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 […]

Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]

2020 Prediction: COVID-19 will suck like 9/11

This is the first of two 2020 predictions concerning COVID-19, the so-called coronavirus. This column will cover short-term impacts while my next column will cover longer-term changes that were probably going to happen anyway but are already being accelerated by the current health crisis.

NOT business as usual…

No, I’m not a doctor or an epidemiologist, but I’m also not an idiot. And as a non-idiot, I can confidently predict the significant short-term economic, social, and political impacts of COVID-19 on my global readership. The far more significant longer-term effects will be covered in my next column. Short-term, COVID-19 feels remarkably like 9/11, which wasn’t a health crisis in any sense, but it […]

Kai-Fu Lee’s new book says Artificial Intelligence will be Google vs China and will kill half the world’s jobs

Kai-Fu Lee was born in Taiwan but grew up in Tennessee, which is nothing — nothing — like Taiwan or China. His PhD is from Carnegie-Mellon and for the first half of his career Lee was “that voice recognition guy” first at Apple, then Microsoft, then Google. Lee took Google to China the first time (a new Google China effort is starting just now). Today Lee is an Artificial Intelligence expert who runs a $1 billion venture fund with offices in Taipei and Beijing and, according to Anina (the pretty girl in the picture with me who has lived in Beijing for most of the last decade) he’s “an absolute technology rock star […]

We win, you lose: How shareholder value screwed the middle class

The American Dream changed somehow in the 1970s when real wages for most of us began to stagnate when corrected for inflation and worker age. My best financial year ever was 2000 — 18 years ago — when was yours? This wasn’t a matter of productivity, either: workers were more productive every year, we just stopped being rewarded for it. There are many explanations of how this sad fact came to be and I am sure it’s a problem with several causes. But this column concerns one factor that generally isn’t touched-on by labor economists — Wall Street greed.

Lawyers arguing in court present legal theories—their ideas of how the world and the law intersect, and […]