.com/article/20150128/OEM01/150129809/fiat-chryslers-$4.1-billion-operating-profit-in-2014-fueled-by-n.a./, accessed November 20, 2016.
iv) Detroit Free Press, “FCA profits fall…”

You’ve raised a host of interesting questions, Bhargav. Thanks for sharing your expertise in the matter.

I agree with your point regarding the potential for brand harm should the firm do nothing. That said, I’m curious of your opinion if the firm begins moving to another state (or even country). Since some 80% of almonds are grown in California, there could be a negative consumer bias against non-Californian-grown almonds, potentially perceiving them to be of inferior quality. After all, it’s only Napa wine if it’s from Napa!

On November 7, 2016, RaphaelR commented on Mayday: Mother Earth Code 7700 :

Intriguing post, Curtis. Hat-tip for style as well!

I agree with your conclusions, particularly that Boeing has a duty to be an innovator and leader in the industry, given its size, importance and complex web of suppliers. A large question that remains in my mind is the degree to which the pace of innovation can (and should) be prompted by government through mandated milestones rather than left to individual manufacturers. This is naturally further complicated by the strong international players in the field. I recall that earlier this year, the UN’s aviation agency laid down new rules for the industry (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/business/energy-environment/un-agency-proposes-limits-on-airlines-carbon-emissions.html?_r=0). The catch? They only need to be complied with in 2028.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this conundrum. Should government be chiding companies along, particularly given the length of the R+D cycle?

Fascinating article (and as a former New Yorker, very close to my heart!).

One of the great mysteries of NYCHA and affiliated entities is the amount of “off-book” work and capital still provided by NYCHA for non-NYCHA-owned properties. Naturally, this capital includes daily operating amounts as well as future investments, e.g., to ensure a source of renewable energy for the dwellings. A key example that comes to mind is Stuy Town, for which the city still pays a few hundred million a year to subsidize rent-stabilized property as well as ensure its longevity through investment in renovation and innovation. Given recent bankruptcies and sales, the new owners’ representatives are seeking more government help for investment in the future.

On reading your article, I couldn’t help but wonder about the ethical question NYCHA and local government sits in: despite the need to strike a balanced budget, should NYCHA be considering seeking additional government capital in order to ensure that the appropriate (and not just minimum) amount of funding is applied to on and off-book property affiliations, for the sake of the longevity of the city as a whole?

Thanks for the post, Jakub!

The topic is curious–it feels like although Hilton has found multiple prongs with which to attack the issue of their contribution to climate change, the firm could still do much more. For example, the study showing that electricity could be cut by 30-50% in new-construction, high-efficiency rooms illustrates that Hilton knows it is behind the (technological) times, yet has opted not to address this fact head-on. Naturally, costs of refitting nearly every Hilton room would be daunting. Nevertheless, I’d be curious to hear you view on how you feel that Hilton should weigh the ethical vs. the commercial considerations embedded in their approach to ESG.

On November 7, 2016, RaphaelR commented on Impossible Foods: How a Burger Will Save the World :

Really interesting post, Steve!

I’m particularly intrigued by the point on scalability. Assuming that government or some form of industry self-regulatory body steps in to guide the process of moving to products similar to the Impossible brand, not many (if any) brands would be likely to able to cope with the volumes needed for anticipated global demand. If they choose to follow this path, the global fast-food chains (McD especially comes to mind) seem to be the most likely drivers of this industry. How do you feel about the ethical prospect of a company like McDonald’s effectively owning this system? Is it right that given their scale, it is most appropriate to push change in the world’s largest companies?