Big Five: Whither Global Capitalism?

The S&P 500 hit an all-time high this week. We’re in the longest bull market ever and close to “full employment” but picking new fights all over the globe. Some pundits think the brash nationalism, populism and protectionism could bring growth to an end. The US picked a trade war over industries in decline while the new economy is about digital assets and services. Check out five big stories from the week to learn more.

1. Digital Biz. “What’s also changed is the massive shift from living in a physical world to a digital one,” noted GSV. “Today, there is a new generation of digital businesses that leverage the power of the internet and globalization to scale the massive sizes. If you look at the largest transportation company in the world, Didi Chuxing, they own none of their vehicles. Airbnb, the world’s largest hospitality platform, creates none of its inventory. Dropbox, the world’s largest storage company, owns no warehouses. Facebook, the world’s largest media platform, owns none of its own content. And there’s Spotify, the world’s largest music platform, which creates none of its content.”

2. Made in China. In the old days, “made in China” referred to cheap manufactured goods. These days it’s tech. Baidu (search), Alibaba (market), Tencent (chat), or BAT, are now valued at more than $1 trillion USD. With access to more internet users than those of the US and all of Europe combined, these platform-based business have gained unparalleled influence in almost every aspect of users’ lives.

3. Digital India. India is becoming a leader in Blockchain. The federal government plans to use distributed ledger technology (DLT) to distribute agricultural subsidies. A DLT backed land barter paved the way for a capital for the newly formed state of Andhra Pradesh

4. Crypto on the Run. After a big run up, BCG suggests a “reality check” for blockchain after cryptocurrency markets tumbled. The speculative nature of new blockchain-based currencies doesn’t change the transformative potential of distributed ledger technology. We spotted 20 potential ways it will improve education.

5. Learning at Microsoft. With global economy in high gear, it’s time to learn. Chris Pirie, general manager of worldwide learning at Microsoft, noted the tension between learner-centered and standards-driven learning.

“What learners want and what they truly need may be at odds. Learners have less time to learn and want access to instant and more customized learning experiences, their expectations of “just enough, just in time, and just for me” access, customized experiences, and rich selection of media are set by their consumer experiences. But real learning—acquiring skills, understanding new paradigms, and changing behaviors—takes time and costs attention.”

5 Discoveries

Book: In what Bill Gates calls a “brilliant new book,” Capitalism Without Capital, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake argue that the portion of the world’s economy that doesn’t fit the old model just keeps getting larger. Digital assets are super scalable, often have valuable synergies, and create spillover benefits. The shift to a service economy with digital assets has major implications for everything from tax law to economic policy to which cities thrive and which cities fall behind, but in general, the rules that govern the economy haven’t kept up.

Resource: Want to give better career advice? Check out the list of the highest paying jobs in America from Glassdoor.

Report: How to close achievement gaps in diverse schools? Based on a meta analysis, Public Impact published a new report—Closing Achievement Gaps in Diverse and Low-Poverty Schools: An Action Guide for District Leaders.

“The evidence suggests that solutions require tackling the instructional, emotional, and practical needs of students, their families, and the educators who serve them. Importantly, we examined approaches that had evidence of boosting outcomes for disadvantaged students without reducing availability of advanced instruction, for two reasons. First, when all students have help to leap ahead, all need what today is considered “advanced” instruction. Second, schools that serve all students well, regardless of background, build strong family and community support for and commitment to public education.”

Pod: You Are Not So Smart is David McRaney’s  super smart look at human behavior. Check out episode 134 on How politics became our identity and (soon to be posted) episode 135 on Elaboration Likelihood (learning doesn’t change minds, it’s how likely we are to make the new information ours by elaborating on it…and, of course, our tribal identities, see #134).

Pic: Murie Ranch in Teton National Park, from the porch of the cabin where the Wilderness Act of ‘64 was drafted. It’s ironic that the fire haze evident in the picture is evidence of record temperatures and fires caused by climate change–whither global capitalism.

BONUSTools: Minecraft will be available for iPad next month.

See last week’s Friday Five: Closing the Guidance Gap.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Tom Vander Ark

Neil Irin argues that monopsony, a few big players that control the market, is dampening wage growth and changing the economy (as discussed at the Fed meeting this week)

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