The Incentive Game

My friend Bob Litan, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is worried about COVID-19 herd immunity. Specifically, Bob worries that the only way our population can reach the 60-70 percent immunity rate required to protect us all from the novel coronavirus is if some people are paid to take the shot. And Bob may be correct: a Gallup poll last month concluded that 35 percent of Americans would refuse to be vaccinated.

Uh-oh.

Bob thinks the way around this problem is to pay people, giving them an economic incentive to do the right thing. This got me thinking about the whole concept of […]

Jeff Bezos Can’t Lose

Big technology companies have been recently coming under increased scrutiny from federal regulators. Several tech companies are reportedly under investigation, but this column is only about Amazon, which seems to be in regulatory crosshairs in part because President Trump doesn’t like Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns one of Trump’s least-favorite newspapers, the Washington Post. Ironically, Trump’s goal of breaking-up Amazon would only make Jeff Bezos at least $35 billion richer.

It’s simple: Amazon is worth a lot more in pieces than it is as a single company.

Bezos is no fool, so he knows […]

Red Hat takes over IBM

So IBM is buying Red Hat (home of the largest Enterprise Linux distribution) for $34 billion and readers want to know what I think of the deal. Well, if I made a list of acquisitions and things to do to save IBM, buying Red Hat would have been very close to the top of that list.  They should have bought Red Hat 10 years ago when the stock market was in the gutter. 

Jumping the gun a bit, I have to say the bigger question is really which company’s culture will ultimately dominate? I’m hoping it’s Red Hat.

The deal is a good fit for many reasons explained below. And […]

Prediction #4 — Bitcoin stays crazy until traders learn it is not a currency

2017 was a wild ride for cryptocurrencies and for Bitcoin in particular, rising in price at one point above $19,000 only to drop back to a bit over half of that number now. But which number is correct? If only the market can tell for sure — and these numbers are coming straight from the market, remember — what the heck does it all mean? It means Bitcoin isn’t a currency at all but traders are pretending that it is. 2018 will see investors finally figure this out.

Confusion abounds, so let’s cut through the crap with an analogy. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and a ton […]

Prediction #3 — 2018 foreign profit repatriation is a $591.8 BILLION taxpayer ripoff

When I started this series of 2018 predictions I said the recently passed U.S. tax law was going to have a profound impact on upcoming events. Having had a chance to look closer at the issue I am even more convinced that this seismic financial event is, as I wrote above, a $591.8 billion taxpayer ripoff. This is not to say there aren’t some possible public benefits from the repatriation, but it’s fairly clear that the public loses more than it will ever gain.

In case you don’t follow these things, multinational U.S. companies have, since 2005, squirreled away about $2.5 TRILLION in profits overseas because U.S. tax law […]