"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
06/11/20
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

 

What the City Where Defunding Police Worked Really Tells Us About It (Yahoo Finance)

In the last few weeks, a major policy theme emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement has involved the idea of defunding state and local police departments. Defunding the police naturally sounds like a scary idea to many people because of the implied benefits to public safety that come from having a well-funded police force. Could there be any benefit in diverting public funding? In 2012, Camden, New Jersey was in the midst of a crime wave that forced the replacement of expensive unionized police in favor of a county community force which included new recruits. “While the move doesn’t necessarily equate to “defunding” police as it’s being discussed today in a perfect sense, what ensued in Camden was more parallel to the thesis, as more resources were allowed to be shifted to other community building initiatives in the following years.” The key has been to shift funding away from traditional policing and into public services like mental health and public education. That strategy has made Camden a model for the country as it has reduced police violence in conjunction with crime levels. Read more…

 

Man Behind Sweden’s Controversial Virus Strategy Admits Mistakes (Bloomberg)

As the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep its way around the world earlier this year, each nation formulated its own response to the crisis. In Sweden, top epidemiologist Anders Tegnell championed a notably lax containment policy, limiting gatherings of 50 or more people but refusing to force the closure of gyms, restaurants, and shopping centers. The idea was that, in the absence of a vaccine, the quickest way to defeat the virus’ spread would be to build so-called “herd immunity” as citizens contract and survive the virus. Unfortunately, this appears to have resulted in one of the highest mortality rates among world nations, while failing to avoid an economic recession. Tegnell’s recent announcement of his regrets over the strategy has ignited controversy in a country where citizens seemed assured that they were facing the pandemic correctly. Read more…

 

The Looming Bank Collapse (The Atlantic)

Any time that spending is in decline, the risk of contagion in the financial sector is increased. During the recession of 2007-2008, increasing mortgage delinquencies revealed a house of cards built out of a fraudulent structure that branded risky consumer loans as safe investments. Some analysts are now warning that a similar bubble in commercial loans (CLOs) is showing the same signs, and the risk is even larger this time — to the tune of over $700 billion. “You might assume that a CLO must contain AAA debt if its top layer is rated AAA. Far from it. Remember: CLOs are made up of loans to businesses that are already in trouble.” Read more…

 

Nobody Knows Anything About China (Foreign Policy)

What happens when a nation’s leaders are allowed to censor vital information about their country in the interests of political gain? For China, virtually every metric that one could use to analyze the massive nation has been pre-filtered through government censors for many decades. That means we are always guessing — about gross domestic product, family sizes, environmental data, even the makeup of the central government. As this article points out, such discrepancies don’t just matter only to the "think tankers" who analyze our world — they actually handicap the function and efficiency of the Chinese government itself in a thousand different ways. Read more…

 

Another Mysterious Radio Burst in Space is Repeating a Pattern. This One Occurs Every 157 Days (CNN)

The unimaginable depths of space surrounding our little planet are an endless source of mystery. Astronomers have been tracking sources of rapid radio wave bursts, called fast radio bursts or FRBs, in the hopes of understanding what they are and how they occur. The latest FRB discovered emits a burst for 90 days at a time, followed by a silence of 67 days. Currently, possible explanations for these emissions include massive stars, black holes, or neutron stars, which are stars which were not massive enough to collapse into black holes. Such objects tend to rotate rapidly, which might explain the repeating nature of the FRBs. Solving mysteries like these sometimes lead to major breakthroughs for our understanding of the universe. Read more…

 

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            - Greg
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