How satellites, drones, and planes are making hedge funds money


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Did you know satellite images are being used to count number of ships living ports in China to get a real-time estimate of economic activity? Sometimes, I feel the world is moving just too fast and I am left behind.

Three thousand miles west in Mountain View, California, lies the source of that oil data, a company called Orbital Insight, which, according to its mission statement, finds “truth and transparency” in the world’s rhythms. What that means in practice is that roughly 30 engineers and scientists spend their days sifting through satellite images for information their customers — not just hedge funds but also asset managers, insurance companies, and government agencies — want. The number of ships leaving China’s ports. The total cars parked outside every Lowe’s in the United States. The income distribution of a district in Sri Lanka. In the case of oil volumes, the key is in the shadows.

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Joy Shan — The California Sunday Magazine

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Is the Rise of Contract Workers Killing Upward Mobility?


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Employee cost is often looked as a sticky fixed expense. Having contract workers sounds like a solution. But, contracting might be costly for the company too.

Moreover, there is reason to believe that just as contract work is not a panacea for workers, it is also not a panacea for companies. “Contract workers have a fundamentally different relationship with the companies they work for than employees do,” says Gartenberg. “Just as companies under-invest in contractors, there are ample studies that suggest that contractors likewise under-invest in the companies. This could definitely hit the bottom line in areas like innovation and customer service.”

If we are in fact in the process of solidifying two distinct classes of workers — one employee in which firms invest, and another that is in a sense more disposable — what are we as a society losing?

“A lot,” says Gartenberg. “This is what the American Dream is built on — upward mobility. Contract work and outsourcing, among other factors, appear to be disrupting that engine, and it is not clear what the best policy response, if any, should be.”

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Knowledge@Wharton

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Equifax statement dumping its CEO is a mass of weaselly mush


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First, always be suspicious of adverbs. This short release (658 words) includes deeply, totally, intensely, and sincerely, all in the second paragraph. Any one of these is an unequivocal indicator of bullshit. The Equifax PR playbook apparently includes the principle: “When you have nothing substantive to say, use adverbs to say it with feeling.”

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Without Bullshit

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Trump Has Started a Brain Drain Back to India


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Is the reverse brain drain really happening?

Twelve years later, Sahay, now 50, is still a data architect, still working for the same firm, and still waiting for that green card. It’s not clear when he’ll clear the government backlog. He does know that his provisional status stalled his career – changing jobs would have required the company to file a new petition. “Personally, I have sacrificed my career to help my family to have a better life,” Sahay says. “That has taken its toll. Had I gotten a green card, I could have moved on, moved up, done a lot more things. This held me where I was 10 years ago.”

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Suzanne Sataline — The Washington Post

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Wall Street’s Best-Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert


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In contrast with chess’s deliberative reputation, Alburt says the game helps traders think on their feet. “Strong chess players are good at making quick, usually correct decisions,” he says. “Traders are basically doing the same things as chess ­grandmasters: You have to make quick decisions in by definition uncertain circumstances.” Other chess attributes that help those high up on the ladder, he says, are its emphasis on logic and “making people responsible for their decisions.” Or as Icahn puts it: “If he’s a good chess player, he has a good math mind. So if he’s a good player, he’s not an idiot.” Hirsch of Seneca Capital agrees. “There’s a great satisfaction in ­envisioning how something is going to play out and be right,” he says. While playing chess, Hirsch adds, he credits Alburt “with any good moves I make.” The blunders, he notes, “are all mine.”

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James Tarmy — Bloomberg

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Why Amazon’s ‘1-Click’ Ordering Was a Game Changer


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The 1-Click technology will be remembered as “a very important event in the history of e-commerce,” said Hosanagar. “First, it was a very simple and intuitive system and generated a lot of controversy — could something so simple and obvious be patented? Second, it became an important part of the experience that Amazon offered and became a flag bearer for the convenient shopping experience that Amazon came to be known for. And finally, it showed how e-commerce was as much about technology and data as it was about retail.”

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Knowledge@Wharton

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Why Employers Favor Men


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The researchers wanted to take a closer look at the source of this gender divide, so they used online experiments to probe two types of gender discrimination:

  • Statistical discrimination, which is rooted in beliefs about average gender differences in abilities or skills.

  • Taste-based discrimination, which is driven by stereotypes, favoritism for one group, and a bias against another group.

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