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Uber and Out

Monday, 19 June 2017 12:11

I know a guy who doesn't owner a car himself (he shares one with his girl friend) and often used Uber. But lately he told me he had started using Lyft, as well. You here about people switching to Lyft as some kind of political protest, but the real reason is simple economics. Lyft has started paying its drivers more, so there are more drivers available. And just like that, Uber faces the threat of going from being the next Google to being the Myspace of so-called ride-sharing. My uncle used to say, "If the only advantage your company has is you employee a lot of smart people, you don't really have an advantage, because it's easy to hire smart people." 

Beyond the Fringe

Thursday, 15 June 2017 12:48

There is an entire subculture of financial bloggers whose throats must be sore from screaming about doom and gloom. This includes sites such as Zero Hedge (their avatar is Tyler Durden, that tell you all about them), The Daily Coin and this guy, who actually worked at a dealership. Auto sales and finance is one of their favorite topics. We're headed for "carmageddon" don't you know. And there are other people, people within the car business, who agree with them.

But should you? Maybe not. Among the main reasons is that pessimists are often wrong. It's just that when they're right, they never let you forget it. 

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Think and Grow Rich

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 15:12

There was an interview with Jimmy Iovine in the latest issue of Esquire and I was once again struck by the fact that I don't think like successful people. Successful people acknowledge challenges, but they see the opportunities that come with those challenges. They also learn a lot, from both people and experiences. "Think and Grow Rich" is the name of a famous self-help guide, one that has been mocked by many who discount the entire "positive thinking" movement. But there really is a different mindset that successful people have.

I just don't know if you can learn it. The best example of how difficult changing your outlook permanently comes from the Seinfeld episode "The Opposite." In this episode, George, after a series of especially painful setbacks, decides to do the opposite of what his instincts tell him to do. It gets him a date with a beautiful girl and a dream job with the Yankees. But George can't even maintain this new way of thinking over the course of the episode and we never see Opposite George again. This despite all the proven benefits. 

I'm positive that positive thinking pays off. I'm just not positive that most people can do it. 

Fewer Rules, Less Tech

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 12:31

There was an article I read once that explained how ATMs really did destroy banking jobs in the late'70s. Looking at actual data, it's pretty evident that bank jobs declined following the widespread adoption of the machines in 1977. So why do people say bank jobs grew after the introduction of ATMs? Because they did, but correlation is not causation.  In the early '80s, the federal government deregulated the banking system to an extent. This meant more opportunities for banks and other institutions, which allowed more growth. Thus, the number of bank jobs increased, although probably at a lower rate than they would have without ATMs. And, of course, there was a downside to the deregulation.

Still, if you want more jobs, what you need are fewer rules and less technology. The question becomes is that possible and do we want that?