Links for Thought -- March 9, 2012

Cost of Gene Sequencing Falls, Raising Hopes for Medical Advances (NY Times) -- This is a narrative I will continue to follow from both a science and investment standpoint.  We are at a very real tipping point in terms of the impact the Human Genome Project will have on our lives.  Ultimately deflation in the price of mapping the genome will help drive down the cost of medical treatment.  Just wait (and also read my post on the Innovator's Dilemma to create your own mental model for how this will play out).  

Selling Shovels in a Gold Rush (Leigh Drogan) -- Leigh Drogan, founder of Estimize, offers great insight on how some of those who prosper most from the present tech boom will be the ones who facilitate the boom along the way.  This is precisely how Levi Strauss made himself one of the most successful beneficiaries of the California Gold Rush.  

Warren Buffett: All that Glitters Is Tungsten (Benzinga) -- What's rarer than Rare Earths? Tungsten.  The most successful investor in the world, Warren Buffett has now taken a stake in a major producer via Berkshire's ownership of Iscar.  Tungsten is my favorite commodity investment and one I have been following for some time, as it has unique traits compared to most ordinary commodities.  Good to see Mr. Buffett give his implicit endorsement!

New Math Will Drive a U.S. Manufacturing Comeback (HBR Blog) -- HBR lays out the math behind why the U.S. is experiencing a manufacturing renaissance, and why this trend will accelerate over the coming years.  This is a highly compelling argument, substantiated by a good look at the numbers.  If the prediction is in fact correct, it bodes amazingly well for the U.S. economy.

Consumer Price Index (CPI): Comprehensive In-depth Analysis (ValueWalk) -- The CPI is controversial to many, for a variety of reasons. Here Kim Palacios at ValueWalk takes an excellent look at some of the ways in which the CPI is not properly constructed for the modern economy.  Substitution, sharing, and auction-based pricing all have serious consequences for the broader economic price level.  

Speculation Blamed for Global Food Price Weirdness (Wired) -- Yes Futures are an important tool for commodity consumers and producers to hedge their exposure, but, these days several crucial commodities seem inundated with speculators who are accumulating long-term positions.  This is leading to a disconnect in the true supply and demand equilibrium.  Food is far too important arena to allow such gamesmanship to influence everyday prices.

The Illusion of Understanding Success (Why We Reason) -- This is a great write-up on JK Rowling, the wildly successful offer of the Harry Potter series.  Rowling was in a state of depression before a twist of fate sent her life on a rapid ascent to stardom.  Too often society builds after-the-fact narratives of success as if someone started on the bottom left of a chart and ended at the top right without any bumps along the way.  This is a theme Daniel Kahneman has spelled out nicely, and one I will take a deeper look at sometime soon.  In the meantime, give this one a read.

Who Has the Moral Highground in A's-Giants Dispute (Baseball Nation) -- The Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants are in the middle of a territorial dispute.  Tied into this fight is some interesting baseball history and more general questions about fairness.