Welcome to This Week’s Leyendecker View
There will come a point when no job is needed. You can have a job if you want for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.
– Elon Musk talking with PM Rishi Sunak in London
A BIG THINK
Work Will Be Voluntary
The Elon Musk quote at the beginning of this week’s Leyendecker View deserves some pondering. According to Elon, AI means that eventually no one will have to work, unless of course they “want to for personal satisfaction.” How quaint. Only if you need to feel personally satisfied might you want to work.
So does this mean all the people who will not work won’t be personally satisfied? Or will they be personally satisfied because they won’t have to work? But if they won’t have to work, where will they get money for housing, food, education, health care, entertainment and all the other expenses of life?
OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, suggests we may soon need universal basic income (UBI) to support the people who lose jobs to AI.
Okay, so instead of working, the federal government (I presume) is going to send people a check that will cover their living expenses. But where is the government going to get the money to pay out all this UBI? And how much money will they give everyone, and based on what metrics?
I don’t see any tech companies volunteering to pay higher taxes that can be accumulated in a UBI fund.
What I see is Microsoft trying to avoid paying $29B in taxes. And UK tech companies looking for tax relief so they can make “productivity enhancing” investments. And I see Apple trying to avoid €14.3B of taxes in Ireland.
I also don’t see any tech bro billionaires offering to give the government a bunch of their billions to fund UBI.
Just a couple days ago, Jeff Bezos announced he was moving from Washington to Florida to be close to his parents and his Blue Origin operations. What Bezos doesn’t mention is that Washington state has a 7% tax on capital gains and a 20% estate tax at his level of wealth. Florida has neither.
So where is this UBI going to come from, and when are we supposed to start building it up? Goodness knows that with this year’s $1.7B budget deficit, which follows several years with a $1T budget deficit, and with current federal government debt of $33T, which is rapidly rising by the year, we certainly don’t have a savings account to start paying people not to work.
And if we pay people not to work, will that make them happy? Or will we have to deal with that old saying, An idle mind is the devil’s workshop?
Maybe we need to keep in mind that old sayings get old because they stand the test of time.
THE ECONOMIC VIEW
Who imports US products and services?
This map lays it out at scale
THE INFLATION BOGEYMAN
US beef prices hit record high
National cattle herd at 61-year low.
How much insulin costs around the world
WTF is going on in the US?
You’re trapped by streaming services
Expect more price increases.
THE LABOR VIEW
The covid jobs recovery is complete
And we’ve added 4.5MM new jobs.
The hottest job market
Might be in government
MEANWHILE IN EUROPE
Eurozone retail sales fall
When will recession show up?
ECB has to keep a big balance sheet
Or risk destabilizing Euro banks.
Germany rethinks immigration policy
More of this is likely to come.
China is making too much stuff
A price war worries competitor countries.
Japan cheers inflation
After decades of stagnation.
Global economic conditions look weak
As plastic raw material and diesel demand wanes
Giant shipping company to cut 10K jobs
Globalization retreats, economies slow.
THE GAZA FIRE
The Hamas tunnels of Gaza
Are deep, intricate and well engineered.
China and Russia claim the moral high ground
Supporting Hamas is the moral high ground?
Is Iran backing away from Palestine?
Or is this a ploy to keep Hamas around?
THE UKRAINE FIRE
European Commission president supports Ukraine
And hopes to let it into the EU one day.
Biden promises long-range missiles
Will they arrive soon enough for Ukraine?
The new world economy
As countries line up behind the US or China.
The Iran-Russia military axis
The new Hitler and Mussolini?
The US equity market is MASSIVE
Check out how it compares to others.
Big banks unload risk on to PE and hedge funds
What could go wrong?
Cash is king for Gen Z
The TikTok, cash-stuffing meme takes off.
Non-residential construction booms
More reshoring is coming.
Global office space vacancies
Are at a record high
Musk’s Neuralink is ready for prime time
They just need a human brain to try it on.
A Meta whistleblower
Suggests Meta knew about potential damage to teens
Zuckerberg ignored the signs
THE CHAT ON AI
Ready to create your own AI app?
OpenAI is going to let developers do so
Tech giants invest billions in AI
And get billions in new profit.
