Daily Digest 1/9 – Corporate CFOs Say Stock Market Is Overvalued, Texan Wind Power Grows Again


Nearly all corporate CFOs say the economy is going to slow and the stock market is overvalued (Thomas R.)

While CFOs see a downturn, that doesn’t mean they’re foreseeing a worst-case scenario. In fact, expectations for an outright recession fell to 3% in the fourth-quarter survey, down from 15% in the first-quarter 2019 survey. However, 97% say a slowdown already has begun or will start sometime in 2020.

The College Wealth Premium Has Collapsed (tmn)

The college earnings premium has proved durable and considerable overall. White people born in the middle of the century got more of an earnings boost for attending college than white people born in the 1980s—but the boost for both groups was big. (“People” is close-enough shorthand here; the authors use a more technical household comparison.) And black people born in the ’80s got a similar income bump, compared to black people born in the ’40s and ’50s.

Disinformation For Hire: How A New Breed Of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online (tmn)

Most recently, in late December, Twitter announced it removed more than 5,000 accounts that it said were part of “a significant state-backed information operation” in Saudi Arabia carried out by marketing firm Smaat. The same day, Facebook announced a takedown of hundreds of accounts, pages, and groups that it found were engaged in “foreign and government interference” on behalf of the government of Georgia. It attributed the operation to Panda, an advertising agency in Georgia, and to the country’s ruling party.

The Nasdaq soars past 9,000 for the first time ever, fueled by Amazon’s holiday sales boom (Thomas R.)

Amazon stock jumped as much as 4.2% on Thursday after announcing it enjoyed a “record-breaking” holiday-shopping season. The e-commerce giant said “billions of items were purchased” during the Thanksgiving to Christmas period, along with “tens of millions of Amazon devices” worldwide. More than 5 million new customers started Prime free trials or paid memberships, the company added in a statement.

Facts and Speculations – Next Decade (Thomas R.)

The U.S. financial system transfers wealth from pensions, savings, individuals and businesses to the political and financial elite. Deficit spending, massive debt, consumer price inflation and the Federal Reserve enable wealth transfer.

Samsung shows off bizarre fitness exoskeleton and rolling robot at CES (Thomas R.)

It’s refreshing to see Samsung discuss some of its more futuristic ideas, instead of just outlining a bunch of new TVs and refrigerators like it normally does at CES. But Samsung didn’t really talk about any of this actually coming to market anytime soon. Instead, it just seemed to show off what it’s building in its research labs.

Past Point of No Return –John Rubino (pinecarr)

In closing, Rubino says, “We have entered a new stage which feels like one of the end stages of this process—when governments just give up and don’t even pretend to try and control their finances anymore. Well, we are there. That’s when it will be clear to everybody that is the case, and then your gold goes through the roof. The investment thesis ends with you loading up on precious metals and then riding the inflation and/or monetary reset that has to happen because of past mistakes. The nightmare scenario is if we are already having a financial crisis and then we have a war with China and Russia, it’s unimaginable. I cannot factor that into a scenario for financial asset prices because it is too crazy.”

Americans in China warned over spreading mystery illness (Thomas R.)

In Hong Kong, authorities say 30 people have been hospitalised after returning from Wuhan in recent days and displaying flu-like illnesses but none were confirmed to have contracted the mystery new strain.

Thirteen of them have been discharged, said Hong Kong authorities Tuesday.

Cancer group finds biggest 1-year drop in US death rate (Thomas R.)

Government researchers previously reported a slightly lower drop in the cancer death rate for the same period. But the Cancer Society calculates the death rate differently, and on Wednesday said the decline was larger — and record-setting.

Most lung cancer cases are tied to smoking, and decades of declining smoking rates led to falling rates of lung cancer illnesses and deaths.

Facebook’s deepfakes ban has some obvious workarounds (tmn)

What’s a cheap fake? Something like this video of campaign workers doing a corny dance in support of presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. In reality, they aren’t campaign workers at all — they’re audience members at an improv show filming a bit for a comedian, who shared it on a Twitter profile he had edited to make it appear as if he worked for Bloomberg. The ruse was exposed relatively quickly, but plenty of people still fell for it.

Toyota plans to build ‘city of the future’ with housing, robots and autonomous vehicles in Japan (Thomas R.)

Akio Toyoda, president of the automaker, described the “Woven City” as a “living laboratory” that will include thousands of residents and will test autonomous vehicles, robotics, personal mobility, smart homes and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment.

Oil plummets to its lows of the day after President Trump says Iran ‘appears to be standing down’ in the Middle East (Thomas R.)

Oil prices spiked early Wednesday following an Iranian missile attack on military bases housing US and Iraqi personnel. The attack was likely retaliation for the US killing last week of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Texan wind power grows again as huge turbines start spinning (Thomas R.)

Texas is known for its oil production, but it is increasingly a major player in wind energy. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Lone Star State had more than 27 gigawatts of installed wind capacity and 14,198 wind turbines during the third quarter of 2019. The nearest rival in terms of installed capacity, Iowa, had less than half (8.965 GW) of Texas’ installed capacity during the same period. Capacity refers to the maximum amount that installations can theoretically produce.

Trump Moves to Exempt Big Projects From Environmental Review (jdargis)

Environmental groups said the revisions would threaten species and lead to more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The proposed regulations also will relieve federal agencies of having to take climate change into account in environmental reviews.

When wildlife safety turns into fierce political debate (tmn)

Like much of America’s aging infrastructure, the roadbed at Targhee Pass is gradually deteriorating, afflicted by icing, frost heaves and poor drainage. In the fall of 2016, under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Idaho Transportation Department and the Federal Highway Administration began studying how best to remedy the section’s problems — among them wildlife collisions, which accounted for nearly a quarter of Targhee Pass’ crashes (none of them fatal, at least for humans). Swelling tourism would only exacerbate the danger: While just 5,600 vehicles navigated the pass daily in July 2012, the agency forecast summer traffic to reach 9,400 cars a day by 2042.

Why Are So Many Earthquakes Happening in Puerto Rico? (Thomas R.)

Three strong aftershocks, with preliminary estimates of 5.6, 5.2 and 4.5 magnitude, followed Tuesday’s big quake. A bigger aftershock, of 5.8 magnitude, hit at 7:18 a.m. local time. The temblors knocked out power to much of the island, seriously damaging homes and buildings and leaving at least one person dead.

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