Consulting tip: Read the Economist

By | August 26, 2015

Consultantsmind Economist Logo

I have been reading the Economist since 1991.  So many reasons I like the magazine:

  • Clear thinking, clear writing
  • International in scope; not America-centric
  • Libertarian thinking, but not “gold standard” fundamentalist
  • Opinionated; strong point of view
  • Witty (British, after all)
  • Takes the long view (more trends and root causes, than hype and gossip)
  • Eccentric (this week’s had Iranian cars and programmable furniture)
  • Practical; the articles break wherever they need to . . sometimes they run only 4-5 sentences on the next page
  • Focused on education; the science section explains crazy-difficult things simply
  • Researched and authoritative; they back up all their arguments
  • No writer bylines – writing for the Economist, is almost fame enough

Many of the articles are for free here, also, they have almost an hour of free podcasts weekly here.  Give a read, give a listen.  Worth your time.  As Larry Ellison said, “I used to think, now I just read the Economist”.  Here are some great graphs from their blog:

In 1985, at its height, IBM was 74% of the tech sector market cap.  Holy smokes, that is complete domination.  Tech has become completely democratized; now if you add up Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Oracle it is less than 50% of the technology market.  Play with the interactive graphic here.

Consultantsmind Tech Sector IBM

Then you should look at the graphic in terms of real dollars.  The domination of IBM at that time was only a market cap of $178 Billion, which is peanuts compared to the $3.7 Trillion that the total sector looks like below.  Also, notice how the market is approaching the overall market cap at the bubble in 2000.   Uh-oh.

Consultantsmind Tech Sector IBM in real dollars

How golf has changed.   The winning score at the British Open has fallen from 360 to less than 280.  The Economist notes here that they had it much worse then:

  • Greens were tended by sheep, not mowers
  • The prize was about $1,000
  • The clubs were warped wood
  • The balls were either leather balls filled with feathers or Malaysian sap

Consultantsmind British Golf - Economist

Refugee crisis continues.  Seems like there is always war, regional hatred, and essentially people behaving badly, and dictators living up to their horrible reputations. Look at the # of refugees by country of origin over last 35 years here.

  • Afghanistan consistently had 3-5 million refugees
  • Syria is the highest # of refugees in 2014, all of a sudden

Consultantsmind Economist Refugees

India’s (improving, but still troubling) poverty

  • 30% of India’s children are underweight
  • Big disparities by state for malnutrition and other factors
  • The UNICEF effort was massive – involving 210,000 interviews; links to the complete article here

Consultantsmind Poverty in India

Chinese and Indian immigrants.  The composition of US immigrants is changing here.

  • Chinese and Indians are outpacing the number of Mexicans immigrating
  • One-third of foreign students are Chinese
  • 70% of H1B visas for highly skilled workers are going to Indians

Consultantsmind Economist Immigrants

Illegal Drug Websites. As shown below, when illegal drug buying websites (Silk Road etc) are shut down, new competitors take its place here. It is the free-market argument that SUPPLY will always follow DEMAND.  You can’t chase down the suppliers of things you don’t like (e.g., prostitutes, drug dealers, pornographers, illegal alien laborers etc), you have to go after the demand (e.g., those hiring prostitutes, drug users etc).

Consultantsmind Economist Illegal Drug Sites

Curious how many of you read the Economist with some regularity.  Click on the survey.

Related Posts:

4 thoughts on “Consulting tip: Read the Economist

  1. Athanasios

    Would you recommend grabbing a subscription over reading just the free material? Thank you in advance.

    Reply

Leave a Reply