China may not be behind the US in AI
So much for our supposedly better culture of innovation.
THE NEXT NORMAL
Applications are declining at top MBA schools
Is a finance career losing its luster?
A growing number of newborns
Have congenital syphilis
THE WAR ON CARBON
Denmark wants EU farmers to pay emissions tax
Higher food inflation would follow.
IEA sees LNG glut coming
THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
Nigeria makes a big bet on solar
How will people react to higher electricity costs?
Direct solar with no batteries
Is it doable?
THE EV DREAM
The US may have a big rare-earth deposit
Hidden in a Wyoming coal mine.
Big EV price discounts are here
If you really want one.
China may have already won the battery war
Maybe US automakers should focus on ICE cars.
THE CHINA SYNDROME
China’s economy falls back into deflation
Are they following the Japan 30-year template?
More Chinese executives go missing
XI tightens the grip on everything.
Biden announces $16.4B for passenger rail
It will cost $4.6B to replace one 1.4-mile tunnel.
Intel could get a big defense contract
Bringing chip suppliers home.
Biden supports auto union growth
“Vote for me, autoworkers!”
MAKING A BETTER YOU
Study says the “Goldilocks” rule is best
The new sleep formula
For better health and longevity.
How important is stretching?
Hear it from some experts.
Anger can help you with tough tasks
So says a Texas A&M study.
HOW ABOUT A BREAK
The worst weather on earth
Is in New Hampshire
The best US city for foreign businesses?
The Financial Times-Nikkei rankings pick Houston
Highest-paid movie stars for a single project
$156MM for Keanu Reeves?
SONG OF THE WEEK
CASTING AROUND THE PODS
Will electric vehicles disappoint environmentalists?
The Soho Forum hosts a debate.
VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
What Happens Later trailer.
Meg Ryan does a new romcom.
Dream Scenario trailer.
Nicolas Cage continues his mainstream return.
The Family Plan trailer.
James Bond in a minivan?
FROM THE HEADHUNTER’S KITCHEN
One man’s search for the world’s greatest sandwich
So what did he choose?
12 great spaghetti squash recipes
Tried spaghetti squash yet?
The best mac and cheese ever
Oh me, oh my oh!
Has post-pandemic revenge spending fully run its course?
From a Wall Street Journal article on Wednesday: “Texas Children’s Hospital’s three emergency departments across the Houston area now typically treat 400 to 500 kids a month for mental-health issues, compared with 40 to 50 in 2019.”
Social media and its addicting algorithms…victim culture…the promotion of hate…questioning biological sex…climate change fear porn…pandemic fear porn…regular porn…video game violence…glorifying terrorists and making the evil guys the good guys…destruction of the nuclear family…our education-system disaster…institutional child care replacing mothers and fathers…consumerism on steroids…the fall of religion…what else?
Last quarter, US GDP growth came in at 4.5%. The Atlanta Fed had predicted it would come in at 5.4%. Right now the Atlanta Fed is predicting fourth quarter GDP growth of 2.1%. What if they are again overestimating?
In 2022, we saw record remittances to Mexico. Mexicans working in the US sent their families $55.9B. That’s $55.9B that was not recirculated into the US economy. Hmmm…And a decent percentage of that money is going to the drug cartels.
The US Treasury surprised a lot of people last week by announcing they would issue less long-term and more short-term debt. Could the Fed pull down interest rates far enough in the next couple of years that the Treasury could then issue long-term government debt at the low yields they recently missed?
Hamas was pretty smart putting important tunnel operations below hospitals, schools and other places, where normal Palestinians need to be. Or would that be, Hamas is pretty evil?
Can there be a more productive outcome to the Ukraine war than for Russia to take out Putin, blame it on him and then beg Ukraine and its allies for forgiveness for the war?
Can there be a productive outcome in the Israel-Palestine situation without a dramatic change in Iran’s leadership?
The problem with most economists, and certainly almost all bureaucrats who influence and/or create policy, is that everything they know is theoretical. They usually have no real private sector experience.
Is climate change a new form of pagan religion?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Janet Yellen Really Messed Up
November 3, 2023
There’s Good News
October 27, 2023
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