What caught my eye this week.
There hasn’t been much to cheer about recently, so I especially enjoyed Vanguard’s new paper How America Innovates (research, PDF).
In it the authors track how scientific and technical innovation are diffused through different fields, which causes a chain reaction of further innovation.
And they argue we’re at an inflection point where several key discoveries are finally making their way into commercial applications.
This table simplifies how ‘innovation shocks’ in one field are causing ripples of progress in others, to yield new areas of research and application:
The authors conclude it’s all good for productivity – and for the American economy generally:
We now expect U.S. GDP per capita growth to average 2.0%–2.5% from 2020 to 2030, a pace we haven’t seen in decades and a positive development for wage growth, asset returns, and economic opportunity (Davis et al., 2020).
This productivity boom has been bubbling under the surface following the global financial crisis, supported by research in less visible upstream disciplines that needed time to permeate downstream and find their commercial utility.
And while the focus is on the US, there’s reason to be hopeful elsewhere too.
An additional thread in the paper is how distant researchers are more effectively collaborating, and how innovation is thus more geographically diversified.
What’s more, productivity-boosting commercial applications will become available globally, regardless of nation state blundering.
All together now
Given the culture wars blighting all social media feeds, I was also pleased to see the empirical data showing more diverse teams (by gender and ethnicity) have coincided with greater innovation.
Getting more and different kinds of people doing great work isn’t just about virtue signalling. It means more and varied capable brains coming up with the ideas that we all benefit from.
I’m very interested in innovation, not least as an active investor. But with a shrinking and ageing population, productivity gains are something everyone should care about. Further improvements in wealth and our standard of living – not to mention staving off climate disaster – depend on it.
Summer is winding down. Enjoy a great – but not too productive – weekend.
SPIVA: the evidence against active funds – Monevator
The hosepipe ban approach to big savings – Monevator
From the archive-ator: a mortgage is money rented from a bank – Monevator
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£1 buys $1.15. Are we headed for parity with the US Dollar? – This Is Money
UK government wins pension fund legal challenge over change to RPI [Search result] – FT
Leasehold scandal: thousands of homeowners to receive ground rent refunds – Which
Manager of Blue Whale fund says “most active fund managers should quit” [Search result] – FT
The Great Resignation forced US companies to order a record number of robots – Fortune
The return outlook for bond and multi-asset investors has improved – Vanguard
Energy crisis mini-special
Switching to green fuel as urgent as Covid jab, says energy boss – BBC
Eye-watering energy costs – FirevLondon
UK households are worse hit by energy crisis in Europe, says IMF – Guardian
Lights out for Britain’s industrial heartlands – This Is Money
Britain in a mess, as ruinous energy bills meet austerity – Guardian
Will Joe Biden’s gamble on Big Oil pay off in leveling gas prices? – Guardian
Best appliances to save cash when cooking – Guardian
Products and services
New lender Perenna has been granted a licence to launch a 50-year mortgage – Which
Investec launches one-year fixed rate savings deal paying 3.3% – This Is Money
Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor
What is wrong with Inverse ETFs? – Factor Research
Cheaper alternatives to Sky TV and Virgin Media – Be Clever With Your Cash
Open an account with InvestEngine via our affiliate link and get £25 when you invest at least £100 (new customers only, T&Cs apply) – InvestEngine
Homes for sale worthy of Grand Designs, in pictures – Guardian
Comment and opinion
All the personal finance books are wrong – The Atlantic
Workers also face sequence-of-returns risk – Morningstar
Is it ever a good idea to stop paying into your UK workplace pension pot? – Guardian
Inflation, debt costs and Truss’s pledges risk £60bn UK budget hole [Search result] – FT
The tiniest violin for buy-to-let YouTubers – The FIRE Shrink
Five uncomfortable facts about investing – Banker on FIRE
Don’t fear the reaper – Sex Health Money Death
Time to take your shot to get rich – The Motley Fool
Why we collect – Humble Dollar
Crypt o’ crypto
How did crypto go mainstream? [Podcast] – Which
More than half of all Bitcoin trades are fake – Forbes
Naughty corner: Active antics
Most of us are secret momentum investors – Behavioural Investment
Risk versus uncertainty and investor behaviour – The Evidence-Based Investor
Higher inflation is creating an opportunity in emerging markets [PDF] – Vanguard
Kindle book bargains
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi – £0.99 on Kindle
How To Own The World by Andrew Craig – £0.99 on Kindle
Quit Like A Millionaire: No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund Required by Kristy Shen – £0.99 on Kindle
Way Of The Wolf by Jordan Belfort – £0.99 on Kindle
One in five new cars will have zero emissions by 2023 – This Is Money
How melting glaciers fueled Pakistan’s fatal floods – Vox
Museum collections show bees stressed by climate change – Imperial College
The tide turns towards renewable aquaculture gear – Hakai Magazine
Fearful cyclists in the UK are giving up riding their bikes – Guardian
Financial markets are responding to climate risk [Research] – Alpha Architect
Americans keep moving to where the water isn’t – Vox
Off our beat
The most important forces shaping the world – Morgan Housel
Quiet quitting: the workplace trend taking over TikTok – BBC
Stable diffusion is a really big deal – Simon Willison
The trait that ‘super-friends’ have in common – The Atlantic
How America innovates [PDF, research] – Vanguard
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings epic divides Tolkien fans – Guardian
“Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance..”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness
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